June 2010

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 4: Mariners at Padres (6/12/10)

We woke up in Pamona, California on the morning of Saturday, June 12, 2010, and were excited to venture further south through California, passed Angel Stadium in Anaheim (not Los Angeles), down the coast…

1 - heading to San Diego.JPG…to the city of San Diego, and then a little further south to our cabin waiting for us at the KOA in Chula Vista, California.  But more than anything, we were excited because over the next two days we’d be watching our Mariners try to battle out of a slump and win some ball games.

After taking a dip in the pool at the KOA, we were off to Petco Park…

a - petco parking lot.jpg…and the “Beach” in centerfield:

2 - welcome petco.JPGTim loves a good sand box, so he was in sand box heaven.  By the way, Tim was sporting a full Mariners uniform to this game — Ichiro jersey T-shirt, baseball pants, stirrup socks, and an M’s hat.  I told him that maybe Ichiro would ask him to play with the team.

The CF gate opens half an hour earlier than the rest of the stadium and provides access to the bleachers and the beach.  The “bleachers” are incredibly unique at Petco Park, check them out…

2 - petco beach.JPGAs Tim played with the dozens of buckets, shovels and other toys, the Padres were taking BP.  Eventually, a ball rolled to the wall in the deepest center part of the beach and Luke Gregerson moseyed on over to pick it up right in front of me and my Dad.

As he picked up the ball, I asked him:

Todd – (Pointing at Tim) “Hey, could you please toss that ball over for my son over there in the Ichiro shirt?”

L.G. – “Ichiro shirt!?”

Todd – “Yeah, Ichiro shirt.  But, hey, my Dad here works as an usher for Padres spring training games in Peoria!”

L.G. – Really?

Dad – Yep.

L.G. – (Tosses the ball)

Todd – Thanks!

I had no clue who the player was, but it said “57” on his back and my computer tells me that number 57 on the Padres is Luke Gregerson.  So…

Thanks, Luke!

By the way, here is a panoramic view through the beach from a couple rows back in the bleachers…

a - petco park bleachers beach2 panorama.jpgAs you can see, the view of LF and CF is obstructed by the OF wall from the bleachers.

Something funny happened when we were in the beach.  The Padres pitchers, including team jester Heath Bell, were running sprints in RF when a baseball rolled to the middle of the warning track toward the RF side of the beach.  When Health Bell finished up his work and started walking over to LF, a girl called out to him and asked for the baseball.  He walked over and with his foot pushed the ball up against the wall (which is simply a chain link fence in the beach) and said, “there you go!” and then he ran off.

Then the girl, who was probably about 8-10 years old grabbed the ball through the fence and passed the ball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand as she went up the fence.  When she got to head level, her dad picked her up so she could continue going up the fence passing the ball back-and-forth to herself.  Finally, she was at the top of the fence and passed the baseball over the top to herself.  I’ve never seen anything like that before at a game.  Pretty cool.

Here is another view from the beach area — taken by my dad…

aa - petco park bleachers beach panorama.jpg…all of that open space behind CF is where they store the batting cage during the game.

While we were hanging out in the Beach, a guy named Scott (who just commented on our last game) — Hi, Scott! — came up and introduced himself to me and said he enjoys reading our blog and checking out our pictures.  Its always cool to meet someone who enjoys following along with our adventures on MLBlogs.

Soon, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed behind the batters eye toward the LF seats.  On our way over there (as we passed a big concert stage), we ran into a mariachi band…

3 - tim y los mariachis.JPG…I absolutely love Mariachi music so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get Tim’s picture with the band.  Check out the one guy whose face is hidden behind two of his bandmates sombreros!.

Anyway, we swung around to the field leve seats in LF where we hung out for just a few minutes… 

b - petco park RCF field level panorama.jpg…in that last picture that is Heath Bell crouched down like a catcher and a Padres player and ball boy looking kid were taking turns pitching to him.  Later, Heath was practically wrestling the kid in the OF.  Bell was having himself a good old time during BP.

To get from LF to the seats in foul territory down the 3B line, you have to go behind the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse and up a couple flights of stairs.   And that is what we did when we saw the Mariners come out and start stretching in front of their dugout.

Tim and I went down the 3B line and an usher informed us that we had to sit down to watch BP from foul territory.  WHAT?  That’s just weird.  But whatever.  This is the view from where we sat down: 

c - petco 3B foul line panorama.jpg

As i was taking pictures, a nice guy who was probably in his sixties walked over and put a baseball in Tim’s hand and walked away before I could tell him he should give the ball to another little kid.  I guess a lot of kids like it when some random fan gives them a baseball, but Tim has got a bunch of balls already in his life and the few times it has happened, I always tell the generous would-be ball giver that Tim has already got a ball and he should give the ball to another little kid.  But this guy took off before I could say anything.  “Hmmm…,” I was thinking, “what are we going to do with this random baseball?”

Meanwhile, the Mariners were jogging back-and-forth in front of their dugout…

4 - mariners stretching in SD.JPG…as they ran back toward 3B for the final time, Cook & Son Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith was at the front of the pack and he immediately noticed us sitting in the front row a couple sections passed 3B.  He gave me a nod and I have him a wave with my glove.

Thirty seconds later, RRS was sitting on the wall chatting with me…

5 - TJC and RRS.JPG…and signing that ball the random fan had just given to Tim.  We got RRS to sign baseball for us last season, so after he signed this ball, I gave it to my dad who has never got RRS’s signature.

Here’s the deal, RRS is awesome.  He hung out sitting on that wall and chatting with me, my dad and Tim…

6 - RRS and Cook and Son.JPG…for 15-20 minutes (note, that on the clock behind us you can see there is a 7 minute difference between those last two pictures).

We talked about all sorts of cool stuff, but I am going to keep our conversation private becaues I didn’t ask RRS if he would mind if I shared our conversation on here.  But I will note that one of the coolest parts was when RRS talked about the conversations he has on a daily basis with Cliff Lee as he tries to overcome his early season struggles.  He got down in a catcher’s crouch and was showing us what locations he has been hitting and what locations he should be hitting.  It was extremely cool to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the work that goes into being a professional pitcher.

By the way, did you notice that they stationed a security guard to stand behind RRS as he chatted with us?  Not only that, the ushers actually let us stand during BP so we could chat with RRS.  I guess that is one of the perks you get when a player comes over to chat with you at Petco Park.

Oh, yeah.  I should also mention that I was wearing the jersey that RRS gave me!

Eventually, we went our separate ways.

We headed out to the LF corner.  And right when we got there, Ian Snell tossed us a baseball.  The Mariners were just starting to get into the cage by this point.  So we decided to head over to the Padres dugout to watch Ichiro hit.  On the way, I took this shot of the the concourse down the 3B line:

7 - Petco concourse.JPGWe had a nice view as Ichiro was hitting…

8 - ichiro BP tim scarf.JPG…Tim decided to tie himself in knots with the Padres scarf that they gave away to the fans at this game.  After the first group of Mariners finished hitting they all ran out into the infield to pick up stray baseballs and return them to the basket at the pitchers mound.  The pitcher was M’s batting coach Alonzo Powell.  As he grabbed a ball just in front of the mound, I called out, “Hey, Alonzo!”  He looked up and my Dad and I both flashed him some leather.  He tossed the ball over to my Dad for his first baseball at Petco Park.

Next, we headed out to RF where this was our view:

d - petco RF field panorama.jpgThe front row was shoulder to shoulder.  A couple Mariners pitchers were in LF including the D.A., David Aardsma.  Soon, a ball got over his head and rolled the wall in front of us.  I shouted, “Hey, D.A.!”  He looked up, made eye contact with me, and tossed me the ball on a weird angle as he walked back to his spot in LF.

And this is what I don’t like about a getting a toss up in a crowded area.  The ball was plainly, 100% without a shadow of a doubt intended for me and Tim, and I caught it without moving my feet whatsoever.  However, with the weird angle on which Aardsma threw us the ball, I ended up catching the ball 6 inches in front of a young (22’ish year old), moderately good looking girl.  I don’t think anyone would have thought anything about it if I just handed the ball over to Tim, but to me it felt a little funny.  Actually, it didn’t feel funny, because I knew the ball was intended for us.  But it felt like it probably looked funny (does that make sense?).  So instead of handing the ball to Tim, I just opened my glove, held it out for the girl (who was there with her boyfriend), and let her grab the ball out of my glove.  And she did just that, without a “thank you” or the slightest hint of acknowledgement that I’d just done something nice for her, which was not very cool in my book.

The worst part is that the situation with the girl threw me off and I don’t think I even thanked the D.A.

So, thanks, D.A.!

BP wrapped up, we headed out to the Park in the Park.  First, we checked out the Tony Gwynn statue:

9 - Tony Gwynn in the Park.JPGI turned around and took a panorama of the field from the Park in the Park:

e - petco park in the park I panorama.jpgAnd then we walked over…

10 - Walk in the Park.JPG…to check out the kids’ baseball field in the Park in the Park.  I’m not sure if they have a name for the field, but they should call it “The Park in the Park in the Park.”

I took another panorama from the beyond the CF wall of the Park in the Park in the Park…

f - petco park in the park II panorama.jpg…with our buddies in the Mariachi band on stage doing their thing.  Then we walked around the Park in the Park in the Park…

11 - Tim and Dad Petco Kid Field.JPG…and headed back over to the beach:

12 - Top of Bleachers.JPGAnd what the heck, how about another beach panorama looking toward RF:

g - petco park beach panorama.jpgTim wanted to play in the Beach so my Dad stayed with him while I toured the stadium a bit.  As I headed to the second deck in LCF, I took this picture looking down over the Padres bullpen:

13 - Padres bullpen.JPGRemember this picture of the Padres bullpen, because in a bit, I will show you the Mariners/visitors bullpen.

Next, I took what very well may be the coolest panorama that I have ever taken…

h - petco park LF upper ultimate panorama.jpg…click on the photo to see it much larger.  Cool, huh?

Next, it was off to the other side of the seats right next to the warehouse, where I took this shot:

i - petco LF upper panorama.jpgFrom there, I circled around to the infield and got this shot behind home plate…

ii - petco field home panorama.jpg…then it was up to the second deck, which is some sort of special deck.  It seemed like they don’t let you into these seats generally, but the usher said I could go in to take some pictures.  Here is what it looked like from there:

iii - petco 2d deck LF foul second deck panorama.jpgSoon, I found myself right next to the warehouse.  I wanted to get into the warehouse, but I didn’t know if I could.  There was a sign in the concourse behind the warehouse that said there was a private party going on there.  So, I went into the seating area and got this panorama right next to the warehouse…

j - petco LF upper next to warehouse panorama.jpg…but then I notice something, an odd little hallway:

IMG_6816.JPG…a stadium worker had just walked into the hallway.  There was no rope and no one to say I couldn’t go in there, so I did.  As I walked down the hallway, there were a couple open doors with soda fountains and random food prep paraphenalia strewn all about.  At the other end of the hallway, there were two food server type stadium workers and neither of them said anything to me.

At the end of the hallway, I took a right and there was a narrow walkway that led out to the porch on the top of the warehouse.  There was an usher standing in the middle of the walkway and two garbage cans blocking the way.  I walked up and acted confused for the guy, “Are we on the warehouse?  Am I not supposed to be here?  Hey, can I go out there real quick to take a picture?”  The guy looked a little confused right back at me and then said, “sure, okay.”

So, I made it out on top of the warehouse!  And this was the view:

k - petco from top of warehouse panorama.jpgAs the game was about to start, I began making my way toward home plate.  Here is a view a from the corner where the seats change angles…

l - petco upper 3B panorama.jpgAs I reached behind home plate, Ichiro came to bat.  I wanted a clean shot of him so I headed back toward 3B.  I got this picture…

14 - Ichiro singles in 1st 6-12-10.JPG
…as he started his swing that resulted in a leadoff single on the first pitch of the night.  A good start to the game.

I headed back behind home plate and got this panorama:

m - petco upper home panorama.jpgSeconds later, Chone Figgins reached out and slapped this ball into the outfield for the M’s second hit of the night…

15 - Figgins singles in 1st 6-12-10.JPG…I liked this, we had a little something going here.

I headed toward RF and got this picture…

n - petco 1B upper light tower panorama.jpg….from right next to the light stand with the suites in it.

Franklin Gutierrez walked on this pitch:

16 - Guti walks in 1st 6-12-10.JPGThe bases were loaded with no outs!  I liked it.  I headed down to the cross aisle around the 300 level and got this shot:

o - petco 1B upper cross aisle panorama.jpgI then got this shot of Lopez….

17 - Lopez GIDP in 1st 6-12-10.JPG…right as he swung his way into a double play.

The Padres then intentionally walked Bradley…

18 - Milton IW in 1st 6-12-10.JPG…before Josh Wilson popped up for the final out of the top of the first inning…

19 - Josh Wilson pops out in 1st  6-12-10.JPG…so the M’s squandered a great opportunity to score some runs.

