Pujols and Piniero in Philadelphia (7-24-09)
There was one reason, and one reason alone, that I decided we should go to this game — Albert Pujols. The guy is a monster. I wanted to get our third peak of this future hall of famer. And I was hoping he would go yard for us.
We tend to go to more day games than night games. Many of them have no batting practice. So I decided we’d head down a little early for this game so we could watch some BP and maybe see Pujols put on a display of his skills before the game got started. I was also hoping we’d see Jamie Moyer. I’ve seen him hanging out signing autographs before games with his own sharpie. I was hoping he’d be out so we could try to get a picture with him.
However, none of it was in the cards. Little did I know that thousands of 7-year-old Jonas Brothers fans would be out in force. The Brothers Jonas were playing next door to Citizens Bank Park. They managed to make our 72 mile drive take over 2-and-a-half hours. We completely missed BP. It wasn’t the most pleasant driving experience.
Interestingly, we have NEVER made it to BP at Citizens Bank Park. Never.
Anyway, we were at the park early enough that we didn’t have to hurry to get into the stadium once we parked. The Phils fans have a good time before games. Tailgating is rampant. So we decided to play a little catch in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot…
I wasn’t too excited to spend a lot of time looking at the directory because I didn’t know what time it was and if we were risking missing Pujols’s first at bat. Tim on the other hand wanted to take a nice, slow, thorough look at this thing. Luckily, it all worked out. We didn’t miss anything.
When we made our way into the field seats by the third base dugout, we found players stretching down the base lines, the Philly Phanatic warming up the crowd, grounds crew people were doing the final prep work on the field, and the announcer was reading the starting line-ups.
Here is what the scene looked like:
And, before long, it was game time. We sorta have a standard game plan at Citizens Bank Park, and it usually starts with watching the first couple innings from the SRO areas behind home plate. At this game, we decided to move a little to the right for the beginning of the game so we could get a good view of Albert. Unfortunately, no first inning fireworks — here is his swing resulting in a ground out to first base:
At the far right, you can see the ball (a blurr) just entering the picture. Sadly, there would be no Pujols HR on this day (although he did get one hit)…and this is the best I could do as far as action shots of Pujols goes. But here are some less interesting “batting stance” shots:
In the bottom of the inning, I was happy to get a chance to see my old buddy, Joel Piniero, on the mound…
…here he is shown with a picture of Chase Utley about to fly out to Ryan Ludwick in CF.
But back to Piniero. Joel was a Mariner from 2000-2006. Joel started out great with the M’s. It seemed he was poised to be a terrific starter for years to come for the Mariners. However, he cooled off. He ended his time as a Mariners with a career record of 58-55.
Anyway, it was great to see Joel in action once again — and he got the win for the Cardinals.
In the top of the second, the Cardinals took the lead 1-0 and Tim asked to go to the play area. I figured it was a good time to go because Pujols had just been up in the first inning and we probably had a while before he was up again. So, as requested, it was play area time:
Tim loves this little marble maze in the picture to the right. Actually, he generally just loves the Phillies play area. By far, it is his favorite of any park we’ve visited.
After playing in the play area for a few minutes, it started to rain a bit. Although it didn’t seem like much, they closed the play area. I told Tim we could go get his ice cream and check out the what is going on in the game.
Before we got ice cream, this is what we found on the field:
No play area. No game. Yep, its time for ice cream.
We headed up to the second deck because I had a brilliant idea that it would be less crowded. In my defense, I had some decent logic here. 90 percent or more of the field level seats are out in the open (in the rain) while much more of the second deck is under cover. So I figured the field level concourse would be packed.
Well, it might have been. But I’m not sure it would be possible to be any more “packed” than the second deck concourse. We got stuck walking through it and it took a while to get out — without ice cream. Check out what it looked like (taken from the third deck):
Now that I see that picture again, I guess that not many of the seats up there are covered. Oh, well.
We finally made it through the third deck to a food stand that *appeared* to have ice cream. By this time, Tim was begging and praying for some ice cream:
Well, they only had ice cream in pint cartons. That’s unacceptable. But they pointed us to “Seasons Pizza” where we could find ice cream helmets. (Referring back to the directory above, we usually get Tim’s ice cream helmet at “Old City Creamery” behind section 137 on the 3B line).
So on we marched on our ice cream buying-and-eating trek that would eventually have us see almost the entire ball park…or so it seemed.
Indeed, Seasons Pizza had ice cream helmets with chocolate sprinkles ($5.00). We bought Tim’s helmet and went up into the stands so he could sit down and enjoy his helmet. We went toward the top of the upper deck so we’d be under cover. There were tons of open seats because everyone was packed into the concourses below.
Here is Tim at the first stop on our ice cream eating tour:
The rain stopped. They started to uncover the field. Here is what it looked like from our first ice cream seats of the day:
Soon, people came for our seats. Tim decided he wanted to go down to the field level. I thought that seemed like a good idea. There are a lot of standing room counters on which tim usually sits to eat his ice cream while I stand and watch the game.
We headed down numerous flights of stairs until we found ourself in the field level concourse. Or, I should say, the still extremely over crowded field level concourse. Number of counter spots available: zero.
So we heaed up to the second deck down the LF line. Not gonna work.
So we headed back to the third deck where there are also lots of standing room counters. Unfortunately, they are out in the open and, consequently, they were soaked. But we eventually found one that was under cover.
The melted ice cream eating resumed:
It looked really cool up there with the sun coming through the rain clouds. The bad part was that they were about to start playing the game again, and we couldn’t see the field.
Instead, this was our view:
So it was on to our third set of ice cream seats — actually another counter, not seats.
