Obama's All-Star Challenge - NBC New York

Obama's All-Star Challenge

The president must avoid striking out

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    Obama's All-Star Challenge
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    During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama bowled an embarrassing 37 in seven frames in a Pennsylvania bowling alley. He hopes to do better throwing out first pitch in All-Star Game on Tuesday.

    Everyone knows that President Obama is a buff workout fiend.  The Washingtonian even used a picture of him in his swimming trunks in Hawaii as a cover shot.  It's also well known that he's been a mean basketball player since his high school days when he was known as "Barry The Bomber" for his three-point shot.  The cameras picked him up in motion while visiting -- and playing some hoops -- with the troops last year. He regularly plays with other b-ballers in his administration.  

    The question is: Can he do well in public athletic events other than basketball?  It's an important question as the president takes the mound Tuesday to throw out the first pitch in Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. 

    The one other non-basketball public event associated with Barack Obama did not, shall we say, go well:  On the campaign trail in March 2008, he bowled an embarrassing 37 (in seven frames) at the Pleasant Valley Recreation Center in Altoona, PA.  Even more so than Jeremiah Wright's popping up, people attributed Obama's big loss to Hillary Clinton to his awful bowling form. Mocking those who wondered if Obama was "black enough," Bill Maher even quipped, "He rolled a 37 (bowling). That's black enough for me."

    The bowling fiasco even came back to bite the president earlier this year.  In an appearance on The Tonight Show, Obama likened his bowling to a Special Olympics participant, which was a decidedly non-PC thing to say. Worse, a Special Olympics athlete challenged Obama to a few games (something that the White House has yet to respond to -- perhaps not wanting to further embarrass the boss).   

    And now, despite the fact that football seems to attract more fans -- and the Super Bowl is the most watched sports event -- baseball is still the American pastime.  If the president doesn't manage to get his pitch to home plate -- or at least somewhere close enough to St. Louis' hometown hero Albert Pujols, who is supposed to catch it -- Obama could be embarrassed in front of a national televised audience of millions. 

    Even as his approval rating begins to slide, Barack Obama is still personally popular.  That could change with a wild pitch either hitting the ground before home-plate or flying wildly high and into the backstop.  The pressure is especially high given that his predecessor -- ex-Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush was quite the expert in delivering first pitches the several times he was called upon to do so

    There's a lot at stake right now for the Obama administration -- the Sonia Sotomayor nomination, health-care, cap-and-trade, etc.  Will he still be able to govern if he can't throw a baseball 60 feet, six inches? Might not his entire agenda be at risk. 

    His supporters had better hope that he gets in a few warm-up tosses in the bullpen before he takes the mound. 

    New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter