September 2009

Mariners in Toronto – Part II of II (9-26-09)

This is our first two-part game entry.  Do you recall in Part 1 a photo of Tim taking a picture?  I mentioned that he was testing out his new hobby, and I promised more on it later.  Well, now is later.  So, I’ll hand the controls over to Tim –

 

This is my chair from the baseball game:

1 - seat 108.jpgMy chair was super, super, funny great.

Here is the baseball field…

2 - mariners hitting.JPG…the Blue Jays are in the outfield to catch the balls when they fly over.

 This is centerfield:

3 - centerfield.jpgHere is the field again with the Mariners in the outfield: 

4 - ichiro in right.JPGThat is Ichiro.

There are some players… 

5 - M's bullpen.jpg…one of them waved at me.

This is the railing at our seat:

6 - our railing.jpgHere is the wall: 

7 - our OF fence view.jpgThis is up high:

8 - scoreboard.jpgHere is above my seat:

9 - above section 104 row 1 seat 108.JPGThis is our feet and daddy’s seeds:

10 - game shoes.jpg

Daddy catched mommy’s head: 

11 - glovehead.jpgHere’s Tim: 

12 - tim and roof.jpg

 

There you go.  Hope you enjoyed the game through Tim’s camera lens.  Since the game, Tim has learned how to zoom in and out.  So maybe he’ll contribute some more pictures in the future.

By the way, tomorrow we head to NYC for the first of two games over the final weekend of regular season baseball.  Its been a great season and its sad to have it coming to a close.

Mariners in Toronto – Part I of II (9-26-09)


1 - first look at skydome.jpgOkay — get ready for a long (and hopefully fun-filled), picture-laden game report.

It took some coaxing, but about a month ago I finally got my lovely wife, Colleen, to agree to a late-season family trip to the Great White North.  It would be our first trip ever to Toronto, our first game outside of the United States, and our first game ever at Rogers Centre.

It would also be our final Mariners game of the season, and a re-match of Tim’s first game ever.

To the right is a picture of our first close-up view of Rogers Centre.  Behind the stadium, you can see the CN Tower, which I am told is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.

Let’s get to the game.

We drove north from Pennsylvania the night before and stayed about 88 miles from Toronto, right down the street from Niagara Falls.  I didn’t know when, if ever, we’d get back to Toronto, so I wanted to get there early for all of BP.

We arrived before the stadium opened, grabbed our tickets at will call, and chatted with some nice Canadians in line.  Much to our delight, the Canucks informed us that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!  YES!  I was psyched.

The stadium opened at 11:00 a.m.  I hustled in to see what I could see, and Colleen took this picture as she and Tim approached the field level seats:

2 - just ichiro and todd.jpgMe and Ichiro.  No BP.  No one else on the field.  Just Ichiro.  Aye, aye, aye…two hours to kill before the game.  By the way, that is a banner I made sticking out of my backpack.

Here is the view from the 1B field level seats — essentially our first view of the field upon entering the stadium:

3 - rogers 1B Field panaramic2.jpgWe wandered back-and-forth between Ichiro, the foul pole, and the Mariners dugout.

I took some random pictures: 

4 - random pre-game stuff.jpgTo the left, big cushy seats along the front row (and Tim standing at the far end of them). To the right, the M’s batting helmets, gloves and shin guards.  Check out the shag-carpet looking field turf.

We looked into the dugout to see if any Mariners were in there…

5 - father and son pre-game.jpgNope.  Not yet.  By the way, Colleen took this picture because she thought it was cute how Tim was looking up at me.

After a bit, Tim and Colleen went up to the 200 level to a kids area (that didn’t impress Colleen).  I decided to stay on the field level and explore a bit more.

Then, some Blue Jays came out to play catch — a bunch of them.  I decided to go over and see them.

First a little background.  Do you recall that I’ve had a bunch of interactions this season with Mariners bullpen catcher (and former big leaguer) Jason Phillips?  Jason has been extremely cool to me and Tim.  Well, the Blue Jays just called up Jason’s younger brother, Kyle, for his first action in the major leagues.

I was thinking it would be really cool to get a ball from a pair of brothers at the same game.  So I decided to see if Kyle Phillips was over there.  But I couldn’t find him.  I noticed that Jays pitcher Brian Tallet was about 2 feet from the first row playing catch down the LF line:

6 - no soup for brian tallet.jpgI went over and politely asked him if he knew where Kyle Phillips was.  He totally ignored me.  And, I never found Kyle.  Oh well.

I was now on the opposite side of the infield.  I decided to walk around the OF concourse and head over to the Mariners bullpen.

When I got there, this is what I saw:

7 - olson-moore bullpen.jpgTo the left, bullpen coach John Wetteland is at the top left about to exit the bullpen door.  I have been debating with myself over the identity of the stretching Mariner at the bottom and to the right.  At first, I thought it was Garrett Olson.  But then I saw Garrett Olson out in RF later and I didn’t think he was the same guy.  I decided the stretching guy was rookie catcher Adam Moore — a guy I’m following closely.  But after returning home and examining all of my numerous pictures, I again think it is Garrett Olson.

Whichever one it is, the guy was cool.  He was down there stretching and I was up above just standing around observing my surroundings.  He turned around and looked up and saw me wearing my Mariners jersey.  He yelled, “Hey, there!” up to me.  We chatted for a minute or two.  We discussed that the Jays were throwing a lefty and Ken Griffey, Jr. would not be in the line up — a familiar scenario for me this season.

After chatting for a couple minutes, he yelled “hold on a minute” and he ran over to the wall (up where Wetteland is pictured).  He opened the bullpen baseball bag and pulled out a ball and threw it up to me.

“Thanks, mystery Mariner!”  (probably Garrett Olson)

 After chatting with probably-Garrett-Olson, I headed back over to the seats along the 1B line and I watched some more stretching:

8 - pre-game stetching.jpgThat is David Aardsma to the left and Ichiro to the right.

Eventually, Chris Jakubauskas came out to the field behind 1B (below at left side)… 

9 - jak and morrow.jpg…I yelled down to him, “Hey, Chris, need someone to play catch?”  He laughed and kept stretching.  Eventually, Brandon Morrow (top middle) ran out to stretch and play catch with Jakubauskas.  In the bottom left picture, Morrow threw one by Jak and all the way to the LF wall.

After Jak returned with the ball, they played catch for a few more minutes and then Morrow tossed their warm-up ball to me.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:

10 - jason phillips.jpg

Jason walked out to the RF foul line to play catch with someone-or-other, I can’t remember who.  I was watching some other M’s play catch.  When I looked left, Jason was walking out from the dugout.  He looked my way and raised his hand in the air above his head as if to say, “You again, you’re everywhere!”

He immediately set down his bag (that big bag behind him in the picture) and walked over to chat.  He gave me a hand shake and we chatted for several minutes.  I asked him about his brother and he said Kyle would be catching that day and he was excited to watch his brother play.

I mentioned to Jason that I was at the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium when “some dude wearing glasses hit a home run against my Mariners.”  Jason responded, “Yep, that was me.  Hit it to center off of Ryan Franklin.  And Franklin was mad at me about it.”

I also gave Jason a card with our blog address on it.  Hey, in case you’re reading this, Jason, THANKS!  You’ve really made this seasona lot of fun and very memorable for me and Tim.  Looking forward to seeing you in 2010 if you stick with the M’s!

While all of this was going on, Colleen took a couple shots of Adam Moore stretching and running…

 
11 - more adam moore.jpg 
IMG_4456.jpg
  

 …as shown on the right, Adam Moore is the first ball player Tim ever met, and his first autograph.  It was at spring training in 2008.  I’ve been following him ever since and hoping he’d get called up to the big club.  Hopefully he’s here to stay.

Oh, yeah.  So I guess you could tell, Colleen and Tim met up with me again after the play area.  Tim was ready to catch his first ball ever… 

12 - how about a ball.jpgYeah, Tim has got a bunch of baseballs at games.  But they’ve all been either (i) thrown to me or (ii) handed to Tim.  Tim had been telling me at games recently that he wanted to catch a ball himself.  I was hoping it would happen.

By the way, in that last picture, do you see a baseball in the black glove sitting on the ground by the foul line to Tim’s left?  That ball is also shown here:

13 - RRS to GO.jpgThat is Ryan Rowland-Smith throwing the ball to Garrett Olson.  He was throwing some wicked junk balls that Garrett really had to work hard to catch.

Back to that ball in the glove.  That was Ryan Rowland-Smith’s glove.  After he and Olson finished tossing, Ryan headed over to the RF corner where someone who appeared to be a Rogers Centre regular had a whole bunch of glossy pictures set out on the wall.  Rowland-Smith headed over and autographed one for her.  Then he worked his way down the wall in our direction signing for everyone.

When he reached us, I asked if we could get our picture with him — “of course” was his response:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgAs we were getting ready for this picture, I asked, “After this picture, do you think you could throw that ball in your glove into my son’s glove?”  “Oh, definitely, no problem” was Ryan’s response.  It was funny.  He almost said it like it was a foregone conclusion.

After the picture, Ryan headed over to his glove and grabbed the ball.  I stood Tim up on the wall and Ryan tossed it to him…

15 - fun with RRS.jpgIn the top left, Ryan had just thrown the ball to Tim, but Tim missed it.  Ryan is chuckling and coming over to grab the ball off of the ground.  In the top right and bottom left corners, Ryan is autographing the ball for us.  He then handed it back to us and went on signing.