This counter was wet too. But luckily I bring lots of extra clothes for Tim — in case he destroys his clothes with chocolate ice cream — so I could wipe down a spot for Tim to sit.
Here was our view from our third and final ice cream spot:
It was a long road to this final ice cream eating spot — but we were happy with our journey and destination. We recorded the moment with a self portrait:
Hey, look at that, the Ryan Howard shift!
Next, we decided to go spend some time in the outfield and by the bullpens. We’ve never really hung out by the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park before. So I thought it would be a nice plan.
On the way down the long ramps in the LF corner, I took some pictures of the front and back of the big scoreboard/video screen in LF…
…then it was time to head to Ashburn Alley in CF…
In the picture to the right, the green walls going down into a big pit are the walls of the bullpens.
Tim loved the statue of Richie Ashburn out there:
Tim kept calling the statue a “Trophy.” He loves trophies! In this picture, he is swinging a fake bat and then running to the base on which Richie is standing. He did that over-and-over-and-over-again.
Here is the view of Ashburn Alley from the Ashburn “Trophy”:
Next, we headed over to the area by the bullpens where we found a steel beam with a two foot high concrete base…
Tim had fun standing inside the groove in the beam, and the concrete base was great for boosting me above all of these fans (top right) standing around “watching” the game. We also had a good view of the bullpens if we scooted a few feet closer to CF:
In the picture to the right, the Phillies’ Andrew Carpenter is warming up (the ball looks like a blur in the middle of the picture) and the Cardinals relievers are milling about up top. Carpenter came in and gave up a HR to Julio Lugo.
I took the picture to the left because I thought it was an interesting view of the outfield wall. You can see the corner of the Phillies’ bullpen in the bottom right of that picture.
In the RF corner of the field level concourse, there are a couple big baseball games and a BBQ stand. I’ve never taken Tim over there because I haven’t wanted to test his patience standing in line for the games. However, at this game, I decided he was ready — and he did great standing in line watching the other kids play the game. Here is the game we played:
The kid in the Utley shirt is standing at the control box. There are two big buttons. One says “pitch” and one says “swing” When you press the pitch button, a door opens up on the pitcher’s hand and a volleyball sized baseball rolls down the board. Then you press swing and try to hit the ball into one of the slots at the top. You get three outs.
Most of the kids got three outs without getting any hits. The first kid we watched who got a hit was a pro at it. He ended up scoring four runs. Tim and I played together and we ended up with two triples and one run scored.
Here is the view of the RF-RCF seats and concourse from the Ballpark Pinball game:
These pictures are the same, but taken on different settings of my camera. The red arrow is pointing toward the top of our standing room beam.
And here is a picture taken from our beam toward the concourse leading to the RF foul pole and the 1B infield concourse:
You can’t tell from this shot, but the concourses at Citizens Bank Park provide a ton of room for standing room viewing of the game. My only complaint is that the concourses are often windy. However, it was nice at this game. Really no noticable wind in the RCF concourse area.
Next, Tim wanted to go up onto an elevated walkway all the way out in deep CF. They call it the “rooftop” for some reason. They have cheap bleachers out there. We took a couple panaramics up there, here is the first which is closer to the small section of bleachers (the bleachers are toward the RF side of the rooftop — and are shown in the first picture in this entry, below the liberty bell):
The rooftop seems like a nice place to hang out and have some drinks and food with friends. There are a bunch of picnic tables with umbrellas for shade up there. But the big brick wall blocks out your view of a huge portion of the outfield. The wall is the backside of the batters eye.
As you’ll see in the next picture, during the game, they fence off the bottom section of the historical time-line and wall of fame area to the left end of the brick wall. My guess is they do that so people don’t stand on the fence and bug the people in the bullpen, which is just below that area.
Here is another picture from the rooftop where you can see the red and blue fence blocking the area above the bullpen. Also, this is taken from deeper CF, toward left a bit, and it provides a much clearer view of the field:
We took this funny picture of ourselves before heading down from the rooftop:
Finally, we headed down to the fancy seats behind the Phillies dugout for the ninth inning. The Cardinals were blowing out the Phils so there were plenty of empty seats and no one checked out tickets when we went down between innings.
This was our view of the Phils hitting in the ninth:
Above, on that swing, Pedro Feliz grounded out. Below, two seconds later, Carlos Ruiz got nailed in the side of the leg. Matt Stairs followed with a fielder’s choice / error by Albert Pujols. Finally, J-Roll and Victorino grounded out to end the game.
At the beginning of the game, they announced that Adrian Johnson was the home plate umpire. They don’t have a separate umpire tunnel at Citizens Bank Park. I wasn’t sure if they would exit through the Phillies dugout or the Cardinals. I figured we’d try the Phillies side. But I figured wrong.
After the final out was recorded, Johnson started walking toward the Cardinals dugout. I yellowed, “Hey, Mr. Johnson, Adrian Johnson!” He stopped and turned around and looked my way for maybe five seconds. He couldn’t figure out who called his name. So he turned around again and left. No umpire ball for Team Cook. Thus, we snapped our family record 7 game streak of getting a ball. Oh, well. It wasn’t a surprise, we’ve got a grand total of 1 ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (from Rockies 1B coach and former Mariner Glenallen Hill) and 1 total ball ever from the Phillies (J-Roll in D.C. in May).
All in all, we had a great time at the ball park — highlighted by our tour of the park looking for a spot for Tim to eat his ice cream.
And, the Jonas Brothers must have let out early. It only took about an hour and a half to get home.
Season Fan Stats:
20 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
16 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers and Cardinals– and sort of the Giants)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (4), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)