August 2009

Ultimate Goal: Accomplished (8-23-09)

Only once before have I broken the normal protocol and started an entry at the middle of a game, rather than at the beginning.  It was for our third game at Fenway back in July, and the purpose was to explain Ken Griffey Jr.’s fourth inning single off of the Green Monster.  At the time, it was the first and only hit Tim had ever seen Griffey collect.  It was a truly special moment.  You can read all about it here.

Once again, I am happy to brake with tradition.  Once again, I will start my story with zero outs in the top of the fourth inning.  Once again, the story will involve my favorite player of all time, Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr.

1 - griff in lineup.jpgGuess what, when we arrived at The Jake and checked the Mariners line-up, Griff was in there – scheduled to hit clean-up and DH.  That’s a good start.

Before the season started, I sat down at my computer, pulled up a bunch of MLB schedules and drafted the official “Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda.”  I then emailed the Agenda to a select group of “Important People” (family, friends, etc.) and invited people to join us on our ride through the 2009 season.  Along with the agenda, I included the following note detailing the goals I had in mind when drafting the agenda:

Important People,
 
    Below, please find the official Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda*.  The basic goals of the Agenda include:
 
1) See Griff hit a Homerun as a Mariner (most important goal);
2) Complete Tim’s “Seen all MLB Teams” Goal (left to see: A’s, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Red Sox, Rays, Dodgers, Padres, Astros, and Braves);
3) Continue new Baseball Roadtrip tradition;
4) Visit 10+ stadiums, including HHH Metrodome (final season), Nationals Park (2d season), Yankee Stadium (first season) and Citi Field (first season);
5) Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition;
6) Get Gill to his first MLB and Mariners Game;
7) Get Poppy out to the ball field at least twice; and
8) Have fun and make memories.

At the beginning of the day, with 26 games under our collective belt on the season, Tim and I had covered most of the goals:  “All 30 Teams” – check; Baseball Roadtrip – check; 10+ stadiums (including HHH Metrodome, Nationals Park, New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field) – check; Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition – check (we’ll be at Yankee Stadium on 9/12/09 for the third anniversary of Tim’s first game); and Have Fun and Make Memories – check.

Due to a chain of events including a miscommunication, a late invite to the Outer Banks and a Citizens Bank Park sell out, goals 6-7 had to be re-scheduled a couple times and, ultimately, suspended until next season.

But goal number one was left incomplete.  In what might have otherwise gone down as a perfect season of baseball fandom, the most important task was left undone.  The mere possibility of it was the entire reason for this trip.  To see my boyhood (and, heck, my adulthood) baseball hero blast a homerun and share the moment with my son was all I wanted out of this season.

Enter, Fausto Carmona and the top of the fourth inning.  Tim and I were out on the bridge that connects The Jake to a parking lot behind the LF bleachers.  He’d been a little grumpy because he hadn’t had a nap, plus I think he was a little bit hungry.  Colleen went down to Heritage Park and was in line to buy some pizza.  I was holding Tim in my arms and this was our view:

2 - jake griff HR panaramic.jpgCarmona started Griff off Ball 1, Ball 2.  Then he reached back and hurled a 93-mph 4-seem fast ball that caught wwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too much of the plate…
3 - griff 624 gameday.jpg…and this happened (picts courtesy of MLB.com screen shots)…

griff 624b.jpg
5 - griff 624d.jpg
6 - griff624a.jpgRight off the bat, it looked like a home run.  However, Grady Sizemore was going back on it like he thought he might have a play on it.   Worse yet, the roof of the batter’s eye bar was in my way.  I could tell it would land out of view on the other side of the roof.  So, I ran toward RF down the bridge until the roof was no longer in play.  I saw Sizemore run out of room and the ball bounced sideways off something in the CF seats, took one big hop and was gloved by a lucky fan.  Here was the estimated flight path of the ball (as estimated unscientifically by me):

7 - griff bomb path.jpg…the guy cirlced on the right is the lucky guy who took home No. 624 on Griff’s career.

Due to the odd angle looking down from the bridge, I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a home run until the second it bounced in the seats.  But the second it bounced, I jumped in the air with Tim still in arms and gave a little shout:  “YESSSSS!!!”

I immediately began fidgeting with my pocket to try to get my camera out, but I had a wardrobe malfunction and couldn’t get it out of my pocket until right before Griff crossed the plate.  This is the only shot I got of our magical moment in Cleveland:

8 - griff about to score on HR624.jpgWhen we arrived home late that night, I watched the video highlight of Griffey’s home run on MLB.com, and I was excited to see that (although you cannot make us out) you can see me and Tim (the blue (my jersey) and white (the front of my hat) blob) moving across the bridge during the highlight of Griff’s bomb.  Here is a screen shot that shows Griff’s HR ball in the air and Tim and me on the bridge:

9 - KGJ HR 624.jpgAnd there you have it:  our number one goal of the season completed!  Never did I imagine 20 years ago, as an eighth grader going to games with my folks and marvelling at Griffey hitting homeruns in the Kingdome, that some day I would be in Cleveland, Ohio and witness the Greatest Mariner of All-Time hit a home run for the M’s while spending an afternoon at the ball park with my son.  It was truly incredible.

And, as my mom said to my dad while watching the game on TV some 2,500+ miles away, “that home run just made Todd’s whole trip.”  It did.  In fact, it made my whole season.

Now…I hope to get a chance to do it again!!

Okay, now that we have the most important part of the game covered, why don’t we go back and start from the beginning.  It was kids’ day at the park.  Outside the LF entrance, they had all sorts of games and events for kids.  Like these little peddle cars that Tim drove around a little coned track:

10 - tims hotrod.jpg

After Tim drove this car, Colleen and Tim played around some more while I went into the Jake and watched the last few minutes of Mariners BP.  I hadn’t gotten much in terms of stadium pictures the day before, so I needed to tour around a bit.

I headed to home plate where I got this panaramic view:

11 - jake plate field panaramic.jpgI headed down to the front row and tried to walk down the 1B line in that big red front aisle, but I got booted out.  Apparently, that aisle is only for really special people.  Since it was such an important aisle, I took a picture of it…

12 - red carpet.jpg…the guy standing at the end of the red aisle is the guy who booted me out of the aisle.

Two seconds later, Colleen called me and I headed back over to LF and met up with her and Tim.

We had excellent seats in the second deck just above the Mariners bullpen.  So we headed over there to check things out.

Colleen sat in our seats while Tim and I hung out in the front row where this was our view…

13 - jake rf bullpen middle panaramic.jpg…as we watched Felix Hernandez warm up:

14 - felix warms.jpgAfter playing catch in the OF, Felix went into the bullpen and pitched off of the mound to M’s back-up catcher Rob Johnson.  (I’ll still call Kenji Johjima our starter).  It was pretty funny watching Felix warm up.  We actually couldn’t see Felix because the mounds are under the second deck.  So we could just see the ball fly into view and into Johnson’s glove.

All of a sudden Tim started yelling down to Johnson:  “Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!  Can you throw me a ball sneakers!   Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!”

I asked Tim why he was calling Johnson sneakers and explained his name was Rob Johnson.  Tim responded, “That’s sneakers.  Sneakers is my friend.”

I asked him why he called him sneakers.  “He’s wearing sneakers.”  Of course!

A few minutes later, the Mariners relievers marched out to take their spot in the bullpen:

15 - relievers.jpgAbove to the right is the aftermath of a hilarious scene that I missed photographing.  (I was wearing a new pair of shorts and I could never seem to get my camera out of the cargo pockets in time!).  Mariners closer David Aardsma is standing at the bottom.  Two seconds before this shot, he just finished going down that line of relievers having each of them smell the inside of his hat.  Each reliever buried his face in Aardsma’s cap and then they would chat about how it smelled.  It was pretty hilarious — much more hilarious than this picture of the aftermath of smellfest.

Soon, the game started.  Just then, Tim spotted the kids’ funland that was situated directly behind our section (section 316).  Here is a photo:

15a - step 2 kids funland.jpgAs MLB stadium play areas go, this one is pretty weak.  If you have young kids, you’ll notice that everything in here is something you probably have in your playroom or back yard, or maybe your friends’ have it in their playroom or back yard.  Nothing special here.  Step 2, the manufacturer of all this stuff, is headquartered just outside of Cleveland.  I guess that is why they have an all-Step 2 play area.  Whether it was comparatively weak or not, Tim still loved it in there.  He never wanted to leave he was having so much fun.  Therefore, Colleen hung out with him and I watched the Mariners bat from the standing room counter behind our section.  It looked like this:

16 - jake rf foul middle panaramic.jpg…and then I went on a little stadium tour.  I started by climbing to the top of the upper deck in RCF:

17 - jake RF upper panaramic.jpgNext, I headed across the rows to the RF foul corner:

18 - jake RF foul upper panaramic.jpg.

Here are a couple more picts showing the empty upper deck concourse in RF and an incredibly steep look down to the RF foul pole:

19 - up high in cleveland.jpgThe view from the top behind home plate:

20 - jake plate upper panaramic.jpgThen, an Indian hit a liner to CF and Franklin Gutierrez came running in to make the play…

21 - franklin grab in CF.jpgAnd, I got some shots of the bullpens:

22 - bullpens grass turf.jpgThis is interesting.  Exactly like the bullpens at Nationals Part, the bullpen in the RF corner (to the right) is field turf, but the bullpen in CF (to the left) is real grass.  Odd, huh?  In D.C., I thought it was because there was an entrance from the employee-only (worker) level concourse where they could bring tractors, etc., through the bullpen to the field.  I figured they put in turf so the heavy equipment passing through the bullpen wouldn’t get damaged.  But I didn’t notice a similar tractor entrance in Cleveland.  I’m not sure why one bullpen is grass and the other is turf.

Here is a view into the Mariners dugout — where Griffey (pre-home run) can be seen chatting up some of his teammates):

23 - Mariners dugout.jpgHe came to the plate while I was passing by, so I took this picture of Tim’s friend “sneakers”:

24 - sneakers.jpgAfter sneakers, I took a couple shots of Ichiro that I combined to make this:

25 - ichiromotion hit 184.jpgThat swing resulted in a single up the middle for Ichi’s 184th hit of the season.

I headed up to the upper corner in LF where I got this view:

26 - jake LF foul upper panaramic.jpgAfter the tour, I met up with Colleen and Tim.  Tim still didn’t want to leave the play area.  But we got him out of there in time to witness Griff’s bomb, as described above.

So, remember I mentioned Colleen was in line for pizza when Griff hit his home run?  Well, she wasn’t able to get any.  She is a vegatarian and when she got to the front of the line, they had just given away the last slice of cheese pizza.  All that was left was pepperoni.  So she came back and met up with us again.

After a little bit, we went back and I stood in the incredibly short but frustratingly slow pizza line.  While in line, I took this picture of King Felix:

27 - felix from pizza line.jpg.

There were literally only 2 people in front of me in line for pizza.  But before I made my way to the front of the line, Felix retired the side, the teams switched positions, and Griff came to bat.  I was forced to abandon my spot in line to go watch Griff’s at bat, and take this picture:

28 - griff takes ball.jpgUnfortunately, the home run was Griff’s only hit on the day, so this at bat didn’t end well.

After Tim got some pizza in him (yes, I eventually did make it through the pizza line), Tim forgot about the play area and we relocated to the LF bleachers so he wouldn’t see the playarea again.

Here is Tim out in the bleachers:

29 - tim the bleacher boy.jpgHere was our view from the bleachers:

30 - jake LF HR bleachers panaramic.jpgTim and I had fun eating sunflower seeds out in the bleachers, and Tim had a blast spitting seeds:

31 - cleveland seeds.jpgUnfortunately, it wasn’t the Mariners day.  We wouldn’t push any more runs across the plate after Griff’s home run.  Meanwhile, Felix had an off-day.  The Mariners lost 6-1.

It was Kids Run The Bases day, but we had a six hour drive following the game, and Tim really needed a nap in the car so we headed out.

Despite two terrible losses, it was great to see our Mariners once again this season, and it was OUTSTANDING to see Griff hit his 624th home run of his career.

Season Fan Stats:

27 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)

12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

 

Mariners at The Jake (8-22-09)

After returning home from Boston back in July, it started to hit me that, if Griff decides to retire after this season (and I sincerely hope he DOES NOT), Tim and I would never see him play again.  I didn’t like that idea.  So I reviewed the rest of the M’s schedule to see if they would visit anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.

They had one more trip to Cleveland on the books.  Cleveland is in northeastern Ohio, and Ohio borders Pennsyvlania to the West.  I determined that fits within the definition of “anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.”

Therefore, just 4 days removed from the conclusion of a wonderful roadtrip with my dad, Tim, my wife Colleen and I piled into the car and headed across Pennsylvania on the PA Turnpike.

After camping out a night in Washington, PA, we headed north up the Ohio turnpike to Cleveland and after taking 80N-to-480W-to-77N-to71 we cruised into town on 9th Street and this was our view:

1 - the jake.JPG

Ah, Jacobs Field…the Jake.  (I think that is a typo on the sign, that’s not how you spell ‘Jacobs’).  It was good to be back to the first field where Tim ran the bases.  And it was great to be in the same city as the Mariners.

We came into the city early to see what we could see in the Land of Cleve.  Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the city…except that its on a BIG lake.  We ended up driving through downtown and spotting the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Statium.  So we turned left down a street heading toward the water.  Next, we turned right down a long road that ran by some water and an airport before finally reaching a marina.  Here are some pictures of what we saw:

2 - down by lake erie.jpgCheck out that lake!  Tim was asleep when we pulled up to the marina.  We woke him up and pointed out the huge lake.  He responded, “No, Daddy.  That’s not a lake.  That’s an ocean!”  Its big.  In that top right picture, that’s the R’n’R Hall of Fame.  Below, is a Blue Angels jet resting on a stand in front of a Navy facility by the airport.  Pretty cool stuff.

And, that was the extent of our city touring.  We had a game to go to!

After parking in a garage a few blocks away, we walked up to a misty Jacobs Field.  The clouds were just spitting a little bit.  No need for an umbrella or a hood.  And I figured it would be no problem for BP.

I was wrong.

Colleen and I had made a deal.  We would come early to this game so I could watch some BP.  But we wouldn’t come early the next day (which was a day game and might not have BP anyway).  But as a approached the gates, I could see the in field was covered.  No BP.

There was a sign that said the stadium was open at Gate C.  So walked over to Gate C in RCF: 

3 - walking to gate c.JPGWe’d never entered through Gate C before (we’d only been here once before).  Below to the far left, that is what it looks like…

4 - gate c feller lineup.jpgIn front of the Gate C entrance, there is a statue of Bob Feller (middle) with which Tim posed.  I didn’t think it was a very good statue, at least compared to the extremely life-like statues at U.S. Cellular Field.  [NOTE TO THE MARINERS:  When Griff does eventually retire, use whomever made the statues at U.S. Cellular for his statue.  Also, use a classic Griff pose, not the pose with both arms over his head after hitting a home run.]

As we entered Gate C, there were two display cases just inside the gate with lists of the two teams’ starting line ups.  Oh, no…no Griff!

Despite my disappointment (which I was prepared for because I knew a lefty was pitching for the Indians), I thought it was a cool feature to have the line-ups posted like that.

Below is a view of the RF concourse…

5 - RF concourse.jpg

…we quickly learned that we were trapped in the RF seats and/or concourse until 6:00 p.m. — a full a hour away…and most of the food stands were not yet open (and as I mentioned, no BP).  What ever would we do to kill the time?

