Biden Toasts Dodgers, Touts ‘National Achievement’ Against Virus

President Joe Biden toasted the Los Angeles Dodgers’ World Series victory at the White House, saying the return of championship celebrations at the White House marks a “national achievement” in the fight against the coronavirus.

“We came together as fellow Americans, front-line workers, friends, families, neighbors, looking out for one another,” Biden said Friday in the East Room of the White House.

The visit by the Dodgers is the first major sports celebration of Biden’s administration, and comes ahead of a July 4 weekend when the White House plans to celebrate progress in the fight against the coronavirus. The president hosted the large, in-person event despite the country falling short of Biden’s goal that at least 70% of U.S. adults receive at least one vaccine shot before the holiday.

Still, Biden has appeared eager to resume familiar traditions, and Friday’s visit -- which included the presentation of a jersey to Biden and a joke-laden presidential tribute to the team -- seemed designed to signal a return to normal.

Biden Toasts Dodgers, Touts ‘National Achievement’ Against Virus

“Sports brings us together to heal, to help us feel like things are going to be OK, they’re going to get better,” Biden said.

Vice President Kamala Harris -- who previously represented California in the Senate, and whose husband, Doug Emhoff, is a Dodgers fan -- also attended and was presented with a jersey of her own. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is under consideration as a possible U.S. Ambassador to India, and members of the California congressional delegation, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, were also present.

The tradition of professional championship teams visiting the White House withered during the Trump administration, after a series of high-profile episodes in which players who objected to some of former President Donald Trump’s remarks and actions refused to attend.

Trump never hosted a National Basketball Association championship team, and rescinded an invitation to the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles after a number of athletes said they would boycott over his scathing criticism of players who knelt during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice.

Biden on Friday heralded the Dodgers’ history as pioneers of racial justice, saying the team has “the heart of Jackie Robinson” and praised the racial diversity of the championship team.

Trump hosted a number of college championship teams, and would occasionally purchase fast food for the athletes. He also presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a series of sports luminaries, including Tiger Woods, former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and Lou Holtz, the longtime Notre Dame football coach.

The Biden White House has previously announced plans to invite the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers to the White House once coronavirus protocols were relaxed.

The visit of the Dodgers comes days after a restraining order was issued against Trevor Bauer, the team’s star pitcher, after a 27-year old woman accused him of physical and sexual assault. Bauer was not a member of the World Series winning squad, so did not join his teammates at the White House.

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