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Photo Gallery: A Weekend of Nebraska Baseball

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It was a very good weekend until it wasn’t.

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It was a great then a disappointing Sunday.
Jon Johnston

I spent nearly the entire weekend at U.S. bank stadium watching Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois baseball. I was worried about being out of practice with the camera but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was mostly happy with the shots I got given the circumstances. Photographers were limited to two sections of a football stadium. I was the only non team photographer there so most of the time I had an entire section to myself.

Good lord US Bank Stadium is an unbelievably huge place when it’s empty.

Being up in the stands took getting used to because it was a different angle and not once during the weekend did I get to be next to the Nebraska dugout, hence the photos you see of the home run celebrations from the opposite side of the field. The ability to move up and down the sections where fans would normally sit gave an interesting perspective to some photos.

I suspect most people don’t care about that. Ha!

I took a photo during the Ohio State game on Saturday of a Buckeye player fielding a routine fly ball. It’s photo #32. You can see that he looks terrified under the ball. It’s more like he’s about to be stepped on by Godzilla than catch a routine fly ball. I thought his expression and body language were bizarre.

Later I noticed other fielders having problems fielding routine fly balls. I remained puzzled.

My section attracted a lot of foul balls. Foul balls can be dangerous for photographers because you’re looking down the lens when the ball is hit. If they’re hit hard you have zero time to find them. If they’re hit in the air you can generally watch other people to see where the ball is going.

I realized when foul balls got hit in the air, once they got into the ceiling I couldn’t locate them, even if I wasn’t looking down the lens when the ball was hit. It was lost in the sun’s glare off the ceiling and I realized the outfielders were having the same issue.

It was so bad Iowa likely lost to Ohio State largely because their left fielder couldn’t find the ball in the air on what should have been routine fly ball outs. Nebraska gave up at least one run to Iowa on Sunday because they couldn’t find a fly ball in when it was up in the ceiling.

#8 is Brice Matthews struggling to locate a fly ball. #36 is more of the same and #37 is a miss. I was sitting about 15 feet behind the Iowa dugout and overheard one of their coaches saying something about a draft when the ball was hit high into the ceiling. I don’t know if that was true or if they were speculating, but the ball moved around a lot and the fielders had a hell of a time locating it all weekend.

Note Minnesota scheduled their games in the evening when they would be sure there was no glare from the sun on the roof. The roof wasn’t so bad when it was overcast but when when the sun was out it was a nightmare. I don’t blame them for this. It’s their stadium. Home field advantage. One of the Gopher dudes and I had a good laugh about it.

It didn’t help them as much as they would have liked. The Gophers went 1-3 against Illinois. They don’t generate much offense.

Baseball?

Minnesota and Iowa have problems generating offense. Iowa won the Sunday game against Nebraska 3-1. It wasn’t by mashing the ball all over. It was because Nebraska couldn’t generate anything.

I am not a baseball strategist. That’s a disclaimer stating I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Will Bolt - my impression of watching his team - he’s a ways ahead of Darin Erstad as a coach. He seems willing to put the ball in play a LOT more than Erstad, for example, bunting a guy to second and giving up the out. His offense looks prepared to generate way more runs. He’s recruited some young players that are already squeezing out veterans, which is why we didn’t see Mojo Hagge much this weekend.

This was my impression Friday/Saturday. I was left with a lot of question marks on Sunday. Nebraska couldn’t generate a butt’s amount of offense against Iowa on Sunday. I didn’t understand the strategy. Guys would step up, swing at the first pitch and fly out. There were a few times the Iowa pitcher was struggling to locate the strike zone, but Husker batters swung away anyway.

Luke Roskam looked terrible in some of his at bats, but Sunday he worked a walk and got on base. The other guys... swinging and dinging. Like I said, I don’t get it.

Other impressions... first, understand I am looking at these games through a long lens. I can see a guy’s expression on his face from halfway across the field. You see sports so much differently from behind a lens.

Chance Hroch - I love this guy. I love the way he carries himself. I thought of him as a perfect gentleman, mustache included. His pitching process is machine-like. Husker fans will enjoy watching him, should they ever get the chance.

Cade Povich - I am glad he’s on our side.

Max Anderson - plays like he’s been there already but looks like he’s about 15.

Jack Steil - carries himself very well, looks like a grown-ass man who’s been around for at least a decade.

Luke Roskam - body language looked terrible in some at bats. Sunday, forced a walk when no one else was getting on base. Saved a run by blocking the plate against Iowa like a GOD - #45 and #47, then stormed the field to force a run down between 2nd and 3rd -#39. When he moved onto the infield, I swear he made himself huge, like one of those lizards that spreads out it’s head to make itself look much larger than it really is. (I know, bizarre comparison, right?) Nevertheless, it was beautiful.

Cade Povich - masterful.

Will Bolt - never saw him take off his gaiter, mask, or whatever he was wearing, ever. I wanted photos of him we can use, and... now I have pandemic photos of him. I hope to get to Lincoln this year, I haven’t been to Haymarket Park in so long.

Overall, Nebraska has a good baseball team. This year it will be about whether they can keep up with and beat Michigan and Indiana and get to a NCAA tourney bid.

The future looks good with Will Bolt at the helm.

I have a book out!

On August 21st, 2015, I unexpectedly dropped dead of a widowmaker heart attack. I was shocked five times on the way to the hospital with no response. I was shocked two more times in the ER. I was dead for over 20 minutes. A stent was placed, and I was induced into a coma. In January 2016 I received a second stent and in June I was diagnosed with an anoxic brain injury.

I wrote a book about my death and recovery. The title, “Been Dead, Never Been To Europe” reflects the ironic nature of life, what happens versus what we want to happen. It’s available at Amazon.

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