WASHINGTON — The Cubs brought their World Series trophy to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and will lug it to the White House on Wednesday for a private meeting with President Donald Trump, more low-key than the televised love fest former President Barack Obama squeezed in before leaving office.
The Cubs are here for a four-game series with the NationaIs. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I think the president just knew that we all were going to be here going to baseball games and thought it would be fun to come up and have an unofficial visit with the team.”
The Trump visit “is going to be more social and unofficial and not like the last time,” he said.
“. . . This is a little more low key and it’s more of a friendly visit that what we did before, which was super awesome.”
A White House spokesman, Helen Ferre, said the Cubs meeting with Trump will be closed to the press.
Todd Ricketts, a Cubs board member, was tapped by Trump to be the Deputy Commerce Secretary, only to withdraw his nomination in April, unable to untangle his complex finances.
White House sports team visits sometimes get tangled up in the politics of the players – and the president.
A Sun-Times poll of 22 of the 27 Cubs players, taken in the visiting team clubhouse on Tuesday before the second game with the Nats, revealed that 12 will go to the White House and ten said they are declining the invitation.
Obama, who took a day off from being a White Sox fan, gave a rousing official White House welcome to the Cubs on Jan. 16, four days before the Chicago president left office. The celebration was jammed with Chicagoans overjoyed at the Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908.
The tradition of a president inviting championship teams to the White House is one that Trump seems to be continuing. Still, it is very unusual for a team to be honored twice – even though the second shot is billed as “unofficial.”
In this case, the Ricketts family are mega donors to Republican candidates and causes – except for Cubs co-owner Laura, who is a big Democratic contributor and fund-raiser. The mother of a son born earlier this month, she is remaining at home.
GOP Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, another Cubs co-owner – who did not make the Obama White House celebration – will be at the White House on Wednesday.
Hundreds of fans posed for pictures with the trophy in a Senate meeting room. The Ricketts brought the trophy to Illinois Democrats Sens. Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Mike Quigley plus GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan R-Wisc.
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon was reminded of the speculation that the NBA-champion Warriors might decline a visit to the Trump White House as a protest against his presidency and dismissed the idea that the Cubs’ trip amounted to an endorsement.
“To go [Wednesday] is out of respect to the Ricketts family and to the office and the building itself,” he said. “Listen, I like the United States a lot. I like living here a lot. I like everything that it that it represents a lot. When you get a chance as a citizen to get to go to the White House, you go.
“And whether you like that person that’s running the country or not, out of respect to the office itself you go. I don’t agree with all the other banter that’s going on right now because I have a different perspective. I would much prefer living here than some of the other places that adopt different methods of government.
“I think sometimes that gets confused when people want to take a stand [without] realizing actually what we have here, which is a lot better than most everyplace else.”
First baseman Anthony Rizzo said, “I’m going because it’s the United States of America and I’d rather not (be) anywhere else but this country. There’s no political ties. It’s the White House.”
Pitcher Pedro Strop said, “I just didn’t feel like I want to go.”