With their opening series of the 2014 MLB season taking place in nearby Baltimore, the Boston Red Sox made the short trip to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and were welcomed to the White House by President Barack Obama to celebrate their 2013 World Series title.
As seen in this photo courtesy of the Red Sox's official Twitter account, the president was happy to host baseball's best team from 2013:
It has become an annual tradition for major sports champions to accept presidential invitations, and it is something that the Red Sox have grown accustomed to over the past decade with three World Series titles during that time frame.
Not only did the Red Sox gain acclaim for being a supremely talented team that went from worst to first last season, but they also garnered plenty of support for the manner in which they propped up the city of Boston during a very difficult time.
The Red Sox rose to the occasion in the aftermath of the devastating Boston Marathon bombing, and President Obama lauded the manner in which they represented Boston:
"They symbolized the grit and resilience of one of America’s iconic cities during one of its most difficult moments." —Obama on the @RedSox— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 1, 2014
The president also took the opportunity to make it known that the Boston Marathon will be run as scheduled this year as the city of Boston continues to heal:
"The world will return to Boston, and run harder than ever, and cheer louder than ever, for the 118th Boston Marathon." —Obama #BostonStrong— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 1, 2014
In addition to the Red Sox's unwavering support for Boston in its time of need, the club captivated baseball fans last season by displaying a great deal of camaraderie as well as an entertaining overall personality.
That was on full display at the White House, particularly when it came to popular slugger Jonny Gomes.
Gomes was one of several glue guys who joined the team in 2013 and seemingly changed the culture within the locker room. He is beloved by Red Sox fans for his antics, and he certainly stood out on Tuesday as he donned an American flag-inspired suit, as seen in this photo courtesy of first baseman Mike Napoli's Twitter account:
While Gomes was among the new faces that were instrumental in the Red Sox's turnaround, the biggest constant over the past decade has been the presence of designated hitter David Ortiz.
Ortiz showed a great deal of leadership all season long, and he enjoyed a spectacular offensive season despite being 37 years of age at the time of Boston's World Series triumph.
Although Big Papi is a native of the Dominican Republic, he professed his love for the United States in this photo from his Twitter account:
Love this country pic.twitter.com/asvyaKC4jc— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) April 1, 2014
Ortiz even took a selfie with President Obama after presenting him with a Red Sox jersey:
The Red Sox were noted for their commitment to some impressive facial hair during the playoffs last season, and while many of the players have since gone with a clean-shaven look, the president was glad to see them regardless:
President Obama: "Beards or no beards, it is an honor to welcome the 2013 World Series Champion Boston @RedSox to the White House."— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 1, 2014
Beards may have been few and far between for the Red Sox players at the White House, but press secretary Jay Carney made up for it with one of his own:
It is well documented that President Obama is a huge Chicago White Sox fan, but his team didn't give him much to cheer about last season.
Despite President Obama's allegiance to the pale hose, he expressed his admiration for the Red Sox:
Will the Red Sox repeat as World Series champions in 2014?
The Red Sox would obviously love to receive an invite to the White House next year as well, but repeating as world champions won't be easy.
Boston benefited from the fact that it finished last in 2012, so expectations were somewhat tempered. That luxury won't be present this year as a huge target will be on the Red Sox's backs.
They also happen to be in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. The Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles are all threats to win the American League East in 2014.
Most of the nucleus that led the Red Sox to a title last year is still in place, so there is no question that they will be a factor. Whether that leads to another championship remains to be seen.
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