Pt. 4 of 4 for the San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade on Market St.

Hello everyone. I’m back with the last of the postings to share all the images I took while standing on Market St during the San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade. I know I’ve kept you waiting for the good stuff, but as a young lady once told me back in college, “you can’t give up the goods too quickly; you have to make them wait!!” Clearly she wasn’t thinking that I would use her modus operandi to my photography, but the concept works. Without further ado…

The first of the starting players that made it down the street was one of my favorite relievers, Jeremy Affeldt. Although within the family, we have nicknamed Affeldt, Afflac, we think it helps his mojo and gets the job done when we root “Go Afflac!!!” I’m sure after so many times of calling him that at home and at the ballpark, I’d have to think long and hard if I ever met the man in person to make sure not to call him by anything else other than his real name. Jeremy, besides being a dominant left hand in the bullpen, has made a name for himself by coming in during game clenching situations in relief of a struggling starter and has held his ground long enough to get the rest of the bullpen in on the action. He was the unsung hero in 2010 during the start with Philadelphia that Jonathan Sanchez blew up on and came in to right that ship to a strategic win. Again, in 2012, Jeremy came in with the skipper needed him and conjured up all the mojo he needed with all that babble he does on the mound and got the job done.

You didn't smile for your self portrait, Jeremy!!

You didn’t smile for your self portrait, Jeremy!!

Next up on the parade route was phenom, Joaquin Arias. I hope Joaquin stays with the ballclub for a long time. He is agile as a third baseman and has a deadly bat. Throughout the post season, it was almost expected that once Pablo was done with his last at bat for the game, you could expect for Bochy to sub Arias in for third base. He will probably be best known for the ridiculous throw to first to secure the last out of Matt Cain’s perfect game earlier this year. If you haven’t gotten to see the slow motion footage, you need to check out what he did. He fielded the ball off-balance and was leaning backwards when he made the throw to first. There was plenty on the ball to make it way ahead of the baserunner and the rest is history.

You go boy!!!

You go boy!!!

Following Arias was Brandon Belt. A few months ago, when Belt’s bat was struggling, I heard a rumor through the usual suspects that was saying that Brandon was not adjusting to the changes the batting coaches were suggesting and that he had no intention to change, which made his stay with the ball club short-lived. I didn’t pay one bit of attention to all that crap, cause I knew it was just that. Brandon has a keen sense of the strike zone like few players on our ball club have today. When Brandon wasn’t walking on a four ball at bat, he was connecting on something good. Yeah, he had the same bad luck that all our players had at one point or another during the season, but he made the adjustments that the haters said he wouldn’t and proved to the whole town that he belongs at first base and no one is taking his spot. The Little Giraffe is here to stay, folks, and he is ONLY GETTING STARTED!!!

The Little Giraffe with those big ole' size 15 shoes!!

The Little Giraffe with those big ole’ size 15 shoes!!

During the game, the Giants GCast blurbs are always finding funny ways to get the fans to know the players better. Among the most hilarious this season was when the question was posed about the upcoming Madison Bumgarner bobble head and what would it say if it was a talking bobble head. The Giants have had a few bobbleheads that have a sound chip in them, such as the Bobby Thompson and Tony Bennett bobbleheads. The best answer was given by none other than Barry Zito when saying that Mad Bum is always talking about his cows and how they are “healthy.” Now, this isn’t just a run of the mill “healthy.” You have to use your imagination and all the southern drawl you can muster to give it a good go at the Mad Bum “healthy”. Well, very much like his cattle, Mad Bum came back out in 2012 and gave us a “HEALTHY” year. I can only imagine what this kid will be doing in a few years when he fully matures as a pitcher in the big leagues.

Looking "healthy" Mad Bum!!!

Looking “healthy” Mad Bum!!!

God damn it, do I love Gregor Blanco!! When we had Andres Torres out in center field for the 2010 season, I could not imagine anyone else being able to track down balls the way Andres did. With the same speed and agility, Gregor has quickly become a mainstay in our outfield along with Pence and Pagan. He will forever be immortalized in the amazing sliding catch to save Matt Cain’s perfect game late in the game. I still can’t believe he made that catch!! Even though his bat gets cold every so often, I still can’t think of wishing Bochy would sit this guy down and give someone else an opportunity. The defense that Blanco brings to the outfield is enough to have his name in the lineup card each and every game.

The Great White Shark!!!

The Great White Shark!!!

For as awesome a pitcher as Matt Cain is, with all his accolades and achievements leading up to this year during his tenure with the Giants, the minute you put his beautiful daughter in the picture, Matty has to take the back seat. When the Cain family came down near where I was standing, she was doing the fist pump and having the time of her life. She is adorable and I’m sure I speak on behalf of the entire Giants fan base when I say that we love the Cain family and are very fortunate to have them in our town. Oh, and Matty can throw the ball pretty good too…

Mr. First Ever San Francisco Giants Perfect Game Pitcher!!!

Mr. First Ever San Francisco Giants Perfect Game Pitcher!!!

How do you follow an act like Cain’s? Well, put in the Bay Area kid that grew up to see his dreams come true, and oh yeah, make sure that he is one of the best fielding short stops playing the game today!! A few months back, the SF Chronicle ran a story about Brandon Crawford and how he grew up a Giants fan. When the Giants nearly became the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, there was the fear that the very last game to ever be playing in Candlestick Park as eminent. Many Giants fans went to that game to be a part of history and witness the next chapter in Giants history. Guess who else was there and just old enough to be playing tee-ball? Brandon Crawford!!! The paper ran the story of how it all happened from there for Brandon and didn’t fail to come up with a cute little Crawford looking at the camera. Now, I wonder if that photographer thought to him/herself, “Let me take this kids picture, cause he might be a Giant one day!!”

Way to make your hometown proud!! You done good, kid!!

Way to make your hometown proud!! You done good, kid!!

The confetti continued to rain down on everyone with new shots of orange and black strips of paper being shot up in the air every few minutes. I’m sure it was nothing like Times Square during the New Years celebration, but I’d like to think that it was just shy of being that awesome. I was able to snap off a few images of the confetti raining down, along with capturing the craziness of all the windows that lined Market Street with all the fans hanging out of them. For next year’s World Series celebration, I will book a room at one of the hotels down there with a view facing Market Street to get a different perspective. Yeah, that’s right, you heard it here first. Repeat, baby!!!

It's raining orange and black

It’s raining orange and black

Giants fans coming out of the woodwork!!!

Giants fans coming out of the woodwork!!!

Next up on the parade route was The Freak, Tim Lincecum. Timmy had an off-year. He admits that and Giants fans are quite forgiving to their own, as long as they own up to it. Hint, hint, Melky…

Anyway, some people say that if Tim had been on it all year, we would have locked up the postseason weeks before we did. So what??? 2012 could have gone no other way than the way it did and we ended up as the last man standing. Yes, it was cause for concern to see our number one starter struggling this year, but without it, Matty may never had gotten the recognition from the entire league as the number one starter that he is in his own right. If you really think about it, we have a starting rotation that is made up of 5 pitchers that could all be the number one starter for their ballclub.

Timmy came into games out of the bullpen and shut down the opposition. We couldn’t have asked for a more dominant pitching staff for this postseason. For next season, I think someone should give Timmy back his weed so we can get back to business as usual dominating those Dodgers, wouldn’t you say???

You aren't see through, fat ass!!!

You aren’t see through, fat ass!!!

Even the nose bleeds get love from The Freak!!

Even the nose bleeds get love from The Freak!!

