June 2009

6/28/09 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Wow – its been two weeks since our last MLB game, and it feels like its been forever.  But we finally made it back out to the ball field on June 28th.

1a - kirby is 12.JPGI am dedicating this entry to my wonderful pooch, Kirby, who, due to a family vacation and this game that coincided with our return drive north, unfortunately had to spend his 12th birthday with his buddies at the Pet Spa & Resort.

Due to the fact we were returning from a family vacation, you’ll also notice below that Tim and I were accompanied by our lovely mother and wife, respectively, Colleen.  This was only our second game with Colleen this season — usually our games double as a way to give Colleen and “off-day” on the weekend — and her first at Camden Yards since J.J. Putz blew Felix Hernandez’s 8-inning shutout gem during the M’s first road trip of the 2008 season.

We usually drive South to Camden Yards and park in a parking garage downtown.  This day, we drove north to the game, and parked in one of the stadium lots off of I-395.  So our walk from the car to the field looked different — but from any angle, its always nice to gaze upon Camden Yards:

 
1 - approaching Eutaw.JPG

After reading the Happy Youngster’s entry for the June 10th Mariners game at Camden Yards, I realized that I have never taken Tim to the home plate entrance at Camden Yards.  So, we remedied that today:

2 - TJCs in Schaefer Circle.JPG

In this picture we are standing in “Schaefer Circle.” 

Its a nice looking main entrance, so I decided to take some pictures for a panaramic view: 
3  - camden main enterance panoramic.jpg

See those plaques on either side of the canopy-covered entrance?  Here they are up close and personal:

4 - camden plagues.JPG

(click to enlarge)

I’m guessing that it is not a coincidence that this plaque listing, among other individuals, Governing William Donald Schaefer is hanging about 30 yards away from “Schaefer Circle.”

On the drive up to Baltimore — or maybe it was leaving Baltimore, I’m not sure — Colleen mentioned that she took 700+ pictures during our vacation (we like taking pictures!), but that we didn’t get a single family picture.  Well, 3 minutes after entering the stadium, we got our first:

5 - family picture.JPG

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Two minutes later, we were in the kids’ play area and Tim was having fun:

6 - camden playarea stuff.JPG

Soon, the game started and we grabbed some chicken strips and fries, and some seats down the RF line.  Here was our view for about 4 minutes:

7 - cam rf foul panoramic2.jpg

We only sat here for about 4 minutes because it was too sunny for Tim.  He looked to the left and saw some shady seats that are under the second level overhang.  He suggested:  “Let’s go sit in the deep, dark shade.”  We obliged, and this is what it looked like:

8 - camden 1B-RF foul panoramic.jpg

Once we got over there and finished our chicken and fries, we grabbed some non-helmeted ice cream.  Here are a couple shots of our seats in the deep, dark shade:

9 - camden deep dark shade.JPG

Regarding the picture to the far left, I wanted to point out the large padding on the second level support beam above the back row.  To use a Tim’ism, I’m guessing there were a few heads *bonked* on that beam in the early days that led to the installation of that padding.

While we were sitting here, the Orioles’ Bird came to visit a young fan who was celebrating his birthday at the game.  Tim got a quick picture with the Bird:

10 - Tim and the Bird.JPG

But soon, as it always does, the flag pavillion a/k/a Eli Jacobs Plaza started calling Tim’s name:

11 - flags in Eli Jacobs Plaza.JPGWho is Eli Jacobs, you ask?  Well, according to the plaque above, he was the Chairman of the Orioles in 1992 when Camden Yards was built.  Ah, always great to name stuff after yourself!  I think I’ll continue to refer to it as the “flag pavillion.”

[SIDE NOTE:  I just wrote a big section that was magically deleted.  Yea technology!]

Before arriving at the flag pavillion, I took this picture of Nick Markakis.

 

11a - Nick Markakis.JPGWhy Markakis?  He was near by.  I don’t care about the Nationals or the Orioles, but I figured I needed a picture of someone playing baseball to properly demonstrate that there was some major league baseball taking place at the ball park.

 After snapping that shot, we headed over to the flags.  As you can see from the following picture, although Tim is a shoulder rider with me, he is a hand holder with mommy:

12 - walking and ice water.JPG

Check out that shoulder-top ice water service.  That kid has got it made!

Once we arrived in the flag pavillion, it was time for some fake pitching, batting and base running.  Interestingly, Tim pulled a total role reversal at this game — he was the pitcher and fielder a lot.  He is usually almost exclusively the fake batter:

13 - flag pavillion fake batting.JPG

In between our fake baseball games, we checked out the real baseball game on the field:

14 - camden RF wall.JPG

Moments after these pictures, the batter hit a solid line drive up the middle.  Adam Jones fielded it and made a beautiful throw on the money to O’s top prospect Matt Weiters.  The runner shown here standing on second base should have been thrown out by 20 feet.  Instead, Weiters missed the ball and the runner was safe.  You can watch the play by clicking here.

Weiters would later cost the O’s another run when he threw the ball into LF trying to gun a base stealer out at third.

But you know what?  I’m getting ahead of myself.  My pictures are out of order.  Let’s go back to the fourth inning.  At the time, we were standing in about the same spot as shown in the last pictures and the O’s were leading 1-0.

Up to the plate stepped big Adam Dunn — YAHTZEEEEEEE!!!!!  He flat out demolished a David Henandez pitch for a two run bomb.

You can watch the highlight by clicking here.

If you watch quickly (and know what to look for), you can see me scurry across the bottom of the screen chasing Dunn’s homerun.  Here are some screen shots with arrows pointing me out:

15a - Chasing Dunn MegaBlast.jpg

(As always, click to enlarge the photo).

And here are some pictures to illustrate where Dunn’s homerun went:

15 - Dunns MegaBlast.JPG

In the top right, the picture shows a reenactment of my view as Dunn made contact.  This was the definition of a “no doubter.”  Colleen was playing with Tim out of the way toward the RF foul pole and with the crack of the bat, I turned and sprinted toward the red “X” in the top right picture.

The arrow connecting the top left picture to the bottom picture are designed to give perspective.  The arrows are pointing toward opposite sides of the same orange flag hanging on a lamp post at the CF side of Boog’s BBQ.

After running to the X, I saw the ball land in the middle of Eutaw Street and start bouncing around.  The people out there had no clue what was going on.  And they seemingly all had lubricant on their hands.  About 18 fans touched the ball before a 25′ish year old guy eating at a picnic table at the base of the warehouse wall scooped it up.

When the ball started bouncing around, I headed down the narrow pathway to the left of the red X (behind sections 98 and 96) and out of the open gate shown in the bottom picture.  But I was too late.

The red arrow in the top left picture (featuring Colleen and Tim in the foreground) is pointing to the picnic table where the guy grabbed the ball.  The bottom picture is taken standing in front of the picnic table.  When I took the bottom picture, the guy was finishing his meal and re-telling the story of Dunn’s home run with his buddies — one of whom claimed credit for an *assist* because he batted the ball toward his buddy.  In reality, he simply missed it like 17 others.

For sake of clarity, the ball didn’t land at the picnic table.  That is just where it ended up.  It actually landed in the middle of Eutaw Street roughly at the mid-way point of Boog’s BBQ (or at least that is how I remember it).  I’m interested to see next year where they place the homerun ball plaque.

Speaking of homerun plaques, check out what we found out by Dunn’s HR’s landing spot:

16 - catching griffs bomb.JPGIn

The evidence of a monster Griffey blast from 1994.  (click to enlarge).

In the top of the seventh inning, we headed back to the bouncy house for one more bouncing session.  Meanwhile, Wee Willie Harris hit a homerun into the flag pavillion — ah shucks (but Tim was having fun).