But the story isn’t over.  We were still standing right next to Ryan and he was still signing.  A couple seconds later, someone handed him a ball to sign, but didn’t have a pen.  Ryan asked, “Does anyone have a sharpie?”  At the same time, Tim said something to me about being sad that he missed the ball when Ryan threw it to him.

I handed a sharpie to Rowland-Smith and said, “I have one.  By the way, do you think you could re-throw that ball to my son so he can try to actually catch it.”  “Of course, no problem,” Ryan said with another chuckle.

Ryan then took the ball all the way across the warning track.  I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh.  How’s Tim gonna catch this from that far!”  In the bottom middle of the picture above, the red arrow shows the flight path of the ball as Tim squeezes it safely in his glove.

SUCCESS!!!

Tim (and I) was so excited about his big catch:

16 - woooh.jpg

By the way, today (9-29) I asked Tim who threw the baseball that he caught.  He thought about it for minute and first said, “Jason Phillips.”  Then he thought harder and he came up with a new answer, “Smith Roll.”  Hey, that’s not too far off.  “Ryan Rowland-Smith” is probably a hard name for a 3-year-old to remember.

An extra big, huge thank you to Ryan Rowland-Smith.  He was so extremely nice.  He really came off like he is one of the nicest guys around.  His demeanor just exuded niceness.

At this point of pre-game, I realized we had caught three baseballs — tying our single game record — and we hadn’t even got a ball from Jason Philips.  There was a great chance of breaking our record, despite no BP.

But for the time being, it was getting close to game time.  Most of the players had left the field.  So Tim and I decided to go on a stadium tour while Colleen went to find our seats.

I started with a panaramic from the RF corner where we’d celebrated Tim’s big catch:

17 - rogers rf foul corner field panaramic.jpgHere is a shot of the ailse that leads from the main concourse down to the RF corner:

18 - rogers field level back aisle.jpgBehind home plate: 

19 - rogers plate field panaramic.jpgNotice that big blue double railing down the middle?  I think that has something to do with helping handicapped patrons down the stairs, which is nice.  But it kept fustrating me because you can’t get passed it without walking up to the concourse.

Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:

20 - rogers LF foul field panaramic.jpgI thought this sign was pretty funny:

21 - low headroom.jpgThat “low headroom” sign is on that same support beam all the way around the stadium.  Behind home plate, it is a good sign because the headroom is very low.  But where it is pictured above, it is about 30 feet above the aisle below.

Here is a picture standing in front of the batters eye…

22 - rogers CF batters eye view panaramic.jpg…which is just a big black cloth laid over the field level seats in CF.

Then we headed up to the 500 level (we’ll have to come back to explore the 200-300-400 levels).  Here is a panaramic view from roughly behind home plate in the 500 level:

23 - rogers plate upper panaramic.jpgBy the way, the double set of lights at the top right isn’t real.  That’s an effect from me combining multiple pictures to make that panaramic view.  There is only a single set of lights up there.

Here is are a couple views of the seats and roof support beams in the 500 level:

24 - blurry 500 level.jpg…check out how they have railings between every row of seating.  They only have that in the 500 level (as far as I could tell).  I guess it is so people don’t fall down the incredibly steep steps.  It makes it hard to walk through the narrow rows quickly.

Here is a view from a little more than half way up the 500 level in RF foul territory…

25 - rogers RF foul upper below lights panaramic.jpg…not bad, but you are gonna miss any catches made right down the RF line.

 And, here is a panaramic view from the back row of the same section…

26 - rogers rf foul upper behind lights panaramic.jpg…notice anything?  Yep, that’s right.  The seats are ABOVE THE LIGHTS!!!  Not quite as good as the seats half way up the section.  Here you’re going to miss anything that happens at home plate or in RF or LF.  But, hey, its a unique view and you could chalk it up as an odd experience if you are ever forced to sit here.

Here is another view from further out in RF — in homerun territory.  It would be quite a blast if a home run ever made it up here:

27 - rogers rf foul line upper panaramic.jpgHere are a couple more random shots from up there:

28 - rogers centre stadium scenes1.jpgTop left, there appears to be a restaurant (or something) just below the big screen.

In the top right and bottom left, you can see a crane contraption that is holding up the foul pole.

Bottom right, its just a picture of the big screen — featuring Franklin Gutierrez.

And that was our tour.  We headed to our seats in RF for the game to start.  This was our view from the first row in section 104:

29 - rogers rf section 104 row 1 seat 107 panaramic.jpgAlmost immediately, I headed back out to the concourse to get Tim a treat:

30 - blue jays ice cream helmet.jpgSo, at the beginning of each game at Yankee Stadium, the entire RF bleachers section chants each Yankees players name until they wave at the RF bleachers.  At Rogers Centre, this guy is in charge of the roll call:

31 - roll call guy.jpgHe did it all himself.  But he successfully collected a bunch of Blue Jay waves.

Back to our seats.  Check out how awesome these are — the M’s bullpen bench was elevated above the OF wall just a coule feet from us:

32 - elevated M's bullpen.jpgAfter the roll call guy did his thing, the entire Mariners bullpen yelled, “VERNON WELLS!”  Vernon promptly gave the bullpen a big smile and a wave.

John Wetteland then yelled to Vernon:  “Can I have a baseball?”  Others followed with, “Can I have your bat?,” “Can I have your glove?,” and “Can I have your cleats?”

And that wasn’t all the fun they had.  The entire M’s bullpen then waged an all out every-man-for-himself pumpkin seed flicking war.  Seeds were flying everywhere for about 15 minutes.  David Aardsma and Jason Vargas both took seeds to the face.  Some of those guys could flick a seed 30 feet on a line.  It was pretty impressive, and hilarious.  Everyone in the crowd was watching them closely and getting a kick out of it, including this guy:

33 - tim is all smiles in toronto.jpgThen we were interrupted with some baseball.   I can’t remember who hit this ball, but a Mariner hit a ball to deep right CF.  I thought it was extra bases all the way.  But the Jays’ right fielder, Jose Bautista, tracked it down and made an amazing catch just below us before smashing into the hard plexiglass wall at full speed.  It seemed like he was down for a minute or two after the catch.

Here is a screen shot from the highlight on mlb.com.  This is just before he smashes into the wall — the red arrow is pointing to me, you can’t really see Tim in the seat next to me (the empty looking seat), and then Colleen is in the pink:

34 - bautista catch screen shot.jpgDuring the game, Tim tested out his new hobby (more on that later):

35 - cameraman tim.jpgThen it was time to take a walk.  We walked around the 100 level concourse.  We walked by a neat looking market before ending up in the team store:

36 - rogers team store.jpgTim didn’t want to leave the team store because it had a field on the ground.  Most of it was painted, but the bases and home plate were glass and you could see a real game-used home plate and bases under each piece of glass.

Tim took a lot of swings at fake balls and ran a lot of bases in the team store.  I was okay with it because I could see the game while I stood by the guard at the home plate pictured above to the right.

While I was standing there, Ichiro was kicked out of the game for the first time in his career and Adam Moore hit his first extra base hit (2B) and collected his first RBI of his career.  It was cool to be there for that.

Eventually, we left the team store and I walked all the way around the stadium while holding Tim in my arms…

37 - sweeney swings k-phillips catches.jpg…while doing so we saw Mike Sweeney at bat and Kyle Phillips playing catcher.

After Ichiro was booted for arguing balls and strikes, Bill Hall took his place in RF. 

38 - two RFers.jpgAs we walked around the concourse, Tim fell asleep.  I headed back to our seats and handed Tim off to Colleen.  Unfortunately, it was very difficult to sit next to Colleen while she held Tim like this because Tim’s legs were in the way:

39 - nap time.jpgSo I continued to walk around and take pictures.  And then I hung out above the Mariners bullpen in section 106.

I got some good action shots including these… 
40 - the kids are alright.jpgTop left, Adam Moore getting drilled by a pitch.  Top right, Josh Wilson getting a line hit up the middle moving Moore to second.

Bottom left, Moore on second thanks to Wilson’s hit.  Bottom right, Matt Tuiasosopo hitting, I believe, a sacrifice fly scoring Moore.

Hey, how have I not shown you the roof yet –here it is: 

41 - rogers roof.jpgTim slept until the end of the game — in the 10th inning.  I spent the last inning or two behind the bullpen taking pictures:

42 - rogers bullpen scenes.jpgTop left, Rob Johnson, Jason Phillips, Randy Messenger, David Aardsma, and Jason Vargas.  Top right, Chris Jakubauskas’s glove and pink backpack.

Bottom right, David Aarsdma half-heartedly warming up – he never entered the game.  Bottom left, the bullpen baseball bag.

I usually try to come away from each game with one baseball.  At many games, we get none.  But I generally don’t set any goals other than trying to get one ball.  Although we already had three at this game, I still wanted one more.  I needed a Jason Phillips ball.  You see, we’d now seen the Mariners play at six stadiums this season and Phillips had given us at least one ball at each stadium this season (in order, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (2), Fenway Park (2), Progressive Field, and Safeco Field).

But when the game ended, I still had not got one from Jason and I thought my window of opportunity had closed.  I saw him pack up his bag on the other side of he bullpen before handing it to Miguel Batista to carry to the dugout.  Meanwhile, David Aardsma zipped up the bullpen baseball bag and started walking to the dugout.

As Jason walked by below me, I called out, “Hey, Jason!”  He looked up and pointed at me as if to say, “OH, YEAH!”  He then jogged into the OF and caught up with Aardsma.  When he went for the baseball bag, Aardsma played keep away for a second.  Then Phillips pointed over toward me and said something to the D.A.  Aardsma relented and let him have the bag.  Jason opened it up, grabbed a ball, turned toward me and threw a long strike into my glove.

