ATHLETIC PROWESS…. As much as I’d like to think this item, from National Review‘s Andy McCarthy, is some kind of parody, it’s almost certainly sincere. It’s a 700-word piece about President Obama throwing out a pitch at this week’s All-Star Game.

[M]y six-year-old throws a baseball better (far better, in fact) than Obama. Yet the media went out of its way to obscure that, too — no doubt wishing to avoid unfavorable comparisons to the strike President Bush famously fired from the mound at Yankee Stadium at the 2001 World Series. In its live broadcast, Fox (and remember, this is Fox Sports, not Fox News) covered Obama’s first pitch at a very weird angle that conveyed his spastic motion but didn’t do justice to how pathetic the toss was. But that’s nothing compared to ESPN’s laughable coverage. Here’s the clip. Besides reporting only that there was a “standing ovation for the commander-in-chief,” the announcer made a point of noting that Obama’s pitch “didn’t bounce” before reaching home-plate (though the announcer did cop to the “horrible camera work that made the trajectory of the pitch impossible to see).

Now, take a look at this clip from, about 24 seconds in. It’s the only decent footage I’ve seen, and it shows that Obama’s first pitch did bounce. In fact, the pitch did not even reach home-plate — and they evidently knew it wouldn’t. The player who was sent out to catch Obama’s pitch (more on that in a moment) was crouching on top of home plate, not behind it where catchers always set up. And even so, he had to reach out a couple of feet in order to short-hop the ball, which otherwise might have bounced all the way to the backstop.

Now, about that player who caught Obama’s pitch: It was none other than the Cardinals’ great first-baseman, Albert Pujols. What does that matter? Well, the tradition is that the first pitch is tossed to the catcher, not the first-baseman — and, in fact, the starting catcher for the National League last night was the Cardinals’ own Yadier Molina. But while Molina is popular, Pujols is like God in St. Louis (in fact, a fan in the stands either last night or the night before was holding a banner that said, “In Albert We Trust”).

It goes on, and on, from there. Obama’s not a good pitcher; the media is engaged in some kind of cover-up; the fans didn’t like the president; etc. There’s even a reference to that low bowling score. This is all treated as if it were a serious subject that reflects something important about Obama’s presidency.

Worse, other right-wing blogs seemed worked up about this, and the Politico ran a mind-numbing story citing the pitch as some kind of evidence of “losing his cool.”

I realize that our political discourse is often silly, but c’mon. Folks really should show a little pride here.

Maybe Obama’s pitch was underwhelming because he was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Maybe he’s never been a baseball player. Maybe, and I’m just throwing this out there, it doesn’t matter.

But if this is somehow the test of one’s valor, and athletic skills are the hallmark of a quality leader, as John Cole reminds us, there was that three Obama drained in Kuwait last year….

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.