The reigning MLB champion Kansas City Royals will hope a visit Thursday to the White House with President Barack Obama to celebrate their 2015 World Series triumph can provide the spark they've been looking for heading into the final months of the regular season.
Kansas City, which sits six games out of the final AL wild-card spot with a 47-47 record, stopped by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on an off day. The journey to Washington, D.C., represented a rare enjoyable road trip for the team, owner of a 17-32 record away from home this season.
Eric Hosmer, fresh off winning the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Award, passed along a snapshot from the bus ride over, which made the group look more like security detail than baseball players:
Before meeting up with the president, the Royals crashed the daily briefing held by White House press secretary Josh Earnest. His socks answered any questions about his baseball allegiance:
The team showcased manager Ned Yost along with Salvador Perez and Hosmer delivering some special gifts to one of their high-profile supporters:
Obama started his speech by rattling off the numerous players who made a large impact during last season's title run. As he shouted them out, however, he joked it didn't seem like people spent too long coming up with their various monikers, per 610 Sports Radio-KC:
Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star noted the president particularly enjoyed a quote from Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson:
Obama also took some time to discuss the importance of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and commented on the continued positive impact the Royals are making to help grow the sport, via Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star:
The ceremony concluded as the organization gave the president another championship jersey for a collection that's grown increasingly large over the past eight years:
Mark Knoller of CBS News showed the different reactions from Obama, a noted fan of the division rival Chicago White Sox, and Earnest from earlier in the day:
One player who missed the proceedings was Jonny Gomes. The veteran outfielder played 12 games for Kansas City last season but was left off the postseason roster. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Royals didn't include the free agent in the travel group, which disappointed him.
"I've been sent down. I've been non-tendered, whatever," Gomes said. "But this is probably the worst news of my professional baseball career."
Although Gomes played only a minor role for the organization last season, he stole the show during the World Series parade. He also stood out during a previous visit to the White House with the Boston Red Sox following their title in 2013 thanks to a patriotic American flag suit.
He would have provided some extra flair to the visit. That said, it was still a memorable trip for the Royals. Just like everything else associated with the title, it's a little sweeter since they fell just short in the 2014 World Series before fighting back to win it all one year later.
Now the focus turns back to baseball. Kansas City needs to get hot in the coming weeks if it wants an opportunity to defend the championship in the postseason. The team returns to action Friday for a three-game series with the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.