It was time to head to our seats.  I got this panorama on the way to our seats…

q - petco 3B field concourse panorama.jpg….because I thought it was cool that it had a scoreboard for the fans standing in the concourse behind the seats.

Tim played in the beach until they cleared out all of the non-bleacher ticketed fans.  They made it to our seats shortly before I did.  Tim was hungry so we got our customary nachos:

20 - Nachos time in SD.JPGAfter the Mariners left three runners on base in the top of the first, the Padres showed them how to take advantage of scoring opportunties.  David Eckstein led off with a single and was replaced on first after Chase Headley hit into a fielder’s choice.  Adrian Gonzalez then blasted a two run bomb to put the Padres up 2-0.  Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Padres would need.

Still, it was a good game and the Mariners were in it until the end thanks to a solid outing (despite the loss) by Cliff Lee — somehow I failed to take a single picture of Lee at this game.

In the second inning, the M’s cut the Padres lead in half.  It started with Rob Johnson’s double down the RF line:

21 - Rob Johnson doubles in 2nd 6-12-10.JPG…and then Ichiro followed two batters later with a little chip shot…

22 - Ichi RBI single in 2nd 6-12-10.JPG…that landed behind third base just in fair territory and Johnson scored from second.

 In the bottom of the second, I snapped this picture of Tony Gwynn, Jr. hitting a single on a swinging bunt:

23 - tony jr swinging bunt single.JPGI am not positive about this, but I think Gwynn (who I have probably seen play before) completes the third father-son set that I have seen play in the majors.  Others include Ken Griffey-Ken Griffey, Jr. and Cecil Fielder-Prince Fielder.  Maybe there have been others, but not that I can recall.

The next time Ichiro came to the plate, he grounded out.  But check out the interesting stat that they put on the big screen during his at bat…

24 - Ichiro hit streaker.JPG…pretty impressive, eh?  I’m guessing that Ichiro will finish his career in sole possession of the lead on this list.

Soon, it was time for some ice cream.  I walked all around the field level concourse looking for ice cream helmets.  Here are some views from the concourse:

25 - petco concourse and ice cream spot.JPGIn that upper right picture, that big wall to the right is a slanted wall that runs from the upper deck all the way down to the ground outside the stadium.  I finally found the “Kettle & Cone” stand where they have ice cream helmets.  The tricky thing about finding it is that it is not on the main concourse.  Rather, it is behind the concourse (if that makes sense) on the 3B side near home plate.  Actually, in that upper right picture (with the slanted wall) if you click on it to view it full sized, you’ll see part of a red sign over a opening in the wall to the right.  The red sign says “MERCADO” and the opening in the wall is a hall way that leads back behind the concourse to a big bar and a couple different food stands.  That’s where the ice cream helmets can be found.

And this was my ice cream helmet’s view of the game from my seat in section 120, row 29, seat 1: 

s - petco section 120 row 29 seat 1 ice cream helmet panorama.jpgAs we watched the game, I noticed something odd in the OF.  Check out the OF wall below the Subway sign in this picture…

26 - weird OF thingy in SD.JPG…it is like there is a little cubby hole below the subway sign.  I have no clue what that is all about.

After showing you the Padres bullpen toward the beginning of this entry, I mentioned that I would show you the visitors’ bullpen at Petco Park a bit later.  Well, in this picture of Figgy playing 2B, you can see the visitors’ bullpen in the background:

27 - Figgy and Ms bullpen.JPGHow’s that for treating your guests poorly?  The Padres get your standard modern bullpen and the visitors get to sit in foul territory like its still the 1980s or something.

During this game, Tim fell in love with the all-star ballot.  As shown here, with Grandpa’s assistance he kept busy…

28 - Tim and Dad all-star voting.JPG…punching out holes on the ballot.  Together, they voted for the entire National League on this ballot.  Tim was very proud of his completed ballot.

Cliff Lee gave up his third and final run of the night in the fourth inning and then went on to pitch 7 innings, giving up 7 hits.  Cliff actually went an inning deeper in the game than the Padres starter, Wade LeBlanc, who also gave up 7 hits in his six innings.  The difference in the game was that LeBlanc and his relievers (including the baseball giving Luke Gregerson) kept the Mariners baserunner, just like Milton Bradley here in the sixth inning…

29 - milton wants to score.JPG…stranded on base longing to touch the plate.  Over the course the game, the Mariners had 12 runners left on base and the Padres had a mere 2 LOB.

In the 7th or 8th inning, we decided to head out to the Park in the Park to see what the game looks like from out there.  Before departing our seats in section 120, a nice fan took our picture…

30 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…by the way, I bought some wet wipe before this game because I had forgot to bring any on the trip.  I usually use them to wash down Tim’s chocolate covered face after he devours an ice cream helmet.  Unfortunately, after buying the wipes, I misplaced them under the car seat and never took them to a single game on this trip.  Therefore, like in this picture, Tim’s face was a bit chocolatey a lot during this trip.

We grabbed a spot on the hill in the PITP, and Tim stood in front of us and hit fake pitches and circled faked bases.  Here he is standing at his fake home plate…

31 - Tim in the Park in the Park.JPG…and that was our view of the last inning or two.  I guess in that picture you can tell better than before that he is wearing a full baseball uniform.

You know what, I took a video of Tim hitting a fake homerun, here it is: 

Although it was only a two run game when Lee handed the ball off to the M’s bullpen in the 8th inning, the M’s relieves quickly put the game out of reach.  Sean White got only one out in the 8th inning, but gave up 3 runs.  Brandon League got the final two outs in the 8th and gave up one more run.  Actually, to be more precise, I should mention that two of Sean White’s runs actually scored on a 3-run homerun that League gave up to pinch hittig Oscar Salazar.

Between the Salazar homerun and the victory, the batters’ eye was shooting blasts of fire into the air a lot in the evening hours at Petco Park:

32 - wrong team wins.JPGAfter it was a close game for most of the night, the final score was an ugly 7-1 loss.  But it was a fun night at the park and it was great to see the Mariners and get to know Petco Park.

We decided to hang out in the PITP for a bit to let the crowd thin out a bit, but then we realized the crowd was getting bigger.  There was a post game concert in the PITP.  So, we had another nice fan take our picture…

33 - 3 Cooks in a Park in a Park.JPG…and then we headed to our car.

 To book end the game, I took another picture of Petco Park from the parking lot…

34 - Petco at Night.JPG…then we hung out in the parking lot for 15 minutes because the cars were inching out of the lot.  Tim spent the time jumping and having me take pictures of him in the air…

35 -Tims got air.JPG…when I showed him this one, I told him he jumped so fast that his arm disappeared.  He was pretty proud of that.  He crashed out soon after hopping in the car.

In just about 12 hours, we would be back at Petco Park for a day game and hoping to see our second Mariners win of 2010.

2010 Fan Stats:

12 Games

14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)

11 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)


36 - SD baseballs and helmets 6-12-10.JPG29 Baseball
s (4 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)

10 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

7 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

Please Help Tim’s Soon-To-Be Brother Win A Contest!

Hi, folks.  I’m taking a brief time out from the 2010 Baseball Roadtrip entries to share some news and ask for your help.

In the next couple weeks, Tim is going to become a big brother.  We’re all very excited.  The ultrasound shows that its going to be another little boy (and Mariners fan).

We’re busy preparing for the new addition and my wife just entered a contest with a local photographer to try to win an infant portrait session and photos.  It is very simple — just one click and no personal info to enter.  The contest is for baby nurseries and there are only four entrants.

We need your vote!

If you’re inclined to help out, please CLICK HERE and then scroll down to vote for “#3 Baby Cook”!

FYI, the little guy’s room is still a work in progess (it doesn’t even have any baseball bats hanging in it yet — gasp!), but here is the picture my wife entered in the contest:

tims bros room.JPGFYI, I cannot tell you the little guy’s name just yet, but it will not be Griffey or Ichiro.  I can tell you, however, that his first game will be October 1st at Safeco Field!

Thanks…Todd, Colleen and Tim.

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 3: Angels at Dodgers (6/11/10)

Finally, we reached day three of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010, June 11, 2010 was a big travel day and a big baseball day.  Aside from getting to see our Mariners, the thing I was most excited for on this trip was the chance to get to know Dodger Stadium.  Dodger Stadium would be Tim’s 20th stadium!  I had been there once in college, but we sat in the top deck so we weren’t permitted to explore the lower levels.  For this game, we’d be sitting in the field level and we would leave almost no stone unturned.

But first we had to get to Los Angeles.  We woke up early in San Jose and were on the road by 6:00 a.m.  We had about 370 miles to drive to the the Fairplex KOA in Pamona, CA and then an additional 40 miles to Dodger Stadium.

My dad was behind the wheel to begin the drive and Tim was manning the map…

1 - Navigating to LA.jpg…we drove about 2.5 hours before stopping at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere for breakfast.

Aside from landscapes, there is not much to see in central California (at least on I-5)…

2 - LA bound.jpg…but Tim was having fun in the back seat.  We played a whole lot of “I spy.”  I took over driving duties just before we hit “the grapevine” — a monster uphill section of I-5.  I was excited to drive the grapevine (and told my dad to take a “dramatic” photo of it (see bottom right above, which doesn’t look too dramatic)) because I had heard stories in my youth about this road.  I have always had strong visual memories of the grapevine based solely on hearing stories of cars broken down overheated along the side of the road.  It was nice to see it first hand.

By about 1pm, we made it to the KOA, which is right next to the LA County fairgrounds.  We relaxed a litte, I went for a run, Tim hit some baseballs while my Dad and I played catch…

3 - Into LA.jpg…and then it was off to the City of Angels.  Above at the bottom left is a picture of the first of at least three (in LA, SD and SF) different Cesar Chavez Avenues we saw on our trip.

A few minutes before 5:00 p.m., we turned onto Eylsian Park Avenue and drove straight to the entrance of Dodger Stadium…  

4 - welcome to dodger stadium.jpg…where we were told to turn around and come back in fifteen minutes.  We knew that the gates would open two hours before the game, but we had no clue that the parking lots do too.  My dad pulled into a parking spot along Elysian Park Ave to wait and Tim and I hopped out to trek up to the stadium by foot.  That’s when we learned that the parking lots also open to foot traffic two hours early.  So, we had to stand around for 10 minutes with all of those people pictured above to the right until a guard finally told us to “go for it.”

With Tim on my shoulders, we started our walk up the hill, through the parking lots, and around the stadium to the LF gate:

4a - Dodger Stadium satellite.jpgIn that satellite view, the yellow arrows begin where we were standing by the parking lot gates.

We tried to enter the stadium at the end of the fourth arrow, which was by these player pictures and the Dodger ticket office…

5 - Dodger Stadium approach.jpg…but after flashing our field level tickets, we were told to go down two flights of stairs, around the corner and to the LF gate.  The bottom right picture above shows the back of the LF scoreboard as we came around the corner to the LF gate.

The LF gate dumped us into the field level concourse right at our seats…

6 - Mannywood.JPG

…in the Mannwood section of Dodger Stadium.  You can only buy these tickets in pairs.  It costs $99 (Manny’s number) and you get two tickets and two T-shirts that say “I sat in Mannywood.”  You also get a close-up view of Manny Ramirez as he patrols LF.

Let me tell you, the Mannywood section was great.  The fans were awesome.  The atmosphere was excellent.  For a non-Mariners game, we had a ridiculous amount of fun during the game sitting in Mannywood.  I highly recommend it.

Here is the view of the field from Mannywood (section 53 to the left and 51 to the right):

a - dodger section 51 day time panorama.jpgThe chain link fence to the left is the Dodgers bullpen.  While my dad parked the car and waited outside for a special guest, Tim and I walked in and headed right over to the bullpen.  Immediately, someone jacked a HR into the bullpen that zipped right into the trees at the back end.

Two seconds later a security guard walked into the bullpen and pulled about eight baseballs out of the trees.  Tim and I were standing right on the fence watching him and he came over and stood directly below us.  I was sure he was coming over to toss a baseball up to us.  But instead, still 20-30 feet from the OF wall, he yelled “Hey, Justin!  JUSTIN MILLER!”

Now, I have never heard of a professional baseballplayer named Justin Miller, but I’m a good listener.  One of the Dodgers in LF turned around and looked at the guard.  The guard then threw all eight baseballs to this Justin Miller guy.

Everyone in LF just watched silently.

Then, the second Justin Miller caught the eighth and final baseball, I yelled, “Hey, Justin!”  He looked up and…

7 - thanks justin miller.JPG…fired this baseball into my glove.  He then turned around and threw the other seven baseballs into the bucket.

Thanks, Justin Miller!

Now, Tim and I normally never go into the outfield during BP and there is a reason for it.  And we got a scary reminder of it.  You see, Tim is only four and he can’t handle a major league homerun.  But two second after taking that picture above, he handed me the baseball and I took a camera phone picture of it with the field behind it to send to my Dad (still waiting outside) and my wife.  Tim was standing right next to me.  But then he wandered off to the left.  I could see him out of the corner of my eye as he was heading back over to the fence by the bullpen.  Then I heard a solid crack of the bat and I looked up and started running over to Tim.  I couldn’t get there in time and a homerun almost got him.  He never even noticed the baseball, which ended up bouncing all the way back to the concourse.