Next up was George Kontas. When we let go of Ramon Ramirez, my heart was broken. We needed another good right hander to help Sergio Romo in the bullpen, and Ramon got the job done with a sneaky release point that just got the batter all out of whack. In comes George with a really bad picture for the big screen and I panicked. I am so glad that I was wrong about George and he shut them down as good, if not better than Ramon. This kid looks like he throws bullets with very good accuracy. I would sure hate to be facing him…

George, you didn't look over here!!!

George, you didn’t look over here!!!

Next up was Aubrey Huff. Aubrey was such a great story in the 2010 World Series winning year, and I am very happy that he was still around this year to see us do it again. Although not nearly as pivotal as a player in 2012 as he was in 2010, Aubrey was plagued with a few injuries that led way for Brandon Belt to take over first base duties. Some of those injuries were self-inflicted, like when he hurt himself when he jumped over the dugout fence in celebration, but I am sure he was invaluable to the younger players to impart his wisdom as a veteran player. Along with Pat Burrell, I am very happy to see Aubrey walk away from the Giants with not one, but TWO World Series Championship rings. Aubrey, Aubrey, Aubrey!!! HUFF, HUFF, HUFF!!!

Huffy and the fam!!

Huffy and the fam!!

Javi Lopez was the missing link to our already fabulous bullpen when he was signed on a few years back. I have never been a fan of the submarine or low arm release pitchers since the ball essentially has to already be coming in an upward motion towards the batter, which makes it easier to elevate, yet Javi came on and just left everyone wondering “what the fuck was that?!?!?” Just as instrumental a bullpen player in 2010 as 2012, he came out and got the job done. He had a fair number of saves to add to the books for this year, but he continue to prove himself as the all around bullpen pitcher that is ready to come up and get an out or two. He has been very vocal about being left in for more than just the left-handed hitters, and you gotta love a ballplayer that isn’t looking to make excuses.

Love ya, Javi!!!

Love ya, Javi!!!

Jean Machi was a later comer to this season. He didn’t see a whole lot of play time, but he got the job done when he was called in. I look forward to seeing more of him in 2013…

Machi

Machi

Jose Mijares was up next, and it was clear to see that his wife was all about Giants spirit with her bright orange leggings. Mijares did a great job for us this year and rounded out the BIG BOY CLUB, along with Sandoval and Machi. As long as you continue to throw those rockets, my man, I won’t harp on anything else.

Mijares

Mijares

What can you say about Angel Pagan?? The man gives 150% every minute of every game whether he is playing it or not. If you had the chance to follow him around during this offseason, I’m sure that you’d see a man giving 150% of his time in preparation to come back out and kick some more ass for the 2013 season. Now, all we have to do is FREAKIN’ SIGN HIS ASS!!! There is no way in hell Giants fans would forgive Sabean for letting either Pagan or Pence walk away after their performances in 2012, so JUST SIGN THEM ALREADY!!!

Pagan and his little girl

Pagan and his little girl

Hi, Angel!!

Hi, Angel!!

A perfect example of how forgiving Giants fans can be in the relationship that we have with Guillermo Mota. 2012 was a bad year for the Giants when it came to PED suspensions. Early on in the year, it was discovered that Guillermo took some cough medication in his home town that tested him positive only to later have the Cabrera scandal. Forget the fact that no one believed the cough syrup story. Forget the fact that it was his SECOND offense and had to serve a 100 game suspension. Forget the fact that his last name is slang for “weed” with all the hispanic community. Forget the fact that he was a FREAKIN DODGER!! Giants fans had it in their hearts to put that all behind them and welcome him back with his badass throwing right arm to have another go at postseason greatness. And you know why Guillermo didn’t disappoint? Cause his cough syrup story wasn’t coupled with the fabrication of a bogus website… Sheeeesh.

Please stay away from the cough syrup, Guillermo...

Please stay away from the cough syrup, Guillermo…

Up next was Francisco Peguero. Just like Buddy the Elf in Will Ferrell’s hit movie “Elf” says when he meets Francisco in the book publishing house, “Francisco, that’s fun to say!!” It’s probably not much fun when you are the opposing team and he manages to steal a bag on your ass or ends up on scoring from first on a single to the outfield. This kid has wheels and they move quick!! With a very crowded outfield filled with all-stars, it’s difficult to think about where Francisco may end up in the permanent roster next year, but we can only hope that he sticks around to stick it to a few more ball clubs while still wearing the orange and black.

Francisco is VERY fun to say!!

Francisco is VERY fun to say!!

When I first heard that we had signed Hunter Pence, I was so excited I could have sworn I got a woody!! This kid is all that AND a bag of chips. Even when he was with the losing Houston Astros in 2010, he was clearly making a name for himself. Although the Phillies signed him and we got in the way of 2010, he was still very loved in Philadelphia when he signed him right before the trade deadline. Did that stop Philly from handing out the already scheduled Pence bobble head? Nope, they did it anyway!!

Anyway, this kid is tops, folks. Along the parade route, almost every single player was clearly humbled and appreciative of the love that the fans were showing. But, none more so than Hunter Pence. During an earlier posting a few months back of a game the Giants had in Houston that I was fortunate enough to attend, he was one of the few players that was making eye contact with the fans around the batting circle and even waved at me when I hollered over that he was the man. I really enjoyed photographing him in the parade, even though it was for only a moment.

What began as a tease of Pablo Sandoval for making a heart shape with his two hands, it later became as much a battle cry for Pence as his dugout sermons right before the games. Maybe we won the whole thing simply because of his pep talks. Maybe we won it because of that crazy three hit ball that broke his bat and caused the Tiger shortstop to misread the play. Maybe we just won cause we are awesome for having signed Hunter Pence. I don’t care why we won, but PLEASE SIGN THIS GUY NOW, SABEAN!!!

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How do you call more attention to yourself? Well, you could always be a hispanic of Mexican descent and with all the sensitivity with all the laws that Arizona passed allowing officers to profile and stop anyone they suspect of not being a legal resident you could always wear a t-shirt that reads “I just look illegal.” Sergio Romo has stepped up big for Giants fans this year. Although he was not clearly named the closer for this year and Bochy chose to do it by committee, it was clear that Santiago Casilla needed help. Perhaps he was all burnt out. Perhaps the other ball clubs got smart to his pitches and locations. Whatever the case, Sergio came up big with his tailing slider and fastball that has serious movement to get the job done.

Did he cause a ton of controversy with his t-shirt? But he wouldn’t have had it any other way…

Don't we all, my friend?!?!?

Don’t we all, my friend?!?!?

Hector Sanchez was up next. Hector showed some serious sack when he was named as Timmy’s catcher in the middle of the season. Any I am sure that he had plenty of bruises throughout the season as his badge of courage. In a back up catcher, we were missing another Posey. In players like Stewart and Whiteside, we had solid defense, but their bats must have been made out of swiss cheese. Here comes Hector and he brought something to the plate when he had his bat in his hands. Yeah, he will continue to mature as a catcher and make better hand placement decisions, along with better blocking technique, but this kid has a lot of potential. There is no doubt in my mind that he is staying put as our backup catcher for quite some time.

Mr. Backup!!!

Mr. Backup!!!

Brian, Brian, Brian!!! I love you dude, but telling everyone that you want to be signed by the Dodgers in the event that the Giants don’t re-sign you is not the way to go. Yes, I understand that it’s just a publicity stunt to get all the Giants fans worked up and up Sabean’s ass to get the job done, but I’m sure they are just trying to get you a little cheaper. Having this be your second tommy-john surgery isn’t the most reassuring position to be in, but I would pay you the big bucks just to see what crawls out of that beard while you’re on the mound and freak everyone out. Love the fanny pack!!!

The Beard!!!

The Beard!!!

