The issue of whether or not sports champions should visit the Trump White House flared up again Tuesday after Boston Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy announced that this year's World Series Champions are going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Two progressives writing for The Nation magazine in October, after the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Fall Classic, strongly objected to a White House celebration because "Red Sox values are not Trump values."
There was much rehashing about past championship teams that didn't visit the Trump White House, as well as Boston's Puerto Rican manager, Alex Cora (in photo), who had previously called President Donald Trump's remarks about hurricane devastation in his homeland "disrespectful."
Nevertheless, Cora is taking the high road to D.C. On Monday night he said, “I’m gonna use my platform the right way. I’m not gonna embarrass anybody. Actually, I’m gonna represent four million people from back home the right way when we go there.”
Washington Post sports writer Cindy Boren said, "The manager noted that he respected the president but disagreed with 'a lot of stuff that he says about us . . . You know, 3,000, six, 18. I don’t know. We will never know how many, how many we lost. I hate that people make it a political issue. This is about human beings. The people that went through this, they know what happened.'”
In September, Cora said:
"To be tweeting about 3,000 people and being efficient, it’s actually disrespectful for my country. We see it that way. I know he probably doesn’t feel that way. And like I said, hey man, thank you for helping us. He went down there, he did what he did. I hate talking about politics and all that, but I think this is more than politics."
ESPN quoted Kennedy saying: "Like in the past, it's an invitation. It's not a mandatory command performance. It's a great opportunity for the players, an invitation for the players and ownership. It's a great opportunity for those guys to go to the White House and get the behind-the-scenes tour and get the recognition they deserve for the world championship."
TMZ cited two baseball veterans who support Trump. Former Major League pitcher Brad Penny, who won seven games as a member of the Red Sox in 2009, advised athletes to attend White House invitations. "You support the president whether you voted for him or not. We live in a great country, and I personally support Trump, and he's our president. I support anyone who's in office. ... It's an experience, and you can't learn anything about someone if you don't go see him."
The night the Red Sox clinched the World Series, relief pitcher Heath Hembree was asked by TMZ if he'd go see Mr. Trump. "Hell yeah, I f*** with Trump," he replied. TMZ asked him what he liked about President Trump and Hembree said, "Everything."
The media who opposed the White House visit included Deadspin's Barry Petchesky, who sarcastically said of a Red Sox slugger who supports the Second Amendment: "J.D. Martinez must be psyched, but you can probably count on some number of players conspicuously skipping it ... ."
But right after Boston dispatched L.A. in October, The Nation's progressive duo of Peter Dreier and Kelly Candaele thoroughly ripped Trump as unfit to host sporting champions. Dreier is professor of politics at Occidental College and the author of the book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. Candaele is a union organizer. "They should stand up to, not next to, the president," The Nation attack continued:
"It all comes down to the message that the Red Sox franchise wants to send. Red Sox values are not Trump values: In 2016, only 14 percent of Boston voters, and 33 percent of Massachusetts voters, supported Trump. Boston bleeds Red Sox red, not Trump orange."
Dreier and Caendale asked a series of sharply critical rhetorical questions for the Red Sox to answer: "Do the Red Sox want to allow Trump—whose presidency is rooted in appeals to racism, sexism, and immigrant bashing—to bask in the glow of their victory?"
Does it make sense for the Red Sox to ask players — including nine from foreign countries — four African Americans, two American-born Latinos and a Jewish player "to ignore Trump’s divisive comments and policies that degrade immigrants, people of color, and Jews?"
Also, do the Red Sox want to ask a Mexican member of the team to stand "next to a man who viciously separated children from their parents when they were detained for entering the United States illegally" and the man who wants to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S.?
The Nation asked if Red Sox players with daughters should gladly stand next to a president who they say demeans women and who nominated someone for the Supreme Court who assaults women.
Dreier and Candaele point to Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron, who has urged athletes to speak out on social and political issues and said there is nobody in the White House he wants to see. "The Red Sox should follow Aaron’s lead," they said.