After bouncing, we talked to an attendant and found out where the line would start for Kids Run the Bases after the game.  This was the sole reason we attended this game.  I was really excited for Tim to run the bases at our baseball home away from Safeco Field.

At the point, it was the top of the 8th inning and about 30 people were already in line.  Colleen wanted to get in line so we would be at the front of the line.  But I figured we had time to watch a bit more of the game.

So we headed to the seats right behind home plate and below the press box:

18 - press box area.JPG

Between pitches, Tim was having fun trying to reach into the press box.

Here was our view:

 
17 - camden field home panoramic.jpg

And here is family picture number 2 of the day (and number 2 of the vacation):

19 - family picture no. 2.JPG

I ended up talking Colleen into letting us stay until the game ended before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases.  See the red arrow?  It is pointing to a couple handicap accessible seats in the back row (actually in the cross aisle) where we sat for the ninth inning.

20a - jim joyce.jpgI had a plan.  And it involved this man:  Jim Joyce.

The Plan:  try to get the home plate umpire (Joyce) to give Tim a ball following the end of the game.

This was a feat I’d never even contemplated before reading about it on Zack Hample’s blog.  We’d come close once before at Camden Yards earlier in the season.  But we’d never succeeded.

The red arrow above points directly to the seat where I camped out.  Tim was standing next to me and Colleen was sitting in the next chair over.  When the Nats got two outs in the bottom of the 9th, I gave Colleen my glove and had Tim stand right in front of me.  I was hoping for a high pop up or a grounder so I would know the game was over before the umps could start walking off the field.  I got my wish.  Some O’s batter hit a weak, slow rolling broken bat grounder to short stop.  As everyone else sat there and watched, Tim jumped up onto my shoulders and we were 20 rows down into the stands before the short stop let the ball fly to first base.  We slid into the second row on the side of the umps exit tunnel (that brick opening in the two previous pictures shown right behind home plate).  Another father and son combo were in the first row right next to us.  Joyce walked into the tunnel and grabbed a ball from his ball holder bag:  “Here you go little guy” — and he handed it to the boy next to us.

Back into the bag goes Joyce’s right hand.  Out comes a beautifully rubbed up game ball.  And Joyce reaches up to Tim above my head — “Here you go.”

Success!


20 - jim joyce ball.JPG

Thanks, Zack!  We’re giving you an official assist in the score book for introducing us to the idea of post-game umpire hand-ups.

 But wait, the best was yet to come — IT WAS TIME FOR KIDS RUN THE BASES!

We exited the stadium through Gate D and found our place in line.  Colleen dealt admirably with the fact that we were about 10 times further back in line now than we would have been had we jumped into the line in the 8th inning.

The line worked out great because there is a patch of grass along the 3B side of the stadium:

21 - krtb line and peter angelos.JPG

And wouldn’t you know it, as the line started moving forward, Orioles owner Peter Angelos and his wife exited the stadium and cut throught he line directly between me and the person in front of me.  After I said, “Hi, Peter” and snapped his picture, Colleen accused me of being the papparazi.  FYI, “Peter” (maybe I should have gone with Mr. Angelos) didn’t respond.  Another interesting Angelos tidbit, P.A. opened the door for his wife as their driver watched.  Then he swung around to the driver’s side and had his driver open the door for him.

As the line snaked in to the stadium through the 1B side, I took some concourse pictures:

22 - camden concourse.JPG

Its a nice, wide concourse.  The only problem is that it is totally closed off from the game.  I think that Camden Yards was the first of the really nice new stadiums and the collective of stadium architects who work on these jobs didn’t figure out how nice the open-to-the-field concourses are until after Camden Yards was built.  Still, it is a great stadium.

This is the third Kids Run the Bases Tim has done this season — Citi Field, Nationals Park and Camden Yards.  Interestingly, the Nats have been involved in all three games.  Tim also ran the bases last season at The Jake in Cleveland.  At every other stadium, we have entered the stadium through a bullpen in RF, and Tim and I have gotten our picture taken standing next to the distance marker on the outfield wall in the RF corner.

I had serious doubts that would happen at this game because Eutaw Street is built into the stadium and is 20-or-so feet above the playing surface in RF.  Unfortunately, I was correct.  So we weren’t able to get our usual footage picture.

But we got some great running the base pictures — like these pictures Colleen got between 2B and 3B and I have stitched together to make a big Tim in motion shot:

 
24 - tim in motion.JPG

(click to enlarge)

And these pictures that I took of Tim touhing and/or approaching 1B, 3B and home (my 2B picture wasn’t zoomed and is essentially worthless):

23 - Tim runs the  Os bases.JPG

Somehow both Colleen and I managed to miss it with our cameras, but Tim slid into home plate!  It caught the field attendants off guard.  A bunch of them ran over to help him get up.  They thought he’d fallen.  But, nope, it was a slide.  He’d told me before hand he was going to do it.

After meeting up with Tim again, we got Family Picture No. 3 on the day (and a nice field attendant is smiling with us):

25 - on field family picture.JPG

As we headed off the field, I took some shots for an on-field panaramic view…

 

28 - cam 3B field panoramic.jpg…and I took our customary dugout shots…

26 - camden dugouts.JPG

(visitors dugout above (3B) and Orioles below (1B))

…and some random shots:

 
27 - more baltimore stuff.JPG

Top left, visitors’ interleague on-deck batters’ circle.

Bottom left, artificial warning track with hidden drains circling the field.

Top right, a chart I spied under the Nats’ bench that read “Nationals vs. Orioles Pitchers.”  It has all of the regular Nats batters along the vertical axis and each of the O’s pitchers along the horizontal axis.  When you connect the columns and rows, it tells you how each hitter has done against a particular O’s pitcher.  For example, Adam Dunn is 1-3 with a HR against Brad Bergesen.  I asked someone in the dugout if I could have it.  But he said he isn’t allowed to touch anything in the dugout.  I told him it was garbage.  He didn’t care.

Bottom right, this was actually taken after we left the stadium.  Tim and I are standing in front of a sign that is on the RF end of the warehouse.

Before leaving, Colleen took one more picture of us — our first ever (I think) at the 1B dugout:

29 - camden 1B dugout.JPG

And finally, we hit the road on the final leg of our return from vacation journey.  As we headed to Rt-83, we said our good-byes to Camden Yards — we may not be back to this fine baseball facility until next season:

30 - goodbye camden yards.jpg

Next up for us:

July 2 – Mariners in the Bronx

July 3 – Mariners in Boston

July 4 – Mariners in Boston

July 5 - Mariners in Boston

 

Season Fan Stats:

14 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
9 Baseballs (5 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Umpire)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
 
7,953 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

Jack Zduriencik’s State of the Union Letter

I find this refreshing: 
MarinersNewsletter.pdf

I also find this refreshing:  Kids Run The Bases TOMORROW at Camden Yards!!!

Griffey/M’s Historic Homerun & Moyer Historic Win Update

Ken Griffey, Jr. No. 619:

Griff 5K bomb.JPG

Seattle Mariners No. 5,000:

Watch the video clip here.

Unfortunately, the M’s lost 9-7.  But there is still time to beat the Padres twice and take the series.

Go Mariners!

Meanwhile, in Tampa, Florida, all-time Mariners wins leader, Jamie Moyer…

 

moyer 251b.jpg…notched his 251st career victory to pull into a tie with legendary Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson, at 45th on the all-time wins leaderboard.  Watch the highlight video here.

Way to go, Jamie!

Congrats, Ichi!

We’re on a couple week break between MLB games.  So I have to fill my time with some non-game update posts.  Here is a picture my folks took at the M’s game yesterday:

congrats ichiro.JPG

Here’s looking to another 1,100 at least!

