Baseball star Stephen Strasburg has branded suggestions he snubbed US President Donald Trump’s offer of a handshake as “fake news” after a viral video spread rapidly across America.
Strasburg was among a group of Washington Nationals players to visit the White House to celebrate the team’s World Series triumph over the Houston Astros — and talk quickly turned to the pitcher’s interaction with the leader of the free world.
After finishing an address at the podium Strasburg turned around and either failed to notice Trump’s outstretched hand or deliberately avoided it. A clip — viewed millions of times — claimed it was the latter.
But the man himself shut down that allegation on Twitter, using one of the president’s favourite phrases to set the record straight.
What really happened is Strasburg simply didn’t see Trump’s attempted handshake as he turned around and instead hugged Nationals manager Dave Martinez.
The video being shared on social media cuts off just before Strasburg returns to Trump and gives him and First Lady Melania Trump some skin after being made aware the President was keen to shake hands.
It’s customary for championship winning teams to score invites to the White House but since Trump took the top job in America more and more players are refusing to visit the President’s residence.
Nationals closer Sean Doolittle was one of eight Nationals players who opted out of joining Strasburg.
“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 told the Washington Post of his decision to skip the event.
“At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.”
Earlier this year NBA team the Golden State Warriors paid a visit to former US President Barack Obama when they headed to Washington for a clash against the Wizards. In 2017 Trump rescinded his invite to the same franchise after sharpshooter Steph Curry said he wouldn’t want to go to the White House, and after winning the 2018 championship the team also skipped a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Two years ago Trump uninvited NFL Super Bowl winners the Philadelphia Eagles after reports emerged suggesting only a few players were planning the make the trip to the White House.
The American president copped a rough reception from Washington locals when he took in Game 5 of this year’s World Series from the stands. Appearing on the big screen, cheers turned to boos and chants of “lock him up!” broke out in some sections of the crowd.
The Nats won their first World Series in franchise history, overcoming the Astros 4-3 in the best-of-seven contest.