Note to chief White Sox fan:”A lot of Yankee fans vote”
President Barack Obama was very much the suffering Chicago White Sox fan on Monday when the New York Yankees visited the White House to be honored for winning the World Series championship in 2009. That crown was the team’s 27th, by far the most in Major League Baseball.
The team that comes second, the St. Louis Cardinals, has only 10 titles. And Obama’s favorite White Sox have won only three times, most recently in 2005, and that was their first championship since 1917.
Obama was a gracious host to the New Yorkers. He praised their history and the character of the team’s players.
“Being successful in New York doesn’t come easy, and it’s not for everybody. It takes a certain kind of player to thrive in the pressure cooker of Yankee Stadium -– somebody who is poised and professional, and knows what it takes to wear the pinstripes. It takes somebody who appreciates how lucky he is, and who feels a responsibility for those who are less fortunate,” Obama said. He praised two of the players in particular, Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada, for their charity work, and a third, Derek Jeter, who was named the U.S. sportsman of the year for 2009 by Sports Illustrated magazine. The team visited wounded U.S. troops at hospitals near Washington before coming to the White House.
“This is a team that goes down to spring training every year expecting to win it all — and more often than not, you guys get pretty close,” Obama said.
However, he added shortly afterward: “That attitude, that success, has always made the Yankees easy to love — and, let’s face it, easy to hate as well,” Obama said at a packed ceremony in the White House East Room.
Some of the team’s superstar players joked about Obama’s comments after the ceremony. “He better be careful with that,” shortstop Derek Jeter told reporters outside the White House. “A lot of Yankee fans vote.”
Even some of them seemed a bit starstruck.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez, whose $275 million deal in 2007 was the richest contract in baseball history, said he was honored to meet Obama and to be at the White House for the first time. “I’ve never been around a president before,” he said. “It was a real honor.”
Joe Girardi, the team’s manager, said he would cut the president some slack on the baseball front. “We all understand he’s a huge White Sox fan, and that’s OK,” he said.
Another group might not be so understanding — fans of the Chicago Cubs, who have not won the World Series since 1908, the longest championship drought in the sport.
Obama could not resist a dig at the White Sox’s crosstown rivals, as he noted that the Yankees’ 2009 championship was their first since 2001.
“Now, it’s been nine years since your last title — which must have felt like an eternity for Yankees fans,” he said. “I think other teams would be just fine with a spell like that. The Cubs, for example.”
Photo credit: U.S. President Barack Obama stands next to N.Y. Yankees manager Joe Girardi as they hold an autographed Yankees jersey as Obama hosts the 2009 World Series Champions New York Yankees in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 26, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing