President Donald Trump invited himself to Yankee Stadium to throw out a first pitch in response to Dr. Anthony Fauci being invited by the Washington Nationals to toss out the club’s opening day pitch Thursday.
The New York Times reported Monday that Trump surprised officials at both the White House and within the Yankees franchise when he announced he planned to voyage to New York City August 15 to toss out a ball.
‘Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees,’ Trump told reporters Thursday, in the run-up to Fauci’s appearance on the mound. ‘And he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I’m doing that on August 15 at Yankee Stadium.’
One person with knowledge of Trump’s schedule told The Times that Trump hadn’t actually been invited on that day by the Yankees.
Trump, the Times report said, had been so annoyed by Fauci being asked by the Nationals to throw out a pitch, that he had his staffers call the Yankees and make good on a longtime offer by Levine to throw a first pitch.
No date had actually been set when Trump riffed in the briefing room and said it would be August 15.
The president ultimately turned around and announced that the Yankees appearance wasn’t happening so soon.
‘Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the Yankees on August 15,’ he tweeted Sunday, using a slur to reference the coronavirus.
‘We will make it later in the season!’ the president added.
The president had appeared at a Nationals game in late October, as the team was on its ultimately successful World Series run, and was booed by the D.C. crowd, which skews liberal.
Meanwhile, Fauci had endeared himself with the Nationals fanbase by showing up in a Nationals-emblazoned mask at Congressional hearings.
When it came time for Fauci to throw out the first pitch, the ball missed the home plate by at least six feet, leading to a number of online commenters snarking that he was socially distancing it from the catcher.
While the president contends that he and Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have a good relationship, the White House has made an effort to undercut the public health expert who’s been having a pop culture moment since the coronavirus pandemic began this spring.
Several weeks ago, the White House passed out talking points to reporters that pointed out every time Fauci had been wrong about something pertaining to COVID-19.
They didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt that he was reacting to quickly evolving science about a new disease.
Then White House trade adviser Peter Navarro wrote a USA Today op-ed making a similar point about the top expert being wrong.
Meanwhile, Fauci’s name has been floated for ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ and he recently appeared in poolside photo shoot, clothes on, for InStyle Magazine.