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Culture / Sporting Life

Astros’ White House Drama — Jose Altuve’s Death Stare, Carlos Correa’s Rightful Skip and Mattress Mack’s Joy

Hanging with Donald Trump Brings Unexpected Surprises

BY // 03.13.18

Jose Altuve gave Donald Trump an apparently inadvertent death stare that nearly broke the Internet, Carlos Correa rightly did not show and Justin Verlander got singled out as a Trump golf buddy, a la Tom Brady. Yes, you could say the Houston Astros’ White House visit was pretty eventful.

If you want to think that Carlos Correa, the first No. 1 overall draft pick ever from hurricane-torn, little-helped Puerto Rico, skipped the champ’s White House visit on Monday because of a “family obligation” as the company line initially was, more power to you. The rest of us will live in the real world.

Correa deliberately choosing to use Monday to work on more Puerto Rico relief efforts rather than attend a ceremony at Trump’s White House speaks loudly. The only shame is that Major League Baseball leans more NFL than NBA when it comes to allowing its players self expression.

Plenty of statements ended up being made in the Astros’ White House trip. Was it really a surprise that Altuve stole the show. That’s what MVPs do. Even when they’re just intently listening.

You weren’t getting much levity from Altuve on this day, though he did smile when Trump singled him out and became the 19,113.237th person to make a joke about the superstar player’s 5-foot-6 height. “He seems much taller than I thought,” Trump cracked.

Trump Going Trump

Yes, there were moments of Trump being Trump, inventing new ways to use the English language — and lightening the mood (inadvertently or not).

“You’ve become very famous,” Trump told Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “You did a good job of skippering.”

Skippering? Maybe, Trump was helping Tiger Woods plot his comeback during the MLB playoffs.

Then again, maybe Trump knew he needed a more carefree moment. These White House sports championship celebrations are supposed to be happy, fawning affairs after all. Trump had already singled out Astros ace Justin Verlander as a friendly face and occasional golf playing partner.

“I know Justin. He’s a friend of mine,” Trump said, before praising Verlander’s golf prowess. “I’m a pretty long hitter. This guy’s a monster.”

Give Trump credit for not hiding his Yankee fandom from the team that destroyed pinstriped empire dreams in that epic American League Championship series comeback from down 3-2.

“I watched our Yanks, and the Yankees were good and they were tough,” Trump said in televised remarks. “They were about as tough as anybody, but you guys were just a little bit tougher.”

You know who’s also tough? James McIngvale. The man known as Mattress Mack also got invited to the White House by Astros president Reid Ryan. That image — Mattress Mack in the East Room — added a sweet touch to this day.

This special Astros team deserved to handle its White House visit how it wanted. And it’s most special players did just that, no matter what was happening behind the scenes.

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