Sam Kennedy Explains Why Red Sox White House Trip Isn't Actually Political

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It seems hard to believe, but the hyper-partisanship in Washington is only increasing, as the government shutdown continues to drag on over President Trump’s demands for his ill-conceived Border Wall –– or steel slat, or barrier, or structure, or whatever he’s calling it now. Despite that, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy says the team continues to view its White House trip as an apolitical event.

On “Dale & Keefe” Wednesday, Kennedy discussed the Red Sox’ decision to visit the White House Feb. 15. “This was the date that was preferred by Alex Cora, Dave Dombrowski and the coaching staff,” he explained. “We wanted to set it up earlier rather than later. Some years in the past, we went during April or May when we’ve played down in Baltimore. Those always seemed a little bit stale. There was quite some time between the championship and the visit. So we wanted to do it during the winter. We looked at the possibility of doing it after Winter Weekend, which is this weekend, but this is the date everyone will be in Fort Myers. We’re going to do a charter from Fort Myers up to Washington D.C. and back in the same day. It’s actually most convenient to players and their spouses. The Major League staff will also be joining us if all of this comes together.”

The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham reports some unidentified players have already told the team they plan to stay behind during the visit. Astros stars Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran did not attend when Houston saw the White House last season, while Trump cancelled the Eagles’ trip in 2017, because it was apparent few players would show up. No NBA team has visited the White House since Trump was inaugurated. 

Alex Cora, who’s been critical of Trump’s disparaging comments about Puerto Rico, says he intends to go and use his platform in the right way. 

“Just like in the past, I’m sure there will be players who chose not to go, who do go,” Kennedy told D&K. “We’ve been pretty consistent and clear about this. This is an honor and a privilege to be invited to the White House. We’ve tried to not make it a political statement. It’s an honor to be invited under the Bush administration two times and the Obama administration once. We feel fortunate. It’s about the players and giving these guys an opportunity to go behind the scenes at the White House and be honored for what was a remarkable 2018 season. You want to rise above politics and give your players the opportunity. But it certainly is not a mandatory trip. But when it all comes together, I believe we’ll have a good representation of players and ownership who choose to go.”

Though the Red Sox are planning on visiting at the start of Spring Training, Kennedy said their plans could change if the government shutdown persists. More than 800,000 federal workers are currently furloughed due to the stand-off. 

“If we deem it to be inappropriate during this government shutdown, then we’ll adjust accordingly,” Kennedy said. “So we’ll play that by ear. That wasn’t part of the conversation –– when we got the invitation, nobody knew that was coming. We’ll see how that plays out over the next couple of weeks.”