Cooper: The Hall of Famer's sins

Former New York Yankees pitcher and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera speaks during the induction ceremony last Sunday in Cooperstown, New York.

Remember the good ol' days when the dish on wayward Major League Baseball players involved their tying one on at a corner bar before the big game or missing curfew because they stayed out a little late with a beautiful blonde?

On the day of Mariano Rivera's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame last Sunday, the Daily Beast revealed the record-setting New York Yankees relief pitcher's biggest untold sins - he supports Israel and he's, in their words, "served at the pleasure of a racist president."

No whiskey guzzling, no performance-enhancing drug use, no money extortion schemes could equal such aberrant behavior, the publication implies.

What all, you may ask, does it mean for Rivera to serve at the pleasure of a "racist president"? Get ready for the bombshells, per the publication.

» In March 2017, he was present at a White House briefing on the opioid crisis.

» In 2018, he was nominated for a spot on the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

» In May 2018, he appeared in a photo-op with President Donald Trump as part of the aforementioned council.

» In August 2018, he co-hosted a fundraiser for the supposedly pro-Trump America First political action committee.

» In March 2019, he was part of the presidential delegation to the opening of the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Yes, that's it.

"[E]ven though he's never publicly given his endorsement," the Daily Beast concludes, "the Hall of Famer's actions make it clear his sympathies lie with the Trump administration."

He didn't suggest the president hire Steve Bannon? He didn't whisper to the president the off-the-top-of-his-head remarks he made on Charlottesville?

Even worse than Rivera's so-called association with Trump, though, the publication suggests, he has "taken part in thinly veiled propaganda on behalf of a far-right government" - in actual fact, the elected government - "in Israel."

To explain properly how it can damn the former pitcher, the Daily Beast postulates an outright falsehood - "the vast majority of Evangelical Christians also believe a particular messianic biblical prophecy: Jews must rule the Holy Land before Christ can return."

Since Rivera is openly Christian and is not afraid to cite his faith, he must therefore be "an Evangelical Christian," written with a capital "E," as if it were Lutheran or Methodist.

But, to cover itself, the Daily Beast says, "Whether [he] ascribes to those beliefs entirely is unclear."

It then proceeds to delineate Rivera's travels to Israel "possibly beginning in 2013." Among the horrid things he did while on one trip, it says, were "visit religious landmarks and [chat] up government officials."

In 2018, he toured a military base and has participated in Friends of the Israel Defense Forces fundraisers and promotional events.

Recently, the publication suggests, he has "aligned" with American pastor John Hagee. It then goes on to cite Hagee's support of Israel and previous pronouncements the pastor made before revealing the alignment is nothing more than Rivera saying Hagee had convinced him to increase his level of support for Israel.

In the attempt to indict the Hall of Famer, the Daily Beast also catalogs a list of what it believes are wrongs done by pro-Israeli groups and Israeli forces.

Thus, with Trump and with pro-Israel organizations and its supporters, it's simple guilt by association for Rivera.

"As to why Rivera's right-wing politics remained a secret for so long," the article said, "it's partially a function of the era in which he played, and partly due to his conscious efforts to keep this information about his private life under wraps."

Yes, imagine the native Panamanian's temerity for not breaking off a comment on how he struck out Mike Trout to extol the politics of an upcoming Israeli election. And what gall he had by not halting a comment on how shortstop Derek Jeter saved his bacon to support a Trump Cabinet selection.

The Daily Beast then solicits a supporting comment by a beat writer who covered Rivera when he was with the Yankees.

"[H]e was very cagey," the writer said, "and very, very savvy about what connections those religious beliefs linked to. Now we're seeing who Mariano Rivera is, or who he's currently influenced by."

In other words, he properly kept his personal life private.

So we're left with what? Rivera finished his career the all-time Major League Baseball leader in regular-season and postseason saves, helped the Yankees win five world championships and became the first player ever to be unanimously voted into the hall of fame. Oh, yeah, he's been seen with Trump and likes Israel.

The world today is not without legitimate issues on which reasonable people can disagree. Tainting Mariano Rivera with his vague political-ish activities is not one of them.