We walked down into the field level seats as close to the RF foul pole as we could get (the Mariners bullpen is between the seats and the foul pole.  Here was our view:

 

6 - jake RF HR field panaramic.jpg
As shown above, there were a couple Mariners on the field.  David Aardsma ran out to the bullpen (shown above) to grab some baseballs for playing some catch with his colleagues in the M’s bullpen.

The big draw on the field was Ichiro.  He played catch (with his interpreter, I believe)…

7 - ichi warms up.jpg

…and then he did some running.

Then a couple Mariners relief pitchers played catch by the tarp over the in field.  Because we were stuck in RF, we couldn’t get very close.  I couldn’t recognize anyone from out there except David Aarsdma.

Ardsma and his buddy were the last two playing catch.  His partner threw a ball passed him that rolled out and sat in the grass just off the tarp behind second base.  Aardsma pulled another ball out of his pocket and finished playing catch.

When he was finished, he walked out to grab the ball behind second.  We were now all alone in the seats in RCF.  I called out, “Hey, D.A.!!!!!”

The D.A. immediately picked up the damp ball and threw it REALLY far and directly into my glove:


8 - aardsma ball.jpgIn this picture of Tim, that is Aardsma to the left of Tim’s head.  D.A. threw the ball to us from about 2 feet behind the tarp right behind where Tim is holding up the ball.  It was a great throw.

After throwing the ball to us, a bunch of people in RF yelled Aardsma’s name and he turned and threw his other baseball on a line all the way to the back of the RF seats.  The throw was very impressive.

Here is a panaramic view from where we caught the ball from Aardsma:

9 - jake RCF field panaramic.jpgAnd here is a look to our left.  Check out how thick the OF wall is.  I’m not sure, but this seems to be designed so people do not interfere with borderline homeruns:

9a - jakes thick OF wall.jpg

By the way, Aardsma’s second throw landed at the top of that last section, just under the overhang.

Here is a view to our right:

10 - jake LF stands and scoreboard.jpg

The red arrow points to our seats in Section 184, Row B.  They were excellent seats.

Next, we went to Heritage Park.

11 - heritage park.jpg

Heritage Park is the Indians’ outdoor Hall of Fame.  Its pretty cool.  As you can probably tell from the bottom picture, Tim and I played catch in Heritage Park.  Colleen didn’t think it was appropriate to play catch in there.  I told her they’d tell us to stop if they didn’t like it.

After a couple minutes, a stadium usher type standing behind the plaque in the bottom left corner of the picture above called me over.  Uh, ho.  I figured we were, indeed, getting shut down.  I walked over to him.

Todd – “Yes?”

Usher – (pulling a baseball from his pocket and whispering while staying behind the column) “Throw this one back to him.”

So, how about that?  Instead of getting told not to play catch in Heritage Park, we were rewarded with a ball.  Not bad.

“Thanks, Usher-guy.”

Tim was happy to add another ball to his collection.

After playing some more catch, we walked down the stairs to the lower section of Heritage Park.  While down there, Colleen found this:

12 - hal trosky.jpgThis was literally the first and only plaque Colleen read.  So, as a big-time migraine sufferer, she was mighty surprised to see she’d picked the plaque of a ball player whose “Career was curtailed after 1941 season by migraine headaches.”  That is something you don’t hear every day.

Finally, they opened the rest of the stadium.  We were eating some nachos by this time.  We relocated to the seats just a little bit down the line from 1B.  We were at the top of the section when two individuals popped out of the M’s dugout and started walking toward the bullpen.  One of them was Jason Phillips, whom you might remember from our trip to New York and Boston in July.  We had a couple interactions with Phillips in Boston and New York this season, and he’d already given us 5 baseballs so far this season.

I ran down to the first row and arrived there just as he passed:

Todd – “Hey, Jason!”

Phillips – (looks over and give me a big smile) “Hey, how you doing, buddy?”

Todd – “Good, man.  Nice to see you.  Any chance of you hooking us up with a warm up ball today?”

Phillips – (I couldn’t understand exactly what he said, but it was something like) “I’m sure we can make that work.”

Then he said something like, it would be a little bit because he had to do some stuff first.

I went up to talk to Colleen and Tim.  And we relocated down to the bottom of the field section.  Eventually, Jason and Felix Hernandez started playing catch, and we watched:

13 - felix phillips.jpgThen Felix and Jason walked back into the dugout.  As Jason walked away, he looked over to me and held up a finger as if to say, “Hold on a minute.”

Tim and I hung out in the RF foul corner and scoped out the scenery…

16 - TJCs RL corner.jpg

…like this weird little “chalking” machine that really shoots white spray paint onto the ground…

14 - chalking machine.jpg

It didn’t do a very good job.  A chalk line looks about 10,000 times better than this painted line, even after the guy took two passes at it.

We scoped out the bullpen, which has a seating area in the front with the pitching mounds behind…



14a - Ms bullpen.jpg 

15 - wedding bells.jpg
 

…just above the OF fence in foul territory, we noticed what looked like a wedding party.

In a little bit, Jason came back out and went into the bullpen again.  Again, he looked over to us and gave us the “hold on a minute” finger.  He put on some shin guards in the bullpen and grabbed his catchers mitt.

Then he walked out of the bullpen, came straight over to us and set a nice looking ball showing some warning track dirt marks into my glove.

Then we all posed for a picture:

17 - jason phillips.jpg

“Thanks, Jason!”  He has been mighty cool to us this season and I am hoping he sticks on with the Mariners as bullpen catcher and eventually as a coach (that is, unless he has an opportunity to make a comeback as a player).

Next, we headed out to our seats in the LF bleachers — Section 184.

I trudged up the stairs and into the upper CF corner in Section 185 and took this panaramic view:

18 - jake CF panaamic.jpgI didn’t get much in the way of action shots at this game.  But here is a classic Ichiro pose:

19 - ichibats.jpg

Here is Mike Saunders, who made an error in LF and got hounded for the rest of the game by a bunch of guys three rows behind us:

20 - branyanbats.jpgThere is our OF corps for the night:

21 - Ms OFrs.jpgOf course, Tim wanted to play catch several times during the game.  And he wanted to play in the tunnel from the LF concourse into the LF bleachers.  I told Tim we’d certainly get kicked out of the tunnel and told to either stop or move elsewhere…

22 - jake tunnel catch.jpg…I was wrong.  Instead, we were encouraged by the Section 184 usher.  In fact, you can see him watching us in the picture to the right.  He thought it was great that we were playing catch in the tunnel, even as people passed in and out of the tunnel.

Here is another action shot: (i) to the right, Fister nailed someone in the head (he was okay) and everyone gathered around to check him out and (ii) Josh Wilson about to catch a pop up…

23a - earholed popup.jpg

…see that bat boy running in from the right side in the Josh Wilson pop-up picture?  There was a runner on 3B and that kid came sprinting in like he was Usain Bolt.  The guy behind us got all excited and thought it was the runner trying to score.  He was right to get excited.  It was pretty strange to see that bat boy come sprinting in like that.

Midway through the game, the Indians mascot, Slider, came to our tunnel with a pizza and gave it to some guy in Section 185.  Tim and I left our seats and I asked Slider’s chaperone if we could get a picture with slider — of course we could:

23 - slider tim.jpgA great picture.  But what exactly is slider supposed to be?

Soon it was time for ice cream.  We had to walk to the Pierre’s booth behind home plate.  On the way, I took this action shot of Mariners rookie pitcher, Doug Fister, through the foul pole:

24 - foul pole fister.jpg

The Jake has some interesting art hanging around the park.  Here is one of Pronk.

24b - pronk.jpgPierre’s had real ice cream and multiple desirable flavors at a reasonable price!  I couldn’t decide if Tim would enjoy chocolate chip mint or moose tracks better.  So we got both and shared them both:

24a - ice cream helmets.jpgTim loved having two flavors.

The game itself was a good one, but disappointing.  The Mariners led most of the game on the strenth of an Indians error and a Russell Branyan HR in the first inning.  But we wouldn’t score again and the Indians would tact on a run at a time in three different innings.  The game headed to extras.

Griff didn’t play, but I could see him in the dugout…

25 - griff chillin.jpg…he started carrying around a bat while wearing his batting gloves.  The M’s had pinch hit for DH Mike Sweeney late in the game (or maybe it was pinch ran for him) with Ryan Langerhans.  I was sure Griff would pinch hit for Langerhans in the 10th or 11th inning.  With his bat in hand, it looked certain.  But then the Indians brought in another lefthanded reliever, and the M’s kept Langerhans in to bat.  So, no Griff.  Bummer

Late in the game, Colleen wore my new grey zip-up sweat shirt.  And Tim wanted to share the hood: 

25a - stop hoody time.jpg

Tim was happy to have “mommy” join us for this game.

In the bottom of the 11th, Luis Valbuena (a former Mariner) hit a walk off homerun.  Double bummer.

To make up for dissappointing us by beating our M’s, the Indians put on a huge and extremely cool Rock’n’Roll Fireworks show.  We had to relocate to the infield seats (you’ll see why below).  On our way, we got a nice family picture (featuring Colleen’s nice new hairdo and fireworks being set up behind us).

26 - pa cooks at jake.jpgHere’s why we had to move, we would’ve been blasted with fireworks:

27 - jake fireworks.jpg

IMG_1112.JPGThe initial blast scared Tim.  Then he started enjoying the fireworks…but finally the loud music put Tim to sleep…

28 - watching fireworks.jpg…so we took off early to beat the traffic.

We would be back the following day and we’d be hoping with all our might that Griff would be in the line-up. 

Season Fan Stats:

26 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
12 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Roadtrip Grand Finale: Royals at the Cell (8-17-09)

1 - royals chisox.jpgAUGUST 17, 2009:  Roadtrip Grand Finale

I’ve been pretty busy lately and I’m lagging behind with my game entries.  So, a little untimely, I present the grand finale of The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.

This was a big game for us.  Royals vs. White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago.  With this game, we could check the Royals off of Tim’s list and, at age three-and-a-half he would have officially seen all 30 MLB teams play live.  I was pretty excited about the accomplishment and I had a little something special planned.  Ever since watching Curious George receive a frozen ice cream “trophy” from Chef Pischetti, Tim has loved trophies.  And he’s asked me a bunch if he would ever be able to win a trophy somehow.  So as a surprise, I had a special trophy made for the occassion.  More on that in a bit.

We started out the day at our hotel by O’Hare airport.  It was nice not to have any long distance driving this day.  We decided to spend the day playing around at the hotel.  A little swimming in the pool followed by a little baseball in a patch of grass outside.  Here is a shot of Tim’s pitching motion:

2 - baseball at hotel.jpg

He headed to the game early to catch some BP.  The line to get into the parking lot was slow moving, so Tim and I hopped out of the car and played some catch in the parking lot while my dad parked the car:

3 - cell parking catch.JPG

We headed into the park and the Royals were already hitting.  We missed the White Sox completely.  That was fine.  My goal revolved solely around the Royals.  Because they were the 30th and final team for Tim, I had a goal of trying to get a picture of Tim with a Royal player and his Trophy.  More specifically, I wanted to get his picture with one of the three former Mariners now playing for the Royals — Gill Meche, Willie Bloomquist or Yuniesky Betancourt.  My ultimate goal was Gill Meche because he pitched (and won) Tim’s first game back on September 12, 2006.

My dad went off to explore the park a bit and Tim and I went down to the field behind 1B.  I scanned the field for Meche, Willie or Yuni.  Within a couple minutes, Willie ran out onto the field from the Royals dugout and started taking ground balls at 2B — his new primary position now that Yuni has joined the Royals.

We were probably 125 feet from Willie.  Any time Willie looked remotely in our direction, I shouted his name.  My thought was to simply get his attention and motion for him to come over to the stands.  My hope was that he would come over after taking grounders.  He looked in our direction a couple times, but there were no signs of him being inclined to come over.  BTW, I figured he probably thought I wanted to get his autograph.

Eventually, a batter hit a weak grounder that rolled to a stop in the grass about 20 feet into the OF grass between 1B and 2B.  After Willie fielded a fungoed grounder deep in the hole between 1B-2B, he ran over to the ball sitting in the grass, picked it up and fired it directly to us.

“Thanks, Willie!”

Here was our view (with the arrow marking the flight of the ball thrown to us):

4 - Cell 1B field panaramic.jpgWe certainly appreciated the ball from Willie.  But it wasn’t what we were looking for.  Unfortunately, Willie figured (whatever we wanted) the ball should suffice.  After he finished taking grounders, he ran back into the Royals clubhouse.

I then spotted Gill Meche in the OF, but there was no possible way to get anywhere near him.  I never saw Yuni on the field.  Alas, my goal of getting Tim’s picture with a Royal and his trophy failed.

But don’t worry, we survived the minor dissappointment.

After checking out the scene behind the Royals dugout and chatting with a stadium attendant, we turned our gaze to CF where we noticed this:

5 - youngster alexk.jpg

The Man In Yellow — our MLBlogs friend and Milwaukee home run catcher extraordinaire, Nick Yohanek a/k/a the Happy Youngster.

I asked Tim if he wanted to go say “Hi” to Nick and we enthusiastically answered in the affirmative.  So we headed out there.  On the way, we witnessed Nick catch a homerun ball.

When we got out there, my dad was standing near by.  We said hi to Nick and introduced him to my dad, whom he had not met the day before in Milwaukee.  Nick then introduced us to a MLBlogger named Ben a/k/a Jerseyboy.  I didn’t realize at the time, but I knew about Ben.  He has a ridiculously huge collection of authentic MLB jerseys.  Something like 1,500 of them.  I was actually the first person to ever comment on Ben’s blog back a couple months ago, when I suggested he add a vintage Spike Owen Mariners jersey to his collection.

As we chatted, BP ended and then it started sprinkling.  We took refuge in the concourse where we continued chatting, I realized Ben was the guy with the jerseys, we sampled the U.S. Cellular Churos, and I took this panaramic:

6 - Cell 1B concourse panaramic.jpg

After a few minutes chatting in the concourse, the PA announcer told us the start of the game was being delayed for about 40 minutes.  My dad decided to go somewhere or other — probably the team store to buy a U.S. Cellular ball.  Tim, Ben and I decided to tour the upper deck so I could take some panaramic views.

On the way, I took this picture of the upper deck concourse, which due to the interesting lighting I thought looked pretty cool:

7 - cell upper deck concourse.jpgHere’s the view from behind home plate:

8 - Cell home upper panaramic.jpg

From the LF corner of the upper deck:

9 - Cell LF upper panaramic.jpgAnd the RF corner of the upper deck:

10 - Cell RF foul upper panaramic.jpg

On our walk from LF to RF, we stopped so I could buy some nachos and drinks (complete with League Policy violating caps).  We sat in the upper deck and chatted while Tim destroyed our nachos:

11 - ben jerseyboy.jpg

That’s Ben in the Royals’ jersey.  On the right, as we chat and Tim scarfs nachos.  On the left, chatting with my dad in RCF following the conclusion of BP.

Ben and I realized we share a common practice.  We both help ourselves to copious amounts of pocket schedules at each stadium we visit.  While walking the upper deck, we both filled our pockets with White Sox pocket schedules.  (Following the season, I think I’ll put together an entry showing the schedules I have collected this season).

Soon, the grounds keepers prepared the field and it was time for baseball.  We headed back down to the field level and parted ways.  Ben hooked up with Nick, and Tim and I joined my dad in our seats down the 3B line (not far from the foul pole).  Mondays are half price ticket days at The Cell, so we got a good deal on some good seats.

Here was the view of Mark Buerhle from our seats:

12 - buerhle.jpgBuerhle would not duplicate his perfect game performance on this night.

