Were they booing the president? Or were they “Youuuk-ing” him?
In a sensitive campaign season where every headline matters, it depends on who is doing the construuu-ing.
Let’s start with President Barack Obama, who was working for votes on Monday in Boston, the home territory of Republican rival Mitt Romney.
As he was just getting warmed up in a campaign speech, Obama uncorked something of a wild pitch.
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He jokingly thanked the city for trading Kevin Youkilis – a gritty, beloved, core player for the Boston Red Sox for years – to Obama’s hometown Chicago White Sox. The crowd began booing, in a loud but seemingly good-natured, defend-our-team kind of way.
“I’m just saying,” a smiling Obama told the audience at Symphony Hall. “I didn’t think I’d get any boos out of here. I guess I should not have brought up baseball. My mistake.”
When Obama ended the riff by conceding, “You’ve got to know your crowd,” he was rewarded with some laughter.
Someone helped him recover by shouting from the crowd, “We still love you!”
Not so fast, according to Romney’s camp.
In a daily email blast to reporters on Tuesday, Romney press secretary Andrea Saul led off by accusing Obama of having taunted Red Sox fans. She lumped it in with some of the most gut-wrenching setbacks in Red Sox history.
“Maybe the president should have congratulated the team for winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007,” she wrote. “Instead, he chose to mock them for trading away one of its favorite players at a time when the team is struggling.”
(Actually, the team has a winning record and has won seven of its last 10 games.)
Lest a negative story go unchallenged, enter Jay Carney, the White House press secretary and a big Red Sox fan. Unprompted, Carney told reporters traveling with the president that there had been some “really silly reporting” about the episode.
“Anyone who knows Boston, and anyone who was in that room last night knows that the preponderance of people shouting in response to what the president said about Kevin Youkilis were saying ‘Yoooouk’ and not ‘Booo,’ for God’s sake,” Carney said.
The new White Sox third baseman told reporters that he and his family got a kick out of Obama’s comments.
The Cubs are hoping Anthony Rizzo is ready for the major leagues this time. Chicago recalled the 22-year-old power-hitting first baseman from Triple-A Iowa and put him in the No. 3 spot in the batting order for his Cubs debut against the New York Mets on Tuesday night. Rizzo hit well in Triple-A last season but struggled in his first major league stint, hitting .141 with one homer and nine RBI in 49 games for San Diego. … Trevor Bauer, the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, will make his debut for the Diamondbacks on Thursday against the Braves. Bauer, 21, a right-hander and former UCLA standout, is 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Reno. Manager Kirk Gibson also said shortstop Stephen Drew will be activated off the 15-day disabled list and start tonight. … Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz experienced erosion of his esophagus, and the condition caused internal bleeding. He is expected to make a complete recovery and has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. … The Rangers have placed right-hander Colby Lewis on the 15-day disabled list because of tendinitis in his forearm. The team promoted left-handed top prospect Martin Perez from Triple-A Round Rock. … The Yankees have claimed right-hander Danny Farquhar off waivers from the Athletics and optioned him to Double-A Trenton. … The Astros have placed outfielder Justin Maxwell on the 15-day disabled list with an injured left ankle.