Monday, January 16, 2017

EXTRA: White House Cubs’ tribute acknowledges Chicago baseball feud

I got my chuckle Monday from Chicago Cubs baseball boss Theo Epstein, who publicly gave soon-to-be former President Barack Obama a “midnight pardon” thereby giving him Cubbie forgiveness for the way in which Chicago’s very own president has been so publicly a supporter of the Chicago White Sox.

It makes me think the guy who put together the first ball club in over a century that could call itself “World Series champions” has a little sense of politics, what with the “midnight pardon” being used usually to refer to the last-minute acts of clemency that former President Bill Clinton managed to slip through before George W. Bush took over.

IT COULD BE taken as a political pot shot, particularly since we still don’t know what final acts of clemency Obama will feel compelled to issue this week. But Obama seemed to get the gag, and laughed along.

Yes, Monday was the day that the Chicago Cubs ventured to Washington to have the now-traditional meeting of an athletic champion with the president. Some hay has been made of the fact that the Cubs met with Obama.

Rather than waiting until this season when they play the Nationals, by which time Donald J. Trump will be president. But it seems that even though Cubs ownership wound up backing Trump and one Ricketts brother got a Trump political appointment, Ricketts sister Laura is an Obama backer and used her influence to make sure the Cubs were paid tribute to by the Hyde Park resident who has made quite a public spectacle of his choice of the White Sox.

Even though many suspect he’s more of a basketball fan at heart.

FOR THE RECORD, Obama noted that while many of his Chicago-oriented staffers contracted Cubbie fever back in October and November, he didn’t share the same visceral reaction.

Although he did call himself the “number one Cubs backer” amongst White Sox fans.

I couldn’t help but notice that when reciting the list of Bears and Blackhawks sports teams whom he got to greet at the White House for championships, he also gave a plug to the 2005 White Sox that also won the World Series – even though that came back in the days of Bush, the younger, as president.
Will Barack Obama in the future find it easier to just say he's a Bulls fan?

For what it’s worth, I recall how White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski ribbed Bush about the fact that his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, was at the ’05 World Series games played in Houston and was rooting for the Astros. Also present at that White House event?

THEN-SEN. BARACK Obama, D-Ill., who managed to tag along for the event with many Illinois politicos (but not Cubs fan Gov. Rod Blagojevich) just as many staffers managed to cram their way into the White House on Monday to see the Cubbies.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out back in Chicago, particularly if Obama were ever to actually try to use that symbolic lifetime family pass the Cubs presented him with. This being the guy, after all, who once threw out a first pitch at a baseball All Star game and offended some baseball people by insisting on wearing his White Sox warmup jacket, rather than one bearing the All Star Game logo.

Obama may find that his move to the District of Columbia, or possible future move to Honolulu (where he grew up) will be forgiven much more quickly than if he ever deigns to wear Cubbie blue and sit in the stands at Wrigley Field.

For I’m sure there are some White Sox fans who would have liked it if Obama had responded to Epstein’s “midnight pardon” with a choice expletive and a statement of where he could shove it, declaring himself to be a Sout’ Sider once and for all!


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