media daze

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So you’ve never been fortunate enough to attend a professional ballclub’s media day and are curious as to what goes on? This entry may serve to clear that up for you as does stirring the edge of a brackish pond with a weathered tree branch… but at least it is something. Besides, I have photos.

The Albuquerque Isotopes 2008 Media Day was held on the final day of March, appropriately enough at Isotopes Park. The event was a welcome ending to my winter long exercise of trying to guess the names of the players who would make the opening day roster.

First task on the agenda was to secure my credentials. Sure, most of the people working at the ballpark know me, but it is the best policy to be properly identifiable from a distance as opposed to running the risk of meeting a new trigger-happy security guard itching to try out his new taser on the first person who steps onto the field without a badge.

My main duty of the day was to snap a couple of decent headshots of each of the players that for display on the ballpark’s jumbotron during the pregame lineup PA announcement, during each player’s at bat, or while relief pitchers are on the mound making warm-up tosses.

We set up shop in a portion of the clubhouse and used a green screen behind the players to make editing easier. It was a fantastic time greeting the players returning from last season… “Hello Eric (Reed),” “How’s it going John? (Baker and Gall),” “Hope you had a nice winter Daniel (Barone),” “What’s the frequency Kenny? (Baugh),”and “Are you ready to pitch in a couple of games again this year Andrew? (Beattie).” These guys all remembered the drill from 2007, and moved through quickly- eager, I’m sure, to get outside and onto the field.

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Albuquerque Isotopes outfielder Alexis Gomez

I was able to break the ice with the players I had seen last autumn in the Arizona Fall League (Brett Hayes, Jai Miller and Scott Nestor) by welcoming them to Albuquerque then asking them to give me a roughly three-quarter angle pose with a look over their shoulder.

After I got the photographs I needed, each player had to have a video shot for the same purpose. The thing I like about the videos is that they allow for creativeness pretty much only limited by each player’s imagination. For some I would “help” by tossing a baseball to a pitcher who would catch it then toss it into his glove a few times, or into the air several times, or over his shoulder and into his glove from behind the back while not taking his eyes off the camera. I also tossed a bat to a number of the hitters who would catch it then take a few practice swings, or inspect it for defects, or go into their batting stance- trying to look mean without cracking a smile.

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Albuquerque Isotopes pitcher Marcus Gwyn

All in all, it was a delightful anthropological study of the players, including the new pitchers whom I won’t see much of again once they move into their summer home (ie., the left field bullpen): Marcos Carvajal, Eulogio De la Cruz, Marcus Gwyn, Gaby Hernandez, Robert Keppel, Joe Nelson, Chris Seddon, Brandon Villafuerte, Doug Waechter and Randy Williams.

The last thing the players were asked for was their selection for a walk up song. I would say that about half of them were prepared with a song title and artist. Some even knew the exact time of the song they wanted the dj to play. The rest of the players promised they would think it over and arrive at a decision before the home opener. I won’t go into details now as it seems like a good stand-alone blog post for a future date. However, I can tell you that Isotopes fans are going to be hearing a good amount of AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Earth Wind & Fire this summer.

By the time I wrapped up my shoot, all of the players had made it out to the field and were either being interviewed by newspaper, radio and television reporters, or were standing around in small groups talking about things that guys talk about… sports, women and cars.

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Albuquerque Isotopes infielder Chris Barnwell being interviewed.

Eventually the players, coaches and trainers assembled in deep centerfield for their team photo. Obviously the bad news for autographers was the Isotopes decision to once again wear black jerseys on media day. This act pretty much ensures that at least half of the baseball cards in the team set will be lousy for getting signed (assuming, of course, that those players are still around when the cards are released on June 12th).

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A short meeting followed the team photo shoot. Taking my queue from the members of the mainstream media, I steered clear of the meeting like a thirsty zebra observing a pride of lions at a shrinking water hole.

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I continued to chat with reporters while the players ran through a series of stretching and throwing exercises. Some of the reporters wanted to talk about baseball, fantasy baseball, baseball cards, women and cars, but the vast majority seemed more concerned with when they were going to be fed by the Isotopes.

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I moved in close for infield and pitching/catching drills, and even closer for batting practice. I hung around the cage for the duration of the practice session while trying the various settings, filters and functions on my new lens. If you’ve never had the opportunity to stand next to a batting cage while professional hitters take their best hacks, you REALLY need to begin working on your strategy to make that happen. Trust me! Who knows, you may be only a blog away…

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Albuquerque Isotopes catcher John Baker

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Albuquerque Isotopes infielder Dallas McPherson

After watching the newest position players (Chris Barnwell, Tagg Bozied, Brett Hayes, Chase Lambin, Dallas McPherson, Lee Mitchell and Alexis Gomez ) swing away at offerings from pitching coach Rich Gale, hitting coach Steve Phillips and manager Dean Treanor, I wish to urge all fans planning on watching games from the outfield berm to make sure you take your mitt with you to the park. You are going to need it!

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Albuquerque Isotopes infielder Tagg Bozied

I was without question the last media representative standing. I’m not sure if that is because I had neither a definitive story I was working on, nor a deadline- or if it was because winter had officially ended and I just wanted to soak up as much of the atmosphere that the day could provide.

– Kris

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One Response to “media daze”

  1. Mario A. Says:

    Awesome post. Dallas and Alexis were real friendly during Spring Training…

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