Update: Stephen Strasburg has responded to the video on his own Twitter account, replying directly to reporter Rudy Gersten’s tweet with the hashtag #FakeNews.
A viral video from the Washington Nationals’ visit to the White House appeared to show World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg denying a handshake attempt from Donald Trump, with the president’s face appearing to grimace momentarily after the snub.
The incident took place on Monday when members of the World Series champions paid a visit to the White House and were welcomed by Trump. As Strasburg was finished his remarks on the balcony outside a White House window, he turned toward Trump, who held out his hand for a handshake. It’s not clear from the video whether Strasburg saw it or not, but the pitcher quickly turned away, leaving the president hanging. Trump, who was standing in the shadows with his face not fully seen in the video clip, appeared to have a brief look of anger or confusion before breaking out into a wide smile and joining others in clapping for Strasburg.
There had already been one Nationals pitcher to turn down the chance at meeting the president. Reliever Sean Doolittle said he did not want to meet Trump because of the way the president had previously spoken about people with disabilities, including mocking a disabled reporter.
Doolittle, who said he has a brother-in-law with autism, said he didn’t want to be around someone who spoke to people this way.
“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,” Doolittle said in an interview with The Washington Post.
The video attracted some viral attention online, with many praising Strasburg for what they thought to be an outward snub of the president. There’s no evidence that this was the case, and Fox News noted that the team’s visit to the White House was overall a very happy one. There was even plenty of affection between the Nationals players and Trump, with catcher Kurt Suzuki donning a red “Make America Great Again” hat and receiving a congratulatory squeeze from Trump.
“I love him,” Trump said as he wrapped his arms around Suzuki from behind.
“I love you all,” Suzuki said. “I love you all. Thank you.”
Trump received quite a different reception from the Nationals players than he did from the team’s fans. When Trump visited Nationals Park for Game 5 of the World Series, he was met with deafening boos and chants of “Lock him up!” that spread throughout the stadium.