July 2010

Welcome To The Great White North (6/26/10)

On Saturday, June 26, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and drove from our home in Pennsylvania to the Canadian Colony of Citizens Bank Park to see the hometown Toronto Blue Jays take on the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

Due to the G20 Summit being held in the Blue Jays’ customary hometown, the Jays moved this game to their newly conquered southern colony, which is actually situated in the American city of Philadelphia.

This would be our final game of the first half of the 2010 season.  We arrived early for BP in hopes of catching at least one baseball to complete a perfect first half of the season.  When we rolled into the stadium, a situation was brewing that was ideal for our chances at accomplishing a much bigger goal than getting a baseball at this game.  But we’ll get there soon enough.

We entered the stadium through the LF gate and made our way over to section 141 in LF.  This was our view at the beginning of BP:

1 - citz section 141 panorama.jpg
The home team Blue Jays were batting.  The rest of the stadium wasn’t open yet.  The outfield isn’t our strong suit for BP because I don’t like Tim to be exposed to homerun balls wizzing by his head left and right.  Since we were confined to the OF, we hung out near the foul pole where the action was limited.

Tim was feeling like a real big kid because he was sporting the Mariners backpack…

2 - IMG_7956.JPG
…that he got for Christmas from his Uncle Jason and Aunt Alison.

Nothing came too close to us during the beginning of BP.  A few balls were hit into the next section over, but we stayed put and didn’t make any effort to run around for HR balls.

Shortly before the rest of the stadium opened, the ideal situation started to unfold.  The visiting Phillies pitching corps headed out to RF to do some stretching, running and throwing.  Back when this was the Phillies home field, this stretching, running and throwing routine would occur earlier in the day when the rest of the stadium was closed to the fans.  You could only watch from all the way across in LF.

But things had changed in the colony of Citizens Bank Park since the Canadians invaded.  Within minutes of the Phillies pitchers arriving in RF, the yellow-plastic covered chain was lifted and the fans were allowed into the infield and RF portions of the ballpark.

We hurried over to RF.

W
en we arrived along the RF line, my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, was sitting on the ground (next to Roy Halladay, who isn’t too shabby himself) stretching a mere 10-15 feet from us:

3 - Moyer and Halladay stretching.JPG
In that top right photo, Halladay is looking directly at us.  I imagine he was thinking, “Why is this guy taking a picture of me stretching?”  But the joke was on him, I was focused on the MAN, Mr. Moyer.

As he was stretching, Tim and I said, “Hi, Jamie!”

No reaction from Moyer.

Then, all of a sudden, Moyer stood up and walked directly, and I mean D-I-R-E-C-T-L-Y, to me.  I was confused.  Was my favorite pitcher ever coming over to say “hello”?

At the last second before reaching us, Moyer bent down to grab something off of the ground.  I looked down over the wall.  Directly below us was a baseball glove that was spread wide open and it was holding about 10 baseballs.  As Moyer grabbed a baseball, I asked, “Jamie, is there any way we could get our picture with you when you’re done throwing?”  (On our pre-season list of 20 goals for 2010, a picture with Jamie Moyer was goal number 14).

No reaction whatsoever from Moyer.

For half a second, I was a little dissappointed.  I had hoped Jamie would have at least acknolwedged us.  But then I thought about the man he is.  First, it is well-documented that he is one of nicest and most generous guys around — for example, see The Moyer Foundation.  Second, he is able to continue performing at the Major League level at age 47 because he sticks to a training regimine that keeps him in game condition.  So, while I wished my favorite pitcher of all-time could have given us a nod or a quick “hello,” I figured he probably has some hard and set self-imposed policies that he needs to focus on his work during his workout routine and not get distracted by the fans.

Immediately after grabbing a ball from the glove below us, Moyer ran out to shallow RF and started playing catch with Halladay:

4 - Moyer and Halladay tossing.JPG
As I looked around, I noticed a familiar face…

5 - Mike Zagurski.JPG
…Mike Zagurski.  With this BP appearance, Zagurski took the honor of being the first person to ever personally heckle me (and my entire team during an adult recreational softball league game) and then appear on field as a major leaguer during BP.

The heckling came last year while my company softball team was playing the Reading Phillies front office.  The game took place during the AA all-star game and Zagurski had a couple days off.  He chose to spend some of that time watching some softball.  Zagurski and another AA Reading Phillies player heckled our team mercilessly for seven innings.  The best part was their persistent taunting of my then 47-year old opposite-field slap-hitting colleague by referring to him as “Ichiro.”  I was, in fact, quite happy with the Ichiro reference.

Anyway, Zagurski has once again been called up to the big club and this was the first time we’d ever seen him in Philadelphia.

