Will you drop by if I give you a medal?

Meanwhile Trump is handing out medals of freedom to sports stars, because they won’t go near him any other way.

The New England Patriots are reportedly too busy this fall for the Super Bowl champions’ traditional visit to the White House. The World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer team made clear this summer it was not interested in meeting President Trump.

But on Monday, Trump, whose tenure has marked a new high — or low — in the politicization of White House sports ceremonies, basked in the reflected glow of a sporting legend nonetheless. In a 20-minute ceremony in the East Room, Trump presented the presidential Medal of Freedom to Mariano Rivera, the Hall of Fame relief pitcher for Trump’s hometown team, the New York Yankees.

The medal is the highest civilian award — a companion to the better-known Medal of Honor for military valor — and Trump used the moment to lavish praise on Rivera, a Panamanian immigrant who rose to stardom in the Big Apple as, in the president’s words, “maybe the greatest pitcher of all time.”

In all, the ceremony was the kind of feel-good, controversy-free photo op that is rare in the Trump era, and it represented something of a new model for this president to deal with athletes at a time when many — especially those who are racial minorities — have publicly boycotted the Trump White House and denounced his policies and rhetoric.

Rivera was the third former professional athlete to be awarded the Medal of Freedom in the past month, joining former National Basketball Association stars Bob Cousy and Jerry West. In May, Trump bestowed the honor on golfer Tiger Woods, an occasional business partner of the president.

Since Trump awarded his first batch of civilian medals last November to a group that included former National Football League greats Roger Staubach and Alan Page, seven of the 12 people who have received the award under Trump have been athletic heroes.

It means he gets to hang out with them for a few minutes. He’s a needy guy.

Comments are closed.