(Photo: Mark Wilson, Getty Images)
Mark Slovin, USA Today Sports
WASHINGTON -The San Francisco Giants put their disappointing season on hold Monday, returning to the White House for the second time in three years.
On the South Lawn, wrapping up an afternoon tour, President Barack Obama commended them on the 2012 World Series title - the seventh in club history. The players exited the White House through the South Portico and stood on risers behind the president while listening to him speak.
To a crowd that included Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who spent nearly his entire career with the Giants, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a season-ticket holder at AT&T Park, Obama noted that the organization is "making a habit" of earning invitations to the White House. According to TheNew York Times, the first World Series winners to be welcomed by a president were the Washington Senators after their 1924 championship during Calvin Coolidge's term.
Obama said that, though the Giants' pitching, defense and hitting remained as strong as during the 2010 World Series season, the two runs weren't identical.
"This year, it only took four games," Obama said, referring to San Francisco's sweep of the Detroit Tigers to clinch the title. When the Giants won the 2010 World Series over the Texas Rangers, they did it in five games.
Giants President Larry Baer reciprocated Obama's praise, congratulating him on a successful re-election campaign.
"We weren't the only ones celebrating a second victory in November," Baer said.
Obama spent a portion of his speech lauding the organization's efforts off the field as well. He cited the Giants' public support of the It Gets Better Project, which aims to assure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children that life becomes easier, as a reason why the team also succeeded in the community.
Obama also announced San Francisco's plans to transform the center field bleacher area into an edible garden that will include kale and strawberries. He then joked that, "It's still OK to have a hot dog every once in a while."
The Giants presented Obama with an autographed bat and ball.
Though Obama made no reference to this season in his speech, manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that the president privately expressed his confidence that the team will turn it around, calling them a second-half team. San Francisco is currently last in the National League West division with a 46-58 record - 10 games behind the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
General Manager Brian Sabean called Monday's reception "a breath of fresh air."
"I think this is a good reminder that we are a very good ballclub," catcher Buster Posey told reporters after the ceremony. "When guys are struggling it's easy to get down on yourself. Hopefully a thing like this will remind everybody we're all good players."
USA Today Sports