Big Papi didn’t hold back when it came to his thoughts on the Red Sox’s Thursday visit to the White House.
While it’s customary for the World Series champions to visit the president, Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and almost every player of color, boycotted the team trip. Former Red Sox first baseman and World Series champion David Ortiz said he supported the manager’s decision, explaining that, as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, meeting Donald Trump wouldn’t be the right move for him.
“I’m an immigrant. When it comes down to the political side of it I don’t know much about politics and things like that,” Ortiz told radio station WEEI by phone. “But when it comes down the way immigrants have been treated it’s something that goes a long way. You don’t want to go and shake hands with a guy who is treating immigrants like [expletive] because I’m an immigrant.” (The term Ortiz used is censored in the transcript published by WEEI.)
The White House visit divided the team as the white Red Sox players, along with J.D. Martinez, who’s of Cuban descent, attended the ceremony.
Cora, who is from Puerto Rico, explained that he’d be skipping the occasion due to the Trump’s administration’s poor response to Hurricane Maria, which hit the U.S. territory in 2017. The manager noted that he wouldn’t feel comfortable celebrating at the White House as those in Puerto Rico still have a long road ahead.
“Even though the United States government has helped, there’s still a long road ahead,” Cora told El Nuevo Día, according to a translated version of the story. “That is OUR reality. I’ve used my voice on many occasions so that Puerto Ricans are not forgotten and my absence [from the White House] is no different.”
Ortiz acknowledged that the ceremony left Cora “in a tough spot” as he’d have to go and “shake hands with the enemy.”
“Think about it, all the stuff that has been going on since he took office,” the former Red Sox player said. “People are angry. People are mad. He has divided people, that’s how it feels like.”
He went on to note that a “big percentage of black people and Spanish people are decedents from immigrants.”
“Once you see what is going in this country based on being an immigrant or being black it’s something that goes beyond going into the White House and shaking hands with the President just because,” he said. “That’s the situation that everyone is facing right now. I’m not saying everything Donald Trump is doing is bad but I guess he started off on the wrong foot.”
Many others criticized the white players’ decision to attend the ceremony. In an episode of “Morning Joe,” host Mika Brzezinski questioned, “Why would anybody on that team go?”
“I don’t get it. Isn’t it all about unity?”
Even Joe Scarborough ― an avid Red Sox fan, show co-host, and Brzezinski’s husband ― felt the players who attended the ceremony shouldn’t have done so.
“Come on, this is the most racist president, certainly, in our lifetime,” he said. “You can talk about Charlottesville, can you talk about what he said about Hispanics, what he said about Puerto Ricans. He’s called Hispanics breeders. He’s attacked immigrants.”