Friday, February 8, 2008

METS PLAYERS RUFFLE FEATHERS


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February 7, 2008 -- A sickening video of New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martínez and legendary Hall of Famer Juan Marichal laughing at a gruesome cockfight in the Dominican Republic was posted - and then quickly taken off - YouTube.
Martínez and Marichal, among the best pitchers of all time, are seen grinning before releasing two roosters.

Cockfighting is both legal and popular in the Dominican Republic.
The pair took part as honorary "soltadores" - the word used to describe the person who throws the animal into the ring.

The bird released by Martínez appears to be killed on the video.

The tape was posted on the popular Web site on Tuesday, and was gone by last night.
"If you're squeamish . . . I suggest you don't play the attached video," warned "Richie Rich" of Homerderby.com. The poster did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Marichal has raised fighting roosters on his farm in the Dominican Republic, and was once minister of sports there.

Roosters have also reportedly been spotted on Martínez's property in the Caribbean nation.
The event shown in the video takes place in the Coliseo de Gallos - Rooster Coliseum - in Santo Domingo, the country's biggest cockfighting venue.

"I understand that people are upset, but this is part of our Dominican culture and is legal in the Dominican Republic," Martínez said in a statement issued by the Mets. "I was invited by my idol, Juan Marichal, to attend the event as a spectator, not as a participant."

Martínez told the Mets the cockfight occurred at least two years ago.

"We do not condone any behavior that involves cruelty to animals," the Mets said in a statement. "We understand, however, that in many other countries activities such as bullfighting and cockfighting are both legal and part of the culture."

Marichal, a superstar with the San Francisco Giants in the '60s and '70s - racked up 2,303 strikeouts; Martínez, who has been with the Mets for the last three years, has notched 3,030.
Marichal has 243 wins, Martinez, 209.

In the 1998 book "Viva Baseball: Latin Americans and their Special Hunger," Marichal is quoted recalling his father's love of the blood sport.

"I don't think my father played baseball," the pitcher said. "But I know that he used to live for the gallos, for cockfighting. I think that's why I've got that in my blood." The video marks the latest incident involving sports stars involved in animal cruelty. Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick is serving a 23-month federal sentence and has been indefinitely suspended by the NFL because of a felony conviction on dogfighting charges.

Additional reporting by Ed Robinson and Post Wire Services

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