The Cubs will visit the White House without one of their most recognizable players. But Jake Arrieta insisted he's not making another political statement by declining President Barack Obama's invitation to the World Series champs.
Arrieta revealed that he's dealing with family medical issues back home in Texas. His mother-in-law, Debbie, recently underwent brain surgery while his young son, Cooper, is scheduled for a dental procedure on Monday, when the Cubs will be honored in the Oval Office.
"I won't be on that trip," Arrieta said Friday as Cubs Convention opened at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. "I would like to. But I've got some other things I got to handle."
The day after a surreal, polarizing and stunning campaign ended, Arrieta posted a message on his Twitter account that has since been retweeted 27,000-plus times and liked more than 56,000 times: "Time for Hollywood to pony up and head for the border #illhelpyoupack #beatit."
Donald Trump has shown that Twitter outbursts, dog-whistle politics and a long track record of misogyny and xenophobic rhetoric won't necessarily stop you from winning the Electoral College vote. So Arrieta – an All-Star pitcher and Cy Young Award winner – shouldn't be worried about too much backlash from Cubs fans.
Arrieta – who's among the most thoughtful, eloquent and independent players in the clubhouse – said he didn't vote in this presidential election.
"People can interpret a tweet however they want," Arrieta said. "But I was simply calling out people that said they were going to leave the country if Trump was elected. It's not a pro-Trump tweet. It's not an anti-Hillary tweet. I don't care who the president is – I want whoever's president to do a good job.
"For people to decipher a tweet the way they want, they're allowed to do that. But my tweet was pretty simple and I thought was straightforward.
"People can believe I'm politically this way or that way. That's not the case. It's pretty simple, my political stance. I don't consider myself a Democrat or a Republican. I want a president who's going to do a good job. That's where I stand."
Arrieta was bothered by the reaction from ESPN analyst Keith Law, who responded over Twitter on Nov. 9: "candidates & politics aside, this reads to me as an anti-Semitic comment (and I'm not Jewish)."
"People were saying that I want people deported or I'm an anti-Semite," Arrieta said. "Why would I not like Jewish people, first of all? That doesn't make sense. Like Keith Law – I can't wait until I see him in person.
"I have Puerto Rican blood in me – and to think that I would want to deport people is just absurd."
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Arrieta has nearly 390,000 followers on Twitter, a strong personality that enjoys the interaction on social media and the megaphone that comes with being on the Cubs team that ended the 108-year drought.
"It's hard to convey a message in 140 characters," Arrieta said. "I thought I did a pretty good job. Other people didn't. But I feel like my stance is pretty open and honest and it's not to put anybody down.
"I was simply calling out people who have a tremendous platform of millions of followers that said they were going to leave the country if Trump was elected. I was basically calling their bluff. If you don't want to live here…then beat it.
"I'm pretty pro-United States, as I think everybody in this country should be, if you want to stay here. And if not, then I'm sure there's somewhere else they can go."