At KU’s Hoglund Ballpark, the staff likes to play Daniel Powter’s popular song Bad Day whenever the opposing team is forced to change pitchers. Twisting that around yesterday, the Bad Day lyrics applied to a lot more than just KU baseball. It applied to us as well.
The first clue it wasn’t going to be our day came when Laura loudly called me to our basement shower. The sleeve that attached the shower head to pipe had cracked and water was shooting everywhere with great force. Logic said turn it off, but Laura’s thick hair was full of shampoo. The way the water was shooting out, she probably wouldn’t have even noticed if not for the loss of water pressure as she tried to rinse her hair. Freshly laundered clothing hanging near the shower was directly in line with the powerful stream and kept the water from soaking most of the basement. A towel wrapped around the pipe got us through the shower and other towels laid patch work on the wet floor began to soak up the mess.
The next clue was Alexander Vinokourov winning the last great spring classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Laura and I have never cared for Vinokourov. After serving his two-year suspension for doping, we still can’t embrace him. His victory was not one we enjoyed. Even astute Belgian fans lustily booed Vino, something very rare in the cycling world.
The third clue came when we stepped outside to leave for Lawrence. The cool, damp day was ruined further by the strong northwest winds that made sitting outside shooting softball and baseball miserable. On a day like yesterday it doesn’t matter how much clothing we wore. Being comfortable is impossible.
Maybe if it had been sunny and warm, the games yesterday would have been tolerable. Instead the wind bore through us making my old bones ache. Both teams had to finish off Saturday games that were delayed by rain and then play the scheduled Sunday games. Laura took baseball, and I took softball. Somehow the mojo just wasn’t there for either team or for us.
The clues that it was a bad day were abundant everywhere. To sum it up, consider that in KU’s 21-10 loss to Texas Tech, the Jayhawks gave up 24 hits and at one point were down 14-2. That is when we decided we had seen enough and went to the studio to get pictures ready for the web. We took off our gear and put away cameras. But such as the day’s karma dictated, we soon started digging both out again when KU closed to within five runs by the end of the seventh only to have Tech run away again.
Baseball and softball present some of the greatest challenges for a photographer, the biggest being boredom. Both of us love and played the games. They are beautiful to watch. You have to truly love and appreciate the games to photograph them well. Unlike continual action sports like basketball, ball games move at a easier pace with brief moments of peak action. Let attention slip and the good pictures are gone faster than you can release a camera shutter.
“You had a bad day. The camera don’t lie” the lyrics to the song cry, and as the softball game wore on, I admit I did let my attention slip. I flat-out missed an image of a play at the plate I would have loved to capture. It was right there for me, and I whiffed. The camera didn’t lie. At least I made up for it when I joined Laura at baseball. Unfortunately, those images weren’t all that positive from a KU perspective.
There is another truth about photographing the two games. The action fans love don’t make very good photos. Fans like base hits and “dig the long ball” as an old commercial said. The problem is that station-to-station baseball or softball don’t make great photos. A stand up double, a single and a run scored make fans happy while we stare at the camera wondering where’s the picture!
Diving for ground balls, leaping catches, plays at the plate or wam-bam action are what we need. Again, a lapse of attention and those plays are gone.
Finally, however, the day was saved by some good news. A going away party was held for media relations intern Cara Schlinger, who will begin work next month at the Eastern Washington University. At the party, student worker Susie Epp told us she will begin an internship at the University of Florida in June. Such news in times when jobs are hard to find, always brightens our day because we do love work with wonderful people like Cara and Susie. Turns out it wasn’t such a bad day after all.