I love sports photography – you’ve probably surmised that by now – but the truth is, once I get caught up in a game I’m not always ready for the fast and unexpected. Pablo Sandoval’s jumping catch in Monday’s San Francisco Giants game against the Cleveland Indians? Nope, didn’t even have my camera raised. (I applauded wildly, though. Thirty pounds ago, Panda would have missed that ball by 12 inches.)
Yesterday’s spring training game in Goodyear, AZ – the Indians vs. the Cincinnati Reds – presented greater-than-average challenges for my photography, because my view of parts of the field was partially obstructed by an MLB.TV cameraman. So, I missed the chance to capture some important stuff – including the second-base umpire taking a Brandon Phillips line drive to the groin. (An odious man seated next to me kept yelling, “Ball’s still in play” as the poor ump lay face down in the dirt surrounded by concerned players, until another fan suggested he stick a sock in it.)
Replay umpire John Tumpane was later hit in the backside by a bad throw to second by Indians first baseman Joe Sever. I missed that too. It was a tough day to be an umpire, or a photographer seated in section 118 of Goodyear Ballpark.
The photo above of Nick Swisher was a classic case of right place, right time. I finally got a good view of the batter’s box, and since Swisher had already homered twice in two days I had my camera trained on him. He walked, and (unintentionally) I snapped just as he tossed his bat to the side. I nearly deleted the photo, then noticed the bat’s shadow on the ground and realized I caught it hanging midair, perfectly parallel to the ground. I get a kick out of capturing a split second facial expression, a foot on the bag, the ball making contact etc. If I got paid for my baseball pics, this could be a money shot.
The rest of my photos from the game…