Connect with us

West Coast League

Photographing Baseball is A Lot Like Fishing

Published

on

With very little baseball to go out and photograph over the course of the last year (thanks to COVID-19), it has been a good time for me to reflect on the games I have covered over the last 15 years – everything from house league T-Ball, Mosquito (9-10 year olds) right on up through elite high school leagues, to our summer collegiate team – the Victoria HarbourCats – to the 2017 World Junior Championships and finally to the MLB level, covering the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, as well as in Spring Training in Arizona.

I have been fortunate to stay busy photographing the game I love, at all levels, including the Seattle Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki, at the MLB level.

I am apparently a rare breed here in Victoria, in that I REALLY, REALLY enjoy shooting baseball.  Some of our local press photographers don’t like baseball assignments mainly because they have a limited time to shoot a game and always want the “big play” images to happen in the first inning – double plays at second, plays at the plate – plays that do NOT always happen early in a game, if at all, or at least by their deadline.

Plays at the plate can be relatively infrequent at most baseball games, but when they happen you need to be ready for them.

I tell them that shooting baseball is a lot like fishing….you sit quietly and patiently for long periods of time, waiting for that big nibble, or the fish to take your line, and when it does, you have to be ready to reel it in (i.e. snap away and capture the big play) before it is gone. Sometimes those nibbles come early and rapidly, sometimes they don’t come at all.

When plays at bases happen in baseball, be ready for them so you can land a nice “catch”

Fortunately, I like fishing, and with most of the work I do with the HarbourCats or with other on-line media agencies, we rarely have to worry about hard print deadlines and can stay for the full length of most games, allowing for more time to catch that big fish, and capture a key image or series of images from a particular game.

Sometimes the best image of the game happens on the very last play, like this example of a celebration after a walk-off base hit won the game.

And just like an expert fisherman who knows where and when to get the big fish, anticipating and understanding when that big play is going to happen in a baseball game is key.

While sometimes it can be obvious, I find that because I have played and coached the game, and am a connoisseur of baseball’s finer points, there are times when I can anticipate what is going to happen and set myself up for a better angle and photo.

For example, knowing a bunt situation and turning to photograph the player bunting, or knowing a certain batter’s tendencies and focusing on a fielder that he has a high percentage of hitting the ball to.

Knowing when a player might be called upon to bunt can often lead to nice photos of the play if executed.

This latter example worked out well for me in the image of the diving third baseman shown below. Three previous batters, including the guy at the plate this time, had all earlier scorched line drives down the line. So this time around, I focused on the third baseman and sure enough, the same batter hit another down the line and I captured the resulting image.

With a little knowledge of a batter’s tendencies and a pre-focus on an infielder, you can capture shots like this.

Or stealing signs from coaches or infielders and being in position (with my lens) to capture a pick-off attempt or a player stealing a base.

Plays at second are also big on a baseball photographer’s hit list, especially when a shortstop or second baseman attempts to turn a double play in the face of a sliding runner. Ideally you want to capture this from the first base side, with the defensive player leaping over the sliding runner and at the same time releasing the ball toward first. Of course, given how infrequently double plays happen (well at least at the level of games I have been covering) and when they do, the fact that sometimes you are on the third base side, capturing such an iconic image can be difficult.

Quite often you can be on the third base side when a double play attempt at second base happens but with a little luck and the right timing, you can get acceptable results.

Fortunately for me, one time when covering the Blue Jays at Seattle a few years back, the “perfect storm” occurred in the very last game I shot of the three-game series, and I got TWO such images in the same game, the second of which (below), is probably the best such photo of this type of play that I have ever captured!

One of my best double play images ever, came in the very last game of a three game series in Seattle, showing how rare the “perfect” double-play photo can be and illustrating the patience one has to have when shooting baseball.

In lieu of the big plays, one often has to resort to other ways to capture images that make the game interesting for the readers and viewers of the images. One way I like to do this is by using close-up shots of, for example, pitchers as they deliver the ball to the plate. With the right lighting and background, these can be very powerful images, especially if that pitcher ends up throwing a good game.

With the right lighting and background, close-up shots of pitchers like this can be quite dramatic.

Another good sight line I like is from behind the plate. Either a close up that really captures the exertion on a pitcher’s face, or in the case of the first photo below, the stress on his arm, or in the case of the second photo below, shooting a bit wider to give the viewer more context for the game and situation.