Next up was Ryan Vogelsong and family. What a great story, guy!! To be signed with the Giants so many years ago only to come full circle and show the world that it was all worth the wait is simply amazing. If no one has taken cue from your story to find a way to make this the next “The Natural”, I’ll gladly produce the blockbuster for you. Thankfully, Robert Redford won’t be able to play you since you don’t have a walker…

Vogel-STRONG!!!

Vogel-STRONG!!!

Marco was having such a damn good time, I didn’t even stand a chance of getting a good pic of him. But, here’s my best attempt based on what was happening when he swung by my neck of the woods. Man, what can you say about this guy except for WOW!! Clutch hit after clutch hit!! He showed up and did the job. I thought there was no way that anyone was going to fill Freddy Sanchez’s shoes. They tried with Jeff Keppinger, again with Fontenot and even brought in Ryan Theriot. Now, Theriot is the man, don’t get me wrong, but what Scutaro did at second base and with the bat in his hand was nothing short of miraculous.

As everyone had nearly written off yet another player that had been around for a while without ever reaching greatness, the Giants were able to once again show that it’s not over until the fat lady sings. Do you hear that??? That’s damn right!! That bitch won’t be singing for a while, Marco!!!

What a phenom!!

What a phenom!!

Zeets!! I love you, man!! I have to admit that I was on the hater squad for quite a bit when you first signed on. About two years into it, I stopped hating but just felt really bad cause you weren’t getting the run support that other starters were getting. I mean, they were batting better for Sanchez!! Freakin’ Sanchez!!! So, when last year was a break away performance, I thought “HERE WE GO!!!” I choose to accredit your success to the fact that you lived in Pacifica last year and would frequent the Red House for breakfast. Yes, we got real excited whenever you walked in, but we enjoyed your company without ever leading on to the notion that we knew who you were and never came up to make a spectacle out of a calm and peaceful breakfast or cup of coffee.

This year was nothing short of magic for you. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear the stadium chanting “BARRY, BARRY, BARRY!!!” You deserve every praise and every accolade that you are now receiving. You deserve to have every hater that ever was come out and admit that they were wrong. You deserve not only your remaining time on your contract, but to be resigned for however many additional years your arm may have.

Wow!! That's a big Canon between your legs, Barry!!!

Wow!! That’s a big Canon between your legs, Barry!!!

Next up was Buster Posey. Now you know the big guns are coming once Posey hits the parade!! Let’s see…the Giants won it all in 2010. Then 2011 comes around and that jackass who no one even remembers anymore hit you on that collision at home plate and took you out for the season. Then we win it again in 2012 when you are all better!! Coincidence??? Nope, it’s the Posey Factor. there is a reason that we didn’t go all the way last year, but we can be comforted in knowing that it at least held on to by another National League team instead of the Rangers.

The NEW franchise!!!

The NEW franchise!!!

Of course the last player of the parade had to be Pablo!! Mr. MVP was looking mighty good alongside his new squeeze!! And, yes, his date was very cute as well!!

Pablo did what most of the analysts and commentators that show the Giants absolutely no love said that couldn’t be done. Not only did he have a stellar year under less than stellar weight conditions, but he managed to elevate himself to another level only reached by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols. Man, that is some steep company to keep. But you know what?? Pablo deserves every bit of it. This kid continues to go places and is forever tied to this ball club, not only because he’s the Panda and it would be a marketing nightmare to see him go, but he brings life and energy to this ball club with each hit and defensive play he makes. I have seen him in action up close when I’ve been lucky enough to land kick ass seats, and let me tell you that he is intense and playing “baseball ready” every second of that game.

Love you, Panda!!

Love you, Panda!!

And that does it folks!! After that only came the trucks and trucks that had to clean up all the confetti that magically had rained down on everyone just moments before. Everyone started heading down to City Hall where the parade would end, but I packed up my gear and headed down towards the Ferry Building to get a bite to eat and get away from the crowds. By far, this was a much more enjoyable experience compared to 2010’s parade when we decided that it would be a good idea to camp out at City Hall. Yes, we still have a dipshit that was completely oblivious to the fact that there were people packed all around and lit a doobie. But, fortunately, there were plenty of people around voicing their displeasure to ensure that he put it out quickly.

Take care for now and wish me a good trip down to Mexico with a customer. I’ll be back on Friday to share some more new images I have been working up. Toodles!!!

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Part 3 of 4 of The 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade!! Coaches, Lou Seal, the Trophy and some weird shit that did not have anything to do with the parade!!

Hey folks!! I’m back yet again to share a few more images that I took from my vantage point along Market Street during the San Francisco Giant’s World Series Championship Parade. Last time I shared with you, I got through Muelens and Wotus. So, I will start off with the next guys up in the parade route, Roberto Kelly and Tim Flannery.

Tim Flannery is one hell of a third base coach! He is always animated, intense and knows this game of baseball like only the best of them do. Whether he’s just relaying signs or waving the Panda home on a tight call, Tim is hanging right there with the players and even runs alongside them all the way home. If you are lucky enough to get close enough seats, you can even hear Flannery scream out “DOWN!! DOWN!! DOWN!!!” as he’s running alongside the players when he needs them to slide home. Although Tim played almost all of his baseball career with the San Diego Padres, we are very pleased that Bochy was able to steal him away from the Padres when he was named Manager in 2007.

In 2008, when he joined the team, Roberto Kelly told all the starting pitchers that they would have no excuse for not being as good a base runner as any of the other position players. I’m sure that raised an eyebrow or two, but our pitchers have become some of the best base runners in the entire league. Roberto played a good deal of his baseball career here in the US after getting his start in his home country of Panama. Although he never played for the Giants, we are very happy to have him over as our first base coach. Earlier this year, Roberto was hospitalized for appendicitis and missed a number of games. The fans missed him and let him know with a huge round of applause when he was announced in the lineup for his first game back.

Hats off to you, gentlemen!!

Next up on the parade route brought us Billy Hayes and Joe Lefebvre. If you are ever fortunate enough to get good seats over by the home bullpen section, you’ll get to know and see Billy Hayes in action up close and personal. You may not recognize him as an every day coach or assistant, but he’s always there behind the mask and protective gear warming up the bullpen that has become such a phenom in the last few years. Joe is a different story since he is more behind the scenes and isn’t so prominent in front of the fans as the other guys are. Does that make his role as assistant hitting coach any less? Hell no!!

As the 2012 season was shaping up leading up and through the All-Star break, the Giants were almost resting their fate solely on one doping fool that shall remain nameless. The majority of the commentators and speculators wrote us off for any significant push into the post season, let alone remain as the sole standing team at the end of a World Series sweep. Did the team and coaching staff lower their heads and call it quits? Nope!! The entire coaching staff of the 2012 San Francisco Giants collectively stood up and told the doubters and haters “FUCK YOU!!”

You guys are tops in the game!!!

Next up were some of the special assistant coaches that were instrumental during the season. Most of these guys are past players for the Giants that are still very loved and prominent in the Giants community. Not only are most of these guys doing good in the clubhouse as mentors to some of the younger guys that could use the guidance of a true and tested veteran, but they are also in the community with very worthwhile causes.

First up with J.T. Snow and Shawon Dunston. J.T. Snow, as many of you know, was one of the best first basemen that has ever worn the Giants uniform. He will eternally be known to Giants fans as the saviour to little Darren Baker, son of coach Dusty Baker, with a grab and run play at home plate as Darren was making his way over to the play to pick up the bat lying there. As he round third base, JT knew of the danger that little Darren faced and was able to scoop him up as he crossed home plate and avoided a potential collision that might have cause serious injury to the then 3-year-old bat boy. MLB changed the rules for batboys requiring a 14-year-old minimum because of that instance.

