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!!

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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!!

Giants Day Game + Bad-ass Lens + Awesome Seat = Sweep?!?!?

Obviously, I can’t have new material for you every night, although I will do my best to try. Well, don’t fret, my friends. The answer to nights like tonight is simply for me to go through some of my recent work prior to staring up this blog and share from the “archives.” Tonight’s featured archive comes to us from last Thursday’s San Francisco Giants day game against the newly renamed Miami Marlins. These are the same Marlins that came into San Francisco on a serious losing streak, yet we managed to make them look good. Although all three games were very sad, I can say that there was a huge positive that came out of the Thursday day game. AWESOME PHOTOS!!!

I was able to use a half day vacation at work to leave early enough to make it to the ballpark well before first pitch to stuff a hot link down my throat and focus on the action with the camera during the game. Not only was I lucky enough to pull this vacation request off at the last-minute, but I was also excited that I had rented one of my favorite lenses to date from my new favorite camera equipment rental house the evening before and intended to keep it through the end of the game. I’ll save my review of the rental equipment options for a later post, so stay tuned, my friends!!!

What is this favorite lens, you ask? The Canon 300mm f/4.0 L prime lens. Yeah, that’s what’s up!! This prime lens is one of Canon’s gems that not many people know about. This lens is tack sharp, relatively lightweight for hand-holdability all day long and with a crazy fast auto focus motor for instantaneous focus on the action. The latest model also has image stabilization on it with a built-in hood, but I was using a prior model that didn’t have the image stabilization. Did I care? Nah, it’s a waste for sports photography if you are trying to freeze action.

For some sports, shooting at shutter speeds of 1/500th of a second will usually be enough to freeze the action and get those awesome images that appear frozen in time. With baseball, ball coming at the batter at 90+ mph and swings of the bat to try to catch up with that happen much quicker. For a daytime game like this, I would usually shoot somewhere around 1/2000th to 1/4000th of a second. That is quick enough to freeze a hummingbird in its tracks!! Unfortunately, the day was a little overcast with light showers that hit right before first pitch and loomed almost the entire game. In this instance, I was shooting around 1/1250th of a second, but you’ll probably notice that in some of the photos there is a bit of motion blur from the movement. This isn’t bad at all. It all depends what kind of effect you are going for. If you intent is to stop motion completely, then the images suck with motion in them. If you intend for the motion to be there (or just want to pretend it was intentional to make yourself look better) then it can go to enhance the image with the implied motion. After all, baseball is all about motion, and quick motion at that.

Why 1/1250th of a second? Well, this was as fast as I could get the shutter speed while still retaining the camera in no higher ISO than 400 ISO to keep the images as free of noise as possible and the limitation of the “speed” of the lens I had on, which is the Canon 300mm f/4.0 L. This combination of setting produced good images (to my taste, at least), so I stuck with it. I did have a 2X extender with me to add a little additional focal range, and used it in some of the pictures shown below. What is a 2X extender, you ask? What a delicious looking question!! Please read on…

An extender is just what the name implies. It is an additional piece of glass placed between the camera body and the lens that essentially magnifies the focal length of the lens placed in front of it by a set amount. There are extenders that can be placed in FRONT of the lens attached to the camera, but those are crap. Since, I don’t like talking about crap, I’ll spare everyone the details. So, there are a few extender options made nowadays and by quite a few manufacturers. Typically, the lens manufacturer that makes the lens and the extender has taken the trouble to ensure optimal quality when using their equipment in unison. When mixing and matching brands, you can get very different results than what may have been intended. Extenders do what they say they do, but at a price. Depending on what kind of magnification you are working with, is the price you must pay. If you are using a 1.4X extender, you give up 1 f/stop with your lens combo. With a 2X extender, you give up 2 f/stops. If you used a 3X extender, you would essentially give up 3 f/stops. You would be crazy to use a 3X extender though. Just pay more money for a better seat, jackass!!

