AMAZING! The Oakland A’s are AL West Champs!
Posted on October 17, 2012
Members of the Oakland Athletics celebrate on the pitchers mound after the game against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at The Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos)
It sure feels good to be in dry clothes after the dousing I received in the crazy Oakland A’s clubhouse yesterday. Unless you have been living under a rock you know that the A’s beat the Texas Rangers in game #162 yesterday at the Coliseum to clinch the American League Western Division crown. Picked to come in dead last and lose up to 100 games in the winter, this year’s rag-tag bunch of nobodies, cast-offs, and a Cuban defied all logic and fooled all of us who claim to know baseball by winning 94 games. I have been covering big league baseball since 1987, and in my 25 years around the game I have never seen a better story than the 2012 A’s.
I went into yesterday’s game knowing that I would be in a champagne-soaked clubhouse by later afternoon as both teams entered the contest in a flat-footed tie for first. Of course I was hoping the A’s would win because I root for good stories, and so many of my friends are great A’s fans who have suffered through Hell the past few years. They deserved for their miracle season to have a signature moment. I was hoping this balmy day in Oakland would provide the backdrop for a celebration for the ages. I was not disappointed!
There was electricity in the air when I arrived at the ballpark at 9:30am for the 12:35pm game. The game would be a rare sellout and there would be tons of photographers on hand to document this big event. I was shooting for Major League Baseball and decided that I wanted to shoot from the inside third base spot, which I thought would be a good place to be for the post-game jube- no matter who won. My good friend and COMCAST television camera man Tom Adkins works his camera from that spot and he nailed some great stuff of the A’s celebrating on Monday night. This inspired me to shoot near him yesterday. It also meant that I would be standing for the entire game next to a bevy of chuckle heads who somehow snagged credentials to the game, and other hangers-on who spilled out of every office in the building to watch the end from behind the backstop.
Luckily none of these people got in my way, and as the amazing A’s came back from a 5-1 deficit to take a 12-5 lead in the bottom of the 8th it was clear that we would have a great moment happening in front of us in the 9th inning. Thanks to A’s starting pitcher A.J. Griffin the A’s were wearing their bright gold jerseys (the starting pitcher chooses which jersey the team wears, and Griffin usually opts for the gold). The late afternoon October light combined with the green, white, and gold meant the pictures would look gorgeous.
Before I knew it there were two outs in the top of the 9th and the Rangers were almost done. Grant Balfour got the last out on a fly ball to center field and then the place went nuts. The combination of Balfour leaping into the air, and my new Canon EOS-1DX meant my pictures were sharp! This is not something I could confidently say with most of the previous Canon cameras but they finally got it right after 10 years of Hell. But that is another story…
The scene in the A’s clubhouse was as crazy as any I have ever seen. This team really loves each other and knows what a miracle they pulled off this season. The champagne and beer (Bud Light) flowed so much that by the time I got out of there (after team photographer Michael Zagaris suffered a bloody gash on his nose) there was about an inch of liquid on the floor of the clubhouse, soaking my green Pumas all the way through to my socks.
When things started to die down team leader Jonny Gomes rallied the troops and ordered everyone outside for a team picture on the mound. This was a great excuse to get out of the crowded locker room and head outside to catch the last rays of October light on the infield. With Gomes and Josh Reddick donning their awesome gold bathrobes the team piled onto the mound and posed for a bunch of us photographers in one of the best spontaneous team moments I have ever seen. The pictures were fantastic, and by the time we were done I felt so great about the day and the pictures I had made.
This year’s A’s team is by far the most amazing team I have ever photographed. They make my 2012 National League West Champion Giants seem like a boring afterthought. As they board their flight for Detroit for the first round of the playoffs I am sure this group of guys is still flying high. The good news is they don’t have to play until Saturday, so if they want to have some fun tonight they can hang out with the Z-Man, who always knows there the fun is in the Motor City. I can’t wait to shoot Game 3 of the ALDS back here in Oakland Tuesday night!