The Washington Nationals were honored with a ceremony at the White House Monday, continuing their celebration tour of their World Series championship.
As he read through their postseason accomplishments, the president would pause throughout his speech to welcome the author of the signature moment he was orating to the stage, allowing that player to address the crowd. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Kurt Suzuki, Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick, Anibal Sanchez, Patrick Corbin, Ryan Zimmerman and Asdrubal Cabrera all had a chance to speak.
It was a team effort, truly emblematic of the 2019 Washington Nationals. Nats manager Dave Martinez and Mike Rizzo, General Manager and President of Baseball Operations, spoke as well.
Not everyone from the Nationals could make the event. Not in attendance were Sean Doolittle, Anthony Rendon, Victor Robles, Michael A. Taylor, Joe Ross, Javy Guerra, Wilmer Difo and Wander Suero, although only Doolittle made it known he declined the invitation because of his personal feelings toward the president.
Zimmerman, the longest tenured Nationals player as Washington's first draft pick in 2005, continued a long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House by gifting the president a 'Trump 45' Nationals jersey, the jersey number signifying Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
"Thank you, guys. What an unbelievable honor to be here, to be in front of you guys," Zimmerman said. "This is stuff that you dream about. To see all the fans show up – the parade, look at this crowd here – we couldn't have done it without you, so thank you guys so much."
"Mr. President, me and my teammates, first of all would like to thank you for having us here," he said. "This is an incredible honor that I think all of us will never forget. We'd also like to thank you for keeping everyone here safe and our country, and continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world."
When it was his turn to speak, Nats catcher Kurt Suzuki surprised the crowd – to mixed reviews – by placing a 'Make America Great Again' hat on his head as he stepped to the podium. Suzuki spoke only briefly, saying, "I love you all. I love you all. Thank you."
The display of Trumps' 2016 campaign slogan seemed to floor the president.
"What a job he did," said Trump. "I didn't know that was gonna happen."
A Nationals celebration wouldn't be complete without a 'Baby Shark' sing-along. The Nats clapped along to the children's song – famously adopted by outfielder Gerardo Parra as his walk-up song in June – from the balcony steps as the U.S. Marine Corps band played its rendition of the popular earworm.
The president peppered in some jokes throughout his speech, including a rare dose of self-deprecation: "Throughout this season, the Nationals captured the hearts of baseball fans across the region and across the country. America fell in love with the Nats baseball. They just fell in love with Nats baseball."
"That's all they wanted to talk about – that and impeachment," he said, eliciting laughter from the estimated 5,300 on hand for the ceremony. "I like Nats baseball much more."
"They put together a miracle season and an unforgettable postseason," Rizzo said. "We're proud to say that we are the (2019) World Champions in a season that unified a region, when the region needed unifying the most. And again, as our manager Davey Martinez said so eloquently after our many, many, many celebrations this year – five of them, I think – bumpy roads do lead to beautiful places, and this here is a beautiful place. Thank you."