Morrissey: Buehrle not backing down from stance against Vick
RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com February 17, 2011 11:20PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — When it comes to the mistreatment of dogs, Mark Buehrle isn’t the forgiving type.
If you thought the White Sox pitcher was going to backpedal after wishing harm on Eagles quarterback and convicted animal abuser Michael Vick, you thought wrong.
Give Buehrle credit for staying true to his beliefs. He had every opportunity Thursday to offer up the All-American Celebrity Apology — mistakes were made, things were said in the heat of the moment, etc. — but didn’t.
“Said it, meant it, it’s over, and we’ll move on,’’ he said.
But you can’t put out a fire simply by saying it’s out. And if you’re Buehrle, you have to at least understand that some people can’t see the distinction between his love of hunting and the quarterback’s history of dogfighting.
It might seem obvious to Buehrle. It’s not to others who see the deck stacked against the animals in both cases.
The controversy stems from a recent MLB.com story about Buehrle and his wife, Jamie, who are staunch animal-rights supporters. In it, he had harsh words for Vick, who ended up spending 21 months in a federal prison on dogfighting charges. Among the accusations against him was that his kennel was the site of canine abuse, torture and death.
“He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game, and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt,” Buehrle told MLB.com. “Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”
I love dogs, and what Vick did to his animals was gruesome. But if we can’t leave room for the possibility of change in people, then we’re as cold as cadavers. Something bad did happen to Vick; he lost his freedom for almost two years. Buehrle didn’t want to discuss his feelings about Vick any further Thursday, so we don’t know what would have appeased him in terms of punishment. Five years in prison? Ten years? A life sentence?
No one can truly know if Vick is sincere about being a changed man. He says he is. He has spoken publicly about the evils of dogfighting, and if he has altered even one person’s thinking on the subject, that’s a good thing.
But it doesn’t appear he’ll ever be able to change Buehrle’s mind about him. It’s one and done with the Sox lefty.
Buehrle is an avid hunter. He has killed deer. He has killed ducks. He bagged a bear with a bow during a 2007 Sox road trip in Minnesota.
What’s the difference between hunting and dogfighting?
“Hunting is a sport,’’ he said Thursday. “There’s hunting stores out there. If that’s illegal, shame on my dad, shame on my grandpa, [shame on] his grandpa. It’s kind of been brought up throughout the history of America. The last time I knew dogfighting was a sport was never.’’
He’s right about the legal distinction. But does legality always decide morality? Is cockfighting OK in the Dominican Republic simply because it’s legal there?
What disgusts people about dogfighting is the same thing that disgusts the anti-hunting crowd: The animals are defenseless in both situations. A man with a rifle stalking a deer is not a fair fight. How much of a chance does an animal have when a hunter is hiding in a blind?
Obviously, there are differences. Many hunters eat what they kill; they’re not in it for the thrill of seeing blood. And if a deer population has grown too large, conservation officials sometimes want to cull it.
Dogfighting? There’s no good argument for it, and that includes any Southern cultural explanations.
“Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two dogs fight and one is going to die?’’ Buehrle told MLB.com. “How could you do that if you are somewhat sane?”
After all the turmoil between general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen over the last 12 months, the Sox are pushing for a quiet spring training. The Buehrle-Vick controversy won’t match the drama over Oney Guillen’s itchy Twitter finger, but the Sox would have preferred that this not be an issue on the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.
“He’s got some very strong opinions about animal rights, and I support those,’’ Williams said. “I wish maybe that it would have been handled a little differently.’’
So, apparently, did MLB.com, which pulled the Vick quote from the story soon after it was posted. All that did was make the website look silly and suppressive.
Guillen said he wants to stay out of it, but, come on, this is Ozzie.
“I like bullfighting,’’ he said.