A.J. Hinch: Astros will decide later whether to visit White House

In the wake of the Astros’ first World Series championship in franchise history, manager  A.J. Hinch said Friday the team doesn’t want to “polarize this moment” by announcing whether or not the team will make the traditional champions visit to the White House.

“I believe in celebrating this championship,” Hinch told reporters Friday. “I believe our organization should bask in the glory of what this work has done. … What comes out of this moving forward on the political side, what we do or don’t do, what sports has turned into representing the country’s tone, will have to be decided in time.

“We’re not going to allow anything to polarize this moment that we want to celebrate with our fans.”

Several Astros players, including World Series MVP George Springer and pitcher Dallas Keuchel, said they would visit the White House if the team accepted an invitation.

White House visits by championship-winning college and pro teams have been a tradition since the Reagan Administration. But the current divisive political atmosphere and the election of Donald Trump as president last year, has now raised questions after every championship event. Will the champions go, or will they decline? If they go, how many players will skip the ceremony?

The Super Bowl champion Patriots visited the White House in April, but about a dozen fewer players attended than during the team’s previous visits.

In September, President Trump uninvited the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after Stephen Curry said he didn’t want to go.

The NCAA basketball champion Tar Heels issued a statement saying they were “fine with going,” but couldn’t find a date that worked for both the team and White House. The national champion Clemson Tigers visited the president in June.

Last month, the Pittsburgh Penguins visited with President Trump, with head coach Mike Sullivan telling reporters, “Nobody’s choosing a side. … We are simply honoring our championship and the accomplishments of this group of players.”

Hinch knows the Astros’ decision, one way or another, will offend some people. He also knows now is not the right time to make that decision.

“I don’t know if this is the best stage for everybody to declare one way or the other and try to comment on the moment and (make) too much of a political statement,” Hinch said.

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