Changing Storylines

Some days you just did not bring your A-game for whatever reason. This happened to me on Friday. My Nikon 400mm f/2.8 went in for repairs and caused me to use my 200-400mm f/4 over a four-game series between the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. The 200-400mm is a lens I often use for basketball and hockey, but rarely for baseball. It felt foreign to me in the photo wells at Target Field and did not react the same as my 400. My images felt loose and the added depth of field looked odd. It made me feel awkward and doubt myself.

I still had my job to do and by the end of the eighth inning, I knew the images I would use to tell the story of the game. I felt the take lacked quality images but sometimes that’s what a baseball game gives you — nothing — but you still have to make the best of it and tell the story of the nothingness. Pop fly outs, routine ground outs and the winning run scored on a sacrifice fly ball was what this particular game had given me. The Minnesota Twins scored their four runs in the first three innings and the two runs for the Chicago White sox on two solo home runs in the first inning. From the fourth inning on, it was mundane.

On days like this, sometimes all you need is just one play, one image that can change everything. Glen Perkins of the Minnesota Twins came in to pitch the ninth inning and blew the save. The game was tied 4-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. It was a whole new ball game. The story that I needed to tell with my images was still unfolding in front of my lens. Two pitching changes by the White Sox. Two outs and two men on base for the Minnesota Twins. My stomach was in knots. Would I get THE storytelling image from this game with this unfamiliar lens? Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins hit a single. Adrian Nieto defended home plate as Eduardo Escobar ran, slid and, for some reason, ended up rolling onto his back. Home plate umpire called Escobar safe and the Minnesota Twins celebrated the win. The play was close — so close the umpires officially reviewed it while the Minnesota Twins wrapped up their celebration. The umpires called Escobar safe, again, and I had my one image that made me feel I had brought my A-game that day. An image that would have been much tighter than the 260mm I shot it at if I had had my 400mm. An image that told the story better because of the additional depth of field of the f/4 lens because allowing the viewer see the reaction of the other players and fans in the background. So may be, just may be I will use the 200-400 a little bit more at baseball.

 MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 20:  of the game on June 20, 2014 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the White Sox 5-4 with a walk-off. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** =m#3;=v#3