Mariners at Blue Jays (5/23/15)

Over Memorial Day weekend, my folks came out to PA and we took a little roadtrip to Niagara Falls and Toronto for a couple Mariners games. Sadly, Colleen discovered only a few days before the trip that her passport had expired. Therefore, Mommy had to stay home when we went on the trip.

Here is a video recap of the first half of the trip including the drive up to Niagara Falls on Friday and the Mariners excellent win over the Blue Jays on Saturday:

By the way, the guy who is posing with my folks and the boys on the field after Kids Run the Bases was our usher in Section 113B.  His name was Kyle.  He was awesome.  We met him right at the end of BP and chatted with him all day.  After the boys ran the bases, I was taking a picture of my folks and the boys on the field when a voice said, “You need to be in that picture!”  I turned around and it was Kyle.  He took some picts of us all and then I hopped out of the picture and had him hop in.  He was our usher the following day as well.  Great guy.

Also, this was our first time ever seeing the Rogers Centre with the roof open.  WOW — it is 3000% better with the roof open.  And the weather was great all weekend for the game.

2015 Fan Stats:

6 Games
9 Teams (Mariners, Blue Jays, Angels, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Mets)
5 Stadiums (Chase Field, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards, Rogers Centre)
49 Baseballs (Mariners 2, Blue Jays 5, Orioles 5, Angels 3, Diamondbacks 4, Giants 4, Phillies 6, Umpires 5, Nationals 8, Mets 4, Camera Guy 1, Unknown 1)
10 Player Pictures* (James Paxton*, Fernando Rodney*, Charlie Furbush*, Mark Lowe, Jason Phillips, Carson Smith, Tom Wilhelmsen (1, 1*), Danny Farquhar, Matt Kemp*)
12 Autographs (Fernando Rodney, Tom Wilhelmsen (2), Charlie Furbush (2), James Paxton, Dan Wilson (2), Brian Hunter (2), Matt Kemp*, Justin Upton*, )
2 Kids Run The Bases* (Peoria Sports Complex*, Rogers Centre)
  * = Including Spring Training

Marlins at Mets (5/30/15)

We went to the Marlins vs. Mets at Citi Field on Saturday, 5/30/15.  I put together a little video blog about it…which is an idea I’ve been toying with.  Here it is:

Not captured in the video:

– Giancarlo Stanton hit two homeruns!

– Marlins bullpen catcher, Jeff Urgelles, tossed a ball to Kellan.  When he approached us (after Tim yelled, “Hey, Jeff!” and pointed at two left behind BP homers in the front of the visitors bullpen), Urgelles said something along the lines of, “Hey, it’s you guys.  You guys are everywhere.”  I thought that was pretty interesting.  We have seen the Marlins a lot over the last several years, including at Philadelphia, Washington DC, Queens, Cincinnati, Miami and Pittsburgh, but this was our first time seeing them in 2015.

– The Marlins won 9-5.

Tim’s Mariners Debut (4/3/15)

So we went to Spring Training back in March and had an amazing time!  The highlight of our week in AZ was the Mariners last home game of the Spring.  It was a Friday evening contest against the Colorado Rockies.  And it was the coolest night ever at the ballpark because Tim served as one of the Mariners’ batboys.

Here is pretty comprehensive (long) video with the highlights of Tim’s Mariners debut:

Hopefully Tim can reprise his batboy role again some day in the future accompanied by his brother.

Also, in case it wasn’t clear:  The Mariners won!

I was the Mariners batboy for their Spring Training game on 4/4/1991 when the M’s beat the Cubs on the strength of Ken Griffey Jr.’s hitting and Randy Johnson’s pitching.  Therefore, the Mariners are officially 2-0 (undefeated) with one of the Cook Boys in the dugout.

“Intensely Intense” Mariners Commercial

Here’s a cool story that involves this blog.

In February, the Director of Production from the Mariners’ advertising agency, Copacino+Fujikado, sent me a “CONFIDENTIAL” email.  She said they were working on the Mariners 2015 commercials and were seeking my consent to use in one of the spots a picture of Tim and Felix Hernandez that they found right here on this blog — in this entry, to be exact.  Of course, I agreed.

On March 18th, the four 2015 Mariners commercials were released online and Tim’s picture made the final cut.  The picture, which Mike Zunino apparently has saved on his smart phone, was modified to make Felix look more “intense”!  Here it is:

As commercials go, the Mariners commercials are a big deal.  I am beyond thrilled that Tim is now forever recorded in the annals of Mariners history.  And I had a big huge smile across my face when I saw the *live* TV debut of the commercial the following day when the Mariners’ spring training game against the Indians was broadcast on MLB Network.

Thanks, Mariners and C+F!!

Memorial Day: Phillies Rock Rockies (5/26/2014)

On May 26, 2014 – Memorial Day, Tim, Kellan and I headed down to Philadelphia for our second Phillies game of the season. The visiting team this time was the Colorado Rockies.

As usual, we headed down plenty early and were first in line at Citizens Bank Park…

…and, unlike usual, Kellan past time playing with a sticker book while Tim played with a happy meal pokemon toy.

Tim pulled out his camera to document the grand occasion:

It was dollar hot dog night!

Since it was Monday, the LF seats opened before the rest of the stadium, which made it feel like a pre-2014 Saturday game. So, we started out by heading to the LF foul corner. Things out there were pretty slow. The highlight of the first portion of BP was Kellan showing us that he can sit in two seats at once:

Eventually, a Rockies bullpen catcher-type guy came out to the RF line and set a bunch of baseballs on the foul line. When the Rockies’ pitchers came out to throw, Rex Brothers was one of the closest guys to us and I noticed that he picked out a commemorative baseball from the pile of baseballs:

After zooming in with my camera, I knew it was the 20th anniversary baseball that the Rockies used in 2013. We never got one in 2013 and we made it out goal to get Rex to throw us that baseball.

But just as the Rockies’ pitchers were starting to wrap up, Phillies’ usher Bernie walked over and gave a baseball to Kellan.

Thanks, Bernie!

And then very quickly after our visit from Bernie, Brothers wrapped up his throwing and started walking away from the LF corner. I hollered, “Rex!” And he turned around and fired warn but beautiful Rockies 20th Anniversary baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Rex!

When the rest of the stadium opened up, Matt Belisle was hanging out in RCF…

…and Drew Stubbs was in straight away center.

We needed to fill up our water bottle to tide us over for the rest of BP. Just as RF was about to open, Kellan and I started filling our bottle at the water fountain in the middle of Ashburn Alley. I told Tim to run ahead to the pizza wedge, which I could see from the water fountain.