“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”

Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!

We got into a long line that snaked its way through the bowels of the Rogers Centre under the RF seats.  Here are a couple behind the scenes areas we saw:

43 - behind the scoreboard OF wall.jpgThe top pictures show wires coming out from under the seats, presumably to power the large screens on the OF wall.  The bottom pictures show the back of the OF wall from under the field level OF seats.  It looked like the video screen sections of the OF wall were on rollers and could be moved around (for example, to reconfigure the stadium for a Buffalo Bills game).

Here is another interesting shot, a hole in the wall looking into the Mariners bullpen:

hole in bullpen wall.jpgNext, we got our classic Kids Run the Bases RF wall distance picture (for the first time ever including meters as well as feet): 

44 - rogers RF wall 328ft-100mtr.jpgThen it was off to the races.  I *chaperoned* Tim:

45 - running the bases.jpgIn case you missed the video of Tim running from my last post — click here to view it.

Unlike the other teams where we have run the bases, the Blue Jays didn’t kick us off of the field immediately upon Tim finishing running the bases — so we were able to get a nice family picture….
46 - rogers and the cooks.jpg…and some other random shots hanging out on the field:

47 - more on field fun.jpg

Tim thought that silly face he is making in the picture by the dugout was hilarious.

Finally, we got one more picture from the main concourse before leaving the Rogers Centre:

48 - father-son-field.jpgThanks for an excellent season Mariners.  It was grand, indeed.

Season Fan Stats:

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


49 - outside rogers centre.jpg12 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, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

26 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
32 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, 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)

50 - four balls.jpg

Tim Runs the Bases in Toronto (9/26/09)

So, we went to the Mariners-Blue Jays game at Rogers Centre on Saturday.  It was our first trip ever to Toronto.  And, despite an extra inning-walk off loss by the Mariners, we had a great time.  I’m still working on the full-game entry.  But in the meantime, here is a video clip of the “Kids Run the Bases” portion of the game:

tim on bases screen shot.jpg

…well, I can’t figure out how to embed the video, so just click here to link to it.

“The Yankees Are Bossy” (9-19-09)

My mom, Colleen, Tim and I were in the car driving to Safeco Field to see the Mariners take on the Yankees when Tim turned to me and proclaimed:

“Dad, the Yankees are bossy.”

Indeed.

Well, actually…in the three games Tim has seen the Yankees play in his life, the Yankees haven’t been very bossy.  We’ve seen the Mariners beat the Yankees twice and the Orioles just a couple weeks ago beat the Yanks too.  So, really, the Yankees have been pretty accomodating in the games we’ve seen them play.

We were hoping they would be similarly accomodating at this game.

We had four excellent seats in section 151 (left field).  But, I also had my best buddy Paul’s two tickets in section 123 (just a couple rows back from the Mariners’ dugout).  Paul was at a family get-together and was hoping to meet up with us later in the game.  He never made it.

We arrived just before game time.  After watching the Yankees bat in the top of the first, Tim and I grabbed an ice cream helmet (mint chocoloate chip and chocolate fudge chip) and headed over to Paul’s seats in time to watch Ichiro lead off the bottom of the first… 

1 - ichiro.jpg…he would draw a walk.

 Tim was very protective of his ice cream:

2 - dont look at my ice cream.jpgThis is his, “I know you’re looking at my ice cream, don’t even think about, I’m not sharing” look.  And, true to his look, he did not share.

Two more notes about that picture.  First, I don’t like it when teams leave a big huge bar code on the side of the ice cream helmets.  We haven’t received many bar-coded helmets.  Mostly in Philadelphia.  Before this week, we’d never received a bar-coded helmet at Safeco Field.  And I hope we never do again.

Second, that guy in the white hat sitting behind Tim was pretty hilarious.  He and this buddies were all decked out in Washington Husky gear.  Just a couple hours prior, the Huskies had taken down my dad’s alma mater, the No. 3 ranked USC Trojans.  (FYI, in college football, I root for my Temple Owls (GO OWLS!) and then the entire Pac-10.  In conference play, I root for the UW, followed by WSU (my brother’s alma mater), followed by USC (dad), followed by whichever team is located closest to Seattle.  But in the grand scheme of things, the Mariners are the only team I truly care about in any sport).

Anyway, as I was saying, that guy was pretty funny.  He kept yelling at all of the Yankees (particularly C.C. Sabbathia) and saying he was going to buy them dinner at various fast food restaurants if they continued to strike out (Yankees batters) or give up hits (Sabbathia).  He was going to take them to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Time, Papa Murphy’s, Red Lobster, etc., etc.

Enough about that guy, here is the view from Paul’s amazingly awesome seats:

3 - safeco pauls seats panaramic.jpgPaul’s family has split season tickets with another guy (Louie) who has had the tickets since 1977 (the M’s first season, and the year Paul was born).  In the Kingdome, Paul’s seats were even closer (third row, I believe) but they crammed a few extra super-expensive rows in front of his seats at Safeco Field.  The tickets are row 14, but I think they are only about 5-8 rows back from the dugout.

All of my action shots were coming out blurry at this game, but I got some good “batting stance” shots.  Here is Jose Lopez: 

4 - jose lopez.jpgI like Jose.  He’s good.

And here is Adrian Beltre… 

5 - beltre.jpg…he hit a double on this pitch, but my swinging shot and rounding first shot are both horribly blurry.

Hey, guess who stopped by our section?  It was the Beer Poet: 

6 - beer poet.jpgI can’t recall any of his poems, but essentially he says a lot of stuff like this:

“An evening at the ballpark, such a special treat.  Nothing makes it better than a cold beer while you sit in your seat.”

His actual poems are moderately better than that, but you got the gist of it.

Young gun Doug Fister was on the mound…

7 - fister.jpg…but unforunately he was shooting blanks on this night.

In the second inning, someone or other bunted the ball off of Kenji Johjima…

8 - johjima hit by bunt.jpg…it was an odd play, and Kenji was down for a few minutes.

During the top of the third, we headed out to CF to the play area, and I took this panaramic view as we passed behind the RF foul pole:

9 - safeco RF concourse panaramic.jpgHey, check out who was out at the play area:

10 - with colleen in playarea.jpgTim only played a little bit before we headed back to section 151 to meet up with my mom.  Here was my view from section 151, row 34, seat 1:

11 - safeco section 151 panaramic.jpgRow 34 is only about 5 rows back from the LF wall, directly down the line behind the hand-operated scoreboard.

We got two big batches of Jim’s garlic fries…

12 - Jim's Garlic Fries.jpg…and Tim ate a bunch of them before he decided that garlic is “too spicy.”

It was about time for Tim to act silly in the seats: 

13 - all smiles.jpgAnd then it was time for some more “spicy” garlic fries… 

14 - with grandma and garlic fries.jpgThat is Tim’s official “garlic is too spicy” face.  As for me, I’m a huge fan of garlic.  And these fries we ridiculously (in a good way) garlicy.  This wasn’t garlic powder or garlic flavoring.  This was full on mashed up and diced garlic bits.  I think each of our orders of fries had about 5 entire garlic bulbs on ‘em.  When all of the fries were gone, there was still an entire hand full of diced up garlic bits in each little cardboard tray.  I tried to eat all of the garlic in one of the trays, but I failed.  It would have made my head explode.  Too spicy.

Back to the game.  As I mentioned, Fister wasn’t on top of his game.  So, Don Wakamatsu pulled him before too long: 

15 - pulling fister and pauls seats.jpgSee the red outline in that picture?  Those are Paul’s seats as some non-ticketed dude prepares to take advantage of Paul’s absence.

Speaking of Paul, I bet you’re wondering what he looks like, right?  Well, you could look back at my entries from May when we went to a couple games together.  But it would be a whole lot easier if I just posted this:

 

griff-paul-kevin.JPGThat’s Paul in the middle, to the right is Paul’s brother Kevin, and to the left?  Well, that’s none other than future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey, Jr.

Once again, back to the game.  It was a cool but pleasant night at the ball park.  But late in the game, a few rain drops started to fall.  The powers that be decided it was time for some indoor baseball.  The following photos are very dark but they show the roof starting to creep across the field toward the 3B line:

16 - roof approaches.jpgAnd the next set of pictures show the roof approaching and passing the LF foul pole:

17 - indoor foul pole.jpgMark Teixeira was having good night at the plate, and the Mariners bats and pitchers weren’t doing too much.  So Tim had to get creative in the seats.  He decided to do some fake fishing.  Here he is walking up from row 33 to row 35 holding a fake fishing pole (note that for some reason he is bare footed…he likes to feel right at home at the park):

18 - fishing in section 151.jpgHe would stand on the stairs in row 35 and cast his fake fishing line down toward the OF wall.

Late in the game we ran around in the OF concourse a bit.  And that is where we were when the Yankees recorded the 27th out in the bottom of the ninth.  Aye, aye, aye…I was hoping Tim would never have to see the Yankees win a game in his life.  Oh, well, I need to come to grips with the fact that I can’t protect him for every bad thing that might happen in life.

We have one more Mariners game this season.  And with a win, the Mariners will finish the season with a winning record at games attended by me and Tim.  Let’s do it M’s!!!

One more comment on the Yankees.  This is the first time I’ve seen the Yankees play a game outside of Yankee Stadium since August 24, 1995.  I attended that game with Paul.  That game is widely recognized as the turning point in the Mariners season, after which they made a hard charge past the California Angels of Anaheim.  The Mariners were 11.5 games back at the time.  And in the 8th inning, the Mariners were losing 7-5.  In the 8th, Edgar Martinez hit a home run off of David Cone to make it 7-6 Yankees.

