Craig Calcaterra

FILE - In a Sept. 15, 2004 file photo  Arizona Diamondbacks Randy Johnson  tips his cap to the cheering fans after striking out Colorado Rockies Vinny Castilla  during 7th inning action in Phoenix.   Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame Tuesday Jan. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher, file)  MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES
Associated Press

Ornithologists remember Randy Johnson obliterating that bird with a pitch


Fifteen years ago today was the day Randy Johnson, then with the Arizona Diamondbacks threw a pitch that, against all odds, slammed into a bird which was crossing in between The Big Unit and home plate. The explosion was most impressive. The bird died instantly in a puff of feathers.

Despite the fact that Johnson won 303 games and five Cy Young Awards, struck out nearly 5,000 batters, won a World Series and was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he says that more people ask him about that than anything. Says a lot about vivid images, I suppose. In case you never saw it, here are the vivid images. Warning: if you’re a mourning dove, this may be unsettling for you:

We’ve heard Johnson talk about this and most people aware of the incident have talked about it too. But here’s a new twist: today at Newsweek, Douglas Main speaks with several ornithologists about the event, and they provide their insight and expertise. Whether the poor dove knew what was coming. What he/she was doing there in the first place. Some interesting facts about the feather explosion are included too (note: “fright molt” would be an excellent name for a band).

Most of all, however, they share, inadvertently, how freakin’ cold-blooded and hardcore some ornithologists can be:

Michael Wunder, associate professor at the University of Colorado, Denver: I didn’t feel bad for the bird. I’m an ornithologist who studies population demographics, which just means I am interested to know when where and how birds die.

I guess you have to check your emotions at the door if you want to make it on the mean streets of ornithology.

Mike Schmidt is the latest old timer to rip Jose Bautista’s bat flip


Add Mike Schmidt to the chorus of old school players who didn’t like Jose Bautista‘s bat flip in the playoff’s last year. Today he wrote his own first person story for the Associated Press talking about the blatant disrespect Jose Bautista allegedly showed for the game and his opposition when he hit his big homer in last year’s playoffs:

Why do so many players today feel the need to embellish their success with some sort of hand signal to the dugout? What got more attention in last year’s post-season than a bat toss by Jose Bautista? Pointing to the sky is child’s play compared to that moment in the post-season on national TV. A flagrant disrespect of the opponent like that would have gotten somebody hurt back in the day.

He goes on to say that “Bautista crossed the line.” In other news, here’s Mike Schmidt’s 500th home run.

Watch the slow motion replay near the end in which Schmidt dances. The color man also notes that he jumped onto second base and posed as he rounded third.

Schmidt mentions that little dance in his column, calling it “a little running in place” thing. He says that’s the only time he ever did anything like that. I’ll take him at his word. And I’ll grant that I’d dance like that too if I was Mike Schmidt. In addition to it being a wonderful moment in his career, it came after the Phillies had surrendered a lead to the Pirates the half-inning before and put his club ahead in the ninth inning in a game they ended up winning. That’s a big deal! It came in April in a season the Phillies finished under .500 so it it wasn’t playoffs-big like Bautista’s home run was, but it was definitely the sort of thing one should be excited about. So yes, good for Schmidt. The man was already a legend in 1987 and he had earned the right to strut a bit.

But I’ll also note that Bautista doesn’t make a habit of bat tosses like the one from the playoffs either. Schmidt says it’s OK to do this once in a while if you hit a lot of homers and have earned the right, but I’ll further note that Bautista has hit a lot of home runs himself. Why Schmidt got to be occasionally exuberant like this while Bautista is slammed for it is an open question. I’m sure if he would’ve been given 500 more words by the AP he would’ve explained it better.

Tigers starter Daniel Norris will not be ready to start the season

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Daniel Norris throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said this morning that starter Daniel Norris will not be ready to start the season with the club due to lower back tightness which caused him to be removed from his Tuesday start.

Norris is off to see a back specialist Thursday for an official diagnosis. In the meantime Buck Farmer, Matt Boyd, and Shane Greene will be in the mix for Norris’ starts. And, as reported this morning, the Tigers could look to Kyle Lohse or someone else outside the organization for help.