A Trip to Baseballtown – Reading Phillies (AA) (6/14/09)

Tim and I have racked up a lot of miles this season taking day-trips on the weekends to MLB games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York.  Those trips range between 1.5 to 3 hours one way.  What we had not done, however, was take the 10 minute drive to see our local minor league squad, the (AA) Reading Phillies.  Today was the day.

Anyone looking for an authentic Minor League experience — a slice of Americana — head on over to Reading, Pennsylvania to check out the R-Phils at First Energy Stadium.  And you can’t beat the prices — $8 for a General Admission ticket and free for kids 4-and-under.

I picked this game for several reasons:  (i) we didn’t have a MLB game planned for the weekend, (ii) it was Kids Run the Bases day, and (iii) I wanted the Camo R-Phils hat they were giving away to the first 2,500 adults.

Unfortunately, when we entered the stadium, the hats were all gone.  So, hatless, we walked through the concourse and to the Coors Light Left Field Deck.  Out by the deck, there is a special entrance for partyn deck folks.  I noticed that they had TWO hats left.  I talked one of the girls into giving me one of them.  I like it:

r-phils camo.JPG

We started the game by picking up some french fries and two dollar-dogs and heading to the trough in left field (that’s what I call it, not sure if it has a real name):

fries in outfield trough.JPG

This would be a pretty sweet place to catch a home run.  Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one hit to LF while I’ve been in the trough.

Behind the trough there is an elevated picnic area with lots of tables and private boxes.

Here is the view from the trough:

r-phils LF panoramic.jpg

Here is a closer look:

r-phils infield panoramic.jpg

Tim likes the trough because its like a big straight away made for racing.  Plus, it conveniently has a “finish line” painted at one end:

tim in trough.JPG

Why do you think they painted the yellow line across the floor in the trough?  I can’t see that line ever coming into play.  You can’t see it from the field.   Its out of the sight of any TV cameras.  Plus, the ball is either fair or foul when it crosses the top of the fence — it is irrelevant whether a ball lands on the fair or foul side of the line on the deck behind the fence.  I think its only real utility is as a finish line for Tim to use for racing me in the trough.

So the whole LF areas is a big deck.  What, you ask, is in RF?  A little swiming pool (above the Power Ball sign):

RF pool and pagoda.JPG

Why, you ask, is there a traditional Japanese pagoda on the hill in Reading, PA?  The Answer:  your guess is as good as mine.  There just is.

Here is the scoreboard in CF:

r-phils scoreboard.JPG Now, you might be wondering why it is the 10th inning and it still looks like 1:05 in the afternoon.  Well, the game from Saturday night was suspended due to rain with a 1-1 tie score.  So we had to finish that game (2-1 loss in 11 innings) and wait for crew to prep the  field before the regularly scheduled game started.

It was nice to get some bonus baseball, but the delay ultimately proved to be too much for young tired Tim.  Plus, it skewed his game schedule like nobody’s business.  We ended up getting his ice cream helmet before the game even started — real chocolate ice cream with sprinkles:

r-phils ice cream helmet.JPG

This picture shows Tim eating his ice cream “in the shade” as he requested.  We were in the back row of the grandstand.

The regularly scheduled Sunday game finally got going at 2:20.  I took a couple panoramics of the field:

r-phils home panoramic.jpg

And Tim did some smiling and pointing:

r-phils pionting tim.jpg

…and we took more panoramics:

r-phils home2 panoramic.jpg

Then we took to our feet and got some action shots — here is Phils top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek:

kyle drabek.JPG

. . . and here is some Harrisburg Senators (AA Expos…oops, Nationals) dude getting blown away by a high fastball from Drabek (with one of the R-Phils’ many mascots watching on):

blooper cheers.JPGWe walked through the concourse.  This is real minor league ball, so the dugout doesn’t connect to the club house.  The players have to walk through the concourse with the fans to get to the clubhouse:

clubhouse walk.JPGKids were having lots of fun in the open air concourse behind the seats down the 1B line: 

r-phils 1B concourse.JPGI’d never realized that there is standing room at the top of the grandstand and a walkway that runs behind the pressbox from one side of home plate to the other.  Tim liked running back and forth back there.  Here is a plaque on the wall by the press box:

broadway charlie wagner.JPGAs you can see from the plaque, “Broadway” Charlie Wagner played for the Red Sox.  He was also Ted Williams’s roommate back in the day.  And he was a regular at Reading Phillies games until he passed away in 2006.

How about another action shot?

michael taylor.JPGThis is Michael Taylor.  The little program guide said that in May Taylor was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for the third consecutive month.  I looked up Taylor’s stats on MiLB.com from last season and he hit .346 with 19 HR and 88 RBI.  So far this season, he is hitting .332 wiith 10 HR and 42 RBI.  Not too shabby.  Watch for him in a MLB park near you in the future.

Finally, we took in all of the zaney on-field entertainment that you get with minor league baseball:

MiLB entertainment.JPG

Now, here is the interesting thing I learned today.  Sometimes, it can actually be easier to drive 100+ miles to a game.  I really wanted to go to this game because it was Kids Run the Bases day.  We love Kids Run the Bases day.  However, when we go to Sunday games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York or D.C., Tim naps in the car on the way to the game.  However, with only a 10 minute drive to the park today, we were going with no nap.  Add in the extra 2 innings played at the beginning of the day from the rain-suspended game from the night before and the 1/2 hour of field prep between games and it was a long day at the park.  Tim was deliriously tired by the 7th inning.  So, we missed Kids Run the Bases.  Still, it was a great day at Baseballtown.

I’ll leave you with one more picture.  Here is a big picture of FirstEnergy Stadium with labels showing the former R-Phils to go on to the Major Leagues since 1967:

r-phils alums.JPG

Here are some highlights:

1967 – Larry Bowa, Robin Roberts; 1970 – Bob Boone; 1971 – Mike Schmidt; 1980 -Ryne Sandberg; 1981 – Julio Franco; 1995 – Scott Rolen; 1999 – Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell; 2001 – Carlos Silva, Brett Myers; 2002 – Ryan Madson; 2003 – Carlos Ruiz; 2004 – Ryan Howard; 2005 – Cole Hamels.

Not too shabby.

Safeco Field Tour

Back in early May, Tim and I visited my folks in Seattle and went to five Mariners games.  We also took a tour of Safeco Field one morning before the game.  We got a bunch of great picts that I wanted to share, but never had time to put a “Safeco Tour’ entry together before now.

So, here you go, finally.

1 edgar martinez way.jpg

We parked in the garage on Edgar Martinez Drive.  The tour starts from the team store where I got a great deal on a new M’s hat (that has been featured in every game entry since May 1st).

From the team store, we headed into a tunnel in the LF corner that led back toward home plate along the 3B line.  We passed by the visitors’ clubhouse.  We were supposed to tour the visitors’ clubhouse but the Oakland A’s had arrived early -  Boo A’s!