But the Mariners had been perenial losers.  The first two batters made quick outs in the bottom of the ninth.  Paul and I started to give up on the game.  In fact, we decided to leave and try to beat traffic.  But as we were walking out, Vince Coleman drew a walk from John Wetteland (now Mariners bullpen coach).  Paul and I started thinking about things.  Junior could get another at-bat!  We sprinted back to Paul’s seats (you know, the one’s I mentioned above, the ones 3 rows behind the 1B dugout).  As Joey Cora, battled Wetteland, Coleman stole 2B and 3B.  Cora then lined a single to LF to score Coleman and tie the game.

Up to the the plate sauntered Ken Griffey, Jr.  He would see only one pitch.  And we would see that pitch land in the upper deck in RF.  MARINERS WIN!!!

Twenty-five days later, the Mariners had erased the Angels’ 11.5 game lead.  Ultimately, the Mariners would beat the Angels in a one game playoff to claim their first ever A.L. West title.

So you ask what is the point of that long story?  Well, back in 1995, we watched the Mariners beat the Yankees in Seattle free of the presence of hordes of Yankees fans.  You see, the Yankees hadn’t been very good for a while.  They had not made the post-season since 1981.  And they didn’t have the massive traveling fan base that now accompanies them everywhere they go (and the hordes of bandwagon *fans*).  At least they didn’t have them in Seattle.

It was a much more pleasant way to watch a home Mariners game.  I live on the east coast and I see the Mariners on the road more than I see them at home.  So, I like my Mariners home games to feel like Mariners home games.  All this is to say that, this is likely my last Yankees game in Seattle.

By the way, don’t fear, the next day the Mariners would crush the Yankees to take the series 2-1.  Griffey would hit a bomb.

Anyway, on our walk to the car, I took a shot of the Seahawk’s stadium, Qwest Field:

19 - qwest field.jpgQwest Field sits on hallowed grounds — the site of the Kingdome.  I really wish Safeco Field could have been placed on the Kingdome’s site.  But it couldn’t happen.  The Mariners needed to play in the Kingdome until Safeco Field was ready to open in July 1999.  The Seahawks on the other hand, got an upgrade, they played at Husky Stadium while Qwest Field was being built.  Husky Stadium is probably better than Qwest Field.

One final note, the day after this game, we flew back into Philadelphia.  As we were driving out of the Philadelphia airport, Tim again told me that the Yankees are “bossy,” and he added that they “cheat.”  I told him that was not very nice of the Yankees.  But then, he told me that the Yankees called him on the telephone and apologized.  So, I guess that was considerate of the Yankees.

Season Fan Stats:

30 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)

25 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
28 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, 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)

Extra Innings in Seattle (9-17-2009)

On Thursday September 17th, we found ourselves in Seattle.  It wasn’t a planned trip.  We’d just be in town for a couple days.  But we found some time for our Mariners.

We headed to Safeco Field in the early afternoon.  It was a 3:40 start and Tim was fast asleep when we arrived at the Field:

1 - missed BP and sleepy.jpgWe were there plenty early, but BP ended early.  So we watched the grounds crew ready the field:

2 - caring for the IF.jpgAfter a few minutes, M’s catching prospect, Adam Moore, popped out of the dugout.  I called out, “Hey, Adam!”  He turned around and said hello.  I asked him, “Will we see you out there today”?  “Yep,” he responded as he headed out toward the M’s bullpen.

I’ve had my eye on Moore for a couple years because he is the first ballplayer Tim ever met — back at spring training in 2008.  This would be his major league debut.  We followed him out to the OF to watch him prepare for the game.  He did a lot of stretching and running:

3 - adam moore stretching.jpg

I took some photos of the batters eye (below to left) and the M’s bullpen (below to right): 

4 - safeco batters eye and bullpens.jpgThen we watched M’s fireballer, Brandon Morrow, warm up for the game: 

5 - Morrow in Bullpen.jpg

As Morrow and Moore warmed up, I tracked down Jason Phillips and had a brief chat with him.  Jason Phillips and I have run into each other a lot this season.  And he has always been very cool.  Extremely cool, in fact.  For proof, just see here, here, here, here and here.

Phillips circa 2003.jpgHey, did I ever mention that I realized I saw Jason Phillips hit a home run against the Mariners once?  I did.  It was back in 2003.  It was the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium.  I’d never heard of Phillips at the time.  He wore some crazy sports glasses (see picture).  Back in those days, he played catcher and first base.  He ended up hitting a home run off of Ryan Franklin.  I vividly recall thinking, “Who is this guy with these crazy glasses hitting a homerun against my Mariners?”   Now, I know.  It was Jason Phillips.  And, although he helped the Mets best my M’s back on June 6, 2003, I’m happy he’s one of us now.  And, unless he decides to make another go of it as a player and catches on somewhere, I hope he’ll stick around with the M’s.  He’s proven to be “good people.”  (By the way, on June 7, 2003, the Mariners-Mets game was rained out.  So I got a two-for-one double-header on Sunday, and the M’s swept the double-dip behind a couple gems by Freddie Garcia and Jamie Moyer – between the two games, the score was Mariners 20, Mets 1).

Later in the game, I asked Phillips what happened to the glasses.  “I had surgery,” he replied.

As Morrow was warming up in the pen, the rest of the M’s bullpen marched out to the pen…backwards: 

6 - backwards watching to the pen.jpg

After Moore and Morrow started walking toward the dugout for the beginning of the game, I asked Tim if he was ready for some ice cream.  He was.  We went to the ice cream stand tucked back in a corner by the Mariners Hall of Fame.  And check out what I found hanging right by the ice cream stand:

7 - respect for moyer.jpgNice job, Mariners.  I like it.  Respect for Moyer.  That’s what he deserves (psst…take note Philadelphia).

We made it back out to the concourse behind home plate in time to watch Adam Moore make his debut behind the plate.  This is his second batter:

14 - adam moore's 1st career batter.jpgA huge portion of the stadium was in the shade, but our seats were not.  So we headed over to section 149 and grabbed some cool and shady ice cream seats:  


9 - nice ice cream seats.jpg

This was our view:

8 - safeco Section 149 panaramic.jpgAnd this was Tim’s ice cream face:

10 - ice cream madness.jpg

Colleen took a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

11 - ichi in the OF.jpgAnd I took a shot of Ichiro at the plate (he walked on the next pitch):

12 - ichiro at bat in 1st.jpgI was hoping he’d steal second…

13 - ichi leads off.jpg…but he stayed put.

 A usher came to check out tickets.  I told him we were in a different section and asked if we could stay while Tim ate his ice cream.  The usher said no problem.

I told Tim to eat reeeeeeaaallllly slowly.  I wanted to stay until Adam Moore’s first big league at bat.  First, I got my first peak at another September call-up, Matt Tuiasosopo.

15 - Tuiasosopo at Bat.jpgJust before Adam Moore came to the plate, the usher came back and asked, “Is he done with his ice cream?”  I was already trying to focus my camera on Adam Moore.  I confirmed that Tim was finished with his ice cream but asked if we could stay for Moore’s first career at bat.  Again, he said “no problem.”

Here are two shots from Moore’s first at bat, I believe it was a ground out: 

16 - adam moore's 1st career AB.jpg
17 - adam moore's 1st career AB no.2.jpgHe went 0-5 on the day with several ground outs.  No strike outs.  I thought two of his grounders were going to make it though for hits, but they did not.

Immediately after his at bat, we packed up my bag and headed out of section 149.  Tim was on my shoulders and was fidgeting with my glove with his foot as we walked up the stairs to the concourse.  When we reached the top, Colleen took what might be my favorite picture of the season so far:

18 - new catching technique.jpgNext, Tim and Colleen headed to the play area and I stood in the concourse behind the field level seats in LF (section 151).  After a while, Tim and Colleen came and met up with me and we sat down in section 152.

These also were not our seats.  An usher spotted us.  But instead of checking our tickets and booting us out, he gave Tim these…

20 - blueberry and marshmellow.jpg…baseball cards of Jack McDowell and Barry Larkin.  Tim held them up to show me and said, “Look, its Blueberry (McDowell) and Marshmellow (Larkin).”  He thought his nicknames were quite clever and he repeated them over and over.

Another usher randomly came up to us and asked if we wanted her to take our picture: 

19 - Pa Cooks in Wa.jpgThe ushers seem to be more relaxed in section 152 than they are in section 149.

Colleen got into the picture taking action several times.  She took this nice shot of Morrow on the mound: 

21 - morrow pitching.jpgI took another picture of Adam Moore not getting his first base hit of his career (with Ichiro on deck behind him):

22 - adam moore with ichi in back.jpgOur seats in section 152 were right next to a fence that looked down into the White Sox bullpen…

23 - feeling right at home.jpg…hey, make yourselves right at home, guys!

There is a fence behind the bullpens with standing room from which you can watch the game.  We headed down to stand behind the White Sox pen for a little bit.  After a few minutes, a guy came walking through a little fence that separates the M’s bullpen from the visitors’ pen.  He was a Mariners employee, not a ballplayer.  I’m not sure what his job is, but he was in the pen all night.  He walked up to Tim at the fence and handed him a piece of gum in a wrapper.  Then he pulled out a baseball and squeezed it through a gap in the fence.  Here is Tim with the ball:

24 - HHH Metrodome Ball.jpgYou can’t tell in that picture, but it was a HHH Metrodome commemorative ball.  We were pretty excited to get it.  My guess is that the White Sox brought it with them… but who knows?