But our focus was Jamie Moyer.  Well, my focus was on Moyer.  Tim focused a little bit on the sun beating down on us.  He asked to leave the field to get out of the sun.  We compromised by having me stand over him and shade him with my body and my large glove over his head.  Before striking the compromise, an usher came up and gave Tim a little plastic Phillies Phanatic figurine, which Tim really liked.

As part of the compromise, we agreed we would relocate to the shade right after Moyer and Halladay finished their throwing.

Roy and Jamie took turns pitching to each other: 

6 - Moyer the flame thrower Halladay the receiver.JPG
Without even discussing it, they both all of sudden knew their routine was complete.  Halladay all of a sudden ran off to the Phillies dugout.  Moyer turned around and threw their warm up ball to “the bucket.” (I guess they had put the Phils bucket out by this time).

I was all set to tell Tim we could head toward the shade when Moyer tossed his ball to the bucket.  I figured Jamie would follow Halladay to the dugout.

I figured wrong.

Instead, he turned around and jogged directly back toward us.  As he coasted into the wall, Moyer asked “So you guys want to get a picture?”

I could not believe it!

How cool is that?!

I was incredibly happy, and a bit flustered.  I reached into my pocket and grabbed my camera.  As I pulled it out, I popped the battery pack and had to put it back together.  I asked a lady if she could take the picture.  She agreed. 

She couldn’t figure out my camera (which is incredibly easy).  It felt like I was wasting tons of Jamie’s time.  I tried to explain it to the lady.

Meanwhile, Jamie quietly chatted with Tim.  He playfully tapped Tim on the top of his hat and asked him if he was from Seattle and if he was a big Mariners fan.

I was very happy to learn that the lady got a shot of Tim and Jamie chatting:

7 - chatting with Moyer.JPG
Finally, she was ready to take our picture…

8 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer1.JPG
…but it didn’t seem like she’d really taken it.  I was wrong, but I just didn’t want to miss this opportunity.  I asked her to try again.  Jamie was super cool.  He just waited and chatted with Tim.

She took another picture…

9 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer2.JPG
…and I could tell she’d successfully got the picture.

I told Jamie how much I appreciated everything he did for the Mariners.  He held out his hand to shake mine.

Did I mention Jamie Moyer is awesome?

As Jamie and I started turning away from each other, several other fans pounced, “Jamie, can you sign this ball, picture, hat, etc., etc.?”

Jamie turned around and ran into the outfield to shag baseballs during the Phils BP, and he was gone.  His trip to the foul line wall was exclusively to meet, greet and pose for pictures with us.

This guy is awesome!

A big, huge THANK YOU, Jamie Moyer!!!

After parting ways with Moyer, we headed to RF so Tim could hang out in the shady back row.   I stood in the row right in front of Tim.  I was hoping I could catch a deep drive.

This was our view from section 105:

10 - citz section 105 panorama.jpg
The guy in the white shirt who is cut in half toward the right side of that picture was the only thing that stood in front of me and my first clean catch BP homerun of the season.  A ball came right to him.  I jumped a row to stand right behind him.  If he wasn’t there, I had it easy.  But I didn’t interfere with him and he made a nice two-handed, bare-handed catch in front of his kids.  Nice job, sir.

Soon, we saw Zagurski all the way across the field in deep LF.  We decided to head over there.  I was thinking it would be pretty cool if we could get a baseball from a guy who had heckled me during a softball game.

Here was our view in foul territory in section 140:

11 - citz section 140 panorama.jpg
…Zagurski and (I think) J. Happ, were standing down there just chatting about pitching:

12 - the softball heckler.JPG
Unfortunately, a Zagurski baseball wasn’t in the cards on this day.

Tim kept entertained by inspecting the foul pole:

13 - checking out the foul pole.JPG
He looked that pole up and down and did some knocking on it.

After Tim finished his foul pole inspection, we were hanging out in the first row in foul territory.  The shade had reached all the way down to the first row, so it was perfect.  All of a sudden a Phillies batter hit a long foul looping line drive toward us.

It was a few rows in front of us and 2-3 seats into the section to our right (section 139).

I did a little diagram to illustrate the crazy path the ball took from the bat to my glove:

14 - crazy hops.JPG
We started in the first row of section 140 at the “T&T.”  I ran across the aisle and into a row of seats.  I took this picture about 10 minutes later.  I don’t think those two people (who I have X’d out) were sitting in those seats (then again maybe they were), but a couple people were sitting in my path.  I couldn’t get to the spot where the ball would land.

I decided to pull up short and hope that it would take a crazy hop toward me, which seemed illogical (in my head it seemed like it would actually hit the seats and bounce back onto the field).  Anyway, it took the crazy jump that we needed it to take.  It bounced all the way over me.