We passed by the visitors’ clubhouse and out the umpires’ entrance to the field.  The batting cage was set up at home plate for BP for that night’s game.  I took pictures to make this panoramic behind home plate:

2 safeco home field panoramic.jpg

We headed into the M’s dugout and Tim sat in Ichiro’s spot:

3 m's dugout ichi's spot.jpg

They let us hang out in the dugout for a long time and walk around on the warning track by the dugout.  But you can’t go on the grass.  Here is a panoramic from the warning track:

4 safeco 1B field panoramic.jpg

Here’s a similar panoramic from the “field” level — it didn’t really work out as I planned, but I still like it:

5 safeco 1B dirt level panoramic.jpg

Here’s Tim and grandma hanging out by the M’s dugout:

6 tim grandma m's dugout.jpg

Here is the visitors’ dugout and bat rack:

7 safeco visitors dugout.jpg

And a panoramic view from the visitors’ dugout:

8 safeco 3B dugout panoramic.jpg

Here are Tim and I in the M’s post-game interview room:

9 safeco interview room.jpg

Next,  our guide took us to the “Diamond Club” below the expensive seats behind home plate.  The club is decorated with a bunch of old baseball photos including (as shown below) an interesting picture of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a fishing boat and Babe Ruth’s contract from 1932.  All of the artwork is from some dude’s private collection — I can’t remember who, one of the owners or someone like that.  Anywhere, here are some pictures:

10 safeco diamond club restaurant.jpg

Next, we headed up to the (print) press box where I took this panoramic:

11 safeco press box panoramic.jpg

It would be pretty sweet to get to watch the games from this spot.  Tim played with a microphone in the press box:

 
12 official scorer.jpg

Tim was acting like he was the stadium announcer.  However, our guide told us that this microphone is actually for the official scorer.  He makes a decision on a play and relays the his play call through this microphone to the people who operate the scoreboard.

Next, we went to the owners’ suite where they have this *sweet* view:

13 safeco owners suite panoramic.jpg

On the wall in the owners’ suite, there are pictures of all of the owners.  The picture below is the majority owner Hiroshi Yamauchi and a big stone with a message from Mr. Yamauchi carved into it:

14 M's Owner Hiroshi Yamauchi.jpg

In case you can’t read it, the rock says:

I acquired the Seattle Mariners as a gesture of goodwill to the citizens of the Pacific Northwest.  I am very pleased that what I was asked to do in 1992 has culminated in a magnificent new ballpark.  My hope is that SAFECO Field will be the home of the Mariners for generations to come.”  Hiroshi Yamauchi.  Kyoto, Japan.  July 15, 1999.

Here is some back story.  When I was growing up an avid M’s fan, I was bombarded every year with rumors and threats that the Mariners were going to move.  The one that stands out the most is that they were going to move to Tampa-St. Pete to play at Tropicana Field.

At the same time that I was worrying about the fate of my beloved Mariners, Mr. Yamauchi’s son-in-law was doing the same thing.  Mr. Yamauchi owns Nintendo.  He started it in Japan back in the day.  Years ago, he brought Nintendo to the U.S. where it was based in the Seattle area.  Mr. Yamauchi’s son-in-law lived in Seattle and was a big Mariners fan.  He was sick from the thought of the M’s moving to Tampa-St. Pete.  Luckily, he had a father-in-law who was flat out loaded.  So he went to Mr. Yamauchi and asked him to buy the Mariners and keep them in Seattle.  Mr. Yamauchi whipped out his checkbook.  He has never been to Seattle.  In fact, he’s never been outside of Japan.  But he bought the M’s to say thanks to the good people of Seattle and to ensure that the M’s would never leave Seattle.

Thanks, Mr. Yamauchi!  YOU DA MAN!

 Okay.  More stuff.  In the owners’ suite, they also have the 1995 home plate from the Kingdome.  This is the home plate across which Ken Griffey, Jr. slid on Edgar Martinez’s division series winning double against the Yankees.  Refuse to Lose!!!  Great to see it up close:

15 1995 Kingdome plate.jpg

Next, it was up to the upper deck for another panoramic:

16 safeco home upper deck panoramic.jpg

Here are a couple shots from the picnic area behind home plate in the upper deck:

17 safeco home plate picnic area.jpg

The picnic area looks nice for hanging out pre-game.  However, you can’t see the field from here.  So I’m not sure if it gets much use during the game.

Next, we headed back down to the field level.  The tour was winding down.

I took some shots of the main entrance behind home plate and the weird bat-thingy hanging from the ceiling:

18 safeco home plate entrance.jpg

Our guide told us that the bats in this thingy are all arranged as if the bat is being swung over and over and over.

So then the tour was concluded.  On the way out of the stadium, I took shots for one more panoramic from down the LF line:

19 safeco LF foul concourse panoramic.jpg

So that was the tour.  Although I didn’t convey it here, our tour guide (whose name I cannot recall) gave us a lot of information about the stadium.  He was very knowledgable.  He even answered one guy’s questions about the grass at Qwest Field and Nationals Park.

The tour costs, I believe, $8 or $9 per person.  Even for someone who has been to a lot of games at Safeco Field, I highly recommend taking the tour.

Griffey In A Mariners Uniform at Camden Yards (6/10/09)

Before Wednesday night, I had taken Tim to see Ken Griffey, Jr. play 10 times — 5 times for the Mariners, 4 for the Reds and 1 for the White Sox.  Griff played in only two of those games.  Only once as a Mariner.  That game was, oddly, minor league turn back the clock day.  So, prior to Wednesday night, Tim had seen Griff play one game wearing a White Sox uniform and one game wearing a Seattle Rainiers uniform.

Thus, the mission on this night:  see Griff play baseball wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform for the first time in Tim’s life.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

10 griff on deck.jpg

Much more on Griff later.

We started off the day by purchasing the cheapest seats in the house — right field upper deck — at the CF ticket office.  We entered the stadium and headed into Section 90 — straight away CF.  Tim was sitting on my shoulders and as we entered the seats we were greeted by the beautiful sight of a field full of Mariners taking batting practice and shagging balls.

Within a minute of entering the seats, I heard someone calling out, “Hey, Hey, Hey.”  I looked to the right and saw a cop standing down in the grass below the batters’ eye:

4 felix and ivy.jpg

This picture of Felix Herdanez warming up in front of the CF Ivy is out of order, but it illustrates the situation.  (By the way, isn’t the ivy nice looking for the batters’ eye?)

We were standing in the seats essentially where the guy holding the little kid is standing (above the double doors).  I looked down at the cop yelling up at me and I though to myself:  “Oh, man, he’s about to tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders.”

I was very wrong.  Instead of reprimanding me for toting Tim on my shoulders, the good officer rewarded us with a baseball — a ball I like to think was hit into that grass area as a Mariners BP homerun — most likely a mammoth blast by none other than Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr. (of course that is just wishful speculation…but a guy is entitled to some wishful speculation from time-to-time).  Anyway, I will take a baseball over a reprimand any day.

So, after thanking the officer, it was back to watching our Mariners warm up.  Its amazing how many Mariners games I watch and yet how many Mariners look totally unrecognizable while wearing a jersey-hiding pull-over.  The 3 guys in CF were totally unrecognizable.  They must have been recent call-ups.  One of them looked like he was 10 years old.

Off toward left CF was base coach Lee Tinsley with a guy who looked a lot like Felix Hernandez, but clearly was not Felix.  In my post-game research, I’m pretty confident that it was new call-up Guillermo Quiroz.  Anyway, he caught a ball in deep left CF.  He had run in our direction to field the ball so it was natural to look toward us before turning to throw the ball in to the bucket.  As Quiroz looked up, I flashed my glove and he spotted us.  He was about 100 feet away or so.  But he motioned to me.  He was clearly getting ready to throw us the ball.  But then he motions “down, down.”  I’m clueless.  He yells, “down, down.”  I interpret this to mean, “Go down to the first row so the throw is easier.”

quiroz.jpgWe walk down to the front row.  Quiroz is walking toward us slowly, but is still at least 50 feet away.  He points at Tim and says, “Put him down.”  Wow — I’m getting reprimanded by a new Mariner!  How could it be?  Anyway, I put Tim down and he throws me the ball.  He then yells, “I didn’t want to hit your boy.”  Well, that’s not a reprimand at all.  That’s just plain thoughtful.  Looks like Quiroz is a keeper.