As Kellan, our full water bottle and I approached the pizza wedge, someone hit a homerun into the CF end of the bullpens. It hit off of the stairs and bounced back onto the field where Stubbs fielded it and tossed it to Tim in the pizza wedge.

Thanks Drew!

Oh, by the way, an interesting side note: The Rockies hit five homeruns into the bullpens during BP. This ball from Drew Stubbs was the first Rockies homerun into the bullpen. Pay attention below to see what happened to the other four.

After a good chuck of BP passed us by, 3-4 baseballs came to rest on the RCF warning track. Matt Belisle came back and grabbed one of them and tossed it to Kellan…

…and then he grabbed another and tossed it to Tim.

Double thanks, Matt!

Jordan Lyles was hanging out shagging balls in LCF for most of BP. At some point, a ball got hit against the tall LCF wall, which always makes the ball deflect in the direction of the pizza wedge. When Lyles came over to field it…

…we called out to him and he made a fairly long toss to Tim. Unfortunately, the ball sailed high over Tim so I had to catch it for him. Sorry, buddy.

Thanks, Jordan!

So the second Rockies BP bullpen homerun landed toward the back of the Phillies’ bullpen grass, near the bench, and pretty much right behind us. The third Rockies BP bullpen homerun hit the back all of the Phillies’ bullpen and ricocheted back and came to rest just below the seats next to the front wall of the bullpen. Eventually, Erik Jabs from Pittsburgh came over and tried to glove trick that baseball:

See in the background how there are three ushers at the top of the stairs and two of them are watching Erik? Well, they let him try to get that ball for a couple minutes. But the grass was long and Erik couldn’t get it to stick in his glove. Eventually, the front usher (the one lowest on the stairs) hollered over and told Erik that he couldn’t use his glove trick.

So, the ball just stayed there nestled in the grass.

Typically, balls that go into the Phillies bullpen (the lower bullpen) will sit there until BP ends and Jesus Tiamo and (this year) Bob Stumpo come out for pre-game pitcher warm ups. However, on this day, something odd happened when Juan Nicasco wondered out to the bullpens. He had an empty bottle of water. He wandered over to the Phillies’ bullpen bench and filled his bottle from the powerade jug.

When he turned around, we pointed out that second Rockies bullpen homerun that was sitting on the ground not five feet from him. Nicasio grabbed it and accurately underhanded it to Tim with his non-throwing hand:

Thanks, Juan!

Meanwhile, someone blasted a homerun deep over our heads. It landed at the back of the Phillies’ bullpen on the cement, bounced hard off of the Phillies’ bullpen bathroom door, into the bullpen (who knows what it did in there), and then it came rolling out and came to rest against some random bullpen groundskeeper equipment…

…where it sat for the rest of BP.

Shortly thereafter, someone blasted the fifth and final Rockies’ homerun into the Phillies bullpen. Ths one also made it to the cement at the back of the bullpen. It then bounced hard against the back wall of the bullpen, took a hard right turn and bounced against the side wall of the bullpen (the wall separating the bench from the groundskeeper/refrigerator/bathroom section of the bullpen), and then bounced hard on a downward/diagonal trajectory (still flying pretty quickly) and went into Jesus Tiamo’s equipment bag! The bag (a big red duffle) can be seen sitting on the bench just behind Nicasio in the photo above).

So there you go, all five Rockies’ homers had been hit into the bullpen. Two had been tossed to Tim and the other three were still sitting in the bullpen, with one resting comfortably in Jesus’s equipment bag. And then BP ended.

All of this action had Kellan’s bunny – who joined us for his first game – quite excited:

As I mentioned above, Jesus Tiamo and Bob Stumpo were the first guys to head out to the bullpen. We don’t really know Stumpo, this is only the second game we’d seen him at. Our plan was to point out the third BP homerun (the one Erik Jabs tried to glove trick) to Jesus and see if he’d toss it up. But Jesus was slow getting into the bullpen. Stumpo trudged ahead. The pizza wedge was essentially empty except for the three of us at the tip of the wedge. Upon entering the bullpen, Stumpo walked straight to that third Rockies homerun, grabbed it and walked back to us so he could toss it to me for Kellan.

Thanks, Bob!

Next, Tiamo entered the bullpen and I pointed out the fourth Rockies’ homerun – the bathroom ball! Jesus grabbed it and tossed it to Kellan who caught it himself!

But wait, look, Tim is catching a ball in that picture too! After Kellan caught the ball, Tim told Jesus that another homerun was hit into his bag. Jesus laughed, thinking that Tim was joking with him and just trying to get another ball tossed his way. After Jesus laughed it off, I chimed in, “No, he’s not kidding. Someone hit a homerun that ricocheted around and landed inside your bag!”

Jesus walked over and found the ball right at the opening of his bag. He held it up with a “WOW!” expression on his face, and then he tossed it to Tim.

Double thanks, Jesus!

So, there you go, the Rockies hit five homeruns into the bullpens and all five were tossed to us. Pretty cool, eh?

Next, we headed to the Games of Baseball so the boys could do some playing:

As the game was getting ready to start, we decided to get some food and head up to our seats. On the walk over, we stopped to get pictures of the boys tagging out Richie Ashburn:

We headed up to our seats in the last row of Section 430…

…where we watched some baseball…

…ate some dollar hot dogs (Tim tried, but failed, to eat two)…

…and did some birding:

Kyle Kendrick was on the hill for the Phillies…

…and Tm was positive (but incorrect) that his hot dog wrapper, which blew away in a big gust of wind, was playing CF with Ben Revere:

Kellan enjoyed the little “standing room” area next to our seats:

It’s pretty odd to see Justin Morneau not wearing a Twins uniform:

After eating, we decided to walk across the upper deck and over to the kids’ play area. Along the way, I snapped some pictures. Like this panorama:

And this shot of Jimmy Rollins:

And this panorama…

…, which was taken from the same spot but is not as cute as this picture of Kellan watching the game from the stairs:

We stopped by to see All-Star Mickey:

And we snapped this panorama from the concourse behind section 312…

…and this shot of Ryan Howard…

…before scurrying down the switch back ramp to the kids’ play area.

When we got to the play area, I had an idea I’d never had before. I asked Tim to take his camera into the kids’ play area. Here is a unique photo he clicked in there:

And, here is a fairly odd and very unique video tour he took – click here ().

After the kids’ play area, we decided to get some ice cream and head back up to the upper deck. This time, we walked the lower concourse. Along the way, we ran into the Hatfield Pig, who was there to encourage the fans to eat some hot dogs. Kellan gave him a monster high five that almost made the pig crash to the ground:

Actually, as you may have guessed, that was a fake reaction by the pig. But Kellan LOVED it. Ever since, he has been saying “see if this makes you fall down” and then high fiving me as hard as he can. If I don’t fall down, he just mega-high fives me until I do.