That was enough of being in the OF.  We were out of there.  Time to explore.

As we walked toward home plate, I noticed these ladies in white shirts…

b - dodger section 41 panorama.jpg…who appeared to be keeping people (without proper tickets) away from the field.  That was unfortunate.

But as we reached the 3B end of the dugout, there was an odd group of fan-looking people standing on the warning track and a line leading up to them…

c - dodger behind 3B dugout panorama.jpg…we didn’t know what was going on, but felt it couldn’t hurt to stand in the line.

About five minutes later, a nice usher-type lady was taking this picture of us as we stood on the warning track with Dodgers BP going on behind us…

8 - on field at dodger stadium.JPG…and what the heck, how about one with the Dodgers dugout behind us too?  Okay:

9 - dodgers dugout.JPGWho is that behind us in the dugout you ask?  Well, none other than young stud Andre Ethier:

10 - andre ethier interview.JPGSo, here is the deal.  During BP, this lady runs a little roped off patch of the warning track.  You can stand in line and she cycles new people into the roped off area every couple minutes.  The purpose of it all is to try to get autographs, but there is no guarantee that you will.  We were in there for about 5 minutes and Joe Torre, Don Mattingly…and basically the whole team walked by us.  But they were all on their way to their pre-game meeting so no one stopped.

We got extra lucky.  We were the last people into the roped off area during this round, so we were right at the entrance of the rope and immediately on the dugout.  That’s why the lady was able to see us and offer to take our picture on the warning track.  Aside from us, she only did that for one other father and son.

Next, we hung out by the dugout and people watched…

11 - behind dodgers dugout.JPG…there were some celebrity looking people down there, but I couldn’t figure out who anyone was.  Later, I found out that one of them was Brian McKnight.  He sang the national anthem and God Bless America.

We watched a little Angels BP from above the dugout:

12 - angels at batting cage.JPGAnd I totally butchered this attempt at a panorama…

cc - dodger behind 3B dugout-home panorama.jpg…I somehow failed to overlap the pictures on the far right so they couldn’t connect.  But you get the picture, right?

Then we headed out to RF.   We got this panorama from behind the plate on our way…

d - dodger behind home field panorama.jpg…and this one behind the visitors’ (Angels) dugout:

e - dodger behind 1B dugout panorama.jpgYep, it was the Angels vs. the Dodgers, the freeway series.  Wait, aren’t both teams from LA?  Why would you need to drive on the freeway from LA to LA?  Oh, yeah, the Angels are actually from a completely different city (Anaheim) and county (Orange County) 30 miles away.

You know, if a team wants to go by the name of a different city, it really should be the San Francisco Athletics of Oakland.  You can at least see San Franscisco from the A’s stadium.  (Obviously, this is a joke, I am not advocating the A’s actually calling themselves that.  That would be ridiculous).  Anyway…

Next we were off to the RF corner…

f - dodger section 50 panorama.jpg…which is not called “Ethierwood” or Ethierville or anything based on Dodgers right fielder, Andre Ethier.

Here is almost the same panorama again (just for kicks)…

g - dodger section 52 panorama.jpgThe sun was beating down pretty hard in RF.  It was hard to see.  We didn’t need to have another near hit, so we were out of there quick.  But not before taking some pictures of the vistors’ bullpen…

13 - dodgers visitors bullpen.JPG…note that there is a lonely baseball on top of that little building, which I think is the bullpen bathroom.

I got a text message from my dad.  He was in the stadium with our special guest.  We headed over to say hi to them.  On the way through the concourse, I took this picture of Canter’s Delicattessen and a Dodger Dogs sign:

12a - canters delicatessen.JPGDodger Stadium might be old (1962), but it is extremely clean and stylish, with a sort of intentionally simple retro look.

After saying hi to my Dad and our special guest, I went on exploring.  Tim wasn’t up for more walking around so he stayed with them.

I headed to the second deck.

Dodger Stadium has five decks, which I will call the Field Level, Second Deck, Suite Level, Third Deck and Top Deck.  The Dodgers may call them something else.  Anyway, I was off to the second deck.

I noticed something sort of odd.  The main pathway to all of the upper decks is roughly behind home plate.  So, if you are in the second deck way out in LF and you want to go to the field level (or Third Deck) way out in LF, it appears that you have to walk all the way to home plate, go up or down some stairs, an escalator and/or an elevator and then walk back out to LF.

That is just what I did (going the escalator route).  I ended up in a bar behind the concourse in LF.  This is what it looked like:

12b - LF bar.JPGInterestingly, this bar was immediately on the inside of the gate that Tim and I had originally tried to enter, but were told we had to go down two flights of stairs, around a corner and enter the stadium through the LF gate.

One of those girls asked me an insanely easy question (which was actually a commercial for her employer), and gave me a little prize that I planned to give to Tim.

I then headed to the back row as far out in LF as I could go.  Here is what it looked like:

h - dodger 2d deck LF corner panorama.jpgSee the Dodgers bullpen below?  Check this (zoomed in picture) out:

14 - dodgers bullpen inside.JPGThe pitchers (or some of them at least) sit inside there and watch the game through a hole in the OF wall.

And just for kicks, here is another panorama from the first row one section over from the last picture:

i - dodger 2d deck LF front row panorama.jpgI made my way around the Second Deck…

j - dodger 2d deck 3B panorama.jpg…and on my way through the concourse, I saw the familar face of a man I’d never met:  Dodgers MVP Roger Owens:

15 - roger owens peanut man.JPGIf you’re a Mariners fan, you probably know the Mariners MVP Rick “The Peanut Man” Kaminsky.  Well, Roger is just like him.  He does crazy behind the back throws when you order a bag of peanuts.  But because he is based in LA, he gets featured from time-to-time on The Late Show, etc.

I recognized him right away and went up to say hi.  He was very nice.  I asked him if he knew The Peanut Man from Seattle.  He does.  They won an award together about 10 years ago from some peanut-based organization.  Roger told me about winning the award with Rick and he said, “It was the MVP award, which meant ‘Master…Master Peanut Man’ award”  Actually, I have known for years that Rick won the MVP and that it meant “Master Vendor of Peanuts.”

By the way, I seriously think Rick Kaminsky should be inducted into that Mariners Hall of Fame.  He’s that good.

Anyway, I continued on the tour.  Here’s the view from the second deck behind home plate slightly toward 1B…

k - dodger 2d deck section 118 panorama.jpg…and further down the 1B line…

l - dodger 2d deck section 156 panorama.jpg…in the RF corner, I took this shot of the all-you-can-eat RF bleachers…

16 - RF All-You-Can-Eat Seats.JPG…unfortunately, with an infield ticket at Dodger Stadium, you cannot visit the OF so I did not get to go check out the bleachers.

I headed back to home plate through the concourse so I could head up stairs.  All around most of the concourses, the Dodgers have pictures on the support columns celebrating Dodgers past and present — here are a few of the past Dodgers stars:

17 - tribute to dodgers past.JPGNext, I headed up to the Suite level:

18 - dodger stadium suite level.jpgThe two pictures at the top left are looking into the hallway housing the suites on the 3B side of the stadium.  In the bottom left, you see that the Vin Scully Pressbox is also on the suite level.  In the little open area outside of the press box and the hallway leading to the suites, they have the old Dodgers relief pitchers car behind ropes.  My Dad and our special guest actually wandered by here with Tim and a guard let Tim sit in the car!

From the suite level, there are two elevators to take you to (i) the Third Deck and (ii) the Top Deck.  I hopped into the elevator up to the Third Deck.  When I arrived, I was in an inside concourse (that was open to the field) behind home plate.  I started walking to LF and soon the concourse weaved behind the Third Deck seats into an open concourse behind the seats…

19 - third deck concourse views.jpg…I was surpised to see that people could walk straight from the parking lot into the third deck.  At the time, I didn’t have a good handle on the lay of the land at Dodger Stadium.  But the fact is that it is built into the side of a hill.  There is direct access to almost every level of the stadium from the parking lot without having to go up or down stairs inside the stadium.  Essentially, the OF is at the bottom of the hill and home plate is at the top of the hill.  Therefore, the gates into the Third Deck are  around the 1B and 3B area.  The gates into the Second Deck are in the OF foul corners, and the field level entrance is in the outfield at the bottom of the hill.  Its a pretty cool and unique set up.

The picture to the left above is the Third Deck gates and the picture to the right is looking off of the Third Deck concoure down to the ground outside, just above the Second Deck entrance (where we were not permitted to enter the Stadium) and the bar from a previous picture.

Finally, I made it out to the LF seats.  This is as far out in the seats as I could go because the last couple sections are a special “bleacher beach” section:

m - dodger 3d deck LF panorama.jpgIt also has a special section of the concourse behind the seats.

Next, I started walking toward home plate and I took this shot…

n - dodger 3d deck 3B-mid.JPG…and this one where you can see my shadow on the side of the Top Deck section…

o - dodger 3d deck 3B-wall panorama.jpgAs you can see, the Top Deck hangs over the Third Deck Seats between the two dugouts and creates the enclosed concourse behind those Third Deck seats.

When I got behind home plate, I noticed that Allysa Milano (a big Dodgers fan) was on the field to yell “Play Ball” or something like that…

20 - allysa milano.JPG…she looked giddy with excitement to be on the field at Dodger Stadium.

By the way, Allysa is in the movie Fear, which features an aerial view of my boyhood baseball home, the Kingdome.

I got this panorama as Milano was doing her thing:

p - dodger 3d deck home milano panorama.JPGThen I headed to the RF corner through the concourse behind the seats…

21 - RF 3d deck concourse in LA.JPG…this is what it looked like from the top of the Third Deck between the last  and second-to-last sections…

q - dodger 3d deck RF corner top panorama.jpg…and here is the view from a little lower and right on the railing at the end of the Third Deck…
r -dodger 3d deck RF corner on railing panorama.jpgWhen I looked to my right, this is what I saw behind the OF seats:

22 - bleachers from above.JPGAs I made my way back to home plate to head up to the Top Deck, the game started.  This is what it looked like from up there:

23 - angels in first.JPGWhen I got up to the Top Deck, the first thing I did was squeeze behind the seats in front of the big Dodgers logo at the top of the stadium behind home plate…

24 - dodger logo.JPG…and that is where I took this panorama…

s - dodger top deck home panorama.jpg…then I headed to the 1B end of Top Deck:

.

t - dodger top deck 1B panorama.jpgFrom there, I got a view of the interesting seating configuration behind the dugouts at Dodger Stadium:

25 - dodger stadum dugout seating.jpgAnd then I got a panorama that shows the Top Deck concourse, some of the parking lot, and downtown LA off in the distance:

u - dodger top deck concourse to LA panorama.jpgCheck out this interesting view looking down on the top of the Third Deck:

26 - top of 3d deck in LA.JPGAs I swung around to the 3B side of the Top Deck…

v - dodger top deck 3B panorama.jpg…Manny Ramirez stepped up to the plate:

27 - manny hackin.JPGAfter the Angels went down in order in the first, Rafeal Furcal led off the Dodgers’ half of the first with a triple.  But Manny’s pop out to deep 2B couldn’t get the run in.  Furcal was left on third.

It was time to head back to our seats.  The tour was complete.  I decided to go a different way.  I took a long and windy set of stairs…

28 - dodger stadium stairs.jpg…all the way from the Top Deck to the Field Level.

As i reached the Field Level, Torii Hunter was at the plate and Chad Billingsley was on the mound:

29 - billingsley to hunter.JPG

Hunter would draw a walk.

Finally, I made it back to our seats in Mannywood.  And guess who I found there?  Tim, my Dad, and my Dad’s brother and our special guest, Carl:

30 - three cooks in LA.JPGCarl and his family all live in the LA area and I don’t get to see any of them very often.  So it was really nice to have him join us for a game.

Here was our view of Manny from Mannywood…

31 - manny and matsui.JPG…and Manny’s counterpart, Hideki Matsui.

And, from later in the night, here was the view from my seat — Section 51, Row J, Seat 1:

w - dodger section 51 row J seat 1 panorama.jpgI mentioned that I won a prize for answering a really simple question.  Well, here it is…

32 - tim and cutie.JPG…and Tim absolutely loved it…

33 - loving cutie.JPG…so much so that he named it “Cutie” (because it was so cute) and gave it a big hug.

The score was 0-0 going into the to top of the third inning.  Joel Piniero led off and reached first base when he swung at a wild pitch that went to the backstop.  Piniero eventually made his way around to score the first run on a line drive single to RF by Bobby Abreu.

Between the first couple innings, the Dodgers kept showing clips of The Prince of Darkness, the one and only Mr. John “Ozzy” Osbourne himself, telling us to “SCREAM!!!!”

34 - scream.JPGAlthough we didn’t understand the signifance of the Ozzy clip, while eating some nachos, Tim obliged with a viscious looking scream.