We watched a bit more batting practice, but Tim kept asking for ice cream.  He explained, “they’re playing baseball.  Its time for ice cream.”  I explained that they were just practicing and we would get ice cream once the game started.

 To tide Tim over, we decided to go to the kids’ play area.  Tim played on the play set.  He passed up on the bouncy house.  But he gave the speed pitch a try for the first time:

1 tim speed pitch.jpg I think Tim lit up triple digits on the gun.

Next, we headed back into the stadium and saw Jaime Burke stretching down the 3B line:

2 jamie burke tim.jpg

Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie!”  Burke turned around and gave Tim a wave, which was nice because every time Tim waves or says hi to a player at a game he ends up asking me, “Can baseball players not hear me?”

I told Burke it was nice to have him back up with the big club.  He thanked me.

We watched Burke warm up Felix Hernandez, first in the outfield grass and then in the bullpen:

3 felix and phillips.jpg

Felix looked sharp in the bullpen.  I was excited to see him pitch tonight.  See the guy in the middle picture in the pull-over jacket?  That is Jason Phillips the Mariners bullpen catcher.  We watched Felix warm up from the seats just behind and to the left of Jamie Burke.  Phillips (and at time pitching coach Rick Adair) stood to the right of Burke and watched Felix.

Eventually, Phillips passes in front of Burke and starts walking toward the bullpen bench.  He stops in that little corner and starts digging around in that equipment bag behind the chairs.  He dug around in there for about 10-15 seconds.  Finally, he pulls out a baseball.  He turns around and walks a couple feet toward us and threw it to us.  Tim immediately told the guy next to us, “We got a baseball!”  And then he yelled “thank you” to Phillips.

WOW – three balls with very little effort.

 

32 three balls ties record.jpgIt tied my personal single game record set at a Mariners game at Fenway Park in 2003 when, without moving from the same spot, Mike Cameron, Rafael Soriano and Joel Piniero threw me balls during BP.

There would be no record breaking fourth baseball.

It was game time.  With Tim on my shoulders, we headed toward the Mariners dugout just in time for the national anthem:

5 oh say you see.jpg

After the anthem, we looked around.  No ushers in sight.  Four empty seats in the first row of the dugout, right on the aisle.  Why not stay a while?  Sure thing.

Mariners photo session ensures:

Ichiro bats:

6 ichi ball.jpg

…Ichi popped out…

7 ichi popped out.jpg

…its okay, later he would blast a double high off of the CF wall.

Jason Vargas and Rob Johnson had a view of the game very similar to ours:

8 game watchers.jpg

Vargas is impressing me so far.  I’m hoping he keeps it up.

Vargas’s and Johnsons’s view of Russell Branyan probably looked a lot like this:

9 branyan.jpg

All this time, Tim hadn’t forgot about his ice cream.  Despite the excellent seats, he wanted ice cream bad.  I promised we’d go get ice cream right after Griff hit.  I didn’t want us to miss this great view for Tim’s first time seeing Griff hit in a Mariners uniform.

The guy behind us offered to take out picture.  But Tim put on his fussy “I need ice cream” face:

11 fuss for ice cream.jpg

Since the M’s went 1-2-3 in the first, we got a chance to see King Felix up close in the bottom of the first before going to get Tim’s ice cream:

12 walking to work.jpg

Mr. Gold Glove, Adrian Beltre, was there too:

13 patroling 3B.jpg

While Felix looked in for the signs, Russell Branyan dried off his glove hand:

14 M's ace.jpg

And just like that, IT WAS TIME — GRIFFEY TIME:

15 Griff at the plate.jpg

Look at this beautiful swing:

16 power stroke foul.jpg

Folks, that swing is one of two things — a 450 foot home run or a foul straight back.  Unfortrunately, this one was the latter.  He missed it by a millimeter.

Here is a shot of Tim watching Griff and Ichiro bat:

17 tim griff and ichi.jpg

Right after Griff popped out, we headed up the ailse with our sights set on ice cream (sadly, with no ice cream helmet).  By the time we reached the top of the section, we had turned back to the field to watch Jose Lopez go deep for this first of two HRs on the day:

18 Lopez bomb no. 1.jpg

With a 1-0 lead in hand, Tim and I bought some chocolate ice cream and headed toward the RF corner.  En route to grabbing some “ice cream seats” (def. seats found exclusively for the purpose of Tim eating his ice cream), for the second game in a row, we ran into MLBlogger Zack Hample wearing a hot pink “real men wear pink shirt.”  We shared a few words with Zack before grabbing our ice cream seats.  Tim can be seen in the last picture in Zack’s entry for this game — click here.

Tim was ready to dig into that ice cream!

20 ice cream no helmet.jpg

We had a great view of Ichiro from these seats:

19 Ichi in RF.jpg

As Tim ate his ice cream, a familiar face (and shirt) walked by in the cross ailse behind us.  It was The Happy Youngster (a/k/a Nick), of homerun catching fame.  Some kind patron took an extremely blurry and generally weird picture of me, Brew Town’s Happy Youngster, and my own happy youngster:

20a Happy Youngster.jpg

Check out Tim multitasking, posing for a picture while still holding his ice cream spoon in his hand.  Nick gave us a shout out (and some very kind words) on his entry for this game — click here.

The rest of the night, I was really hoping a Mariner would hit a HR to right field so I could see Zack and Nick battle for the HR.  Here they are in home run territory in a photo I like to call “Dueling Ballhawks”:

28 dueling ballhawks.jpgBack to the real game, here are Ichiro and Griff batting from our ice cream seats view:

22 Griff and Ichi.jpg Ichiro hit a double off the CF wall in this at bat.  I believe that Griff popped out to third.

You know that big warehouse in RF?  You know how many people have hit a ball off of the warehouse in the history of Camden Yards?  Its no secret.  One man:

21 Griff in dugout on board.jpg

In this picture, Griff is laughing and seems somewhat embarrassed because they just showed a video about him hitting the warehouse and it said something like “Legends of Camden Yards”….or something like that.

After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed out to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards – the flag pavillion.  I fake pitched about 100 balls to Tim and he fake ran the bases (circled the flags) about 100 times.  For most of my fake pitches, I had to chase Tim and try to fake tag him out before he scored at fake home plate.  This is Tim’s set Camden Yards routine.  His home plate is always the same.  This is hit thing at Camden Yards.  He loves it.  He ran a ridiculous amount.  I ran a ridiculous amount.  But it was fun.

And Tim was a big hit with the ushers, fans and the beer lady in the corner of the pavillion.  Two fans gave Tim little stuffed Chik Fillet cows.  The beer lady told me how wonderful Tim was over and over again before she gave him a whole bunch of Orioles baseball cards — she apologized that she didn’t have any Mariners cards.

Well, guess what, one of the ushers did.  Check out the Bone:

25 bone visits camden.jpgThe final game I saw Jay Buhner play was actually at Camden Yards.  So it was nice to see Bone at Camden Yards once again, even if only in the form of a baseball card.

In addition to running the fake bases in the flag pavillion, Tim played a lot of fake catch in the pavillion as well:

23 tim patrols the flag pavillion.jpgMostly Tim played fake catch with Nick, including some fake fly ball shagging.  Nick very kindly played along with Timmers.

 Hey, here’s a picture we haven’t got yet this season, the obligatory Eutaw Street / Warehouse picture:

24 TJCs on Eutaw.jpg

Down the RF line in foul territory, there is a section of seating above the main cross aisle  that is turned toward the field.  That section is right behind our ice cream seats.  The section was 95% empty.  Tim explored it at length.  He ran up and down most of the aisles.  He chatted with most of the people in the section.  He is a picture of Tim at the top of that section.  He was yelling “HI GUYS!!” down to people on Eutaw Street and waving like crazy.

