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Every Picture


It's hard not to look at this picture by Rob Carr, which was plastered across today's New York Times Sports section, and see disdain, cockiness, anger, and release.  A-Rod, having just launched a first pitch home run in Batlimore, flicks the bat up in the air strongly (that bat is UP there), a show of stern confidence, perhaps – no, definitely – arrogance.  His face, looking clearly towards something off the field, no smile.  It is both emotional and emotionless, a really fine work of sports photojournalism, a moment caught in the context of Alex' current catharisis, injury, and return to the field.  It is a picture that offers little in the way of flattery, but it seems an honest portrait.

21 replies on “Every Picture”

i’m gonna go errol morris on you here and suggest that maybe that reading is what you’re bringing to the picture, and not necessarily the “objective” record you suggest, or that photography in general suggests itself to be. (which is no knock on the photograph itself, which is great, good art, even commercial art, is open to multiple interpretation).
but let me suggest this. the bat may not be that high at all. it’s apparent height may just be a the result of perspective. it could quite easily be just a couple of feet above ground–a kind of natural height for someone tossing a bat after a dinger. and you can’t really tell where he’s looking, either, because of the crop. it could be first base. it could be the dugout. and because the shutter speed was obviously so fast (that bat is not even blurred) it gives the impression of great accuracy. but it is really just one very tiny moment. are his lips moving into a smile around that gum? the fact that it’s “vacant” may seem telling but it also makes it utterly opaque.

Where did I say this (or photography in general) is “objective”?
Of COURSE I am bringing my own sense to this post, when I say it is “hard not to see” certain things I am writing this AS the viewer.
Errol Morris is great, YF, but leave this stuff to him. Maybe he’s a reader of YFSF.

Who cares what SF thinks???
Go ARod!!! That was simple awesome last night and hopefully he will provide the lift we need to get back to playing winning baseball.

What if we found a photo of a Youkilis home run that captures him at the exact moment he watches the ball go out of the park?
“He’s stopping and admiring his home run! He’s a showboat. Shame on him.”
No, no one would ever think that. We’d probably say, “cool shot,” all the while knowing that Youk is not the type to showboat.
It’s somewhat analogous to a candid picture taken of you while you’re talking, where you look silly because your mouth is captured at a weird angle.

Did you guys actually SEE the homer and what A-Rod did after it? I suggest you find the replay. Both of these follow-up comments from Doug and YF are divorced from the reality of how A-Rod reacted to the dinger, and the photo captures his reponse perfectly.
The biggest strain in these comments is YF’s attempt at channeling Errol Morris, and in turn doing a disservice to Morris’ critical genius.
Seriously, go watch the replay.

I also find the reflexively defensive reaction to this post pretty shallow. The post is about the photograph (and yes, A-Rod), who understandably probably had a lot on his mind last night, and who probably felt a great deal of relief, confidence, elation, etc., when that ball left his bat. Again – watch the replay – he hits it, he pauses, he walks out of the box, he flicks the bat straight up in the air aggressively. .This is about a photo that captures a person, it captured a moment, and it captured it really well.

SF: i think i should be allowed to argue however i so choose! and i will stand by my assertion that you suggest certain things are fact in your reading:
“(that bat is UP there)”
but it might not be high up there at all
“perhaps – no, definitely – arrogance”
your opinion
“looking clearly towards something off the field”
maybe not

SF writes a shallow post, and then complains when the response is also shallow?
Come on, man.

Did you see the replay, the isolation on A-Rod? Spend a minute on ESPN News.
The bat was flicked agressively, like A-Rod was beginning a juggling act – it did at least a 720, if I saw the video properly. And he was looking towards the dugout.
The “arrogance” observation is wholly mine.
Go watch the replay.
This post was about the photograph and the moment, and how well it captured it in the context of the last few months. I stand by my admiration for this photo.

Andrew, I did not mean for this to be read as a “shallow” post, and to quote YF in his first comment I think that most of you guys are reading into this what you want to see in me and not the content of the actual post. Beyond my injection of “arrogance”, which is certainly my take on things, this is about how well a photograph caught what was likely an extremely cathartic moment for Rodriguez.

look. i’m not contesting that alex is a prick or that he’s not arrogant or that the photo capture’s what must have been a cathartic moment for him. so basically the premise i’m not at issue with. i’m just pointing out you can read the picture in any number of ways. that’s it. so everybody calm the eff down.
yf out.

Agreed on that it’s a cathartic moment for A-Rod, and the picture captures that. But your own interjections made the post rather shallow. You can’t be surprised when responses to your opinions hold the same level of intellectual depth.

Well, I didn’t really figure that Alex’s arrogance was really in question, I suppose I could have left that word out. I am not that confident the reactions to the post would be much different, though, but please do contest that assertion. The post would actually be worse if I had also cross-posted a video, I would have opened myself up to trying to pick on Rodriguez — the point was that this frame captures a whole sequence of events with great eloquence and simplicity.
This post is about the photograph – YF and I both share a great love for the medium, he will corroborate.

It seems to be lost that arod was 1 for 4 with 2 strike outs. He was geeked for that first at bat and ready for the fastball, but it will be interesting to see how rusty / healthy he is from now on.

I am trying to wrap my head around the concept that a couple of words tied to an amazing picture causes so much consternation. If you agree with SF’s take, build on it. If you disagree, build on your take. It’s a f*cking great picture with an amazing story tied to it already. Create something fun.
I wonder if I chew my gum as cool as jeet.. ouch.. just bit my tongue..
and move one.

A haiku:
A-Rod lost in thought.
A moment of reflection.
Profound beyond words.

Ah, I had a Big Thing written up, but realized I was taking internet commenting a little too seriously. Besides, I’m mostly a lurker here.
It’s a great shot. Nice attempt creating a sense of place for the photograph, SF; and YF, a reasonable critique and a good check/balance. That had to be an incredibly cathartic moment- plus, does it count as clutch given that it was all the yankees needed to win the game? (A: no, he struck out in meaningless at-bats afterwards. not clutch). I’ve no doubt that A-Rod flipped the bat with a little extra verve and thought something along the lines of (“take that you motherf*&kers”) referring to the opposing team, home and away fans, sportswriters, and everyone else. Shit, I sure as hell would be thinking something like that. What a way to come back to the game. Have to go find a replay now.

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