The tradition of championship teams being invited to the White House for a meet and greet with the President in office began in the 1980’s. Over the years we have seen one or two players declining the invitation for a variety of reasons, but mainly due to their political views differing from the sitting President. Since Donald Trump took office, the tradition has faltered as entire teams have turned down the invitation. The most remembered instance was the Golden Sate Warriors who bypassed the White House trip with Trump and hung out with Barrack Obama while in Washington D.C. Despite pissing off Trump and setting him off on a little twitter rant, the Warriors skipping the White House trip did no damage to the team chemistry. But that leads us to the Boston Redsox who have butchered the whole situation, much like Bill Buckner did that ground ball in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
For those of you who don’t know, Red Sox manager Alex Cora is Puerto Rican and came out months ago with his displeasure of the way Trump handled the Hurricane relief, and continually disrespected Puerto Rico. As a result Cora stated he would pass up the invitation to the White House months ago, and recently reaffirmed that stance.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 9, 2019
Ehh one person missing the appearance is no big deal, and usually happens when every team visits. But what the Redsox ownership did not see coming, and shame on them for it, was that half the team planned on not attending the white house, including key players: 2018 MVP Mookie Betts, David Price, Xander Bogarts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. A total of 9 players bypassed the invitation. In fact almost all the players who attended the White House Thursday afternoon were yeah you guessed it, the white players, and what raised evermore eyebrows was that not a single white player or coached skipped the event.
To be 100% clear, by going to the White House, it does not necessarily mean that an individual player agrees with the current sitting Presidents policies, and views. Some people see the invitation as a chance to witness history, a chance to be honored and celebrated by the country. However, in the unique political climate and heightened sensitivity to Trumps policies and behavior, even a photo op, and simple shake of the hand with Trump will change the perception of a player and link them as a “Trump supporter” even if it is far from reality. For all we know the Cuban born OF J.D. Martinez who gifted Trump a jersey, and posed for a photo is a Democrat and hell we know the Redsox owner was a contributor to the Hillary Clinton Campaign, yet he attended.
I singled in on Martinez because he is the sole star minority player who chose to accept the invitation, somewhat salvaging the optic ever so slightly. But when every white player attends, and nearly every minority declines, it makes you question if there is a divide in the locker room. Or maybe not, maybe it is being over blown by the media. But then you see David Price’s twitter timeline, in-particular a retweet of Price relating to who attended and who didn’t.
I just feel like more than 38k should see this tweet… https://t.co/BtbK0DNPQc
— David Price (@DAVIDprice24) May 6, 2019
Price tried some damage control:
“It was an insensitive tweet that needs to be seen by more people. Thats what it was.” – David Price
Yeah okay Price, good attempt to walk that one back but nobody is buying it.
If there is a racial, political divide in the locker room or not, the whole situation was poorly managed by Redsox management and owners. It was no secret that Manager Alex Cora was never going to attend after Trump’s comments about Cora’s native land. The owners should have read the room. There was a good chance the star players and minorities would decline, or at least struggle to make a decision. Also as a team, a cohesive unit, some player were just willing to stand with their leader, Alex Cora who felt very passionate about the situation. The owners should have consulted the 25-man roster and made a decision on whether to accept or decline the invitation as a whole. It would have prevented this mess of a situation, prevented any type of locker room divide or controversy and kept the focus on baseball. But instead the focus leading up to the White House trip and in the days ahead will be about who went, who didn’t, if there is a divide, etc.