26 hi fans.jpg

And here is a panoramic view looking toward the field from the same spot:

27 camden RF foul panoramic.jpg

In the 8th and 9th innings, we went back and sat in the second row behind the Mariners dugout.  It was a good spot to witness a big Mariners Win!

29 mariners win.jpg

With two HRs on the night, the big hero was Jose Lopez who was interviewed in the dugout after the rest of the team cleared out:

30 lopez interviewed.jpg

As we were getting ready to head for the car, I noticed that Mariners trainer Rick Griffin was standing by the screen behind home plate with two very familiar looking bats.  He let me get a close peak and a photo:

31 swingman.jpg

Thanks, Rick!

This was  truly excellent night in Baltimore.  We finally got to see Griff play, which was awesome.  Ichiro had a lazer double.  Lopez two HRs.  Felix was dominant.  And Tim had a blast running around the park.

Its always a great time when you go to Camden Yards, but its even better the 3-4 days each season when our Mariners are in town.

Next up, I think, the Reading Phillies!

Season Fan Stats:

13 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
8 Baseballs (5 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
 
7,735 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

Weekend Project: TheTrap-Eze-ification of a Non-Trap-Eze Glove

Tim and I went to D.C. on Wednesday and, although we did not actually see a game, that was our game for the week.  No game this weekend.  So I needed a weekend project.

As can be seen in my entry from Wednesday, I have a black Rawlings Randy Johnson signature RBG10B glove.  (You can see me holding it in this picture).  I love Rawlings gloves.  They are one of the very few things in my life to which I am brand loyal.  But it hasn’t always been that way.  For a couple years in middle school and high school, I had a Spalding Dwight Gooden signature glove.  That was right at the beginning of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career.  And with Griff’s help, I fell in love with the Rawlings Trap-Eze.

During my sophomore or junior year of high school — after a beautiful black Rawlings became my primary glove — I performed surgery on that Spalding.  I made it into a Trap-Eze.

This weekend, I decided to perform a similar glove surgery.  I decided to turn my Randy Johnson into a throw-back Mariners Trap-Eze.  Yes, I did hesitate in doing this because it is a Randy Johnson signature glove and he’s a future hall of famer.  But I figured who cares.  I want to maximize my enjoyment of the glove, and to do that, it needed to become a throw-back Mariners Trap-Eze.

Here we are at the beginning of the process:

RBG10B project.jpg

The top picture shows the glove intact.  Its a fine looking glove.  But its no Trap-Eze.  When I made my old Spalding into a Trap-Eze in high school, I just cut certain portions of the webbing out and laced the remaining portions together in a Trap-Ezesque fashion.  But I wanted to do this one in a more authentic manner.

I made a glove by hand a couple years ago and (as shown in the top picture) I still have a big roll of black leather.  I used the black leather to fashion a sixth finger for the webbing.  I eye-balled it and tried to get it the right size and shape.  I then punched holes in it for lacing.

As shown in the top picture, I used royal blue lacings like some of the Mariners did back in the day (or some (like Griff) had royal blue gloves).

In the bottom picture, you can see that I removed the original webbing.  I kept it incase I was to change the glove back to its normal state some day.  But I don’t foresee that.  I like it too much.

I use this for all of my glove lacing needs:

vein clamp.jpg

That is actually a vein clamp.  My mom was a nurse and over the years, she got me several vein clamps — yes, used in surgery to clamp veins — to use for stringing gloves.  As a result, I was sorta the go-to guy for my baseball team when anyone needed a glove re-strung.   The vein clamp works great because it locks in place once clamped down.

The stringing of all gloves can be tricky if you’re not used to it.  The Trap-Eze is probably more confusing than any other glove because it has a lot more going on.  Lots of lacing all over the place.  But, the project turned out great.  I think the sixth finger turned out just right — or as close as I should expect to be able get it by hand and eye-ball.

Here are some before and after shots.  First, inside:

pre-post-inside.jpg

And the outside:

pre-post-outside.jpg

Finally, here is a shot showing some comparisons with a real Trap-Eze:

trapcomps.jpg

No too shabby, eh?  Much better than my original Trap-Eze surgery, in my humble opinion.

By the way, while at the Rawlings outlet to get the blue lacings, I picked up a face mask for Tim’s batting helmet.  He’s recently managed to foul a ball or two off of his face (how does that work?), so I figured a mask would help him avoid injuries.

Here is a look at this helmet/mask in action from this afternoon:

hitting.jpg

That is it for this weekend.  The Mariners are in Baltimore Tuesday through Thursday.  Tim and I will be there either Wednesday or Thursday.  Getting excited to see our M’s!

By the way, the M’s won today on Griff’s RBI double in the 8th — scoring Ichiro who had 3 hits on the day.  Excellent.

An Evening At Nationals Park (Without Baseball) – 6/3/09

On the way home from Nationals Park, at around 1 a.m., my mom gave me some good advice:  “You should stop driving around to these milestone games.  It doesn’t work for you.”

She was right.

Last season, Tim and I went to see Griffey play in Philadelphia.  He was sitting on 599 home runs.  I REALLY wanted us to be there for number 600.  In three days, he pinch hit twice.  Swung the bat once.  Walked twice on 9 pitches.

A couple weeks ago, we went to see Jamie Moyer try to win his 250th game of this career.  He looked great.  Then it all fell a part and he lost.

But I wasn’t deterred.  I’d been tracking Randy Johnson’s march to 300 wins like a hawk.  I’d been hoping he would be somewhere nearby when he was sitting on 299.  Then last week, it all fell into place.  He won number 299 and his next start was against the lowly Nationals.  It would be only 2.5 hours from our house.  Perfect!

Despite previous milestone failures, I had to try it.  It was too important to pass up.

The weather report wasn’t good.  But when we walked up to the stadium, it looked like we were set to get the game in.

The grounds crew was chalking the field:

1 nats chalking.jpg

The MLB Network’s Hazel Mae gave us a smile and an awkward little wave:

2 hi hazle.jpg

Giants skipper Bruce Bochy was out and about:

3 bochy.jpg

Yep, things were looking pretty good.  Close to business as usual.  Baseball and a 300th win coming soon.  Or so we thought.

We decided to visit the playset in center field before the game started.  On the way, we ran into Screech:

4 hi screech.jpg

Tim had a great time in the play area.  But after a few minutes came THE RAIN!

We took refuge under the concourse behind RF where people were enjoying their dinners in the covered picnic area:

6 the people hide.jpg

Yep, all of a sudden, baseball as usual didn’t seem quite as certain.

The skies they were a-threatenin’

7 DC RF rain delay panoramic.jpg

We walked the spacious concourse from foul pole to foul pole, and it was packed:

8 packed concourse.jpg

Then the rain REALLY started to come down.  The Nationals put up notices to the crowd telling them to hide in the concourse…and promising more information to come:

8b the rain cometh.jpg

We checked out the Nats bullpen to see if there were any pitchers hanging out in there:

9 bullpen ball.jpg

See that security guard sitting back with his legs out?  See the ball in his right hand?  I don’t want to give anything away about this story, but I must note that that is the ONE AND ONLY baseball that I saw while attending this “game.”  (Well, except for in the team store).

Did I mention there was a lot of rain?

