DIGITAL LIGHT  ::  brian cassella
Saturday, May 31, 2008

05 30 2008 - ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays await Cliff Floyd at home plate after he hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Some nights it all works out.

This was a shot I'd seen before, and had had in the back of my mind for a year (which considering how little baseball I shoot, really isn't that long). When a player hits a walk-off home run to win a game at home, his entire team rushes out onto the field to await him at the plate. Shooting from the outside third base position, you have almost the same vantage point the runner does as he heads home.

There's a risk here, though, in that the outside third base position isn't a great angle for a number of other things. Critically, if the game is won on a series of hits and a play at the plate, the scoring Ray has his back to you as he crosses the plate to win the game. So the first base side is considered a little safer in a late game situation, although you never know what could happen.

With the game tied 1-1 in the ninth inning, I took a risk and went to the third base side. I figured if the White Sox scored in the top of the inning, I'd have a good angle facing the Rays catcher for a play there. Our main Rays shooter had made a number of nice images from game-winners that weren't walk-off home runs this year from that position as well, so I figured I'd see what happened.

I shot the action with my 400mm, and kept my 200mm with it's dying battery on my lap with the plan to switch to it in case of a home run, otherwise I'd stick with the long glass. Cliff Floyd launched the second pitch deep to right, and I switched once I knew it was gone. I made sure to get a shot (that I didn't end up needing) of Floyd heading down toward third with a smile on his face as I saw the crowd gathering by the plate out of the corner of my eye.

I switched back to the plate before Floyd got there, and as I looked through the camera, I thought "Whoa, that's nice..." Couldn't have lined up the players better myself, no skills needed here, just bang on the motor drive. It made a fun sequence as the players bounced, so I added it to our now daily photo gallery. It was cool to get some feedback from fans and the team today. Hope to see more games like it come October...?

That Rays picture is awesome - what a great moment you captured there. Moments like that are why I love baseball - why everyone that loves baseball loves baseball. Really nice job!
I'm surprised you only have one comment on it. With the Rays success and Maddon's endorsement of your image, I bet others will show up. Good luck - a fantastic shot.
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Postings by Brian Cassella, staff photographer in the Tampa bureau of the St. Petersburg Times and 2005 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Available for freelance.



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