Well, with the Cubs out of town, summer finally arriving in Chicago, and a chance to see something a little different, I decided to veer off a bit last weekend, and catch the non-MLB games at Wrigley Field. Besides, I figured if that second career as a sport photographer is to bloom, you have to shoot whenever and wherever you can.
First up was the Under Armour All-America game on Saturday. It's a great game actually, featuring a few dozen high school All-Americans broken into teams; the Baseball Factory squad and Team One. Both companies are co-sponsors of the event.
Never let it be said that there isn't something to professionalism.
Bloggers have chided me for years about having things like a domain name and business cards. They came in handy Saturday, as a quick conversation and flash of the card at the gate got me private scouting material for the event, credentials, and a great perch in the photo bay for the game.
The best part? My companion—besides the lovely Kirsten Arnason from PBR—was none other than Jim Prisching.
Yeah, I know; you don't know him. You probably wouldn't unless you spend way too much time like I do checking photo credits. Now tomorrow, stop by cnnsi.com, check out last week's cover featuring the Mark Buerhle no-hitter, and check the credits.
Yeah, that guy.
I probably gleaned more from him in an hour about sports shooting than I have in months. Jim is a super nice guy, who was more than willing to share his expertise.
Two interesting notes. First, the guy isn't all that big on baseball. And second, he was constantly heading off to the seats to get a better look at things. Hilarious considering amateur sports photographers spend their time trying to get into the bay, and these guys just want to climb into the fan seats for something different.
Talk about the grass always being greener.
Nick Castallenos hit the winning shot during the Home Run Derby (Cubbie Nation)
And the game itself? Super fun. I won't bore you, but two guys that you really need to keep an eye on are Nick Castellanos and Trey Griffin.
Castellanos is an absolute beast, first winning the home run contest before the game, then spraying balls around during like it was still batting practice. I had to offer a couple of scouts a pocket square to wipe the drool off.
I'm told he projects as a third baseman, which I can see. Big power, and a decent arm. I'm like to see a bit more bulk, but there's a ton of potential there.
Trey Griffin hits a broken-bat single in the eighth inning during the Under Armour All-Star game (Cubbie Nation)
And Griffin may be the most exciting young player I've seen in years; He did a bit of everything, all of it well, and even stole home to prove his speed. Amazing talent, and a bunch of fun.
Sunday, it was on to the Road to Wrigley game, featuring the Iowa Cubs vs. the Las Vegas 51s. It was fun. I mean, we got to see some old friends, such as Bobby Scales, Justin Berg, and MIcah Hoffpauir, and a few new as well.
Bobby Scales tags out Travis Snider attempting to steal (Cubbie Nation)
Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I think the players genuinely loved it. Well, maybe not Micah, who couldn't quite get this half smile, half grimace look off his face all day, but I guess that's understandable. The I-Cubs set an attendance record Sunday, with 16,280 on hand braving 90 degree-plus heat.
The I-Cubs would win 5-4 on the strength of a John-Ford Griffin homer in the sixth that Vince Perkins and Blake Parker were able to make hold up, even with a pair of Travis Snider home runs for the 51s making things interesting. Enjoy that peek while you can. With Alex Rios potentially on the move, Vernon Wells as mess, and Joe Inglett playing in left for the Blue Jays, he won't be staying on the farm long.
Nate Spears steals third base against the 51s (Cubbie Nation)
A great weekend. Now I guess it's back to work following the Cubs. Stay tuned for a Cubs-centric post tomorrow.