11 Lake NatsPark.jpg

This is what it looks like when a lot of rain meets poor drainage planning:

12 Natty Waterfall.jpg

We sat down in the first row behind the bullpen and Tim kept himself entertained crawling around by my feet:

 
14 tim entertains himself.jpg

Eventually, the rain stopped!  We’d already been at the park a long time there was no baseball being played…Tim was confused:

13 tim wheres the game.jpg

The grounds crew raced out to start preparing the field for BASEBALL!  Note the huge splashes as this guy runs through the outfield:

16 splish splash.jpg That guy and his buddies started pulling the tarp off of the infield…

15 tarp removal.jpg

…and into the outfield grass:

17 LF rain delay panoramic.jpg

This Giant’s coach started squeegeeing the bullpen — looking like they were gonna play a game:

18 squiggy coach.jpg

And then came the diamond dust…lots of it:

19 lots of diamond dust.jpg

At this point, heck, it sure seems like we’re playing baseball tonight.  Yes!  Bring on Randy Johnson’s 300th win!

But first, Tim requested ice cream.  Even though the game hadn’t started yet, I agreed we could go get his ice cream helmet.  We headed to the concourse behind home plate so we could go out to RF where there are a bunch of standing counters or covered seats where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream.

However, before we could get around home plate, we ran into a familar face, snagger and MLBlogger extraordinaire Zack Hample.

 

20 with zack.jpg

(Note, in this picture I’m not toting my usual black Rawlings Trap-eze.  I made an exception for this game and brought my black Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B.)

How did I end up meeting up with Zack at the game you ask?  How about a little overly detailed back story?

So, my favorite ball park of all time is the one and only Kingdome.  Many a night, I find myself searching google images for pictures of the Kingdome.  Like this.  A couple months back, I came across a Kingdome picture titled “Alli Zack Kingdome.”  I’d actually come across it before in my quest for Kingdome pictures.  I thought to myself, who is this dude whose picture has now come up twice when I’ve searched for my beloved Kingdome?  So, I followed the link to his webpage.  I ran through a number of the pictures from every year of his life – including many pictures at different stadiums wearing different teams’ apparrel.  Eventually, I found links to numerous articles and video clips and learned that he catches a whole lot of balls at games.  Then I found his blog.  This was the off-season, so I pretty much scanned around old entries from different games.  I really enjoyed all of the random stadium pictures — like this stuff.  So, I started following his blog.

Tim, Zack and I ended up wandering over toward the seats behind third base.  Zack wanted to watch to see if any players were out on the field.  (NOTE:  at no point during this “game” did I ever see a single player on the field of play — that’s from 5:45 to 10:45, no players on the field).  Zack and I chatted while Tim stood on a railing giving Zack what seemed to be thousands of fist bumps and high fives…some of them might have just been slaps – the boy was getting tired and restless.  Here is what it looked like:

21 multiple high fives.jpg

After a while, I got Tim his ice cream helmet — real chocolate ice cream (not soft serve) in a helmet for $5.00 — and then the three of us sat in the back row of the field level seats behind third base.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but it seemed like we were close to playing some baseball.  The field was looking a whole lot better.  It wasn’t raining.  But that darn tarp was still sitting in the outfield.

22 field looking better.jpg

Worse than that, there was just no urgency on the field.  It seemed like they should have been working harder to get the tarps off of the field so the game could start.  But no, they were working at a snails pace.

Even more frustrating was that the Nationals were giving us absolutely no updates about what was happening.  Literally, for several hours the only “update” was a sign (shown in a picture or two above) that reassured us that the Nationals would provide updates about the situation.

At one point, we debated whether they could get the field ready to start at 9:00 p.m.  Well, that was soon a moot point.  The rain returned:

23 Act II Return of the Rain.jpg

Tim pointed to the sky and told me all about the “rain buggies” and “thunder monsters.”  He asked me “is the baseball game over?”  I reassured him, “no, it hasn’t started yet.”

A kind member of the crowd provided comic relief by running on the field, rounding the bases, and then took out a security guy at home plate (the guy in yellow):

24 fan removal squad.jpg

 Remember how I said the Nats gave us no updates?  That isn’t entirely accurate.  At some point in the 9 o’clock hour (maybe later), they announced that the buses to the naval ship yard (or something like that) will run for “half an hour after the conclusion of tonight’s game.”  Is it just me or doesn’t that sorta imply there is going to be a game tonight?

Around 10-something, the umpires came out and tested the outfield.  Then they left.  Nothing changed.  No announcements.  More sitting and waiting.

A while later, they did it again.  This time, they had a big meeting by the third base dugout after testing the field.  It looked like one of them signaled a “no go” sign to Manny Acta, but then he stopped and walked over to Acta and told him something.  Then the umps left.  A bunch of Nats were still in their dugout.  Shouldn’t they be gone if the umps told them it was postponed?  They kept standind around in there.

But a couple minutes later, all of the Nats left at once as if on cue.  Maybe they’re leaving to get ready to go home?  Maybe they’re leaving to get ready for the game?  A couple minutes later, a guy grabs the Nats gatorade coolers and took them into the clubhouse.  Not a good sign.  But still no announcement.  What is going on?

We decided to get up and look for some food.  Everything was closed.  No food or drink available in the stadium.  Do they know something they’re not telling us?  Here is a view of the field through the Red Porch restaurant, which was closed:

25 no food for you.jpg

Finally, at 10:47, they called the game:

26 call at 1047.jpg Very dissappointing.  A couple minutes later, they announced they’d give us tickets to another game later in the season — you mean I have to find a reason to come back again?

Tim and I headed for the shuttle to the RFK parking lot.  Tim was fast asleep 5 minutes into the car right home.  We arrived home a little after 2:00 a.m.  Before heading off to bed, I checked my email.  I had an email from the Nationals saying the game was postponed.  The email was received at 10:05pm.  That means they had emailed me about the game 40 minutes before they announced it in the stadium — incredible!

The worst part is that Randy Johnson pitched today and won his 300th game. AND WE MISSED IT!!!  Well, we watched it on TV:

26 game on without us.JPG

I felt a little sorry for Randy because there were only about 5 fans at the game.  It was terrible.  He should have won number 300 at home with a packed house or somewhere where the stands would be filled with Bit Unit fans cheering him on like crazy.

Oh, well.

CONGRATULATIONS, RANDY!!!  Excellent career.  Thanks for the 130 wins you brought the Mariners!

Season Fan Stats:

12 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)

3,897 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

Tigers at Orioles (5/31/09)

Tim and I headed down to Baltimore for the second time this season to close out the month of May with a game between the Tigers and Orioles.  It was Tim’s first time seeing the Tigers.  We were joined on the trip by friends Mark and Brady Kelly.  Several months ago when I planned out the 2009 season, I asked Mark if he and Brady would like to join us for this game because Mark is from Detroit and he and Brady are Tigers fans.

We drove down separately and we arrived a bit before Mark and Brady.  It was by far the warmest and sunniest game we’d been to this year so far.  We arrived around 12:00 for a 1:35 start.  I was hoping we’d catch the end of batting practice.  However, the teams didn’t take BP before this day game.  Instead of BP, we were greeted by a parade of little leaguers marching around the warning track.  You can see them ringing the stadium behind us in this picture:

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We headed down the 3B line to watch the Tigers pitchers play long toss and do sprints.  I was hoping that some Tiger would take pitty on us and throw us a ball because we were a father-son combo not included in the 13,000 kids who got to march around the field.  But no such luck.  However, we did get our first autograph and player picture of the season:

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Ryan Perry is a rookie reliever for the Tigers.  His stats make it seem like he’s having a nice first couple months of his career.  He would not pitch in this game.  Tim doesn’t look too excited to be in this picture.  I’m guessing he was dissappointed the basebal player wasn’t Ichiro or Griffey.

After watching the Tigers pitchers warm up, he were blazing hot.  The sun was beating down like nobody’s business.  So we headed up to the last row of the upper deck to take some pictures for a panoramic — and stand in the shade:

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Tim’s an Irishman.  So the sun isn’t his best friend.  After standing in the sun for half an hour watching the pitchers play catch, he was drained.  Here he is on the verge of konking out on my shoulders once we made it to the shady and breezy upper deck:

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We stayed up in the upper deck for a while so we could beat the heat.  Tim was confused when we were up there because there were no bases on the field.  They were still watering down and chalking the field.  I took a series of photos of the crew chalking the field:

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They traced that metal frame and then chalked over the tracing.