Although I’m not too sure what JT was all excited about when I snapped this image, I can almost guarantee you that it had nothing to do with me or my beast of a camera. Regardless, I found it fitting to use this image of JT simply because of how much fun he was having during the moment and the fact that he is one of the most loved Giants figures still around.

Next to JT is Shawon Dunston. During his illustrious baseball career, Shawon jumped all around the league, landing with the Giants a few times here and there, but ending his career in 2002 wearing the orange and black. Shawon has been instrumental in working with our infield players throughout his tenure and imparting his knowledge on the young guys.

I can’t believe you’re so happy to see me, JT!!!

Last up on the special assistant coaches is none other that the GREAT Will “The Thrill” Clark. Working with the Giants front office staff, Will still makes time to visit with the players and impart the knowledge about the game that he accumulated throughout a spectacular career. How much more spectacular can you get than hitting a home run off of Nolan Ryan at your first major league at bat?!?!? Will always seems very enthusiastic and appreciative for all the love that Giants fans continue to show him to this day. Will is on the forefront of a great number of charities and community service fronts with the Giants, most notably his Autism Awareness campaign.

He was very animated as his car rolled by, which made him difficult to photograph, but I managed to sneak off a few pictures. The first is just of him clapping up and acknowledging all the fans hanging from out of their building windows that lined Market St. The second image I wanted to include just cause it has a comical side to Will that fits with the persona that he is known for. I can’t imagine what had him all worked up, but I will gladly accept the credit for being such an awesome photographer that he felt he had to single me out in the crowd. 🙂 Love you too, Will!!

Will The Thrill giving love to the cheap seats!!

No!!! You are the greatest, Will!!

Next up on the parade route was none other than our fabulous Lou Seal. I was happy to hear that the person behind our beloved mascot received recognition during the 2010 season and received a WS ring. I hope they acknowledge the work that this person does yet again to add to the collection. As a photographer, I am always focused in on Lou and all his shenanigans. Anytime I can get both Lou and Pablo Sandoval in the same frame together, it is guaranteed to make for good images as they are both very playful with each other. Lou Seal is all about fun and getting the crowd into the game and keeping the kids entertained. I can’t imagine a ballgame without Lou present, so I think that the moment is very well deserved, Lou!!

Soak it all in, Lou!! Get yourself an extra few salmon for dinner on me!!

Next up on the parade route was some shit that I could have done without, but nonetheless made for some colorful images, so I shot off a few. First up was a Chinese dragon and lion in a Chinese New Year style of parade regalia with music and dancing. What this had to do with the Giants winning the World Series is beyond me, but here are a few images to share.

Then came a Carnaval parade thing that REALLY had nothing to do with the Giants in the World Series. Yes, I know that the Giants sponsor certain nights during the season for heritage nights, but keep it out of my parade, please. Anyway, here is a very attractive and relatively naked dancer for you to look at.

When the confetti started to rain down, it could only mean one thing. THE GOODS ARE ON THE WAY!! Sure enough, the next person down the route was our famed manager Bruce Bochy holding the World Series trophy up over his head for all to see. Everyone knows what an awesome coach Bruce is, so I don’t need to go into all the detail as to how he has managed to take a group of “misfits” yet again and come up with a winning team. The man lost his closer early on in the season, never got back the 2nd baseman that he thought he would have in Freddie Sanchez, had key players going in and out of the DL and had to close every game of the season by committee. And with all the calm and patience of Job from the Bible, he did it in such a fashion that never let out any signs of emotion until that final out was recorded in Detroit. Bruce, you are the man and you have brought to this city what countless other managers have tried to do and haven’t been able to: 2 FREAKIN’ WORLD SERIES TROPHIES!!!

So, now let’s talk about the bobo that decided to put Bruce in a Rolls Royce convertible and how horrible of a decision that was. If you haven’t noticed from my images or the parade footage that was aired in the days following, Lexus shelled out almost all the cars featured with the coaches and players in order to showcase their new 2012 Lexus IS C convertible coupe. There were a number of vintage cars early on in the parade throughout the staff, ownership and supporting roles and their families. But, the creme de la creme of the ball players, coaches and the like was saved for Lexus. As many of you notice, the figures were seated above and behind the rear passenger seating area where they were essentially sitting on where the retractable roof hides in the chassis. Someone decided to give Bochy something special, but must not have taken into consideration the fact that on a Rolls, the top doesn’t tuck down into the chassis, but rests on the body of the car. This made it impossible for Bruce and his wife to sit where he could prominently be seen, which looks ridiculous. Why would you stick the most important man on the team in a car that he has to sit in the back seat and prop the trophy waaaay over his head just to be seen?? Not only that, but why wouldn’t someone bother to check that the gas tank was full before the start of the parade route?? Luckily, I was early on in the route, so I didn’t have to see Bruce getting pushed along by staff after his Rolls run out of gas….Stupid!!!

Hold it high, Captain!!!!

I will leave everyone today on that note. Tomorrow I will be sharing the images from the starting lineup. I trust everyone had a delicious and safe Thanksgiving Day Holiday. So, what was I thankful for, you ask??? How about having the best team in all of baseball for two out of the last three years!!

The 2012 World Championship San Francisco Giants Parade Pt. 2 of 4

Hello all!! I’m back as promised to continue sharing some of my favorite shots taken from my stake out spot on Market St during the parade. So, let’s get right to it!!

First off for tonight, we have Bill Neukom, who up through 2011 was one of the team’s managing partners. Although his duties have now come to rest on the capable hands of Larry Baer, Neukom is still very visible in the Giants organization and will be remembered as a crucial element to that 2010 World Championship winning team.

We love you too, Bill!!

Next up on the parade route was no other than Gaylord Perry. Perry was with the Giants from 1962-71 and even threw a no-hitter in 1968. Famous for doctoring balls with Vaseline for his famous spit ball, he went on to do great things after released by the Giants, but still to this day is synonymous with all the greats that have worn the uniform. I was fortunate enough to catch Gaylord looking right over to me while he waved, so it made this image feel very personal.

Ol’ Spit Ballin’ Perry!!!

Following Perry in the parade was Orlando “The Baby Bull” Cepeda. Orlando played with the Giants from 1958-66 at a time when a good number of the GREATS of all time in baseball were playing with the Giants. In a land full of talent, Cepeda managed to hold his own. Always with a hefty batting average throughout his career with the Giants, Cepeda will be synonymous with all the Giants greats for all time. His likeness is commemorated just outside of the 2nd and King St entrance to the ballpark, which happens to be one of our favorite gates for bobble head giveaway games!!

The Baby Bull

After playing with the Giants almost his entire career, it’s a shame that Juan Marichal only saw one World Series game during his career. Juan Marichal was known for his high leg kicks and pinpoint control with his pitches. A Giant all to his own, Marichal was one of the most feared pitchers of his time. His likeness will always be remembered in the bronze statue featuring his high leg kick windup over by the 3rd street China Basin entrance to AT&T near the 3rd street drawbridge.

Badass Juan Marichal

Of all the living legends that have worn the Giants uniform, who would you leave for last before bringing in the World Championship team? WILLIE MAYS, OF COURSE!!! There isn’t enough room on this blog to say all the accolades that has earned. He is and forever will be THE GIANT!! Today’s players are very fortunate to still have him around for knowledge sake and the fans young and old always scream for the Say Hey Kid!! We love you, Willie!!

SAY HEY, WILLIE!!

First up from the 2012 World Championship San Francisco Giants was the longest tenured General Manager in all of Major League Baseball. Obviously, Brian Sabean knows what he’s doing at the helm of the Giants roster and has weather the storm through many years where we didn’t even clinch the division. Apparently, Brian only had one finger working throughout the entire parade. Lucky for us, it was his fore finger letting us know who’s number one!!! Keep doing what you’re Sabes!!

