Days after one columnist raised the point that the battery of George W. Bush and Nationals backstop Paul Lo Duca might make for an awkward photo opportunity Sunday evening, the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga reports that DC skipper Manny Acta will instead, catch the ceremonial first ball from our beloved Commander In Chief.
The choice has symbolic implications. Lo Duca was one of the primary figures in the report by former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Bush, in turn, is an avid baseball fan and former owner of the Texas Rangers who has publicly denounced the use of steroids, both in professional sports and by America’s youth.
The White House said it played no role in determining who would catch the pitch.
“Whatever the decision the Nationals make is up to them,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said by telephone Thursday. “In no way did we, or would we, raise any issues.”
Lo Duca said after Thursday’s final Grapefruit League game that he had no animosity about the situation.
“I’m not upset,” Lo Duca said. “I’m just not catching it. They just told me that was the decision, that they’d go with Manny.”
I applaud Captain Red Ass for taking the high road in this instance. Rather than moaning about how his reputation might’ve taken a hit were he seen fraternizing with a known cocaine abuser, Boogie Shoes knows he had little to gain from such an encounter. Even if Lo Duca emerged from Sunday’s ceremonies with Jenna Bush’s phone number, she’s a little long in the tooth for the former Mets catcher.