In the fourth inning, Manny continued to do nothing at the plate:

35 - manny still hacking.JPG

But then James Loney hit a home run to knot the game at 1-1.

Also in the fourth innng, Ozzy Osbourne appeared in the flesh!  While he has engaged in many unhealthy and self-destructive activities over the course of his life that I cannot endorse, I do strongly endorse Ozzy as a musician.  He’s excellent.  With Black Sabbath or solo, Ozzy is great.

Anyway, The Ozzman Cometh to the game for the “Think Cure” promotion (i.e., a cure for cancer), and he was there to lead us in an effort to set a Guiness Book of World Records record for longest/loudest crowd scream…

36 - ozzy world record scream.JPG…so we all banded together and did some major screaming.  And I’m proud to announce that we are now world record holders.

Thanks, Ozzy!

After all of that sceaming, it was time to cool off the vocal cords with some chocolate ice cream in white Dodgers ice cream helmets…

37 - dodgers ice cream helmet.JPG…I was pretty surprised at the design of the helmets (I figured they’d be blue with a white “LA” like the Dodgers’ hats and batting helmets), but it didn’t matter.  Ice cream helmets are great no matter what design the team employs.  Tim clearly was happy with his helmet…

38 - LA ice cream.JPGOh, by the way, the Dodgers helmets are also smaller than every other helmet we have ever got.  Not much smaller, but clearly smaller.  For instance, I cannot stack these helmets on top of any of our other ice cream helmets.

In the fifth inning, the Angels took the lead for good when Hideki Matsui hit a bases clearing 3-run double to put the Angels up 4-1.

Remember I mentioned that our seats came with T-shirts?  This is what they looked like:

Mannywood shirt.jpgTim played with his little “cutie” foam finger a lot during this game and, in the process, he made friends with the group of 20-something guys and girls sitting right behind us.  They had full-sized “West Side W” foam fingers.  Eventually, a girl named Ashley gave her “W” finger to Tim.  And then taught Tim that he could fold the “W” over in half and it would be an “M.”  The two of them then folded and unfolded that “W” finger about a million times and chanted “M” Mariners, “W” Win!  Mariners, Win!  Mariners, Win!  The interesting thing is that Ashley was an Angels fan.  But these guys were all super cool and they didn’t mind cheering the Mariners to make Tim happy.  I’m telling you, the vibe in Mannywood was awesome.  Just a bunch of fans have a great night at the ballpark…complete with non-stop hitting around of many beach balls.  Tim loved it when he got a chance (or two) to hit one of the beach balls.

The Angels scored more runs in the sixth.  Again, it all started with Piniero.  This time, he walked and eventually scored the Angels’ fifth run on a bases-loaded walk of Bobby Abreu.  Torii Hunter then followed with a 3-run double of his own to make the score 8-1 Angels.

It wasn’t just at the plate that Piniero was contributing.  On the mound, he was on fire.

39 - piniero looking tough.JPGHe would eventually pitch a complete game.

Late in the game, Manny gave us a good look at his signature locks…

40 - mannylocks.JPGHe was pretty good with the crowd.  Every inning, he tossed his warm up ball to someone in the crowd.  We noticed this in the second inning when he threw his ball into Mannywood.  We decided to go down to the front row between innings several times…

41a - watching Manny.JPG…but he distributed his warm up baseballs all around and never came back to Mannywood with another.

By the ninth inning, it was obvious that the Mariners AL West foes were going to win this game.  So I didn’t mind jumping up and acting like I was cheering for this MyGameBall.com scavenger hunt photo…

41 - homerunner between 2nd and 3rd.JPG…its Howie Kendrick in the background between second and third bases after he hit a 2-run homerun bringing the score to 10-1, the eventual final score.

We ended the game sitting next to the bullpen…

x - dodger section 51 panorama.jpg…just in case the Dodgers felt like tossing up any baseballs on their way to the dugout.  But you know what?  They don’t walk to the dugout.  They all filed into a door that took them under the Field Level seats, and like Kaiser Soze, POOF, they were gone.

After the game, we got a group photo…

41a - four cook men.JPG…you can see Tim’s West Side W in my hand behind Carl’s back.

It had been a great game.  We said our good-byes to Carl and headed to our car.  Guess who we saw on the way to the car?  Dodger great and Hall of Famer…

42 - hey its sandy koufax.JPG

…Sandy Koufax!  Okay, well, that might not have actually been Koufax.  I guess he probably doesn’t walk around in his jersey at Dodgers games.

Ah, it was a long and exciting day on the baseball roadtrip.  We headed back to our camping cabin for the night.  In the morning, we would be off to meet up with our Mariners at Petco Park in San Diego.

2010 Fan Stats:

11 Games

13 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)


43 - LA helmets and baseball.JPG10 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

26 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, Orioles 1, 3 Athletics, 1 Angels, 1 Dodgers)

7 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium)

9 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 2: Angels at Athletics (6/10/10)

We woke up in the La Quinta Inn’s “Oakland Airport Coliseum” hotel on the morning of Thursday, June 10, 2010 ready for a Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip first:  our second game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which would mark the first time we have attended two games at the same stadium during a roadtrip.  Once again, we would be seeing the California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County taking on the Oakland Athletics.

We grabbed some free breakfast in the hotel lobby area, showered up, Tim built a very rudimentary fort…

1 - tims fort.JPG…and we were off to the Coliseum.  Once again the La Quinta shuttle (van) dropped us off at the BART stop.  Tim loved driving in the van and made sure to tell numerous people that “we drove here in a van!”

The day before, the outside security person hardly glanced into my big green backpack.  Today, the guy must have been a former-TSA agent.  He poked, prodded, made me remove 70% of the contents, and then decided the backpack was too big to go into the stadium.  I’ve take this same backpack everywhere (probably to 20 different stadiums), including THIS same stadium.  I told the guy I had brought this same backpack into the Coliseum not 12 hours ago and I crammed it into the little measurement box.  Finally, the authority figure relented, “I’ll let you take it in…this time.”

So we were in…

We headed to RF where my dad had noticed a baseball in the gap the night before.  I’d brought a rubber band, string, and sharpie with the thought of trying my first ever attempt at the glove trick.  The ball was still there.  But, I never even rigged up my glove.  It would have taken too much effort, I think.

Instead, Tim and I stood in the RF corner right next to the foul pole and watched Jered Weaver play catch with former Mariner Joel Piniero.  Weaver was standing right in front of us and, interestingly, he was using two baseballs to play catch.   He’d hold one ball in his glove and throw the other.  After the throw, he’d transfer the second ball to this throwing hand so he could catch the first ball after Piniero threw it back to him.

Once they finished up their throwing, Weaver tossed one ball into the seats behind him and then turned and tossed the second ball to us.

Thanks, Jered!

After Weaver tossed us the ball, Piniero walked over to the foul line.  I called out to Joel and he gave us a wave.  I asked if he would take a picture with Tim.  He said yes, but first he had to do some running in the OF.

A few minutes later, we got Weaver to autograph the baseball he’d tossed us and pose for a picture with Tim (look for Joel in the background): 

2 - jered weaver.JPG

I think this is the second time this season that we have gotten a baseball, picture and autograph all from the same player at a game, the first being Billy Wagner, and I think it is really cool.  Thinking back, we did this once last season with C&S Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith.  (We also got all three from Jason Phillips last season, but the picture and autograph were at different games).

We moved around the corner to the RF foul seats to get that picture with Weaver.  I should mention that this was a 12:35 p.m. day game following a night game.  We didn’t think there would be any BP, but we were wrong.  The A’s took BP (the Angels did not).

Standing right in front of us in RF was an Oakland Athletic.  I had no clue who he is.  I don’t bring a roster to games (and if I review a roster before a game it is generally just to see if any former Mariners are on the team).  But I have a secret weapon — a Canon PowerShot SX200IS with 12 x optical zoom and (48 x total zoom) — and that often times is all that it takes…

3 - ball please brad ziegler.jpg…”Hello, Mr. Brad Ziegler.”  (note:  the inset zoomed in picture is a different picture than the main picture).

No one else around seemed to know that it was Ziegler.  No one had said his name when he’d shagged balls nearby.  Once I figured out who it was and he shagged another baseball (about 40-50 feet from the foul line), I called how, “Hey, Brad Zeigler!  Zeeeeegs!”  That tipped everyone off in the section and when Ziegler looked over EVERYONE (well, not me, Tim or my Dad) started yelling his name.  Ziegler looked discouraged by the yelling and started to turn back toward “the bucket.”  Just then, Tim called out:

BALL PLEEEEASE!”

Ziegler quickly swiveled back toward the stands:  “Who said “ball please!?”  And he started walking toward the seats with the baseball.  I pointed at Tim.  Then, a kid about 4-5 rows further out in the outfield yelled, “I did!”  Ziegler veered to his left and started heading to that little liar kid.

“He did!”  I said, as I pointed at Tim.  Then some random other guy pointed at Tim and shouted out, “THIS LITTLE KID DID!”

Ziegler changed course again.  He approached Tim.

ZIEGLER:  “You said ‘ball please’?”

TIM:  “Yes.”

Ziegler gives the ball to Tim.

Thanks, Brad!  (And thanks to the “random other guy” for the assist).

It was a great lesson for Tim.  I told him (and have told him numerous times since then) that he got that baseball because he said “please” and it has had a very powerful impact on Tim.  He’s saying please a lot all of a sudden!

Soon, Joel Piniero headed over our way.  Do you know about the photo scavenger hunt on mygameballs.com?  If not, click here.  We’re having fun trying to collect some of the scavenger hunt photos and Joel was kind enough to help us out with a 5-pointer — Tim fist bumping a player:

4 - Joel Piniero fist bump autograph.JPGYes, Tim’s fist bump is a little unorthodox, but he’s only 4 years old after all.  He’s a seasoned high fiver, but his fist bumping still needs some work.

Anyway, it was awesome to see Joel.  I really liked him as Mariner and was sad to see him go.  He was also kind enough to sign the Brad Ziegler “ball please” ball for Tim…and another baseball for my Dad (but not the one he’d just thrown my Dad the day before).

Ahh…a couple things I forgot to mention:

First, between our Weaver picture and getting the Ziegler baseball, someone hit a high foul pop fly down the 1B line.  I ran over a couple seats away from the field and positioned myself for a big bounce over everyone in the first two rows.  And I would have got the ball too had it not bounced directly into a 30-year old’ish guy’s nose.  The guy was going for the ball and it cleaned his clock.  His nose opened up like a faucet.  It wasn’t pretty.

  • Second, while we were waiting for Piniero, an Angel pitcher was throwing off the mound in the bullpen.  Two throws into his session, he stopped and told his catcher to turn around and tell one of their teammates (who was playing catch with someone else in the OF) to move because the pitcher thought he might hit his teammate behind the catcher.  The Angels mocked him mightily for this request.  The best line was when the catcher stopped and told the pitcher ask a fan sitting in the crowd to move so he wouldn’t hit him with his return throws to the mound.
  • Third, also while we were waiting for Piniero, some fan decked out in Angels gear came down to the bullpen and (with Joel Piniero standing about 30 feet to his right) asked the guys in the bullpen, “Do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?”  Everyone said no.  Then numerous Angels started asking their teammates really loudly, “Do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?”  Everyone said no.  Then one of them yells to Joel, “Hey, do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?”  Joel looks all around…nope, he had no clue either when Joel Piniero would be out there.  This never stopped while we were out there and the guy never figured out that Joel was standing right there.

    Okay, after the picture with Joel, we decided to go check out our seats…

    4a - section 125.JPG…I got us some excellent seats in the first row (well, third row because of the on field seats) in Section 125 by third base.  They were looking really nice, except that the fence gave them very little leg room.

    Side note, on the way over to our seats, we walked through the rows of empty seats all the way from the RF corner.  That’s pretty standard during BP, right?  Well, as we circled around home plate we were in about the third row above the dugout when an usher stopped us.  After yesterday’s “you gotta eat in your own seats 40 minutes before the game” incident, I was ready for anything.  She didn’t dissappoint.  She told me we couldn’t walk through the rows.  If we wanted to get from Section 120 Row 3 to Section 125 Row 1, we would have to walk up to the cross aisle behind row 20 and walk behind the 99% empty seating sections and then walk down the aisle at section 125.  Okay.

    Next, we decided to head over to left field.  Oddly, there was no one there.  Literally, other than an usher, there was no one else in foul territory down the line (which was very odd because there were a bunch of people in RF foul territory).  There were a bunch of people in LF homerun territory and this guy…

    5 - Michael Wuertz toss up machine.JPG…was taking care of everybody.  Right as we walked up to the wall in LF foul territory, this guy got a baseball and threw it to someone in homerun territory.  Immediately, another ball came, and after spotting Tim he threw it to us.  Three more balls came to LF within the next 3 minutes and this guy was all over the field shagging everything and he gave every one of those five baseballs to people in the seats.  Very cool.