We stopped behind section 12…

…to watch Chase Utley’s at bat leading off the bottom of the sixth inning:

Utley singled to RF on that pitch. If you look closely on the far right of that picture above, you’ll see the ball on its way to RF.

I guess I should mention that the score was 2-0 when Utley came to bat in the sixth. Ryan Howard followed Utley with a 2-run homerun to make it 4-0 Phils.

At the top of the switch-back ramp in the LF foul corner, I took this photo of the parking lot (can you see our car?) and the Philadelphia skyline:

And then we found some ice cream (I made the boys share a small ice cream helmet because Kellan was already too hyper…he didn’t need a full helmet at that point!), and we pulled up some seats here…

…in section 329…

…, where Kellan proceeded to use that straw in his hand to blow bubbles in the ice cream helmet, which of course, caused little drops of chocolate ice cream to fly everywhere. Oh, my boys…

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Chase Utley came to the plate again:

And on that swing (the ball is long gone from the frame so you’ll have to take my word for it), Utley smacked an RBI double to RF off of our pre-game buddy, Rex Brothers. That hit sent Jimmy Rollins to 3B and made the score 5-0 Phils.

Ryan Howard followed with a single to LF. Jimmy Rollins scored easily on the hit, he jogged home slowly. Meanwhile, Chase Utley turned on his afterburners and flew like a low-flying missile around 3B and slid across the plate with a pop-up slide just as Rollins looked back over his shoulder to check on what was happening behind him. It was one impressive run by Utley. And it made the score 7-0 Phillies.

A couple batters later, John Mayberry launched a homerun to LF…

…, which made the score 9-0. That would hold up to be the final score of the game.

In the ninth inning, we headed downstairs and found some seats behind the 3B dugout. Bunny loved the seats:

Justin DeFratus retired the Rockies 1-2-3…

…in the ninth to end the game. An impressive Phillies win.

After the game, home plate umpire Jim Wolf chatted with someone he knew at the top of the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel. When he finished chatting with the guy, he turned and tossed a ball to us and then immediately ducked down into the tunnel and out of sight.

Thanks, Jim!

All around, it was a great day. We had a nice usher take our picture:

On our walk out of the ballpark, we were stopped by a Phillies usher who was excited to see our Mariners jerseys.  She’s actually seen us there before and was excited then too.  She asked me whose name was on the back of my jersey.  Jason Phillips!  She didn’t have much of a reaction.  Then she asked Tim who was wearing an Ichiro jersey.  She exploded with joy.  She LOVES Ichiro.  She told us her story of working at the 1996 Olympics and seeing him up close…in fact, he hit a foul ball *off of her*.  She couldn’t catch it because she was holding bottles of water she was supposed to give the umpires between innings.  The funniest thing about the whole encounter — to me, at least — is that it was the “sleeping usher” from our non-game with the Tishlers on September 8, 2012.

And then we hit the road homeward.

2014 Fan Stats
8 Games
11 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Orioles, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rockies)
5 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards, PNC Park)
63 Baseballs (9 Mets, 2* Expos, 11 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 7 Umpires, 6 Orioles, 2 Royals, 4 Cardinals, 1 Pirates, 4 Diamondbacks, 6 Rockies)* Olympic Stadium Staff
7 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star, Orioles 60th Anniversary, Rockies 20th Anniversary)
8 Ice Cream Helmets (2 Phillies, 2 Orioles, 2 Pirates, 2 Mets)


No Sleep Till Brooklyn & Queens (5/24/2014)

May 24, 2014 was a fun day that I had been looking forward to for a while for both baseball and non-baseball reasons. On the baseball front, we were going to see the Mets host the Diamondbacks. I bought the tickets in April when our buddy and former Mariner Ryan Rowland-Smith was in the Diamondbacks pen. But before this series arrived, Ryan was designate for assignment and was pitching in AAA in Buffalo, NY when this weekend rolled around.

That was a bummer. And it made me not really want to go to this game…I would have preferred another game at a different park.

But…the non-baseball reason still had me excited to go to NYC.

The game was scheduled for a 4:10 start. But we packed up the car…

…and were on the road…

…to NYC by 7:30 a.m.

Did you catch those two clues? You see, my boys, baseball and the Mariners…

…aren’t my only interests. I’ve always been very much “into” music. And from the fifth grade and the release of the classic album “Licensed to Ill,” I have been a big fan of the Beastie Boys.

Truth be told, I was a much bigger Beasties fan when I was younger (I prefer harder music these days and am not really into rap anymore). But from fifth grade through college, I listened to the Beastie Boys a ton. In fact, during my sophomore year in college, I hosted an hour long radio show each Monday night called “Beastie Revolution” that featured all Beasties all the time.

Now, you see, Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer in 2012. In May 2013, a park in Brooklyn was renamed for him (“Adam Yauch Park”). Since then, I have wanted to visit Adam Yauch Park. And since this past offseason, I have had a very specific idea for our eventual visit to Adam Yauch Park: to remake the cover of the Beastie Boys’ classic album, “Check Your Head.”

So that was the major plan for the morning.

But I decided to make Beasties morning of it. So, on the way to Brooklyn, we had to stop by the corner of Rivington & Ludlow in downtown Manhattan (not Brooklyn) to visit the site of Paul’s Boutique:

The Paul’s Boutique building looks nothing like it used to on the cover of the Beasties’ sophomore album (pictured above to the right). However, if you open up the album cover and unfold the panorama, the intersection is still recognizable due to a few unique features – such as the building diagonal across the intersection and the “Talmud Torah” arched sign above the building two down from Paul’s Boutique.

I did my best to recreate the panorama of the intersection. Here you go:


By the way, I should mention, as we first approached the intersection, I pulled out my Paul’s Boutique CD and held up the booklet inside trying to see if I could match it to the corner. Right then, a random guy walked past us and stopped for a beat, pointed at Paul’s Boutique, and said, “It was right there on that corner,” and then he just kept walking. I thought that was pretty cool.

This was a quick stop. We had bigger plans for the morning.

We hopped back in our car, turned off “Check Your Head,” turned on “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, this might seem odd (or maybe not), but this was the first time I’d ever driven over the Brooklyn Bridge. Every other time I’ve been to Brooklyn, I’ve taken a subway there. Also, this might have been Tim’s (and definitely Kellan’s ) first trip to Brooklyn. Anyway, I found the Brooklyn Bridge to be pretty cool. Great view out toward the Statue of Liberty and it has a cool walkers section in the middle. I recommend it!

It was a pretty quick drive from “Paul’s Boutique” to Adam Yauch Park:

The park is a in great city neighborhood that reminded me a lot of parts of Center City Philadelphia, where I lived during law school.

