Mets Jock Fights CocksPotential tabloid sports shocker! The Post stumbled onto a YouTube video of Mets' pitching ace Pedro Martinez presiding over a cockfight in the Dominican Republic. In a sinister twist, the video has now been pulled, and the owner of the blog that posted it did not immediately respond to the Post's emails. WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED? The Daily News was lagging on the story as of early this morning, meaning the Post is bound to hype it up as much as possible while they still have the competitive advantage. Just look at how much mileage the Atlanta papers (and everybody else) got out of the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal. But ask yourself, before the hysteria strikes: Is this story really a big deal?

The evidence that it IS scandalous is pretty plain. It involves a huge superstar, animal cruelty, has obvious parallels to the Vick case, and will doubtless be plastered across New York sports pages for, at a minimum, weeks to come. Pedro will have to answer a million questions about it during spring training. It's an automatic storyline for the beat reporters cursed to write about the Mets this year. Cockfighting is bad.

Put down that KFC drumstick for a second, though, and look at the case to the contrary. You can buy chicken sandwiches at baseball games, in order to chew the dead flesh of the animals while watching Pedro Martinez pitch. The same is not true for dog sandwiches. The Post also points out that the video was taken in the Dominican Republic's largest cockfighting arena. Pedro himself is from DR, where cockfighting is like the native version of beer pong. And so what if roosters have been spotted on Martinez's Dominican property, as the Post reports? If that was the standard, every baseball player from Alabama and South Carolina would be banned from the league.

The irony of most off-the-field scandal stories is that actual, hardcore sports fans don't care about them one bit. They are merely an amusing conversation piece until the season begins. In order for a sports scandal to really be worth the effort that major papers expend on it, it has to have enough universal resonance to end up on the front page; OJ, the Duke Lacrosse rape case, and Michael Vick (what with the cute puppy dogs) had that. Chickens may not be sexy enough to qualify.

Genuine outrage over this should be reserved for vegetarians and people who have roosters as pets. Mock outrage will be handled by the tabloids. And that YouTube video will definitely surface again; feel free to send it here, if you come across it.