Now it’s New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal who are being denounced for animal fighting.
A video of Martinez and Marichal at a cockfight was posted this week on YouTube and it showed the two laughing before releasing the roosters. They took part as honorary “soltadores,” the word used to describe the person who puts the animal to fight.
The fight takes place in their home country, the Dominican Republic, where cockfighting is legal and popular. It is banned throughout the United States.
Martinez told the Mets the cockfight occurred at least two years ago.
In the wake of Michael Vick’s recent dogfighting case, Martinez and Marichal are the latest sports stars to draw criticism for animal fighting.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent letters to both pitchers Thursday, calling on them to publicly apologize. The Humane Society of the United States said “Major League Baseball should join us in condemning Martinez and Marichal for their shameful example.”
“I understand that people are upset, but this is part of our Dominican culture and is legal in the Dominican Republic,” Martinez 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.”
In the video, which was posted Tuesday, the animal released by Martinez appears to be killed. The fight takes place in the Coliseo Gallistico de Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Cockfighting Coliseum) in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s biggest cockfighting venue.
PETA also sent a letter to baseball commissioner Bud Selig urging all major league players and staff to take its animal sensitivity training course — the same one Vick attended after pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges in August.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback received a 23-month jail sentence. The NFL suspended him indefinitely without pay.
In his letter to Selig, PETA assistant director Dan Shannon mentioned the Vick case and wrote, “it seems that education on the importance of treating animals humanely is in order for Major League Baseball.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“We don’t condone any kind of animal cruelty, but we’re not going to comment on any individuals at this time,” Levin said.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society, released a statement admonishing Martinez and Marichal.
“Animal fighting has no place whatsoever among those who presume to be role models for youngsters, not in this country and not elsewhere,” he said. “Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal exhibited appallingly bad judgment in participating in a staged animal fight. It doesn’t excuse the behavior to find a legal haven for this reprehensible and inhumane conduct. It’s animal cruelty, no matter where it occurs.”
Pacelle also referred to Vick’s case.
“Michael Vick brought home the lesson when his career was ruined by disclosures of his involvement in a dogfighting ring. Cockfighting is a similarly barbaric activity that forces two animals to mutilate and kill each other with sharp weapons strapped to their legs,” he said. “There is no moral distinction between dogfighting and cockfighting — both involve the torture of animals for the titillation of spectators who enjoy the violence and bloodletting.”
Pacelle called on the Mets “to take appropriate action to distance themselves from Martinez’s behavior.”
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