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Cock Block

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 20, 2008 4:00PM

2008_02_ramirez_cocks.jpgCubs third baseman Aramis Remirez finally arrived at Spring Training on Tuesday, but when asked by reporters what he did on his winter vacation, he refused to answer. In fact, he wouldn't even allow for the reporter to finish asking the question.

Of course, we all know what he was up to back home this off-season. Last week, the New York Times profiled cockfighting and its popularity in a land known for its prolific export of major league ball players -- many of whom are connected to the bloodsport. Mentioning Ramirez' stature in the sport back home, the article noted that he was profiled in a Dominican cockfighting magazine, where he admitted, "When I’m in the Dominican Republic, I’m dedicated entirely to [his fighting cocks]." Supposedly, he has more than 1,000 birds.

What happens when a professional athlete is involved in a bloodsport that abuses man's best friend? He not only get suspended indefinitely by the league but also can expect to spend nearly two years doing hard time. But when a pro athlete participates in a slightly different sport involving animals you might have eaten for dinner? There's not quite the outrage -- yet.

OK, so cockfighting is legal in the Dominican Republic. Hell, participating is only a misdemeanor in fifteen U.S. states ... and it's not even a crime to watch cockfights in ten states.

But that doesn't make it right. And it doesn't excuse pro athletes from participating in animal abuse. There are certain responsibilities and behaviors that go along with being a pro athlete. Sure, Charles Barkley is famous for his "We are not role models" ad campaign for Nike, but the reality is that kids do look up to athletes more so than they do teachers, doctors or parents. So set a good example, dammit!

Will Major League Baseball do anything about players involved in cockfighting? Will the Cubs do anything to Ramirez? Have they even looked into whether players take part in cock fighting while in the U.S. during the season? Or will those in charge of the game continue to turn a blind eye to more widespread illegal activity occurring under their nose?

You'd think that, after the steroid scandal rocked baseball, the powers that be would be a bit more proactive in protecting the stature of the game. One more thing to turn fans away from the sport and MLB could become as irrelevant as the NHL.

Photos by AP Photo/Morry Gash and Wikipedia