Being a Baseball Fan in the Biggest Football Powerhouse Town

Auburn Baseball Plainsman Park
Auburn Baseball at Plainsman Park

What a beautiful game. Game 17, Auburn vs Coppin State. Just another normal mid-season game in the NCAA baseball season.

Imagine if any other collegiate sport played 35 home games, 56 regular season games? Or if any other major professional sports league played 162 regular season games, decided not to keep time on the field, and the person with the ball never scored? Baseball is such an endurance race. A cherished marathon where every footstep is articulated in jaw dropping statistical and artistic beauty.

For me, Turner Field and the Braves are too far away to become an in-person daily routine except on Fox Sports South. To really fully understand the inner workings of baseball’s beauty that this long season provides, it has to become commonplace, routine. Luckily, baseball’s depth provides so many outlets, in so many different leagues, nearly anyone can find a local team to support. I happen to live in one of the greatest college sports towns in the country, so my non-MLB team is the Auburn University Tigers.

Today’s game marks the halfway point in the season and the long schedule is just starting to take on the look of a marathon. Jordan-Hare Stadium is always looming large in the background over it’s Plainsman Park neighbor. The huge majestic concrete pillars hibernating until fall with one reprieve in April, the A-Day Game, when 60,000 people come out to see us play ourselves. Jordan-Hare is always the giant in the room, the most powerful, with the most money, the biggest following, and a stadium that changes the landscape of our entire state 8 to 10 times a year. Plainsman Park, however, providing 35 home games at prices the average person in Auburn can afford, offers something football can’t, accessibility.

On this particular day I am sitting, more like bathing, in the beautiful afternoon sunshine in the south in March. An almost-hot day at the park (did I mention it’s March), where the temp says 69° but really feels more like 80–85° in the sun.

I had no time at all today to get the lineup and score the game as I normally would. My last meeting of the day ended about an hour ago, so there was just enough time to make it to the park and enjoy the setting. Scoring is but just one of the countless aspects that makes baseball unique, poetic. It offers any fan the opportunity to become part of the game being played, and can be done by nearly anyone. The ability to score the game is as much an art form as anything else in life, just as are the many combinations of Auburn Baseball uniforms these days, but scoring really helps to learn the intricacies of the game.

Today Auburn is wearing their home orange jersey and white pants and Coppin State is wearing an Auburn-blue like jersey with gray pants. It’s now 3:30 PM CT and unfortunately on this day pitcher Kevin Davis (#12) only completed 1 full inning and was taken out in the top of the 2nd with no outs. Coppin scored 1 run in the top of the first after he walked three batters, then walked another in the 2nd. Davis was replaced by Jakob Nixon (#8) with 2 men on base and no outs, both runners still accountable to Davis. Finally turning the inning over to Auburn’s offense in the bottom of the 2nd Blake Logan (#1) hit a 3 run homer over our green monster. The homer had to go at least 360′-370′ over the Bosox-like fence that has Bo Jackson’s panorama covering most of that left field wall padding.
This is one of these lazy day games where the sun is just warm enough, especially for this time of year, to allow for a relaxed crowd. Deborah is knitting, and it is quiet enough to clearly hear the sounds of the game, along with various conversations of people nearby.

There is still this one unfortunate state of college baseball affairs at play here. The batters address the pitcher with an aluminum bat, the only real significant travesty in college baseball. There are a handful of other minor indictments one can raise here but I won’t. Although the sound of the aluminum bat is not quite the same as the beauty of MLB wood, it still creates this unique echoing ripple off the green monster and athletic dorms over right field where most of the football players live.

Our world class heckler is here and attentive as always. His job is to make sure the pitcher for Coppin State (or any away team that arrives not expecting a thinking fan crowd) does not get away with anything, and ensures he is rattled as much as any away pitcher could be by a comedic post-Iraq drill Sargent. Our season ticket neighbor came today, along with the normal “retired” season ticket holders. A lady on the stairs walking up into our section came within perhaps an inch of getting beaned in the head with a foul ball, and did not even notice. It’s quite fascinating how someone can come that close to major injury and not even know it happened.
The crowd here couldn’t be more local, and the visitors have virtually no fans attending today other than players family. I love this crowd, and much of it has to do with baseball itself. They are as calm as the pace of the game. Middle class retirees mixed with University staff, and students with an excuse to skip class on a beautiful day. In other words, those who love baseball. It’s a microcosm of our Auburn community. A generally quiet, laid back, friendly southern town.