The lead off batter for the Royals was none other than “Willie Ballgame”:

13 - willie ballgame.jpg

Pictured above to the right is Willie’s first at bat in the first.  To the left, Willie took over at short stop a couple innings into the game after Yuni Betancourt was drilled by a foul ball in the Royals dugout.  Between Big Willie and Big Willie is a picture of the ball Big Willie threw to us during BP.

Early in the game (maybe even the first inning, not sure now), Tim wanted to play catch.  We headed out to the RF concourse as Yuni came to bat and fouled a ball off the plate:

14 - yuni.jpg

A few moments later, Tim and I were playing catch when Yuni yanked a bomb into the White Sox bullpen in LF.  Tim and I went over to check out the situation.  We could see the HR ball sitting in the bullpen.  So Tim hopped onto my shoulders and we walked down to the first row between innings to gaze upon the ball — and to be in position in case someone in the bullpen decided to toss it into the crowd.

As the bottom of the inning was about to start, we headed back up the stairs to resume our game of catch.  That’s when a *first* happened, I heard a voice:

Alex - “Are you Todd?”

Todd - (turning to see young Alex K) “Yes.’

Alex - (To Tim) “And you must be Tim.  Hi, Tim.  (To me)  Hi, I’m Alex.  I read your blog and knew you’d be at this game.”

Although I had previously recognized and introduced myself to several MLBloggers at games (specifically, Zack Hample and Nick), this was the first time anyone had ever recognized me and Tim from our blog.  I gotta say, it was somewhat funny and cool.  I like that MLBlogs has created a community of people who end up running into each other while out at the ball park.  And this game had a lot of them.

Anyway, I quickly realized that I had seen Alex before.  In fact, I recognized Alex from an article I’d read recently on MyGameBalls.com — click here.  Alex is a young Hample-in-Training and is already quite adept at obtaining baseballs at MLB games.  You can read about his adventures (including his baseball road trip that crossed paths on this night with our baseball road trip) on his MLBlog — RiverAvenue.  (By the way, up above in the picture of Nick in CF, Alex is standing a few feet behind Nick wearing his Royal blues — shortly after that, he would catch a homerun ball that is documented with excellent photos on his blog).

Alex and I began to chat a bit.  A few seconds later, Nick showed up.  Alex and Nick needed to get to work on their efforts at retrieving the Betancourt home run.  But first, we needed to get a picture together:

15 - with happy alexk.jpg

(make that a picture with poor lighting).

Tim and I went back to playing catch.  This is where we played (with the arrow pointing to where Tim stood and the photo taken from where I stood):

16 - LF catch area.jpgAnd I took this panaramic view in LF:

17 - Cell LF field HR panaramic.jpg

After a few minutes, we headed back over to see how Alex and Happy were making out.  Right then, some White Sox batter blasted a home run into the same bullpen.  Tim and I ran down the stairs in the off chance it would bounce up to us.  But it didn’t make the seats.  Then a White Sox bullpen coach ran out and grabbed the new home run ball and threw it over Happy and Alex and into the very seats they’d just been occupying in about row seven.  The coach then gestured toward Betancourt’s home run ball with a foul look on his face.  He looked up at the crowd and plugged his nose like Betancourt’s home run ball stunk.  He then scampered back into the bullpen seating area.  It was a funny scene.

Alex then accompanied me and Tim to the ice cream stand where Tim and I got our White Sox ice cream helmets.  We then said our good-byes and Tim and I rejoined my dad in the seats for some ice cream and more baseball:

18 - south side ice cream helmet.jpgI decided to take some random shots of Royals — like this…

19 - royals in the OF.jpg …and this…

20 - royals pitching happyalexben.jpg

…I’d tell you who these pictures are of, but I’m not sure.  They’re Royals, but not former Mariners.  So its hard to say.  By the way, did you notice those three characters sitting in the second row behind the Royals’ dugout?  One of them caught a foul ball sitting there.  I’ll let you track down their game entries to figure out which one of them got the foul ball.

Tim got all jacked up on his ice cream and started having a blast in the seats:

21 - funny faces.jpg

After a bit, Tim and I decided to go check out the OF concourse some more.  We found a bunch of cool “trophies” out there:

22 - cf statues.jpg

RF to LF behind the batters eye: Luis AparicioNellie Fox, Walter Pierce, Carlton Fisk, and Minnie Minoso.

A portion of the batters eye has a cut out where the the camera men are set up.  I stuck my camera through the cut out and took this panaramic:

23 - Cell CF batters eye panaramic.jpgAfter hanging out by the statues for a bit, we headed back to the seats again.  I took a random shot of the bullpen:

24 - bullpen.jpgTim hung out on Grandpa’s lap and did some giggling:

25 - drizzly fun with grandpa.jpgThe White Sox were staked to a modest lead.  Bobby Jenks was warming up in the Chisox bullpen.  I realized the game was about to end and we’d never visited RF.  So, we took a last picture of Tim along the front row railing by our seats…

26 - tim and wet field.jpg

…and a shot of Jenks as he ran out to the mound…

27 - jenks to save the day.jpg

…and then we took off for RF so I could take this panaramic…

28 - Cell RF hr field panaramic.jpg

…we continued circling the concourse and ended up in the exact same spot where I’d taken the first rain delay panaramic while chatting with Ben, and we got there just in time to see Jenks finish off the Royals for the White Sox win:

29 - chisox win.jpg

It was time to head down to the Royals dugout for a little trophy presentation — Tim loved it:

30 - trophy.jpg

In case you cannot tell, the trophy says:

 

Timothy J. Cook

30 MLB Teams

Sept. 12, 2006 – Aug. 17, 2009

 

I love the picture in the upper left.  He is trying to make a 3-0 with his fingers to represent seeing 30 MLB teams…but he was having a little trouble with it.  He had to concentrate real hard.

So there you have it, our second annual baseball road trip.  It was, in a word, excellent.  With the exception of not getting a picture with a Royals player, the trip met all of my expectations and goals.  The most important of which is further detailed in an entry I posted immediately upon our return to the hotel after this game — Milestone Achieved.

I am now officially looking forward to The (Third Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.

Season Fan Stats:

25 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
11 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, and U.S. Cellular)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

21 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, and White Sox (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
22 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
3 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Closing Out The NL at Miller Park (8-16-09)

August 16, 2009 – Road Trip Day 3:

1 - Cheese Chalet.JPGOn the third day of the road trip, we awoke in Hixton, Wisconsin and headed east for the big city, Milkaukee, and a date with the Astros and Brewers at Miller Park.  With this game, Tim would close out the National League.  In fact, after this game, Tim would have seen every MLB team play live expect for the Kansas City Royals.

Now, if you’re looking for Miller Park, you have to drive down a long road – I-94 – passed Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet, Tim and Tom’s Cheese Shop, the Mousehouse Cheesehaus, Jim’s Cheese Pantry, the Wisonsin Cheeseman Outlet Store, and many, many, many other Cheese-Mega-Outlets.  But don’t worry, you’ll find it.  It is just past the place with the cheese.  Its on the right.  You can’t miss it.  (Just follow the guy with the three-foot cheese disk strapped to the hood of his car).

In fact, it looks like this:

2 - miller park.jpg
You also shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it because there will be about 20,000 people tailgating in acres of parking lots all around the Park.  About 20,000 people hoisting Miller High Lifes and BBQ’ing brats while playing various object-tossing games and sitting in large circles of fold-up lawn chairs.

Once we found Miller Park, we hopped a ride on a stretch golf cart that took us to the Friday’s restaurant enterance to the Park.  When it opened, he headed inside to find the field set up for batting practice (keep in mind this was a sunday day game) and two Astros playing catch in left field wearing shorts and micro-fibre t-shirts.

Since there was no other action going on at field level, we strolled up behind the guy who was closer to the stands.  I didn’t recognize him.  However, the back of his t-shirt had “31” hand written on a little white square of fabric and his shorts had “20” written on a similar little white square of fabric.  Utilizing my crack research skills, after the game I looked up the roster on ESPN.com and MLB.com.  One of them listed no one as number 20 and a gentleman named Bud Norris as number 31.  The other, listed no one as number 31 and the same Bud Norris as number 20.  And one of them provided a picture, in which I could easily recognize the t-shirt and shorts wearing ball player as none other than Bud Norris.

3 - bud norris.jpg

Tim was on my shoulders as my dad, Tim and I pulled up behind Mr. Norris.  He glanced over at us and I asked, “You guys hitting today.”  “No,” was his reply.  “Hmmm…, any chance we can get that ball after your finished playing catch?”  No answer.

We watched Bud and his colleague play catch for a bit.  When they finished, they were only a short distance a part and the other guy ended up with the ball.  He started to walk away and Bud went over to him and grabbed the ball.  He turned around, made eye contact with me and fired a strike into my waiting glove.

“Thanks, Bud.”  Hands down, the best “Bud” to ever walk the field at Miller Park.

A minute later, we started walking toward home plate, just checking out our surroundings.  This was the view:

4 - miller 3B field panaramic.jpg

After watching a couple other Astos play catch and work on some mechanics by the 3B dugout, we made our way behind home plate and got this group shot:

5a - 3 cooks at miller park.jpg

And I took another panaramic view:

5 - miller home field panaramic.jpg

By the way, at this point, it was a little after 11:00, and it was hotter and muggier in Miller Park than any facility has any business being at 11:00 in the morning.  The roof was closed, but the OF wall was open.  It already felt disgusting.  It would only get worse.

Note to the Brewers:  air conditioning and fans.  Look into ‘em.

Next, we headed out to RF where the Brewers pitchers were starting to warm up.  And my dad dropped a stack of receipts onto the RF foul territory warning track.  Luckily, Brewers bullpen coach Marcus “Helping” Hanel was there to lend a helping hand.

7 - marcus helping hanel.jpg

With a shiny new baseball in hand before the Brewers even started taking BP, Tim decided he had no interest in BP.  Instead, he would dedicate his pre-game time to playing catch with his dad.  We found a nice spot in the RF concourse where no one cared if a father and son had a catch (for half an hour or so):

8 - RF concourse catch.jpg

Note:  in the middle picture, Tim is inspecting the ball after it acquired a stray piece of Miller Park lint.  I had to help him remove it.  It was a stubborn piece of Miller Park lint.  After playing catch, we decided to walk around the park a bit.  We headed to LF.

Now, I did not acquately document this with photos, but there is NO field visability in CF at Miller Park.  They have really tried their best to hide the field from anyone who might be walking between RF and LF.  There is a walkway behind the batters eye and scoreboard, but all you can see back there is a lovely view of Milwaukee out the windows and a big black canvas wall hiding the field.

LF isn’t much better.  There is a Friday’s restaurant that has a porch.  If you’re not in the restaurant, you can stand in the walkway behind it (I have a pitcher of this below), but a bunch of diners will be sitting between you and the field.  Then there is the “inside” portion of the restaurant that completely blocks a big section of LF from the view of passers-by in the concourse.

So, we headed to the LF loge (second deck), where we could see the field!  And Tim posed for this picture:

9 - left field loge.jpg

This was the view (not too shabby):

10 - miller LCF upper panaramic.jpg

Next, we headed back to the field level and returned to home plate.  Former Mariner (and a guy who is still loved by the Mariners fans) Mike Cameron was taking his turns in the cage.  I snapped this picture of him because I thought it was even cooler than when Harold Reynolds used to carry his hat in his back pocket during at-bats:

6 - cammy pocket bat.jpg

Next, we headed out to RF foul territory where there are a bunch of attractions for the kids.  Like this big baseball…

        11 - photo ball.jpg        
11a - brewers cards.jpg

…which doubles as a photo booth in which you can make your own Brewers baseball cards.  We did it twice, as shown above.  For $2 you get two cards (of a single picture — i.e., we got two Tim Cook cards and two Tim, Todd and Jim cards).

Next to the photo ball, there are replicas of the racing sausages and a game where kids can race the sausages down a 40 foot track by peddling:

12 - sausages.jpg

There is also a big baseball glove in which you can sit for a picture:

13 - big glove.JPG

They have a fake dugout where you can stand with a fake Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun…

14 - brewers fake dugout.jpg

…and they also have a smaller version of Bernie’s home run slide, a contraption where kids can race a fake Cory Hart (I think that is his name), and some clowns painting faces (which I am against) and making balloon animals (which I am for).

As I mentioned, the heat…or better yet the humidity in the Park was staggering.  So, we found a nice corner of the Park by the RF enterance where it was nice and cool.  While we were over there, I noticed some plaques on the wall, one congratulated the people of Milwaukee for setting a new MLB attendance record in 1953.  Then I found something a little more interesting…

15 - happy fielder.jpg…its a giant picture on the wall of Prince Fielder giving Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek a high five after the Brewers won the wild card last season.  For those of you who don’t know him (and if you follow my blog, you most likely do), Nick is “Brew Town’s Ballhawk.”  The dude is ridiculous when it comes to catching Major League home runs.  He currently has 51 to his credit.  You can see some of his work by clicking here.  (While I am promoting Youtube video clips, you might as well click here too).

Tim and I met Nick back in June at Camden Yards.  He is a top-notch guy.

Anyway, how cool is that picture?  That would be too cool to be featured in a huge piece of art work at your home field.  Congrats, Nick.  You deserve it.

Next, we decided to grab some lunch and eat it in this nice cool corner of Miller Park.  Since we were in Milwaukee, I decided to act like a local:

Brat, Miller High Life, Cheese Fries helmet.

Hands down, that was the best brat I have ever tasted.  Amazing.

While I do not know for certain, I am going to tell myself the cheese on my fries came straight from the Cheese Chalet.  It tasted like some classy cheese.  And how about a cheese fry HELMET!!!?  What a great idea.  I am an advocate for more foods in helmets.

 Tim enjoyed his hot dog…

17 - league policy.JPG…and what is that sitting next to Tim?  Why its a “League Policy” violating water cap!

After we ate, my dad went to the team store to buy a Miller Park baseball — something he does at every stadium he visits — and Tim and I went to the upper deck to take some stadium pictures.  Here is what we found:

Right field loge:

18 - miller RCF upper panaramic.jpg

…right field upper deck:

19 - miller RF upper panaramic.jpg

…first base upper deck:

21 - miller 1B infield upper panaramic.jpg

…behind the plate upper deck:

22 - miller home upper panaramic.jpg

…Hey, do you see what I see?  Out in RCF?  In the exclusive “Tundra Territory” section?  A little speck of yellow?  Could it be?  The Happy Youngster?  We’ll have to wait and see…

…left field upper deck:

23 - miller LF foul upper panaramic.jpg

While taking our tour of the upper deck, Tim and I missed the first pitch of the game.  So, here is the second pitch…

24 - astros at bat.jpg

…and as an added bonus, below the second pitch I have included a picture of Lance “The Big Puma” Berkman fouling off a pitch.

Next, we headed back toward our seats in RF.  As we passed behind the view blocking batters eye, we heard the crowd go crazy, so we ran into this little blocked off eye sore in RCF just in time to watch Ryan Braun circle the bases following a homerun:

25 - OF eyesore.jpg

Just to the left of this little eye sore was the yellow speck I’d spotted from the upper deck behind home plate.  But I didn’t know how to get in there to check to see if it was Happy.  That section is gated off and guarded by an attendant during the entire game.

However, as we passed by, we saw a lady trying to take a picture of her husband standing in front of the field by the gate.  The guard offered to take their picture, and to take it on the other side of the gate, from the super exclusive Tundra Territory walk way.  After he took their picture, I asked him, “Could you take our picture up there as well?”  He said, “no problem”:

26 - CF at miller park.jpg

While up there for the picture, I peaked around the corner and spotted that speck, that yellow speck from the upper deck:

27 - happy.jpgThat speck, indeed, was Nick.  The Happy Youngster.