The park was tiny, jammed into the space between the neighborhood and a freeway on ramp, and (most importantly) really nice. Here’s what it looks like:

The boys played there for a while, but before playing, we got down to business.

Here is the “Check Your Head” album cover:

My original plan was to simply remake it in the same format with each of us playing the park of a different Beastie Boy, but with the “Adam Yauch Park” sign in the background. But, after a lot of internal debate, I decided to cut myself from the picture, and remake the album cover with Tim, Kellan and Adam Yauch.

I brought props. It took some coaching (especially with Kellan) to get the poses right (or as right as Kellan could do for playing the part of a 20-something year old guy).

So here was the initial effort (what I could do “on the street” with no computer work):

I gotta tell you: I loved it. It came out so great I thought maybe I was just done there…leave it at that with the Adam Yauch Park sign hanging above an empty spot where Adam Yauch (or someone playing his role) should have been sitting. Of course, I kept a version of the photo that way so I will always have it. And I still love it just like I took it on the street.

But, when we got home that night (and into the next day), I couldn’t help tinkering and trying out my original plan. So, here is the same photo with “MCA” added in:

Again, I completely loved it! (And still do). I couldn’t get Adam to sit quite right on the curb and still mesh right with Tim – probably because he’s a grown man who was originally sitting next to two other grown men, not 8 and 3 year old boys – but, hey, I forgive myself. I’m not a professional photo editor or anything. The only problem is that his bass guitar case is resting on the curb instead of sitting flat on the street like in the original. But I’m okay with that.

Finally, several days later, I completed my original concept, which due to size constraints, couldn’t include the “Adam Yauch Park” sign:

Not too shabby, eh?

I gotta say, after visiting Adam Yauch Park, where my boys had a ton of fun climbing around on the play toys and taking that original black-and-white photo of just my boys and the park sign, my day was pretty much made. But, as an added bonus, we still had a baseball game to go to!

We didn’t have time to drive to the upper west side to park and then take the train like we usually do. Instead, we drove straight from Adam Yauch Park to Citi Field. As a bonus, we got to experience two views that we’d never seen before.

First, a cool view of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn:

Second, we drove for 2.4 miles under the 7 train…


…, which was pretty interesting. I’ve really never driven around neighborhoods in Queens. Lots of interesting things to see out there!

We reached the ballpark in plenty of time, which was good we had to go to the Mets fan assistance office to get our tickets printed.

While we were in line at the gates, Kellan practiced his pitching to Tim:

Once we got into the ballpark, we headed down the RF line and then quickly made our way toward section 142 in CF.

When we got down to the front row corner spot, there was already a baseball sitting in the huge gap between the seats and the shortened outfield wall. The Mets were hitting and a few Diamondbacks pitchers were milling about. Fairly soon after we arrived in CF, an groundskeeper came to grab the ball in the gap and he decided to toss it up to Kellan.

Just before the groundskeeper tossed the ball, Brad Ziegler (who was walking from LF to the bullpens) popped through the door in the OF fence and tossed us a ball. Tim was standing right next to me on the right (sort of behind me as I faced Ziegler). When I caught the ball from Ziegler, the groundskeeper refocused his gaze from Kellan to Tim, and Tim made the easy catch on that ball.

Thanks, Brad, and thanks, groundskeeper!

About 20-30 second after we got the balls from Ziegler and the groundskeeper, Josh Edgin…

…(who is the guy on the left) turned around, shouted to get our attention, and tossed us a third baseball, even though Tim and Kellan were both visibly holding balls at the time. Luckily, the second was basically empty other than us at the time.

Thanks, Josh!

At the very end of Mets BP (and, as it would turn out, BP in general), Bartolo Colon caught a pop fly. Tim called out to Bartolo, but Bartolo first ignore Tim, who did not include “please” in his request. Then, when Tim called out, “Bartolo, could you please toss me that ball?”, Colon turned around and fired a strike to Tim’s waiting glove:

Gracias, Bartolo! (Or, as Tim later called him, “Barlesto”).

Once the Mets cleared the field, the groundscrew ran out and started taking down the nets, but they left the batting cage in place. As a groundscrew guy wheeled a screen out to the gap in CF, I asked him if the Diamondbacks were not taking BP (which, obviously, seemed to be the case, but why were they leaving the batting cage in place?). He confirmed that BP was finished. So, with a few Diamondbacks starting to appear down the LF line, we decided to relocate to the second just past third base:

It turns out that the Diamondbacks decided to take a full “infield/outfield,” like back in the good old days. It was cool to watch.

Both Martin Prado and Eric Chavez were playing 3B at first. Eventually, a ball trickled by them and came to a rest on the grass behind 3B. A little while later, Chavez headed to the dugout while Prado stayed put at 3B.

I called out to Chavez after his first step toward the dugout, and I pointed toward the ball in the grass behind 3B and then at Tim. That’s all it took:

Thanks, Eric!

Soon, another back squibbed by Prado, not more than 5-10 feet behind him. It stayed on the infield dirt and Prado just ignored it.

After the outfielders took fly balls from home plate, they call congregated in CF and Dave McKay fungo’d them a bunch more pop flies and they worked on their throws in to a cutoff man. Gerardo Parra was one of the outfielders taking fly balls from McKay.

When Parra headed toward the dugout, he ran right behind 3B. Prado and that stray ball were still there. I called out to Parra – just like with Chavez – and pointed to Tim. Again, that was all it took. Parra retrieved the ball and tossed it to Tim:

This ball, however, was a little bit more interesting. See Cody Ross (the next player heading toward the dugout behind Parra). He’s watching the ball fly toward Tim’s waiting glove. Well, the ball sailed a little to the right and sunk a bit. Eventually, Tim caught the ball (literally, not exaggeration at all) 1-2 inches in front of Kellan’s face. Had Tim not reached out for the ball, it would have smashed Kellan right in the nose.

Cody Ross got all nervous and jumped a bit as the throw played out. He might have even yelled a bit. They he yelled at Parra “you almost hit that kid in the face!” But Parra was on his way out, he didn’t even realize what Ross was talking about. Luckily, Tim’s got a good glove!

Thanks, Gerardo & Tim! (And thanks to Cody Ross for the concern).

So, all this while, there was another kid, probably 10-12 years old, a few steps to Tim’s left. He was just standing there quietly. I could tell he wanted a ball. I’m not big on giving away baseballs, because I like the personal connection we get with the player who tosses them, plus we’re trying to build a wall of baseballs that needs a bunch more baseballs before we can build it. But I do like to help other kids get their own baseballs. Eventually, it seemed like Dave McKay was the only option left on the field. He was still hitting fungos and he had a big bag of baseballs. I told the kid that his name was “Dave” and that he should ask him for a ball by name when he walked into the dugout.

