Monday, February 28, 2011


Okay, I admit it. When I open up my virtual newspaper each morning, first I glance at the front page to make sure we haven't done anything silly: you know like blowing up the world we live in. But in most cases, the first section I really read is the sports section. I was born in Massachusetts and although I have lived in Arizona and now Florida, I am a Boston sports fan. I, like most fans from that area, are more of a Boston's teams fan then sports fan. What I mean is I cannot watch the Detroit Tigers and the Cleveland Indians play baseball. You can supply any other two cities names and in any other pro sports and nothing changes. I am a Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins fan. I have been my entire life and it isn't changing anytime soon. But baseball has always been my favorite.

Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do."

I remember listening to games on my transistor radio. You, younger people, can ask your parents what those were. I can  remember Teddy's last home run, Billy Rohr's near no hitter and Tony Cs tragic story of potential, stardom and the night a fastball crushed the side of his face. He was never the same and out of baseball way too early. Then his life ended way too early. I had season tickets to the Boston (not New England back then) Patriots. This is when they were really bad. Hell, the stands caught fire once and it was more entertaining then the game. I had season tickets to the BIG BAD BRUINS and the greatest hockey player I ever saw, Bobby Orr. I saw Russell, (the greatest basketball & team player ever) and Havilicek win championship after championship.  I hate the Yankees, Jets, Knicks and Rangers: hell, I would hate the New York Soccer team but I have no idea who they are.  (Now that I think about it I hate them also).  DISCLAIMER.. If your a sports fan you would understand what I mean, but for you non sport fans let me explain. I am talking laundry just laundry, not people, cities or states. Heck I even like and admire some Yankee players. It would be hard not to like Jeter or Posada, although their third basemen not so much. This is all said in fun folk.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

So you see, I am a Boston Red Sox fan and this is a great time of the year. They are in Florida. Spring training has begun, the winter is almost over (almost) and hope springs eternal in the breast of every Sox fan. This is the year we do it again. Heck, we have Crawford, Gonzalos and a revamped bullpen: it is our year. Take that you **##** Yankee fans.

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

Ok, so now you really understand I am a Boston fan. Then why would I go to see a Toronto Blue Jays farm team play?? Well, a few reasons; one the park was about 20 minutes from our house when we lived in New Hampshire. The seats, the very best ones, box seats from the first row to the third row cost us $12.00. Twelve dollars! Are you kidding me? At a pro game, the hot dogs are about that much!!! It was a pretty nice park and they provide a great family atmosphere. In between innings, you can see sumo wrestling and a man riding a ostrich throwing hot dogs into the stands. OK, it's guy in a costume but its $12.00 for the best seats. What did you think you were going to see, a real ostrich or Sid Vicious singing the national anthem? (just seeing if your reading all my post).  I didn't understand the connection between the ostrich and the hot dogs either but the kids loved it.  But none of those were the main reason!! I went to try and capture some good action images with my camera and challenge myself.

If I can combine four of my loves in one evening; my wife, baseball, photography and a cold beer, that is not a bad night, boys and girls. Plus I get to challenge myself: play my own little game within the baseball game and very, very rarely pull a hammy doing it. My challenge is simple: to take images showing action and always try to include the ball in the air not secured in someone's glove or hand.
This may sound easy but try it. It starts when you order your tickets. I always get tickets between home plate and either first or second base and no farther away from the field then the fourth row. I always take my longest lens, which now is the Nikon 70 - 200 VR lens. I set my ISO for around 1800, my camera in manual mode at 2.8 and the firing mode to continuous. I know that after the fourth or fifth inning, the sun will be down and the chances of getting enough light to freeze the action diminishes a LOT!!

I start off focusing on the pitcher: waiting for the windup. When he starts, I start firing shot after shot till the ball is out of the camera's sight. I am trying to capture a few different images. I like to get the torque of the arm in the windup: the ball in his hand a second before he releases it and then the ball on its way toward the batter.

My second effort is of the batter. I focus on him with one eye while my other eye is looking at the pitcher, I kid you not. This gets easier with practice but I would hold off on the beers till after you get your images. I wait till I see the pitcher release the ball, count 1 or 2 seconds and then start firing.  It depends on how fast the pitcher is, also if it is a fastball or off speed pitch.  I am hoping to catch bat on ball (you need to be really lucky) or the ball and bat right before or after contact. If I can catch the ball in the catcher's glove and the batter swinging and missing, I'm okay with that image also. Usually by the fifth inning, the sun is down and the minor league park lights are not up to what I would need. Then I concentrate more on the game and a few cold beers.

It is always a fun night and if I can come away with a few shots I like, then it's a perfect night. Especially if on the way home, I hear that the Sox won their game (even better if it is the  **##** Yankees that they beat)

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

If you do not know these have been the lyrics to the 1908 classic " TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME" Written by Jack Norworth.
It was written on scraps of paper on the train to Manhattan New York. He gave them to Albert Von Tilzer who composed the music and a hit was born.
It is sung in nearly every ball park during the seventh inning stretch to this day. Not everyone is a fan.

"In the seventh inning fans all get up and sing 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' and they're already there. It's really a stupid thing to say and I don't know who made 'em sing it. Why would somebody that's there get up and sing take me out to the ball game? The first person to do it must have been a moron." - Pitcher Larry Anderson

Larry was obviously a deep thoughtful and warm human being.


FAYErydust said...

The images are very clear. Baseball is not that popular here in the Philippines so I hope you could take pictures of NBA. :) I love NBA. Hahaha. :D

Aaron said...

So glad you are supporting my future Toronto Blue Jays! Hopefully the kids coming in the farm system are better than the ones on our pro team right now :)

Sherry said...

I love your photos, baseball not so much! lol!

Kriti said...

Not a baseball fan Jim - but a huge fan of both your writing and of course your pics. This post rocks : )

Mari S. Wilbur said...

I'm not a baseball fan but you caught my attention when you mentioned hockey. Now there's a sport!!! Love your writing - I hope to pick up some skills reading your blogs. Your photos show all the action of the game and splendidly. That ball looks low, fast and mean in the first few shots. A great series of photos!!

JIM said...

Thank you everybody it was a nice way to start my day.
Aaron you may have a long wait lol.
Sherry thank you after all the pictures are whats important lololol
Kriti.. Thank You your always so kind
Low fast and mean and your not a baseball fan????? Damn you sound like you know the gamelo. Thank you as always