Shooting pitchers from behind the plate in a close-up mode can really emphasize their effort and exertion (top) while shooting a bit wider (below) can add more context to the situation.

Capturing shots of batters is always another dilemma for baseball photographers. Many like to capture the batter at the time of impact, when the ball hits the bat. These are called BOB (bat on ball) shots and many photographers seem overly elated to get them, but for me, I don’t like them because in most instances you don’t see the face of the batter.

My preference is to capture the batter as he comes out of his swing and his eyes begin to follow the ball as he follows through on his swing and begins to move toward first base. Most times, such shots are best from the third base side, photographing right handed batters who pull the ball, but lefties from this side will also work well. Cropping closely in post (like the Jose Bautista shot below) is another way to add variety to the shot.

Outfielders are another challenge for baseball photographers and often get ignored, unless you are using a fairly long telephoto lens and are specifically shooting them. Fortunately, there are times when turning to shoot an outfielder works out OK, especially if you are using a newer camera with sufficient megapixels on the sensor to allow close cropping of the image in post-processing. The images below are such examples and can be nice catches (pun intended) if you get them!

Finally, sometimes the biggest fish can be caught off the field of play. Look for shots of fans or other promotions happening during the game that can make compelling, interesting or just plain weird photos. Depending on the game and the level of action, these may be the best images of the evening, so try not to ignore them!

And when in doubt, if there is ever a coach – umpire argument, be sure to capture it!  They can be priceless!

More of Christian J. Stewart’s baseball photography can be found at: https://christianjstewart.zenfolio.com/baseball

 

Summer Collegiate

Victoria HarbourCats – Golden Tide battle hard, but run out of gas against Coyotes in CCBC semi-finals

Published

on

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

October 10, 2021, Kelowna, BC – The new kids on the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) block, the Victoria Golden Tide, battled hard, but eventually dropped an 11-5 decision to the Okanagan College (OC) Coyotes in semi-final action Sunday night at the CCBC Fall Championship Tournament at Elks Field in Kelowna.

Tide starting pitcher Triston Seitz would have a tough first inning, but then settle down to hold the Coyotes scoreless in the rest of his five inning outing Sunday.

The scrappy Tide, who earlier in the day ousted Thompson Rivers from the tournament with a 13-4 win, actually took a 5-4 lead into the bottom half of the seventh inning against the Coyotes,  but then ran out of gas, and watched as the host squad would score two in the bottom of the seventh and another five in the bottom of the eighth to cruise to what appeared to be an easy win.

Victoria second baseman Alex MacLauchlan looks for the call but doesn’t get it as the OC’s Ryan Doucette slides in safely on this play.

That was anything but the case, as the tide battled back from an early 3-0 deficit with two runs in the third and another in the fourth to tie the game and then after Okanagan plated a run in the bottom of the sixth to re-take the lead, the Tide scored another two in the top of the seventh to vault into a 5-4 lead.

Coyote third baseman Nolan Rivard prepares to throw over the head of pitcher Adam Sarafinchin on a ground ball from the Tide’s Will Podmoroff.

The Tide would also outhit the Coyotes 8-5 on the day, but seven Victoria errors, combined with 12 passed balls and five wild pitches, would be the ultimate undoing for Victoria, as the Coyotes scored five of their final seven runs, including the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh, courtesy of passed balls and wild pitches.

Victoria’s Tyler Burton (12) is congratulated by Jordan Bond (33) after scoring a run for the Tide.

McCoy Pearce, who had an RBI single as part of a Coyotes three-run first inning, would be the offensive catalyst for OC, finishing with three hits, including a triple, two RBI and a pair of runs scored. Nolan King would also have a hit, two walks and a pair of runs scored.

The Tides’ Brendan Morrison would get around the tag of Coyotes catcher Caleb Lumbard to score one of Victoria’s runs Sunday evening.

For Victoria, leadoff hitter Tyler Burton led the way with a pair of singles, a walk and two runs scored,  while Brendan Morrison continued his hot streak with a hit and pair of RBI.  Will Podmoroff also had a single, walk and run scored in the losing effort.

Victoria’s Zeke Holt slides into third safely under the tag of Coyotes third baseman Nolan Rivard.