Nick and I chatted for a bit and he thew Tim some baseballs.  Although he wasn’t wearing his pajama pants, Nick also endorsed Tim’s decision to wear pajama pants to the ball park.

After a bit, Nick and I parted ways, and confirmed that we would most likely see each other the following day in the south side of Chicago.

 Finally, we made it to our seats and this was our view:

28 - miller RF HR field panaramic.jpg

It was time for ice cream helmets…

29 - ice cream and bleachers.jpg…Tim got chocolate with hot fudge.  I got chocolate with strawberry topping.  Both were excellent.

Our seats were right behind Astros RF Hunter Pence:

30 - pence HR reversal.jpg

Around the 4th or 5th inning, Pence hit what was originally called a home run.  However, after reviewing the hit on instant replay, the umpires reversed the call.  As far as I can recall, it was our first time ever seeing an instant reply review.  Later in the game (different at bat), Pence would hit a home run that would count.

By the way, one interesting thing about Miller Park is that the ball girl down the 1B line plays catch with the right fielders (for both teams) between innings.  I have never seen that before.

Roy Oswalt pitched for the Astros:

31 - roy oswalt.jpg

Toward the 6th or 7th inning, we decided to wander around and watch the game from standing room spots around the ball park.  Here is my dad watching the game from the aisle way behind the Friday’s porch seating:

32 - view from fridays.jpg

And here is the Brewers bullpen just on the other side of the Friday’s porch:

33 - brewers bullpen.jpg

As we made our way of the the 3B side of the field, the Brewers bullpen started to implode;

34 - infield action.jpg

I figured I should get some shots of the Brewers’ big guns — like Ryan Braun (pulling back a bunt attempt in this photo):

35 - braun pulls back bunt.jpg

Prince Fielder:

36 - foul fielder.jpg

Although Prince hit a home run in this game, this was neither the swing nor the at bat.

This game was a Kids Run The Bases game.  My dad asked an attendant where and when the line started to form for running the bases.  We were pleased to learn that runners get to line up inside the stadium (so we could still watch the game while in line).

On the way to the line, my dad took our picture with four of the five sunning sausages:

37 - running sausages.jpg

Tim definitely liked these sausages.

Next, it was off to the line.  It was disgustingly hot, humid and sweaty in Miller Park by this time.  As we watched the bottom of the ninth inning from very near the front of the huge run the bases line, I found myself rooting against the Brewers.  I didn’t want them to tie up the game and send it to extra innings.  If that happened, I feared we would have to leave to escape the humidity in Miller Park before running the bases.

Luckily, with two outs, Prince Field (the tying run) hit a bat to the base of the RF wall, but Hunter Pence hunted it down and snared it in his glove on a leaping play.

And just like that, Tim and seen every team in the National League play live!

Now, it was time to run the bases.  I saw a couple other parents running with small children.  I decided I’d try to get on the field with Tim.  I asked the lady standing by first base if I could guide Tim around the bases.  She said I could if I held his hand as we ran.

So I did.

But, as you can see, my grip wasn’t quite tight enough and Tim blazed out ahead of me on the base paths:

38 - runny blury bases.jpg

Somehow, between me and my dad, we couldn’t manage to get a single clear picture of Tim running the bases.  Oh, well.

 We then finished off our Miller Park experience by getting our traditional post-base running dugout picture…

39 - brewers dugout.JPG

…a three generations of Cooks on field picture…

40 - 3 cooks at miller park.JPG

…and a picture with a “trophy” of the greatest ball player ever to strap a Milwaukee jersey to his chest:

41 - hank aaron.jpg

And then we walked to the car, and drove back to Chicago for the final day of our baseball road trip.

Despite the oppressive heat inside Miller Park, the third day of our trip was a smashing success.

 

Season Fan Stats:

24 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
10 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, and Miller Park)
22 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, Pirates, Astros and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
20 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, and Brewers (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
21 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, and 1 Astros) 
5 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, and the National League)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Meeting the Metrodome (8-15-09)

August 15, 2009 – Road Trip Day 2:

Last season, we designed our baseball road trip around my desire to visit the Louisville Slugger factory.  This year, the primary focus was to take part in the final season of the beautiful Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.  Today was the day, and the Metrodome did not disappoint.

We started the day at Wisconsin Dells KOA — which by the way is one happening KOA.  We rose early and walked a couple laps of the KOA camp grounds…
1 - good morning from Wis Dells.jpg…then my dad and Tim played some catch while I re-packed for the next leg of the drive.


2 - Metrodome or Bust.jpgSoon, it was time to jump into the car and drive 3.5 hours out to the Twin Cities for some Twins baseball.

If you like water parks, you really gotta check out Wis Dells.  There are huge water parks on every block.  There was some crazy looking stuff.  So check it out.

A large portion of our drive was in Wisconsin.  When I think Wisconsin, I think cheese.  And the billboards of Wisconsin didn’t let cheese stray far from my mind.  We spotted billboards to every type of cheese based establishment you’d ever want to visit.  Unfortunately, we visited none.

We had a funny moment as we drove through Saint Paul.  I make mix CDs from iTunes for our road trips, and many of our weekend game excursions.  I made two volumes for this trip and we were listening to volume 2 as we drove into Saint Paul.  The radio in our rental car blared Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”  Then Tim yelled, “WE ARE THE MARINERS!  Let’s sing it!  Let’s sing it!”  So we did,

We are the Mariners, my friends.  And, we’ll keeping on hitting until the end.  We are the Mariners, We are the Mariners.  No time for losers because WE ARE THE MARINERS…of Seattle…of Seattle!”

The game was a 3:10 start.  We rolled into the bigger Twin City at about 12:30 and quickly found a reasonably priced ($10) parking garage across the street from the Metrodome.  We parked in the closest parking space to the Dome.

We then climbed the stairs and exited the parking garage out of a set of doors leading to a pedestrian-only street (at least it was pedestrian-only at the time) between the garage and the Metrodome.  This is what it looked like:

3 - metrodome catch.jpg

Tim and I used the time leading up to the 1:10 opening of the stadium to play some catch on the street while my dad explored around the perimeter of the HHHM.

We then met up and got our pictures by this sign…

4 - home of the twins.jpg…on our way to Gate B where we entered the Dome.

A few minutes later, we were inside the first true “Dome” of Tim’s life, and mine and my dad’s first true “Dome” since the King of all Domes, the Kingdome:

5 - made it to the metrodome.jpg

Look at Tim checking out the Dome with wonder and amazement.  For those of you who weren’t raised in a dome, you might not understand.  But there is something awe inspiring being in such a huge building.  The Kingdome was just about the coolest place in the world.  It was huge.  There were fireworks going off inside.  And it was the place where I fell in love with baseball and the Mariners.

I have no affiliation to the Twins (although my great grandma Lillian Hoffman was from Worthington, Minn.), but I’ve long been a Twins sympathizer.  Some of it had to do with Kirby Puckett — for whom I named my dog, Kirby.  But a lot more of that had to do with the fact the Twins play in this beautiful Kingdome’ish facility. 

All this is to say that it strangly felt like a homecoming entering the Metrodome for the first time.  And I was ten times as excited to be there than I was excited to be at the objectively far superior Wrigley Field the day before.

We arrived for the beginning of BP because we really wanted to try to get one of the extremely cool looking HHH Metrodome commemorative baseballs that I’ve seen on tons of MLBlogs all season.  The Twins were hitting when we entered, and we took our place in CF:

6 - CF seats.jpg

We stood all by ourselves at the CF corner seats highlighted by the red arrow above.  There were two Twins players in CF shagging balls.  I had the feeling they were pitchers, but I have no clue who they were.  But, apparently, it didn’t matter:

7 - hhh metrodome commemorative ball.jpg

This was our 20th ball of the season — an all-time season best for me and Tim (or for me alone before Tim was born) and it was our first ever commemorative ball.

Tim got super-excited when I handed him the ball.  He held it out to a crowd of adults who were all cheering him on for getting the ball and yelled, “I GOT A BASEBALL!”  He then ran to the incredibly steep Metrodome stairs (much steeper than the Kingdome’s stairs) and started running up the stairs holding the ball behind his back.  The following scene transpired as I ran after him:

[METRODOME – Interior – Early Evening]

Todd – “Tim, where are you going!!!!?”

Tim – “I got to show my baseball to Grandpa!”

Todd – “But Grandpa is down there! (pointing back to the field)”

Tim – “Ohh!” (turning to run down the incredibly steep stairs)

Todd – “Hold on to the seats!  You’re gonna fall down!”

Tim – (ignores his father and runs to his grandpa)

Tim – “Grandpa, I GOT A BASEBALL!!”

Grandpa – “Cool!”

Stadium Attendant – (Takes picture of me, Tim and the baseball)

Carlos Gomez – (throws ball to a little girl standing next to my dad)

Dad – (catches the little girl’s baseball)

Stadium Attendant – “Give that ball to that girl.”

Dad – (gives baseball to little girl)

Carlos Gomez – (throws baseball to my dad)

Dad – “Look, Tim!  Another ball!”

Tim – (takes ball and gives it to me and starts running up the stairs)

Todd – “Where you going!!!!!!?”

Tim – “LET’S GO PLAY CATCH!!!” (in a tone implying that I’ve been forcing him not to play catch all this time).

Todd – (chases Tim)

Carlos Gomez – (throws his batting gloves to my dad)

Dad – (gives one of the batting gloves to the little girl and pockets the other)

[END SCENE]

The scene on the field:

8 - gomez gloves TJCs ball.jpg

The red arrow: Carlos Gomez.

The glove and ball:  courtesy of Carlos Gomez.

The guy cirlced by Todd (not by Bert):  unknown Twin who threw the ball to me and Tim.

(By the way, Gomez made a ridiculous home run robbing catch during BP just to the RF side of the 408 sign.  He was on a full sprint and his body was half above the fence as he caught it.  He got a huge ovation from the small BP crowd.)

After the scene above, Tim and I played some catch in the concourse behind the RF baggy:

11 - inside metrodome catch and dropoff.jpg

It was pretty crowed in the concourse, at least for playing catch, but we managed to play some quality catch for a few minutes.  Check out the picture on the right, those doors are chained and locked shut.  On the other side of the door is the beginning of a stairway that leads down into the seats at Vikings games.  However, at Twins games, they lead to big drop off into the outfield and/or the seats folded up behind the baggy.

Speaking of the baggy and the folded seats, after playing catch, we went into the seats in CF closest to the baggy.  This was the view:

9 - metrodome cf ball panaramic.jpg

This is the view to my left, check it out:

10 - balls on cup holders.jpg

In the picture to the right, notice anything interesting?  There are four baseballs resting on the backs of the folded chairs.  They are all perched on the drink holders on the backs of the seats.  Note: the smaller ball-looking-object toward the bottom left of the picture is a balled-up foil hot dog wrapper, not a baseball.

Tim sat in the seats in this CF section and looked at some baseball cards an usher gave him.  The Indians were hitting now and someone hit a ball to an Indian named “Lewis” — I have no clue who that is — and I yelled, “Hey, Lewis!” to see if he’d be interested in throwing a ball up to our high vantage point.  He wasn’t interested.  But the funny part of the story is that Tim shouted, “No, Dad, we already got a baseball!  Leave them alone, they’re concentrating!”  So after a few more minutes, we left the Indians to their concentrating and we headed to the upper deck to see if it was less crowded.  Tim still had catch-playing on his mind.  However, the upper deck concourse was even busier than the lower concourse.  So, we decided to get some dinner.

We ordered nachos, a hot dog, a gigantic diet coke, and a bottle of water.  Normally I bring a little infant “sippy cup” for Tim to drink water out of during games.  But I’d forgot it in the car.  I bought the water solely for the purpose of having a re-sealable water holding receptacle for Tim’s water.  However, and this is my biggest complaint about the Metrodome, the kind Mid-western lady wouldn’t give us the cap.  I told her it was the sole reason I purchased the water.  She apologized, but said it was “League Policy” that they cannot give out caps with bottled drinks.  That’s a new one on me.  How about you?

Here is the spot we found for eating our food:

12 - hot dogs and nachos.jpg

This was the view:

13 - metrodome RF foul upper panaramic.jpg

My dad tracked us down and ate with us.  But soon, it was time for me to go off and explore and photograph the stadium.  I asked my dad if Tim could stay with him.  He said yes, but Tim wanted to come explore the stadium with me.

Here we go –

With Tim on my shoulders, we started off by walking up the stairs and toward home plate.  Our first stop was the infield *big screen* (the Metrodome has two screens).  I have never seen this before, but the screen is literally two feet behind the back row of seats, and you can easily touch it.  Here it is up close:

14 - big screen close up.jpg

Cool, huh?  Each red, blue and green dot is a little light that feels like a little bump.

Here is the view from the top of the dome behind home plate:

15 - metrodome plate upperback panaramic.jpg

Here are a couple Dome-loving Cooks in this same spot:

16 - we love this place.jpg

While behind home plate, I noticed some stuff that looked a lot like Kingdome stuff:

17 - kingdome de ja vu.jpg

What’s the opposite of *state-of-the-art*?  History-of-the-art?

Next, we continued on our journey and headed toward the LF corner.  On our way, we noticed this:

18 - upper deck obstruction.jpg

Support beams ringing row 26 of the Metrodome upper deck.  The Kingdome didn’t have support beams.  Instead, if my knowledge serves me, it had high tension cables that ran across the roof and down the sides.  They were built into the building, you couldn’t see them.  But they kept the whole thing tight and in place without support beams — and without the obstructed views that result from beams in stadiums.

Now, check this out in the picture to the right.  The seats directly behind the beam are missing the “seats.”  They’re just backs and arm rests.  Obviously, you cannot buy those non-seats.  However, one row back from the beam, the seats are seats.  I had to probe further.

This is what I determined, the Twins have apparently concluded that the following is an unacceptably obstructed view:

19 - officially unacceptable obstructed view.jpg

That’s a good call by the Twins.  That view just won’t do.

However, apparently this view will do — and apparently, it is worth $22 (the general cost of an infield upperdeck seat according to http://www.twins.mlb.com):

20 - 22 dollar obstructed view.jpg

Hmmm…it does provide a decent view of third base and LF-CF.  But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this view also is unacceptable — of course, the Yankees will probably side with the Twins on this one.

In the Twins defense, I’m not sure if they have an obstructed view decreased price.  However, is there any price you would pay for that view?  You can’t see the infield!!!

This wasn’t the only odd seating situation I found in the upper deck.  Take a ganders at this:

21 - duct work seating.jpgThe red arrows are pointing to the same seat.  To the left, notice that you risk a concussion getting to this seat.  I had to duck not to smash my head (and Tim’s) on that huge pipe above the seats.  To the right, notice that the lucky Twins fan who sits in this seat has to look around the duct work to watch the game.  In fact, if he or she decides to relax a bit and actually sit back in his or her seats, his or her head will be behind the duct.  Doh!

On with the tour, LF foul territory:

22 - metrodome LF foul upper panaramic.jpg

Left field, monster bomb territory:

23 - metrodome RF HR upper panaramic.jpg

Here is the main scoreboard and big screen — with a little more protection and a warning, but still easily accessible to the crowd:

24 - danger zone seating.jpg

Here is the view from deep Left CF:

25 - metrodome cf upper panaramic.jpg

On TV, I’ve always thought the big retired number pictures were on a white wall at the top of the Metrodome.  They are not.  Instead, huge portraits of Kirby Puckett (34), Harman Killebrew (3), Rod Carew (29), Kent Hrbek (14), Tony Oliva (6), and Jackie Robinson (42) hang from big sheets of white canvas that are also hanging from the Metrodome roof.

