Wednesday, March 30, 2011

With Baseball's Opening Day...

...right around the corner (tomorrow, to be precise), here's a humorous look at when the season will be over for fans of all 30 major league teams.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 87 - People I Dig

I've known Mike for close to 15 years; he's still one of the most talented shooters / cameramen / videographers I've ever seen. And despite his aversion to having his picture taken, his wife Janelle, daughter Olivia, and son Harrison sure do make him a little less grumpy in front of the camera . . .

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 86 - Faces

Mike and Janelle's daughter Olivia is almost five and most certainly could have a career as a model . . .

Day 85 - Weeds

Mike asked me, "Why are you taking a picture of a weed?" I said I liked the color . . . and for a weed, it's kind of pretty.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 84 - Blossoms

Mike and Janelle have a tangelo tree in their backyard, and it's so prolific, they eat their fill and still have boxes to give away. And after seeing the number of blossoms on the tree, it looks like they're due for another bumper crop.

Amazing what a little water can do in the desert . . .

Spring Training - Glendale

The final day of my Spring Training sojourn around the Cactus League found me and Mike (that's him circled in yellow on the right side of the picture above) at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.

Only two years old, the Dodgers and White Sox share one of the largest facilities in all of Spring Training, with both teams having their own administrative buildings and practice fields, while the stadium itself can hold nearly 15,000 fans, including the lawn seating in the outfield and down the corners.

But not having paid much attention to the food at the previous stadiums, I decided to do a true taste challenge - hot dogs. I've remembered Dodger Dogs since I was a child; they were a staple of Dodger Stadium and as synonymous with the team as is Vin Scully. So given the opportunity to compare them to the famed Chicago Dog, complete with an authentic Vienna beef dog, was irresistible. Add to the mix the Sonoran Dog, a Tucson creation of an all-beef hot dog, pinto beans, pico de gallo, and salsa verde, and I had the makings of a gastronomical event the likes of which my colon had never seen.

To sum it up, the Chicago Dog was the runaway winner, despite the fact that I had to assemble it myself, but all the ingredients were available - pickle spears, tomato slices, neon-green pickle relish, onions, mustard, and the ubiquitous sport peppers and celery salt, all on a poppy seed bun. Flavorful, juicy, and much better than the attempts I've had before.

The Sonoran Dog was a distant second, and was missing ketchup and mayonnaise as key elements. The bacon was soggy and limp, and had it been crispier, the distance between it and the Chicago would have decreased considerably. But the wetness of the beans and salsa verde caused a major bun malfunction almost immediately, and relegated it to knife and fork status.

The Dodger Dog, however, was as bland and mushy as cheap bologna, which is how I described it to Mike. To which he replied, "Ew." Well said. Ever since Dodger Stadium amended their food policy to allow fans to bring in their own food, I haven't had a Dodger Dog, so somewhere along the line, the quality in either the meat itself from Farmer John (the longtime maker of them) or the concessions company took a major hit, but whatever the reason, this Dodger Dog was nasty beyond belief. You can do better, Dodgers, and you should.

And in an anti-baseball establishment statement, Mike decided to get some Asian noodles from Island Noodles, a surprising concessionaire that was at all the stadiums we visited. And he was doubly happy to add a liberal dose of Sriracha.

All in all, the weekend was great, it was wonderful to see Mike and Janelle again; it had been way too long since I had seen them last, and I got enough baseball in to springboard me into the regular season.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 83 - Baseball Caps

Click on the picture above to enlarge it. Then look at all the different caps the fans are wearing - this was a game between the Dodgers and White Sox (that's Juan Pierre on third - he had just tripled) but there are caps from not only those two teams, but also the Angels, Giants, Twins, Mariners, Indians, and an unknown red team (Nationals, Cardinals, or Reds?) And this is just one small sampling of the stadium - there were caps, jerseys, and shirts from nearly all 30 major league teams, plus college and minor leagues too.

