After doing his Rip Sewell/Bill “Spaceman” Lee imitation at the Washington National’s home opener while wearing a White Sox cap, Obama was asked about his favorite White Sox players:
BHO: You know, uh… I… thought that, uh… you know, the truth is that a lot of the Cubs I like too. But I did not become a Sox fan until I moved to Chicago. Because I, uh… I was growin’ up in Hawaii. So I’ve actually been an Oakland As fan. But, when I moved to Chicago, I was livin’ close to what was then Kaminsky Park, right? And went to a couple of games, and fell in love, and the nice thing about the Sox is it’s real blue-collar baseball. You know, we always tease about the Cubs, they, you know they’re up at Wrigley… sippin’ wine, playin’ those day games, they’re havin’ a good time…
Note he couldn’t actually name any White Sox players, any “blue collar” heroes, past or present. What’s more, note the rationale for claiming allegiance to the Sox. This simultaneously pegs the lame-o-meter and the pose-o-meter.
As a third-generation Cubs fan, I can say that yes, particularly beginning in the 1980s, the Cubs were widely perceived as the team of the upscale, the yuppies, the corporate crowd. This reputation is deserved: when I went with my Dad to a Cubs game a couple of years ago (a loss, of course) it bugged both of us no end that (a) the tickets were extremely expensive, (b) most of the fans who paid these prices weren’t paying the slightest attention to the game, and (c) those that were had no clue as to what was going on (e.g., yelling on routine fly balls as if they were about to rocket onto Waveland or Sheffield). For most of the crowd, it was a social event, conspicuous consumption, rather than an athletic contest. (Yes, I am becoming a sports curmudgeon.)
The Sox are the anti-Cubs. Just as there are legit Cubs fans, there are legit Sox fans whose allegiance is not chosen as a social statement. But those who want to identify themselves as more urban, more hip, will sometimes choose to become Sox fans–or affect being Sox fans. For such people, wearing Sox gear is an affectation, an advertisement, a statement (“I’m an edgy urbanite, not a gauche suburbanite”). (The Sox have consciously played to this, e.g., the black caps/uniforms.)
Obama is quite clearly such a person, and he all but admits it in what I quoted above. The whole Obama White Sox thing is just another piece of a persona, deliberately chosen to convey an image, a perception. It is, in other words, quintessential Obama.
The president suggested his accuracy would have improved with a longer outing.“If I had a whole inning, I’m telling you, I would have cleaned up,” he quipped.
Would it kill him to admit “Well, I just suck at baseball”? Is he so invested in his own ego that he has to be great at everything? I know that politicians are narcissists, but this guy is off the charts.
* This is the characterization of my elder daughter, a pretty good softball pitcher (wicked drop, especially), who quite definitely does not throw like a Barack Obama (as demonstrated by the swollen index finger on my glove hand, every spring and summer, from about the time she was 11.)