Best of 2015 baseball photos take a bow
My end-of-year photo blog post started off including all sports, but being as I shot 54 baseball games (nearly doubling my previous record of 28), I simply had too many photos for it to make a gallery that didn’t glaze over viewers eyes – or my own for that matter. My wife/editor Jenny suggested that I make baseball a separate post, which seemed like a practical solution to the problem.
The absolute highlight of the season was covering Hisashi Iwakuma’s no hitter against the Orioles in August. It just happened to be my second career no-no while working, though I also went to another perfect game as a fan. I know, it’s an embarrassment of baseball riches.
On to the photos:
Free agent signee Nelson Cruz did exactly what he was brought to Seattle for, hitting 44 home runs, or double the number of all the Mariners 2014 regular starting outfielders combined. He lead the American League in the statistic off and on during the season – including when this photo was shot – finishing second.
All of the homers helped, but they weren’t nearly enough as the pitching staff suffered a substantial regression, dropping from third the previous season to fourteenth. And that’s out of fifteen teams, in case you aren’t up on how many teams comprise the A.L.. They finished 76-86, second to last in the west division after being a popular “expert” pick to make their first World Series. Along the way their general manager was fired, too, unsurprisingly. It was a long season.
I didn’t bother to calculate just how many frames it took me to get this one of Felix Hernandez on the mound, but it was a lot. There’s a white rosin bag that is kept behind the mound, but from the 300-level, the view angle compresses and the bag appears to pop out of his hip or buttocks, which wasn’t exactly ideal. Anyway, after moving around the abundant empty seats up there on a Thursday afternoon, I was able to get a clean shot where his body completely blocks the bag.
The Yankees controversial designated hitter Alex Rodriguez returned to Safeco Field for the first time in a couple of season as he had spent all of 2014 on an unpaid sabbatical (cough, suspension for lying about drug use). The Mariner loyalists marked the occasion:
There was plenty of action during the season, including the staple of baseball coverage, the play at second base:
My first triple-play in eight years of covering baseball off-and-on, a bizarre sequence of events that hadn’t happened nearly sixty years. Not exactly my greatest work, but definitely unique enough to deserve some note:
There were some decent plays at the plate for me this year, but they mostly consisted of catcher Mike Zunino being a little late to make the tag, a telling outcome for a defense that was poor throughout the season:
I did see one nice tag at the plate, this time by backup catcher Jesus Sucre.
There were some good moments now and then, like Robinson Cano blowing a bubble as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run:
Fans caught a few home run balls, too:
I lucked into more than my fair share of walk-off victories, which are always fun:
So while there were some good times, there were plenty of bad:
Closer Fernando Rodney (“The Experience”) lost his edge and was shipped off to the Cubs before the trading deadline. Here he strokes his goatee after surrendering a lead in the eighth inning, again:
Neither of them caught the ball, in case you were wondering:
Felix had a head-scratcher of a season, posting his highest ERA since 2007:
It was hard to watch at times:
Manager Lloyd McClendon was fired after the end of the season;f perhaps he’s driving a garbage truck now that he isn’t employed by the Mariners anymore:
The Blue Angels buzzed the stadium to conclude the national anthem during Seafair Week, which was rather cool:
In the midst of all the mediocrity, I tried to keep aware for nice light to make something that had redeeming value:
I made a few decent frames around the on-deck circle, too:
Including one of Carlos Correa, who was rookie of the year:
(Sidenote: I L-O-V-E the new LED lights that the Mariners installed to Safeco prior to the season. A nice two-thirds stop bump of light, and, more importantly, no color shift, ever).
And finally the best sunset at Safeco Field I’ve ever seen.
Here’s to a great 2015 and an even better 2016! Stay tuned for my best sports photos of all 2015!