Opening Day in baseball is always filled with a regal pomp and pageantry, but Opening Day 2020 was filled with a lot less. While having sports is a great escape from what is happening in the real world, this year there was no escaping what was happening all around. From the Covid-19 and the calls for Social Justice, baseball took a backseat and put these causes into their forefront all the while providing a distraction, albeit a brief one, from the chaos and turmoil gripping the country.
I had to wait a little longer than most to photograph Opening Day due to the fact that the Marlins organization had a severe outbreak of the virus thus delaying Opening Day and shuffling schedules around of multiple teams to keep everyone on track with MLB’s schedule. None the less, the wait was worth it, but honestly, I didn’t know what to expect with all the new Covid rules and safety regulations. So much had changed since I last photographed baseball during Spring Training, that I felt out of place.
With all the new restrictions and protocols in place it was overwhelming. Can I shoot from here or there? How far away from the players do I need to be? Can I moved around or am I supposed to shoot from one location?
The big emphasis for the season, besides the fact we’re in the middle of a pandemic, was the call for and acknowledgement of social justice, specifically Black Lives Matter. The Marlins hung a giant Black Lives Matter sign in centerfield and players and coaches wore t-shirts during pregame and warmups supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. I will give credit to MLB for the fact that their call for social justice wasn’t just some novelty ploy, but a point of fact for the entire season and then some. There are people and other leagues that recognized the Black Lives Matter movement, but quickly pivot back to “normal” and that their attempt to appear socially conscience was a mere marketing tactic and nothing more.
Things felt a bit “normal” after Pablo Lopez threw the first pitch. I will say with the majority of the Marlins roster affected with Covid, it was hard learning the names and the faces of all the new players on the team. After a couple of innings I pretty much had it down pat.
The best part was that there was baseball for me to photograph again. For those few hours it was life as it was before the pandemic struck. Nobody arguing over wearing a mask, wear a damn mask, nobody saying it’s a right or left thing. It was just baseball in it’s purest form.
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