Obama ‘pardoned’ for White Sox fandom during Cubs’ visit

With just days left in Barack Obama's presidency, the Chicago Cubs were invited to visit the White House to celebrate the team winning the World Series. Obama is a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan, but he was welcomed into the Cubs fandom by the Cubs' president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

As Epstein presented Obama with the customary swag given to a president on a White House visit, Epstein offered Obama a "midnight pardon" for his previous baseball sins. Anthony Rizzo, no. 44 on the Cubs, handed Obama two no. 44 Cubs jerseys, including an away jersey. He was also given a 44 tile from the historic Wrigley Field scoreboard and lifetime pass to Wrigley Field for him and his family - though the president did note that it was non-transferrable.

Michelle Obama is a Cubs fan and visited with the team before the presentation, but President Obama wasn't quite ready to give up his White Sox, though.

"Among White Sox fans, I'm the number one Cubs fan," Obama said.

Before the visit began, the players were all over social media as they explored the White House.

Dexter Fowler, now a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, brought along a pair of custom Jordans for the president.

Could Kris Bryant, David Ross and Anthony Rizzo be considering a run for office? They would easily win Chicago.

Dabbing at the White House.

President Obama holds up a personalized Cubs jersey presented by the Cubs' No. 44, Anthony Rizzo. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)


Obama greets champion Cubs: Sports bring us together

When President Obama welcomed the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs to the White House on Monday, the outgoing commander-in-chief and the potential dynasty intersected for just one afternoon, yet created an atmosphere that transcended many titlists’ Oval Office visits.

Obama, a former resident of Chicago and avid White Sox fan, was as entertaining as ever with his speech, ribbing the team with one-liners galore while ultimately paying tribute to the Cubs’ success and gracefully accepting the standard team jersey. But there was a part of his speech that brought a calming feeling across the room.

“Sports has the power to bring us together, even when the country is divided,” says Obama.

Obama noted that sports can speak to “something better in us,” before ending his speech by saying that, "sometimes it's not enough to change laws, you have to change hearts. And sports has a way of sometimes changing hearts in a way that politics and business can't.”

That sentiment holds true for what the Cubs were able to accomplish back in November. For decades, Cubs fans watched the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, and White Sox reach the pinnacle of the sports world.

After 108 years of torment and heartbreak, the veil of the Cubs curse was lifted in dramatic fashion.

Hearts were changed in Chicago, but it didn’t just stop there.

Fans of other teams saw the Cubs come back from 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians, a feat that seemed nearly impossible at the time, and felt hope that their team may be next.

If you’re one of those fans, wondering when your team will get to visit the White House, the president had a message for you, too.

“There’s never anything false about hope.”


Last hurrah: Obama welcomes in world champion Chicago Cubs

President Barack Obama welcomed the Chicago Cubs to the White House on Monday, in one of his final acts as its occupant.

The team -- along with a strong showing of top presidential aides and allies -- celebrated their first World Series title in more than a century.

"There were a lot of sick days during the playoffs," Obama said, noting the heavy presence of Cubs fans in his administration. "One of my staff members was caught being interviewed at a bar outside of Wrigley."

The President, who began his political career in Chicago and will build his library in the city's Jackson Park, is not a Cubs fan. He roots for their South Side neighbors, the White Sox. For that, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein offered Obama "a midnight pardon for all your indiscretions as a baseball fan."

Obama also set political allegiances aside to congratulate the team whose co-owner, Todd Ricketts, was a donor to President-elect Donald Trump and tapped to serve as his deputy commerce secretary.

As White House spectacles go, the Cubs' visit will likely rank as the second least likely of this inaugural week. It caps off an improbable season for a team beset for decades by an improbably long championship drought. Their last World Series victory came in 1908, when Teddy Roosevelt was president. It did not earn them a similar invitation.

"The Cubs know what it's like to be loyal and to persevere, and to hope and suffer, and then to keep on hoping," Obama said, before calling out the names of franchise greats like Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg, all of whom made the trip. First lady Michelle Obama's favorite player growing up, Jose Cardenal, was also in the audience.
Congratulating Epstein, Obama noted his success as a turnaround artist -- the 43-year-old led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series wins, in 2004 and 2007, after 86 dry years -- and joked that he was trying to convince the young executive to take on another "organization that is wandering in the wilderness."

"I've talked to him about being (Democratic National Committee) chair," Obama said to laughs. "But he's decided, wisely, to stick to baseball."

Epstein in reply offered the President his pardon and an enviable collection of team swag, including a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field and a "W" flag -- the kind the team flies over its stadium walls after a win -- signed by the entire club.

"Mr. President, thank you for the dignity and integrity with which you've served this country the past eight years," Epstein said, turning to look at Obama, who nodded solemnly in return.

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