Oddly, these things stop about 4-5 feet above the seats so you can see and/or walk up behind the curtains, which is a little spooky:

26 - behind the curtain.jpg

As we walked along the bottom of the curtain, Tim would punch the sand bags shown in the bottom right picture.

Here is a view from RF:

27 - metrodome RF upper hr panaramic.jpg

A very similar picture from a little further foul:

28 - metrodome rf long foul upper panaramic.jpg

Finally, we headed back to the home plate area and got one more panaramic from the first row of the upper deck:

29 - metrodome plate upperfront panaramic.jpg

I should note that, if you buy tickets in the home run porch (LF), the Twins don’t let you into the field seats in the infield area.

So, our touring was complete, and it was time to head to our seats in section 100, row 9 of the home run porch:

30 - home run porch.jpg

Top left, Tim and grandpa hanging out watching the first inning.  Top right, Tim has fun making faces.  Bottom left, Choo stood about 30 feet from us in LF.  Bottom right, some dudes wearing man-eating fish helmets.

Here was our view from our seats (featuring our Metrdome ball):

31 - metrodome sec. 100 ball panaramic.jpg

In the second inning, Tim and I went to get ice cream helmets.  Oddly, he decided he wanted a cone.  But then, due to no nap all day, he fell asleep before we reached our seats again…

32 - sleepy ice cream.jpg

…so I handed off the cone to my dad.

Here is the game from the ice cream helmet point of view:

34 - ice cream helmets view.jpg

After my dad finished Tim’s cone, Tim did some sleeping on Grandpa’s shoulder:

33 - grandpas shoulder.jpg

Then he came back to my shoulder until he woke up…

35 - sleepy time at metrodome.jpg

In the picture to the right, Tim asks me in a still grogy voice, “Where’s my ice cream cone?”  So, we headed back to section 131 (or so) to get more ice cream.

Along the way, I took a picture of a *luxury* suite:

36 - luxury cell.jpg

The suites open to the main concourse, which is certainly odd, and they seemed like they were only about 8′ x 8′ — not too impressive.

Before getting the ice cream, we stepped into one of the entry ways to the infield seats and took some action photos:

38 - metrodome action.jpg

The worst part about the Metrodome is that it was really hard to get action photos to come out clear.  Most of my shots were extremely blury.  However, in the top right, here are a few decent photos.

In the top left, that stolen base was negated by a foul tip.  At top right, Choo takes a cut at a pitch.  Bottom left, my dad’s new favorite Twin, Carlos Gomez, fires a ball back to the infield.  Bottom right, Grady Sizemore does the same as Gomez.

This time around, Tim decided on the ice cream helmet…

37 - chocolate hot fudge helmet.jpg…after after I explained that he could get hot fudge topping in a helmet, but not on a cone.  He was happy with his choice.

Hey, have you heard its hard to see fly balls in the Metrodome roof?  It is.  Here is why:

39 - metrodome roof.jpg

It appears to be a two-layer roof.   The natural light filters through the roof.  When it is sunny outside, the roof it brighter white.  Once it started getting darker outside, the roof was noticably darker.

Here is my favorite action shot of the day…

40 - unknown single.jpg

I’m not sure who the hitter is, but this swing resulted in a single to LF.

We were all rooting for the Twins.  However, it wasn’t their night.  They ultimately lost the contest to the Indians.

Here is our official baseball road trip group shot:

41 - 3 satisfied customers.jpg

After the game, it was on to Hixton, Wisconsin for another night at a KOA.  It was a lot of driving to get this Metrodome game in, but it was well worth it.  We were three completely satisfied customers (well, aside from the invocation of the alleged “League Policy” against giving customers caps for their bottled drinks).

Next up, the Astros and Brewers in Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

Season Fan Stats:

23 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
9 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and HHH Metrodome)
20 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, and Pirates– and sort of the Giants)
19 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins and Cubs)
20 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, 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)

Milestone Achieved (8-17-2009)

trophy.jpg

Today was a big day for Tim; a milestone day.  Therefore, I have two entries for today.  This one is the milestone entry.  I’m still working on the entries for our games at the Metrodome, Miller Park and U.S. Cellular Field, but they will all be coming soon.

Before Tim was born, I hand made a hard back, leather bound book for him that I called the “Baseball Log.”  I use the Baseball Log to track all of Tim’s baseball adventures.  Therefore, coming into this season, I knew that there were only 11 teams that Tim had not yet seen play in person.  I made it one of our goals for the season.  Today, at age 3-and-a-half, Tim checked the final team, the Royals, off of the list.

Milestone Acheived.

On our 30 team quest, we attended 46 games and visited 17 major league stadiums.  This entry gives a glimpse into Tim’s journey around the MLB circuit.

Division-by-Division

Division-by-division, we’ll start by reviewing the dates of Tim’s first game with each team:

A.L. West                               A.L. Central                           A.L. East

Mariners (9-12-06)                  Twins (8-14-07)                      Blue Jays (9-12-06)

Angles (8-17-08)                     Indians (7-19-08)                    Orioles (8-9-07)

Athletics (5-1-09)                    White Sox (8-27-08)               Yankees (9-3-07)

Rangers (5-4-09)                     Tigers (5-31-09)                      Rays (4-12-09)

                                                Royals (8-17-09)                     Red Sox (7-3-09)

 

N.L. West                               N.L. Central                          N.L. East

Rockies (9-12-07)                   Pirates (9-27-07)                     Phillies (6-30-07)

Giants (5-2-08)                        Cardinals (9-27-07)                 Mets (6-30-07)

Diamondbacks (9-12-08)        Cubs (4-11-08)                        Marlins (9-9-07)

Padres (4-19-09)                     Reds (6-2-08)                          Nationals (8-19-08)

Dodgers (5-13-09)                  Brewers (8-16-09)                   Braves (5-8-09)

Astros (8-16-09)

 

As you can see, we closed out the A.L. West first, followed by the N.L. East.  This makes a lot of sense since we are Mariners fans but we live an hour outside of Philadelphia.  We then flip-flopped the leagues, and closed out the N.L. West followed by the A.L. East.  Finally, on our current road trip, we closed out the N.L. Central on Monday, and the A.L. Central today.

 

Game Pictures

 

Let’s check out some pictures — all 46 of Tim’s games to date (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game) in order:

Game 1 - 9-12-06 - Blue Jays at Mariners.jpg
Game 2 - 6-30-07 - Mets at Phillies.jpg
Game 3 - 8-9-07 - Mariners at Orioles.jpg
Game 4 - 8-14-07 - Twins at Mariners.jpg

Game 5 - 8-15-07 - Twins at Mariners.jpg
Game 6 - 9-3-07 - Mariners at Yankees.jpg

Game 7 - 9-9-07 - Marlins at Phillies.jpg
Game 8 - 9-12-07 - Rockies at Phillies.jpg
Game 9 - 9-29-07 - Cardinals at Pirates.jpg
Game 10 - 4-6-08 - Mariners at Orioles.jpg
Game 11 - 4-11-08 - Cubs at Phillies.jpg
Game 12 - 5-2-08 - Giants at Phillies.jpg
Game 13 - 6-2-08 - Reds at Phillies.jpg
Game 14 - 7-19-08 - Indians at Mariners.jpg
Game 15 - 8-15-08 - Cardinals at Reds.jpg
Game 16 - 8-17-08 - Angles at Indians.jpg
Game 17 - 8-18-08 - Mets at Pirates.jpg
Game 18 - 8-19-08 - Nationals at Phillies.jpg
Game 19 - 8-27-08 - White Sox at Orioles.jpg
Game 20 - 9-7-08 - Phillies at Mets.jpg
Game 21 - 9-12-08 - Reds at Diamondbacks.jpg
Game 22 - 4-12-09 - Rays at Orioles.jpg
Game 23 - 4-19-09 - Padres at Phillies.jpg
Game 24 - 4-25-09 - Nationals at Mets.jpg
Game 25 - 5-1-09 - Athletics at Mariners.jpg
Game 26 - 5-2-09 - Athletics at Mariners.jpg
Game 27 - 5-3-09 - Athletics at Mariners.jpg
Game 28 - 5-4-09 - Rangers at Mariners.jpg
Game 29 - 5-5-09 - Rangers at Mariners.jpg
Game 30 - 5-8-09 - Braves at Phillies.jpg
Game 31 - 5-13-09 - Dodgers at Phillies.jpg
Game 32 - 5-17-09 - Phillies at Nationals.jpg
Game 33 - 5-31-09 - Tigers at Orioles.jpg
Game 34-1 - 6-3-09 - Giants at Nationals - Rainout.jpg
Game 34-2 - 6-10-09 - Mariners at Orioles.jpg
Game 35 - 6-28-09 - Nationals at Orioles.jpg
Game 36 - 7-2-09 - Mariners at Yankees.jpg
Game 37 - 7-3-09 - Mariners at Red Sox.jpg
Game 38 - 7-4-09 - Mariners at Red Sox.jpg
Game 39 - 7-5-09 - Mariners at Red Sox.jpgGame 40 - 7-19-09 - Cubs at Nationals.jpg
Game 41 - 7-24-09 - Cardinals at Phillies.jpg

Game 42 - 8-9-09 - Marlins at Phillies.jpg
Game 43 - 8-14-09 - Pirates at Cubs.jpg
Game 44 - 8-15-09 - Indians at Twins.jpg
Game 45 - 8-16-09 - Astros at Brewers.jpg
Game 46 - 8-17-09 - Royals at White Sox.jpg

Games Log

 Let’s take a closer look at those games.  In the following list of games, when a Team Name is in Bold/Italics it denotes the first game in which Tim saw that particular team play in person.  When a Team Name is underlined it denotes that team won the game.  I figured identifying the game winners is enough, so I didn’t include the scores.  However, I am including some game notes — such as homeruns, batting results by our favorite players or all-stars, etc.  

1. Blue Jays at Mariners (9-12-06) – Ichiro 1-5, HR (Beltre, Ibanez, Wells), 2 Balls

2. Mets at Phillies (6-30-07) – HR – Howard, Beltran (2)

3. Mariners at Orioles (8-9-07) – Ichiro 3-6; HR – Miguel Tejada, Jose Guillen

4. Twins at Mariners (8-14-07) – Ichiro 1-4

5. Twins at Mariners (8-15-07) – Ichiro 2-4, 2SB; HR – Ibanez, Torii Hunter

6. Mariners at Yankees (9-3-07) – Ichiro 3-5, HR; W – Felix; L – Clemens (final loss)

7. Marlins at Phillies (9-9-07) – Burrell 2-4, HR; Carlos Ruiz 3-4, HR; Rollins 2-5

8. Rockies at Phillies (9-12-07) – Dobbs-Utley 3-Play; HR – M. Holliday; Helton 3-4

9. Cardinals at Pirates (9-27-07) – Pujols 3-5, 2B; Rick Ankiel 3-4, HR, 3RBI

10. Mariners at Orioles (4-6-08) – Ichiro 1-4; Ibanez 3-4, HR

11. Cubs at Phillies (4-11-08) – Pat Burrell 2-4, HR; Alfonso Soriano 1-4, HR

12. Giants at Phillies (5-2-08) – Chase Utley 2-3; Pat Burrell – walk off HR

13. Reds at Phillies (6-2-08) – Chase Utley 3-4, HR, 2RBI; Jay Bruce 2-4, HR

14. Indians at Mariners (7-19-08) – Ichiro 2-4, HR, 2RBI with outfield assist

15. Cardinals at Reds (8-15-08) – Pujols 3-5; Ankiel HR; Chris Dickerson 1st HR

16. Angles at Indians (8-17-08) – F. Gutierrez 3-3, 2RBI; Texiera 2-4; Sizemore 2-5

17. Mets at Pirates (8-18-08) – Adam LaRoche 2-3, HR, 2RBI

18. Nationals at Phillies (8-19-08) – HR – Jayson Werth, Willie Harris; R. Belliard 4-4

19. White Sox at Orioles (8-27-08) – Griffey 0-1, 3BB; HR: Dye, Millar, Huff, Konerko

20. Phillies at Mets (9-7-08) – W – Moyer (243); L – Pedro Martinez; HR – G. Dobbs

21. Reds at Diamondbacks (9-12-08) – Webb – 20th Win, 8IP, 5H, O ER, 2K

22. Rays at Orioles (4-12-09) – HR – Longoria, C. Pena, J. Bartlett, B. Zobrist

23. Padres at Phillies (4-19-09) – Ibanez – 2-4, HR; HR – Rollins, Utley, A. Gonzalez

24. Nationals at Mets (4-25-09) – C. Beltran 3-5, SB; R. Zimmerman 2-5

25. Athletics at Mariners (5-1-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Holliday

26. Athletics at Mariners (5-2-09) – Ichiro 2-5; HR – Branyan; Giambi 2-4, 2RBI

27. Athletics at Mariners (5-3-09) – Ichiro 2-7; HR – Johjima, M. Sweeney (200)

28. Rangers at Mariners (5-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Young, Davis

29. Rangers at Mariners (5-5-09) – Ichiro 0-2, 2BB; HR – Saltalamacchia, Nelson Cruz

30. Braves at Phillies (5-8-09) – HR – Coste, Werth, Utley; W – Hamels

31. Dodgers at Phillies (5-13-09) – HR – Ibanez, Rollins, Casey Blake, James Loney

32. Phillies at Nationals (5-17-09) – Sergio Escalona – 1st Career Win; Rollins 2-4;

33. Tigers at Orioles (5-31-09) – Curtis Granderson HR; W – Edwin Jackson 8 IP, 2H

34a. Giants at Nationals (6-3-09) – Rainout – R. Johnson sch’d to pitch for 300th Win.

34. Mariners at Orioles (6-10-09) – Ichiro 1-3; Jose Lopez 2HR; W – F. Hernandez

35. Nationals at Orioles (6-28-09) – HR – Dunn (Eutaw St.); Willie Harris 3-4, HR

36. Mariners at Yankees (7-2-09) – Ichiro 2-4; HR – Branyan, Gutierrez; L – Sabbathia

37. Mariners at Red Sox (7-3-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – R. Cedeno, Drew, Kottaras (1st)

38. Mariners at Red Sox (7-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Jason Varitek; S – Aardsma

39. Mariners at Red Sox (7-5-09) – Griffey 1-1; Ichiro 1-5; HR- Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury

40. Cubs at Nationals (7-19-09) – HR – Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, Jake Fox

41. Cardinals at Phillies (7-24-09) – W – Joel Piniero, M. Holliday 4-5; HR – J. Lugo

42. Marlins at Phillies (8-9-09) – Moyer – 2ER, but loss.  Victorino ejected from CF.

43. Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09) – Cubs score 10 runs in 2nd inning. HR – Fukudome.

44. Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – HR – Sizemore, Mauer, Choo

45. Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) – HR – Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

46. Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) – HR – Yuni Betancourt, Jacobs, Pierzynski, Nix.

 

Ice Cream Helmets & Baseballs 

 

Tim and I have collected a lot of memories as we’ve made the rounds of the MLB.  But memories aren’t all we have collected.  We’ve also amassed a few MLB baseballs and a bunch of ice cream helmets.  Click here for a little article about our baseball collecting.  Pictured below are our baseballs and ice cream helmets:

helmets and balls.JPG

helmets and balls part 2.jpg
 
It has been a great trip around the MLB so far.  Now, we’ll have to start working on the next milestone — maybe every MLB stadium.