In the camera world, there are accepted f/stops that are the norm for rating apertures (speed) on a lens. If you are working with a f/2.8 max aperture lens and lose 1 f/stop, you essentially have a f/4.0 lens mounted on your camera. If you were working with that same f/2.8 lens with a 2X extender, you would lose 2 f/stops, so you would have effectively a f/5.6 lens. That sucks big time!! Even though you may have a bitchin’ lens in front of the extender, at 2X you essentially make that lens crap. And trust me, your images will show it. So, why did you use the 2X extender on the Canon 300mm f/4.0 that effectively made it a f/8.0 lens you ask? CAUSE I’M A JACKASS!!! A jackass that is constantly trying to push the image quality envelope in an effort to be able to inform others out there thinking about the same crazy crap I am so that they don’t make the same mistakes that I do. Learn, people!!!

What was my saving grace then? Well, for starters, it was a day game. Overcast conditions or not, natural diffused sunlight tops stadium lighting with night games any time. And if you remember what I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, diffused light proves to be awesome for not having to deal with hard shadows. Secondly, I was sitting in a totally awesome seat that I probably would not have been able to afford if I hadn’t gone alone and only needed one ticket. The added plus that I wasn’t expecting was to have the owner of the seat I was in sitting next to me. Not only was he a top-notch Giants fan, but he turned out to be a great seatmate and one that I would be grateful to sit next to anytime. Cliff, it was a pleasure meeting you and thank you again for the opportunity to sit in your seat. We’ll keep in touch, I’m sure.

Finally, I had the luxury of having a super sharp lens in the 300mm to start, so that as I slapped the extender on and off throughout the game, I knew that even if I had crap images in the ones that I used the extender with, I would still have very usable images that I could crop down with the fixed 300mm. And just as I thought, I was right. I did include a few of the images I took using the extender, but I must say that I had to do a LOT more post-processing in sharpening and contrast work to get them usable. Would I print any of them? Probably not! The images cropped from the straight 300mm lens proved to require very little post processing, which is awesome. A little cropping and we’re in business folks!!!

Although I could never achieve images from the seats that the pros get in the media pits, these seats that surround the infield in the first five rows will net you the best angles in the joint. If you wanted a slightly overhead view of the players, then club level seats in the same infield sections would be the ticket for you. I was seated in section 125 row 2 for these images listed below. Obviously, I’m talking about seats that either have been reserved for charter members that were season ticket holders from the Candlestick days and are only put up for sale on Stubhub for a profit. So, these are expensive tickets if you are used to sitting in the third deck reserve sections. But, this was a great “treat” that netted a few great images.

Speaking of images, I came home with over 1,400 images. Yuuuup!! Do the pros take that many pictures? Hell no!!! They usually show up with a mission in mind of who or what they are photographing that day. They probably go home with a few hundred shots, but I have enough capacity on my main memory card to hold about 1,400 RAW images, so guess what I’m gonna do?? Get my money’s worth and load up the memory card!!! When I originally went through them ALL to select the ones I wanted to share here, I probably had about 4 dozen images that I really liked. But, keep in mind that most of them were repetitive shooting of the same motions. For example, when Vogie was pitching, I got approximately 10 shots while shooting 8.5 frames per second of him pitching from the set position to the follow through on the kicking leg. Of those, I repeatedly got three images in his pitching sequence that looked real good. The other seven really didn’t have an “umph” to make them worth while. Every pitcher is different, and I happened to luck out with Vogie this time around. Batters are no different. If you consider that we go through the lineup three to four times in a game (depending on whether we are sucking or not), I usually come home with a least three at-bats for each position player. Of those at-bats, we might have a one pitch pop-up that totally sucks or a twelve pitch at bat that ends up in a strikeout with everything in between. The best part about photographing the batter is that it doesn’t take very much to make them all look like the just hit home runs!! If only that were true for the Giants…

Also, I don’t only shoot just the action happening during the game. I always have my eyes peeled for commotion in the dugout, interaction between players on the field, what Lou Seal (the mascot) is doing and even how the crowd in the stands is doing. I’ve taken some great shots at the ballpark that had nothing to do with the players. Some of my favorites are of Lou Seal and a few of the vendors that make the experience of going to a ballgame at AT&T an awesome one.

So, here I leave you with a collection of some of my favorite shots from this awfully played game I attended last Thursday, May 3rd, 2012, against the Miami Marlins. I even included two pics of the Marlins players to appease any potential Marlin fans that may read my blog. Thanks for reading my blog and I look forward to many posts to come…