After Tim posed with the ball, we relocated by 60 feet and stood behind the M’s bullpen: 

24 - behind M's bullpen.jpgAbove to the left, we played a little catch.  Above to the right, we watched pitchers warm up (shown here is Garrett Olson).

 By this point, it was the 7th inning and we were trailing 3-0.  I think we only had 1 or 2 hits.  But then Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate and hit a home run that handed in the bullpen and rolled directly to our feet…

25 - beltre blast.jpg

In the screen shots above, Tim and I are standing directly beneath the “49″ in the Mets-Braves score.  In the top picture, the homerun ball is a white blur directly between me and Tim.  In the second picture, I’m bending down acting like I’m going to field the homerun ball as a grounder as it rolled to a rest just below us on the other side of the fence.

But for that fence, we could have just leaned over and scooped up Beltre’s blast.  Here is the opposite view (courtesy of Colleen, who can also be seen lurking in the shadows in the screen shots above):

26 - beltre blast reverse.jpgThe ball is directly in front of me just below the cement on which Tim is standing.

John Wetteland came and grabbed the ball.  I asked him if he could toss it over to us.  But he explained that they always save home run balls for the batter.  He grabbed it and gave it to someone who put it in their bag for Beltre.

The Beltre home run brought the score to 3-1 White Sox.

Next, we headed up to the left field bleachers where we sat in the first row of section 186 from around the 7th to the 11th innings.  Our seats for this game were actually in section 183, but we opted for 186 because it is above the Mariners bullpen.  183 is above the visitors’ bullpen.

This was our view from section 186:

28 - safeco Section 186 front row panaramic.jpgThis is a look to our left where you can see Ichiro on the big screen and the side of the roof tucked behind the scoreboard:

29 - safeco jumbo screen and roof pushed back.jpgHere is my little family:

30 - section 186 fake smile with mommy.jpgThis is the view looking down from section 186 toward the left.  It is the standing room area in CF…

31 - CF standing room area.jpg…its very popular with the singles.  Lots of drinks being consumed down there.  Lots of flirting taking place.  Hopefully some of them are also watching the game.

I’m always trying to snap photos of fielders catching balls.  But its hard because you have to be pretty quick with a slow reacting digital camera.  Here were my best efforts on the night:

32 - action in the OF.jpgI nailed that Gutierrez catch on the right.  On the left is Ichiro, but I missed getting the ball in the shot.  I just happened to be taking a picture of Ichiro getting ready for the pitch when the batter lofted a short fly to him.  Even with my camera already locked on Ichiro, I couldn’t get the ball in frame.

Here is a shot Colleen got of me and Tim watching our squad:

33 - section 186 with daddy.jpg

Colleen took a great action shot too:

lowe induces a grounder.jpg

I posted a picture almost exactly like this next one back in May, but I think it looks great so here it is again: 

34 - safeco sign and clock.jpg

Our time in section 186 was extremely exciting because the Mariners mounted a ninth inning comeback.  We were still down 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth.  The ChiSox brought in local product Bobby Jenks.  He’s pretty good.  But not good enough on this night.  Jose Lopez hit a solo bomb into the White Sox bullpen to bring the score to 3-2.  Then, with 2 down, Bill Hall hit a solo bomb of his own, also into the White Sox bullpen.

Bring on some extra innings!!!

As I mentioned, Section 186 is just above the Mariners bullpen.  To be more precise, it is above the home plates in the Mariners bullpen (on the CF side of the bullpen).  The Mariners used 8 pitchers in this game so Jason Phillips was constantly warming up someone throughout the late innings.  Here he is in action:

34a - Jason Phillips in Safeco Bullpen.jpgSee the pink backpack in that picture?  Well, Phillips’s catchers equipment bag is the blue bag two over to the right.  At the bottom of the bag (as pictured), you can see a sliver of white.  That was a baseball sitting on his bag.  At one point, Jason walked out to start warming up another pitcher.  I shouted, “Hey, Jason” down to him and pointed at the ball sitting on his bag.  He pointed at the pitcher he was about to help warm up.  But the way he did it, I could tell he was going to toss a ball up our way, just not quite yet.

In the eleventh inning, Jason was just standing there by home plate.  He was about to start warming up another pitcher.  And all of us sudden you could see a thought pop into his head.  He darted a look up me (Tim and Colleen had just left to visit the play area).  We made eye contact and he immediately turned and walked over to his bag and pulled a ball out of it.  The LF bleachers are about 25-30 feet above the bullpen.  He tossed the ball to me but it didn’t make it all the way up.  It clanked off of the steel beam supporting the bleachers and fell back into the bullpen.  Phillips let out a little sigh, and he walked back to his bag for another ball.  The second time was the charm.  He fired a strike into my glove.

For the seventh time and in the fifth stadium of the year, “THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!!!”

Here is an illustration of the throw:

39 - 7th jason phillips ball.jpgThe first ball hit that big beam next to the Dodge advertisement and fell staight down passed all of the people standing above the out-of-town scoreboard.

After securing the much-appreciated ball from Jason Phillips, I headed down to the play area to meet up with my people.  It was getting late, and a lot of people had left already.  Tim was the only kid in the play area.  I split time between watching the game on the flat screens in the play area and watching live from the main concourse in CF.  This was the view from CF: 

37 - safeco CF top panaramic.jpgAnd this was my view of Colleen in the play area from CF:

35 - colleen in playarea.jpgWhile in the playarea, Tim and I played fake home run derby.  He hit a home run on every pitch:

27 - playarea fun.jpgHere is a veritcal panarama showing a view from the roof above the play area down to the floor:


36 - safeco playarea vertical panaramic.jpgWhile in the CF concourse, I took the opportunity to document the two balls we’d collected at this game (including the somewhat warn HHH Metrodome logo on the ball Tim got from the guy in the bullpen):

38 - two balls in seattle.jpgSpeaking of the guy in the bullpen, here is a picture of him as he walked by Jason Phillips and Sean Kelley:

phillips and other ballgiver.jpgThis was our sixth game of the season at Safeco Field, and our fifth of the season without Griffey in the starting line-up.  So, I was thrilled when he came to bat as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 12th:

40 - griff at bat from CF.jpgUnfortunately, Griff stuck out.  But it was still great just to see him.

Adam Moore came to the plate once again searching for his first big league hit.  I thought he was going to get it on this swing, but it didn’t qutie happen:

41 - adam moore grounds out.jpgBut the Mariners would not be denied on this night.  In the bottom of the 14th, Ryan Langerhans got on with a single.  Kenji Johjima followed with a hit-by-pitch (pinch hitting for Moore).  And Ichiro followed with a game winning single scoring Langerhans from second.

MARINERS WIN!!!

42 - mariners win.jpgThe team chased Ichiro all the way into CF to beat on him in celebration of his game winning hit.  He made his best effort at avoiding the celebratory whooping, but the team tracked him down in the end.

On our way out of the stadium, we stopped to watch the street drummer do his thing.  Tim danced up a storm as this guy put on a five gallon drum clinic.  After a few minutes, the guy handed Tim a pair of drunk sticks and said, “You dance pretty good, little man.  Let’s see how you drum!”  Here are Tim and the drummer doing their thing together:

43 - tim and the drummer guy.jpgColleen took a video clip of Tim and the drummer that can be viewed by clicking here.

After thanking the drummer for the memories and rewarding him with a tip, we called it a night.

Season Fan Stats:

29 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)

24 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
28 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, 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)

 

This entry is dedicated to the memory of my father’s brother and my uncle:

 

Douglas S. Cook

 


doug.jpgA UW Social Work Professor and a dedicated advocate for people with developmental disabilities, Doug died on September 10th from Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. A more loving, gentle and principled human being could not be imagined. Doug was born in Yakima, WA on March 30, 1946. He earned a MSW at Rutgers, a Master of Divinity from Princeton and a PhD from UW. Before the onset of illness, he was the Director of Social Work at the UW CHDD where he researched, published and taught. The UW School of Social Work presented him with their Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999. His students honored him with Best Practicum Instructor award. Doug also received awards in the disabilities field too numerous to list. He was a hiker, a dancer, a bowler and most of all a loyal friend. Doug was always generous with his smile and his kindness.

Tim’s Third MLB Anniversary (9-12-2009)

“Hello, from Yankee Stadium!”

1 - magic floating tim and yankee stadium.jpg

Tim’s first MLB game of his life was on September 12, 2006.  Our Mariners beat the Blue Jays at Safeco Field.  It was wonderful.  Exactly one year later, we found ourselves at Citizens Bank Park watching the Rockies dismantle the Phillies.  It wasn’t a pre-planned game.  We’d received four (amazing) free tickets.  It was a couple innings into the game before I realized it was September 12, 2007:  the one-year anniversary of Tim’s first game.  That was all I needed.  A new tradition was born.  Now, I fully intend to attend a MLB game with Tim on September 12th every year for the rest of my life.  
 2 - 86th and C-Train.jpg

Last season, we spent Tim’s second MLB anniversary at Chase Field watching the Griffey-less Reds taken on the Diamondbacks with my mom and dad.

This season, after much internal debate, we found ourselves in New York City for our second game at the new Yankee Stadium.  The Orioles were in town. 

The big debate was whether we should go to this game or the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.  Both games were sold out (or at least sold out of reasonably priced tickets (i.e., we can’t afford the Legends Suite at Yankee Stadium)).  We opted for two single tickets (one in the bleachers and one in the upper deck) for $20 each at Yankee Stadium rather than two Standing Room tickets for $30 each (twice face value) at Citizens Bank Park.

