Jake Arrieta explains post-election tweet and why he will miss White House trip with Cubs

Jake Arrieta explains post-election tweet and why he will miss White House trip with Cubs

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."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: 'We weren’t going to play more than 60 games'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: 'We weren’t going to play more than 60 games'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made an interesting revelation Wednesday about negotiations between MLB and the players union. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Manfred said the 2020 season was never going to be more than 60 games given the spread of the coronavirus — at least by the time they got to serious negotiations two weeks ago.

“The reality is we weren’t going to play more than 60 games, no matter how the negotiation with the players went, or any other factor," Manfred said on The Dan Patrick Show. "Sixty games is outside the envelope given the realities of the virus. I think this is the one thing that we come back to every single day: We’re trying to manage something that has proven to be unpredictable and unmanageable.

"I know it hasn’t looked particularly pretty in spots, but having said that, if we can pull off this 60-game season, I think it was the best we were gonna do for our fans given the course of the virus."

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Manfred unilaterally imposed a 60-game season after the two sides couldn't come to terms. The union rejected the owners' final proposal, retaining the right to file a grievance against the owners for not negotiating in good faith.

Whether Manfred's comments become a point of contention in any grievance the players might file is unclear. The league would likely argue Manfred was referring to negotiations after his face-to-face meeting with MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on June 16. Manfred's comments to Patrick's follow up question — if the league would have been willing to go to 80 games, had the players agreed to all their terms — also points to this.

"It’s the calendar, Dan. We’re playing 60 games in 63 days. I don’t see — given the reality of the health situation over the past few weeks — how we were gonna get going any faster than the calendar we’re on right now, no matter what the state of those negotiations were.

"Look, we did get a sub-optimal result from the negotiation in some ways. The fans aren’t gonna get an expanded postseason, which I think would have been good with the shortened season. The players left real money on the table. But that’s what happens when you have a negotiation that instead of being collaborative, gets into sort of a conflict situation.”

The players' final proposal called for a 70-game season. At this point in the calendar, 60 games in 69 days (Sept. 27 is the reported end date for the regular season) leaves room for a couple more games, not 70 (or more).

So, Manfred's right that 60 games on the current timetable was probably the most MLB can fit in amid the pandemic. But you have to wonder if the union will use those comments in a potential grievance. 


Cubs fan base named second most loyal in MLB, only trailing Red Sox

Cubs fan base named second most loyal in MLB, only trailing Red Sox

When you wait more than 100 years for a championship, you must maintain a strong sense of loyalty to your favorite team. 

Cubs fans have done that, supporting the club through thick and thin, from the mediocre years to the curse-breaking 2016 World Series season. They pack the Wrigley Field stands, consistently ranking in the top 10 in attendance season after season.

That devotion led to Forbes naming Cubs fans the second most loyal fan base in Major League Baseball, second to only the Red Sox.

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Per Forbes, the rankings are based on "local television ratings (per Nielsen), stadium attendance based on capacity reached, secondary ticket demand (per StubHub), merchandise sales (per Fanatics), social media reach (Facebook and Twitter followers based on the team’s metro area population) and hometown crowd reach (defined by Nielsen as a percentage of the metropolitan area population that watched, attended and/or listened to a game in the last year)."

All that science aside, does the 108-year wait for a championship warrant the Cubs being first on this list? In fairness, the Red Sox waited 86 years before winning the 2004 World Series, their first since 1918. Plus, in terms of attendance, the Cubs have only out-drawn the Red Sox in six of the past 10 seasons, a near-equal split.

Two historic clubs. Two historic ballparks. Two historic championships. In a loyalty ranking, you can't go wrong with either franchise. Here's how the list's top 10 panned out:

10. Braves
9. Phillies
8. Indians
7. Giants
6. Brewers
5. Dodgers
4. Yankees
3. Cardinals
2. Cubs
1. Red Sox