Thanks for joining us for this ride this season.  Don’t forget to check out all of our reports from The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009, three of which are still to come in the next couple days:

  •  
    Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09)
  • Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – coming soon.
  • Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) – coming soon.
  • Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) – coming soon.

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! (8-14-09)

August 14, 2009 – Let the road tripping begin!

On Thursday night, August 13th, Tim and I flew to Chicago to meet up with my dad for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009.  The Plan:  four days, four stadiums.  It all started with the Pirates vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  So let’s get to it.

1 - cubs sign from sheffield.jpg

We parked for free on Sheffield Street about one block passed the CF enterance.  This Cubs sign on the back of the CF Bleachers greeted us as we walked down Sheffield.  Coincidentally, Tim brought his teddy bear with him.  Teddy is a young bear, also known as a Cub.

This was essentially our first view of Wrigley once we entered the stadium (I say essentially because, obviously, we had to walk down to the front row before I took this…and I didn’t have my eyes closed during that walk):

2 - wrigley first view LF panaramic.jpg

I found it interesting that Sweet Lou Piniella (accompanied by first base coach Matt Sinatro) watched batting practice from LF:


3 - sweet lou and sinatro.jpg

Sinatro and Sweet Lou have been together, at least, since Lou was the Mariners manager and Sinatro was out back-up back-stop.  By the way, back in 1991, Sinatro gave me his broken bat at Mariners spring training.  I glued it back together and its as good as new.  Its a beautiful Louisville Slugger that is perfectly balanced and shows a lot of use.

Next, we headed behind home plate, where I took this:


5 - wrigley plate panaramic.jpg

The lady to the left is standing at the cross aisle.  They don’t let you below that cross aisle unless you have tickets down there.  I’m not a huge fan of that rule.

See those Pirates warming up to the right?  We went and stood in the cross aisle behind them.  Eventually, former Mariner Ronny Cedeno joined them.  I yelled out to Ronny and he gave me and Tim a wave.  He tried to take a ball from a coach with the supposed intention of throwing it to us, but the coach needed it for hitting fungo to the infielders…including to Cedeno.

Tim was too warm down by the dugout, so he asked if we could head up the rows to the shady seats.  Here is where we landed, section 226:


6 - section 226 lounging.jpg

And here is the view from section 226:


8 - wrigley sec. 226 panaramic.jpg

And here is what Tim did after watching a few minutes of BP (notice any differences between the two pictures?):


7 - coloring shade ball.jpg

In case you missed it, the difference is that Tim has a baseball in the second picture.  Here is how that happened:


9 - cedeno toss up.jpg

First, my dad met up with me and Tim at our section 226 coloring location.  My dad stayed with Tim and I went back down behind the Pirates.  By this time, Cedeno had taken a bunch of balls at short stop, gone into the clubhouse for a bit, and come back out ready to take some hacks.

In the top left picture, you can see there is a ball behind the cage about 10 feet to Cedeno’s left.  As Cedeno was hitting, I noticed that ball.  After he hit, he ran the bases once and returned to his spot behind the cage.  I yelled out his name again and he looked back to me.  I pointed to the ball.  He (i) looked over and noticed it, (ii) walked over and grabbed it and (iii) fired a perfect strike to my glove.

“Thanks, Ronny!”

A few minutes later, Ronny started signing autographs for those lucky fans with tickets below the cross aisle.  We wanted that ball signed!  Tim was with me at this point.  We saw one of the ushers leave her post so she could take a picture of some people behind the Cubs dugout.  This was my chance!  Tim and I bolted through her unguarded post.  We walked down 2-3 rows and then cut across the row so we wouldn’t walk by the photo-taking guard.  We then cut down the next aisle and found our way over to Ronny.

This was the result:


17 - wrigley sec. 235 auto panaramic.jpg

By the way, that picture is taken from our seats at Section 235, Row 11, Seats 4-6.  And, yes, I had absolutely no view of second base.  We were actually fine with it.  We could see the batters and the obstruction made double plays more interesting because we had to wait to see if and when the ball would come flying from behind the post on its way to first base.

I also got this picture of Tim and me after getting Cedeno’s autograph:


10 - dugout sneak in.jpg

By the way, the look on Tim’s face here is signaling the onset of massive tiredness.

After I took this picture, we left the section and walked by the guard we’d bypassed, as we passed she jokingly to me, “You snuck by me!”  I gave her the most sincere, “sorry!” I could muster.

And just like that, it was time to wander and take some stadium pictures, like this…


11 - wrigley upper home panaramic.jpg

…and this…


13 - wrigley upper LF panaramic.jpg

…and this…


12 - wrigley upper RF panaramic.jpg

…and this one featuring my road buddies…


14 - holding tim upper RF.jpg

…and these…


19 - concourses et al.jpgNext it was time to grab some food and take out seats:


16 - food time.JPG

I went for the traditional Chicago Dog (so did my dad) and Tim went with fries with *dip* (that’s what Tim calls ketchup).  Most of Tim’s dip would eventually find its way to his clothing, most notably his shorts.  He also managed to let some of his dip migrate to my shorts as well.

Before the game, a bunch of military parachuters jumped into Wrigley:


18 - skydivers and fighter jets.jpg

…then some jet fighters did a fly by after the national anthem.  They continued to do unannounced fly bys for the rest of the game, much to the delight of the Wrigley-crowd.

Finally, it was time for some baseball.  Fresh off of their trade line fire sale, the Pirates’ glorified minor league line-up couldn’t do much at the plate:


21 - action1.jpg

I can’t remember who that is at top, but he’s grounding out in that picture.  Below, Lastings Milledge is fouling a ball off.

The Cubs, on the other hand, didn’t have much trouble at the plate:

 


20 - action4.jpg

Okay, so I snuck Ronny Cedeno into that picture.  I have to give him his face time, since he hooked us up with the ball and autograph.   Next to him, Derek Lee makes contact with the ball (foul) before eventually walking.  And Jake Fox swings at a ball that would eventually turn into a two run double.  In the second inning, the Cubs hung a 10-spot on the Pirates:


22 - ten spot.JPG….

The inning was pretty crazy.  It went like this:

  • Hill tripled
  • Wells walked
  • Theriot singled (Hill scored)
  • Fuld singled
  • D. Lee walked (Wells scored)
  • Fox doubled (Theriot and Fuld scored)
  • Fukudome walked
  • Soriano singled (Lee scored)
  • Baker singled (Fox and Fukudome scored)
  • Hill struck out
  • Wells singled (Soriano scored)
  • Theriot popped out
  • Fuld hit-by-pitch
  • Lee doubled (Baker and Wells scored)
  • Fox struck out<br>
  •  

    All of the scoring was very entertaining for my dad, me, Tim and his new give-away Cubs Dora the Explorer stuffed doll:


    23 - dora.jpg

    As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really mind the beam obstructing our view of second base.  What I could have lived without, however, was a human obstruction that spent about 3 innings of the game standing directly in front of us:


    24 - jack salazar at bat.jpg

    This picture is actually of Pirates Jack Salazar at the plate.  Its a little hard to see him through our Old Style delivery man.  The lady in the Cubs jersey talking to him stood up a lot while ordering beers, so did the guy in the glasses and his buddy (back of the head guy).  It was as if these folks had never heard of sitting down and ordering.  Its not too tricky of a concept.  In the picture to the left, that guy stood right there selling beers to the beer lovers all around us for an entire half inning of Pirates batting.  It was ridiculous.  To the right, this is one of the 50,000 beers we passed down the aisle in exchange for the $247,000 we passed the other way.  (Notice, the beer recipient in the picture to the right is also standing (during the middle of the inning)).  Bottom line:  the sluggish economy isn’t hurting beer sales at Wrigley Field.

    We decided it was time for some ice cream helmets

    We went to the first line.  I couldn’t see any ice cream helmets.  Then a guy walked up and said to his buddy that he could go for some ice cream.  I asked him if they had ice cream helmets.  He said they did, and that he has got ice cream helmets at a couple stadiums.  I said we had too, and we compared ice cream helmet stats.  Not to be boastful, but he was a novice ice cream helmeter.

    When we got to the front of the line, I asked for two chocolote ice cream helmets and the lady replied, “Our ice cream isn’t ready yet.”  Huh?  Okay.  She pointed us to another stand.

    My line-mates and I relocated to that food stand.  While waiting in line, I noticed something…


    25 - ice cream line.jpgTim’s lights were out.  He was in a deep sleep.

    I ordered our ice cream helmets — I decided this time to get myself a twist.  When the lady handed it to me, she yelled to the crowd, “TWIST ISN’T FROZEN!”  Two seconds later, “CHOCOLATE ISN’T FROZEN!”  Another lady working there, “ICE CREAM ISN’T FROZEN!”

    So, I headed back to the seats with two soupy ice cream helmets in a tray in my left hand, a megahuge diet coke in my right hand, and a sleeping boy on my shoulders.  Two steps out of the line, a guy lunged at me, tapped my shoulder and yelled, “HE’S TOTALLY ASLEEEEEEEEP!!”  He thought I didn’t know and Tim was going to fall off.  But I’m a sleeping Tim on the shoulders pro.  I thanked him but said we were good to go.  It was the first of many comments on the walk back to section 235.

    And then grandpa and I enjoyed the ice cream soup as Tim slept..


    26 - sleeping ice cream helmets.jpg…and slept and…


    27 - grandpas shoulder.jpg

    …slept some more.  That’s what happens when Tim doesn’t nap before a game.

    He missed some of this action:


    29 - action3.jpg

    Due to all of the baseball the last few days and my lack of a connection with most of the Cubs and Pirates, I can’t really remember what happened on all of these at bats.  But I know that several action shots I took resulted in singles.  No doubles or home runs.  And several resulted in ground outs or fly ball outs.  I’m pretty sure the top picture here (which shows the actual contact of the bat and ball) resulted in a hit, but don’t hold me to that.  (NOTE:  Click to see pictures larger).

    He missed all of this too:


    28 - action2.jpgI believe that top picture is Mike Fontenot, it resulted in a long fly out to RF.

    In the bottom two pictures, the batters hit grounders.  In the middle picture, you can see the dirt flying up where the ball landed.  In the bottom picture, you can see the ball bouncing in the dirt.


    30 - tired but awake.JPG

    Look who woke up!  His first words, “I’m ready for my ice cream now.”

    So you’re probably seen on ESPN some celebrity leading the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at Wrigley, our celeb singer was Jeremy “The Piv” Piven — Chicago native.  He also threw out the first pitch:


    31 - the piv.jpg

    Interestingly, at the last game Tim and I went to with my dad, Mark Walberg threw out the first pitch — of course, both The Piv and Marky Mark are associated with the hit show, Entourage (a show I have never seen).

    Here is a panaramic from the bottom of section 235, where I took a picture of The Piv singing:


    32 - wrigley RF foul panaramic.jpg

    Guess who won?  The Cubs — 17-2!

    After the game, we got our official Road Trip game picture by the field:


    33 - 3 cooks at wrigley.jpg

    The usher who took this photo thanked us for visiting Wrigley and gave us directions on how to get out to the bleachers so we could take some pictures.  “Thanks, sir.”

    Hey, by the way, did you notice that all of the NL Division Standings flags in CF are gone and they are replaced by a single “W” flag.  That’s cool.  I like it.

    Bleacher photos, here we go:


    34 - CF bleachers.JPG

    And here is the view from the bleachers:


    34a - wrigley CF bleachers panaramic.jpg

    Below the CF bleachers, there is a spiral walkway to the sidewalk level.  Here is a photo from the bottom of the walkway:


    35 - wrigley CF concourse exit panaramic.jpg

    When we left, I realized we didn’t get a picture of the famous Wrigley Field sign, so we walked around the stadium to get a shot of it.  On the way, we passed a ton of people standing at the fence of the players parking lot:


    36 - wrigley outside LF panaramic.jpg

    Here is the photo with the sign:


    37 - wrigley sign.JPG

    Unfortunately, this is the best picture we could manage out by the sign.  The guy in the blue shirt behind us took a picture with all of us in it, and it didn’t turn out.  But just imagine my dad standing next to us!

    Finally, we hit the road.  It was time to start the long drive to Minnesota to see the Indians vs. Twins.

    We stopped by the McDonald’s next to Wrigley and got a McFlurry that I scooped into Tim’s Cubs ice cream helmet…

    38 - roadtrippin day 1.JPG

    Tim enjoyed his ice cream helmet in the car and then helped my dad navigate on the drive to Wisconsin Dells — the Water Park Capital of the World — where we camped out at a KOA for the night.

    Day 1 of the Road Trip:  a complete success!

     

    Season Fan Stats:

    22 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
    8 Stadiums
    (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field)
    18 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
    Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, and Pirates– and sort of the Giants)
    18 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees and Cubs)
    19 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates) 
    4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
     
    4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, 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)

    1st Baseball Roadtrip Recap (2008)

    Tomorrow evening, Tim and I will fly to Chicago where we will meet up with my dad.  Its time for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.  I figured I’d share the story of our The (original) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008 so you know the background of this grand tradition.

    I only started blogging about our baseball experiences this season.  Last season, I had to resort to traditional email updates to keep my wife and other family members up-to-date on our trip status.  Below, I have copied and pasted those email updates with just a few of the many pictures that were originally attached to the emails.  I hope you enjoy.

    This season, our Road Trip will take us from Wrigley to the HHH Metrodome to Miller Park and back to the south side of Chicago for a game at U.S. Cellular Field.  The last game of the Road Trip will mark an important milestone and I’m EXTREMELY excited to get this trip under way and rack up some awesome family baseball memories.

    So, here is the background I promised:

     

    [AUGUST 15, 2008]

    So we are in Washington, PA at our first night KOA. The drive went well
    last night. Tim got whiney right at the end when we took a wrong turn and
    got lost for a short time. Otherwise, he did great.
     
    1roadtrip1camping.jpgHe wasn’t too excited to sleep in the cabin at first, but he ended up having
    a great night and is really enjoying the campground. He thinks the red
    light on the fire alarm on the ceiling of the cabin is a ladybug and he
    talked about it at great length last night until 12:30 am when he finally
    went to bed.
     
    This morning he did some exploring and then hit some baseballs. Pa and I
    played catch in between Tim’s hacks at the tee.
     
    Next, we’re off to Cabela’s in West Virginia so Tim can check out some live
    fish and dead animals. Then its on to Cincinnati where we will be in a
    hotel. The Reds play the Cardinals tonight and I’m hoping Pujols hits 4
    homeruns.
     
    Here are some pictures.
     
    Next update tonight following the game.
     
    -Todd

     

    [AUGUST 16, 2008]

    Here are a ton of pictures from today. We arrived in Cincinnati around
    3pm. Hung out at our hotel a bit. Then we hit the streets and walked to
    “Skyline Chili” for dinner. I got the 5-ways Chili, Dad got 2 Cheese Coneys
    and cheese fries, and Tim got the kid’s cheese coney meal. You might notice
    in the pictures, there was some cheese involved. (note, I also got
    non-cheese fries).


    2-pacheesers.jpg 

    Then it was off to the game. As per usual, Tim’s cuteness secured him a ball.  This time, from Cardinals reliever Chris Perez, who would eventually
    earn a save in the game. We also got two autographs. Some dude, and Edison Volquez — a hot, up-and-coming pitcher for the Reds, you might have heard of him, he started the all-star game for the NL this season. [Note: At the time I wrote this, I was under the impression Volquez had been the starter, I’m not sure why.  I’m now aware Ben Sheets was the starter…I’m not sure why.]


    2-greatamoutside.jpg

    2-cinciballfromchrisperez.jpgWe then toured the Reds Hall of Fame, which is really cool. There is a lot
    to see and do in there. Including a pitching areas where you can pitch and
    someone can stick their head in a little window and call balls and strikes.