Of course, after J.A. Happ was scratched and Jamie Moyer was named the starter in Philadelphia, I was second guessing my decision.  But thanks to a blown 9th inning save by Ryan Madson erasing Moyer’s win, I definitely made the right decision.

As you will see below, we had a GREAT time in the Bronx.  It was a very enjoyable game featuring an outstanding Yankees loss.  Yea!

A little background for the pictures that follow.  I am NOT a Yankees fan.  I’m about as NOT a Yankees fan as anyone in the world.  But, I generally take photos at games of the “stars” — certainly, if there is a *no doubt* future hall of famer playing, my M.O. is to photograph them playing.  I really haven’t done that with the Yankees in the past, because I’ve only seen them play against the Mariners or the Reds (with Griffey) and I had more important things to photograph.

But today was different.  No Mariners (unfortunately).  No Griffey (fortunately, he’d be 1000s of miles away going 3-4 for the Mariners).  And the Orioles aren’t exactly *stacked* with photo-worthy talent.

So, I was left almost forced to photograph the top Yankees.  My apologies.  Please do not mistake what follows as any endorsement of the Steinbrenner-led Yankees.

We got an early start to NYC and expected to make it to some of batting practice.  However, after experiencing terrible traffic and parking situations, we ultimately arrived late.  As we entered the stadium, Derek Jeter was stepping into the box in the bottom of the first: 

3 - jeter career hit 2723.jpg

gehrig sandlots.jpgWhen Jeter planted his foot in the picture to the left, he would watch his 2,723 hit scoot through the infield.  This guy has been in the news a lot lately.  The day before, he’d passed Lou Gehrig on the Yankees all-time hit list.  A Yankee setting a new Yankee record means nothing to me.  But I wanted Jeter to go hitless on 9/11 so we could be there for his record breaking hit.  Not because I have any fondness for Jeter, but because I’ve liked Lou Gehrig ever since I read the book “Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlots” when I was in third grade.  In fact, I did a book report on that same book in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades  And, I actually read the book each time.  Anyway, Jeter eclipsed Gehrig’s mark the day before we arrived at Yankee Stadium.

While Jeter was batting.  Tim stood on the empty riser pictured below…

4 - very special riser-stay off.jpg…while I took those photos.  Within 2 minutes, an usher spotted us and came over to kick Tim off of the riser.  Its a very important riser.  So, if you go to Yankee Stadium and see it sitting there empty, don’t even think of utilizing it in any fashion.  It is not for you.

Jeter ended up stealing second.  He then got to third…hmm…somehow.  Mark Teixeira then lifted this pitch… 

5 - teixeira sac fly to CF scores jeter.jpg…to CF for a sacrifice fly scoring Jeter.  Much to my delight, that would cap the Yankee scoring until the bottom of the 9th with two outs.

And, A-Rod’s double on this swing… 

6 - a-roid 2B for career hit 2514.jpgwould be meaningless and do no harm.

After the bottom of the first concluded, we walked through Bronx Central Station (also known as the Great Hall):

7 - bronx central station.jpg

After taking the picture above on the left, I spun around 360 degrees and took the picture above on the right.  In the name of exploring the unknown, we then followed the crowd up the stairs to the second deck.

Before moving on, did you notice anything special in those Great Hall pictures?

8 - backpacks allowed.jpgHere it is:

A backpack inside Yankee Stadium!!!

It appears the Yankees have re-tooled their illogical no-backpack policy.

For the record, it was illogical because, under the no backpack policy, that lady still could have brought that big bag over her shoulder into the stadium.

Of course, I didn’t know about the change.  So I had a little string backpack, once again — like back on July 2nd.

Back to the story.

We proceeded up those stairs.  I didn’t know where they would lead.   I didn’t see any naturual light (so as to suggest a view of the field) at the top.  So I wondered it it lead to the suite level, where we would not be permitted to venture.  Luckily, it didn’t.  It just lead to the second deck.

Once we got up there.  I took Tim to the bathroom and sat him on the counter while I put on his shoes.  (He’d just been wearing socks up to this point).  While I was digging through my little string backpack bag, I experienced an extremely non-at-the-ballparkish moment.

Tim saw a bag of sun flower seeds amongst our stuff and he asked for some.  I obliged.  Then, he started spitting seeds on the ground.  Can you believe it!?  Spitting seeds on the ground in the bathroom at Yankee Stadium!   I instantly had this bad feeling like we were going to get busted.  Of course, we did not.  But I guarantee I never would have had that feeling at any other ballpark.  I think the mere fact I had that concern speaks to the feel at Yankee Stadium.

 After putting on Tim’s shoes.  We hung out in the standing room area behind the second deck seats.  This was the view:

2a - bronx 3B second deck panaramic.jpgIt was a great spot.  I really enjoyed watching the game from this vantage point.  What would have made it better would be if they installed some standing counter space behind the last row of seats.  I didn’t see any standing counter space anywhere in the stadium at this game.  Installing some would make the standing room experience a lot better.

For a few minutes, we stood right next to a cop and an usher, and we didn’t get reprimanded when Tim started doing this:

9 - flying seed.jpg

[NOTE:  there is a seed that Tim just spit out floating in mid-air just to the left of Tim's neck].

In fact, I think that female cop actually thought it was cute watching Tim spit seeds all over the relatively clean concourse floor.

The Orioles scored 6 runs in the top of the second!  Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts both crushed homeruns.  Roberts’s bomb was actually a grand slam.  I didn’t get any shots of either of those guys hitting.  But here is a shot of the Yankees infield with one of the 6 Orioles to make his way around the base paths that inning:

10 - infield action.jpgWe only stood by the cop and usher for a few minutes because Tim decided that we should do some racing.  Then he started running all over the place:

11 - speed racer in the concourse.jpgI ran back and forth with him 2-3 times, then I just observed as he continued racing against himself.  In the picture to the right, that black line across the concourse floor (at his elbow level) was used both as Tim’s start line and his finish line.

 Finally, an Oriole who I thought was interesting enough to photograph came to the plate:

12 - markakis grounds to jeter.jpgOn this swing, Nick Markakis grounded out to Jeter.

Between innings, Tim wanted to explore a little more.  So we headed behing home plate toward the 1B line.  There is a section of suites or some high rent club right behind home plate, so you can’t see the field back there.  Instead, there is an interesting collection of floor-to-ceiling sized pictures of a bunch of Yankees:

13 - mvp artwork.jpg

My guess is that this includes everyone who has won an MVP award as a Yankee.  For example, I looked up Babe Ruth to confirm my suspicion and noted that he did, in fact, win the MVP in 1923.  (Interestingly, Ruth did not win the MVP in 1924 when he led the league in averge (.378), runs (143), homeruns (46), walks (142), on-base percentage (.513), slugging (.739), OPS (1.252), OPS+ (220), and total bases (391).  Instead, the award went to Walter Johnson who went 23-7 with a 2.72 ERA.  Personally, I am more impressed by Ruth’s performance in 1924.).

Note:  I view the old great Yankees much differently than I view the modern Yankees.  They seem like completely different creatures to me.  So, you’ll have to excuse me that I cut off Don Mattingly and Alex Rodrigues in these pictures.  They were the last two in the line.

In case you couldn’t tell, these pictures changed as you walked passed them.

After a short walk, we ended up on the 1B side with a very similar view of the field:

13a - bronx 1B second deck panaramic.jpgThis time, Jeter fouled a pitch straight back (below to left)…

14 - jeter fouls back lines to 2B.jpg…before lining out to second in the bottom of the third (above to right).

 We’d eaten nothing but snacks since breakfast.  So, we decided it was time to consume 1,410 calories of tasty, tasty, TASTY nachos.

15 - CF nacho madness.jpgMy wife and I have long been big time nacho lovers (check out McGillin’s when in Philadelphia).  So I have been very proud of Tim for selecting nachos at the ballpark several times lately.

With some help from me, Tim obliterated those nachos.  We bought them behind 1B, but headed out to CF and ate them from atop the Mohegan Sun View Obstructor…I mean Sports Bar.  Here was our view from up there:

15a - bronx CF panaramic.jpgWhile Tim chowed down on nachos, a guy standing nearby kept commenting, “That kid is gonna eat that whole thing of nachos!!!!”  Meanwhile, I chatted with two guys (who appeared to be twin brothers) from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs) who are on a trip around the northeast.

After the U-Dubbers headed off to their seats, I heard that same guy proclaim, “Oh my gosh, that kid ate all of those jalapenos!!!”

For the record, I ate the jalapenos.

Before flying out to right to begin the bottom of the third, I snapped this picture of A-Rod swinging at and missing a pitch outside: 

16 - a swing and a miss.jpgWe were in an eating mood.  So we went straight from nachos to an ice cream helmet — chocolate with sprinkles.

I wanted to sit in actual seats for Tim to eat his ice cream.  So we found this spot in the last row of the upper deck in right field: 

17 - all good in the back row.jpgActually, it wasn’t a half bad place from which to watch the game.  Here was our view:

17a - bronx RF upper deck last row panaramic.jpgAnd here is Brian Roberts getting thrown out at first by Robinson Cano with one down in the top of the seventh: 

18 - roberts grounds to cano in 7th.jpgAnd, here is the Yankees Captain taking an ugly swing for strike three to end the seventh:

19 - and the whiff.jpgAt this point, it was still 6-1 Orioles.

We left the upper deck after Jeter’s whiff.  But before we leave it in this blog entry, let’s take a look at a few things I noticed up there.

