Tuesday November 05, 2019
Mr. Suzuki If You're Nasty
What was Kurt Suzuki best known for two days ago? I would‘ve had trouble placing him, to be honest. A journeyman catcher with four different clubs (Oakland, Minnesota, Atlanta, Washington), he was good enough on defense and put up OK-enough offensive numbers (.259/.315/.392) to keep playing. He’s fourth among active players in games caught; all-time he's 42nd(!), ahead of such catching stalwarts as Tim McCarver and Terry Steinbach. He made the All-Star team in 2014. For the Washington Nationals this season and postseason, he split time behind the plate with Yan Gomes, and led off the top of the 7th inning of Game 2 of the World Series with a homerun off Justin Verlander to put the Nats up 3-2. They wound up batting around that inning, scoring 6, and gave the Nats that early, seemingly insurmountable lead. Oddly, in the Series, he and Gomes didn't spell each other in an every-other-day kind of thing. Suzuki started the first three games, Gomes the final four. That's it. Suzuki's last appearance was the first game in D.C. Did he get injured or something?
Anyway, two days ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell you any of this stuff. Maybe I would‘ve remembered the homer against Verlander. Otherwise, I would’ve gone: “Um ... Oakland, right?”
Well, I‘ll remember him now, poor bastard.
I actually feel bad for him. Yes, he showed up at the Trump White House and donned a red MAGA cap, with its stink of racism. But even with all that, he didn’t deserve this awkward hug from Donald Trump that looks like nothing so much as the famous Janet Jackson Rolling Stone cover photo. This is what Suzuki will be known for—now and forever. And as bad as it looks today, with every week, month and year of further revelations about Trump's corruption, it's going to look worse. It‘ll be his obit headline: Kurt Suzuki, 82, Catcher, Hugged from Behind by Trump at White House Ceremony.
Hell, I even feel bad for Trump. Can the dude do anything right? The World Series champions visit him, they’re from D.C., and one guy likes him enough to put on that stupid MAGA cap with its stink of racism. And he does this. It's a combo of pathetic cling (“Thank god, somebody likes me”) and copping a feel (“When you‘re a star, they let you do it”).
Not everyone on the Nats went to the ceremony. Sean Doolittle stated his objection over the weekend in smart, measured terms, while two other regulars—third baseman Anthony Rendon and center fielder Victor Robles—bowed out as well. About half a dozen minor players refused, too.
Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman, the longest-standing National, the first draft pick once they moved from Montreal, gave Trump a Nats/45 jersey and thanked him for keeping America great. One wonders what the clubhouse must be like. One wonders what the players from Trump-termed “shithole countries” must feel like.
Throughout the World Series, I felt bad that I was rooting for the Astros rather than the underdog Nationals. I don’t feel that any more.