Tim Thomas blew it.
So did Theo Epstein.
Both notable Boston sports figures passed on White House appearances with their teams because of their disagreements with the Commander in Chief at the time. Thomas was a vocal social media critic of President Obama's social and economic policies, and the expansion of government as a whole. Theo hated the air that George W. Bush breathed and the ground upon which he walked.
Tuesday, the 2013 World Series champs were honored by President Barack Obama at the White House. In the Year of the Selife, David Ortiz did not pass up the chance to take a photo of a lifetime with the his new BFF, who just happens to be leader of what's left of the Free World.
Despite all the selfies, [Ortiz's photo with the president may have been brought to us in part by Samsung] it was really the selflessness of the 2013 Red Sox, and the team's forever connection to the Boston Marathon that was honored Tuesday at the White House.
This was a refreshingly non-partisan affair. Thankfully, the rest of the Red Sox did not share Jonny Gomes' taste in fashion. His solo appearance in the Uncle Sam red, white, and blue suit was an outlier, nearly an embarrassment, and a statement of sorts that perhaps all that unity and Team Chemistry we came to know and love in 2013 isn't so strong any more. Of course, when Thomas decided to pass on meeting the president in 2012, his decision was then blamed for everything from the impending destruction of the franchise, the Bruins' first round exit in the playoffs, the national debt, the Obamacare website's woes, and the subsequent Patriots' losses to the Ravens and Broncos in the AFC title game. When Theo snubbed George W. Bush, we got excuses and crickets.
Let's hope there isn't another new curse thanks to Jonny's Suit.
The president said all the right things during the brief ceremony, save for a flub when pronouncing the name of the Red Sox's first baseman. Even though this is the age of the selfie, the success of the 2013 Red Sox and their impact on the city's post Marathon Bombing recovering was all about selflessness.
Obama spoke about how his staff is overrun with Red Sox fans, including the official White House photographer and his chief spokesman, Jay Carney. His speechwriters did their Red Sox homework in offering, through the president, a rundown of last season. In spite of the numbers and success -- the most championships in the past 10 years, the most wins in the American League, the fact that the Red Sox scored the most runs in the majors -- "this was never a single superstar's team."
The president recounted the special connection this team has with the Boston Marathon, the 2013 attack and the race we will all see again later this month.
As Obama noted: "I think for the nation as a whole there was something about this particular squad that was special, that will go down in history. A senseless act of terror turned celebration into chaos . . . hundreds were injured . . . the city was rocked."
Obama credited former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who was present, for his leadership during that crisis. "Boston stood resolute, unbowed and unbroken. When the smoke cleared we gained inspiration from the injured," the president said. "They're all Boston Strong, and that's what this team played for last year. It was a drive to do more for their city that pushed them into the World Series."
Big Papi, then "let it rip and won the World Series MVP." OK, maybe that one didn't come quite the way he meant it, either.
Perhaps it was with a nod to Menino that the president tripped on the pronunciation of Mike Napoli's name, saying "Neh-poli."
Even in this speech, the events of last Marathon Monday in Boston were part of the storyline. "In every game they played, the Sons of Fenway never forgot what it meant to wear the Boston uniform," Obama said. "These guys were saying, 'We're all on the same team.' Big Papi said it better and more colorful than anyone, and I won't repeat it, Boston and the Red Sox are one. This team helped Boston heal."
The 118th Boston Marathon takes place on April 21 and the Red Sox will play the Orioles that morning, no doubt following tremendous fanfare and remembrance. "On the third Monday in April, the world will return to Boston and run harder than ever and cheer harder than ever for the 118th Boston Marathon. That will happen," the president said.
The Red Sox and the Marathon have been linked for decades. Every year since 1960 [except for an off-day in 1967 and the 1995 players' strike], the Red Sox have been scheduled to play at home on Patriots' Day, starting at 11:05 a.m. But their first morning game on that holiday came back in 1903 and for years they alternated the Patriots' Day slot with the Boston Braves, who played at Nickerson Field which is now on the campus of Boston University. Once upon a time, the games were quick enough and the runners were slow enough [with a noon start] when you could watch the Patriots' Day game at Fenway and hustle over to Copley Square to catch the winner of the race.
That connection between the Red Sox, Patriots' Day, and the Marathon has never been stronger, nor more in focus, than it will be this year.
"As a baseball fan, I appreciated their come-from-behind wins," Obama said. "As president, I'm grateful for their character and their embrace of the essential role they play in that city. Sometimes sports seem trivial. It's just entertainment. Then you're reminded that sports represent something else. Sports has the power to bring people together."
And nothing can do it in Boston as well as the Red Sox, especially on Patriots' Day 2014.
Obama, a self-proclaimed White Sox fan, closed his remarks with this: "May the best Sox win."
It's clear they already have.
The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.