On the mound OC’s Aiden Mordecai gets the win in relief of starter Adam Sarafinchin.  Jesse Poniewozik pitched the ninth inning to close out the win.

For the Tide, starter Triston Seitz would settle down after a tough first inning and not allow another run after that in his five innings of work, walking five and striking out six.  Nick Lee, who pitched 1.2 innings in relief gets tagged with the loss, while Wyatt Mohr-Royer and Ben Havelock also saw work on the hill.

The Tide’s Will Podmoroff gets high fives after scoring against Okanagan College Sunday evening.

The Coyotes will now move on to the finals at 12 Noon on Monday where they will play the winner of the game between the Prairie Baseball Academy and the University of the Fraser Valley.  That game was in progress at press time with PBA leading UFV 1-0 in the fourth inning.

Victoria shortstop Brandon Green makes a throw to first during Sunday’s game.

The Tide will now head home to Victoria and continue their fall season this Saturday, October 16th, with a Black vs Gold intersquad doubleheader and then Sunday, the top college baseball program in Canada, the UBC Thunderbirds come to town for a pair.

Victoria’s Chase Thompson celebrates after scoring the tying run in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game.

All games Saturday and Sunday will be at Wilson’s Group Stadium with both doubleheaders scheduled to start at 1:00 pm.  Tickets are $5.00 and $10.00 and will be available at the gate. Children 12 and under get in free!

Victoria’s Tyler Burton slides home safely with what would be the go-ahead run in the seventh inning Sunday.

The Coyotes celebrate their 11-4 semi-final win over Victoria.

 

Source

Continue Reading

Summer Collegiate

Victoria HarbourCats – Golden Tide defeats Wolfpack, advances to CCBC semi-finals

Published

on

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

October 10, 2021, Kelowna, BC – Jordan Bond had a double, three-run home run and three-RBI triple to lead the Victoria Golden Tide to a come from behind 13-4 win over the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Wolfpack Sunday morning in round robin play at the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) Fall Championship Tournament at Boucherie Field in West Kelowna.

Jordan Bond watches his three-run home run head toward the left field fence in the seventh innng.

The win moves the Tide record to 2-1 and vaults them into the Championship semi-finals at 4:00 pm Sunday where they will face the Okanagan College Coyotes at Elks Field.

The Tide dug themselves a bit of a hole against TRU early Sunday when starter Cameron Dunn struggled off the top and an error loaded the bases for TRU’s Matt Olsen who promptly put the ball over the leftfield fence to give the Wolfpack a 4-0 lead after half an inning of play.

Matt Olsen and his TRU team celebrate his first inning Grand Slam that gave the Wolfpack an early 4-0 lead.

Dunn would settle in nicely after that and in the bottom of the fourth, his offence would reward him, as Bond led the inning off with a double to the fence. The Wolfpack would then play some sloppy defence and suddenly the Tide had tied the game 4-4 with Bond’s hit being the only ball out of the infield.

Alex MacLauchlan would then stroke and RBI-single and the Tide took a 5-4 lead into the fifth inning.

Victoria starter Cameron Dunn, had a rough first inning, but the settled in nicely, pitching into the seventh inning and getting credit for the 13-4 win.

In the top of the seventh, after cruising nicely from the second inning on, Dunn found himself in trouble with TRU runners on first and second with just one out. He would be lifted in place of reliever Brett Paterson, who promptly induced an inning ending double-play ground ball and the Tide kept their 5-4 lead intact.

Victoria Will Podmoroff is congratulated after scoring for the Golden Tide.

That seemed to motivate the offence even more and in the bottom of the seventh, Brendan Morrison laced an RBI double down the third baseline to put Victoria up 6-4. After an intentional walk to Zeke Holt, Bond crushed his home run over the leftfield fence to extend the lead to 9-4.

the Golden Tide used some good defence Sunday, turning a number of double plays to get out of trouble against TRU.

Paterson kept the Wolfpack off the board in the top of the eighth and the Tide then continued their offensive roll, scoring once to go up 10-4 and then loading the bases for Bond, who then tripled to the fence in left-centre, clearing the bases and giving the Tide the 13-4 mercy rule win.

Victoria reliever Brett Paterson reacts after getting an inning-ending double play in the seventh to preserve a 5-4 lead over TRU.

