WASHINGTON — For once, President Trump is showing no hard feelings. A week after being booed at Nationals Park, the president will host the Washington Nationals at the White House on Monday to celebrate an improbable come-from-behind World Series victory that has united an otherwise polarized nation’s capital.
But not every member of the championship team plans to make peace with the president on the South Lawn. Sean Doolittle, the star reliever who has been vocal on social issues, including Syrian refugees, says he will not attend a ceremony hosted by a president who empowers white supremacists and mocks disabled people.
The White House invitation, and the difficult choices it entailed for the team, came as Washington was to mark its first World Series championship team since 1924 with a parade down Constitution Avenue and a rally near the Capitol on Saturday. Republicans, Democrats and everyone in between planned to head downtown to cheer on the sluggers and pitchers who somehow came from 12 games below .500 in the spring to beating the mighty Houston Astros in the Fall Classic.
Their story of persistence, grit and character has been held up as a tonic for a city marked by the coexistence of a largely liberal populace and a Congress that has grown even more deeply divided under Mr. Trump. The day after the Nationals took Game 7 in Houston, becoming the only team to ever win four road games in the World Series, the House voted to authorize an impeachment inquiry against the president, setting the stage for a momentous constitutional clash.
Torn over Trump, the city has rallied around Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Howie Kendrick in a way not seen in generations. Even Mr. Trump has embraced the team despite the hostile reception he received when he showed up for Game 5 last Sunday and was greeted by robust boos and chants of “lock him up.”
“Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on a great season and an incredible World Series,” Mr. Trump, rarely known for turning the other cheek, wrote on Twitter. “Game 7 was amazing!”
But as has happened with other sports teams in the last three years, his invitation to celebrate at the White House spurred unease among some members of the Nationals organization. Ted Lerner’s family, which owns the Nationals, is known for its support of Democrats and Mr. Doolittle has been an outspoken advocate of liberal causes.
In explaining his decision to skip Monday’s event, Mr. Doolittle cited the president’s racially inflammatory language. “The rhetoric, time and time again, has enabled those kind of behaviors,” he told The Washington Post. “That never really went away, but it feels like now people with those beliefs, they maybe feel a little bit more empowered. They feel like they have a path, maybe. I don’t want to hang out with somebody who talks like that.”
He referred to the time Mr. Trump as a candidate mocked a New York Times reporter’s physical disability, noting that his own brother-in-law has autism. “How would I explain that to him that I hung out with somebody who mocked the way that he talked, or the way that he moves his hands?” Mr. Doolittle said. “I can’t get past that stuff.”
Just Friday night, the White House formalized its decision to sharply reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States over the next year to 18,000, an issue that Mr. Doolittle has made a priority.
Mr. Trump’s many critics took to social media over the weekend to urge the rest of the team to stay away as well.
“How great would it be if, at this afternoon’s celebration on the Mall, Ted Lerner announced that the Nationals had decided as a team to respectfully decline President Trump’s invitation to the White House?” Bill Kristol, the conservative magazine writer and leading Trump critic, wrote on Twitter.
But the Lerners made clear in accepting the invitation that they would put politics aside in the name of the team. While their host may be sagging in the polls, the Nationals for now have the highest approval numbers in Washington.