BRADENTON, FL: Infielder Neil Walker #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Every spring, each team gathers at some point for a scheduled player photo day. Here, for no particular reason, we examine the Pittsburgh Pirates' photo day.
Photo day has always been kind of a mystery to me. I get why it exists, but I don't get why the results are so frequently strange. Players are often put in terrible poses and photographers are often trying to be high-school artistic, and I'm not sure if it's genuine or if the whole exercise is deliberately tongue-in-cheek. Never having participated in a team photo day myself, I'm unsure of the vibe.
What I am sure of is that the pictures that come out of photo day tend to be all kinds of fun to scroll through. Whether it's all meant to be serious or meant to be funny doesn't matter - the results are the results, and each spring I and countless others lose hours clicking from picture to picture to picture. I mean, a year ago, after navigating to the album from Astros photo day, I found this:
No explanation. Just a picture of Carlos Lee trying to lick Wandy Rodriguez's face. Why not? That's photo day.
Here, what I thought I'd do is walk you through the pictures from the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates photo day. Photo day albums are beginning to roll in by the handful - the last team photo day is scheduled for March 3 - and there's no particular reason why I selected the Pirates. I just figured, hey, why not, let's go with the Pirates. I think theirs was the album I saw first. If you're willing to join me, then, please join me.
Note that all pictures are coming from Zimbio. Here is a link to the album. They're actually all Getty pictures, which we have in our photo tool, but Zimbio makes it easiest to scroll.
The album begins with a picture of manager Clint Hurdle, who doesn't look as purple as he has in the past, but who definitely looks like has the ability to become purple at a moment's notice. I don't know how this hasn't gotten more attention. On more than one occasion, an emotional Clint Hurdle has turned purple. I've seen it on television, and I've seen it on my computer. I thought something was wrong with my screen at first, but my screens are fine. Clint Hurdle's just a guy who's purple sometimes. Whatever, I guess that's old hat.
I notice that in the caption below the picture, it says the picture was shot at Pirate City. I don't know what Pirate City is - my favorite team conducts its practice in Arizona - but it sounds like a place where it would be really annoying to have conversations from the second time on. "What do you mean this isn't a schtick?"
The next picture after Hurdle is of a very standoffish Casey McGehee:
That is not a warm-looking man. That is a man who looks like he'd rather be pretty much anywhere else, like Sears. If this were just one standoffish guy in isolation, that would be fine, but then you advance through another cold McGehee picture and find this:
That is an irritated-looking Clint Barmes. I don't know what's eating him. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent! It was his own choice! And then Barmes looks pissed off again, and then there's another shot of Hurdle, and then:
Oh look everybody, Garrett Jones is a dick too. The viewer and the photographer aren't good enough for this guy. This guy was pursued by the Yankees. The New York Yankees. He's kind of a big deal. And then Jones is glum again, and then:
Excited to be out of New York? Not hardly. A.J. Burnett wishes he could've gotten another chance. Now even if he does well, he doesn't think anyone's going to notice.
I'm not going to take you through this album picture by picture. There are an awful lot of pictures - more pictures than I want to talk about, and more pictures than you want me to talk about. Allow me to skip ahead. You've seen all those bitter-looking Pirates players above. The first happy-looking Pirates player is Rudy Owens, in picture No. 22.
And let me repeat that that's Rudy Owens. I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable about baseball. I know a lot about the game, and I know at least something about entirely too many players. I have never heard of Rudy Owens before in my life. Either Rudy Owens is a more well-known Pirates player who recently changed his first name and his last name, or Rudy Owens is just excited because somebody somewhere is taking his picture on purpose.
I don't want this thing to go on for too long. Here's the very definition of "goober":
Even if you don't know what "goober" means, it's immediately evident that this guy is one. That's Jeff Clement, but the less said about his career path, the better.
Jeff Karstens is dead and has his body held in place by strings:
Brad Lincoln is trying to decapitate the photographer with his mind:
Tony Watson is f***ed up:
Gorkys Hernandez doesn't know what the photographer is doing. Gorkys Hernandez is completely lost on photo day because Gorkys Hernandez has never so much as heard of a camera, let alone seen one for himself:
I don't even...
Still dead, fewer strings:
I'm going to conclude with what's hands-down my favorite picture from the entire set:
Here's Andrew McCutchen, easily the best and most recognizable Pirate, holding up a sign with his name on it. He is the only player or coach holding a sign in the entire album. Additionally, in stark contrast to so many of the other photos, McCutchen looks overjoyed, going so far as to give a thumbs-up. Needless to say, that is also the album's only thumbs-up.
McCutchen: I'm Andrew McCutchen!
McCutchen: I play for the Pirates!
Hurdle: Hey Andrew, can you come here one minute
Hurdle: Walker threw up in the corner, we need you to clean
Photo day. Spring training can be kind of lame, but team photo days are fantastic.