The Photo Pit Is Tough

SANTIAGO, D.R.–And so is Jose Capellan, apparently. The Licey righthander has yet to allow a hit midway through the third inning, as the Tigres lead Aguilas, 2-0.

We might not need that one-game playoff after all. But if we do, Licey won the coin toss earlier today and would be the home team–in the Aguilas´home park. If Licey loses tonight, that game would be played Friday at 8 p.m. local time.

So anyway, yeah, the photographer´s pit is tough work. Especially between innings. I was surrounded by police and military personnel, and some cheerleaders went on the field in front of where I was standing to shoot free tee-shirts into the crowd. Well, one misfired and I got completely tackled by two policemen fighting for the free shirt.

Protect and Serve . . . wow.

Now I´m dirtier than I´ve been when I came straight to the ballpark from an 8 a.m. workout in some filthy place and I think I sprained my wrist. I bust my dad´s chops all the time about how photographers have it made. But then again, he never shot in the Dominican.

The fans here love the Eagles (aka Aguilas). So much so that some guy had his wrist all taped up and brought a live eagle to the ballpark. In the States, I´m pretty sure you´d need some kind of permit for that.

I think I mentioned before how I was disappointed with the crowd during the first Aguilas/Licey matchup, but that certainly isn´t the case tonight. This place is rocked out. It took me nearly 15 minutes to get from the photo area to the press box, just to fight my way through the crowd.

To quote J.J. Cooper, I will say this . . . the access here has been phenomenal. Last year in Puerto Rico, they wouldn´t allow press in the dugouts let alone the clubhouses after games. It was worse than the Futures Game. But here, I´m pretty sure I could go anywhere I wanted whenever I wanted. To test that, tonight I stumbled into the owner´s suite upstairs and was offered free Presidentes, I went into the Licey dugout–during the game–and I hung out with the third base umpire between innings.

That´s one other thing I´ll mention . . . the umpires here have been 10 times better than they were in Puerto Rico also. Last year, the Mexican fans were so ticked off at a call at one point that they started throwing coins onto the field in protest, trying to give the home plate umpire some sort of chinsy raise.

Oh, and I thought minor league clubs having fireworks every other night was ridiculous, but here, when Aguilas gets out of an inning without scoring a run . . . fireworks.