Truths, observations from this whole Red Sox White House thing

Rob Bradford
May 10, 2019 - 3:05 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It was a strange day.

Not because someone took a selfie with the President, or even due to anything the man hosting the Red Sox during their White House celebration of a World Series championship did or said.

When you get the vibe that so many simply wanted to power through the moment it's understandable things are going to be a bit awry. And that seemed to be the case before, during and after Thursday's trip to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Make no mistake about, the participants who decided to make the trip to visit the wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital before heading over to see President Donald Trump appeared to get their money's worth. The Red Sox earned the right to break off for a few hours in the midst of their season and experience a little something different. There were smiles. There were laughs. There were handshakes, posing and pats on the back.

In that respect, there was nothing different about this time around.

But that was just part of the equation.

To say that the organization was a bit uneasy about the conversations leading up to the event would be an understatement. There was a reason John Henry was asked if he was going to the White House less than an hour after winning the World Series. It was no surprise that starting January each and every player's decision on whether to attend was being tallied. And when things amped up in the last few weeks, particularly regarding manager Alex Cora's choice not to make the trip, uneasiness was expected.

But all the anticipation in the world couldn't ease the anxiety.

Simply put, there were no easy answers, and that will always make decision-makers uncomfortable.

The biggest takeaway from this whole thing? The clear desperation by more than a few in the Red Sox organization to put this day in the rearview mirror. And now they have that.

The idea that this was going to be a divisive thing for this baseball team is laughable. Of course, we know the unusual dynamic of so many key players not choosing to attend, along with most of their reasons. The optics were also obvious. But baseball players are baseball players, not political or sociological experts. Once they show up to the clubhouse the last thing in the world any of them want to discuss is the who, what, where and why of someone's personal beliefs.

This player is going to hang with that player and visa versa. It has been like that since this group was put together prior to last season, and will continue to be that way when Friday night's series opener against the Mariners rolls around.

Politics and religion don't stand a chance in a baseball clubhouse against the likes of the intricacies of a swing, whether it be baseball or golf.

So with that understood, it is worthwhile to reflect on this day that certainly wasn't like any of the others:

- President Trump, John Henry, J.D. Martinez and Chris Sale said all the right things when addressing the crowd on the South Lawn ... almost. The one misstep made wasn't difficult to decipher: many key contributors to the World Series win weren't mentioned at all. It was no shock that Trump didn't bring up those who chose not to visit the residence, but somebody from the Red Sox should have absolutely used the platform to acknowledge the likes of Alex Cora, Mookie Betts, David Price and Xander Bogaerts. It was a big miss.

- Drew Pomeranz's presence was a surprise for everyone, including many with the Red Sox. Typically World Series-winning players who have moved on to other organizations aren't expected to attend, partially out of respect to the player's current club. But Pomeranz was intent on making an appearance, leading the pitcher to ask the Giants (who did have a game Thursday) and the Red Sox if it would be OK to make the trip. He was obviously welcomed.

- President Trump's speech was well-researched, but when he went off script it got a bit uncomfortable. After understandably acknowledging World Series MVP Steve Pearce he turned to the first baseman and added, "You’re doing well this year?  Pretty well this year, right?  Huh? He’s doing well this year." Pearce, of course, is hitting just .111 with a .316 OPS. Trump, to his credit, did salvage the situation when the proclamation was met with an uncomfortable shrug, saying, "When it counts, he really does well.  Those are the ones we really like, huh?"

- It was unexpected to see "(laughter)" inserted so much in the White House transcript. Fourteen times, to be exact.

- President Trump is clearly very proud of his ability to show off the Lincoln Bedroom. While waiting for Red Sox chairman Tom Werner to address the media, one White House media staple was overheard bemoaning this reality.

- The White House press room is really unspectacular, with so many media members crammed in a tiny space which has dining offerings of two vending machines and a filthy kitchenette counter. It seemed so much bigger and bolder when it used to be on television.

- It was a good move not giving President Trump the No. 45 (he is the 45th president) out of respect to Pedro Martinez. Instead, the Sox went with No. 18 in reference to the year of their World Series win. One onlooker in the crowd, however, didn't get the message.

- Two things shouldn't be forgotten through all the chaos and controversy: 1. For people like J.D. Martinez's father, Julio, this day was an unfathomable honor. He wasn't alone; and 2. The highlight will always be the visit to Walter Reed. The players have said it before and they will say it again.