Well, this is unfortunate.
In an otherwise fairly bland interview with Scott Merkin, Mark Buehrle said something pretty off-color. Here it is:
"Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two
dogs fight and one is going to die?" he said. "How could you do that
if you are somewhat sane?
"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. Everything you've done to these dogs,
something bad needs to happen to these guys."
When Mark Buehrle was quizzed on his opinions of Michael Vick, the tenor of his answer was about as predictable as athletes sounding off about current affairs get. Buehrle's out-sized passion for man's best friend is well-documented (the interview with Scott Merkin was about his involvement in a pet adoption program), and he quite memorably paid for the medical bill for a wounded dog this off-season.
Pretty simply, Buehrle is more than the average offended pet-owner. Dogs are a life passion for him, and after baseball it wouldn't be a shock to see him supplying his name recognition to more than a few canine-centered special interest groups. If anyone was going to be strolling around still harboring a grudge against the nation's most prominent former dog-fighting ring-leader, it was going to be Mark.
Still, the actual content of the quote is a bit of a jolt. Wishing physical harm on fellow human beings is out of line, and usually reserved for wackos on comment sections and not public figures giving recorded interviews.
The real disconnect here is the public nature of a statement. As an exuberant dog lover, it's no surprise that Buehrle's initial reaction to the thought of someone sadistically torturing something he loves was wishing them harm, but normally there's a stopping point between a basic instinct for revenge and something that's said in front of a reporter. On Wednesday, Mark Buehrle didn't seem to have that layer of scrutiny, and uttered sentiment surely echoed by millions, but typically not lent the credence of such a public forum.
Having an emotion-driven desire to see someone suffer bodily harm is human, coming out and saying it is a misstep, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him acknowledge that. In fact, he already kinda did.
Personally, my outrage over this statement is muted. As a sports blogger, I'm always in favor of keeping the level of discourse above wishing physical harm because there's a good bet some dissenting commentary is headed my way. But overflows of emotion are inevitable, especially with a topic that is at the heart of a lot of what Buehrle does. Until he establishes a reputation for allowing his words to serve as a conduit for the vitriol he wishes upon people, I'm willing to assume that this is the case.
As Jim Margalus has already pointed out, given that Buehrle's statement amounted to little more than a man making a clubhouse comment out in the open, the rush by MLB.com to remove the quote from the record could only ever serve to exacerbate any furor over the statement. Sure it's probably not what whitesox.com had in mind when Scott Merkin set out to interview Buehrle for a puff piece about his charity work, but if the league really feared they would be taken to task for every time a player spoke their mind, why would they even acknowledge this ever happened?
It's unfortunate because Buehrle comes out looking vengeful and unmeasured, MLB as reactionary and foolish, and just unfortunate that Michael VIck did such an awful thing that leaves these type of lasting gashes.
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