    Eventually, the game started. We had nice outfield seats. The stadium is
    nice. Seemed small and cozy. Tim and I had some great ice cream in Reds
    helmets. We did a lot of walking around and seeing all the ins-and-outs of
    the ball park.

    After the game (Cardinals won 5-3), they had a spectacular fireworkds show.
    I think it might have been Tim’s first. He loved it. The grande finale was
    one of the best i’ve seen.

    Then we walked back to the hotel. Tim fell asleep on my shoulders.
    More tomorrow…
    -Todd


    2-greatam3cooks.jpg
    2-greatamericanfromRF.jpg
    2-greatamOF.jpg
    2-greatamnight.jpg
    2-greatamfireworks.jpg 

    [AUGUST 16, 2008]

    Hi, Guys. Another great day on the baseball roadtrip. We woke up in
    3-batlumber.jpgCincinnati and got showered up. Tim had a fine day of brushing his teeth, started off with some quality morning brushing. After leaving the room and
    packing up the car, we headed to the free breakfast in the hotel. It hit
    the spot. Then it was just 100 mile drive to Louisville. Note, Cincinnati
    has some of the best this-way-to-the-freeway signage I’ve ever seen. There
    was a sign “To 75″ just as we exited our hotel and another one every block
    for the entire mile or two that we weaved around the city before getting on
    the freeway.
     
    3-signatures.jpgTim did great in the car on the way down, which made the drive nice.
    Louisville Slugger was excellent, even though Tim was not. Tim’s theatrics
    began during the factory tour because little ones are not allowed to sit on
    dad’s shoulders in the factory (although there was nothing low hanging that
    would have bonked tim’s head). so, he whined a bunch in the factory. I was
    suprised how small the factory is. They essentially make all MLB bats
    (about 40% of all bats used in the MLB) on one machine. It cranks them out
    at rate of 30 seconds per bat. Minor League bats are made on the other side
    of the factory.
     
    3-louisvilleorigins.jpgThe museum was really cool. The best item in there, in my book, was a bat
    Babe Ruth used the year he hit 60 homeruns. The Babe carved 21 notches
    around the label on the bat, one for each home run he hit with the bat
    before it broke. The bat is huge, as you can see in the picture when you
    compare it to the guy standing behind it.
     
    3-hitting.jpgThere was also a baseball diamon in one room. Tim loved it. They gave
    everyone mini-bats and Tim swung, swung, swung and ran, ran, ran (the bases)
    in that room. He had another melt down when we finally made him leave the
    room. Note, that room has a dugout, and Tim and I got an awesome picture
    acting like we are teammates at the top step waiting to hit.
     
    3-bighitter.jpgThey also have two batting cages in the museum. I took two rounds. One
    with Ty Cobbs bat. The heaviest bat ever. Let me tell you, you notice it
    at the plate! The second with a Jim Thome bat, which was designed by Edgar
    Martinez (the guy running the cage is a huge M’s fan and picked it out for
    me because of the Edgar connection). Dad took one round with the Hank Aaron
    bat. Again, Tim had a minor meltdown when not allowed to take any hacks in
    the cage.
     
    We all got personalized bats. Tim and mine are with us, but Dad’s is being
    mailed to Edmonds. I picked black bats with silver writing to look like
    Griff’s bat. I got them personalized to remember the roadtrip.


    3-bats.jpg

    Next, it was off to Brookville, OH (ten miles outside of Dayton). We’re now
    in our cabin at the KOA. Its a great KOA. Tim had an absolute blast. We
    arrived around 4:30. Tim played like crazy in the huge boat-shaped sand
    box. He played with tons of kids in the playset area. He sat on
    crazy-four-wheeler bikes you can rent. He played tons of gold with his new
    M’s golf set, even enlisting several neighorhooding campers (kids and
    adults) to golf and/or hit baseballs with him.
     
    3-ruthian.jpgWe capped off the night with Superman Ice cream (except dad has moose
    tracks, I think). Then it was more quality tooth brushing. Now, lil’
    Timmers is sleeping an Dad is off brushing his teeth.
     
    3-bbqing.jpgOh, I forgot to mention, we BBQ’d at the cabin for dinner. Excellent
    BBQ’ing by dad.
     
    Oh, I also forgot a great line from this morning. I was emailing in the
    hotel room and Tim said something to Pa. Then, Pa said to Tim, “No, your Pa
    has it.” And Tim got this big huge smile on his face like something really
    funny just happened and he says to me, “You’re Pa!? You’re Pa!?” It was
    quite funny.
     
    Anyway, that’s update no. 3. Please enjoy a ton of pictures below.
    -Todd

     

     [AUGUST 17, 2008]

    howdy, folks. so we find ourselves at the end of another great day. we
    woke up in Brookville, OH this morning at about 7:30. We got the car all
    packed up before Tim finally woke up. By 8am, we were on the road heading
    to Cleveland. Tim was, once again, excellent in the car. We pulled into
    Cleveland by about 11:30.


    4-dajake.jpg
    The game at Cleveland’s Progessive Field f/k/a Jacob’s Field was great. Our
    4-thejake.jpgseats were in foul territory down the third base line. The Indians were
    playing the Angels. I never really decided who i would root for, but when
    the Indians won, it was alright with me.
     
    Before the game, we toured the field by foot and then Tim and I shared some
    nachos while Dad had some red vines. Once the game started, Tim did a nice
    job sitting in the seats and allowing us to watch the game. However, by the
    fifth, Tim was quite ready for a nap and he decided to take it on my
    4-jakeconcourse.jpgshoulders. I ended up watching several innings standing at the top of the
    section behind the seats while Tim did his best job of tryng to break my
    neck supporting him while he napped.
     
    During Tim’s nap, I talked to a robust field attendant and a guy in the last
    row. The attendant mentioned that it was “kids run the bases” day and that
    kids would start lining up by the 7th inning to run a lap of the bases
    following the game. So, after his nap, Tim and I met back up with grandpa
    and we went and found the line. After the Indians won the game (and
    series), the long line started to snake its way through the bowels of
    Progressive Field. (I’m happy to report that it has been 19 days since the
    Indians’ last “lost time” on the job accident — or at least so read the
    sign beneath the field).
     
    4-jakeicecreamhelmet.jpgBecause Tim’s such a little whipper snapper, they let me run the bases with
    him. We had a blast. Here is the picture the Indian’s took for us to
    purchase:
    http://www.printroom.com/ViewGalleryPhoto.asp?evgroupid=0&userid=indians&tcount=62&scount=20&gallery_id=1229183&image_id=19
     
    4-jakefaces.jpg
    4-jakenap.jpgAfter the game, we collected the kid’s giveaway (they do it after the game
    for some reason), an Indians’ art set) and then we called Colleen to
    mapquest directions to our next KOA.
     
    We arrived in the Cleveland/Streetsboro KOA around 5pm. Its nice, but not
    as happening at the Brookville KOA (which, did we mention, won KOA’s
    4-firstsmoreever.jpgPresidential Award last year). We played in the kids’ play area, fed fish
    from the dock, BBQ’d and made Tim’s first smorse around his first campfire
    tonight. Tim had a blast and just finally got to bed.
     
    All in all, it was another excellent day of road tripping. Tomorrow, we’re
    off to Pittsburgh. See you then. In the meantime, check out these
    pictures.
     
    -Todd


    4-jake3bline.jpg
    4-jake325.jpg
    4-jakebases.jpg


    4-jakeplate.jpg

     
    4-jakesprinklers.jpg

     

    [AUGUST 18, 2008]

    howdy, folks. so we made it home this evening, but not before taking in
    5-clemente.jpganother great game on the roadtrip. we cruised a quick 100 miles into
    Pittsburgh, PA this morning for a 12:30 match-up between the Pirates and the
    visiting Mets. The teams decided against taking batting practice this
    morning so we wondered around the park before the game and ultimately ended
    up down the third base line where the Pirates’ pitchers were playing catch
    in pairs. the ball catching opportunities were slim, but we capitalized
    big-time. first, a Pirate pitcher (possibly someone-or-other Nelson) threw
    a ball to Pa. Then, Tim and I got Pa’s ball autographed by Matt Capps (DL).
    Next, Pa got our pitcher taken with Matt Capps.

    5-notclemente.jpg

    5-capps.jpgNext, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim. Then, Tim and I got it
    autographed by Sean Burnett (eventual winning pitcher on the day), Tyler
    Yates (relief pitcher today (pre-save)), and T.J. Beam. Finally, we capped
    off the session with a picture with Mr. Beam.
     
    Next, we walked around the park for a bit. We even visited the first water
    fountain Tim ever used (last September). The water fountain is doing well.
     
    We had a bite to eat before the game and Tim konked out on my shoulders, but
    let me switch him to a traditional baby-holding position. He slept through
    all the nachos!

    5-pnc3cooks.jpg
    After his nap, we got some mint chocolate chip ice cream in Pirates’
    helmets. While Tim ate his (with sprinkles) sitting under our seats, a nice
    5-bigscreen.jpgcamera man found us and broadcast Tim for about 10-15 seconds on the jumbo
    tv screen in the park. It was actually our second time getting media
    coverage on the day. Earlier, we had our text message about the roadtrip
    put up on the scoreboard between the first and second levels.
     
    Our seats in the OF were excellent. But, due to the heat, we eventually
    relocated to the handicap accessible seats under the right field seats. It
    had an excellent breeze that made the end of the exciting game even better.
     
    5-pnctouring.jpgAfter the game, we took a leisurely 250 mile drive back to Reading where
    mommy was waiting to greet and hug us.
     
    Its been a truly great baseball roadtrip. Although I have to work in the
    day tomorrow, the roadtrip continues tomorrow evening with a Phils vs. Nats
    game in Philadelphia. Should be more of the same — fun, fun, fun.
     
    See pictures attached.
     
    -Todd

     

     [AUGUST 19, 2008]

    Well, here is the final update for the big baseball roadtrip. I was back to
    work today before taking off early to head down to the Phillies/Nationals
    game. It was nice to be back in the car and on the road again after a hard
    days work.
     

    6-citzseats.jpgThe Phils pulled out a much needed come from behind win. They never led
    until one out in the bottom of the eighth. Then they brought in Brad Lidge
    and he sealed the deal.
     
    I didn’t expect a big crowd so I hadn’t pre-ordered tickets. When we
    arrived all they had left was obstructed view and standing room tickets. We
    opted for obstructed view. And, you know what? You can’t see very well
    through a big yellow foul pole.
     
    6-foulpoleseating.jpgAfter a couple innings behind the pole, we hit the bricks. We walked down
    to the team store and then got something to eat. Pa and I got “Schmidters”
    and Tim got the biggest chocolate soft serve with sprinkles ever to be
    served in the mini-Phillies helmet.
     
    Tim started complaining about the wind in the stadium and saying he wanted
    to go home. So we put on his sweatshirt and walked some more. Eventually,
    we found a landing above the left field seats and below the jumbo screen.
    There was a sectioned off handicap area with one on in it. Tim went in and
    claimed it as his playground. When a guard came to kick him out, a bunch of
    guys yelled at her “LET HIM PLAY!!! LET HIM PLAY!!!” So she caved to the
    6-icecreammania.jpgcrowd-pressure. Tim played the rest of the game in there and eventually
    made fast friends with his would-be ejector. She ended up giving him a
    Phillies hat and trying continuously to get him on the jumbo screen to no
    avail. He really entertained in there and by the end of the game, he no
    longer wanted to go home.
     
    It was a nice game to end an excellent baseball roadtrip. Here are a few
    pictures from tonight.
     
    Thanks for staying tuned,
    Todd

     


    6-citz3cooks.jpg

    And that, in a nutshell, was the First Annual Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008.  I asked my dad to come out and take this trip with us because I wanted to go to the Louisville Slugger factory.  We built the rest of the trip around that.  By the time we got back to the hotel room in Cincinnati after the first game, we decided the trip had to be an annual thing.

    Let the Second Installment begin!

    Jamie Moyer and the Marlins (8-9-09)

    On Sunday, August 9, 2009, Tim and I made our way down to Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies and, more importantly, Jamie Moyer face off against the Florida Marlins.  This wasn’t a game I’d originally planned to attend.  However, I ended up buying tickets to all three Dodgers games back in May before finally deciding on attending the Wednesday, May 13, 2009 game.  I was told I could exchange my extra tickets for certain games — this seemed like the best trade-in option.  I was pleasantly surprised when Cliff Lee joined the Phillies and they shifted the pitching rotation so Jamie Moyer would start this game.

    I’m always a little let down if we go to a Phillies game and someone else is pitching.  So I was very excited when I learned Moyer would start this game instead of J. Happ.

    For possibly the first time ever in Philadelphia, we arrived early to the game!  The teams weren’t taking BP, but I was happy to learn that it was Phillies alumni weekend and they were about to start an alumni hitting challenge.

    There were three teams of two — here are all of them but except Ricky Bottalico:

    1 - alumni challenge hitters.jpg
    3a - phanatic fish net.jpgTop left, Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams.  He actually put some decent swings on the ball.

    Top middle, some dude.  They said he was one of the heros of the 1980 World Series team.   I reviewed the 1980 line-up and none of the names jumped out at me.  So I’m sorry, I have no clue who that is.  He hit a few hot line drives that almost had HR distrance but went foul.

    Bottom left, Jim Eisenreich.  Not too shabby.  But nothing to write home about.

    Bottom middle, Milt Thompson.  He’s the Phillies current hitting coach so you’d want him to blast mammoth bombs…or maybe just hit solid base hits.  Okay, i guess he did a good job of the latter.  But no mammoth bombs.

    Right, Ricky Jordan.  The hitting star of the challenge.  He hit two bombs to LF.  One landed about 8 rows back and bounced all the way passed the cross aisle at the top of the section.  The second was caught on the fly by a fan in the first row.  These were the only HRs of the hitting challenge.

    The team of Ricky and Ricky won the challenge on the strength of the Jordan bombs.

    By the way, the Phanatic made a sweet diving catch with hit fish net on a hard liner to right-CF.  He got a huge ovation from the fans.  Unlike Tommy Lasorda, folks in Philadelphia (including me and Tim) love them some Phillies Phanatic.

    We’ve never been to BP in Philadelphia before.  So it would nice to *sorta* see BP at Citizens Bank Park.  It was the first time we’d ever been able to hang out in the LF seats because they guard it like its made outta solid gold during games.

    We had some fun watching the challenge out there:

    2 - tim alumni challenge.jpg

    By the way, check out Tim’s give-away Ryan Howard trucker cap.  Not too shabby.  He liked it.

    Both of the Ricky Jordan HRs came near us, but we didn’t have a play on either.

    After the home run challenge, it was time to take a lot of pictures.  I decided my main focus would be my main man in Philadelphia, Jamie Moyer.

    By the way, during the game, one of my friends and colleagues called my cellphone to inform me that Tim and I were on TV during the pre-game broadcast.  Apparently, it was about a 5-second shot of Tim sitting on my shoulders while I took pictures (and/or fidgeted with my wife’s camera).  One reader commented on my last entry noting that he also saw us.  Too bad I have Directv and therefore almost no Phillies games on TV, otherwise I might have DVR’d the game.

    Oh, well.  Let’s take a photographic tour of the pre-game rituals of Mr. Moyer.

    The game was a 1:35 start.  As shown below, at around 12:45, Moyer and catcher Paul Bako were among the only Phillies in the dugout:

    3 - moyer dugout.jpg

    Is it just me, or is Moyer watching me and Tim in that first picture?  Also, note all of the cool bat knobs in the second picture.  I love wood bats.

