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Video: Trump welcomes Cubs to Oval Office

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump showed off a Cubs jersey on Wednesday as he welcomed members of the 2016 World Series Cubs to the Oval Office.

The White House visit comes a few hours before the Cubs play their third game of the four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

The informal “meet and greet” was the second time the team has visited the White House to mark their historic 2016 World Series win.

The Cubs were honored in a formal ceremony on Jan. 16 with former President Barack Obama four days before he left office.

“This is a great team,” Trump said in the Roosevelt Room. “They were actually here, but they wanted to be here with Trump, right?”

The 2017 Cubs have been struggling. The are 1-1 in the series with the Nats.

“Your team’s doing OK,” Trump said. “But you’re going to do great starting now, right?”

Trump highlighted the Cubs owners, the Ricketts family: Team resident Tom and brother and co-owners Todd and Pete, the GOP governor of Nebraska.

Trump in his free-wheeling remarks noted that he tapped Todd Ricketts to be his Deputy Commerce Secretary, only to have him withdraw his nomination in April, unable to unravel his complex finances.

Said Trump, “And after about 9,000 pages of filings, he said, ‘the heck with it.'”

Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was also in the room – it’s not clear yet why he was at the White House – and Trump called him up to pose with the team.

Kris Brant stands beside President Donald Trump at the White House. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

Trump first met with the team in the Roosevelt Room and then took the across the West Wing hall to the Oval Office, where they gathered around his desk.

And just to head this off at the pass: For those who looked at a photo from the event and thought that center fielder Albert Almora may have been making an obscene gesture as he was hooking his finders on his pants, the player sets the record straight.

“I had two fingers out. I’d never do that to the president of the United States.”

And more on the finger flap: “We laugh about it now. But there were two fingers out there. Definitely two fingers.”

In contrast to January, not all of the team decided to go. As of Tuesday evening of the 22 players surveyed, 10  planned to skip the visit.

“I’m going because it’s the United States of America, and I’d rather not live anywhere else except this country,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was the player rep who addressed the media in January after the Obama visit. “It’s an honor. No political ties. It’s the White House.”

President Donald Trump meets with members of the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. | Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Only four current players who were on the World Series roster missed the trip in January: Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Hector Rondon. And at least five other 2016 players who were not on the Series roster attended.

Arrieta, who pitched Tuesday night, and Rondon aren’t going this time, either.

“I prefer to stay in my room, get rest and get prepared for the game,” Rondon said.

President Donald Trump meets with members of the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs. | Susan Walsh/Associated Press

After the visit, Trump took to Twitter to thank the Cubs for coming and said it was an honor to meet them.

President Donald Trump holds a Chicago Cubs jersey as he meets with members of the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs. | Susan Walsh/Associated Press

 

During the Cubs first visit: President Barack Obama speaks during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, where the president honored the 2016 World Series Champion baseball team. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press