For the second time in a week, a winged creature has taken its last breath on a baseball field. Five days after Zac Gallen killed a bird with a warmup pitch, Guardians’ outfielder Will Brennan hit a bird out of the air with a base hit. Both birds were killed on impact, and had to be removed from the field of play before players continued. They may have been given proper memorial services, but were more likely thrown in the trash by a member of the grounds crew.
These two videos are something else, but the most famous death of a bird came in 2001. This came at the hands of Randy Johnson, who hit a bird with a fastball, not only killing, but exploding the bird. The video is attached below and you should watch it even if you’ve seen it, because it is never not wild to see the cloud of feathers appear in the strike zone.
When that happened, it was considered a one-in-a-million type of accident. Reasonably so, as we had gone twenty years without something like this ever happening again. Until this week, where two birds have come to their death. A situation like this makes us all put our detective hats on. Fortunately for you, I have spent hours pondering how something like this could happen, and have come to what I consider to be a rock-solid explanation. The pitch clock has made the risk of bird deaths on a baseball diamond skyrocket.
Simply put, the pitch clock has increased the pace of play that the MLB operates at. This means balls are flying around at an increasingly high rate. Players have had an entire off-season as well as Spring Training to adjust. The birds, however, were probably not notified of these changes, and haven’t had the ability to adjust their flight paths. How else can you explain the sudden uptick in birds killed? To demonstrate how unprecedented these numbers are, I’ve included a graph of birds killed during MLB games since 2000.
It looks pretty damning when you see it visually. Something needs to be done about this, because at this rate, hundreds of birds are going to die next season.