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Sean Doolittle will not be visiting the White House with the Nationals

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The Nationals will hold their World Series parade today and, in a changeup from usual practice in which championship teams visit the White House several months after their victory, they will meet with the president on Monday.

One presumes that it was done this way for two reasons: (1) the Nationals will be in town already due to the parade; and (2) it serves to diminish the sometimes months-long drama that has developed over the past three years, in which multiple players and/or managers publicly refuse to go and/or the president himself rescinds the invitation altogether because he feels he’s being snubbed.

The short turnaround for the visit didn’t completely prevent that dynamic, however, as yesterday, we learned that at least one Nationals player isn’t going to see Donald Trump: closer Sean Doolittle.

Doolittle, who has made his progressive political beliefs quite public over the years, told the Washington Post last night his reasons for not attending:

“There’s a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we’ve done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the ‘shithole countries,’ ” Doolittle said, mimicking when Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries” in a January 2018 meeting.

“At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it,” Doolittle continued. “I just can’t do it . . . People say you should go because it’s about respecting the office of the president,” Doolittle said. “And I think over the course of his time in office he’s done a lot of things that maybe don’t respect the office.”

Doolittle also noted that his wife, Eireann Dolan, was raised by two mothers and that Doolittle and Dolan are actively involved in LGBTQ activism. Doolittle is surely aware that, just this week, the Trump administration proposed a regulation that would allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse placement to LGBTQ families. The matter is no doubt a very personal one for Dolan and Doolittle.

The Post says that, while Doolittle has made his decision public, “multiple people close to the team said a handful of players are wrestling with the decision.” In light of that it’s a safe bet that there will not be a full roster of Nationals on hand on Monday.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).