The anatomy of a bad spring training photo

Rob Bradford
February 11, 2019 - 11:52 am

Consider this a preemptive strike.

I'm headed down to Fort Myers in the coming days, but until then I am basking in the glow of my colleagues' attempts at bringing spring training to life via photos on Twitter. There is a very real reason this is done. People actually like to consume images of grown men throwing a baseball in shorts and nice weather, doing so while stomping about on the greenest of grass.

Just look at the likes, the retweets, and the optimism-laced comments. It is a worthy exercise.

But as I sit here and soak in these tweets a dose or reality is surfaced: These are the worst photos these fine folks' phones will be taking all year long. They are really bad. And knowing the desperation and motivation that comes with this sort of exercise I find myself channeling the "Good job! Good effort!" kid. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, click here.)

(It is a phenomenon that once made for a really entertaining Twitter account, and isn't that how we judge all worthy exercises in life these days?)

I want to make it clear that I have been and unfortunately will continue to be one of these spring training photographers. In fact when typing in "Bad Spring Training Photos" into Twitter search this beauty I took almost exactly five years ago came up as the third option.

So, the question has to be asked: Why isn't there some sort of evolution when it comes to the quality of spring training photos? It's worth taking a stab at ...

1. ACCESS

While there is certainly a ton more access and availability in spring training when it comes to watching baseball players work out than there is during the regular season, it can be somewhat of a tease. There are walkways you can stand on, and then those walkways just end. There are vantage points you think will translate into something up close and personal, but those usually turn out to just a tease.

Take the shots the Yankees writers were afforded when trying to capture new shortstop Troy Tulowitzki take grounders Monday morning.

So close, yet so far away.

Then there was Chris Sale throwing at Red Sox camp.

See that path? See that barrier behind the mounds? Those are the kind of limits that stand between an artist and their art.

2. EQUIPMENT

Writers are usually told by their bosses heading into spring training to take a bunch of photos. It's almost as important to them these days as the words describing what is happening this the team. Speaking from experience, getting a laptop and WiFi to properly function is enough of a challenge without gauging the viability of your phone's zoom lens.

You would think that the advancement of camera phones might take the art of spring training photos to another level. This, however, is one hurdle even the greatest technological minds haven't been able to consistently clear.

This is the time of year we come to understand a baseball field is a big place.

3. TIMING

Writers stand around taking photos upon photos of these players. But let's be honest, few are separating themselves. And then comes that one moment that might define the day and ... they get a call, the sun isn't shining in the right direction or the camera option isn't pulled up fast enough.

Case in point ...

Understand that the intentions are good, and I've already seen some progress. 

Speaking for myself, I'll try to do better ...

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