By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — When it comes to sports, I’m as provincial as it gets.
If you’re from Philly and not a fan of a Philly team, get away – and stay away – from me.
It’s a question of loyalty.
There was one exception, to which I plead guilty – albeit with an explanation.
My grandparents had a summer home on the outskirts of Atlantic City that received both Philadelphia and New York channels.
Perfect for my grandfather, who would watch anything sports-related, even roller derby or celebrity bowling.
A perfect fit for me, because I loved sports – and my grandfather.
The Phillies preempted everything in those 1970s summers – except maybe an Eagles preseason game – but it was not uncommon to watch a Mets or a Yankees game. While there was no way I was going to cheer for the Mets, who were a divisional rival of the Phillies, I admittedly developed an affinity for the Yankees in those carefree days before interleague play.
Soon, a disdain developed for the Yankees’ rivals, with the Boston Red Sox topping the list.
And nothing was more annoying than to hear people from that town with so many championships in basketball and hockey whine, in their irksome accents, about how they were cursed because they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.
This alleged curse was eventually broken, as the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.
They won it again in 2007 and 2013, before doing it again last season.
And with the Phillies a distant fourth – actually, fifth, if you count Temple football — on my Philly interest list, I may have to go get a Red Sox cap or hoodie or something.
And it has zero to do with me being a frontrunner. That’s not how I roll.
It’s because they have players – and a manager — who went against peer pressure and refused to visit the White House for a recent dog and pony show with your president (not mine).
The players who chose not take part had valid reasons, but I’d like to focus specifically on why manager Alex Cora took his stand.
It was a question of loyalty, which earns bonus points in Gordonville.
As a native of Puerto Rico, and as one who has been deeply immersed in relief efforts since Hurricane Maria’s wrath in the fall of 2017, he simply could not hang with the “man” who threw paper towels at his people for one photo opportunity and never looked backed in his rearview mirror at the island again.
In a Spanish to English translation, Cora said: “Although the government of the United States has helped, there is still a long way to go, that is OUR reality. I have continually used my voice so that we Puerto Ricans are not forgotten and my absence is not different. Therefore, at this moment, I do not feel comfortable celebrating in the White House.”
Cora is actually being kind in saying the government’s help was anything more than perfunctory, especially in comparison to its swift responses to natural disasters in red states with primarily white victims – 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in Houston and a destructive tornado in Lee County, Alabama in early March of this year.
Tapping into old country club canards about how minorities manage their finances, the current administration has painted Puerto Rico, where 3,000 perished, as mismanaged and corrupt and using aid money to cover old debts.
The implication is that the rich white man should not be punished by paying for it.
On the ground, it is a much different – and urgent – story.
The argument that “too much” aid is being sent to this American territory where residents serve in the military (assuming there are no bone spurs) and pay into Social Security, the infrastructure remains at the level of a third-world country.
According to a University of Michigan study, the federal response to hurricanes Harvey and Irma (affecting Florida and Georgia, two more red states, in 2017) on the continental U.S. was “faster and more generous” than the response to Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico.
The study adds that survivors of Harvey and Irma had received nearly $100 million in federal funds nine days after the hurricanes hit land. Hurricane Maria survivors had gotten just over $6 million in this time frame.
This is about more than just how Puerto Rico has been treated, which is like dirt on the bottom of a sociopath’s shoe.
A lot of you want to know why I refer to the president as “your president (not mine),” and this is one of a growing list of reasons why.
My theoretical president (not yours, more than likely) would have felt compassion for Puerto Rico.
He – or she – would not have done the following:
-Justified putting children in cages after separating them from their parents.
-Denied the science supporting the man-made climate change that is likely behind these extreme natural disasters.
-Put Neo-Nazis on equal footing with counter-protesters.
-Called for gun control — not backing for the NRA – after ongoing mass shootings.
And my president would not have given good reason for the champions of what was once considered America’s pastime – where grandsons would skip the beach just to watch games all day with their grandfathers – to choose to not show up at the White House.
This column originally appeared in the Times Herald on May 19, 2019.