Top of the 5th inning now and Auburn seems to have this one well in hand. Coppin had to take their starting pitcher out after he was hit by a hard line drive in the ankle (they needed to take him out anyway). Auburn now has an 8–2 lead off 8 hits and 0 errors.

What a beautiful game.

Most Beautiful Dogwood Blooms of any Recent Spring in Auburn

Dogwood Flower Bloom in Spring

OK, so this will probably be the last post of the Spring showing our Dogwood bloom or our Wisteria, but I just love the colors so today it’s my Photo of the Day and my P365 :2012 photo [Day 114]. I don’t know if it’s all the rain we got over the winter or that I’m just another year older, but this Spring has been the most beautiful I can remember in a long time. The Dogwood blooms around Auburn were, and still are spectacular this year. The one pictured above is from our yard and is just screaming of the beauty of creation.

This photo was taken handheld, and is seen basically straight out of my Nikon D7000 camera body, with a little added saturation processing from Adobe Lightroom. You can see the full exif data from over on my Flickr site. The background blur comes from the lens I was using, a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G version (a very fast and inexpensive prime lens), shot almost wide open (i.e. f/1.4) so the depth of field was very shallow. The purple and green, two incredible contrasting colors for a white flower, come from our purple Wisteria blooms and the trees in the background. This wouldn’t necessarily be considered macro photography (see my previous examples here), but it was shot at the lens’ minimum focal distance.

Hope you have been able to get out and smell the roses this Spring, even if they are in the form of Wisteria and Dogwood blooms.

Monday Morning Photos of a Sunrise Surprise

This morning just when I opened my eyes this is what I saw above. My face just happens to face east right out a window, and this morning these low clouds turned into a beautiful sunrise. The colors fade so quickly but the brilliance produced in a matter of five minutes is just amazing. As I write this there are virtually no colors in the sky and the sun has retreated behind the thick clouds but what a great surprise to wake up and see the colors of a sunrise.

I was only able to take a few shots and by the time I got over to the pond (last photo) the colors were already just about gone, (time sequence of the shots was about 2-3 minutes). You can click on each photo to see a larger image, hope you enjoy them as much as I did when I ran out in the grass in my bare feet.

The Streak Hair Salon Photo Shoot in Auburn

Last week I did a photo shoot for a local hair salon called Streak Hair Studio.  Being that I have so much experience in cutting my own hair, the owner, Jen Slocumb decided I was the perfect candidate to do the shoot (ha).  Hair has never much been my personal strong suit but at least if I can’t have my own I can do the photography for some who are professionals in making those who have hair look good.

I don’t do many hair salon photos shoots but this one was a blast.  All the gals over at Streak were great and put up with all my requests to stand in one place without breathing or moving for over extended periods of time.  Below are just a few from the shoot, if you are one who has hair, drop by for a highlight or two, they will fix you right up.

Jen from Streak

Streak Hair Studio

Streak Hair Studio

Streak Hair Studio

Streak Hair Studio

Another Beautiful and Colorful Fall Day in Alabama

Fall Tree Swing in Alabama

What a difference just a few days makes in the fall. This is what our tree (and swing) looked like this afternoon.  Compare that to this Fall Has Finally Arrived in Alabama, and My Swing Loves It, taken just a few days ago.

It was a totally different time of day of course, but the colors have changed dramatically, and many of the leaves have started to fall off the trees.  I don’t remember this tree turning colors like this last year but as the years click off each fall probably looks more colorful to me.  How were your fall colors this year?

Colorado Columbine Flower in Bloom, Always Beautiful

The Colorado Columbine in Bloom

There are a few wildflowers that really capture a state, and the top two that come to mind are the Texas Bluebonnets and the Colorado Columbine. The Colorado Columbine is actually native to Canada but has really become a symbol of Colorado since it was adopted as the official state flower on April 4, 1899 by an act of the General Assembly.

The Colorado Columbine Flower in Bloom

This flower has so many different faces and can be photographed in so many different poses that one shot does not do this flower justice. Below is the classic head on shot as I like to call it. When trying to shoot closeup images of flowers it is great if you can get the green leaves in the background as this will make the flower pop off the page. I managed to get a little green in the bottom right corner but would have loved that all the way around the image.

What are your favorite wildflowers of the Spring and Summer months?