Friday, June 29, 2007

Walk (off) This Way

The Chicago Cubs are finally playing the way you'd expect a team that spent $300 million in the off season would play: seven consecutive victories, including two in dramatic walk-off fashion. The latest winning streak has helped bring the Cubs back to .500, and back into striking distance in the playoff race. So what triggered this dramatic turnaround? Well, I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but it all began by playing one of the league's punching bags, the Chicago White Sox!

The Cubs finished a three-game sweep of their south side rivals to ignite this winning streak. The fourth victory in the current winning streak is probably second most memorable baseball games I have ever been at (my number one game I have ever been at was Game 2 of the 2005 World Series when Podsednik hit his walk-off). The Cubs fell behind in the first inning 1-0, but they quickly overcame that and built up a pretty sizable 8-3 lead heading into the ninth inning. Nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. The Rockies strung a bunch of hits together, and next thing you knew, it was 8-6, and still nobody out. But that's ok, two runs are still tough to get in just one inning, right? Wrong. A couple of base hits, and then a three-run home run gave the Rockies an improbable 9-8 lead.

At this point, you would think that the Cubs are toast. Can a club recover mentally from completely squandering a 5 run lead int he ninth inning? Usually not, but there was an error that extended the game and bring up superstar Alfonso Soriano, who promply ended the game with a walk-off single. And then there was much rejoicing.

I think that the walk-off took a lot out of the Rockies, as they haven't won a game since then. Ahhh yes, isn't momentum in sports a funny thing?

Anyways, next up for the Cubs is the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, who are in town until Sunday. The Cubs took the series opener today in dramatic, walk-off fashion as well (although I don't think it was as wacky as Monday's walk-off). The Cubs quickly found themselves in a 5-0 deficit in the first inning, but kept clawing back, getting a run back here, a run back there, to make it 5-3 going into the ninth inning. The Cubs wasted no time in stringing a few base hits together to make the score 5-4. With a runner on, enter Aramis Ramirez. First pitch: exit Aramis Ramirez. Game over. Cubs win! Cubs win!

Who said there's no emotion in professional sports?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fish Fried

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen:

- "This is a joke."
- "We have to apologize to the fans who show up and watch this..."
- "I'm tired of watching this day-in and day-out..."

These were quotes from a post-game press conference following another tough loss, this one 7-5 to the Florida Marlins. The fiery press conference clearly didn't inspire his team, as the Sox took an even more wretching loss the very next day 5-4. The White Sox have now lost 19 of their last 24 games. Now that's ineptitude.

"And we're getting paid for that huh? That's a little embarassing. Getting paid to lose series."

Hooray! We love playing the White Sox!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Damn Yankees!

It has been a difficult season for the New York Yankees, as they find themselves below .500 as we creep closer and closer to the midway point in the season. Superstar Alex Rodriguez has been one of the only bright spots for the Bronx Bombers, and is having a legendary season that is on pace to be one for the ages. He hit a back-breaking grand slam in the 9th inning on Thursday night:

His numbers have been wasted on numerous occasions this season due to bad pitching and porous defense, but the Yankees have started putting it together recently, winning 6 of their last 8 games. It helps when you play four of those games against the punchless Chicago White Sox! The White Sox have the worst batting average in the league, which was exactly what was needed for the Yankees to get their pitching back on track en route to three straight wins.

Being outhustled and outworked in the field didn't help Chicago's cause either!

Some idiot fans decided the Sox weren't providing adequate entertainment and decided to run out onto the field, only to get body slammed by security. (I hope that was worth the jail time and fine, dumbass)

I think that tackle probably impressed the Chicago Bears, who were there watching the game that night after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Casey and Fred, Beth and Ken

I have been super-duper busy the past two weeks. On top of my usual load of sporting events, I shot two weddings, one each weekend over the last fortnight (sorry, couldn't resist the opportunity to use that word in a sentence).

I shot my very first wedding in the summer of 2005, and have been gradually doing more and more every year. I actually first got into shooting weddings solely for money's sake. And while admittedly it is still a large factor (duh), I have found that I do enjoy covering them. At first glance, you'd probably think weddings are the exact opposite of sports, but when it comes to photographing them, I think they are very similar. Both are all about capturing the peak actions and emotions of the event as they happen, preferrably on a clean and beautiful background. But really, the very core of both fields are the same: you see it, you shoot it. Simple.

That said, I have really come to respect those who shoot weddings full time. A lot of time and energy is spent just shooting one wedding not only because of the long hours the day of, but also all the image editing required on the back end. Because this post is going to be a "double-post" of two weddings, I will save going into what this "back end" involves (at least in my workflow) for a future post.

The first wedding I did was for Casey and Fred over the Memorial Day weekend. Plan A called for an outdoor ceremony in Grant Park's rose garden. Plan B - the weather plan - called for an indoor ceremony at Hotel 71, where the reception was going to be held. Unfortunately, the weather leading up to the weekend had been extremely rainy, so I was kind expecting to be holed up inside for the entire day. However, Casey decided the day before the wedding (which was also a rainy day) to say screw Plan B, and to do it outside in Grant Park rain or shine. It ended up being a great call, because come the big day, it was mid-70's and mostly sunny. You can't argue with the backdrop!

However, it was almost too nice out because there were just too many tourists milling about, especially since it was also a holiday weekend. I had already sent my assistant back for cocktail hour because we were a bit crunched on time, so I had no way to control random park visitors from creeping into my larger group shots (bridal party, etc). Oh well, still a fun shot though...

The rest of the evening went pretty smoothly. Just the usual toasts, dancing, etc. Here's a shot of the father-daughter dance:

The second wedding I shot over the past two weeks was down in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. I knew the bride Beth from college: I was actually her RA (residential assistant, now called community assistants) back in the day. Just knowing who she was, I knew this wedding would be a very nice.

There were a couple of really fun, cute kids at this wedding. The one thing I quickly learned throughout my experiences is that if you follow kids long enough (ok, so it usually doesn't take very long!), they will give you a fun picture!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Chicago Sky

In one of my recent posts, I had mentioned that I was done with shooting basketball until next season. But I was wrong and I ended up shooting a Bulls game. Well, you know what? I was wrong again. I forgot all about the Chicago Sky, a WNBA team that plays at the UIC Pavilion and I ended up shooting their 78-72 victory over the winless Minnesota Lynx last night.

It might not be the most politically correct thing in the world, but every time I think about women's basketball, I think back to the TV show Futurama. In one episode, the characters land on a planet inhabited by giant Amazon women. They eventually come upon a basketball court and the women explained: "We no can dunk, but good fundamentals... more fun to watch anyways." Of course, the main character Fry replies with a loud "HAHAHAHA." Fry was pretty candid, but he's probably right too: women's basketball is a a bit irrelevant, especially in a city that already has five mainstream professional franchises (Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs, and Sox).

Now, I don't follow the league (nor any other professional womens' league), but don't get me wrong, women athletes are just as dedicated to their games any other person, and many of them are undoubtedly just as athletically gifted as their male counterparts. As a result, despite the crappy attendance numbers and TV ratings, the games still make for some nice pictures: