Catching Up From DC
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The White House
Thanks to the hospitality of David Axelrod, senior advisor to the President, and Ellie Schafer, director of the White House Visitor’s Office, I am sure most of you read about the team’s unforgettable visit on our off day Monday.
Regardless of your political tilt, visiting The White House is always special and actually meeting the President was truly amazing for our guys.
The team came up on a bus from Baltimore while I flew into DC to meet them, hanging out at the historic Willard Hotel and the Old Ebbit Grill (sp?) until they arrived.
After clearing security, the group of about 30 of us were ushered into the East Wing where we met Axelrod, who welcomed the team.
From there, we broke into two groups for our tours, which included for the first time — at least for me — a glimpse of the in-house theatre (ESPN was showing on the big screen). We were guided through the various downstair rooms, including the library and rooms filled with beautiful paintings, china and priceless silverware.
I wish I had a chance to speak to Alexei about his thoughts as he walked the rooms and hallways.
Players and their wives posed for photos in front of famous paintings (see George Washington on the dollar bill … only reversed), windows to the outside with a view of the Jefferson Memorial and Washington monument.
At one point, a pitcher who shall go unnamed, accidently banged into a door.
“Great, go ahead and break the place,” a teammate joked.
We headed upstairs to the state rooms, visiting the East Room, the State Dining Room, Green Room, Red Room and one of three circular rooms in the White House.
In one room, the guide indicated that the pieces of furniture were copies of those from Thomas Jefferson’s administration found by Jackie Kennedy, or at least all were replicas except one. She turned to indicate the original 1800s piece — a long, beautiful blue and gold couch. There was Josh Fields sitting comfortably … or should I say, uncomfortably.
Everyone laughed as Josh tried not to move too quickly.
From the State Dining Room, you could look down on the Rose Garden and Oval Office.
We wandered into the Family Dining Room, where our tour guide admitted he had rarely been. You could see elevators.
“The White House has three,” he explained. “One is the President’s personal elevator.”
“Is that it?” I asked, pointing to one that featured an armed guard nearby.
“Not sure,” he replied.
“Why don’t you try to get on so we can find out?” I asked him.
After working our way through the main floor, we walked outside on the north side of the building, toward the west wing. That’s where you saw some of the TV and still photo coverage of our tour.
Then we headed back inside, to the East Room, to meet the President.
The staff photographer told us all where and how to stand and we all took our positions. You could feel the nervous energy in the room.
President Obama walked in asking, “How are the White Sox?”
Smiling, he and Kenny Williams exchanged a hug and then KW presented him with a Sox jersey.
The President reminded some of the team that he had first met them in January 2006 when we visited after winning the World Series. While he didn’t want to put any more pressure on us, he challenged the team to win it again so that we could come back in January and celebrate with him.
Then before posing for photos, President Obama did a most gracious and thoughtful thing.
He went around the room, person by person, shaking hands, asking each member of the travel party to introduce themself and then shaking their hand. They were moments none of us would ever forget, especially Octavio Dotel.
As you probably read, the President was about hallway through the group when he reached Dotel.
“Mr. President,” Dotel said, “Can I give you a hug?”
“Sure,” President Obama replied, and the room erupted in laughter as the zany pitcher hugged our President. Surprisingly — at least to those of us who know Dotel — the Secret Service did not move in for the tackle.
Then after posing for a group photo, first with all of us and then with the players, he was off to other, much more important business.
Amazing to me that he would be so graious and kind as to give us a few minutes out of his busy day.
After that, the White Sox made a dent in the White House gift shop and boarded the bus back to Baltimore, all with a memory they will never forget.
I hope you already are aware of our White Sox Volunteer Corps. If not check out whitesox.com for details. Anyway, the very first event, a Service Day where 500 volunteers are needed to work on two sites about a mile from our ballpark, is scheduled for Saturday, May 9. If you’d like to sign up, join Sox players, front office and other fans in helping others and get a nifty Volunteer Sox cap, please sign up now. Over 2,000 fans have signed up for the Corps, and we only need 500 for this first event (there will be others), so sign up soon if you want to take part.
Our night game with the Orioles is now on CSN+ due to the NBA playoffs.
That rainout in Detroit will now be made up as part of a split doubleheader in Detroit on July 24 (game times 12:05 CT and 6:05 CT).
Very cool posters commemorating the back-to-back 300 career home runs by JD and PK will be given to the first 20,000 fans attending Friday’s game.
If you read, in March we sent White Sox caps to various world leaders, inviting them to join our team (and by the way The President’s team).
We’ve started to get letters back, which are great. Can you imagine the Prime Minister of Great Britain or the President of Russia greeting our President with a White Sox cap on?
Pitching vs. Toronto
Friday: 7:11 p.m. CDT, CSN+
LHP Brian Tallet (0-0, 4.26) vs.
LHP Mark Buehrle (2-0, 3.00)
Saturday: 6:05 p.m. CDT, WGN
LHP Ricky Romero (2-0, 1.71) vs.
RHP Gavin Floyd (2-1, 4.74)
Sunday: 1:05 p.m. CDT, CSN
RHP Roy Halladay vs.
RHP Jose Contreras
We get all kinds of great feedback from our fans in many different ways, some of it is positive, some not as positive, but all of it is useful.
Someone smarter than me (I read somewhere to always hire people smarter than you are), came up with the bright idea to have my twitter account match my blog (to avoid confusing me more than you). So from now on, I am: InsideTheSox. I am told that if you already signed up to my old MO, nelliefox2, you automatically will be switched to my new account. Let me know if that does not happen.