First, below to the left, there were little spikey wires poking out of all of the steel above us.  I guess they were concered that fans would want to hang from the beams in the roof:

20 - pokers facade.jpgSecond, above to the right, the facade seems much more substantial at this version of Yankee Stadium.  To me, the facade at the last Yankee Stadium looked cheap and flimsy.  In person, I always thought it was massively unimpressive.  This facade is much better.

Third, Yankee Stadium features noticable divisions between the *classes*.  Field level tickets of any variety are ridiculously overpriced and should only be purchased by people with a lot of money to waste.  But only the ridiculously non-cost conscious buyers can or should ever purchae tickets in the first ten or so rows.  And to protect their unwise investment and egos, those ridiculously non-cost conscious get a moat to protect them from ever having to deal with the *merely rich* patrons who sit behind them in the field level, and special braclets so a *ridiculously rich* patron cannot give his or her ticket to a normal person upon exiting the Legends Suite.  Sure, they can give up their ticket stub.  But without the bracelet, the normal person doesn’t stand a chance of crossing the moat into the promised land.  Here is a little visual illustration:

21 - friendship moat.jpgOn our way out of the upper deck, a nice usher took our picture: 

22 - father-son in bronx.jpgIn case you haven’t noticed, Tim is in a “thumbs up” phase.

We left the upper deck seating because we decided to head out to the concourse behind the bleachers to play a little catch.  On the way down the stairs, we stopped so Tim could watch the 4-train go by:

23 - watching the 4 train.jpgWe took a second stop along the way so we could check out the RCF obstructed view in section 201.  How do you like it?

24 - 2-ooooooooohhh-1.jpgIf you watched this game on TV, did you see that great catch Nolan Reimold made going into the stands in foul territory down the LF line?  If you did, you’re lucky.  These people were at the game and sitting in their seats, but they missed it.

 Finally, we made our way to the narrow concourse behind the bleachers in LF.  This should be about the worst spot in all of MLB to play catch at a game.  It is way too narrow and gets way too much foot traffic.  But I was amazed on July 2nd that none of the billion guards shut us down when we played catch for a long, long time during the Mariners victory over the Yankees.

But at this game, *amazement* simply doesn’t do the situation justice.

We started playing catch and a guard came over while I was holding the ball and started to grab the ball out of my hand in super-awkwardly-odd slow motion.  Then he started grabbing my glove.  I had no clue what was going on.  Was this guy confiscating my glove and ball?  It made no sense.  Utterly confused, I questioned him:

Todd - “What’s going on here?”

Usher - “I want to play catch with your son.”

What?  That was the last thing I was expecting.  Not only was this guy condoning our playing catch in a busy and narrow concourse, he wanted in on the action!  This is not your 2008 Yankee Stadium!” 

Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly after I gave up my glove.  The usher tossed the ball to Tim…

25 - catch with usher.jpg…but it tipped off the end of his glove and made a hard left turn toward the wall behind the bleachers.

We all stood and watched in slow motion as the ball rolled directly into a hole in the wall:

26 - the ball incident.jpgAmazing!

The guy felt terrible.  The ball was several feet back in there in some digusting looking water (with a partially eaten pretzel).

Another stadium attendant came over to discuss the situation.  After a few seconds, he said, “Wait here.  I’ll go get you a new ball from downstairs.”

The usher who threw the ball also left.  He then came back with a big piece of metal (it looked like a drywall corner reinforcer) that he bent into a hook.  With it, he successfully retrieved our ball.  After he gave it back, he told us to stay put so we still get the replacement ball from the other attendant, and he thanked Tim for playing catch with him.

A few minutes later, the other attendant came back and handed us a real baseball.  He put it in my hand and said, “This is a batting practice home run from before the game.”

Sweet!  All in all, I think this catching session turned out idealy.  First, we played catch.  Second, we lost a ball making a fun memory with a stadium attendant.  Third, we got our ball back.  Fourth, we got a BP homerun despite missing all of BP.  Outstanding!

Next, we parted ways with the usher and headed through the concourse under the bleachers (below center).  We saw the entrance to the Mohegan Sun View Obstructor…oops…once again, I mean Sports Bar.  Then we headed toward the 3B line field level standing room area.  (On the right below is another random hallway that I’d never seen before.  It is behind the food court area behind 3B and, I think, it leads to the Great Hall.

27 - mohegan entrance LF concourse hall to great hall.jpgWe watched the ninth inning from behind home plate, just off to the 3B side above the very end of the dugout.

Jeter struck out again to end the game:

28 - jeter ends game.jpg.

Actually, that isn’t the final strike (but I will pretend it is).

We headed down into the seats to watch the post-game festivities — random milling about by Yankees employees, etc.  Really, I just wanted to get down there to try to get a picture with Tim.

But before getting a picture, we saw Jeremy Guthrie signing autographs by the end of the dugout.  He signed and signed and signed and signed.  He took pictures with fans.  And he signed some more.  Of course, we couldn’t go down there (even after the game its off limits for the normal fans).

But I’d heard that Guthrie was a cool guy.  So I yelled out to him, “Hey, Jeremy!”  He looked up but couldn’t find me at first.  He went back to signing.  I yelled again, “Hey, Jeremy!”  Finally, he spotted me.  I held up Tim’s newly acquired BP homerun ball.  He looked a little conflicted for a second.  You could see him thinking in his head.  “Should I?  Should I?”  Finally, after a couple seconds, he nodded “okay” to me.

He signed another ball for some kid and then he looked back up to me and raised his hands as if to say, “throw it!”  I complied.  I took a picture (below to left) of him signing our ball:

29 - jeremy guthrie autograph.jpgAbove to the right, the circle and arrow shows where Tim and I were standing when I tossed the ball down to Guthrie.

After he signed the ball, he threw it back so delicately you’d think he was in an egg toss competition.  The ball fell short.  I would have gloved it but someone below reached up and intercepted it.  But he’d seen the whole thing play out and he immediately returned it to us upon making the INT.  Guthrie looked a little embarrassed about the bad throw and gave me a “oops, sorry” gesture with his hands.

 Here is Tim’s ice cream helmet with the Guthrie autograph ball:

33 - helmet and guthrie autoball.jpgWeird autograph, huh?  It almost looks like he had trouble with the pen at the beginning of his name.

Finally, an usher took our picture before asking us to head out of the stadium:

30 - almost dugout shot.jpg

We milled about a little more before leaving, and I took this panaramic view:

30 a - bronx plate field tarp panaramic.jpg

If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see that Guthrie is still down there signing and posing for pictures.  Notice that the tarp is now out (it wasn’t out in the picture of me and Tim).  I think he stayed there until he signed for every single fan who possibly wanted an autograph (well, those who were in the Legends Suite at least).

Then we headed out of the stadium.

On the way to the subway, I took a picture of the old stadium, which now looks like a long forgotten mess:

30b - bronx old LF outside demolition panaramic.jpgIt appeared as if the upper deck was green.  I couldn’t tell if it was moss or what.  It is funny that this place was celebrated and made out to be the best place ever last season, but now it looks like this:

31 - digustinger old stadium.jpgAs we walked under the tracks for the 4-train on the way to the stairs down to the D-Train…

32 - bustling yankeetown street.jpgthe swarms of Yankees fans were unhappy about Burnett’s poor performance and their team’s loss, but Tim and I were happy after a great third MLB anniversary game.

We definitely made the right choice in going to NYC for a satisfying Yankees loss rather than going to South Philadelphia to see Ryan Madson blow Jamie Moyer’s win.

In related news, Tim is officially a Yankee Killer!  In three career games involving the Yankees, the Mariners have two wins and the Orioles have one win.  The Yankees are 0-3.  Excellent!

Season Fan Stats:


28 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)

23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
26 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, 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)

End of An Era; Beginning of Another

When Tim was a tiny little boy, a *baby* even, I bought Tim a 24 inch baseball bat.  It looks like it is a wood bat, but it is foam with a hard core of some sort.  It has been a big part of Tim’s life for most of his life.

He used it when I taught him how to hit off of a tee:

1 - tee time.jpg

He used it when he was so short the grass clippings at the park were knee high:

2 - tall grass.jpg

He used it when he was 2 years old, didn’t hold the bat properly (hands switched), but retired his tee and demanded pitched balls after seeing that my softball team didn’t use a tee:

3 - indoor bounce ball opposite hands.jpg

He used it when I first tied a ball-on-a-string to the swing set:

4 - playset swings.jpg

He used it on vacation at the beach with his cousins:

5 - beach ball.jpg

He used it on road trips (shown here in Boston)…

6 - hotel and ballpark.jpg…and he used it at the ballpark (shown here at FirstEnergy Stadium (Reading Phillies)).

He called it his “white bat,” and he used it everywhere and anytime.  He learned to hit a baseball with that wonderful little “white bat.”

But a couple weeks ago, he broke it.

Here he is posing with his most trusted piece of lumber for the final time:

7 - first bat retired.JPG

From a baseball point of view, it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.  Tim’s white bat will be missed…as it hangs in its new resting place on the wall of my home office.

And so starts a new era:  the SECOND white bat era.  Hopefully it will be just as great as the original.

As we enter this new era, we also enter the final stages of the baseball season.  Only four weeks to go, and four more games for me and Tim.  Next up, the Orioles at Yankee Stadium this Saturday, September 12th.

Ice Cream Helmets, anyone?