    5a- 48 is Wuertz.jpgI had no clue who he was.  So I did my zoom trick.  No name on the glove.  But he did have a number:  48 (click on the picture to the right to make it larger if you can’t see the 48 stitched on the glove).  According to the A’s website this generous guy’s name is Michael Wuertz.

    Thanks, Michael!

    Soon, BP came to an end.

    I wanted to do some more exploring, and so did Tim and my Dad.  On our way out of the field level, I took the following picture of the A’s bullpen…

    6 - A's luxury bullpen.JPGIf that scene doesn’t shout “Major League bullpen” I just don’t know what does (hopefully you can read the sarcasm in that statement).

    We were off to the upper deck.  The true upper deck.  The 300 level, which is only open in three sections right behind home plate.  First, we had to figure out how to get up there.

    It was pretty empty in the concourse as we made our way to the 300 level seats…

    7- exploring coliseum 300 level.JPG…but at long last, we made it:

    9 - hanging out up top in coliseum.JPGYou see that cement wall behind Tim?  Guess what is over it?  Well, for one thing, off in the distance:  San Francisco:

    10 - SanFran from Colesium.jpg(Hopefully you can tell that is three pictures put together.  The bottom picture is the real picture.  The middle is a zoomed in version of the bottom picture, and the top picture is zoomed in even further).

    But we weren’t up here just to look over the wall.  We were here to check out the view of the ballpark from the 300 level.  Here is the view from the last row in Section 318 of the Coliseum:

    8 - coliseum section 318 panorama.jpgHere are Tim and my Dad with the lovely green tarp behind them:

    11 - Tim and Grandpa in section 318.JPGThe 300 level steps are really steep and they have no hand rails:


    12 - coliseum 300 level no hand rails.JPGAnd usher (who didn’t even demand to see our tickets) was kind enough to take our picture:

    13 - GFS coliseum 300 level.JPGAnd then I got a panorama from the cross aisle across the front of Section 316:

    14 - coliseum section 316 panorama.jpgWe still had some time before the game started, so we headed back to the Stomper Fun Zone…

    15 - stomper fun zone.jpg…where Tim had lots of fun:

    16 - playing with stomper.JPGFinally, the game was about to start.  We went to the fan assistance booth on our way to our seats to ask where we could find ice cream helmets.  The jumbo helmet last night was cool, but we wanted individual sized A’s ice cream helmets today.  We were told to go to Section 130.  But when we arrived one of the guys at the ice cream place informed us that they were OUT OF ICE CREAM HEMLETS!  Instead, he offered us little styrofoam bowls that looked like they’d hold about 2 table spoons of ice cream.

    Frustrated by this development, we suffered through our still delicious ice cream cones:

    17 - oakland ice cream cone.JPGOkay, Tim doesn’t look like he’s suffering.  But there are no individual sized A’s ice cream helmets in our collection today so the delicousness of the cones was bittersweet.

    Finally, the A’s took the field…

    18a - play ball in oakland.JPG…and this was our view from Section 125, Row 1, seats 3-5:

    18 - coliseum section 125 panorama.jpgThe A’s called on Trevor Cahill…

    19 - trevor cahill dealing.jpg…and he was a dandy on this day.  So was his defense:

    19a - A's playing D.JPGThe Angels called on Ervin Santana…

    20 - Ervin Santana.jpg…who looked like he weighs about 75 pounds.  He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t on par with Cahill on this day.

    As usual, the guys in the bleachers had their A’s flags moving in a slow downward waving motion:

    20a - As flags.JPGThe A’s provided most of the offense at this game, but this is the only picture I took of an A’s batter…

    20b - Gabe Gross.jpg…and the only reason I took the picture (of Gabe Gross) is because he was sporting number 18…a fine number.

    There was no scoring in the first three innings, so I took some random shots of Tim and my Dad:

    21 - Tim and Grandpa in section 125 of coliseum.jpgYou might notice they are both looking back at me.  I decided to sit in row 2, which was totally empty, because foul balls were flying all around us.  Sadly, we would glove none of them.

    Finally, the A’s got the scoring started in the bottom of the 4th inning when Ryan Sweeney hit an RBI double and then scored on a single by Gabe Gross (not in that at bat shown above).

    It seemed like A’s relievers were walking back-and-forth in front of us all day…

    22 - bullpen and bathroom trips.jpg…maybe they were visiting in the little boys’ room.  Their bullpen, of course, does not have its own little boys’ room.  Hey, did you notice who was in that back-and-forth picture?  No, not 2009 Rookie of the Year, Andrew Bailey, I mean my “ball please” Brad Ziegler.

    Tim amused himself by making me take a series of funny face shots and extreme-funny-face close ups… 

    23 - funny faces extreme close up.jpg…this would become a trend on this roadtrip.

    So would this…

    24 - exploding peanuts.jpg….”take a picture of me exploding this peanut!”

    The Angels finally got on the board in the fifth inning when Juan Rivera hit this double to deep LCF…

    25 - juan rivera doubles to LF in 5th.jpg…and then he scored on this bloop single…

    26 - bobby wilson dinks in rbi single in 5th.jpg…by Bobby Wilson.

    The sun was beating down hot (but humidity free) and was tiring out Tim…

    26a - tim cooling off.JPG…finally he agreed to take off his under shirt and go with short sleaves.  It was a good move.  He pepped up almost immediately.

    Not comfortable with a one-run lead, the A’s tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on singles by Daric Barton, Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Kooooooooouzmanoff.

    Torii Hunter grounded out harmlessly  in the sixth…

    27 - torii hunter grounds out in 6th.jpg…Trevor Cahill was cruising.  The A’s offense tacked on another run in the 7th on a sacrifice fly by Jack Cust.

    In the ninth, Cahill turned the ball over to Andrew Bailey…

    28 - Andrew Bailey for save.jpg…who went one, two, three with this swing by Hideki Matsui…

    29 - hideki matsui pops out to end game.jpg…resulting in the final out of the game (a pop out to 3B).

    This was a fun game in some great seats.  We had an usher take out picture before heading out:

    30 - GFS and the Coliseum.JPGThe day was still early and our next game was just over 24-hours and about 400 miles away.  Instead of starting a long drive in the evening, we drove only about 40 miles south to San Jose where we dined at In-N-Out Burger…

    31 - In N Out Palm Tree.jpg…and Tim finally got his picture with a palm tree!

    All around, it was an excellent day.  And we were looking forward to another one the next day at Dodger Stadium, which would be Tim’s 20th MLB stadium.

    2010 Fan Stats:

    10 Games

    12 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)


    32 - weaver piniero wuertz.jpg9 Ice Cream Helmets
    (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Athletics & Nationals)

    25 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 3 Athletics, 1 Angels)

    6 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium)

    9 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

    6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

    4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

     

    2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 1: Angels at Athletics (6/9/10)

    Early in the week as Tim and I were preparing for the third installment of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010, we got Chinese food from the new place in our grocery store.  My fortune cookie was, indeed, prophetic:


    1 - fortune.jpg“Great” enjoyment, actually.

    Let’s get started.

    The plan was to cover seven games in seven days (Wednesday, June 9th through Tuesday, June 15th) at all five MLB stadiums in California.  My dad (a/k/a “Jim” or “Grandpa”) took off driving in his Prius from the Great State of Washington on Tuesday, June 8th.  The next day, Tim and I hopped an airplane out of Philadelphia en route to San Jose, California:

    1a - flying to 2010 Cook GFS Roadtrip.JPGTop Left:  Still in Philadelphia, Tim played in the airport play area.

    Top Right:  Once in the plane, Tim strapped his trusty pillow (named “Pillow”) into the seat belt with him so Pillow would be safe on the journey.

    Bottom Left:  During a stop-over in Dallas, Texas, Tim played in a light room as we waited for our second flight.

    Bottom Right:  Approaching San Jose, we saw a seahorse cloud out of our window.

    Grandpa picked us up in San Jose and we drove up to our hotel in Oakland to relax before our first game.  We’d originally planned for our first game to be on June 10th.  But that game was a 12:30 p.m. start so we had to fly in on the 9th, and the 9th featured $2 tickets at the Oakland-Aladema County Colesium, so we decided to add the June 9th game to our schedule as well.

    Our hotel shuttled us to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stop about 300 yards from the Colesium and we walked the elevated walk-way over to the Colesium:

    2 - Oakland Colesium and razorwire.JPGNow, I like to stay positive on this blog and I intend to do my best here.  But the razor wire lining the fence immediately outside of the Colesium should have been our first clue as to the quality of the stadium.

    Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the game report, I’ll just share with you my conclusion from our two games in Oakland:  plain and simple, the A’s need a new stadium.

    The field of play itself is beautiful.  But everything else about the place is lacking.  Seriously, at times I felt embarrassed for the A’s.  Their team is playing some decent ball this season, but the fans in Oakland deserve better than ownership is giving them at the Colesium (on many different levels).

    That being said, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed these two games with Tim and my dad — even though the games featured two of the Mariners A.L. West opponents (resulting in me wanting both teams to lose).

    Here are some pictures of the outside of the stadium.

    3 - Colesium outside.JPGI don’t think those picture need much explanation.  I’d just note that we walked around the outside looking for a spot to take a picture of “the stadium.”  But everywhere we walked, all we saw was a bottom side of big cement steps.  Seriously, there is nothing that says “MLB Stadium” about the outside of the Colesium.

    One more comment about those pictures, see the kid in the bottom left picture wearing the full Angels uniform?  We saw him both days in Oakland and the kid was decked out in a full, legit-as-they-come Big League Angels uniform.  Undoubtly, a big Angels fan.  Good to see, kid.  I hope he enjoyed his time at the games.

    Here is our first view of the inside of the stadium:

    4 - welcome to the Colesium.JPG

    Straight away (by the “WELCOME” sign) is the field level concourse.  This entry brings you in around the seats behind 1B.

    We entered the stadium and headed over to the RF foul territory to watch some BP.  This was our view:

    5 - colesium RF foul panorama].jpgWe didn’t stay there very long.  As we were standing along the 1B foul line…

    6 - Gpa in Oakland.JPG…we saw former Mariner Joel Piniero hanging out in deep RCF.  My dad decided to go up to the RF bleachers.  In the picture above, my dad is standing under the top yellow arrow.  Piniero was hanging out (off camera) by the tip of the lower yellow arrow.

    This was my Dad’s view from the deep RCF portion of the bleachers:

    6a - dads BP view from bleachers.jpgSoon, Piniero made a high toss up and my Dad came away with the first baseball of the 2010 GFS Roadtrip.  Finding the former Mariner, always an excellent plan!

    By the way, on $2 ticket night (which did not include the bleachers), my dad had to talk his way into the bleachers during BP and promise that he would not stay there during the game.  As you’ll see, he kept his promise.

    Tim and I also hung out for a short while down the 1B foul line…

    7 - TJCs in Oakland RF.JPG…soon we headed to the field level seats that wrap around the foul pole, right behind a special BBQ party deck (above to the right).

    This was our view of the field just before a bunch of business people who would never have known they were at a baseball game filed into the party deck, gathered around the bar (to the far right by the yellow cone), and started to chat about everything but baseball:

    8 - colesium RF field HR panorama.jpgThe gates opened 1.5 hours before the game, so BP was already going on when we got into the field.  As we were out in RF, not a single homerun reached the seats (I think in the whole stadium, not just RF).

    But at least one did before we showed up, because a stadium worker came up and gave Tim a BP baseball.  Now, we’re not real “ballhawks” so, you know what, we’re counting this stadium worker ball.  We came to a game.  Someone employed by a MLB team gave us a baseball that had been hit during BP by a MLB player.  So, yep, that counts in our book.

    Something funny happened out there in RF too.  You know how all of the teams have photographers roaming their stadiums to tap you on the shoulder and ask, “Wanna take a picture for the [insert team name’s] website?”  Well, one of those guys approached us in RF.  Although I’ve never purchased one of the pictures, as a general rule, I always say yes.  So the guy sets us up facing the RF seats (back to the field), and prepares to take our picture.  Then the following occurred:

    PHOTO GUY:  “Ready, 1-2-3″

    TIM:  “ICHIRO!!!”

    It was absolutely hilarious.  Everyone in the section (which was about 10 people) and the photographer all cracked up laughing at Tim.

    He took another picture, and Tim yelled “Ichiro!!!” again.

    Just for kicks, to see the (better) picture that the guy took as Tim yelled “Ichiro!!!” at him click here.

    RF was dead so we decided to walk around a bit.  Quickly, we started noticing some odd things about the Colesium.  Here are two of them:

    9 - Oaklands problem seats.JPGLeft:  random blue replacement seats were scattered throughout the green seats.

    Right:  As Tim walked through the seats approaching the 1B (visitors) dugout, we noticed that the springs on many of the seats are worn out.  This results in two things:  (1) the seats stay in the “sitting” position whether or not someone is sitting in the seat and (2) if you try to move quickly through the rows of seats, you will bash your legs on the seats and end up with lots of bruises.