But the kid was too shy. Standing next to him, I could hardly hear him call to Dave. So I shouted, “Hey, Dave!!” and I pointed to the kid still standing five feet to Tim’s left. McKay gave us a nod sort of like he was saying, “No problem, but hold on just a sec.”

I told the kid and his dad that I thought McKay was going to toss him a ball so he should keep watching him. McKay walked down into the 3B dugout, set down the bag of balls, and then reached in and pulled three balls out. He tossed the first one high to us. As it sailed our way, I called out to Tim, “Let him catch it! Let him catch it!” But Tim reached up and made the easy grab. Oops…

I told Tim to hand the ball to the kid. McKay then fired the other two balls directly to me one-after-the-other. We all thanked McKay and then the kid and his dad thanked us. I wished the kid could have caught the ball on his own, but oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

Thanks, Dave!

That was it for pre-game. The Diamondbacks cleared the field and we (along with Zack Hample and Rick Gold) headed back out to the CF seats where all the “boys” posed for this picture:

And then Kellan ate a ton of “pirates” (that’s our nickname for a snack Tim and Kellan both enjoy) and he made a mess that amused Zack greatly:

When Kellan was all done eating, he took some picts, including this one of Zack:

We all hung out in CF while the groundscrew readied the field for the game. Check this out:

They are sweeping the grass to make the “NY” logo stand out better.

Just before game time, we grabbed some hot dogs and headed out to the picnic tables behind the bullpens (under Shea Bridge)…

…, which is one of our favorite spots at Citi Field.

After the Mets had taken the field but before first pitch, the Mets sound people blared some Beastie Boys (Sabotage) throughout Citi Field, which seemed like a fitting way to start the game on this day.

And here was the first pitch:

Like at our other game at Citi Field earlier this season, we spent a lot of time at this game in this picnic area. A lot of that time, we were playing catch (including Tim pitching to me):

Some of that time, we were posing for pictures, like this one:

And some of that time, Kellan was playing hand-baseball:

In the third inning, with the Diamondbacks already up 3-0, we decided to head out to CF to play some kids’ games. On our way, we got a panorama from the back of section 141…

…and a picture of the boys in the same spot:

Unfortunately, right after we left the picnic area below Shea Bridge, Curtis Granderson hit a ground rule double into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen. It would have rolled all the way to the back of the bullpen…right to where we had been hanging out moments earlier. Poor timing, I guess.

By the way, that groundrule double made the score 3-1 Diamondsbacks.

The boys had a lot of fun at the kids’ whiffle field:

Both fielding balls…

…and hitting them. Kellan hit several line drives off of the LF fence and Tim hit a couple balls over the wall in LF and CF.

After numerous rounds of hitting in the whiffle field, we got some ice cream and headed back to the bullpen picnic area:

David Wright hit a homerun in the fifth inning to bring the score to 3-2 Diamondbacks. That’s where the score remained into the ninth inning when we headed over toward the umpires’ tunnel.

Addison Reed came in and shut down the Mets in the bottom of the ninth, including former Phillies all-star Bobby Abreu…

…who lined out to short stop (I thought it was going to get in for a hit).

So, in the end, the Diamondbacks won 3-2.

After the game, home plate umpire Jim Reynolds gave baseballs to several kids, including both Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Blue!

And then we got a final picture (taken by Mr. Hample) before leaving the ballpark for the evening:

Check out how nice the Jackie Robinson Rotunda looked on our way out as the sun was low in the sky:

I’d never seen it look like that before. The low pre-setting sun suits the Rotunda well.

We ended up driving into Manhattan and walking around a whole bunch through Central Park. We played some eye spy and wanted to play some baseball, but the sun was down by this point and the fields were chained shut.

So, we headed back up to the upper west side where we parked (after the game) and grabbed some late dinner at Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus:

A fine way to cap off an excellent day of Beastie Boys and baseball. The boys conked out quick in the car…a sure sign that it was a good day.

2014 Fan Stats
7 Games
10 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Orioles, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals, Diamondbacks)
5 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards, PNC Park)
52 Baseballs (9 Mets, 2* Expos, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 6 Umpires, 6 Orioles, 2 Royals, 4 Cardinals, 1 Pirates, 4 Diamondbacks)* Olympic Stadium Staff
6 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star, Orioles 60th Anniversary)
7 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies, 2 Orioles, 2 Pirates, 2 Mets)


Another Saturday, Another Little League-to-Major League Doubleheader (5/10/2014)

On May, 10, 2014, the boys and I pulled off another Little League-to-Major League. We started in the morning with a 9:00 a.m. Liberty Swingmen game featuring Tim’s first career hit by pitch:

It was a beautiful sunny day in eastern PA. After the game, we hopped in the car…

…for a beautiful, sunny drive across Pennsylvania. But just before arriving in Pittsburgh, the weather went south. We arrived in plenty of time for BP and were greeted by a soggy PNC Park:

While it was raining, it wasn’t too bad. There was no BP, but I could tell that the game wouldn’t be rained out. With the help of Erik Jabs, we were able to get into the stadium early with the season ticket holders. For a long, long time we stood by the Cardinals dugout chatting and eating snacks…

…while several Cardinals lounged in the dugout listening to tunes (Jhonny Peralta and Carlos Martinez) or talking on cellphones (Trevor Rosenthal).

Here was our view of the ballpark:

For nearly an hour, we were the only people in the seats. It was pretty cool. During most of this time, we didn’t need an umbrella.

Eventually, the Cardinals pitchers came out to play catch. A few other fans eventually showed up, but it was very sparse out there. Here’s the scene:

Consistent with my past experiences in this section at PNC Park, most of the fans hanging out there were looking for autographs. Is the guy in the sweatshirt with the fungo bat in bottom left photo above? That’s Derek Lilliquist. He tossed Tim our first baseball of the day.

Thanks, Derek!

For a while, Tim hung out behind Trevor Rosenthal, who was playing catch with Carlos Martinez. Martinez uncorked several hard and wild ones that almost tagged Tim. In fact, in the upper right photo above, that is Rosenthal (#26) digging a low throw from Martinez. When Rosenthal and Martinez finished throwing, Trevor tossed their warm up ball to Tim.

Thanks, Trevor!

Michael Wacha did some work in the work in the pen early on, but then came out to the RF foul line to throw some more. That is Wacha standing to Lilliquist’s left in the bottom left photo above. When Wacha finished up, he tossed his warm up ball to Tim and then autographed it for him.

Thanks, Michael!

