After a thrilling extra-innings win on Wednesday that included a game saving catch from Jackie Bradley Jr., the Boston Red Sox are headed to the White House on Thursday to celebrate their 2018 World Series championship.
Well, not all of them. Bradley, Mookie Betts, David Price, Sandy Leon, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Nunez, Christian Vazquez, Hector Velazquez, and manager Alex Cora have all declined the invitation and will not visit with President Donald Trump.
As a writer for The Athletic pointed out in a tweet earlier this week, all the players who won’t be traveling to the White House are people of color. But Cora, who has said that he’s not going due to Trump’s post-hurricane treatment of his native Puerto Rico, told ESPN that there is no racial divide in his clubhouse.
"There's been a lot of talk about what's going on tomorrow and the clubhouse and we're divided with race and politics. Those kids went out there and played their hearts out. We know who we are in the clubhouse. I know a lot of people doubt that, but we did what we did last year and canceled the noise. We showed up every day, and we played."
And despite all the press about the White House visit, Cora emphasized that the clubhouse is united by baseball.
"For everybody that's talking about us and the situation and crushing us throughout the week — they played extra innings, didn't give in, and they're celebrating Heath [Hembree] because of his first save and celebrating Jackie [Bradley Jr.], and we go. There's a group going home. There's a group going to the White House. Friday, we get back to playing baseball."
Keeping the clubhouse united doesn’t happen by itself, though. Cora told local Boston radio station WEEI on Wednesday that he’s worked to make sure everyone stays together mentally, if not physically.
“I’m very aware — I have the pulse of what’s going on in the clubhouse,” he told WEEI, via Boston.com. “Obviously, you don’t read everything, you don’t hear everything, but you have an idea what’s going on. I talk to certain guys in the clubhouse, ‘Hey. Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, we decided that this is the way we’re going to do it. The organization gave us the chance to decide if we go, if we don’t go. I think we’re doing the right thing. Nobody has to be ashamed or pressured not to go or to go.’ ... Everything is fine to be honest with you.”
Of those who aren’t going to the White House, Cora is the only one to get into specifics about why. Guys like Betts and Price declined to elaborate on the reasons for their choice. When Devers revealed he wouldn’t go, he simply said that he didn’t feel compelled to attend and wanted to focus on baseball.
Reliever Heath Hembree, who earned his first career save on Wednesday, is going to the White House simply because he was given the chance. He told ESPN that it didn’t matter to him who was president, he wanted to visit anyway.
“Politically, it didn't matter who was in the White House. If I have an opportunity to go to the White House and meet the president, I'm going to go. Nobody tried to persuade me. They have their reasons why not to go.”
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