Craig Calcaterra

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 22:  General view of action as Ender Inciarte #5 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the San Francisco Giants during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 22, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 4-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The people of Phoenix don’t need to be handing out any more gifts to team owners


If you missed it yesterday, the Arizona Diamondbacks are apparently seeking to get out of their lease for Chase Field over a decade ahead of schedule. Or a bit less than a decade in terms of when they are allowed to negotiate with other sites and cities about getting a new stadium.

The issue, at least as far as has been made public, is the Diamondbacks’ claim that the county is failing in its duty to keep cash reserves on hand which would fund capital improvements to upgrade the ballpark and that, because of this, there is a risk that the place will eventually fall behind others and no longer be “state of the art.” It’s not a bad argument on which to lead — and comes with the possibility of litigation to get out of the lease — but based on how other stadium situations have played out, it’s naive to take that at face value. There are likely other considerations at play as well such as location, amenities and how lucrative the place is for the club. If the Braves’ example has taught us anything it’s that, even with a relatively new park, there are always greener pastures in which to graze if you work hard enough to find them.

Whatever happens with this story going forward, it’s probably worth noting for the record that Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, its citizens and the tourists who visit there are already being soaked on various stadium taxes and plans, none of which seem to be working out that great for local governments or quasi-governmental authorities.

Currently there is protracted litigation going on between rental car agencies and the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority which manages the Arizona Cardinals’ gigantic stadium in Glendale. That monstrosity is funded and operated in part by a hefty rental car tax which last year was adjudged unconstitutional (Phoenix’s rental car taxes are among the highest in the nation). People who rent cars there are still paying the tax — the ruling is on appeal — but even with it the stadium authority loses money. Nearby, the city of Glendale has been taking an utter bath on Gila River Arena, where the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes play, leading to several years of maneuvering and threats between the city and the team. Taxpayers are being soaked in all of that too.

There are some places in the country that are starting to take a harder line against professional sports teams’ desire to obtain public financing of their ballparks and stadiums. Arizona has not been one of them. One would hope that, given what has gone on there already, given the terms of the Diamondbacks’ lease and given the extremely unrealistic nature of any threats the Dbacks could conceivably make about relocation, at least any time soon, that the county and its taxpayers don’t decide that giving them any more than they are already required to under the lease is a good idea.

Which is to say: if Derek Hall is right and the stadium authority is breaching its responsibilities with respect to Chase Field, the Dbacks should put up or shut up and sue.

Daniel Norris has a non-displaced fracture in his vertebrae

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)

The exam of Tigers starter Daniel Norris has gone down and the news is not fantastic: he was diagnosed with non-displaced fractures in his spinous process, which is part of the vertebrae.

Which, manager Brad Ausmus said, sounds worse than it is. For now Norris won’t pick up a ball for another five days and will start the year on the disabled list. As discussed before, Matt Boyd, Buck Farmer and Shane Green are now in competition for Norris’ fifth spot in the rotation.

Ornithologists remember Randy Johnson obliterating that bird with a pitch

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

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.