Saturday, October 28, 2006

Go Crazy, Folks! (Cards win the World Series)

"For the first time since 1982, St. Louis has a World Series winner!"
~Joe Buck, FOX Broadcaster

Anytime you get asked to cover the World Series, you do it. Yes, it is a lot of work and makes for really long days (get to the ballpark around 3pm, and stay until about midnight), but it's one of the biggest stages in all of sports, and unless you are a staffer, you don't know if you'll ever be back. So this past week, I got to cover my second World Series (last year was my first). However, this was the first time I was able photograph a series clinching victory.

And even though it was the Cubs' arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals winning it, and the Busch Stadium working conditions were really poorly designed and thought out, it was still pretty awesome to be there for it. I mean, there's nothing quite like being able to run out on the field and chasing the players around the diamond as they celebrate with each other and also high five fans seated in the first few rows.

Now, about the working conditions. First, it rained a lot. So we had no idea wether or not any of the games were going to play on time, or at all, or what the deal was. OK, fine. Can't control nature. Hats off to the groundscrew for keeping the field in tip top shape despite threatening conditions.

First off, the press meal was kinda crappy. Boxed lunches with cold cut sandwiches which were who knows how old. Finally, and most importantly, there was a severe lack of field-level photo positions, unlike in Chicago where there was plenty of room. As a result, they had a lot of "overhead" positions from the concourse. But again, there wasn't very many areas they were able to put stands for photographers as well. So a lot of organizations, like us, kind of got screwed and were assigned crappy spots by the MLB. As the White Sox team photographer (who was shooting for the MLB) said, "kinda makes you think of home, right?"

Anyways, we said screw the designated area, and kinda winged it. My shooting partner (who came up from Florida) managed to sweet talk the ushers down in the aisle directly behind the 3rd base dugout at field level and shot the three games from there. I somehow convinced two FOX camera operators to let me squeeze in between their overhead position inside first base. Both of us ended up getting pretty sweet stuff from our freelanced positions. Plus, because they were not really "designated" still photographer areas, the stuff we got from the game is totally unique from everybody else. Take that MLB!

After the game, the other shooter who was with me went into the clubhouse to shoot the wild champaign spraying celebration, while I stayed out on the field to get players high fiving fans and each other. It would have been neat to do the locker room celebration, but I feel like photos in there are really such a crapshoot... not to mention it's probably ridiculously hot and stanky in there. Although hats off to Jimmy for getting some sweet stuff. I was able to manage getting some stuff out at field level too, as players started trickling outside and thanked the fans for their support. I wish they brought the trophy out and showed it to the fans like the White Sox did last year, but maybe they wanted to keep it protected. I dunno. Oh well.

More images from the 2006 World Series can be found on my sportsshooter page (scroll down to the "hidden links").

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bear Down, Chicago Bears

Last night, NBC's Sunday Night Football featured a showdown between the undefeated Seattle Seahawks and the undefeated Chicago Bears.

Everybody knows the Seahawks are a force to contend with. They were in the Super Bowl last year. But there were a lot of skeptics about our Chicago Bears. Sure they made the playoffs last year with a stingy defense, but the offense, quite frankly.... sucked. This year, quarterback Rex Grossman seems to have put it together, and has led the Bears to three convincing victories. But none of them were against *good* teams, so Seattle was going to be a real test.

Now, I've never been to a playoff game at Soldier Field, but let me tell you, the place was just rockin'. I know some NFL and college stadiums are louder, but that was hands down the loudest sporting event I have ever been at. Even louder than the World Series when Scott Podsednik hit his game winning home run (something to do with architecture that makes football stadiums louder than baseball stadiums). Now I know why some shooters wear earplugs when they work. Anyways, the Chicago crowd knew exactly what they were cheering about, as the Bears could do no wrong, passing their biggest test of the year by knocking off the Seahawks 37-6.