Prudence keeps us out of awkward situations. I thought I was being prudent, but I still knew I would have some explaining to do.
Foresight can keep us out of trouble.
Journalists and criminal masterminds have one thing in common - they have to cover every angle. I knew going in I might have to talk/write my way out of something. That something may never come up, but just in case. Turns out it did.
Enough fluff. The hinting ends here.
This was the biggest game of the year in Oklahoma high school Class A baseball. Two excellent Bryan County teams ending a year-long saga at the apex of the sport.
My personal goal for covering any game is to be a ghost's shadow. Almost clandestine during the event and invisible in the writing that takes place after the event.
Not a problem for writers. Photographers will almost always inadvertently be seen while covering a sport. Doing both? Tough luck.
In the three previous meetings, I had the luxury of anonymity afforded by the press box. Once at Calera in the county finals and then a doubleheader at Bokchito. Each game there was a photographer doing his thing while I did the press box thing. But on that Saturday, I had to do the photographer thing. Not extremely difficult, but from which bench do I shoot?
The foresight - I told my traveling companion, 15 minutes from Dolese Park that I was going to shoot from the third base dugout regardless of who occupies it. Sure, it might have already been predetermined before Saturday, but I don't pretend to know how that works. Probably how teams were positioned in the bracket, still not sure. Not knowing gave me an excuse.
Had to have someone to vouch. Now why should that matter?
They say that history is written by the winners. They've never had two teams in the same coverage area in the state finals. The history of both sides has to be recorded. Both the "thrill of victory" as well as the "agony of defeat."
The game was incredible. I shot from the Silo dugout. The third base dugout. The dugout I shot from the entire tournament, regardless of who was in it. It made it easier to capture the emotion of the bench after home runs. It made it easier to get players sliding into second and third base. It was where I wanted to shoot.
I knew Friday night that, regardless of who won, there would be a cover shot of the championship team hoisting the championship trophy/plaque. Giving the umpires the benefit of the doubt, I would have to say I was one of four people there who could have cared less who won the game. Sorry if that offends anyone. But most everybody there was probably pulling for someone.
Silo Assistant Justin Bowen joked in the first inning, "You're going to stand in OUR dugout and take pictures of Rock Creek ... just kidding. You know I'm kidding right?" My reply, "I know YOU are, but somebody's going to bring up which dugout I was in today."
It took all of two days. The following Monday, I get to the office. "Which dugout were you in Beau?" someone asked, already knowing the answer. "Someone at the game said you were in Silo's dugout."
Of course they did.