Is that Sabean showing off a huge booger?!?!? Nope, he’s just letting the world know where we stand, baby!!!

Next up was a faux-cable car filled with a number of scouts that were instrumental in scouting the opponents throughout the 2012 season. The most familiar face in the bunch, and what I am constantly told to be one of the sexiest guys ever by my wife, was none other than Pat Burrell from the 2010 Worlds Series Championship team. Very much like he was during the 2010 parade, Pat was sporting his beer and cheering everyone in sight. While I couldn’t drink along with you, Pat, we’ve got nothing but love for you.

Pat the Bat!!

Next up in the parade line was the longest tenured staff member of the Giants, our awesome Clubhouse Manager, Mike Murphy. Mike has been with the Giants since their inaugural year in San Francisco 1958 as a bat boy. Obviously, Mike has moved passed that supporting role to another, but he is just as instrumental to the team as any of the other coaches. Don’t be fooled by the calm demeanor that Murph usually displays when sitting on the bench. My father-in-law played with Mike back in the day when they were both much younger, and Mike was just as unruly a player as the best of them today. To a man who clearly knows the game through and through, here’s to you Murph!!

The Murph and the Grandson. Live it up, kid!!

Here come the big guns, folks!! The first car with the 2012 coaching staff had none other than Mark Gardner and Dave Righetti. Mark played with the Giants from 1995-2001 and is currently our bullpen coach, which should come with a separate award all of its own with the class clowns that we have down there. Somehow Mark manages to get their “working hats” on and has the BEST bullpen in all of baseball, as is apparent with two WS rings in three years. Dave spent the majority of his career with the Yankees, but we won’t hold that against him today!! Dave has the arduous task of being the Giants starting rotation pitching coach, which can’t be easy at all. With responsibility over The Freak, Zeets, MadBum, Vogie and The Horse, you would start to wonder if you could actually walk out to the mound for a clutch out and talk those pitchers down from their emotions to focus on the task at hand. Dave, you are the man!!!

A Pair of Pitching Coaches…

Next up was Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus in the parade lineup. Hensley came up to the Big Leagues after coaching the AAA Grizzlies in Fresno in 2010 and the departure of Carney Landsford. He must have made a difference, cause we won the whole damn thing in 2010 and again in 2012. Hensley keep doing your thing!!! Ron Wotus has been our bench coach since 1999, and doing a damn good job at it too, if you ask me. Luckily, Bochy isn’t a hot head, so he doesn’t see a lot of action as the backup manager, but is crucial for all the in-fielding coaching and scouting information. You guys are tops!!

That’s all you get for tonight folks!! I’ll be back again tomorrow to share some more coaches, leading up to the general manager, including a couple of crazy pictures of stuff that I didn’t think should have been part of our celebration parade and maybe even get to show a few players. Stay tuned and good night!!

The 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade on Market Street Was Nothing Short of Magical!!!… Pt.1 of 4

I’ve been a Giants fan a relatively short amount of time compared to most baseball fans that grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Whether you grew up in the city, on the Marin side or even down in the San Mateo Peninsula, chances are that your team from birth was the Giants. If you grew up in the East Bay, chances are you grew up an A’s fan, and there is nothing wrong with that folks!! I very much rooted for the A’s in their postseason run and would have loved to see another Bay Bridge Series hoping that this time it would end differently than it did in 1989. Unfortunately, the A’s season came to an end and they will have another shot at it come 2013. But the Giants, MY GIANTS, took it to the house yet again in an even more fantastic fashion than they did in 2010.

With a completely different roster as they did in 2010, the only constant in the groove as it was in 2010 was that every game was another player’s time to shine. When you have a team FULL of the game’s best, it’s only a matter of time before MLB Jesus looks down upon you and says “It’s your turn to shine, my son!!” There was nothing warm and fuzzy about the way the Giants made it to the big dance, but the team reminded everyone as each elimination game went on, “We will not go silently into the night!!” The 2010 season was the magic of making it to the World Series with a haphazard group of misfits that somehow managed to pull it through. The 2012 season was determined to go into the post season early on, and they Giants were amongst the first to reach their playoff berth. The fact that we pushed each series to the elimination point and never gave up is the story to take away from this 2012 season. But yet another reminder that Giants “TORTURE” is forever!!!

As I may have mentioned in a previous posting, I was born and raised in Miami, FL. As offspring of a Cuban household where even my dad was a feared left-handed pitcher in the high school leagues in Havana, having been born and raised in Miami meant that I was a Yankees fan. WTF, you say?!?!?!?! Very true!! I learnt early on in my childhood that not a whole lot made sense as far as what the Cuban community believed and the reasons behind it, but I can tell you that I would grow up expected to root for the Yankees and vote Republican. I did neither, folks!!

Just a few years ago I had the opportunity to visit some family in Havana over a long weekend. I was surprised that one of my little cousins that was big into baseball was very knowledgable of all the key players currently playing and of days past. Not only him, but a number of his friends were really into the Yankees as well. I think it astonished them more to hear that I didn’t really care for the Yankees in comparison with my shock of them being so up to date with the happenings of the ballclub.

The Florida Marlins, as they were called then, debuted when I was almost getting done with high school and girls had priority of my attention span during that time. I played baseball when I got the chance and was usually on the street playing stickball twice a week, but there really wasn’t a team that I was following. After doing a few years of college at the University of Miami, I moved up to Baltimore to finish up my Bachelors there. I was there in town as Cal Ripken was going for the record of most games played consecutively and could feel the electricity all around Camden Yards whenever it was game time. Still, I refrained and just watched from the outside.

In Baltimore I met my wife, and when it was obvious that we would be moving to San Francisco after the birth of our son, I never thought that the Giants would be a part of the equation. I came out and fell in love with the town. That was in 2000. In 2002, the Giants went to the World Series with the California Angels of Anaheim. The Giants lost, but as the family was huddled around the TV squirming with every bad play and ugly swing off Francisco Rodriguez’s off speed pitches, I was still an outsider looking in. It would take another few years for me to get fully vested and be able to call myself a real Giants fan through and through. By 2007, we were averaging about a dozen games a season. We haven’t looked back and made it to almost two dozen games this year. When not in attendance at beautiful AT&T Park, you can find us glued to either a TV or a radio listening to the play by-play.

It was a given that we would be in attendance for the 2010 Parade to celebrate with the rest of the city, but we opted the route of heading over to Civic Center and camp out in front of City Hall where the parade was slotted to end. It was awesome, but it was a mess. We had taken our 10-year-old out of school that day and headed down to a crazy mob of pot smokers where it was impossible to get away from it. I don’t have a problem with people’s habits and am certainly not one to tell anyone else how to live their lives. But when I can’t seem to get away from it and I’m afraid that my kid is going to get a contact high, I get pissed. So, when it was time to go down to the 2012 Parade, I was skeptical about how it would all unfold.

Luckily, an uncle had headed down first thing in the morning and had landed a great spot on Market St with only one person between himself and the barricades. We headed down to meet him and took the camera along for the ride. Lucky for me, I had a rather short man in front of me, so I was able to shoot over his head almost the entire parade without being a nuisance to anyone. Some of these images are great. My camera gear tends to get me noticed, and this occasion was no exception. In certain images, I managed to even lock lens-to-eye contact with a few players and coaches, which was great. I’ve got to get myself some media credentials…

As the parade started coming down Market Street, the first to appear was the Mounted Officers from the San Francisco Police Department. I loved how all the horses were sporting their baseball caps under their head-gear and even had spray on “SF” decals on their hind legs. Here they are in formation.

