Baseball champs in race split over Trump

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-48217375

Red Sox team stands in front of banner reading: World Series 2018 ChampionsImage copyright
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US baseball champions the Boston Red Sox are visiting the White House later to celebrate their victory – without nearly all their non-white teammates.

At least 10 players and the team’s manager, all African-American or Latino, have declined the president’s invitation to the World Series winners.

In contrast, the dozen players who are due to attend are all white, except one who is Cuban-American.

The team has attempted to play down the divide.

Visiting the White House is a tradition for US championship teams. While certain players have opted out under past White House administrations, during Mr Trump’s presidency, these visits – and those who decline – appear to have become increasingly politicised.

Last year, Mr Trump cancelled the annual Super Bowl champions’ White House visit after most black players said they did not want to attend.

In 2017, he disinvited the championship basketball team for similar reasons.

The Red Sox, who won the World Series last year, have told local media that there is no ill will between the players who choose to meet Mr Trump and those who will skip the event.

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Reuters/Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

“We’re in a good place,” manager Alex Cora told WEEI radio.

Mr Cora is from Puerto Rico, and, in a rare move for a winning coach, said he would not be attending because it would not feel right to celebrate while people continued to struggle on the US island territory in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Mr Trump has been criticised for his handling of the US response to the hurricane, which devastated Puerto Rico and left nearly 3,000 dead.

Players Eduardo Rodriguez, David Price, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr, Rafael Denvers, Sandy Leon, Eduardo Nunez, Christian Vazquez, and Hector Velazquez have also said they will not attend.

Currently, JD Martinez is the only non-white player who is planning on visiting the White House on Thursday afternoon.

Most of the players have not cited specific reasons for opting out. But as one local sports columnist tweeted: “So basically it’s the white Sox who’ll be going.”

The team’s owners will also be attending. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy told the Boston Herald: “We fully support Alex [Cora] and respect his decision.”

Mr Kennedy added he was grateful for the Sox’s owners for fostering a team culture that encouraged “individual decision-making”.

Mitch Moreland, a white player who plans on attending, told the Washington Post that visiting the White House would be “very special”, but added that he respected his teammates’ choice.

Another player, Heath Hembree, said “it didn’t matter who was in the White House” – if there was a chance to meet the president, he would go.

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Reuters/Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports

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The Red Sox were the 2018 World Series champions

All the discussion about the team’s apparent racial divide has also brought up the Red Sox’s troubled history.

The Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to end racial segregation in 1957.

The team’s former owner, Tom Yawkey, was an alleged racist who reportedly shouted slurs at black players, including legend Jackie Robinson.

Meanwhile, the White House welcomed the team’s visit with a spelling error that saw immediate outcry from fans.

On the official White House schedule of events, the Red Sox were erroneously referred to as the Red Socks. The mistake has since been corrected.

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