Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Training Baseball - part 1

Last week the brown grass in my yard had started to turn green and the cold gray branches of the crape myrtle trees were beginning to sprout with green miniature signs of new life. Soon my yard would be busting out with the colorful blossoms of four different colors of crape myrtle trees. Spring was in the air and that means sixteen major league baseball teams were in Florida tuning up for the 2009 season. And it was also time for my annual baseball trip.

Where I go depends mainly on which games I can get tickets for, as getting tickets for good seats has become somewhat of a racket in recent years. It seems that before the tickets go on sale to the general public, ticket brokers have already been allowed to purchase blocks of tickets for the best seats in the stadiums, which they in turn resell on their websites for about 3 times the face value. What it means is that you either swallow hard and pay if you want really good seats, or you roll the dice with everyone else who clogs up the Ticketmaster website at the very same instant that tickets go on sale, and hope for the best of the leftovers.

Since I am a person of principles, I go for the latter. My friend Terry likes sports too, and we usually make a baseball trip as well as a couple hockey trips during the hockey season. And I think my wife probably enjoys it when I get out of the house for a few days. This year we ended up getting tickets for games between the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins, and the St. Louis Cardinals vs the Baltimore Orioles. This was the first time we had been lucky enough to get tickets to see the Red Sox, although we were disappointed that Jason Bay was the only regular starter was in the lineup Saturday. Many players were still at the World Baseball Classic, and could not yet be present at spring training. Since both the Marlins and Cardinals play at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, we were able to conveniently see both games in the same venue, which made for one less travel day and allowed us to spend that time visiting the Jupiter lighthouse on Sunday morning instead.

As luck would have it, it began to rain prior to game time on Saturday, and we got ourselves and our camera equipment wet before we ever entered the stadium. We went in and ventured out into the open as the rain stopped. But the rain came back again and again and we watched the ground crew first uncover the infield, only to recover it again. Soon the 1:05 start time passed and it was clear that the game would be delayed if played at all. As the rain fell harder we went for cover and after a while we decided to go check in to the hotel since it was only a half mile away. We figured we could easily get back to the stadium in a few minutes if the game began.
That did eventually happen, but we did not arrive back at the game until the 3rd inning. We had been checking the (supposedly) "live game update" on the Internet, which showed nothing happening. But we decided to get in the car and drive back to the stadium just to make sure. When we saw the stadium lights on, we knew the game was being played. There had been a 2 1/2 hour rain delay. The good news was that the crowd had thinned out considerably and now we are able to pick a good spot in the standing room area of the aisle, and get a decent angle for photos. It was cool and breezy and it really felt great. And there was no sun to worry about so there was no need for sunblock. The bad news was that the light was a lot lower and decent shutter speeds were difficult to get, even shooting wide open with f2.8 glass.

We actually had good seats for this game, down in the 7th row a little bit behind 3rd base. But it is much easier to shoot photos from up in the aisle, where we were are not shooting from in between other spectator's heads in front of us, and not worrying about obstructing anyones view behind us with our oversized camera lenses. We shot for a while from the aisle, and later went down to the seats, but since the crowd was so thin, we just went down to the first row in our section, which was nearly empty. It was still drizzling rain, and you could see the raindrops in the photos (note the rain drops in the first photo at the top of this page). It might be difficult to get any pictures worth showing anybody this day, but who cares? We were sitting comfortably and enjoying the cool breeze, and it's baseball season again, so it didn't really matter.

As it turned out, I managed a few good photos the first day, and all things considered, we felt fortunate to be able to see baseball at all after the way the afternoon started.

(Continued in Part 2, above)


  1. Some great shots Tim. Glad things worked out, weather and all. Looking forward to part two. Blue Skies.