During an otherwise sweet story about Mark and Jamie Buehrle's involvement in canine rights advocacy, Scott Merkin relayed an outstanding quote that gave an extra dimension to the account.
The only problem is that you can no longer find the quote in Merkin's story. You can find it on his Twitter account, as well as the Trib's site, Yahoo! and CBS Sports. Thank goodness for that, because MLB.com had it stricken from the record.
Here's what was too hot for the official site:
"Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two dogs fight and one is going to die?" he said. "How could you do that if you are somewhat sane?
"He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it's bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt. Everything you've done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys."
This is a great quote, and not necessarily because Buehrle's right. I don't share his passion on the matter, because I'm allergic. My bond is limited to scratching a dog's head for a few seconds, and then washing my hands.
It's great because he's being honest. Michael Vick has the right to play football for any team that wants to give him a shot, and the Buehrles have a right to opine that he didn't serve enough of a punishment. It's not often you'll hear anybody -- especially a fellow athlete -- openly admit that he wished pain on a player, even fleetingly. But he's far from the first person to hope for karmic retribution in the form of bodily harm (schadenfreude erupted when Brett Favre went down), and if Buehrle visits the DL in 2011, some people will be more than happy to tell him he had it coming.
That's how humans think before consciences exercise their veto power, but we don't often see it said and reported. That's why it was refreshing to hear honesty in what could have been (and now is) a mere puff piece.
What's especially unfortunate is that after the quote, Merkin offered a little more context about why the Buehrles thought Vick didn't do enough to earn his redemption. I don't know how valid the justification was, but I remember reading it and thinking that I was going to have to weigh it against Vick's plea. At the very least, it gave Buehrle's quote more depth.
But I can't revisit it, because MLB removed that too, and no other media outlets or blogs cited that graph (Fornelli came closest by paraphrasing a bit). Google's cache isn't any help, either. Now we're left with a more sensational account of what Buehrle said, and it looks worse when the the league and/or the club doesn't want anything to do with it.
So MLB.com's post-facto editing hurts Buehrle. It hurts the fans, who rely on team-based reporting more and more as newspapers deal with shrinking resources. It also doesn't do any favors for Merkin, whose name is on the neutered story. He did his job by presenting a strikingly real perspective, but I guess it was too transparent for the site, especially if this is the standard for authenticity:
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
UPDATE (3:54 a.m.): Thanks to David for snagging a screenshot. The entire passage is nine paragraphs long, but here's the part I recalled that added depth:
"What gets me most is so many people say he paid his dues," Jamie said. "He was charged with trafficking of money, not animal cruelty.
"I read the book The Lost Dogs and I read every detail of the investigation. I saw the dogs and I saw them in person. I saw the repercussions they are having and overcoming. He's never inquired about one of those dogs.
"If he truly made a mistake and owned up to it and said sorry and cared about those dogs, I wouldn't agree with it but I would not have as much hatred to it as I do. He just doesn't."
Re-reading the section, and how it's connected to the rest of the article, I can see an argument for downplaying or eliminating the Vick-related quotes before they were published. An editor might have a specific idea in mind (a purely feel-good feature), and the Vick section changes the tone of the article immensely.
But these quotes give me an idea of why the Buehrles are so personally invested, and still outraged. I think she's splitting hairs and asking the near-impossible in some respects, but hey, the plea agreement didn't sit well with her/them. They have a right to feel that way, and since it's related to the subject at hand, they have a right to talk about it. They could have been more diplomatic, but sometimes people say too much and have to backtrack.
Whatever trouble the Buehrles created by speaking out was made worse by whichever entity cut the story. MLB.com published the message, then tried to control it well after it became public and couldn't get all of it back. Now, an emotional argument is nothing but an ugly sound byte.