So, Tim likes to eat chocolate ice cream at every park we visit, and he prefers it in a little baseball helmet.  So far, we have collected at least one helmet from every stadium Tim has visited except for Camden Yards (where they do not offer ice cream helmets) and old Yankee Stadium (where we simply never even looked for one).  Here are some pictures of our ice cream helmet collection:

M's Safeco '08 helmet.jpg

Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field

($7.00 – real ice cream, five flavor selections including chocolate chip cookie dough, strawberry cheesecake, mint chocolate chip, double fudge brownie…and one other).

 

Reds GABP '08 helmet.jpg 
Phils CBP '09 helmet.jpg

Cincinnati Reds – Great American Ball Park    Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park

  •  $5.00 – chocolate, vanilla or twist                    
  • Soft serve, not real ice cream                          
  • sprinkle toppings available                               
  • Buy behind 3B where they give HUGE servings!

 

citi-shea helmet.jpg 
Mets Shea '08 helmet.jpg

New York Mets – Citi Field (2009)                       New York Mets – Shea Stadium (2008)

 ($6.50 – soft serve ice cream – chocolate, vanilla or twist – sprinkles and chocolate fudge toppings available)

Indians Progressive '08 helmet.jpg 
Dbacks Chase '08 helmet.jpg

Cleveland Indians – Progressive Field                     Arizona Diamondbacks – Chase Field

- several flavors of real ice cream

 

Pirates PNC '08 helmet.jpg  
nats helmet.jpg 

Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park (2008)               Washington Nationals – Nationals Park (2009)

                                                                      ($5.00 soft serve or real ice cream)

red sox ice cream helmet.JPG 
yankees ice cream helmet.JPG

Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park (2009)         New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium (2009)

-$5.50 – soft serve – oreo toppings in RF         -$6.50 – soft serve – sprinkles in bleachers

cubs ice cream helmet.JPG 
white sox ice cream helmet.JPG

Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field (2009)            Chicago White Sox – U.S. Cellular Field (2009)

 

.

twins ice cream helmet.JPG 
blue jays ice cream helmet.jpg

Minnesota Twins – HHH Metrodome (2009)          Blue Jays – Rogers Centre (2009)

- $4.50 (I think…cheapest I’ve seen)                    - $6.00 (Can. or U.S.)

- Soft serve ice cream                                       - Soft serve ice cream

- sprinkles and chocolate sauce toppings           - sprinkles or topping sauces

 

brewers ice cream helmet.JPG                                  Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park (2009)

                                 - Big Helmet: Cheese Fries ($6.50)

                - Ice cream helmet – soft serve – hot fudge, strawberry, etc. toppings.

 

From the time we first tried to buy one in 2007 and continuing through 2009, the Orioles have not had ice cream helmets.  Was was pretty frustrating because it was the only helmet we couldn’t get out of the 18 stadiums Tim and I visited during those years.  Getting the O’s to offer ice cream helmets became a goal of mine.  So I started a grass roots campaign in March 2010 and mere hours before the O’s 2010 home opener word came in from the O’s and the rest of the Project Baltimore team, the O’s had listened and would offer ice cream helmets in 2010.

orioles ice cream helmet.jpg.

 

R-Phils '08 helmets.jpgThese last ones are from the Reading Phillies, the” Doube A” affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

We plan to get several more ice cream helmets this season — provided the stadiums have them.  I will update this entry as more helmets are acquired.

We plan to seek out the following helmets in 2010:  Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Atheletics, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, California Angels of Anaheim.

In the meantime, why doesn’t everyone write to the Orioles and urge them to start offering ice cream helmets.  Camden Yards is the only stadium we have ever visited that does not offer ice cream helmets.  In fact, in October 2009, we had to take matters into our own hands and “Bring Your Own Ice Cream Helmet” for the final game of the 2009 season:

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

Minor Disappointment (AA Rainout)

1a - RBBSL Logo.jpgI mentioned earlier that I play softball in the Reading-Berks Business Softball League (RBBSL) against the Reading Phillies (and other local businesses).  Our season ended in mid-August when Herbein & Company successfully defended its 2008 League Championship.  This season, we were playing for more than just bragging rights.  Friday, August 28, 2009, would be “RBBSL Night at the R-Phils.”  The league champions would be honored on the field prior to the game.  Despite my squad’s poor showing and failure to even make the RBBSL playoffs this season (after losing to Herbein in the Championship game in 2008), we were excited for the game.  We were all set up with party seating on the LF Coors Light Party deck.  I was fully planning on a homerun landing on our picnic table while watching the game.

But there was problem.  After a nice sunny day, the skies opened up and the rain began to fall before Tim, Colleen and I even arrived at FirstEnergy Stadium.

When we reached the party deck, this was the scene:

1 - firstenergy party deck rainy panaramic.jpg

Moments later, they announced that the game would be delayed until around 7:40.

Tim grabbed his trusty bat (more on that trusty bat later)…

3 - tim and bat.jpg

…and we headed over to the covered astroturf area so Tim could take some hacks:

2 - swinging.jpg

This area is down the left field line behind the stands.  By day, this is the batting cage for the team.  In fact, see that blue fence behind Tim in the shot to the right?  Behind that fence is the netting of the cage, an L-screen, and a big cart full of baseballs.  Last season, I witnessed some naughty kids (not Tim!) sqeeze in there and take a ball out of the cart.

During games, the cage is pushed back and locked up, and the turf area is left open for kids to run around.  Also, people will pull tables over there and hang out and eat some food under cover at times.

Tim ran around on the turf and took a lot of hacks.

After a while, we took a walk around the stadium.  This is a look into the concourse under/behind the infield grandstand:

4 - firstenergy inner concourse.jpg

FirstEnergy Stadium has a great old time baseball feel going on in the concourse.  As concourses go, I really enjoy this one.

The picture to the left is taken from behind the 3B side as we are walking toward the home plate area.  The picture to the right shows the food stands directly behind home plate.

We kept walking toward the 1B side.  I think I have mentioned before that the R-Phils dugout does not connect to the club house via underground tunnel.  Instead, the players have to walk through the concourse to get to the club house.  Therefore, it was not a big surprise when we walked by the R-Phils club house entrance and found a couple R-Phils signing autographs for a bunch of kids:

5 - signing in the concourse.jpg

I’m not sure who these guys are.  But it sure looks like the picture (being held by an autograph seeker) in the bottom right corner says “Kyle,” which makes me wonder if the guy in the middle is Kyle Drabek.  It doesn’t really look like him to me.  Maybe its Scott Mathieson.  Any guesses?  The guy in the back sort of looks like hot prospect Dominic Brown, but I’m not certain.

[NOTE:  in the background, the yellow sign says "PLAYERS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO SIGN AUTOGRAPHS IN THE CONCOURSE BEFORE THE GAME."  I guess these guys didn't get that memo.]

We walked right on by the autographing and headed out to the open-air concourse down the 1B line.  Someone was there who I wanted to see:

6 - jayson stark.jpg

ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

Stark was there selling and signing his book.  We neither bought the book nor got anything autographed.  He doesn’t know it, but I have a past with Mr. Stark.  He once made some derogatory comments about my Mariners, and I did not approve.  Therefore, unbeknownst to the author, I boycotted Stark for decent amount of time.  Maybe a year or two.

But then something happened.  Do you ever get the feeling that, despite its massive size and scope, there just isn’t enough suitable baseball content to read on the internet?  I get that feeling a lot.  Therefore, at some point, I forgave Jayson Stark and I released him from his ban.

From the picture above, you might be able to tell that Tim has not yet forgiven Stark (despite the fact he wasn’t even born yet when Stark made his offending comments).  Tim loves everyone he meets at games.  But he wanted nothing to do with Stark.  It might have had something to do with Stark commenting to us that the Mariners aren’t going to win the World Series (or some nonsense to that effect).

 After visiting with Stark, we headed over to behind the R-Phils dugout and took this rainy panaramic view:

7 - firstenergy 1B dugout rainy panaramic.jpg

Next, we went behind the stands into the open-air concourse and Tim did some dancing to the sweet sounds of a live band playing a set back there:

8 - dancing.JPG

By the way, the game still hadn’t started, the tarp was still on, and it was probably about 7:30 at this point.  Even worse, its started to rain harder:

9 - rainy tunnel.JPG

We headed back to the Party Deck, and an annoucement came over the PA system:  the game was cancelled.

We’d get to use our tickets at any future game this season or next.  But, shoot, I was hoping to get this game in with my co-workers and softball league-mates.

As the entry title suggests, it was a *minor* dissappointment.  A minor league dissappointment, that is.  Of course, I must hand it to the R-Phils.  They handled this rain out flawlessly, which is more than I can say about the last rain out game Tim and I attended (back on June 3, 2009).

I took one more picture of the rain-soaked field before we headed home for alternate plans – family movie night (“Surfs Up”):

10 - rainy deck.JPG

One final note:  the game was rescheduled as part of a double-header on the following day.  Unfortunately, it poured rain again and the doubleheader was rained out.  Therefore, the R-Phils and Bowie Baysox had to play back-to-back double-headers on Sunday and Monday.

 

myGameBalls.com Article about Tim

The folks over at myGameBalls.com put together a nice article about Tim.  Check it out:

Here is the main page as of this morning:

tim 30 team article headline.jpg

And here is the actual article:

tim 30 team article body.jpg

MyGameBalls.com is a great page for anyone who, like me and Tim, enjoys recording his or her personal baseball history.  It is a free tool for baseball fans to record facts about the baseballs they catch at Major League Baseball games.  The site is new this year and currently it has (I believe) about 90 members ranging from novice ball catchers like me and Tim to the big time Ballhawks like Zack Hample and John Witt.

If you enjoy recording your own history and checking out others’ baseball collections, definitely check it out.

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