The Cubs have accepted President Barack Obama’s White House invitation and will go to Washington next week as part of their World Series victory tour.
Two sources confirmed the decision – first reported by NBC Chicago – before Obama’s farewell address on Tuesday night at McCormick Place.
The team will visit the Oval Office on Monday, which coincides with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the end of Cubs Convention weekend, the only obvious offseason time where it would be logistically possible to coordinate so many players’ schedules.
This also negates a photo opportunity with Donald Trump, who plans to install Cubs board member Todd Ricketts as his deputy secretary of commerce after the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Obama, the world’s most famous White Sox fan, made the offer over Twitter and called Cubs manager Joe Maddon from Air Force One after the franchise won its first championship since 1908.
A surreal season began in spring training with Trump cryptically threatening the Ricketts siblings over Twitter – Pete is the Republican governor of Nebraska while Laura is active in Democratic politics and backed Hillary Clinton – and telling The Washington Post editorial board that the family has done a “rotten job” running the team.
Either way, the Cubs would be making a political statement after a bruising and polarizing election that saw the billionaire Ricketts family flip-flop from bankrolling an anti-Trump Super PAC to fundraising for the Republican nominee and ultimately grabbing a Cabinet position.
And it is hard to blame Maddon for letting his experiment ride out longer.
Via our Chris Kamka, Rizzo has hit in the leadoff spot seven times this season. In those seven plate appearances he has a single, double, triple (July 21), home run, walk, hit by pitch and a groundout. Rizzo’s numbers as a leadoff hitter are staggering:
With his lead off triple today, Anthony Rizzo is hitting .588 with a .667 OBP when he leads off a game for the Cubs in his career (top or bottom of the first). He's slugging 1.529 with a 2.196 OPS. https://t.co/tMLvCWCi1R
After their 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Ben Zobrist joked that Rizzo is the “self proclaimed greatest leadoff hitter...”. And while on paper, having Zobrist bat fourth in the order and Rizzo lead off seems contradictory, the move has definitely energized the offense. Immediately following all the lineup shuffling, the Cubs reeled off four straight wins before the Cardinals 18-run, 18-hit explosion, but even in that game Rizzo did draw a base by HBP.
And sure enough, in Saturday’s game, there was Rizzo, dominating to the tune of three walks and a triple. There is no telling if Maddon will continue to keep him in the leadoff spot. The move was originally made to help Rizzo get his groove back, which if Saturday’s win was any indication, he has.
Jesse Chavez was solid in two clean innings of work in his Cubs debut. 11 hits total for Chicago, including Baez and Zobrist combining to go 7-for-8 with 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Time to celebrate.... pic.twitter.com/1hTocLMpY4
The farm system doesn't have the big names it once did, as the majority of the top prospects have graduated to the Major League roster, but that doesn't mean the minor league clubs aren't having fun.
Take 29-year-old Ryan Court, a minor league infielder who has bounced around from Arizona and Boston's systems and found a home this year with the Cubs triple-A affiliate in Des Moines, IA. Court has had a solid season in Iowa, slashing .272/.347/.410 in 74 games, but might have had his finest game as I-Cub Friday night against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
Court came up in the 8th inning last night needing just a triple to hit for the cycle, but his club was on the verge of taking the lead in the after scoring three runs prior to his at-bat.
With Bote on 1st, the game tied at 8 runs apiece, Court placed a ball in front of the right fielder who overplayed the ball and allowed Bote to score from first and Court to scamper to third to complete the cycle.
The I-Cubs would tack on another run to polish off a 5-run 8th inning and take home the win in a 10-8 victory over the Baby Cakes, and according to Des Moines Register's Tommy Birch, it was the first time in two decades an Iowa player has hit for the cycle.
It's unlikely Ryan Court will make his way to the big leagues with the Cubs already carrying plenty of infielders, but for one night he played the hero and got his team the win, finishing the night 4-5 with 2 RBI, 4 runs scored and one massive smile on his face.