If only we had camera phones in Babe Ruth's day...

Pedro Martinez was caught on tape last week at a cock fight in the Dominican Republic which, according to Pedro, he was invited to by Juan Marichal. There appears to have been a video circulating of the two at some event (Pedro claims the video shows an evening of fun from two years ago), but the video has been removed from every site I have visited. Oh well.

Regardless, the question seems to concern the amount of ire Pedro should draw from this episode. I believe he had a legitimate reason for attending, but have no sympathy for him concerning the wrath he has brought upon himself.

The interesting aspect of this story involves the parallels drawn in certain circles between cock fighting and dog fighting - and thus the Michael Vick fiasco. Here's a quick rundown of some pertinent points:

  1. It's part of the culture. This argument is a good one, except for the fact that cock fighting is legal in the Dominican. Thus, the Dominican Republic can be viewed as giving cock fighting a stamp of legitimacy, something dog fighting most definitely does not have here in the U.S. Notice I did not say that cock fighting is right, or morally sound, or any other term of approval. I would harbor a guess that Pedro would not attend a cock fight in say, Long Island. Michael Vick knew what he was doing was illegal. And from what I have gathered Juan Marichal is treated like a minor deity in the D.R. To refuse an invite of one of your idols to attend an event that has been approved by the country in which you were born and raised may be a bit, I don't know, strange.
  2. Quote from Pedro: "I was invited by my idol Juan Marichal to attend the event as a spectator, not as a participant." Well, this statement has a good side and a bad side. Michael Vick wasn't technically "a participant." Or was he? He trained the dogs, bet on the dogs, funded a battle-ground for the dogs, and (purportedly) actively participated in killing more than a few dogs. I'd assume Pedro shows up at these cock fights in the off season on a lark. I doubt he returns home to breed pugilistic fowl.
  3. What do you eat? Curiously (or sadly) this will probably save Pedro any serious backlash over this issue, although I'll bet you he sees chickens in every ballpark from now on. Here in the U.S. dogs have a status afforded no other animal save cats, and maybe horses to some degree. We eat chickens. We eat alot of chickens. We have entire restaurant chains dedicated to serving chicken. The fact that some other country allows the common folk to engage roosters in mortal combat is not going to compel us to close the Embassy. (Side note: The Chinese government has told restaurants in Beijing to stop serving or advertising dog in any way during the upcoming Olympic games.) I'd venture a guess that the cocks fighting in the Dominican are better cared for than 95% of their counterparts in the U.S. At least they are given a fighting chance...{Don't believe me? Read this.}

The argument to culture is an important one - and a dicey one. Should we impose our cultural norms upon others? Barbie dolls are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Ridiculous? Maybe. Cock fighting is a part of Dominican culture. And legal. Dog fighting is not legal in the U.S. Claiming an argument to cultural norms requires one to examine the norm. If an illegal activity can be considered the norm, such as drinking might have been during prohibition, then a society's laws more often than not change to reflect public sentiment. Often such laws are ignored and slowly no one continues to enforce them. Otherwise these actions are considered subversive and abnormal - and illegal.

Should Pedro have attended a cock fight? Probably not. Is it going to ruin his public image? Doubtful. He's Dominican. Dominicans approve of that stuff. Michael Vick is an American, and he has had to deal with American culture. Name an endorsement Pedro stands to lose. Will you refuse to go to games in which he pitches?


If you want to get really mad, check THIS OUT. This magazine, Grit and Steel, is published out of South Carolina by someone insane. The website mentions "The Pit Master," which is reassuring. It also has a reference to a Bible verse, John 13:34-35, which, of course, I looked up:

> 34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

I had to cross check that one twice. I'm speechless.

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