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And that’s how you chalk home plate, folks.

While we were up hiding in the upper deck shade, we got a call from Mark.  He and Brady had arrived and were out by our seats.  We decided to meet up over by the bouncy house.  So we started walking toward the RF corner.  From the concourse behind the 1B foul territory, I took this interesting picture looking down toward the ground level:

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I think this picture is pretty interesting.  To the far right, is a long meandering walkway from the ground level up to the 300 leve.  Next to it are two long escalators:  one goes up to the suite level and one goes up to the 300 level.  Straight ahead is the warehouse along Eutaw street.  At the bottom is a sign that says “Home of the Orioles,” which hangs over a walk way through the bottom of the wearhouse.  If you’re walking outside the stadium from the CF gate on the far side of Eutaw Street, this cut out is the first break in the long warehouse wall and it cuts through to the B Gate and a small ticket office.  By the way, when the ticket line at the CF side of Eutaw Street is reaaaallly long, this one will most likely be about 2 people long.  Finally, right in the middle of the picture is the bouncy house.

Before heading down to the bouncy house, we ducked back into the seats and took this picture looking down a bustling Eutaw Street from Section 306:

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After bouncing in the bouncy house . . .

timmers bouncing.jpg . . . we didn’t find Mark and Brady.  So we headed over to the seats to see if they were over there.  They weren’t.  So, Tim posed with the orange seat in right center field:

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This is Section 96, Row D, Seat 23.  Apparently, on September 6, 1996, Eddie Murray’s 500th career home run landed in this seat.

Anyway, Mark and Brady weren’t over here either.

We headed back to the kids area and Tim played on the play fort – its fairly unimpressive, so I won’t show you a picture.  After a few minutes, we headed back to the seats once again.  On the way, we stopped to get some chicken strips and french fries.  While looking for napkins, we ran into Mark and Brady.

As I mentioned, Mark and Brady are Tigers fans.  And they were decked out in Tigers gear.  So lets just get it out of the way — THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!  Do you know the controversy?  Interestingly, every single Tigers fan I’ve ever asked about THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY has been totally oblivious to its very existence.  Apparently, the Tigers’ fans are not very observant.

So what is the controvery you ask?  Here it is — the Old English script “D” on the Tigers hat is totally and completely different than the Old English script “D” their jerseys and no one seems to care or notice

Shocking!  Huh?

Here is indisputable photographic evidence:

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Let’s take a closer look:

1. The upper right corner of the Hat “D” has little fancy points and a concave diagonal edge while the same part of the Jersey “D” is rounded with no pionts and no concave edge.

2. The traditionally straight edge of the capital “D” is replace in the Jersey “D” with three vertical lines.  The two inner lines are straight and the outide line is sort of shaped like a shark with two pointy fins on his back.  Meanwhile, the straight edge of the Hat “D” has only two vertical lines.  Neither are straight.  Instead, they both look sort of like tall thin S’s.  But congrats to the Tigers, the outside line on the Hat “D” also has the two shark like fins on it!

3. The Two S-like vertical lines on the Hat “D” have two little bars connecting them – one at the top and one at the bottom.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.  The Jersey “D”?  You got it, no connector bars at all between the roughly corresponding vertical lines.

4.  But there are more connector discrepancies.  The left and right side of the opening of the Hat “D” is connected with two little bars – the top bar is concave and the bottom bar is convex.  How about the Jersey “D” — just the opposite.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.

5.  Finally, the Hat “D” is cool and the Jersey “D” is not (this one is subjective).

So you say, “Come on, I never noticed this, but how can it be a controversy?  All Tigers fans must know about this?”  Nope.  You’re wrong.  In fact, Mark himself — a Michigander — was totally unaware of this last year before I asked him about it.  Recently, Mark surveyed a bunch of Tigers fans at Comerica Park.  None of them knew about this.

The big question:  why is it that Tigers have two different D’s on their uniforms?

The answer:  NO ONE KNOWS!!!

According to my limited internet research on this (limited because I don’t really care about it), the Tigers themselves have no clue why they have different D’s on their uniforms.

So there you have it:  THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!!!

 Anyway, I ignored the crazy mix-matched D’s on Mark and Brady’s shirts and hats and went about our day.  We headed over to our seats.  We watched about one inning there.  It was too hot and sunny for our pale little boys.  I noticed that Section 306 (from the picture above) was essentially empty and totally shady.  So we headed up there (after playing in the RF standing room flag area for a bit).

Here was our view up there:

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That picture makes the seats seem higher than they really were.  Actually, I really liked sitting up there.  But before we get to that, here is a look back at the flag area and our seats in Section 96:

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If you go straight up from the White Sox flag in the middle row and then look a little off-center to the right, you’ll see a guy wearing a neon yellow shirt with four empty seats behind him.  Those are our empty seats.

We had a great time in the shade.  Tim had chocoloate ice cream WITHOUT an ice cream helmet:

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Can you believe the Baltimore Orioles STILL don’t offer ice cream helmets?  Come on, Orioles?  It is 2009!  Get with the program!  The fans demand ice cream helmets!

Look at the terrible mess caused because Tim had to eat his ice cream out of of an inferior little bowl.  It was a chocolate covered disaster area by the end of this.

After Tim changed from his Griffey shirt into his Moose shirt, Tim pointed out the batter:

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Next, it was time to try to catch a foul ball:

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Of course, it would have taken a mammoth Ruthian foul ball blast to get a ball up to the little guys.  So Tim and Brady discarded the gloves and did some dancing:

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Despite these sweet moves, the Orioles managed to not put Tim and Brady on the jumbo screen.  Can you believe it?

You know, there was also a game.  It was a pitchers dual.  Edwin Jackson pitched for the Tigers and had a no hitter into the 5th (I think).  Curtis Granderson hit a home run.  Here is he not hitting that home run:

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Is it just me or is Granderson wearing clown shoes?  His front foot looks disproportionately huge to me.

How about a bonus picture of former Mariner Adam Jones?

adam jones.jpgFor the most part, the Tigers scored whenever Mark turned his back to the field.  So, I guess he turned three times.  With the Tigers up 3-0, Fernando Rodney entered the game in the bottom of the ninth: 

big screen fernando rodney.jpgAnd he slammed the door on the Orioles.  Mark and Brady were happy.

Before heading to the car, Mark took our picture:

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As we left the seats, Tim asked if we could go run around the flags.  I told him we couldn’t because we had to go home so we could play baseball.  Tim agreed.

As we walked onto Eutaw Street, I looked toward the field and notice something wonderful on the jumbo screen – a notice that the Mariners will be in town starting June 9th!

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Tim and I will be back for one of those three games.  And Griff will likely hit a monster bomb — like the one marked on the Warehouse wall as shown above.  Well, he might not hit it that far.  That’s the only ball in the history of Camden Yards to make it to the Warehouse in the air.

So with that, we walked to the cars.  Mark and I tentatively planned to catch a Marlins vs. Phillies game at Citizen Bank Park in August.  It will be Brady’s first Phillies game.

Tim slept for 1 hour and 50 minutes of the two hour drive home.  As we pulled into our garage, Tim (still groggy from his nap) asked, “Can we play baseball now?”  Well, I did promise we could instead of going to the flags again.  So we played baseball in the yard for about an hour and a half before it started getting dark.

Another fine day of baseball in the books.

Season Fan Stats:

12 Games
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
3,607 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))

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