Eventually, Adam Wainwright started signing autographs. When a whole group of fans flocked to him, Tyler Lyons started walking to the dugout. Kellan and I shouted, “Hey, Tyler!” He turned back and tossed a strike right to us.

Thanks, Tyler!

Then, Tim asked if he could get Wainwright’s autograph too. I had to pull a ball – the Rosenthal ball – out of our backpack and by the time I did, Wainwright was walking away. We was out on the grass across the warning track. I called out his name and asked if he could sign one more for Tim. He said sure and put up his hand to indicate, “Toss it here!” It was pretty clear to me that he wanted to sign for Tim, but not get roped into another big group of fans. So he signed the ball and tossed it and our pen back.

Thanks, Adam!

By the way, here are two of those balls (and two cute faces to go with them):

During down time, Tim got creative with selfies:

After the Cardinals pitchers cleared the field, we cleared out of the field level…

…and headed to the kids’ play area:

Where the boys did some playing…

…and I did some birding:

But it was wet in the play area. So we decided to buy two feet of hot dogs for dinner:

Kellan and I shared a footlong…

…fox and the hound style. Meanwhile, this guy…

…finished off 12 inches of hot dog all by himself!

In the PNC Park picnic area behind the CF seats, there are a couple spots that make great make-shift bullpens:

Over the course of the evening, we played a whole lotta catch in this “bullpen.” I would toss the ball 5-10 feet to my left to Kellan. He would then toss the ball down to Tim who would toss it back to me. It was lots of fun.

Of course, the boys were respectful when it came time to sing the National Anthem:

And then it was party time…

…or, I mean, game time. We headed to the SRO area right behind the bullpens…

…to watch the first pitch:

As an added bonus, just before the first pitch, Pirates bullpen catcher, Herbie Andrade, toss us a final pre-game baseball, our first ever from the man who holds the record (by a huge margin) for most toss-ups.

Thanks, Herbie!

After the first pitch, we returned to our “bullpen” and played catch for a while more. Eventually, we decided it was time to get some ice cream. On our way to the ice cream place, we stopped to get the boys’ picture with the PNC Park pig:

Tim enjoyed some pirates buried treasure while Kellan enjoyed his mint chocolate chip:

While they worked on their ice cream helmets, I enjoyed our excellent seats in LF:

Here is another one featuring a blimp for good measure:

Between innings, the boys made a futile attempt for a left fielder warm-up ball tossup:

Eventually, we decided we should go exploring. After visiting Ralph Kiner’s hands behind the LF seats…

…we started our explorations by walking up with spiral ramp in LF. At the top, this was the view:

Then we visited the first drinking fountain Tim ever used in his life:

Here’s a random panorama from section 327 that I snapped as we circled the upper deck:

Once we made it to home plate, we headed down the other spiral ramp that takes you down to the main home plate entrance.   Then we headed out to the kids’ play area, which was experiencing some chaos due to too many kids being out there, including some teens trying to play with the little guys.

So we headed across the riverwalk…

…and went back to our “bullpen” for some more throwing:

That’s where we were in the seventh inning when some fireworks were shot off over the river in conjunction with the seventh inning stretch:

I love the LF seats at PNC Park – they seem so homer friendly – so we headed back there for a bit more. When w2 arrived, a friendly usher took our picture:

Then the boys clowned around…

…while I concentrated on not catching a homerun.

In the ninth inning, we headed toward the third base dugout and found some seats in the last row of the section above the umpire’s tunnel:

As the game neared its final out (by the way, the Pirates were winning 4-3), Tim tried to get in position for a post-game umpire ball, something we’d never before gotten at PNC Park.

We were excited for the opportunity because we were sitting on 599 baseballs at the moment.

It turns out that we were double lucky. After Mark Malancon got Allen Craig to strike out swinging to end the game (Raise the Jolly Roger), home plate umpire Dave Rackley set number 600 into Tim’s glove…and number 601 in Kellan’s glove!

Double thanks, Mr. Rackley!

We capped off a great day of baseball with some post-game fireworks from our “bullpen”:

After one final picture of three happy boys…

…we headed to our car and the boys conked out quick…

…while I drove us back across Pennsylvania.

Great day!

2014 Fan Stats
6 Games
9 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Orioles, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals)
5 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards, PNC Park)
43 Baseballs (6 Mets, 2* Expos, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 4 Umpires, 6 Orioles, 2 Royals, 4 Cardinals, 1 Pirates)* Olympic Stadium Staff
6 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star, Orioles 60th Anniversary)
5 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies, 2 Orioles, 2 Pirates)


Little League-to-Major League Doubleheader (4/26/2014)

Over the past several years, the boys and I have done several two-city MLB doubleheaders. But, on April 26, 2014, we tried something new: a two-city Little League-to-MLB doubleheader. We started out in a nearby town where Tim’s team, the Liberty Swingmen, took on a neighboring Little League squad full of huge kids twice the size of Tim’s team.

The other team started a Randy Johnson sized fire baller. The guy pitched 3 innings and only gave up one hit. Here is that hit:

A solid knock to RF that scored our first run of the day (By a Swingmen runner who had been hit by a pitch). Sadly, the Swingmen ended up getting pummeled and losing via the mercy rule. The silver-lining in the bad outcome of the game is that it resulted in us being able to get on the road in time to make it down to Baltimore.

We made great time getting down to Baltimore and made it in time for the gates.

In past years, we’ve usually gone to foul territory during season ticket holder BP. But this time, I decided to try grabbing the corner spot right by the O’s bullpen. We ended up staying there for all of BP.

Right when we arrived, Evan Meek (who was standing in front of us, shaded slightly to CF) turned around and saw our M’s gear. He came over to chat:

Turns out that Meek is from Bothell, WA, not far from where I grew up and went to a high school I’d played sports against back in the day. We had a nice Seattle-based chat with Evan. He congratulated Tim on his hit against the huge Little League pitcher he’d faced earlier in the day. Evan is a cool guy. And he tossed a baseball to Tim and another to Kellan.

Huge thanks, Evan, and good luck!

This super tall Oriole….

…., Ryan Webb, also tossed us a baseball.

Here was our view for all of BP:

It was a very pleasant and relaxed day at the ballpark:

During O’s BP, Darren O’Day and John Stinson…

…also tossed baseballs our way.

Thanks, guys!

The O’s blasted a bunch of homers into their bullpen, which was just to our left.

When the Royals came out for BP, Greg Holland had to use the restroom in the bullpens, and he tossed one of the bullpen balls to us on his way:

I was excited to see former-Mariner, Jason Vargas, at the game. But, unfortunately, this is as close as he ever got to us:

For a big chunk of BP, James Shields stood just to our left in LCF. When he arrived, I yelled, “James, pick off a homerun!” (which I’ve seen him do in very impressive fashion during past BPs). Well, he almost did it twice. The second one was a screaming line drive right to my chest. It would have been the easiest homerun catch of all time. But James came flying in and I had to reach over his glove. Our gloves reached the ball at the same point, and it squirted out, bounced (gently) off of my chest and fell right to my feet. I got it no problems.

