Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chickens and Baseball

First the rant:

In 2002, our president was lying to us, to Congress, to all sorts of our (now former) allies about weapons of mass destruction and the rest of the reasons why it was necessary to start an unprovoked war. He also lied about how much it would cost and how long it would take, leaving us broke, stuck, and in ill-repute among our community of nations.

In 2002, Roger Clemens was directing his trainer to inject him in the buttocks with chemicals that he hoped would allow him to keep throwing strikes.

One of these men is now being hauled before Congress and asked uncomfortable questions, as a prelude to a perjury trial. As pathetic as Roger Clemens looked yesterday, I think that the real chickens are sitting in Congress, trying to distract us with this sideshow.

And then there's this:

The only good thing about the action on Capitol Hill yesterday was that it diverted attention away from the NY Times sports section piece about baseball players and cockfighting. It is no surprised that baseball players would be involved in cockfighting in their home countries. Roosters do fight, almost compulsively, and cockfighting goes on all over the world, with different local variants.

One of the underlying themes of this blog is "What Americans just don't know about chickens." That's why I published an account by a fellow casino dealer Dale S. Yeazel about visiting a cockfight with his in laws in the Philippines.

The locals move out of my way in order to give me a prime space to watch. There were no women or girls present. Everyone then starts to shout to the ringmaster in the center of the ring. Obviously they were making bets on either the white cock or the red one. I wasn't going to bet on the first match but after a couple of minutes the ringmaster looks at me and says; Hey Joe, you want to bet three hundred? I said; Yes, three hundred on the red one (pointing to the cock on my side of the ring). He waved his hand and with a smug expression indicated I had no bet. He then looked at me and waved his hand towards the opposite side of the ring. I then realized that since us bettors weren't laying odds or giving up points, he was trying to even up the betting at my expense. A minute later he asked me if I want to bet 500. I said yes and again pointed to the red bird. He waved off my bet and then grabbed himself in a Michael Jackson fashion, as if to dare me to bet on the white cock. Meanwhile the referee is writing down the bets in a spiral ring notebook.

The other man in the pit (the referee) then held a bird in each hand, faced them towards each other and released them. My bird scored the "dim mak" the other bird didn't die but was obviously unable to continue. This however, being a "fight to the death" the referee would grab a bird in each hand and face them off again. This process was repeated until the white cock was deemed to be dead.

The NY Times article describes another variation, without the casino dealer's attention to the intricacies of booking a bet. I'm not quite sure how a woman could write this story, since women aren't usually part of that scene. The last image in the article, that of a stray dog making off with a rooster's head, tells me that the rest of the rooster was someone's dinner that night.

There are plenty of reasons why a baseball player attending a legal cockfight in the Dominican Republic should not be seen in the same light as, say, the Michael Vick dogfighting debacle. For me, the two most compelling reasons are that you can't condemn the cockfight without making a judgement about someone else's culture and the fact that I can't keep my own roosters from fighting. I only have one rooster right now, and he will fight the dog, or Anna, or me, unless we smack him about once a week. If I didn't have the luxury of ordering sexed chicks from the hatchery, I would have many more rooster fights in my yard, until it was time for chicken dinner.

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