Gotta love baseball . . .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Training - Surprise

Opened in 2007, Surprise Stadium is the Spring Training home for the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. It was the most family-friendly of the three stadiums of the weekend, and an especially good choice for Mike and Janelle to bring their family to. The carousel was free for kids, and there were plenty of family-friendly food choices, although Mike was a little miffed he couldn't find caramel corn. The stadium itself was wide open, especially with all the lawn seating in the outfield, but it still retained a sense of intimacy. All four of the Cactus League stadiums I saw had sunken fields, meaning the playing field was below street level, and perhaps that had something to do with the lack of noise during the game. Granted, there was little or no stadium-induced music, sound effects, or rally sounds, but it's rare to be able to hear the players talking to one another during the game or calling each other off the ball.

Josh Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, came to the stands to sign autographs on his way back out to the clubhouse after playing his seven innings...because Spring Training, much like minor league baseball, is most accessible for kids.

Rangers manager Ron Washington even mingled with fans before the game.

Day 82 - Spring Training

Even though we weren't going to be able to see the Padres play in Peoria, we went into the Spring Training complex they share with the Mariners early in the morning. And the nice lady at the front gate even let me go into the empty stadium to take some pictures. Try doing that in a major league stadium . . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 81 - Spring Training

Here at the Padres (and Mariners) complex in Peoria, fans can watch morning workouts for free.

Spring Training - Goodyear

Goodyear Ballpark is the Spring Training home for both the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. Opened in 2009, the stadium lacks any real distinguishing features (other than the Baseball Joint-see below), and, coupled with the barren landscaping, provides a very generic environment. Mike and I didn't sample any of the concession stands, and nothing other than standard ballpark fare was available. Add to that a $5 parking fee (the only of the three parks we went to that charged for parking) and the overall experience was further diminished.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 80 - Spring Training

Outside the front gate of the Goodyear Ballpark is a statue entitled "The Ziz." My friend Mike called it the "Baseball Joint." Um . . . yep. Good call. Oh, and notice the "Super Moon" up there too. Oooooh. Aaaaaah.

**UPDATE** The Outliar has helpfully identified "Bird in Space" by Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi as the inspiration for "The Ziz." Much obliged, kind sir.

Day 79 - Spring Training

As we'll explore later, the Goodyear Ballpark was my least favorite, but the signage and sunset were the best.

Day 78 - Spring Training

Life in the bullpen can get mighty boring.

Day 77 - Spring Training

I just came back from three days in the greater Phoenix area exploring the Cactus League. Reviews and photos will follow for the ballparks in Glendale, Surprise, and this one here in Goodyear, the shared home of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.

Day 76 - Singing

"Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are.

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are..."

--Cat Stevens

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 75 - Forest

I went back to this spider web five minutes after I shot this - the sun was gone and it was barely visible. Timing is everything . . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 74 - Forest

This broken tree had so many different textures going on, plus the depth of field was dramatic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 73 - Location Panoramas #3: Tides

Same location, different positions, with the bottom shot taken about 90 minutes after the top.

Day 72 - Location Panoramas #2: Water

Fresh water on the top, brackish marsh in the middle, and salt water on the bottom.

Day 71 - Location Panoramas #1: Forest

You film anything in these locations and it'll look like a million bucks...

Day 70 - Dew

There's something to be said about being on location at sunrise . . .

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 69 - Dew

Dewdrops were hanging on this cobweb like crystal balls, similar to a shot I took over a year ago . . .

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 68 - Banana Slug

The namesake for the UC Santa Cruz athletic teams, this banana slug was at least six inches long and bigger around than my thumb. Once I spotted the first one, I started seeing them all over the forest.

Day 67 - Wildflowers

These tiny gems were maybe the size of my little fingernail, and were scattered all over the forest floor.

Day 66 - Pescadero

This was the moss that was growing on all the trees.

Day 65 - Solitude

Standing by the side of a deserted road guarding picture cars leads to interesting ways to pass the time.

Day 64 - Pescadero

It may not conjure images of monkeys and exotic birds, but this technically is also the rainforest.

Day 63 - Pescadero

This monstrous redwood had been split nearly in two by lightning, and was hollowed out and charred from the ground to its top, but yet was still alive. I'm standing inside, four feet or so below ground level, shooting straight up between the two halves.