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Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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May 19, 2008 10:57 PM

Mariners: Stealing on Sunday

Posted by Rod Mar

Even though the season hasn't been all they expected it to be so far, the Mariners still managed to take two of three games from San Diego this weekend and break a record in the process.

The record in question is the career stolen bases mark, set by Julio (Can You Take Me On a Sea) Cruz (that was the nickname occasionally used by ESPN personality Chris Berman back in the day) way back in 1978.

Ichiro broke the record with his 291st career stolen base in the first inning. I knew he'd tied the record Saturday night, so I took a spot that would allow me a good view of him stealing second if he got on base.

After reaching first base on a single, Ichiro soon took off. The throw to second base was slightly off-the-mark, and San Diego shortstop Khalil Green had to leap to try to make the play. Two frames of the play were interesting. Even though Ichiro's face is obscured (usually the kiss of death), the acrobatic body language helps:

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 250, 1/1250th sec., f4.5)

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 250, 1/1250th sec., f4.5)

After shooting pictures of both starting pitchers (never know when one is going to toss a no-hitter), I decided to take advantage of the sunlit day game by shooting from the centerfield photo porch, which is right behind Ichiro. One reason it's tough to shoot from there at night games is the distance to home plate demands an extender. A 1.4 extender (making a 400mm into a 560mm lens) costs one stop of light, and a 2x extender (800mm, natch) costs two stops of light. Considering that I'm already shooting at ISO 1600 for night games, adding another two stops of light would be ill-advised.

The other reason for shooting from the outfield is that it's right in the middle of the beer garden out there (the Mariners always remind me it's called something else less blunt, like "standing area", but if you've ever been out there, you know what I mean). The fans out there are fun and nutty, like the one fan who started a spellout for the Mariners shortstop when he came to the plate.

"GIMME A Y! "Y!" GIMME A U! "U" GIMME AN N!" "N!"...etc, etc. until he'd spelled out "Yuniesky", drawing huge laughs from the crowd.

But he wasn't done, and as people laughed and cheered, he started in on Yuniesky's last name, which is "Betancourt".

The lusty spellout of all 18 letters of his name took nearly the entire at-bat, but was great entertainment, nonetheless.

Shooting from the outfield is pretty boring, especially when the home team is held to two hits through the first seven innings.

That all changed in the 8th, when hot-hitting second baseman Jose Lopez doubled to right field, driving in the two runs that would give the Mariners a 3-2 lead, which they would hold onto for the victory.

I was shooting with a 1.4 extender on the 400mm lens, which is loose for home plate, but I had decided that I'd take the sharpness of the 1.4x over the 2x. The 2x is a finicky extender. Not only are you losing two stops of light, but focus is more of a challenge, and the image degrades through all the added glass.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender = 560mm, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec., f4.0)

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender = 560mm, ISO 400, 1/1600th sec., f4.0)

Shooting from centerfield is a nice change-of-pace from all the photos we normally shoot from the photo wells along the foul lines. It's pretty similar to the angle of the television cameras, but the still frames can be interesting because you have the chance to see the faces of a lot of people -- players, coaches, and fans, all at the same time.

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