grapefruit-league

A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez during a spring training game in 2008. 

The Yankees announced today that A-Rod will have surgery on his hip (the other one, not the one that was repaired before).  He will need 3-6 months to recover. 

I guess this explains his poor post-season performance.  But he hasn’t been the same since the first hip injury, so having surgery on the other one doesn’t seem like good news.  There’s some speculation that this could be career-ending.  Though with five years left on his monster contract, he’ll be given every chance to make a comeback.

The Detroit Tigers’ Grapefruit League opener is today! (Spring can’t be far away, can it?)

Group portrait of 1932 Detroit Tigers at spring training, posing in front of bleachers. Stamped on back: “Stroupe & Schreiner, every thing photographic, Garfield 5447, 102 De Young Bldg., San Francisco.” Handwritten on back: “Tigers 1932 spring training.”

 Before every spring training opener, legendary announcer Ernie Harwell would recite Song of Solomon 2:11-12:

 "For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.“

10

Today I visited Space Coast Stadium in Viera, spring training home of the Washington Nationals. I really enjoy coming out to this ballpark. Yes, it’s the closest one to my house, but also the staff is super friendly and not very strict about designated seats (not that they have to be, there were plenty of available seats everywhere in the park. One of the perks of going to a game on a weekday I suppose.) Plus, my cheeseburger was also surprisingly good. Normally I don’t think ballpark food is very good. It’s typically overpriced but worse, bland. (Actually it seems the farther you go down from a major league stadium, the worse the food gets. Major league stadium food is okay, while high school stadiums have the worst.) 

This was a better experience than the Braves game. It was a gorgeous day to be outside, starting players signed autographs for fans…and my cheeseburger was pretty tasty. I do think these images are better than the ones I shot at the Braves game, however I don’t feel like I’m documenting spring training in an engaging way. They remind me of a minor league hot dog, a little on the bland side. The problem is that I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. I do know that I’m more interested in the fan/player interaction more than the actual play on the field. Perhaps I should try to capture the relaxed atmosphere of spring training? Right now I’m just going to the games and hoping for compelling images. And I don’t feel I’ve accomplished that at either game.
I do have a set of rules that I follow. I go and buy the cheapest ticket and then go photograph, like any fan with a camera could. Try to get to every Florida park and watch every team play (St. Louis and Miami both play in Roger Dean Stadium which means I should go twice to that park.) Focus mainly on the home team. And I don’t talk about Fight Club.

Should I have an idea or plan going in? That just seems to take a little bit of the fun away for me, which is probably the best reason for me not to do it. I do feel like these past games were just the warm up. I’ll just have to wait and see…

ticket: $12
cheeseburger, fries, coke: $13
parking: $7