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Washington Nationals visit the White House

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The World Series champion Washington Nationals visited the White House today.

Most of them anyway. As we noted over the weekend, closer Sean Doolittle chose not to attend. He was not alone, as it turned out that Anthony Rendon, Javy Guerra, Joe Ross, Wander Suero, Wilmer Difo, Michael A. Taylor, and Víctor Robles gave the proceedings a miss as well. Guerra said he did not attend because he’s preparing for his wedding, which takes place in Mexico this Saturday. I’ve not seen stated reasons for any of the others published yet. I imagine a reporter will ask them eventually.

As for the ones who did go, they seemed to have a, um, good time?

(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

That’s Nats’ catcher Kurt Suzuki, receiving an impromptu hug that I don’t suppose anyone saw coming when they woke up this morning, but here we are.

Beyond that, Ryan Zimmerman thanked the president for “continuing to make America the greatest country to live in in the world” and presented him with a white Nationals jersey with the No. 45 on it:

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Trump said from the lectern that “all anyone wants to talk to [him] about is impeachment and the Nationals” and that he prefers to talk about the Nationals. It’s a low bar, but that’s actually a pretty decent line for him. I could picture Reagan saying that about Iran-Contra and the 1986 Mets or something.

What? Don’t look at me like that. I’m old, and YES I DO remember the Iran-Contra stuff. Read a book.

Anyway, the whole thing lasted 45 minutes and, in contrast to some past White House visits by World Series winners, the press was not given access to the Nationals players or coaches for comment. Everyone was in and everyone was out.

Let’s do this again next year, shall we?

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).