In late 2016, the Chicago Cubs brought home their first World Series championship in 108 years, breaking a decades-old “curse” in the process.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Cubs would travel to the White House in honor of their victory — though they’ll be making the trip months earlier than usual in order to celebrate with President Obama.
As Yahoo! Sports notes, however, the decision to visit the White House early is in itself a break with tradition, one that some are viewing as a snub directed at PEOTUS Donald Trump:
World Champion Chicago Cubs break tradition & will visit White House while Obama is President
— Ernie Conger (@erconger) January 12, 2017
While the tradition of sports teams visiting the White House has been around for roughly a century, championship baseball teams regularly wait for the incoming administration in election years.
The 2000 World Series champion New York Yankees, for example, waited until the following year, after the newly-elected President Bush had taken office.
The Cubs, on the other hand, will be making the trip on Monday, less than a week before Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president.
As to why the Cubs are making the early trip, it likely has a lot to do with the personal invitation extended by President Obama, who spent much of his early political career in Chicago:
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 (@POTUS44) November 3, 2016
Confirming his acceptance of Obama’s offer, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has since noted that it’s “a plus that President Obama is a Chicagoan” — even if he is a White Sox fan — saying simply:
“When you get invited to go to the White House, you just say yes.”
Though the move could certainly be seen as a slight, given the current sharply divided political climate, it should be noted that it’s not exactly unprecedented: the Toronto Blue Jays visited George H.W. Bush’s White House in 1992, just before Bill Clinton took office.
Still, the president-elect has his own, slightly more complicated connection to the team, as well:
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
Back in February, then-GOP candidate Donald Trump tweeted a none-too-subtle warning to the billionaire Ricketts family — which owns the Cubs — after it emerged that they had given money to a Republican PAC opposing him.
Since then, some members of the family — including Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts — have switched their support to Trump. Alternatively, sister Laura Ricketts is a well-known “key Democratic fundraiser for Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.”
Finally, sibling Todd Ricketts — whom Trump has tapped as his deputy secretary of commerce — has said that he will join Laura and Tom when the Cubs visit the Obama White House on Monday.
Cubs' White House visit a reminder of Ricketts' family divide https://t.co/NdRfuFA8Bx
— Beatriz Simpkins (@beatrizpsimpkin) January 11, 2017
With various high-profile athletes announcing that they would refuse to visit a Trump White House even if invited, some have been left wondering if the Cubs will be the last championship team to accept this particular honor for years to come.
Given what New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have had to say about the president-elect, however, it seems there’s at least one team out there that would gladly welcome such an opportunity.