Obama gets the brushback from Sox fans

He can reform health care all he wants, but if he can’t name his favorite player, what good is he?

April 09, 2010

When President Barack Obama threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' season-opening baseball game last week, he generated a few good-natured boos from the fans as he pulled on a well-worn Chicago White Sox baseball cap while on the pitcher's mound.

But his failure to name his favorite White Sox player during a broadcast interview has generated a chorus of Internet "razzberries."

Was the president being diplomatic during his rambling, babbling answer because he didn't want to offend White Sox players whom he did not name?

Or is he a phony fan who can't remember the team played at Comiskey Park — not "Cominskey Field" — because he's never been?

I know just how the guy feels.

My son, whose blood runs black and gold, dismisses my affection for the Pittsburgh Steelers because I can't name the right tackle or the last five first round draft picks in order. He considers my fan credentials to be as suspect as President Obama's might be.

But I sure as heck can name my favorite all-time player (Franco Harris), and I know the Steelers played for years in Three Rivers Stadium and not Riverfront Stadium.

During the president's interview on MASN with Nationals television commentators Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble, he seemed to be stumped when Mr. Dibble asked him to name his favorite player "as a kid growing up."

"You know, uh, I thought that, uh, you know, the truth is that a lot of the Cubs I liked, too, but I did not become a Sox fan until I moved to Chicago. I was growing up in Hawaii and so I ended up actually being an Oakland A's fan," Mr. Obama responded.

Poor President Obama. He must have felt like he was trapped in that scene from Barry Levinson's "Diner," where the poor girl has to pass a Colts trivia test before the Steve Guttenberg character will agree to marry her.

Of course, the sports blogs and talk shows went crazy.

"One could make the case that Mr. Obama's point was that he didn't become acquainted with the Sox until later in his life," wrote Chicago Sun-Times' blogger Kyle Koster. "But I'd imagine most fans would have liked him to spit out at least one player's name."

I was waiting for the Sunday morning political pundits to say Mr. Obama's performance was just one more reason why the White House hasn't put him in front of the press for a live Q&A for nine months.

Some of those commenting on the blogs said they were grateful that they had a president who could get health care reformed and a nuclear treaty with the Russians signed, even if he couldn't hold his own in a fantasy baseball draft.

Another commented: "Two words: doo fus." Another wrote that "he throws like a girl, too."

Others said that he chose to "lie" rather than tell the truth — that he didn't know enough to have a favorite.

Still others suggested that he'd have been able to name the players of an Indonesian or a Kenyan baseball team.

And still others commented that it was remarkable that a silly sports story like this could be the basis of a racist Internet hate-fest. Somebody else called for his impeachment.

Just goes to show you.

A president who is not a member of your party is like the Chicago Cubs Mr. Obama ridiculed for their wine-drinking fans: He can't win.

Susan Reimer's column appears Mondays. Susan.Reimer@baltsun.com. Twitter.com/susanreimer.

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