Alex Cora won’t visit White House with Red Sox

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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.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.