July 21, 2019

Exposing Mariano Rivera's Far-Right Politics

During his baseball career, Mariano Rivera was presented as a man of deep Christian faith. His presence on the mound was almost always dignified and calm. It was said he even walked in from the bullpen with an elegant gait. But away from the spotlight of professional baseball, there was (and is) another Mariano Rivera. The private Mariano Rivera. The real Mariano Rivera.

Robert Silverman's lengthy, well-sourced examination of Rivera's far-right political beliefs was published at The Daily Beast on the eve of the former pitcher's induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Rivera is closely linked with, and has expressed his support and admiration for, Pastor John Hagee, a hard-core Islamophobic religious extremist, who believes the Holocaust was a result of divine intervention (i.e., Hitler was an agent of God, fulfilling His will) and that New Orleans was destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina because the southern city "had a level of sin that was offensive to God".

Earlier this month, Rivera attended a conference in Washington, DC, organized by Christians United For Israel (CUFI), which was founded by Hagee. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton were also in attendance. Rivera says Hagee convinced him to increase his support for Israel. "Now I understand the even bigger picture of what Israel means," Rivera told the Washington Examiner.

Last summer, Rivera toured an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) military base as part of a spiritual interfaith mission. Rivera stated he was "privileged and honored" to visit the base, to "learn about the young men and women who are ... being trained to be a better person, a better citizen, and a better human being." On May 13, 2018, less than three months before Rivera's visit, those "better human beings" killed more than 50 innocent Palestinians and injured 1,200 more. (Randy Levine, the current Yankees president, has also participated in FIDF fundraisers and promotional events.)

Rivera is a big supporter of Donald Trump (though he has made no public announcement of that fact). In August 2018, Rivera co-hosted a fundraiser with Donald Trump Jr. for the America First PAC, at a cost of $50,000 per couple.

Howard Bryant, the author of The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, knew Rivera when he worked as a reporter with the Bergen Record and a columnist at the Boston Herald. Rivera may not have been shy about his Christian faith during his playing days, but Bryant notes he "was very cagey, and very, very savvy about what connections those religious beliefs linked to. Now we're seeing who Mariano Rivera really is, or who he's currently influenced by."


tentigers said...

Wow. Whatever your jaded political views, the timing of this article is classless. You're not the first with this piece, only another bandwagon jumper to try and discredit a wonderful BASEBALL PLAYER. What kind of dirt did you dig up for the day after Gandhi won the Nobel Peace Prize? It least that event might have been somewhat political, unlike the induction into baseball's Hall of Fame, which has zero to do with your political views.

allan said...

Gandhi? ... Why not go all in and use Christ as your example? ... Rivera was asked to get saves. ... Christ was a saviour. ... I think they are almost identical. ... You fucking idiot.

DaYankeesWin said...

I'm a Yankees fan and this is troubling on so many levels, the timing of this article is the absolute right time. If anything this should have come out way sooner! Fuck this shit! Mo is a baseball player and about the only thing about him that deserves respect, but he's not any better than that douche Curt Schilling. Fuck them both!

Thanks Allan!

allan said...

he's not any better than that douche Curt Schilling

Amen. ... tentigers probably came by as part of a hit-and-run mission to leave a comment wherever this article was linked (his blogger profile was created last month), so he's unlikely to return, but maybe I should not have called him a fucking idiot (though that is clearly what he is). What I will do is ask a question:

Rivera claims to follow the teachings of Christ (which are not hard to understand). Yet very recently he helped raise money for a man who locks innocent children in crowded, filthy cages where they are starved and where some are raped and tortured. Jesus stated that "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me". (And as a side point, this man does not render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.) How does Rivera's claim of living a Christian life square with his support of an amoral, lying psychopath like Donald Trump?

GK said...

A very cynical me - I am starting to think that there is a connection between someone being widely recognized as being good at what they do and they being downright crazy with pathetic and shitty beliefs. Schilling and Rivera come to mind, but then there are many in sports. Tim Thomas who could not spout enough nonsense about how Obama turned into an emperor ( his jaw flapping, very mysteriously, has dissapeared these last couple of years). Of course the NE Patriots demi-god pair, who are probably the shittiest of them all. Elway, Tiger Woods also come to mind. Michael Jordan wont say a good thing (or bad), perhaps like Rivera has been very self-conscious to keep his beliefs a secret for long.

DaYankeesWin said...

Allan, agreed 100%!

I cannot even begin to understand how people can look at subsets of the population and make a value based judgement on whether they should or should not be treated with dignity. I can almost forgive someone that does not have the education or world view to understand these things, but I find it absolutely unconscionable when it is someone like Mariano, or anyone with fame or power, and they believe these things.

You can lump Paul O'Neil there, too.

I don't understand how any of these people can look at someone like President Trump as an ally because it does not take much to see that the rich and powerful, and mostly white males, are all that matter to him and his ilk.

allan said...

