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Nationals Give José Andrés a Chance to Steal President Trump’s Spotlight at the World Series

The Trump critic is set to throw out a first pitch in front of the president

José Andrés, center right, poses with Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman, center left, at DC Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight in 2017.
José Andrés, center right, poses with Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman, center left, at DC Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight in 2017.
Larry French/Getty Images for DC Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight

The Washington Nationals joined the ranks of the District’s shrewdest political operatives today by tapping beloved chef and humanitarian José Andrés to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in a World Series game that President Trump has pledged to attend.

Andrés, who has emerged as a progressive foil to Trump, could steal attention from the president and might inflame anti-Trump sentiments in the crowd at a potential fifth game against the Houston Astros on Sunday. The Nationals announced that Andrés — who has countered Trump administration policy by providing swift humanitarian aid to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, by opposing the practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, and by refuting the president’s racist categorization of Mexican immigrants — will throw out the first pitch Sunday if Houston is able to force a Game 5.

Because Washington won the first two games in Houston, it could end the championship series in a four-game sweep with wins in Game 3 tonight and Game 4 tomorrow.

By picking Andrés for the honor, the Nationals have reclaimed some positive public opinion surrounding the game and put Trump in an uncomfortable spot. The team has also given Andrés a potential platform to address Trump when the chef knows the President will be in the crowd.

That said, Trump may arrive at the ballpark late or choose not to stay the whole contest — he stood for the national anthem at the college football national championship game last year, but left at halftime. Either way, his presence would heighten security and logistical challenges in an environment that might already be hostile towards the Republican president.

Trump told reporters yesterday that he planned to go to the game but would not throw out the first pitch himself, leading to predictable reactions from Nats fans and politicos — the middle of that Venn diagram is vast in Washington — urging for the Nationals to end the series in four games. Without mentioning Trump, Andrés took the same tack in response to the news on Friday morning.

The Washington Post reported that Trump may get booed by the crowd in a city with a heavy Democratic majority, citing an instance in 2006 when the Nats’ crowd booed then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

Andrés has consistently criticized Trump over the past few years, at times taking a confrontational stance and at times making diplomatic pleas to the president to meet with him and discuss immigration issues. During last year’s partial government shutdown, Andrés’s World Central Kitchen set up an emergency kitchen to feed furloughed federal employees, and the chef called on Trump to end a political stalemate centered around the chief executive’s demand for funding to build a border wall.

In 2015, Andrés pulled out of an agreement to put a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel downtown, leading to a two-year legal dispute that ended in a settlement.