Check out the huge warning track divot Shields left right below us:

Here’s a random picture I took of Tim with his bangs flowing out of his hat:

As this group of Royals pitchers…

…ran back-and-forth across the outfield in front of us, Kellan yelled out to them, “Are you tired guys?” It was pretty hilarious, although it might not sound that way in writing.

After BP, both boys wanted to sit in Cal Ripken, Jr.’s orang seat…

…and they pretended they were catching homeruns while doing so.

We decided to head to the play area and get some food on our way. As we approached home plate in the cross-aisle, we stopped to show up some of the boys’ baseballs:

Then we headed out into the concourse and ran into these guys:

(Those are our Baltimore friends Tim, Alex and Kelly).

Finally, we grabbed our food and found an empty picnic table by the speed pitch:

Kellan made crazy faces while he ate:

And we watched the beginning of the game (including, this, the first pitch)…

…on TV.

Once we finished eating, we played a bunch of hitting and throwing games…

…, but found that the bouncy house was mysteriously missing:

Someone (an O’s employee) told us that it was in the upper deck.

So, after we had done a sufficient amount of playing, we headed toward the flag court. The boys stopped to act silly on Eutaw Street on the way:

Then we hung out and watched the game for a while with our Tim, Alex, Kelly and Grant:

Sadly, we didn’t catch a single game homerun while we were out there!

Then we went in search of the bouncy house. We headed up to the RF foul corner:

It wasn’t in right field.

But we took the opportunity to watch the game and get some pictures up there:

Then we walked all the way around the concourse out to the LF (fair territory) upper deck concourse. It was kids’ day (or something like that) and there were approximately one million kids up there in the concourse.

The bouncy house was nowhere to be found. But we did wait through an incredibly long line to hit some baseballs on the air tee:

And then we had a nice usher take our picture way out in LF:

On our way down the stairs in LF, we took a panorama that I thought was pretty cool because it shows a suite/club level lounge to the far right:

We got ice cream and headed back out to RCF to want with the Baltimore guys:

Again, even though I assured Alex that I would catch a homerun, I failed to catch a single homerun.

Kellan’s ice cream made him chilly…

….so he through on his sweatshirt and some baseball pants I had in my backpack.

Our new buddy Evan Meek was on the mound, but by the time I realized it and tried to get a picture of him in action, he got pulled before he got a chance to throw another pitch:

This was our view from out there in RCF:

As the game neared its end, we headed toward home plate where we watched the game, tied 2-2, move into extra innings…

…and we got a baseball from home plate umpire, Quinn Wolcott, after Nick Markakis hit a walk-off single.

Thanks, Mr. Wolcott!

Over by the O’s dugout, Rudy Arias tossed us one more baseball for good measure. Meanwhile, Adam Jones faked out everyone and…

…pied the Bird instead of Markakis. Ah, good times!

Before heading to our car, a nice usher took a picture of me and my two most favorite guys:

A great day of baseball all-around.

2014 Fan Stats
5 Games
7 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Orioles, Royals)
4 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards)
36 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 2 Umpires, 6 Orioles, 2 Royals)* Olympic Stadium Staff
6 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star, Orioles 60th Anniversary)
3 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies, 2 Orioles)


David Wright Ruins Our No-Hit Bid (4/18/2014)

Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…

…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.

Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:

We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:

Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.

Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…

… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.

The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…

…and running around between the growing lines of fans:

Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:

And Kellan declared it to be banana time:

He destroyed that banana!

Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:

Thanks, Mets guy!

We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.


We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:

At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:

As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.

Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.

Thanks, usher-type-guy!

We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.

Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:

First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.

Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.

Thanks, Ervin!

Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.

Thanks, again, Ervin!

Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):

We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…

…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.

On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:

Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:

And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…

…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”

Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:

We headed to Shea Bridge…

…where it looked a lot like this:

The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…

…struck out swinging.

We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:

Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:

For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:

Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….

…and section 531:

It was windy and freezing up there!

Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!

If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:

Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:

It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…

That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:

Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:

When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.

So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.

I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:

Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.

Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.


(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).

For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:

Check out these silly guys:

The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…

…hit a sacrifice fly.

Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.


After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:

After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.

We had a great day packed with fun and…

…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.

2014 Fan Stats
4 Games
5 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)
3 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
27 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff
5 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)
1 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)


Hey, Let’s Go To Citizens Bank Park! (4/12/14)

On April 12, 2014, we had a nice little baseball day.  It all started with an opening day parade, ceremony and individual and team pictures for Tim’s Little League:

Here’s my unofficial picture of Little Leaguer Tim:

For the third year in a row, we went straight from the Little League opening day ceremony to Citizens Bank Park:

We made the rounds and said hi to some of the regulars, like Lefty:

We played catch while we waited for the gates to open:

We’d heard word that gates were changing from 2:30 hours before game time to 2:00 hours early this season.  If that was true, and everything else stayed the same as last year, it seemed like all of the gates should open at the same time.  But I asked some ushers and they weren’t sure if the other gates were opening at 5:05 or not.  So we stayed at our familiar LF gate:

When the gates opened, we headed over to the pizza wedge:

Yep, all of the gates opened at once.  But it seemed like most of the crowd had entered from the LF gate.

Soon after we made it down to the tip of the pizza wedge, a Phillies lefty hit a homerun into section 102.  I ran over and snatched it out of an arm rest of a couple folded up chairs.  We spent the rest of BP in section 101:

That’s Antonio Bastardo in the background above to the right.  He was in the bullpen for a little bit.  On his way back out to the field, he tossed that baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Antonio!

At the end of Phillies BP, all of the Phils cleared the field, but they left several baseballs on the warning track.  Then Mario Hollands…

…ran by and retrieved all of the baseballs.  And tossed one to us.

Thanks, Mario!

After starting off Phillies BP with a Phillies homer, it was only fitting that we start off Marlins BP with a Marlins homer.  But this one was better than the first, I caught this one on the fly.

About five minutes into Marlins BP, Tim was the lucky recipient of a toss-up from reining N.L. Rookie of the Year, Jose Fernandez:

Thanks, Jose!

And when a homer got hit into the bullpen, he was the lucky recipient of a toss-up from a groundskeeper:

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

Eventually, the Marlin from whom we’d most like to catch a ball – Giancarlo Stanton – came out to work on his fielding in RF:

Meanwhile, Steve Cishek made his way to RCF.  When I called out his name, he tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Steve!