The Horses

Horse said “wazzzuuuppp”, Camera said “wazzzzuuup” back…

We are a very fortunate fan base to have the best TV and radio announcers in the entire sport. On the TV side, we have Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper who work their magic every day. These guys are funny!! They compliment each other in every way and are a joy to listen to. On the radio side, we have the highly awarded John Miller and the new kid on the block, Dave Fleming. John loves giving the listener all the detail of everything that is happening along with colorful historical commentary and makes it a joy to listen to him. Dave will forever be tied to Giants history with his cracked voice call of Edgar Renteria’s home run in game 5 in Texas.

In this image I was able to capture Dave Fleming and Duane Kuiper as they were on my side of the double-decker bus. Although we didn’t get to see John and Mike, I’ll throw a shout out to them as well. Shout!!!

Dave and Kuip!! As an announcer, Kuip ‘hits it high…hits it deep…IT’S OUTTA HERE!!!!”

Had I been a fan of any other ball club prior to moving to San Francisco and becoming one of the Giants faithful, perhaps I would have found it odd to have a female announcer at the ballpark. Lucky for me, I wasn’t. Renel Brooks-Moon IS the voice of the San Francisco Giants. She brings the level of excitement that the fans feel at each and every home game. I feel sorry for all the other ball parks out there when I visit and listen to the morose sounding announcers calling the next batter to the plate.

Renel, I am sure that I speak for the entire GIANTS NATION when I say  “WE LOVE YOU!!!”

Do the FIST PUMP!!

On the Comcast end of the ballpark coverage, you can usually spot Amy Gutierrez walking around the ballpark getting all sorts of screams and shots by all the fans. Definitely a favorite with the ball players alike, Amy is in the dugout trying not to get Romo-bombed during interviews.

AMY!!!

For fear of going on and on, I will cut the post here tonight and come back tomorrow with some more images of ownership, coaches and past players that are still very prominent in the Giants community. Look forward to continue sharing this awesome event with everyone, especially if you were unable to attend. Good night all!!

The San Francisco Giants Go For The Sweep In Houston on 8/30/12

Hello everyone!! I’m back!!!

I’ve been fairly busy with even a business trip that took me to Houston, TX to visit with one of our suppliers from Mexico who is entertaining a joint venture with one of my US customers. Whereas at any other moment, I would shrug at the idea of going to Houston for any period of time, this trip ended up being one of the few exceptions where I would actually be looking forward to heading out. It wasn’t until a few days before my trip that I was thinking about the trip on the commute ride home as I was listening to KNBR sports radio and the hosts were talking about the upcoming Giants road trip that would take them to Houston for three evening games. All of the sudden, the lightbulb went off over my head, and just like that, I turned that frown upside down!! It turned out that I would be free of any plans for the Thursday night game, so I hopped on the internet to secure a ticket.

What does $50 buy you? Well, at AT&T park in San Francisco, $50 can buy you a field level ticket in the outfield down either baseline, an outfield club level seat in the waaay outfield or possible a real nice view reserve box seat in the infield, but you’d still be in the third deck. What does $50 buy you at Minute Maid Park in Houston? Well, being that the Astros are quite possibly MLB’s worst team yet again this year, I was able to secure a second row seat on field level one section over from right behind home plate!! I was right in front of the visitor’s on-deck circle and just off from the visitor’s dugout. It was awesome!!!

Quite a number of players are actually pretty friendly and will acknowledge fans calling out to them. Obviously, they seem to perfectly deaf to all hecklers, but if you are encouraging them, you might even get a wave. Hunter Pence was among the few that actually made eye contact with fans and genuinely greeted them. I got a wave from Hunter and a nod of the head by Sandoval, Pagan and Blanco.

The Giants pulled out the win after falling behind early on. Minute Maid park is a beautiful place to see a game. The roof was closed, so the temperature was just right. The food options were great!! Parking was easy and I was in and out without any problems. I look forward to the next opportunity to head down to Houston during baseball season to see another game, even if it doesn’t involve my beloved Giants.

Anyway, I took the camera along and was able to get into the ballpark with my Tokina 100-300mm lens, even though the website listing for maximum camera lens length stated 4.5 inches. At four and a half inches, I think I would have only been able to bring along a Canon 135mm fixed prime lens, and hopefully sneak in an extender to get me some additional length. Luckily, I decided to call the media relations department and ended up speaking with someone that said that I wouldn’t have any problems as long as I wasn’t entering the ballpark with either a tripod or monopod. Like the man said, I showed up to the front door and had my back inspected and the young lady waved me through. I wasn’t going to stop and ask questions, so I went on through.

After getting to my seat and pulling out the camera, the Astros fans sitting next to me asked if I was with the Giants. After finding out that only in my wildest dreams would that be the case, he went on to mention how he had been given nothing but grief when he tried to bring in something much smaller, but over the 4.5 inch rule. Well, I didn’t want to attract too much attention to myself as the ushers walked up and down the aisles, so I made sure to only have the camera up to my face just as I was about to shoot a couple of pictures. It worked out just fine and no one said a word to me.

Here are a few of my favorite images from that game. I hope you enjoy them. Good night all!!

Note to self: Unless Sitting in the Front Row of Field Level During A Giants Day Game, Leave the Camera At Home!!

Hello again, everyone!!

I’m back safe and sound from Mexico. Yep, I remember that I mentioned that I’d be writing you guys on Saturday. I came home pretty exhausted from this whirlwind trip to various parts of Mexico and just wanted to veg. Of course, part of that vegging plan included going to the Giants games on Friday and Saturday nights. Now, I was flying back into SFO and scheduled to touch down at 5:37pm, yet I was still able to make it to see the first pitch, and this included a pit stop at home to drop off my luggage. How did I magically go through customs, immigration, luggage and stop off at home in less than an hour and a half to make the first pitch? The Global Entry Program from the US Customs Border Patrol Department. I freakin’ love that thing. It is completely worth every penny of the slightly over $100 that my company paid to get me on the list. The Global Entry Program allows pre-screened individuals that travel frequently abroad to access a ATM-like kiosk that asks all the same questions as the customs forms that the flight attendants hand out during the flight. The pre-screening involves an extensive background search along with submission of finger printing. SO, when the flight gets off, I bypass the long line at Immigration and head straight over to the kiosks. There is never a wait and I breeze right through the process.

Although I usually check my luggage in, this time I chose to upgrade to the first row of economy, which has extra leg room and allows for boarding on group 5 on United instead of general boarding in groups 6 or 7 where space in the overhead compartments starts to get scarce. So, I was able to get on with the bag and was one of the first to get off since there weren’t many first class passengers on my flight. The Global Entry Program also lets you breeze right through Customs, so I got waved by as usual.

Although I didn’t take the camera on Friday night cause I knew we were sitting waaaay to far from the game to make my little 300mm zoom Tokina worthwhile, I did take it with me on Saturday when we were in Club Level in my company’s seats. But, as you can probably gather from my post title tonight, I wasn’t too pleased with the results. I always end up talking myself into bringing the camera along when we sit there, and almost always end up disappointed. So, I am solemnly promising myself that I won’t do that to myself again. That is, until I do it to myself again… Argh!!!!

The problem is that I am asking the lens to do too much. Not only am I asking for it to zoom to its limit, but then I am also asking for it to focus spot onto an object pretty far away and expect it to be as tack sharp as if the object was ten feet in front of me. So, most of my pictures came out soft on the slightly out of focus attempt for my lens to please me. I tried manual focusing a few times during the game, and those came out even worse. Everything looks so small in the viewfinder, I’m almost better off letting the lens take a stab at it.

So, what would work from the 222 Club Section that I was sitting in? Well, about 500-600mm should do just fine. But, since that would put me into some serious glass in the L series lens for Canon lenses, I would be limited to perhaps a 400mm f/5.6 L with a 1.4X extender or a 500mm f/8 mirror reflex manual focus lens. Neither option would be suitable for a nighttime game with poor lighting, hence, my title reminding myself that I should leave the camera at home.

