Red Sox manager Alex Cora will not attend the Red Sox’ World Series celebration ceremony at the White House on Thursday, citing President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico. Cora’s statement:
“The government has done some things back home that are great, but we still have a long ways to go. That’s our reality. It’s pretty tough to go celebrate when we’re where we’re at. I’d rather not go and be consistent with everything.”
Cora had been going back and forth on the matter but, after talking with family and friends, decided against going. He informed the Red Sox of his decision a few days ago. The team has been supportive of players who want to go and who do not want to go, allowing everyone to decide based on their conscience. Here’s what Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy had to say to the Boston Herald:
“We fully support Alex and respect his decision. He and I have discussed this issue frequently since last November, and I know it was a hard decision for him. I am grateful to (principal owner) John (Henry) and (chairman) Tom (Werner) for creating a culture where we discuss these issues openly, and encourage individual decision-making. I appreciate Alex for talking openly with our team and supporting those who are looking forward to being honored on Thursday.”
Several other Red Sox players have already indicated that they would not be going, including Mookie Betts, David Price, Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., Hector Velázquez and Sandy León.
The once routine post-championship visits with the president have become anything but routine since Donald Trump took office. After the Astros won the World Series in 2017 Puerto Rican natives Carlos Beltrán and Carlos Correa chose not to attend the celebratory visit to the White House for the same reasons Cora cites. The Golden State Warriors chose not to attend, after which Trump claimed to have disinvited them. So few members of the Philadelphia Eagles planned to attend after their Super Bowl victory that the White House canceled the event.
Such is life in 2019.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.