The Tide now face the OC Coyotes in the semi-finals and with a win, can advance to the Championship finals at 12 Noon on Sunday.

In the other semi-final the Fraser Valley Cascades (the number one seed in Pool B) will take on the Prairie Baseball Academy who defeated Edmonton Collegiate 10-2 Sunday morning to advance. That game will go at 7:30 pm Sunday night.

Victoria’s Brendan Morrison strokes an RBI double down the third baseline against TRU.

Tide catcher Parker Harris would snag a great throw from Tyler Burton in centerfield to nail TRU baserunner Kiesten Evans in a key defensive play in the 8th inning.

The semi-finals and finals will be streamed via the OC Coyotes You Tube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/okanagancollegebaseball

Source

Continue Reading

Summer Collegiate

Victoria HarbourCats – Errors Prove Costly in Tide Loss to Fraser Valley

Published

on

Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart

October 9, 2021, Kelowna, BC – The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades took advantage of every mistake the Victoria Golden Tide made on Saturday morning to come away with a 4-1 win in the second game for both teams at the Canadian College Baseball Conference Fall Championship Tournament at Elks Field in Kelowna.

The Tide’s Brandon Green is all smiles after scoring what turned out to be Victoria’s only run in the second inning Saturday.

Of the Cascade’s four runs, all of them came as a result of Victoria errors, including two runs in the bottom of the first inning, following a two-out throwing error by third baseman Jordon Bond.  The overthrow to first led to one direct run and then an RBI single by Dylan Merritt gave the Cascades an early 2-0 lead.

Tide starter Ethan Dean would not allow an earned run, but would get tagged with the tough loss in the game against the Cascades.

The Tide got one of those runs back in the second inning and had a chance for more, but left the bases loaded in both the first and second innings to let the Cascades off the hook.

The Cascades would get another run in the third inning, this time thanks in part to an error by Tide first baseman Brendan Morrison that kept the inning alive and eventually allowed the Cascade’s Ryan West, who had singled, to score.

Victoria’s Jaxson Cordle slides safely into third base, beating the throw to UFV third baseman Ty Crowe.

In the seventh inning, the Cascades got an insurance run when Josh Berenbaum walked and then stole second. The throw sailed into centre field to give Berenbaum third base and when the ball went under the glove of the Tide’s Tyler Burton, who was backing up the play, Berenbaum kept going to extend the lead to 4-1.

The Cascade’s Sasha Kamenjasevic was brilliant in relief against the Tide, throwing five innings of scoreless relief and getting credit for the 4-1 win.

The Cascades were helped in their win by an impressive relief appearance from Sasha Kamenjasevic, who took over from starter Carter Harbut with two outs and the bases loaded in the second.

Kamenjasevic proceeded to strike out Tide slugger Zeke Holt to end that threat and then put up goose eggs for the next five innings, before being replaced by closer Evan Petersen who struck out five of the six batters he faced to close out the 4-1 win.

The Tide’s Brandon Green twists a double play, one of two the Tide turned on the day.

The Victoria errors overshadowed a decent outing from Victoria starter Ethan Dean who went four full innings, giving up four hits – the Cascade’s only four hits of the day – and two walks and was tagged with the tough loss, despite not giving up an earned run.

Tide pitcher Haldon Craig delivers a pitch against Fraser Valley on Saturday.

Nate Horricks and Haldon Craig were also effective in relief throwing a pair of innings each, striking out six combined in those four innings of work.

For the Tide offensively, they only mustered two hits on the day from Burton and Alex MacLauchlan, with a large part of their offensive threat coming from six hit batters and four walks surrendered by Cascade pitchers.

With a group of Cascade’e eagerly watching, Tide catcher Ryan Whelan awaits a throw to the plate during action in Saturday’s 4-1 UFV win.

With the win, the Cascades improve their record to 2-0 and they can guarantee their spot in the semis with a win over Calgary in their final round robin game at 12:15 pm on Sunday.

For the Tide, the math is simple.  A win over Thompson Rivers in the final round robin game Sunday morning at 9:15 am should mean a trip to the semi-finals later that day.  A loss and they will be relegated to one of the consolation games on Monday morning.

The Cascade outfielders celebrate their 4-1 win over Victoria on Saturday.

Source

Continue Reading

Trending