I did try to make the best of it and try different composition methods in an effort to get something useful. One thing that I discovered is that when shooting baseball, I always find myself with the camera in the portrait position instead of the landscape position. Why is that? Well, since most players are standing upright while playing whatever position they are currently at, the portrait position lends to capture the full body doing whatever it is doing. I suppose of the player was sliding into a base, that would be a perfect opportunity to use the landscape position, but short of that, I hardly find myself wanting that compositional point of view. So, I decided to shoot mostly landscape to see what I would come up with.

The shots of the pitchers were lackluster, to say the least. Where I did find that I rather liked the landscape framing was when shooting batters. I am usually so focused on shooting the batter of my choosing, that I forget that right behind them the opposing team’s catcher is playing his position along with the home plate umpire that is calling the game. I found that photographing this way, I could fill the frame with not only the batter, but with the catcher and umpire as well. There are plenty of dynamic photo opportunities with passed balls, wild pitches, called strikes and swings and tips off the baseball bat.

Did I capture plenty of samples to share with you? Yuuup!!! Did most of them SUCK ASS cause they were out of focus??? Yuuuup, again!!! So, I leave with you with the two that I didn’t absolutely hate.

Did I mention that I won’t be taking my camera to anything but day games when I sit in the front rows of the Field Level? Good night, everyone…

Watching the White Sox vs Blue Jays From Badass Seats at U.S. Cellular Park 6/6/12

While out in Chicago, I suggested to a customer that I would have to be meeting with anyway, that we have our meeting during a baseball game. With him being a Cubs fan, we obviously tried to set something up at Wrigley. Unfortunately, the Cubbies were away all week-long, but luckily the White Sox were in town and would be playing the Toronto Blue Jays. Since neither of us are vested in either team, there would be no heartfelt rooting and we would actually be able to talk shop from time to time. This buddy of mine, and I do mean that and don’t consider all our customers friends, came through in a huge way when it came to the seats we had.

I can’t remember the actual section or row number, but we were in prime foul territory on the field level where you wouldn’t want to take your eye off the game for fear of losing your head. I was six rows up from the visiting dugout and have never been this close to home plate at ANY stadium. With my Tokina, I felt like I was down on the field, I was so close to the action.

It was a given that I’d bring the camera, and my buddy knew that. Although I did photograph a bit of the game, I wasn’t about to be an asshole and ignore him completely. So, I didn’t come back with as many pictures as I would have had it been a game I attended alone. Not to fret, everyone, I think I still managed to snap off a few good frames while still holding court with my buddy and his boss that came along.

The only person of interest on my part was playing for the Blue Jays. The San Francisco Giants had Rajai Davis on our team about three years ago. He was a good hitter with demon-like speed, but for one reason or another, we let him go. He ended up going across the bay to the Oakland A’s for a season or two before my losing track of him. Now I know where he went, eh!!

The game was played well, and the Blue Jays would leave victorious. The one story I will share briefly was of the fan that almost lost his head with a foul ball two sections over from us. He must have timed his decision to get up for a refreshment just right cause as the ball flew off the batter’s bat and went straight for his head, it only managed to ricochet off the top of his head. It was unbelievable how fast it got there and how much deflection was actually seen from his head on. The funny part of the story was that all he heard was the whizzing by his head and was touching the top of his head and looking straight up as if a bird had just shit on his head!!! I shit you not!!

He stood there for a few seconds wiping the top of his head and looking for the shit stain on his palm and looking up at the sky while everyone around him in the stadium was checking on him to make sure he was ok. He was totally clueless to the foul ball that almost landed him in the hospital…

He went up to the concession aisle and came back double fisting some beers.

Wrigley Field, Badass Deep Dish Pizza and, oh yeah, Happy Father’s Day!!

Happy Father’s Day to all!!

I was a little side-tracked last night working on a few things in the garage while listening to the Giants very sad game in Seattle and ended up not posting anything new last night. I know, I’m a baaaaaad person. Ok, I had a moment and got over it…

I had a great Father’s Day today. Not only did I get an egg in a basket for breakfast, which is one of my favorites, but we ended up going into San Francisco to hang around the Ferry Building and take pictures. I’ll be posting a few of those images later this week, so stay tuned.

Tonight I thought I would take you back to my Chicago trip last week and share a few images from my first trip to Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, the Cubs were in Milwaukee playing the Brewers while I was in town, so I wasn’t able to experience Wrigley Field in person. There seemed to be some sort of stage being erected in center field for a concert the next day, but I didn’t catch the name of the performing act. I did, however, notice in tonight’s game in Chicago against the Red Sox the amount of damage that the stage caused to the outfield greens. I’m sure there were a few people on the grounds keeping staff that were horrified with the state of the outfield tonight. The good news is that it will grow back in no time.

I was meeting up a couple of friends that I had met over the phone a few years back and were finally getting to meet them in person. After making my way over to their neck of the woods, we hung out at their place for a beer as we decided what we were doing for dinner. Since dusk was quickly approaching, we didn’t hang for long and headed out the door. Of course, my trusty camera was along for the ride. Their place turned out to be within walking distance of Wrigley, so we ditched the car in a parking lot and huffed it over.

We did make it to the marquis before the sun went down, so I was able to take a few shots before we went off to eat. With sufficient light still to be had, I decided on the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. After hanging around there and stopping at the Cubs dugout store, we headed for deep dish pizza at D’Agostino’s. I figured that going to Chicago for the first time and not trying deep dish would be almost criminal, so when they asked what I was in the mood for, that was the first thing out of my mouth. Good thing, cause they knew just the place to go and it was one of their favorite spots.

That pizza was amazing!! I have never been a fan of the deep dish pizza. On top of that, there’s a chain of deep dish pizza places in the East Bay that we occasionally order from when the company picks up lunch the day before a long weekend or something like that, and it always leaves me with serious heartburn. But, this deep dish was awesome!!! I had two slices, and boy were they big, and I never do that!!! The outer crust was almost flaky like a pastry. It was light and just enough to have all the ingredients in the pizza be the main attraction. DAMN THAT WAS GOOD PIZZA. Good thing I don’t live there, cause I’d be waaaay fatter thanks to awesome deep dish.

By the time we headed back, the sun was down, so I whipped out the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. The nighttime shots were taken with this lens using my old school method of zooming in and out called walking.

A few years back, I was fortunate enough to be in Boston when the Red Sox were in town, so I did whatever needed to be done to buy a seat and watch them pummel on the Angels. I even went as far as performing Google searches on images from the seats to see which view I wanted. I found what I wanted, bought the tickets, and as I sat in the seats watching the game unfold in front of me, the whole experience of sitting in Fenway watching the Red Sox was enough to bring my eyes to water. Yuuup, I’m an emotional baby like that.

So, with Wrigley Field being the second oldest stadium still in existence and all the history that has been seen and played in that stadium, I expected to be overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of the marquis. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I was almost left thinking to myself “is that it?!?!?!?” I mentioned this to a Cubs faithful later on in the trip, and he told me that there must be something wrong with me. He’s probably right!!!

Well, now that I think long and hard about it (that’s what she said), I probably didn’t get the reaction that I was expecting from the experience since it wasn’t a game day. Game day brings a level of excitement unlike anything else. There would have been rabid fans running all over the place, there would have been the smell of ballpark favorites cooking in the air, and foot traffic thick enough to it make it difficult to make it to your seats. So, yes, I was missing a LOT from this Wrigley experience.

I’m sure that once I head back to Chicago and time it right so that the Cubs are in town, I’ll have news to report. I’ll get that teary eye for Wrigley, even if I have to hang out in front of the guy cutting the onions, folks!!!

