Lessons from Red Soxland
Last week, the current occupant of the White House invited the Boston Red Sox over for a chat. The president said he wanted to honor the team that won the 2018 World Series.
In earlier times, an invitation from the nation's political leader has been a great honor, an occasion to break out your best suit, shine your shoes and present your best face.
But we are not in earlier times. It is no secret that our great nation is in turmoil as the Republicans, the Democrats, Independents, and others spend a lot of time sniping at each other.
In Washington, the president is on one side along with the Senate Republicans. The House, now led by Democrats, is in opposition. It has become a nasty fight.
We follow the scrum on TV shows featuring “commentators” and “experts” who tell us why one side is right, and all others are just wrong, or silly or worse.
In other times, our local and state newspapers would provide us with the context and balance allowing us to make up our own minds.
We would comment on the news and views by writing letters to newspaper editors. Editors would run them on the opinion pages along with the opinions of others.
But the information age has bypassed our shrinking daily newspapers as they are caught in a desperate struggle to keep the doors open.
Readers, instead of writing the editor, or chatting politics with neighbors over the back fence, turn to websites like Facebook.
Those sites also collect reams of your personal data, flood you with ads, and pound your brain with politically charged posts. Along the way, they present stories borrowed from legit sources, like newspapers and magazines, and pass them off as their own. They call themselves aggregators. Others call them plagiarists or even thieves.
When you write a letter to the editor, you sign your name. When you chat about politics with neighbors and friends, you look them in the eye.
At the same time, you try to listen to the other person and try to understand his/her views.
In today's world, much of the political discussion is done in the cyber world using a host of sites.
But, and yes, there is a but, you don't have to sign your name. You can use a fake name, and no one will be the wiser. Hidden from view, some use foul language to insult their neighbors for their political opinions, religion or race. This allows them to avoid getting punched in the nose from someone offended by their wacky rants.
Which brings me back to the beloved Red Sox.
Several of them, including some of their biggest stars, declined to accept the president's invitation to visit the White House.
Black players and all but one of Latin American heritage stayed away objecting to the current administration's policies. Alex Cora, the Red Sox manager, objected to the president's treatment of his home, Puerto Rico. Others had their own reasons.
Dissent is a cherished right in our nation. In fact, we became a nation after we dissented with our colonial overlords, the British. They pushed back, jailed dissenters and even sent the mighty British army to our shores to stamp them down.
When our ancestors objected, pitched a bit of tea in the Boston Harbor and became all-around troublemakers, the Brits pushed back, and it didn't take long to become a revolution.
The dissenting Red Sox baseball stars didn't raise a stink, they didn't picket or insult anyone, they just stayed home. And they made their point.
I expect there was a bit of face to face discussion in the team's locker room about the White House visit and the president's views and policies. I am sure some players had strong opinions.
On the day after the White House visit, the Red Sox players suited up and trotted out on to Fenway Park's historic grass lawn. They took batting practice, shagged a few flies and ran through their usual pre-game routine.
Then the ump called "Play Ball," and they went to work. For most of the game, a skilled pitcher of Latin American heritage mowed down the Seattle Mariners batters, allowing just five hits. The wicked Boston bats, swung by black, white, Anglo, and Latino players, backed him up scoring 14 runs on scores of hits, including a trio of homers.
The day before the game, Sox players were in the middle of a very public split over politics, but on the diamond, they played together, supported each other, laughed and joked, and performed like World Series champs.
In just two days, they exhibited profound political differences, then came together as teammates.
But then, this is America. Right?