    After a while, Bako made his way toward the bullpen and I took these shots for a panaramic (we were standing at the end of the Phillies dugout at the time):

    4 - citz 1b field panaramic.jpg

    About 20 seconds later, Moyer started walking the to the bullpen as well.  The crowd gave him a lot of nice comments as he made his way.  Although the fans in Philadelphia can be rude and ridiculous, I’ve found that they also can be really great.  They appreciate someone who done things right.  And they showed some love for Moyer as he walked to the bullpen.

    I was similarly impressed by Philadelphia’s fans last season when Ken Griffey, Jr. played a four-game set in Philadelphia while sitting on 599 homeruns.  I went to three of those games (Tim joined me for one), and the fans were outstanding.  Griff pinch hit in two of the games at times when a homerun would have been devastating to the Phillies, and the entire stadium stood for his at bats, and people were really pulling for him to make history.

    Anyway, here is Moyer following Bako out to the bullpen:

    5 - moyer bako to pen.jpg

    Bako practiced his squating while Moyer ran some sprints from CF to RF:

    6 - moyer running.jpg

    After running and stretching, Moyer grabbed two balls out of this glove and popped a squat behind Bako:

    7b - meditation.JPG

    I got the feeling  he was praying.  He sat there for a little while before hopping up to play catch with Bako.

    I used this time to take some pictures of the OF wall in RF and CF.

    7 - OF wall views.jpg
    I thought it was interesting that they had all those hoses/cords hanging on the wall under the stands in foul territory.  As for the picture to the right, I think Philadelphia has a really interesting CF wall.  Very interesting to look at.

     Next, Moyer played some long toss with Bako:

    7a - moyer warm up motion.jpgNext, he warmed up from the mound in the bullpen:

    8 - moyer bullpen motion.jpg

    The Marlins pitcher, Josh Johnson, was also warming up in the bullpen at this time.  I took the picture below because I thought it was interesting how many levels/tiers there are out there:

    9 - bullpen tiers.jpg

    I count five levels — (i) we’re standing in the RF/CF stands, (ii) then it drops off 15 feet to the phillies bullpen, (iii) then it raises back up probably 12 feet to the visitors’ bullpen, (iv) then it raises up another 10-12 feet to the walkway in Ashburn Alley, and (v) then its up another 20 feet or so to the “roottop bleachers” and upper walkway.  Interesting design.  I approve.

     Soon, it was game time:
    9a - Moyer the Moundsman.JPGMoyer got the loss, but he really pitched well.  He gave up 2 earned runs (3 total runs) in five innings.  In a lot of Phillies games, that is going to qualify the pitcher for a win.  But on this day, the Phillies just could not hit.

    After watching Moyer pitch 3 scoreless innings, it was time to check out the play area.  Unfortunately, it was closed due to the rain.  So, Tim decided he’d like to play some catch.

    10 - citz catch.jpg

    This is Tim’s new deal since we played catch in the concourse at Yankee Stadium in July.  This was a great spot.  There were a number of Phillies employees watching us play catch and none of them cared whatsoever.  In fact, several of them helped us track down errant throws.  The fans and one food concession stand guy really seemed to enjoy watching us play catch.  In fact, one lady tried to get her daughter to play with us.  But the little girl wasn’t feeling it.

    After playing catch for a while, we headed over to the SRO area behind the field level seats down the 1B line.  At pretty much every single game we ever attend, Tim asks me to buy him a certain sovenir, but I always say no.   But today, I said yes:

    11 - no 1 finger.JPG

    Tim loves that finger!  And at $9.00 for a piece of foam, he better love it for a long time!

    At this point of the game, which I think was the 4th inning or so, the Phillies had a grand total of 1 hit.  However, Chase Utley sparked the offense with this mighty hack:

    12 - utley whiffs to 1B.jpg

    You might notice that the ball is between Utley’s legs.  He swung at such a bad pitch that the catcher couldn’t handle it.  A few second after this swing, Utley found himself standing on first base courtesy of a passed-ball-swinging-K.

    Ryan Howard followed Utley…

    13 - howard batting.jpg

    …with a laser line drive to the first baseman.  Utley was doubled off.

    Even the mighty Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez couldn’t help the Phils…

    14 - ibanez batting.jpg

    …he grounded out to second.

    We then went back to play catch a bit more.  It was the top of the 5th and the Phils were winning 1-0 on the strength of their one hit.  Unfortunately, Moyer gave up three runs (2 earned) in the top of the fifth.

    The top of the seventh was a wacky (and for the Phillies) a terrible inning.  First, Shane Victorino managed to get thrown out of the game while playing CF.  Not a common occurence.  I guess he shrugged his shoulders on a called ball.  The umpire did not appreciate the gesture.

    Jayson Werth replaced Victorno in CF and had a terrible game.  Including an error on a soft grounder up the middle with the bases loaded.  It went right under his glove and to the warning track before Raul could track it down.

    Actually, I’m getting a head of myself a little bit.  Before the Werth error, I took three pictures that I combined to make this interesting view: 

    15 - triple action zones.jpg

    Note that the pitcher is about to release the ball, the batter is about to hit the ball, and Ryan Howard is helplessly watching as the ball lands 2 rows back in the seats.  By the way, when I took the dugout and walking to the bullpen pictures of Moyer, I was standing approximately where the guy in the green shirt and white hat is standing in the picture above (and Tim was sitting on my shoulders).

    After Victorino was tossed, the entire crowd booed like crazy on almost every pitch for the rest of the game.  It was some of the loudest booing I’ve ever witnessed.  If the Phillies pitcher pitched a ball, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  If a Marlins pitcher pitched a called strike, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  If the Marlins changed pitchers, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  When the local celebrity told the crowd, “Its gonna be alright” before singing “God Bless America” in the middle of the 7th, BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

    It was interesting.

    But the Phils were done.  They gave up 6 runs in the 7th inning. 

    Toward the end of the 7th, Marlins star Hanley Ramirez…

    16 - hanley ramirez.jpg

    hit a double…but not on this swing.  This was a foul ball.

    By this point, the Phillies were losing 9-1.  Pedro Feliz hit a two-run bomb in the bottom of the 7th, but it was clear it would be too little too late.  Meanwhile, Tim was struggling to stay awake because he hadn’t really had a nap.  So we called it a day in the 8th and didn’t have to suffer through watching the Phillies give up 3 more runs in the top of the ninth.

    Tim was asleep by the time we were 100 feet out of the parking lot.

    Since this game, the Phillies have announced some news that is exciting to many — Pedro Martinez will start for the Phillies on Wednesday in Chicago — but for others, like myself, it is at the same time quite sad.

    To make room for Martinez, the Phillies have announced that Jamie Moyer will be moved to the bullpen.

    Today, I read this article in which Moyer is quoted as stating that he is “disheartened” by this news.  I join Moyer in this respect.  I sincerely hope this isn’t the last start Tim and I get the honor of seeing Moyer make. If it is his last start in a Phillies uniform, I hope he can make another in a Mariners uniform.

    Finally, I hope this is premature, but I’d like to thank Jamie for 145 wins and countless good memories.

    NEXT UP:  Tim and I will be going on the our second annual Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Road Trip from August 14 – August 17th.  It is going to be a huge trip with lots of awesome and memorable moments.  Be sure to check back in to read about it.

    Season Fan Stats:


    17 - city hall.jpg21 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)
    17 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
    Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals and Marlins– and sort of the Giants)
    17 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), 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)

    Double-A Pedro (8-5-09)

    1a - RBBSL Logo.jpgMy company has a softball team in the soon-to-be world famous Reading-Berks Business Softball League (RBBSL).  Sadly, we were eliminated from playoff contention a couple weeks back after a tough loss to the squad from EnerSys.  Last Monday, we assembled at Cacoosing Meadows for our final game of the season, another tough battle against the accountants of Reinsel Kuntz Lesher.  On the field next to us, it was a battle between EnerSys and the Reading Phillies (their front office).  As rec. league softball goes, it was huge game — the R-Phils won 10-9 and punched their ticket to the post-season while sending EnerSys home for a long winter.

    After the game, I was chatting with my buddy from the R-Phils and he informed me that the R-Phils had just announced some big news…

    1- Pedro on RPhils.jpg

    …Pedro Martinez would be making a rehab start for the R-Phils on Wednesday, August 5th. 

    Baseballtown was a buzz.  A future hall of famer was about to grace the mound at FirstEnergy Stadium.  I was in the middle of a ridiculously busy week at work.  But I decided I’d take a short break on Wednesday night so Tim and I could check out Pedro on his comeback trail.

    2a - zagurski_mike.jpgBy the way, do you see the guy pictured just below Pedro on the R-Phils website?  That’s Mike Zagurski.   He’s had a cup of coffee in Philadelphia and boasts a spotless MLB record of 1-0.  A couple weeks back, my softball team faced off against the R-Phils on the night of the MLB All-Star game.  It was also MiLB All-Star break so Zagurski and a couple other professional R-Phils players came out to Cacoosing Meadows to cheer on their softball team….and to heckle mine.   Well, mostly, I think they were there to heckle us.  And they heckled us, and heckled us…and then they heckled us some more.  Ultimately, we lost the game by one run.  But the silver lining is that I can now say I’ve been heckled by someone who has pitched in the major leagues.  Not too shabby.


    2 - Baseballtown Sells Out.JPGAfter our softball game, I ordered a ticket to the game online.  Entry was free for Tim (0-4 is free at the R-Phils).  It was a good thing I ordered it online because, for the first time in team history (or so I’m told) the R-Phils completely sold out.  As the sign says, they even sold out of standing room only tickets.

    We actually got lucky, on the way home from work to get ready to head to the game, my buddy called and said he had four extra tickets.  Someone had given them to him, but he already had tickets.  He ended up giving them to us so we’d have reserved seats and wouldn’t have to battle the crowd for General Admission seats or standing room.  It was defintely a good thing, because check out how crowded it was at the game…

    6 - packed house.JPG…see how people are using the stairs down into the LF homerun trough as standing room to watch the game?  Crazy.  It was packed!

    As we arrived, they were announcing the starting line-ups.

    “And pitching for your Reading Phillies, warming up in the bullpen, Pedro Martinez.”

    3 - pitching for the r-phils.JPG

    We headed straight to the bullpen, and got there in time to watch about two pitches before Pedro was officially “warm.”  So we walked back toward the grand stand with Pedro, his catcher and pitching coach Steve Schrenk walking right down the foul line along with us.

    4 - and warming up in the bullpen.JPG

    Notice that Pedro is wearing No. 41 rather than his usual No. 45.  In that last photo, Schrenk’s pullover is covering up Pedro’s number.  Based on a close analysis and comparison of Schrenk’s and Pedro’s career numbers, it probably wouldn’t have killed Schrenk to give up No. 45 for a night.  Although, it obviously didn’t kill Pedro to give No. 41 a test drive.

    The R-Phils took the field and Pedro did some more warming up:

    5 - warm ups on mound.JPG

    And then it was time, Austin Krum stood in and Pedro delivered his first pitch in Double-A baseball since he was a 19 year old kid in 1991 pitching for the San Antonio Missions in the Texas League:

    8 - 1st AA pitch since 1991.JPG

    The At-Bat would not go well for Krum.

    However, things would go much better for Edwin Nunez in the first inning:

    9a - Edwin Nunez HR.JPG

    Nunez hit a bomb that landed inside that yellow circle up there.

    The rest of the inning went much better for Pedro:

    • K – Austin Krum
    • K – Reegie Corona
    • HR – Edwin Nunez
    • K – Chris Malec

     Totals:  3 Strike Outs, 1 Hit

    All the while, Tim was enjoying a chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:

    8a - tim and ice cream.JPG

    By the way, here was our view:

    9 - rphils pedro panaramic.jpgNext, the R-Phils came to the plate.  Did you pay attention to the Phillies-Blue Jays Roy Halladay trade talks?  One name you might have heard tossed around was Dominic Brown.  Well, in the bottom of the first, Brown absolutely crushed a ball to tie the score up at 1-1:

    10 - dominic brown gonzo.jpgBrown’s HR exited the stadium and landed out on Route 61. 

    Building on his early total of three strike outs, Pedro kept dealing in the top of the second:

    10 a - rphils pedro LF trough panaramic.jpgTop of the second:

    • K – P. J. Pilittere
    • K – Richie Robnett
    • ground out – Edwar Gonzalez

    Totals:  5 Strike Outs, 1 Hit

    Between innings, the R-Phils kept us entertained with the antics of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor:

    11 - crazy hotdog vendor.jpg

    The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor throws hot dogs into the stands much to the delight of the fans.  However, on this day, thrown hot dogs were not enough to satisfy the capacity crowd.  We wanted more Pedro.  And in the top of the third, he delivered again:

    12 - pedro motion.jpg

    Top of the third results:

    • K – James Cooper
    • K – Marcos Vechionacci
    • ground out – Austin Krum (Pedro hustles over and covers first)

     Totals:  7 Strike Outs, 1 Hit

    In the bottom of the third, it was D-Bro time again — and he delivered again…

    14 - dominic brown strokes a double.jpg

    …not a home run this time…

    15 - dominic brown double.jpg

    …a solid double.  This guy is looking good.

    Tim was pretty excited for two reasons…

    16 - no foul balls.JPG

    1) he had his glove and he was ready to catch a foul ball — but none came anywhere near us, and…

    17 - roast beef.JPG

    2) Our Arby’s Roast Beef batter was at the plate.  If Brian Stavisky could hit in D-Bro from second base, we’d all win free roast beef sandwiches at Arby’s — unfortunately, Stavisky didn’t come through for us.

    After someone else did Stavisky’s job (no free roast beef for us), Pedro was back to the mound in the top of the fourth.

    By the way, ever heard of Reegie Corona?  He plays for the Trenton Thunder.  However, last February-March, as a result of the Rule 5 draft, he played for our Seattle Mariners.  I never saw him bat on TV during the spring, so I didn’t know about his crazy wide stance.  Check it out:

    13 - reegie corona.JPG

    …but the important thing is that Pedro had his payback on his Double-A arch nemisis, Edwin Nunez:

    19 - strike three.jpg

    “Strike Three!”

    Top of the fourth results:

    • K – Reegie Corona
    • K – Edwin Nunez
    • single – Chris Malec
    • ground out to S.S. – P. J. Pilittere

    Totals:  9 Strike Outs, 2 Hit

    After the top of the fourth, something funny happened that I thought was noteworthy.  After the ground out to end the inning, Stavisky (the R-Phils first basemen) rolled the ball back to the pitcher’s mound.  Third basemen Neil Sellers ran by the ball to the dugout.  Then, he turned around and back to the mound and grabbed the ball.  I was watching him and I figured he wanted the ball to keep as a keepsake from his game backing up Pedro Martinez.  But he went and grabbed the ball and threw it to a fan above the dugout.  I thought that was pretty cool.  He knew someone would want that Pedro-pitched ball.

    Anyway, I took one last picture of the field, it was a beautiful night for baseball…

    18 - nice evening.JPG

    …but, as I said, I was crazy busy at work this week.  So we cut our night short after four innings so I could go home and work, work, work.   But it was an excellent four innings of getting to see Pedro pitch some minor league ball.  And the R-Phils did an excellent job playing host to a huge crowd for the night.

    Pedro ended up having two more strike outs over two more innings.  He gave up a couple more tuns, one of which was unearned.  We’ll see how he holds up when he makes it to Philadelphia.  I was watching the gun throughout the night.  I saw one pitch clock in at 91 mph.  But he seemed to throw mostly curves and change ups that were in the 60s and 70s.  In fact, he had one curve that was 64 mph.

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