Like everything I photograph, there's a rather important element of what I end up with that's completely out of my control -- the action. I just can't make the photographs if the people aren't there to be in them. It's up to me, though, to put myself in a calculated position to give myself the best chance of documenting what does happen.
This is especially true in walk-off situations at baseball games, but it's a heck of a lot less calculated.
If a player hits a single and drives in the winning run, he's mobbed somewhere between first and second base. The best spot for something like that is likely the first base camera well outside of the visiting dugout. The home plate and third base wells can make great images, but you're more likely to have obstructions.
If a player smacks a home run in Starling Marte fashion -- and he's pretty good at doing that in extra innings -- the best spot is likely the third-base dugout where you can get the emotion rounding second and third, the players waiting for him at home plate and everything else that comes along with it.
Really, it's all a gamble, and I've had success in each of the shooting positions when the game is won on a final hit. Josh Harrison's perfect ending to a nearly perfect game by Rich Hill. Josh Bell's rainy winner a year ago. Marte's walk-off two seasons ago just before he was suspended for PED-usage.
For Marte's most recent game-ender, I was behind home plate where I knew I might miss out on the potentially big emotional moment at home plate, but the risk can be worth the reward. I don't think I made a special image this time around, but was ultimately happy with what came out of it.
A big reason why, and a favorite reason I enjoy shooting from behind the plate, is I love the potential of the swing and the trot with the field behind the batter. I got this sequence of Marte's home run:
Funny enough, I had a gut feeling that Marte was going to end the game. Earlier in the day ... much earlier in the day, Marte reached for a pitch and lined it toward right center field. He made solid contact, took the pitch in its natural direction and went unrewarded.
Marte made his way back into the dugout where David Eckstein found him, offered a fist bump and told him, “That’s perfect, just keep doing it and you’ll hit." I couldn't hear the rest, but the Pirates' hitting coach clearly was not concerned with Marte's 1-5 day Friday, 0-5 day at the plate Saturday or his 0-1 start to Sunday. Marte was doing things right, just not getting rewarded for it.
[caption id="attachment_820115" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Starling Marte watches his line out in his first at bat. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
Fast forward to the 13th -- Marte got his reward.
Favorite individual images from Marte's 'partay' this time around include the one of he and Robby Incmikoski standing amongst the hundreds of Dubble Bubble pieces tossed by Cole Tucker and the gang, Melky Cabrera beating a rosin bag on Marte's head and Gregory Polanco tossing Marte's shirt after it was ripped from him by multiple teammates while they celebrated the homer.
That last one, the whole sequence of Marte losing his jersey to his teammates, made up for being unable to get a good shot of Marte joining his team and the sports-drink shower at home plate. It wasn't perfect, but it was fun.
The bubble gum collection leads off this View. The others I mentioned are up there as well, and there are, as always, a few more to take in. See you guys and gals in the comments.