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Sorry, Alex Cora. There's No 'Right Way' To Rub Elbows With Donald Trump 

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, left, waves the flag of Puerto Rico as coach Ramon Vazquez holds the championship trophy during a parade to celebrate the team's World Series championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Boston. (Elise Amendola/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, left, waves the flag of Puerto Rico as coach Ramon Vazquez holds the championship trophy during a parade to celebrate the team's World Series championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Boston. (Elise Amendola/AP)

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What are they thinking? Or, perhaps, are they thinking? At all?

The World Series champion Boston Red Sox announced earlier this week that they have accepted an invitation to visit the White House (and, by extension, its unseemly occupant) sometime in the near future.

You know the drill by now. It’s an honor. It’s recognition of their achievement. It’s a chance to visit the White House. It’s a tradition.

Spare me.

This should have been a slam-dunk, "Thanks, But No Thanks." I mean, really? The Red Sox spent a great deal of time trying (after waiting about a decade) to change the name of Yawkey Way. Because, you know, Tom Yawkey, the former owner of the Red Sox, was the last owner to integrate a major league baseball team. It was a transparent PR ploy in this PC era, but, whatever.

Now these same apparently woke owners, the ones who couldn’t stomach a street sign in the neighborhood, are perfectly OK with shaking hands and celebrating with a man who absolves white nationalists, insults African-American reporters and members of Congress, called the African-American candidate for governor of Florida a “thief,” called the Yale-educated African-American candidate for governor of Georgia “unqualified,” and ardently supported a woman Senate candidate in Mississippi who said she’d be happy to support a friend at a public hanging.

Sports and politics have never been an easy mix, but this one is as close to a no-brainer as they come.

Alex Cora, the well-intentioned but apparently politically daft manager of the team, says he’s going to go to “use my platform the right way.” Yeah, sure Alex. Donald Trump is really going to sit by idly and allow you to talk about your ravaged homeland of Puerto Rico.

Does Cora ever read a newspaper? Or watch a television news program? He should be physically recoiling at the sight of Donald Trump, the man who visited storm-ravaged Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, threw paper towels to the people in attendance and then pronounced his administration’s handling of the cleanup as a rousing success. (Hint. It wasn’t.) He insulted the mayor of San Juan and called the Puerto Rican people lazy.

Here’s a tip Alex: Trump may give you a platform, but it will have a trap door. Trump doesn’t care about you, your people or your island. Puerto Rico may not have officially made the celebrated “s---hole countries” list, but that’s not because Trump doesn’t know it’s not a country.

The Red Sox are going to great lengths to say this is a voluntary thing and an invitation-only event. But team president Sam Kennedy made it sound like some kind of high school field trip to Washington, D.C., when he told the Boston Globe, “it’s a great opportunity for those guys to get to go to the White House and get the behind-the-scenes tour and get the recognition they deserve for a world championship.”

A behind-the-scenes tour? Wow. Awesome. Can we take pictures? And the recognition? That comes at a hefty, lasting price — a picture with Trump and probably some kind of Red Sox swag for the president. Maybe Kennedy can find a place for it on his office wall at Fenway. Maybe Trump will autograph it.

The Duck Boat parade wasn’t enough?

The Red Sox should have followed the lead of last season’s Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles, most of whom made it clear they wouldn’t attend and were subsequently disinvited. The Golden State Warriors wanted nothing to do with Trump. Ditto the Cleveland Cavaliers. (The Patriots, unfortunately, did attend. Bob Kraft has put plenty of Benjamins in Trump’s pockets over the years and that is the lingua franca of Trump and his cronies.)

President Trump is presented with a New England Patriots jersey by head coach Bill Belichick, left, and owner Robert Kraft, center, during a ceremony at the White House on April 19, 2017, where the president honored Pats for their Super Bowl LI victory. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
President Trump is presented with a New England Patriots jersey by head coach Bill Belichick, left, and owner Robert Kraft, center, during a ceremony at the White House on April 19, 2017, where the president honored Pats for their Super Bowl LI victory. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

It’s not a hard decision. You’re not disrespecting the tradition or the office of the president by refusing to attend. You’re sending a message that your organization in no way supports the policies of the man who issued the invitation. It’s a chance to stand for something.

If I am a sponsor of the Red Sox, I would tell the team in no uncertain terms that a visit to the Trump White House would result in the pulling of advertisements. If I am a season-ticket holder, I would refuse to renew until this spectacularly shortsighted decision is reversed.

Sports and politics have never been an easy mix, but this one is as close to a no-brainer as they come.

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Peter May Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Peter May is a freelance journalist whose work appears regularly in The New York Times. He covered the NBA and the Boston Celtics for the Boston Globe for nearly two decades.

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