Soon, A.J. Ramos made his way over to RCF too:

Ramos approached us and tossed a baseball to Tim.  Then he asked if Kellan had a glove to catch a ball too.  I put my glove on Kellan’s hand and helped him catch a second toss-up from Ramos.

Double thanks, A.J.!

Earlier in the week (maybe even the day before this game), Giancarlo Stanton had been on Intentional Talk.  During Rapid Fire, Stanton told Millar and Rose that Ramos spends all of his time checking his hair in the mirror and taking kissy-faced selfies to post on Instagram.  After he tossed the baseballs to us, I asked Ramos what was up with Stanton talking about him on “IT”?  He responded with a big smile and chuckle, and he suggested, “I need to smack him in the back of the head!”

Ramos seemed like a really cool dude who knows how to have fun during BP.

Now, I’ve taken (and posted) a bunch of panoramas from Section 101 at Citizens Bank Park, but why not one more, right?  Nothing you haven’t seen here before, but this picture sets the scene for Marlins BP:

If you look over toward RF, you’ll see Brad Hand and Tom Koehler.  Roughly between where they are in this panorama is where Giancarlo had been shagging fly balls.

After BP wrapped up, we headed off to get some food – hot dog for Tim and pretzel with ketchup for Kellan:

We ate in our actual seats for the game – beautiful seats, section 101, row 5!

At around 6:30, Jesus Tiamo and some other dude…

…started walking out to the bullpen.  I later came to find out (from Harrison Tishler) that the “other dude” is named Bob Stumpo.  I guess he’s a second (I’ll call him “backup”) bullpen catcher.

Guess what happened when Tiamo and Stumpo reached the bullpen?

Tiamo tossed baseballs…

…to Tim and Kellan (but in the opposite order).  And then he signed a ball for both of the boys:

After he signed for the boys, Jesus and I chatted for a bit about his off-season down in Venezuela.

Part of the Phillies entertainment repertoire for 2014 – “what does the Phanatic say?”

Before the game started, the boys wanted to play some more games, so off we went:

See that picture above to the far right?  Answer “D” is “Ken Griffey, Jr.”  Unfortunately, that was the correct answer, and the question was “Who was the first player to strike out at Citizens Bank Park?”

After the games, we decided to get some ice cream.  As we circled the outfield toward LF foul territory, we stopped in straight away CF to watch the first pitch:

When we headed around the LF seats and scoreboard tower, we were greeted by a long table full of former Phillies ballgirls:

There were actually two separate long tables full of about 20 former ball girls each:

The ballgirls were signing a big poster with their pictures on it, plus their leftover baseball cards (back from their playing days).  It took us more than half an hour to collect all of the autographs, including me spelling Kellan’s name for every ballgirl with baseball cards.  A bunch of the ballgirls commented on Tim’s uniform and asked about his team.  It was a fun diversion before getting to the business of baseball watching.

Sadly, our normal ice cream lady was not at our normal ice cream spot.  I hope she returns because she’s been a fixture at all of our CPB games for years now.  Happily, the stand-in ice cream lady did a great job putting together this beautiful mess of ice cream, cookies, sauces and sprinkles:

Because we had awesome (half priced) seats in the pizza wedge, we stayed in our seats for most of the game.  We were hoping to see Giancarlo Stanton…

…hit some monster bombs.  He didn’t do it in that at bat, but he did collection two round trippers on the night (one that landed on Ashburn Alley and we missed seeing because we were at the “games-of-baseball”).  Giancarlo likes us.  We’ve seen him hit a least three homeruns in Philadelphia, at least two in DC, and one in Miami so far.

In the top of the second inning, we got to see our first “challenge” of the season under the new replay rules:

On the grounder to 2B, Ozuna was initially called safe and two runs scored (giving the Marlins a brief 3-2 lead), but on review it was decided that Jimmy Rollins narrowly beat him to the bag for the third out of the inning.

As usual, the boys were full of silliness during the game.  Kellan posed in our ice cream helmet…

…and did some backwards yelling through one of the megaphone we won at the games of baseball.  And Tim took some selfies (and some videos) with Jesus Tiamo in the background:

Here we are missing Giancarlo’s monster bomb:


Luckily, we were back in the seats to see the second Stanton-blast.

Back at the seats, there was most general silliness:

The pizza wedge is one of the best sections in all of baseball because there is action both in front of and behind your seats.  Check out this panorama that (should be curved around the viewer and) shows about a 270 degree view from out seats:

In this view, the guy in the blue/maroon shirt and backwards cap it sitting right in front of me and the Liberty Bell sign (in the upper right) is directly behind us.

Maybe this picture will help explain it visually – we could watch the game right in front of us, or this…

…right behind our seats.

By the way, in those photos above, that’s Jesus Tiamo catching Antonio Bastardo at the bottom and A.J. Ramos pitching to Jeff Urgelles on the top.  Prior to the game, Tiamo had given each of the boys a baseball, Bastardo had tossed one to Tim, and Ramos had tossed each of the boys a baseball.  After Ramos’s final pitch, I yelled, “Hey, Jeff!” and Urgelles tossed Ramos’s warm-up ball over the Phillies bullpen and right into my glove.  So, we got a baseball from each of the four featured in that picture.  Cool, eh?

Late in the game, Kellan conked out hard and slept the last couple innings on my lap.  Meanwhile, Tim took his turn in a Words with Friends game…

…that he is playing against his Grandma.  After making his play, he finger-typed and voice-typed a long and meandering comment to his Grandma in the Words with Friends comment section.

I meant to take a screen shot of his comments because they were funny, but I forgot.  Zooming in on another picture I took of him typing, I can see that he wrote “I played “hotels” from the Phillies stadium.  Bet you can’t beat that! 123 strikes you’re out at words with friends! Winning, oh yeah! 18 points!”  Then he followed up with a long and convoluted explanation that he really meant “22 points” and he provided a detailed explanation of how the points added up.  He’s a funny guy.

Hey, guess what?  The game went into extra innings.  Giancarlo Stanton tied up the game in the seventh with a 2-run homerun to left.  Jimmy Rollins broke the tie with a walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the tenth inning:

After the game, Bob Stumpo tossed a ball up to Tim and then a kind usher took our picture…

…before we headed to the gates with Kellan still sound asleep:

And then we sat in a traffic jam for an hour on the Schuylkill Expressway…

…and got home around 2:00 a.m.

Not the best ending of the night, but a great first game of the season at Citizens Bank Park.

2014 Fan Stats
3 Games
4 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins)
2 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park)
21 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins)* Olympic Stadium Staff
5 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)
1 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)

Bonus Photo – Lots of activity again at this game:



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