What Do You Get When You Mix a Jet Pack, Panda Gloves, a Badass Catch and 14 Strikeouts?? A FREAKIN’ PERFECT GAME!!!!

Holy Shit!! We just saw Matt Cain pitch the first ever PERFECT GAME for the Giants organization in its more than 125 year history!!! It was amazing!! It was a once in a lifetime!! It was MATT CAIN!!!

He was on fire from the get-go and was mowing the Astros down one after another. On top of that, the Giants offense was on their A game and were scoring crooked numbers in the first 5 innings. It wasn’t until the 7th inning that Gregor Blanco made the most awesome catch ever that it started to feel really special. After that, it was almost a given that tonight could only have one ending. That would be of a PERFECT GAME!!

Out after out, Matty just kept mowing them down. I must give props to Melky Cabrera for two great catches, Brandon Crawford for an off balance throw in the top of the 9th and Joaquin Aria’s final throw to first for the final out.

The magic that was felt in that stadium rivaled any of the post season games leading up to the 2010 World Series win. The crowd stayed behind after the game and didn’t start to clear for at least half an hour. The electricity felt in the stadium was incredible, but no one was talking about the inevitable. If you talk about it, you jinx it.

We were fortunate to witness history and only because I had a feeling earlier today and decided to talk my family into going to the game. I am so glad that my “feeling” worked out. When I usually have that feeling, all that ends up happening is really bad gas…

So, to explain these photos. There was a guy out in McCovey Cove that was trying out a water propelled jet pack. He got plenty of attention early on and was even featured on the big screen in the park in between innings. Panda slid into second head first. The streak in the warning track in front of the VISA sign is where Blanco performed a belly flop catch that saved the perfect game. The rest of them are pretty self-explanatory. There was all kinds of love going on as soon as the last out was recorded. The Astros saw a lot of called third strikes from this ump…

Oh, by the way, I rented the Canon 200mm f/1.8 L with the 2X extender for the game since it was available on the shelf at Gasser’s when I passed by. If you are thinking about that setup, please don’t get it. The extender degraded all the images to the point that they are nothing be fuzzy. On top of that, I was too far away to really use the 200mm range effectively. The images taken with the lens by itself came out great and sharp. That is one badass lens. Just don’t pair it with a 2X extender. I’m sure that a 1.4X may not be as bad while still giving you a little extra reach, but I chose wrong with the 2X extender.

This lens would probably be excellent for indoor sports, such as basketball and volleyball, where you can get somewhat close that a 200mm lens would be appropriate. I suppose if I was sitting in the media pits at AT&T park, that I would also consider the 200mm lens, but I don’t have that luxury YET…

I witnessed history tonight, folks, and it was awesome!!

The Championship Game That Wouldn’t Be Had and The Kickass Cookout/Potluck That Did

The two topics that I won’t discuss here on my blog are religion and politics. There’s plenty of other venues for that kind of stuff, and I just can’t find a place for it in a photo blog. But, with that said, I’m sure we can all agree that there wouldn’t be politics without drama and bullshit surrounding it. If not, there would be a whole lot of paparazzi type photographers that follow the hot politicians around left without a job. PNLL is no exception. The championship game that was scheduled to take place today did not happen. However, the awesome cookout and potluck that was scheduled for after the game did.

Whereas I thought that I would just share a couple of my favorite pics from the cookout without any clear direction other than to share them, it occurred to me to share a few pointers that I employ to get the candid and up close shots that I love to come home with, in case there are others that are interested out there. I came packing with my Canon 1D Mark II N and my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 lens, but don’t for one second think that if you don’t have a fancyass setup like mine, you couldn’t possibly take these same images. The best news is that you can!!

Whether you have a all-in-one ultra zoom camera like the 30X to 35X zoom cameras that Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony and a couple of others have on the market now, or you have an interchangeable lens system with a DSLR, there a just a few things that you have to keep in mind when taking these images.

1. Be sure to give your subject some distance. Most subjects, whether they like to be photographed or not, are aware if you are standing close to them when the camera is pointed at them. The best advice I can give you is to get comfortable with the long end of the zoom and get as far away from your subject as possible to avoid detection. You can get some great candid shots when they don’t expect to be photographed, as I have done below.

2. Place your camera in the burst mode setting, if available. Candid shots happen once and that’s all folks. How do you capture them? Well, if your camera has a burst mode function that shoots a series of photos in a short duration of time, setting the camera to that function will allow you to capture the precise moment you are looking for. Some of the ultra-zooms have a burst function that will give you up to 10 fps for 10 images prior to having to buffer and delay taking additional photos. Just be aware of what the limitations are in your particular camera model in regard to the burst mode so that you don’t end up with a bunch of images just before the ones you really wanted to take. Buffering is bad!!! If you don’t have that function on your camera, be ready to shoot as many photos as your camera setup will allow.

3. Don’t be afraid to get in close with your zoom.  Although body shots are great, sometimes you get more of a portrait look if you zoom in on the subject’s torso or head. You don’t want to get in too close that it’s creepy, but you’ll have to play with this in order to gain comfort in how to employ this. In these particular shots, I shot all over the place, from 100mm to about 250mm. At all times, I was almost ten to twenty feet away from my subject.

4. If shooting a group of people, don’t focus on one subject too long. If you are photographing a group of kids (as I was in this example), I always try to keep in mind not to focus too much attention on one kid in particular, even if it’s your own. Kids are funny when they interact with each other and are constantly saying things to make each other laugh. Groups of kids messing around with each other will always yield great photos of them having a great time.

5. People laughing or smiling make great images. Although there is a time and place for serious portraits, family gatherings aren’t one of them. It’s actually a pretty creepy to see family gathering photos with a lot of serious people. So, try to point the camera at the folks having great conversation and laughing it up. If everyone had a great time, you’ll look back at the images years down the road and remember the great time that was had.

6. Speeches or presentations make for great shots as well. Don’t forget to include your host or hosts in the photo session, especially if there is some type of recognition being given. A trophy, diploma or simply a pat in the back can be a great memento to record for both the person giving the praise and the person receiving it. Everyone loves a pat on the back!!

7. When photographing outdoors, always be aware of the location of the sun. Any camera when shooting directly into sunlight will give you an image full of contrast that is sometimes difficult to work with, if visible at all. Some fancier lenses employ hoods of various lengths to combat the additional glare that can be cause by any light source from the side or back. However, no lens hood can help if you are pointing the lens in the direction of that light source. I decided to include one image of said rule below simply because I liked the effect it gave. I did add a little saturation to bring out the yellow in the sunlight during dusk, but I liked the image. So, my advice on this point is not to never point the lens towards the light source, but to be aware of where the light source is coming from.

8. Always be moving!! Staying in one particular spot to photograph a whole session like a freaking sniper is weird. All of your images will come back with the same vantage point and will not add variety. If you are at an event that prevents you from moving around, that’s one thing. But a family gathering or cookout gives ample space to wander around, so use it.

9. Never shy away from a willing participant. Every so often, you’ll come across a subject that is completely open to having their picture taken, so take it!! Sometimes you can coax a smile out of them. Sometimes they give you a funny pose to work with. Don’t pass up the opportunity.

10. When you have a subject that is camera-shy, you can sometimes get great candid shots as they run. The great part about subjects that are camera-shy, is that the majority of them will shy away or run laughing to avoid being photographed. It’s during these moments that great candid shots can be had, so be ready.

That’s about it for now, but I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things. I’ll be sure to come back to this posting and update the information as I remember other pointers to pass along.

To all my fellow PNLL Rockies players, coaches and family members, we had a heck of a season. This was a great team and we had a ton of fun!! Thanks for everything!!