The crack of the bat punctuates a warm day in cliché Americana. And while Cracker Jacks have waned in popularity, for some, "I don't care if I never get back" still rings as true as it did when baseball was the undisputed American pastime.
But for me, I can't wait to get back.
Some of you may be looking at my name and rolling your eyes as you think of a clever comment to poke fun of ping pong or gymnastics, but the recent influx of baseball talent from the Far East should indicate the sport's popularity in Asia.
There is a certain charm to downing cheap beer and hot dogs during a leisure game punctuated with short bursts of excitement that is played by many athletes who look decidedly unathletic. And there's no denying the grandeur of a great baseball highlight.
So what's not to like?
What makes the sport enjoyable for spectators makes it a pain for me to shoot. Given the time and luxury to shoot a whole game does improve the experience a bit, but when you're hustling between shoots to grab a couple innings, playing the percentages is your best friend, and in a sport where long periods of tedium are punctuated by lightning fast action, playing it safe is unfortunately the smart move. Gambling on a low-percentage, but potentially cool diving catch in the outfield, is a dangerous proposition when you only have a short time at the game — especially early in the season, when inconsequential games receive minor coverage with tiny photos inside the sports section.
Every game starts with the same C.Y.A. (cover your ass) ritual of getting some publishable photos of pitchers and batters. Most of the time, something a little more exciting happens, negating the need for these run-of-the-mill shots, but sometimes you are reminded why you bother shooting those.
Kennewick's 10-0 mutilation of Kamiakin on Tax Day was one such reminder that also knocked down baseball in its race with Fever football for my least favorite sport to shoot.
Just like their record in the AF2 League, however, the Fever have a lot of ground to make up.
While a 10-run game might sound like a photo-rich environment, the seemingly endless parade of Kamiakin's poor defense and pitching presented few opportunities for good baseball action photos. Plus, it didn't help that the game ended in 4 1/2 innings thanks to a mercy rule I've often joked about with spectators and coaches at boring blowouts, but never seen employed.
What was even more shocking than the total thumping, however, was how lightly Kamiakin seemed to be taking the embarrassment. When pitcher Jeremy Rojas was called off the mound after a dismal performance, he was actually smiling, though his teammate's posture in the background shows that not all the Braves were as carefree:
I also had an OK base running shot:
But I felt that neither shot really worked as the shot for the game.
In my boredom, I turned my lens to the Kennewick bench. Surely, they must be having an even better time than Kamiakin. I lingered a bit in hopes of getting a good mix of jawing and spitting, which never quite came together:
because I quickly thought about how pissed I would be if something cool did happen while I was shooting spit.
Well, something kind of cool did happen, but I still ended up being pretty pissed:
While I would like to fully blame Kamiakin's first baseman for ruining what would have been a pretty good action shot:
I should've known better than to line my shot up at third with that blockage as a possibility. Thankfully I had found a reasonably clean background for my pitcher shot:
Even though Kennewick's James McKinnis' protruding vein adds a bit to the photo, it's still pretty blah.
Although blah is how I feel about shooting baseball, I'm not happy with feeling blah about my photos. As the season progresses along with the importance of games, however, I should end up with more time to spend at the games and more chances to gamble on getting something a little more exciting or interesting.
And if I get better at knowing when and where to take those gambles, who knows, maybe I can take another crack at enjoying game without the aid of beer and nachos.