WASHINGTON — After a weekend golfing at his New Jersey course, President Donald J. Trump backtracked on his announcement that he would throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15. Trump cited his focus on the coronavirus pandemic and economy as the reason for his reversal, which came less than 24 hours after Yankees Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks knelt during the national anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice protests going on across the country.
“Because of my strong focus on the (coronavirus), 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. We will make it later in the season!” Trump tweeted Sunday as the Yankees were playing the Nationals less than four miles from the White House.
The game, like all MLB games, was played without fans in the stands because the coronavirus continues to rage through the country. Since the coronavirus hit the country, over four million Americans have been infected and over 145,000 have died of COVID-19 under Trump’s watch. The economy has also been crushed with over 40 million Americans out of work.
That could be seen as a positive for Trump — whose approval ratings have plummeted during the pandemic — who is sensitive to being booed at sporting events. While there may not be a large crowd inside the Stadium that would boo him, he likely wouldn’t get a warm reception from everyone on the team.
When asked about Trump coming to their house next month, Hicks refused comment and Stanton was not impressed.
“I’m not positive but that’s not for sure,” Stanton said.
Trump has targeted athletes who have knelt during the national anthem, calling them “sons of bitches,” including former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The president said that Yankees president Randy Levine extended the invitation. He made the announcement hours before Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a growing thorn in Trump’s side in the handling of the pandemic, was going to throw out the very first, first pitch of the season between the Nationals and Yankees.
Trumps’ connection to the Yankees dates back to former owner George Steinbrenner, who would have the former real estate developer in his suite during the playoffs. Now, he has ties to Levine.
Prior to joining the Yankees, Levine was both the principal associate deputy attorney general and principal deputy associate attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Ronald Reagan administration. He later served as an attorney with a private practice, as the chief labor negotiator for Major League Baseball and the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Planning and Administration in New York City under Rudy Giuliani.
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