One of the big differences between MLB Spring Training and the actual season is getting to watch the coaches work. During the season you only seem to see the pitching coach when he comes to the mound to stall the game while a reliever warms up in the bullpen. However during the spring training they have much less restraint.
At McKechnie Field in Bradenton Florida there is a small bleacher next to the dugout and all the coaches sit on the bench during the game and between innings they scramble to deliver their wisdom. This is an image of Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Coach David Jauss talking to a fielder as he left the field of play between innings. Usually pitching coaches only talk to pitchers but in spring training there are a lot of coaches and they work with all the players.
Some of my friends have already given up on the Pittsburgh Pirates for this year and I have to admit it does look grim.As I watched the Buccos lose the other night with a catcher on the mound to finish the final inning; I began to add up the Pirates injuries. Sure we are missing our pitching ace (Gerrit Cole)and although two of our other starters aren’t injured but they are playing like the are. However,nobody is missed more that this guy. Hurry back Francisco, we need you!
Last week I saw Gerrit Cole, The Pittsburgh Ace pitch for the second time of the season. The first time he pitched amazing! He had absolute control, 11 strike outs but made a throwing error that scored two runs and lost the game. Last week he struggled. He couldn’t throw a strike out but the team scored enough runs for Mark Melancon to get the save. Baseball is a funny game. Cole is a really good pitcher and saw I him on television hit a homer and double in the same game. I had doubts about our Buccos in the beginning of the year but really like the way they are playing right now.
This year we have been to 5 Pittsburgh Pirates games and one Steelers game and the two experiences couldn’t be more different. Of course we can afford to have seats on the 100 level for the Bucs and for the Steelers we were in the 500’s near the end zone. At the Bucs game you feel you are out for a night with friends you don’t know. All age groups are represented and yes there are a few drunks and occasionally you may here a swear word.
The NFL game is totally different. People have been drinking and tailgating for hours. There are no children. There are a lot of very large men. Even the language is different. Even the restrooms are different. You feel kind of on edge at all times. Women can’t have purses or fanny packs and are forced to carry their stuff in clear plastic bags they sell outside the gates. Photographers can’t have telephoto lenses and being profane and drunk seems to be a requirement. We are going to see another Steelers game in October and we will be better prepared. My wife has her plastic bag and I will not be carrying a camera and hell yah I will swear damn it!
From last nights game at PNC Park Cubs v Pirates. Note the bartenders at McFadden’s before the game move so fast they actually blur in photos!
I love modern architecture when the sun sets creating unique patterns. I took a few pattern images in Chicago a few years ago along the Chicago River. This the first one I have done in Pittsburgh. Shot from PNC Park during a Bucs game.
I love going to Pittsburgh Pirate games. I have loved the Bucs since the sixties and at one point had an apartment on Atwood street just two blocks from Forbes Field. On our return to Pittsburgh we promised ourselves we would go to some games and have been to a few this year with another coming up in a couple of weeks. The park is comfortable and with a great scenic view of Pittsburgh behind it. There is also an excellent selection of ballpark food and beer.
Although a major league park and now again a Pennant contender, PNC Park has the feel of a minor league ballpark as well. Between innings there is a wide variety of looniness that takes place. You may see the Perogie Race on TV but not much more. This is a picture of the Hot Dog shoot. Yup in Pittsburgh they shoot encased meats into the stands as well as t-shirts and the staff seems to love it.
People may argue that the job of baseball pitcher, quarterback or hockey goalie are the hardest sports jobs. I disagree it has to be a MLB catcher. Unlike pitchers and quarterbacks they play every day, every play and unlike goalies they perform many functions.
They need intelligence and teamwork to be able to call the game and work as a unit with a variety of pitchers. They get beat up physically on almost every play and need to squat for long periods of time. They get hit by balls and bats and have the umpire breathing down their neck. Oh and they should be able to hit. I don’t see how they can walk after a game. It’s a tough job, tell this guy he’s not as tough as a goalie.
We have a great room in our house so while we are making dinner we frequently are listening to Spotify over Apple TV. The Apple TV screen saver is linked to my computer where we have at least 5000 images that march across the screen while we cook. The other night I noticed this one which was from spring training which I have never published. You have got to pay a lot of money to get this angle in an MLP park. In Bradenton, they let you wander around so you get multiple angles to the field.
I am going to be posting images that I may have posted before with a candidate # thereby collecting a list of what I feel would be likely candidates to print for a gallery show of Photojournalism. This was taken at a Chicago White Sox Game at US Cellular Field. It was the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend and very hot. This young mother was concerned about her child and kept leaving her seat to take her baby to the shade and let the new father enjoy the game. Please feel free to leave comments if you agree or disagree about including them in a “best of” list.
There are a lot of wonderful things about the Grapefruit League. Watching baseball in February in shorts and a t-shirt while the rest of the country is freezing is certainly high on the list. Watching major leaguers play in a small venue is like watching your favorite band perform in a small club instead of a stadium.
You also get to see your favorite players relaxed and stress free as they seem to be playing just for the love of the game. But also you see players that you may never see again. Who is Thornton? I don’t know. He didn’t make the team, isn’t on the Pirates roster. But we watched him pitch two innings in Bradenton and he certainly looked good doing it. Hope he makes it to the show some day, just because.