    Despite the many things I thought got in the way of a good fan experience at the Colesium, the field was beautiful (as I already mentioned) and it looked great in photos.  Here is the view from behind home plate:

    10 - colesium home plate field level panorama.jpgNext, we headed into the field level concourse to pick up some dinner.  Generally, I thought the concourse was alright.  I grew up in the Kingdome and I can appreciate a no frills concourse.  There seemed to be a lot of different food options.  So, not bad.  Here is what it looked like:.

    11 - colesium concourse.jpgBut here is the MAJOR problem I had with the concourses:

    12 - oakland concourse up-down.jpgDo you see it?

    The stairs lead up to the 200 level, which I thought was kind of cool.  People in the 200 level can access two different concourses.  But see the open areas on either side of the stairs?  They should be open concourses where fans could watch the game while buying a hot dog (or an ice cream helmet).  But the A’s have put in what appear to be “after market” partitions that block the view of the game for people in the concourses.  On the left, you can see the partition is simply a chain link fence with plastic slats weaved through the fence links.  On the right, the partition is a solid wall that has been bolted into place.

    I have no clue what the A’s were thinking when they put in these partitions.  They are a terrible idea.

    We grabbed some nachos and dollar hot dogs (Wednesday games are $2 tickets and $1 dogs) and headed up a ramp to the 200 level to eat dinner and watch the grounds crew prepare the field.

    This is where the most ridiculous thing ever happened.  This was our view as we sat in the first row of the 200 level (which is ostensibly the upper deck — most of the actual upper deck is “closed”):

    13 - colesium 2nd deck go-eat-elsewhere seats panorama.jpgWe were in the shade and it was already getting cold, but we were enjoying ourselves.  Then, an usher walked over to us from two sections to our right.  What did he want, you ask?  Well, to check our tickets of course!  Yep, it was 6:27 p.m. (I know because I took a picture of the stadium clock right after this happened) and game time was 7:05 p.m., there were approximately zero fans sitting in the entire section (aside from us), and this guy felt the need to walk 150 feet over to check our tickets.  It went like this:

    USHER:  “Can I see your tickets?”

    TODD:  “Our seats are over there (pointing to sunny side of stadium).  We’ve just stopped here to eat our dinner.”

    USHER:  “You have to eat in your own seats.”

    TODD:  “Are you serious, its like an hour before the game.”  (I overestimated a bit, but hey, it was at least 35 minutes before the game and NO ONE was sitting in the whole section).

    USHER:  “Yep.”

    TODD:  “Sweet…”

    I seriously could not believe this.  I’m pretty sure we were the last people to sit on those seats all night.  Here is my theory, if you average a tiny little ittsy-bittsy crowd for each game, you should go out of your way to make sure those fans who do show up have a great time.  And you shouldn’t go out of your way (like 150 feet) to act totally ridiculous to them.

    Disgusted, I took this panorama as we took our forced walk to our own seats…

    14 - colesium 2nd deck home side of 3B dugout panorama.jpg…did I mention this was 35 minutes before the game and there were like…I don’t know, you can estimate for yourself based on the photo…[insert tiny number] fans in the stadium?

    Anyway, we didn’t let this event spoil our nachos…

    15 - nachos in real seats.JPG…and, actually, now we were sitting in the sun.

    Here was our view from our seats in row 10 of section 202 of the Colesium:

    16 - colesium section 202 row 10 seats 7 panorama.jpgAh, yes.  The foul pole obstruction, excellent.  Actually, it wasn’t too bad.  We could all lean a little to the left or right and get a clear view of home plate.

    After finishing our nachos, I left Tim and my Dad at our seats and I took a little tour of the Colesium.

    Our seats were in the 200 level in RF, so I decided that I should head over to the bleachers in RF.  Here is what I saw our my way to the bleachers:

    17 - raiders only.jpgTop Left:  the RF side of the big CF expansion project from however many years back.  I’m not an expert on the Colesium, but my assumption is that they put this in for the Raiders.

    Top Middle:  the LF side of the same thing.

    Top Right:  more of the “LF side of the same thing” showing a weird little astroturf area behind the seats in LF.  I guess they use that for something at Raiders games.

    Bottom Left:  A’s championship flags and the California state flag flying between the RF bleachers and the RF field seats.  As far as I could tell, these (and similar ones in LF) are the only flags at the Colesium.  I didn’t see division standings flags anywhere around the stadium.

    Bottom Middle:  A long concrete hallway that runs the length of the outfield structure.

    Bottom Right:  a nice looking bar area that was not in operation and served only as a walkway from the RF concourse to the OF bleachers.  This bar and a huge congregating room at the back of the OF structure appear to be used only for Raiders games.

    From CF, I took these pictures of Stomper the A’s elephant mascot…

    17a - views from colesium CF.jpg…and Tim and my Dad moments before the singing of the national anthem.  By the way, the San Francisco Giants had the same red cart that Stomper is riding in this picture.

    Here is the view from the second deck in the OF over toward RF:

    18 - colesium RF upper deck panorama.jpgSame from straight away CF:

    19 - colesium CF upper deck panorama.jpgSame from the last OF section in LF:

    20 - colesium LF upper deck panorama.jpgIt was time to head into the infield concourse.  Here is the view of the 200 level concourse in the LF foul corner:

    21 - 200 level concourse RF foul.JPG90% of the upper deck (300 level) of the Colesium is closed for A’s games, you can only get up there right behind home plate.  Everywhere else, you see barricades like this on the stairs up to the 300 level:.

    22 - no trespassing in colesium upper deck.JPGHaving an entire closed down level of your stadium is not ideal.  But at least some of the barricades (e.g., to the left) had nice A’s logos on them.  However, as you can see, other barricades (right) just had green mesh and “no trespassing” signs.

    Here is the view from the back of the section in the LF seats in foul territory:

    23 - colesium LF foul 2nd deck panorama.jpgAnd a little closer to the infield:

    24 - colesium back of 2d deck 3B panorama.jpgLike all other stadiums, the Colesium has some luxury suites.  Unlike other stadiums (I’m guessing), the suites (at least some of them) were empty with their doors propped open…so I took some pictures:

    25 - oakland colesium luxury suites.jpgThat picture is of the last suite on the 3B line.

    Then I came upon one of the coolest parts of the Colesium.  A large section of the second deck behind home plate (between 1B and 3B) is enclosed (i.e., its not an open concourse like everywhere else) and it is called the “West Side Club.”  There is a bar and a restaurant that anyone can go in and visit.  Here is a picture of the bar:

    26 - west side club bar.JPGThat picture might do it justice.  Other than the silly barricade in the bottom left of the picture, it was a really nice looking bar.

    Here is the view from the back of one of the seating areas in the West Side Club restaurant:

    27 - colesium west side club restaurant panorama.jpgNow, here is the funny thing to think about  You will be kicked out of the seats if you try to sit in the wrong seats to eat your dinner 35 minutes before the game when the stadium is essentially empty, but at any time with any ticket you can come and sit in this nice warm restaurant and eat your dinner with no questions asked.

    We’d be back later.

    Coming around the 1B side, I took this panorama from a handicapped seating area just inside of the entrance to the West Side Club down the 1B line:

    28 - colesium west side club handicap accessible seating panorama.jpgBy this time, the game had started and Dallas Braden was on the mound (his mound so don’t cross it!) for the Athletics…

    28a - dallas braden not perfect tonight.jpg…but he was not perfect on this night.

    As I wound back around to the RF seats in the second deck, I came upon one of my favorite parts of the Colesium, a bunch of paintings hanging in the open air concourse down the 1B line:

    29 - colesium art.jpgReally, my favorite thing was the painting of the peanut man.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Mariners peanut man (“The Peanut Man”) Rick Kaminski.  I think characters like The Peanut Man really enhance the fan experience and should be celebrated by the organization.  Someday, I hope the Peanut Man is enshined in the Mariners Hall of Fame.  At minimum, he deserves an awesome painting like this hanging at Safeco Field.  I really hope this peanut man is a real A’s (or Raiders) peanut man — that woul be pretty awesome.

    By the way, the picture of Dallas Braden in the middle is actually on the outfield wall in LF (I just cut and pasted it into that picture of the paintings).

    By the time I got back to the seats, it was cold and windy (despite the sun shining bright on us).  I was not prepared.  It had been a hot day.  In the northeast, when its a hot day, the nasty humidity makes it a hot night and you don’t need to bring jackets, etc. to the game.  Not the case in California.  It got cold and windy and I didn’t have a jacket or a sweatshirt for Tim.  Luckily, my Dad had an adult-sized light jacket for him to wear:.

    30 - cold in the colesium.JPGI truly wanted neither team to win, so I hardly took any pictures of the action.  I did, however, take this picture of Bobby Abreu from our seats in RF:

    31 - bobby abreu.JPGI’ve liked Abreu since his days in Philadelphia.  I met him once and he was really cool.  And he’s one heck of a hitter.

    I was actually more into checking out the stadium than the game itself.  Here is another weird thing that I discovered:

    32 - path to the clubhouse.JPGThere is no direct passage from the dugouts to the clubhouses so the players have to walk through a pathway by the fancy seats behind home plate.  The umpires also enter and exit through this little walkway on the 1B side.

    With Tim warmed up, we were exited to see Stomper come visit the RF seats.  We ran two sections over so Tim could get a picture with him:

    33 - stomper fives.jpgWe like mascots.  And Stomper is a good looking mascot.  After posing for a picture, Stomper played a little “give me five, up high, too slow, down low, too slow!” with Tim.

    Next, Tim and I were off to the kids play area.

    34 - colesium playish area.jpg

    Three words sum it up:  weak, extremely weak.

    Actually, Tim had a lot of fun in the play area, but compared to other stadiums (like Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.) this place just does not cut the mustard.  First off, you had to pay for the little rides with tokens that I never even saw where to get them.  And at least one of the rides was broken down.  The actual playset looked like it should be in a fan’s backyard, not at a MLB stadium.  To see what a real MLB quality playset should look like, click here.

    Here is the worst part:

    35 - stompers throne.jpgStomper, as I just said, is a cool MLB mascot.  He’s a legit Big League caliber mascot.  But each game, he has to come sit on this disgusting trash-heap of a “throne” to sign autographs.  Check out the (i) ripped seating area (not just to astrosturf seat, but the padding under it as well), (ii) the pealing striped poles, and (iii) the dirty and pealing baseballs at the top of the columns.

    Worst yet, the whole “throne” shook like it was going to fall apart.

    I was seriously embarrassed for Stomper that the A’s make him sit on this piece of garbage.  He unquestionably deserves better than this.

    After meeting up with my Dad again in our seats, we determined that it was officially freezing cold. We decided to go to the West Side Club.

    We ended up getting a table one row back from the windows…

    36 - west side club for dessert.jpg…and Tim and I got an ice cream helmet for two!  It was $10 and it came with hot fudge and caramel topping, plus whipped cream and cherries on top.  Excellent.

    Here is our glorious jumbo ice cream helmet:

    37 - Athletics helmet.JPGAnd it was warm and toasty in the club.

    While we were in there, two people caught foul balls right outside of our window — within 30 feet from us.  So we headed out there for the end of the game.

    Here was our view from the seats in front of the West Side Club restaurant:

    38 - colesium 2d deck below west side club restaurant panorama.jpgIt was past 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and Tim and I had been awake since about 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time, so he promptly crashed out in a most awkward position in the seats as my Dad and I watched the end of the game:.

    39 - late innings sleeping tim.jpgThe Angels won 7-1 on the strength of a complete game by Joe Saunders and the hitting of Eric Aybar and Torii Hunter.  The A’s did not score their sole run until the bottom of the 9th inning.  The small crowd gave a hearty cheer as the A’s scored and avoided a shutout.

    Since the Angels won, we’d be rooting for the A’s the next day so the teams would split the two games and have little to no effect on the Mariners large hole in the AL West standings.

    With Tim out like a light, an usher took took our picture before we left the stadium:

    40 - calling it a night from the colesium.JPGDespite the Colesium’s and the ushers’ shortcomings, we had a very nice time at our first game on the GFS.  We would be back for more within 12 hours with a new, refreshed  and positive outlook on the Colesium.

    2010 Fan Stats:

    9 Games

    12 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)


    baseball and A's helmet9 Ice Cream Helmets
    (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Athletics & Nationals)

    22 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, Orioles 1, Athletics 1)

    6 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium)

    7 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

    6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

    4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park) 

    The Orioles Visit Red Sox Park at Nation Yards (6-5-10)

    June is going to be a busy month for me and Tim.  Ten games at seven stadiums.  And it all kicked off on June 5, 2010 at Camden Yards.  The Orioles would be visiting the home team Red Sox, or so it would seem.

    At our last game at Camden Yards, we met MLBlogger Avi Miller (who has a new website and is pictured under the yellow arrow)…

    1 - camden numbers and babe.jpg…and we met up with him (and a couple other Camden Yards regulars) at the CF gate.  Before we found Avi, Tim got his picture with Cal Ripkin, Jr.’s No. 8, Babe Ruth, and Brooks Robinson’s No. 5.  If you look back at this entry from last season, you’ll see that the O’s replaced/upgraded the number statues from last season — so maybe some good came of those hooligans stealing the Ripkin’s 8 last season.

