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|| News Item: Posted 2001-07-27

Leading Off: My Letter to Bud Selig
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
Major League Baseball's annual All Star Game has always been the best of the major sports no sportscasters in bad Hawaiian shirts or showboating players trying to one-up each other. Baseball's All Star Game always felt like it was truer to well, the game of baseball.

The All Star Game seemed more fan-friendly and the effort of the players seemed genuine (save for a grooved pitch or two over the years hey Chan Ho, don't spend that money all in one place!). Who could forget Pete Rose colliding with Ray Fosse or Harmon Killebrew injuring himself stretching for a throw to first?

So it really didn't upset me, as it did many a sports wag across the country, when voters named retiring Cal Ripken, Jr. to start at 3rd for the AL and MLB made Tony Gwynn a "special guest".

But after this year's game in Seattle, maybe MLB has now edged their All Star contest closer to the corporate-based, TV-first, money-hungry, self-serving spectacle like the NFL and NBA.

As a matter of fact, it even drove me, a long-time baseball fan before I became a photographer, to write a letter to The Head Baseball Fan, commissioner Bud Selig.

So here's the letter I sent the commish:

Dear Bud,

I normally don't like to piss and moan okay, okay, I do like to piss and moan but I have to take exception with some of the things you allowed at the 2001 All Star Game.

Photo by
I always felt that baseball was more tradition-rich, fan oriented and dog-gone mom and apple pie than the other sports. To the NBA and NFL, their games all seemed to be just for TV and oh yeah, selling t-shirts and Nikes.

But this year, baseball took the cake: it succumbed to the urge to cater wholly to the all-mighty network television.

What else could explain you allowing that handheld TV camera-pointer from Fox to stand 3 feet from your face as you made that special presentation to Ripken and Gywnn in the 5th inning.

Now I know as commish of MLB you're entitled to as much face-time on the tube as that camera-hog David Stern, but to allow that camera-pointer to stay that close, for that long, blocking the view of thousands of baseball fans on the 3rd base side of Safeco Field was out of line!

Baseball needs to have feel-good moments like you tried to stage with Cal and Tony, but when you allow TV camera-pointers to totally block the view of fans, and yes, still photographers like myself, you're defeating the purpose.

For that camera-pointer is only capturing a fleeting image, once it rolls on Fox and later Sports Center, it flickers off and can't be seen again like a still image that would appear in the Seattle Times or Sports Illustrated or the Sporting News and oh yeah, USA TODAY.

(I won't even mention how rude and disrespectful it was to you, Ripken and Gywnn to have a monster-sized camera like that inches from your faces. Or how disgusting it was when that camera-pointer walked by the inside 3rd photo box a couple of innings later and asked "I hope you guys got a nice shot of my butt!")

As a matter of fact Bud, just ask your wife or the guests in your field level box what their view was of your presentation to these two future Hall of Famers. They were seated just 8 feet to my right and had the same view (or rather lack of) I did.

Photo by
I know you have more problems with baseball than my pissing and moaning about the conduct of Fox at your All Star Game (umpires and strike zones come to mind) but I thought maybe my letter would at least get you to think about respect not just for you or Tony Gwynn or for Cal Ripken. But for baseball.


Baseball Fan Bert.

* * *

A few other notes from the MLB All Star Game:

- And speaking of respect! Jed Jacobsohn, Rod Mar and I were strolling out to our centerfield positions before the Home Run Derby when we spotted team mascots coming off the field. The Phillie Phanatic walked by and gave us high fives and then Jed spotted the Giant's mascot and shouted, "Hey, it's Lou Seal!" As "Lou" walked by he said to the three of us: "F**K OFF!" We stood there mouths agape, each of us saying, "Did you hear that? He told us to f**k off!"

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
- When's a game over? While the actions of Fox camera-pointers during the Ripken-Gwynn ceremony was the worst offense, security personnel after the game was over was about as bad. As we prepared to take the field for the MVP presentation, we were stopped by an MLB suit who yelled at us "You're not allowed on the field until the completion of the game!" Albert Dickson from The Sporting News pointed out that after three outs in the ninth and one team is ahead, the game is over. But we still weren't allowed on the fieldwhich wasn't the same for "rights-holders" which seemed to include about two dozen kids with credentials between the ages of 8 and 13 all of them blocking our view of Ripken getting his trophy. After Ripken left the field, another security guard yelled at us "OK. Field access for the photographers. The game is now over." Yeah, 15 minutes after the last out and after all the players are in the dressing room!

- Tokyo or Fresno? After going in and out of the Safeco press box repeatedly on Monday, I tried to wander in Tuesday to get some rosters and other press info that was not available in the darkroom areas on the field level. "Hey you," a woman at the door boomed at me, "I don't know if you follow the rules from the country you're from, but you aren't allowed in there." When I told her I was born in Fresno, CA. and held up my credential that said "USA TODAY" she just stared at me. I wonder if it's photographers or Asian-Americans she didn't want in her pressbox?

* * *

As is our tradition at Sports Shooter, we give you several photographers' experiences in issue v.33: starting off with H. Darr Beiser's account of the recent British Open, to Lucas Gilman's hands-on report on the new Nikon D1X to Rick Rickman addressing the issue of leaving a staff job to freelance for more job satisfaction.

Jon Soohoo contributes a very thoughtful piece on the journalists' section of the Baseball Hall of Fame and The Count and Mongo make appearances.

A couple of special notes:

- I will be speaking at the Asian-American Journalists Association annual convention on Aug. 2 at the San Francisco Hyatt Regency Hotel. The topic is "Using the Web to Take better Pictures" but basically I'm going to show some of my images and talk about Sports Shooter. So if you're going to the convention, please try to come by my afternoon session (or if you're in the area, drop on by. Paul Sakuma the program chair won't mind, tell them it's on me!).

- And please make sure to check out the special Sports Shooter announcement in this issue.

So sit back, relax, cue up that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy CD and enjoy Sports Shooter v.33.

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