Feb 11, 2011, 2:30 PM EST
I’ve never been there, but I’d imagine there are several trophies scattered through Mark Buehrle’s den. Of course there’s got to be something commemorating his no-hitter against the Rangers in 2007, and the eighteenth perfect game in baseball history versus Tampa Bay in July, ’09. And oh, look … there’s Michael Vick’s head, mounted on a plaque on the wall.
Buehrle bagged the Eagles quarterback on Wednesday, when he was quoted in an MLB.com story saying that he and his wife had “rooted for [Vick] to get injured” whenever they watched Eagles games. Buehrle: “I know it’s bad to say, but … everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”
In the media cannonade that followed, we learned that Buehrle indeed puts his money where his mutt is; having, along with his wife, Jamie, started a dog rescue organization; lent his name to the dog rescue cause via a large billboard campaign in Illinois; and even paid the veterinarian’s bill for a dog that was found in the woods near his hometown in Missouri, which had been shot with an arrow.
But in that last tidbit of feelgood news may lie a much larger lump of hypocrisy. For, alongside the Vick-head trophy in Buehrle’s den, there are likely many other stuffed woodland creatures; such as deer, assorted ducks and even a bear. And they didn’t all die of natural causes. From an MLB.com story in Sept., 2007:
Buehrle, Thome, Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski took a bear-hunting trip following Saturday’s victory, an excursion set up by Twins broadcaster Dan Gladden on the property of a friend. Buehrle made the only kill of the day, using a bow, but it turned into a memorable moment with Thome right beside him.
The quartet went hunting at about 6 p.m. CT, giving them about one hour before the sun set. The kill was made from about 20 yards away, and the bear ran about another 30 yards before going down. Buehrle plans to have the head stuffed and have a necklace made out of a bear claw.
I’m sure those last 30 yards were quite fun for the bear; maybe a bit like the pain that some of those dogs suffered at Vick’s Virginia Pit Bull Bed & No Breakfast.
“Ah!” you exclaim, stroking your Van Dyke beard thoughtfully, and adjusting your monocle. “But there’s a difference between torturing an animal, and killing one for sport.”
But is there? To further explore this point, we’ve invited a bear here to the column.
OFF THE BENCH: Thank you for stopping by, bear.
BEAR: “It’s my pleasure.” (Sips glass of water).
What are your thoughts on Mark Buehrle?
“Probably the most underrated pitcher in the game. I mean, he’s a four time all-star, he’s won a World Series and thrown a no-hitter and a perfect game, all within 11 years. Yet his name isn’t mentioned with the great pitchers of his era, like Glavine and Clemens, who never did that.”
I was thinking specifically of Buehrle’s quotes about Michael Vick, on how he ‘rooted’ for him ‘to get injured.’
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. We happen to live in a society where the media jumps on every little thing and makes a big deal out of it. Look at the Yogi Bear movie. Unmercifully attacked by people who never even saw it.”
So the Buehrle quotes didn’t bother you?
“Look, the man shouldn’t be pilloried for speaking his mind. Whether you want to believe it or not, a lot of people were rooting for Vick to get hurt. They just won’t admit it, or care to talk about it. No, the real crime was MLB.com cutting those quotes. That’s not exactly good journalism.”
What if I told you that Buehrle is an avid hunter? Would that change your opinion of him?
Not really; everyone has their hobbies. I collect buttons.
Bear, I couldn’t help but notice that you have an arrow stuck in you right now. Several, in fact.
“Yes, and if you’ll look down, that’s a bear trap clamped onto my foot.”
You must be in terrific pain.
“It hurts like a mother******. But it’s part of the territory. You live in the woods, and people with Timberlake pullovers are going to shoot at you.”
So is there any difference between the pain you’re feeling right now, and the pain that Vick and his pals inflicted on dogs?
“Well, technically, not a lot. Although I’ve never had electrodes clamped to my ears.”
So is Mark Buehrle a hypocrite?
“No, and here’s why he isn’t: Michael Vick was arrested and went to prison for torturing dogs. And while Buehrle could have used a rifle to inflict a less painful death to that bear, or not have gone hunting at all, there’s a big difference between the two.”
What is that?
“Buhrle had a license from Wal-Mart.”
We’d like to thank bear for being our guest today, and remind our readers that, while it is hunting season, this is private property. Animals should not be shot until they are clear of our parking lot.
Rick’s Cafe Americain appears each Thursday. Contact: Rickchand@gmail.com.
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