    We chatted with Avi and the guys before the gates opened and then Avi got us into the main section of the stadium with the other season ticket holders while the rest of the people had to stay in CF and RF for the first half hour.

    Thanks, Avi!

    Aside from just having a great time and making good memories, my main goal of the day was to get Tim’s picture with a Red Sox player.  I was hoping for Adrian Beltre.  So while everyone else ran to LF, we made our way around to the 3B dugout.  On the way, this guy…

    2 - O's baseball giver.JPG…flipped a stray baseball up to us.

    Thanks, that guy!

    The entire Red Sox team was stretching by the 3B dugout:

    3 - red sox stretching at camen yards.jpgThere are plenty of Red Sox that I don’t know, but without checking the roster I can make out Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilus, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Bill Hall.

    After the O’s cleared off the field, the Red Sox scattered all over the place.  Beltre and Youk played catch right next to Cameron and Hall:

    4 - beltre cammy catch.JPGI had forgotten that Cameron was on the BoSox.  Talk about a good guy, people in Seattle can’t get enough of Mike Cameron.  I didn’t envy him coming into Seattle as Griffey’s replacement in 2000, but the guy pulled it off with flying colors.  Over his 4 or so years in SeaTown, he was generally loved by all and it was sad to see him go.

    When he saw us in our M’s gear, it wasn’t hard to flag him down and get this picture:

    5 - mike cameron.JPGHe asked if we were from Seattle (I think I said “yes” despite the fact I lived in PA the entire time he played for the Mariners) and I thank him for all that he did for the team.  He was very nice.  We parted ways with a hand shake.

    My next goal was to see if we could flag down Daisuke Matsuzaka with a courteous “Sumimasen” like we did with Takashi Saito a couple weeks before in Pittsburgh… 

    7 - daisuke and okajima.JPG…interestingly, Daisuke was totally unphased and didn’t even bat an eye at our “Sumimasen, Daisuke-san”; however, Hideki Okajima kept looking over at us with a smile after we spoke to Daisuke.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure who he was at the time (I figured it out by zooming in on his glove and taking a picture of his name stitched on the side).  Once I figured it out, Okajima was soon gone.

    By the way, click on that last picture and check out Daisuke’s crazy camo-patterned glove.

    Although Daisuke didn’t respond to us when we addressed him in Japanese, he soon came over and started signing autographs (lots and lots of autographs)…

    8 - daisuke matsuzaka autograph ball.jpg…including this one for Tim.

    After getting Daisuke’s autograph there were about 20,000 (all Red Sox fans) in the stadium already for BP, so we decided to do something we’ve never done before:  we toured the Camden Club at the top of the Warehouse.

    We never knew you could get up there until Zack Hample told us about it at our last game at Camden Yards…he’d never known about it himself until Matt Hersl (who we met at the gate with Avi) told him about it that same day.  Here is the view from the 8th floor bathroom (note the reflection of my jersey in the window): 

    9 - camden camden club bathroom panorama.jpgHere, Tim checks out the view from the lobby on the seventh floor:

    10 - camden club 7th floor lobby window.JPGThe Camden Club is a bar and restaurant that seems to be primarily on the 8th floor but also is on part of the 7th floor.

    Here is the view from the lobby on the 7th floor:

    11 - camden camden club 7th floor lobby panorama.jpgHere is some art hanging in the 7th floor lobby…

    12 - camden club art.jpg…that picture on the right is painted on old Orioles baseball cards.

    The view from the 8th floor lobby:

    13 - camden camden club 8th floor lobby panorama.jpgHere are some random pictures from inside the club:

    14  - camden club stuff.jpgTop left:  2131 sign and picture of Ripkin after breaking Lou Gehrig’s streak.  I’m wondering if these are the actual numbers that were unveiled on the Warehouse wall that famous night?

    Top right:  the pattern on the floor throughout the Camden Club.

    Bottom left:  a cartoon drawing of the plans for Camden Yards (I think).

    Bottom right:  picture of olden times Baltimore players (hanging on 8th floor) and doors with BCB logo (on 7th floor).

    Here is the view from the far end of the Camden Club, right next to the kitchen (8th floor):
    15 - camden camden club 8th floor RF corner panorama.jpgWhen we passed on the elevator and someone got out, Tim just had to go check this out on the second floor (and the elevator operator kindly let us do it):

    16 - second floor of warehouse.JPGNext, it was time to earn some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

    17 - mygameballsdotcom headband.jpgI said, “Tim, look cool.”  And this is what he came up with.

    Next, it was time for some pregame bouncy house jumping followed by some hitting on the air tee…

    18 - camden grand salami time.jpg…Tim hit a laser line drive straight through the “Grand Slam” hole at the middle top that got a couple of the parents waiting in line with their kids all fired up.  Tim got a kick out of being cheered by strangers.  He ran over and gave me a big jumping high five.

    He was burning up (it was ridiculously hot and humid) so it was time to find some shade and eat some nachos:

    19 - nacho time 6-5-10.JPGRight before the game started, we headed to the 1B line to see if Tim could get his picture with a Oriole…

    20 - orioles rejection.JPG…in the bottom left you can see Tim getting rejected by Corey Patterson.  He came over to sign a couple autographs.  Tim was all set up on the wall.  All Corey had to do was lean in after signing another kid’s autograph.  But he said, “Sorry, I can only sign a few autographs” and ran off.  Bummer.  Our “Tim with an Oriole” quest remains unfulfilled.

    It was game time.

    We headed out to the RF flag court.  Tim was on my shoulders munching on peanuts and littering my head and shoulders with peanut debris.  A couple fans came over to tell me I was covered in shells, just in case I hadn’t noticed the monsoon of shells raining down from above.

    I couldn’t get a good action shot of Pedroia or Youkilus in the first…

    21 - bosox in top of first.JPG…but I did get Youk pulling into second for his first double of the night.

    The BoSox (and the O’s) would go scoreless in the first, as well as the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.  I was a stellar pitchers dual between Jon Lester and Jeremy Guthrie for most of the game.

    If you’ve read this blog before, you might have noticed the occassional comment from “Teemo” and my exchanges with him where I will sign as “Todd (PA)” and he will sign as “Todd (HI).”  Todd lives in Hawaii with his wife, Grace, daughter, Jessica, and son, Timothy (or Teemo).

    You got that?  Todd (HI) has a son Tim (HI).

    Anyway, I knew the Hawaiian Todd and Tim would be at this game — they were in the middle of a monster baseball roadtrip built around a wedding — but I had no clue what they looked like…so it was up to them to find us.

    And they did.  Here we are in the RF flag court:

    22 - Tims and Todds.JPGFather Todds and Son Tims.

    Let me tell you, if you get a chance to hang with these dudes for a couple innings, definitely do it.  They’re pretty awesome.

    They actually brought Tim a little gift bag with a U.H. Rainbows T-Shirt, U.H. Rainbows baseball (pictured at bottom), and some yummy Hawaiian goodies (I snuck a bite or two when Tim (PA) was looking the other way!).

    We hung out with Todd (HI) and Tim (HI) from the bottom of the first until about the fifth inning…when we were all out of water and risked dehydration if we didn’t go for a refill.

    Before our water ran out, Todd (HI) and I had a great chat while Tim (PA) and Tim (HI) played baseball like crazy…

    23 - teemo tim catch.JPG…first they played catch with a ball that Tim and I like to bring to games and then (after and usher told us the O’s had been sued when someone played catch and got hit with a ball…so we had to stop) they played imaginary baseball (see bottom right with Tim (HI) pitching to Tim (PA)).

    They had an absolute blast.

    But as I said, we ran out of water and had to go for a re-fill.  So we split up (they went and got some food and briefly visited their seats) and planned to meet up again later in the game.

    We grabbed Tim an ice cream helmet…

    24 - robins ich and lester.JPG…and grabbed some ice cream seats in the RF upper deck seats.  They really are excellent seats up there.  I always enjoy going up there.

    Meanwhile, it was still a pitchers dual.  In the top of the seventh YOUUUUUUUUUUK stepped to the plate and shortly thereafter stepped on the plate and returned to the dugout after his go-ahead homerun:


    25 - YoukBomb.JPGGuthrie escaped the inning without anymore damage.

    Shortly after snapping this post-ICH picture…


    26 - ice cream face 6-5-10.JPG…we headed back down to the RF flag court.

    Check out this SRO crowd…

    27 - packed flag court 6-5-10.JPG…it was at least four people deep across the flag court!  Crazy business!

    The O’s loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th, but Corey Patterson couldn’t come through with the big hit — possibly karma for denying Tim’s picture request?  I guess we’ll never know.

    Soon, we met up with Todd (HI) and Tim (HI) again, and they were joined by younger sister Jessica.  The Tims and Jessica had a blast and must have each burned at least 1,000 calories running all over the flag court.  They played a lot of imaginary baseball, and I was quite happy with all of the pro-Griffey comments that Tim’s T-shirt drew from the mostly-Boston based crowd.

    In the ninth, we headed into the infield to see if the kids could get baseballs from the umpire (Victor Carapazza).  During the top of the ninth, the Todds stood in the cross aisle (they just don’t care what you do in Baltimore, its great) and the kids sat in the back row cheering like mad…

    28 - energetic indecisive cheering section.JPG…they were the most indecisive cheerers ever.  “GO RED SOX!  WIN RED SOX!  LOSE RED SOX!  GO ORIOLES!  GO ROBINS! (that’s what Tim (PA) calls the O’s)  LOSE ROBINS!  LOSE RED SOX!  LOSE ROBINS!  GO ROBINS!”

    The Red Sox had added a run and led 2-0 after 8 innings.

    Pedroia came to bat in the ninth and whiffed on this pitch…

    29 - pedroia lunging whiff.JPG…but then he connect for a foul ball that was heading right to me!!!!  It was a looping pop up.  I ran a couple feet to our right (toward RF).  It was coming down fast and was going to land right at the back of the cross aisle.  But 20 feet right above me, it clanked off of a advertisement that hang off of the second deck and bounced into the field level seats.

    Ah!!!  So close, but so far away.

    Pedroia would eventually strike out.  But YOOOOOOOOUUUUUUK would not.  He hit another double (on this swing):

    30 - DoubleYouk.JPGThe damage was done.  With Youk’s double, the Red Sox had scored 6 runs in the top of the ninth to take a commanding 8-0 lead.

    All that was left was three outs for the O’s.  For those outs, our view looked like this:

    31 - camden umpires tunnel panorama.jpgThey must have been good seats because all the guys sitting in front of us were scouts:

    32 - scouts.JPGThe guy in the yellow shirt worked for the Marlins.  I asked him what clubs the other two guys worked for and he responded, “other teams.”  Ah, other teams.  Just as I had suspected.

    This was our view of the dugouts:

    33 - bosox o's dugouts.JPGAnd this is what the kids (and part of Todd (HI)’s face) looked like:

    34 - kids behind home.JPGYes, the were still having a blast.

    And why not when your view of a MLB ball game looks like this?

    35 - cant beat it view.JPGThe O’s mounted a mini-come back…

    36 - Os mini-come back.JPG….but they needed 8 runs and all they could muster were 2.  The final score:  8-2 for the Red Sox.

    Once the final out was recorded, the kids snugged up to the umpire tunnel in time to watch Carapazza go sailing by us without so much as a look.  But then, after passing us, Carapazza turned around and pointed at Tim and called out, “For the little guy.”  Then, he chucked a baseball at us with gusto.  I had to back hand it with my bare glove hand so it wouldn’t smack Tim (PA) in the face.

    Jessica and Tim (HI)?  Denied by Carapazza.

    No fun.

    They had missed BP because they had a long drive in from Pittsburgh.

    So, Tim (PA) decided to give his umpire ball to his new buddy Tim (HI) and the two Tims showed off their prizes for the camera:

    37 - Teemo Tim Baseballs.JPGWe had an excellent time meeting and hanging out with our new Hawaiian friends.  Once we met up with Todd (HI)’s wife, Grace, we got a picture of the six of us:

    38 - C&S and dixons.JPGApparently, Tim (PA) thought his head was out of the shot, so we contorted to get closer to the group.

    On our way out of the stadium, I had to take our new friends to see a historical landmark…

    39 - pointing at griffs warehouse ball.jpg…the marker for Ken Griffey, Jr’s mega-blast from July 12, 1993 — still the only ball to ever hit the Warehouse in the air.

    Chalk this one up as another excellent night at the ballpark.

    A big thank you to Todd (HI) and family for helping us record more excellent memories.  We can’t wait to cross paths again.  And a big, huge thank you for the wonderful and thoughtful Hawaiian goody bag.

    2010 Fan Stats:

    8 Games

    10 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays and Red Sox; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

    8 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, & Nationals)

    21 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, Orioles 1)

    5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC
    40 - daisuke and hawaii balls.JPGPark)

    7 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

    6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

    4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

     

    [We are currently on The Third Annual Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.  We’ll be hitting 7 games in 7 days in 5 stadiums.  I will be slooooow to post entries because we will be on the go constantly.]