Johnny Damon - who played for both our teams - is also a big Trump lover. He reaffirmed his support even after DT has been in the White House for a year. Truly, an idiot (and not the funny, lovable kind).

laura k said...

Not sure which is more depressing, learning that Mariano is a wingnut, or the first comment on this thread. I guess the former. The latter is more amusing than depressing.

GK, I think for every person we could name for whom that is true, we could find one that's the opposite. Mens professional sports is a very conservative arena, to say the least. But with a wider lens, we could find many people who use their recognition for progressive aims -- something that drives wingnuts around the bend.

(Were any of us alive when Gandhi won the NPP? Did Gandhi win the NPP? I will go check...)

laura k said...

Hey, it turns out none of us were alive when Gandhi won the Nobel Peace Prize, because it never happened. Nice work, tentigers!

allan said...

Well, there's ANOTHER way Mo and Gandhi are alike. Neither of them won a NPP.

(Rivera has had *five* lawsuits filed against him for failure to pay child support, despite earning $169,441,825 during his career. Also, so much for Matthew 19:21.)

GK said...

L, I understand what you are saying about better examples. For every Mo Rivera, and Schilling there is a Chris Long and Megan Rapinoe, Alex Cora , Greg Popovich or Steve Kerr. People with empathy and consciousness of the world. But with the world hurtling towards bad things, it was a cynical and pessimisitc take. We dont celebrate those good guys as much as we talk about the shitty assholes.

BTW, Gandhi never got the Nobel, because the Brits pressured the committee. They did not want him recognized any more that what he was known for. Then he was assassinated two years after the end of WWII, and they dont award posthumously. Goes to show how much of a sham the peace prize is, Obama and Bill Clinton get it, presiding over wars, and not Gandhi.

Liam Pravarde said...

I do agree this article is rather classless. The guy's being inducted into the Hall of Fame, which has nothing to do with his political opinions. This jackass (Silverman) argues with a straight face that Rivera's political views should be displayed on his plaque in Cooperstown? I strongly object to even suggesting such nonsense because it encourages a grotesque, gossipy culture that views differing (read = wrong) opinions as a secular sin deserving of being punished and shamed for instead of a potentially ephemeral ignorance that can change.

Allan, "Rivera claims to follow the teachings of Christ (which are not hard to understand)." Really, you can read Koine Greek and have a rich understanding of the social, political and religious milieu of 1st century Jew in the outer reaches of the Roman Empire?

What about Matthew 10:35 "For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law?"

Or the story of the Canaanite Woman in Matthew 15:21-28?

To argue the Gospels and Epistles are "not hard to understand" betrays an ignorance of someone who seems enamored with a hippy-dippy Jesus of modern invention.

I could go on but I've to get to sleep, but please, Allan, please, politics is ingrained with your baseball talk but leave religion to the religious.

allan said...

To argue the Gospels and Epistles are "not hard to understand" betrays an ignorance of someone who seems enamored with a hippy-dippy Jesus of modern invention.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged ..."

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you ..."

"A new command I give you: Love one another."

"Watch out for false prophets. ... By their fruit you will recognize them."


Are those really that difficult to understand?

Liam Pravarde said...

There is a reason Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor accused Jesus of confusing men by being "exceptional and enigmatic."

Yes, Jesus said those things, but he also refused a disciple's request to attend his father's funeral, saying, "Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead." (Mt 8.22). In Luke, he demands, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (14.26) Then there's Matthew 10.34, where Jesus proclaims, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Yes, if you view the Gospels inaccurately, as a collection of aphorisms you can take or leave, then I imagine his teachings can be read as simple and easy to follow. But those aren't Jesus's teachings. I'm reminded of Flannery O'Connor's observation: "If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber."

Liam Pravarde said...


I think in using the term "empathy and consciousness of the world" you mean, "people who speak out on political issues from a position I agree with."

The great irony is that those people you can't stand are similarly motivated. The other side of the coin, if you will. But that doesn't mean they lack for empathy or "consciousness of the world." Over 60 million people voted for Donald Trump. It's taboo now in some social circles to even ask "why?" The answer is because they're racist. It's a simple, base response. When I asked why 9/11 happened, I was told, "Because they hate our freedoms." There was no more discussion to be had.

You know you're getting old when the wheel spins around like that.

laura k said...

GK, very true re Gandhi and the Brits. Glad you pointed that out.

laura k said...

Really really nice comments from DaYankeesWin. So good to see a right-thinking NYY fan.

allan said...

So good to see a right-thinking NYY fan.

I was sure they were extinct. (He used to comment on Jere's blog, I believe.)

Koine Greek ... the social, political and religious milieu of 1st century Jew in the outer reaches of the Roman Empire ... Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor ... Flannery O'Connor's observation ... Donald Trump

Dude, I cannot avoid the impression that your main goal is to wow us with your erudition, smooth logic, and general book-learnin'.