The greatest moment in all of space and time.
Despite having his farewell address out of the way, President Obama still has a few things to attend to—like, for example, hanging out with world-class athletes. The Chicago Cubs decided to squeeze in the traditional champions’ visit to the White House at an, uh, unusual time.
Most of the team and staff will make the trip to White House to visit with Obama on Monday, according to multiple reports out of Chicago.
Typically, championship teams visit the White House to be honored by the president the following season, when a road trip takes them to Washington, D.C. or close enough to make the trip (i.e. the Cubs might have otherwise waited until their series against the Washington Nationals in late June). It makes scheduling easier, among other things.
But after the Cubs’ historic World Series victory over the Cleveland Indians in November, President Obama, a former Chicagoan (though a White Sox fan), offered his congratulations and extended an invitation to visit before he left office on January 20.
It happened: @Cubs win World Series. That’s change even this South Sider can believe in. Want to come to the White House before I leave?
— President Obama (@POTUS) November 3, 2016
So the Cubs appear ready to squeeze in a visit before their hometown president leaves and Donald Trump, noted Yankees fan (of course) takes over.
Though the team hasn’t officially confirmed the trip yet—Mashable has reached out to the Cubs for comment, and we’ll update if they respond—the Chicago Sun-Times reports that a "significant majority" of the team will be able to attend. The team’s annual convention will be held over the weekend before the trip, meaning many players and coaches will already be together.
The Trump-Cubs Connection
Whether or not Trump takes the team’s visit as a slight, he does have a strange relationship with the family who own the Cubs, the Ricketts. Joe Ricketts is a well-known GOP booster, and his son, Pete Ricketts, is the Republican governor of Nebraska.
Of course, as he is wont to do, Trump threatened the family via a tweet in February 2016.
I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2016
Trump doubled-down on this threat in a March interview with the Washington Post.
HIATT: So, what does it mean, “They better watch out”?
TRUMP: Well, it means that I’ll start spending on them. I’ll start taking ads telling them all what a rotten job they’re doing with the Chicago Cubs. I mean, they are spending on me. I mean, so am I allowed to say that? I’ll start doing ads about their baseball team. That it’s not properly run or that they haven’t done a good job in the brokerage business lately.
After a few months, Joe and Pete were backing Trump. A conservative SuperPAC that some members of the Ricketts family backs, Future 45, aired an anti-Hillary Clinton ad during the Cubs’ playoff series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the family’s ties to Trump were a hot topic in media coverage of the playoffs.
Following Trump’s election, another one of Joe’s sons, Todd Ricketts, was selected for a cabinet position.
The Clinton-Cubs Connection
But not all of the Ricketts family back Trump. Laura Ricketts, sister to Pete and Todd, was a big Clinton supporter, holds a position in the Democratic National Committee, and has previously backed her own SuperPAC that supported Democratic candidates. She was joined in her Clinton support by Cubs president—and one of the architects of the team’s rebirth—Theo Epstein.
Another Ricketts brother, Tom, the team’s chairman and public face for the family’s role with the franchise, says he’s a moderate Republican but has significantly down-played his own political leanings.
And on the field?
As for the players: The Cubs themselves have been mostly quiet on the topic. Mostly.
Ace pitcher Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young winner, upset the sports-politics divide by sending a controversial tweet on the morning after Election Day that many took as a pro-Trump statement aimed at Clinton-supporting celebrities, angering many fans.
At the time, Epstein said of the tweet: "I believe in the First Amendment. But I also believe we should be mindful of how other people feel."
Whether because of the backlash or not, other players haven’t followed suit and there’s no word on which players—or owners—will be making the trip to Washington next week.
The Cubs won the World Series
Regardless of political leanings and who goes and who doesn’t, though, it’s essential to remember one very important thing: the Chicago Cubs (actually) won the World Series.