“I’m going to use my platform the right way. I’m not going to embarrass anybody,” he said at the premiere of the team’s championship documentary. “Actually, I’m going to represent 4 million people from back home the right way when we go there.”
Attendance, team president Sam Kennedy stressed, is optional. “Like in the past, it’s an invitation,” Kennedy said. “It’s not a mandatory, command performance. It’s an opportunity for these guys to get the recognition they deserve for a world championship.”
Attendance at White House events has become an increasingly controversial issue since Trump took last January. The Houston Astros visited the White House in March, and most of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals have said they would attend if an invitation were offered.
“We all have our opinions on it; it’s a very sensitive issue,” defenseman Brooks Orpik, one of six Americans on the Capitals’ roster, told The Post. “It’s just kind of the way things are going these days. If you don’t have the same belief as somebody else then automatically they think you’re wrong and they take it personally, which politics isn’t supposed to be that way. You’re allowed to have disagreement, but my opinion is that you’re supposed to respect the other person’s decision.”
The Philadelphia Eagles' visit was canceled by the White House in June because, press secretary Sarah Sanders said, only a “tiny” number of players planned to attend.
“The White House, despite sensing a lack of good faith, nonetheless attempted to work with the Eagles over the weekend to change the event format that could accommodate a smaller group of players,” the White House said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Eagles offered to send only a tiny handful of representatives, while making clear that the great majority of players would not attend the event, despite planning to be in D.C. today. In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans.”
Several Eagles, led by Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long, were among those NFL players who have sought to raise awareness of racial injustice and police brutality with pregame demonstrations during the playing of the national anthem, protests that prompted sustained criticism from Trump last year.
The Golden State Warriors, whose players and coach, Steve Kerr, have been highly critical of Trump, were noncommittal about visiting, and the president quickly quashed any notion of an invitation after their 2017 and 2018 championships.
Cora has been outspoken about Trump, too, especially when the president questioned a study that raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to around 3,000. “To be tweeting about 3,000 people and being efficient, it’s actually disrespectful for my country,” Cora said in September. “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.”
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.”
For the Red Sox, all that remains is, as Kennedy said Monday, finding “a date that works.”