    Ryan Rowland-Smith, C&S Hall of Fame (2010)

    Last season, I created the Cook & Son Hall of Fame and inducted Mariners bullpen catcher and former big leaguer Jason Phillips as the first member as a way to honor and say thank you to Phillips for being so incredibly nice to me and Tim and making the 2009 season extra special.

    In May, I mentioned in a entry about our first Mariners game of the season (and our last game ever seeing Griffey play) that I we had an amazing interaction with Mariners pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, which followed an amazing interaction that we had with him last September in Toronto.  Since that game in Baltimore, I have had plans to induct RRS as the second member of the C&S Hall of Fame, like Phillips based on his going above-and-beyond the call of duty in terms of fan friendliness.

    But, in the meantime, my favorite player of all-time (and Tim’s second favorite behind Ichiro), Ken Griffey, Jr. retired.  I have known all along that I would induct Griffey into our little Hall of Fame as soon as he retired, as the first player to go into the C&S HOF based on his on-field achievements.   So, with his sudden (and personally sad) retirement, Griff jumped RRS in order of induction.

    But now it is RRS’s turn.

    Without further adieu, Tim and Todd Cook are happy to announce the induction of Ryan Rowland-Smith as the third member of the C&S Hall of Fame, and the second member inducted based on above-and-beyond the call of duty fan friendliness:

    RRS C&S HOF Plaque.jpgLet’s recount the extreme coolness of Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.

    Our first encounter with RRS came in August 2007 at Tim’s second career Mariners game and first career road game.  It took place at Baltimore’s Camden Yards (at a time when they had no ice cream helmets!) and it was very brief.  RRS pitched 1 innng in relief as the Mariners extended their record to 2-0 in Tim’s two Mariners games.

    In 2009, Tim hit his stride as a baseball fan.  He was finally old enough and had enough energy to go to batting practice and still stay awake for an entire MLB game.  By September, we had collected a bunch of baseballs from BP, many tossed up to us by our beloved Mariners.

    But there was one problem.  All of the baseballs had either been tossed to me or handed to Tim.  This made Tim feel downright childish (of course, he was only 3 years old).  Late in the season, he started telling me that HE wanted to catch a baseball at  game.  My thought was that I could get Jason Phillips help us with Tim’s request.

    So we headed to Toronoto in late September 2009 with a goal of having Tim catch a baseball in his own glove, most likely thrown by Jason Phillips.  But there was no BP!  So when I ran into and chatted with Phillips before the game, Tim was off in the kids play area with his mom.

    Tim and my wife joined me in the field level seats shortly thereafter and we hung out and watched a bunch of the Mariners pitchers warm up.  Enter Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.

    After playing catch with Garrett Olson, RRS set his glove down right by the foul line and headed over to the seats to sign some autographs.  I could see that his warm up baseball was in his glove.  When he got to us, I asked him if we could get our picture with him.  He was extremely nice and was more than happy to pose for this picture:

    14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgWhile setting up that picture, I asked RRS if he would throw the ball in his glove to Tim.  He agreed.  Now, this next sentence I have re-written about 10 times and just can’t properly convey the feel.  But I was struck by RRS’s tone and demeanor during this exchange.  He conveyed the feeling that there never could be any doubt about my request, of course Tim had to have that baseball.

    In the pictures below, RRS had just retrieved the ball from his glove and thrown it to Tim.  But Tim dropped it!  RRS picked it up and signed it and handed it back to Tim:

    15 - fun with RRS.jpgRRS then went on signing.  He was still standing right next to us when someone didn’t have a pen.  He asked if anyone had a sharpie.  At the same time, Tim told me he was sad because he didn’t catch the ball.  I handed a pen to RRS and asked him if he would re-throw the ball to Tim so he could try to catch it again.

    Of course, he would.  He signed the girl’s baseball and then grabbed Tim’s baseball, walked all the way across the warning track, and tossed it to him again.  And Tim caught it!  It was a great moment made possible by one incredibly nice Aussie.

    I should mention that at some point during these exchanges with RRS, I told him that it was excellent that he was No. 18 and I mentioned that I was No. 18 when I played baseball.  In fact, I am still to this day No. 18 in my softball league.

    He asked me why I liked 18.  I didn’t have a good answer.  I just do.  I think the genesis of it was that I just thought it was a cool looking number on the back of Darryl Strawberry’s jersey back in the day.  He didn’t mention why he picked 18, but I later read on his (now inactive) blog that the M’s just gave him the number and he thought it was cool because the best pitcher on a team in Japan is usually No. 18.  I have no clue if that is true, but I do note that Diasuke Matsuzaka wears No. 18.  (I just found this blog entry on this topic).

    Anyway, lets fast forward to March 2010.  Spring Training was in full swing.  I was busy planning out our 2010 baseball season.  One of the topics on my list was to figure out my 2010 game uniform.  If you haven’t noticed, I wore essentially the exact same thing to every game in 2009:  green cargo shorts, button up M’s jersey, M’s official 2009 game undershirt, and white/blue M’s hat).  I was wondering if I should switch it up for 2010.  I think I must have been watching an M’s spring training game on MLBNetwork at the time with RRS pitching or maybe I was watching an internet video clip interview of RRS.  Whatever I was watching, I got a flat out ridiculous idea.

    In my defense, it was probably really late at night and I was probably really tired.  But whatever the reason, I typed out the following letter to RRS:

    RRS letter3-8-10.jpgThe next day, I went to package up the letter in an envelope and send it off to the Mariners spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona.  A little embarrassed, I showed it to my wife and we agreed there was a essentially a 100% chance that I would never hear anything from RRS in response to the letter.

    I mailed it off, didn’t tell anyone else about it, and went on living life.

    Eventually, we met up with the Mariners in Baltimore for the first time of the 2010 season.  It was a damp May day with no BP.  So we had a lot of time to kill before the game started.   Tim was sitting on my shoulders as we stood in the CF seats just watching the activity around the ballpark.

    Soon, RRS came walking from the dugout through CF.  He was on his way to the bullpen:



    1a - RRS intended route.jpgI’d basically forgotten about the letter.  Not really forgotten that I sent it, but figured it was a moot point and a done deal.  I’d already noticed on TV that the Spring Training jerseys were also being used as the M’s BP jerseys.  So weeks earlier when I noticed that fact, I officially gave up any hope (not that I ever actually had any) of my letter bearing fruit.

    I had just read on his twitter page (@hyphen18) that he’d buzzed his hair.  He was about 100 feet away when I called out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”   Without looking up, he laughed and took off his hat.  Then he put his hat back on and looked up at us.  Instantly…and I mean instantly (no hesitation whatsoever)…he pointed at us and exclaimed, “Oh, hey, man!

    He changed his course and started walking over to us:

    1b - RRS actual route.jpgAs he stood below us…

    2 - hyphen18.JPG…we shared (approximately) the following exchange:

    RRS:  You wrote me that letter (sizing up a sheet of paper with his fingers), right?

    TODD:  Yeah!

    RRS:  Sorry, I didn’t get back to you.  I didn’t know how to get a hold of you.

    [NOTE:  If you are a professional baseball player, you should not feel obligated to apologize for not getting in touch with some random dude who asks (literally) for the shirt off of your back!  Seriously, RRS is ridiculously nice!]

    RRS:  So, whats the deal?  I mean, do you still want it?

    TODD:  ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!?  Of course, I do!  Oh, my gosh.  Are you serious!?  I sent the letter but never thought there was any chance you would actually say yes!  I mean the letter was ridiculous!

    RRS:  Oh, no.  No problem, man.

    [NOTE:  This conversation had a very similar vibe to the “could you throw Tim that baseball” discussion.  The vibe was almost like, “Hey, you asked for my jersey, of course I’m gonna give it to you.  Why would you ever doubt it?”].

    RRS:   Okay.  Well, where are you going to be?

    TODD:  (not really understanding the question)  I don’t know, here?  Wherever you need me to be?

    RRS:  Will you be in Seattle at all?

    TODD:  Yeah, but not until the very end of the season.  We’re coming in for the last series of the season to be there in case Griff retires.

    [NOTE:  I really wanted to be at his final game, and this actually ended up being the last time we saw Griff play].

    RRS:  Why don’t we meet up there?  I only have one of them.  So I can’t give it to you or I won’t have one.  But if we’re in Seattle I can just get a new one.

    TODD:  Oh, yeah.  I noticed they are your BP jerseys.

    RRS:  Yeah.  So I need it for BP.  But I can just get a new one if we’re in Seattle.

    We chatted a little more, but I can’t really remember what exactly we said.

    About half an hour later…

    2 - tim and RRS 5-11-10.JPG…we ran into each other in the infield and RRS posed for another picture with Tim and we chatted again briefly.

    After this game, I was estatic.  WOW!  Ryan Rowland-Smith said he would give me his jersey!  I mean, that’s ridiculous.  I couldn’t wait!  Ah, I wasn’t going to be in Seattle until the end of the season!

    I decided I should make this as easy as possible for RRS.  Ideally, I wanted to get it straight from him at the ballpark.  But that could be complicated.  So I sent him another letter thanking him for being so incredibly nice and generous and awesome.  I included a stamped return envelope (a big one) in case he just wanted to mail the jersey.  I also gave him a list of all of the Mariners games we would be in attendance for over the rest of the season.

    Within one week from mailing that letter, my wife called me at work to let me know that I got a big envelope with my own writing on it.  I couldn’t wait to get home that night!

    Care to guess what was in that package?  Yep, my new official Ryan Rowland-Smith AUTOGRAPHED spring training / batting practice jersey…

    mail from RRS.jpg…AMAZING!

    The jersey, by the way, is HUGE!  Size 52!  RRS is 6’3″ and I am a mere 5’11”.  He needs a lot more fabric to cover his frame!  If untucked, the jersey is like a dress on me.

    Here are some screen shots of RRS wearing the jersey during spring training 2010:

    spring training.jpgAnd here I am playing the role of RRS while pitching to Tim in our backyard:

    june training.jpgI’ve had the jersey about a week and a half now and I still cannot believe it.  Who has ever thought of writing to a professional baseball player and asking for his jersey?  And who has ever heard of it ACTUALLY WORKING!?

    By the way, the jersey has a few small scuffs on the bottom on one side.  I think its cool that it shows some actual “wear-and-tear.”  When I opened it, my wife asked, “Is it all sweaty and dirty smelling?”  The Answer:  No.  It was washed and (as my wife and I have referred to it) “Mariner fresh” smelling!

    THANK YOU, RYAN ROWLAND-SMITH!   (And not just for the jersey, but for being such a down-to-earth, genuine, nice guy).  Best of luck to you for a long and successful career, hopefully all with the Mariners!

    UPDATE:

    In a C&S Hall of Fame first, Ryan Rowland-Smith has issued a brief (140 characters or less) induction acceptance speech via his twitter page:

    “Thank you Cook and Son for my induction into their hall of fame! http://alturl.com/753w enjoy the jersey.”

    Why don’t I just show you it?  Here you go:

    hyphen18 twitter.jpgA very kind gesture, but all the thanks go to RRS.  And a big congratulations for a strong outing yesterday — see the box score here.  Hopefully this outing (five innings, 4 hits and 1 earned run) proves to be the first building block to a successful final four months of the season.

    Ken Griffey, Jr., C&S Hall Of Fame (2010)

    It is with a heavy heart that we say good-bye to Ken Griffey, Jr. the Major League baseball player, but it is with joy and gratitude that we announce the induction of Ken Griffey, Jr. the Baseball Legend into the Cook & Son Hall of Fame:

    Griffey C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

    We are also pleased to announce that the number “24” is officially being retired from this blog, effective immediately — no player will ever again be seen on this blog wearing the number 24:

    24 retired.jpg

    I do not have the time, energy or capability to succintly sum up what Griff has meant to me over the last 22 years.  So I will not even try.

    Instead, I will just leave you with a few parting thoughts:

    I have been watching Griffey play baseball since I was 13 years old, that is two-thirds of my life…

    tjcgriff.jpg
     …without Ken Griffey, Jr., the Mariners would probably be playing in Tampa Florida or some other locale (I don’t care about basketball, but don’t you even think of looking this way, Oklahoma City!)  And that would be unbearably terrible.

    One of the happiest moments of my life was when I saw Griffey hit a meaningless single off of the Green Monster in Boston last season with my son sitting on my shoulders.  Shortly thereafter, Tim and I saw Griff hit his 624th career homerun in Cleveland

    9 - KGJ HR 624.jpgAt the beginning of his career, my dad was driving me to Mariners games to see Griffey play.  At the end of his career, I was driving my own boy to Mariners games to see Griffey play.  This guy has tied the generations together in my family.  Our lives are all a little better because of what he’s done on the baseball field.

    Tonight:  The Cook & Son Hall of Fame.

    6 Years from Now:  The National Baseball Hall of Fame. 
    I guarantee you that we will be there cheering you on once again.

    Thank you, Ken Griffey, Jr.

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