I ran back to the “2″ when the ball took a second crazy bounce.  It jumped off the stairs and zig-zagged to the seats in section 139.  It then bounced over me again.  I went up to the “3.”  The ball clanked off of some seats where people were sitting.  I was sure they would grab the baseball, but no one even made an effort for the ball.

As I swiped at the ball with my glove, it kicked off the seats and headed back over to section 139.  Finally, I grabbed it on yet another bounce at the “4.”

I handed the ball to Tim and a couple people cheered him for getting a baseball.

Tim proudly posed with his baseball and his Tuxedoed Phanatic:

15 - crazy hops ball and tuxedo phanatic.JPG
About 1 minute after I finally grabbed the crazy bouncing ball, the Phillies retreated to the club house and the grounds crew broke down the BP equipment:

16 - good-bye canadian BP.JPG
The crazy boucing ball was the first ball hit anywhere near us in section 140 and it came just in time.

Still flying high on the joy of our Jamie Moyer encounter (and the “icing on the cake” baseball), we headed to the kids play area so Tim could do some pre-game playing.

As usual, on our way over there, the Citizens Bank Park emergency response team…

17 - concourse emergency response.JPG
…was cruising through the concourse down the 1B line with its lights and siren blaring.

After some time in the play area, we started to make our way to our seats.  On the way, we stopped at the speed pitch.  Tim lit up the radar gun…

18 - 20 mph gas.JPG
…with 20 and 21 mph smoking fastballs.  We’ve never even noticed this speed pitch in RF.  It was great.

I took three throws as well including two strikes into the glove of the fake catcher.  I think my fastest pitch was a firey (actually pathetic) 56 miles per hour.  Later, my wife would make fun of me for pitching so slowly.

After pitching, we headed to our seats in section 145, row 10, seats 1-2.

We were joined by my friend Greg and his date, both of whom I failed to take a decent picture.  Despite the lack of photo evidence, they were great seat mates.  Tim had a blast with both of them.

As we reached our seats, the Phanatic was pumping up the crowd in CF:

19 - Phanatic whips crowd into a frenzy.JPG
At the last minute before the game started, Tim and I decided we needed nachos.  This required us to walk around the entire field level concourse.  As we passed by the bullpens in RCF, Jimmy Rollins stepped into the batters’ box to get the action going in the top of the first…


20 - J-Roll Steps In to Lead off game in top of 1st 6-26-10.JPG
…he was facing Shaun Marcum.

We had never sat in LF before at Citizens Bank Park.  I’m not sure why, but they always have ushers checking tickets for people to get into the LF seats.  So we had never even been in the LF seats before other than a couple times passing through during BP.

Behind the LF seats is a restaurant (I guess that’s what you would call it) called Harry the K’s.  Hanging above the Harry the K’s seating area, there are three big paintings that I had never seen before.  I think I have these in the right order.  Closest to the LF foul line, there is this painting of the old-time Phils from the dugout…

21 - from the dugout painting Harry the K's.JPG
 
…looking out over Connie Mack Stadium a/k/a Shibe Park, the Phillies home from 1927-1970.

In the middle is this picture of a Phillies batter rounding first base…

22 - rounding first painting Harry the K's.JPG
…at Citizens Bank Park, which before this series had been the Phillies home ballpark from 2004 through 2010.

Finally, closest to LCF is this painting from the cheap seats…

23 - from upper deck painting Harry the K's.JPG
…looking down on Veterans’ Stadium, the Phillies home from 1971 through 2003.

Finally, we got to our seats.  This was our view of the closest player, Phillies left fielder and former Mariner Raul Ibanez…

24 - view of Rauuuuuul Ibanez 6-26-10.JPG
…and looking toward CF, here was our view of Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino:

25 - view of Shane Victorino 6-26-10.JPG
And here was our view of the entire stadium from section 145, row 10, seat 1:

26 - citz section 145 row 10 seat 1.jpg
On Cole Hamel’s fourth pitch to the second batter in the home half of the second inning, Blue Jays catcher John Buck got the scoring going with a 2-run homerun right down the LF line.  This would be a Blue Jays trend for the day.

Trailing 2-0 in the top of the third inning, Ryan Howard grounded out weakly…

27 - Ryan Howard grounds to 2B in top of 3rd 6-26-10.JPG
…to second base.

In the third inning, Jays’ slugger Adam Lind duplicated Buck’s blast.  After Lind deposited his own homerun in the seats down the LF line, the Jays lead 3-0.

The visiting Phillies went all out on the entertainment front.  They brought their mascot, the Phanatic on the roadtrip (as previously noted above).  Between innings at one point, the Phanatic and a muscle man tried unsuccessfully to lift a big huge weight.  Finally, this strong little boy showed them how it is done:

28 - the strong kid.JPG
It was almost time for the visiting Phillies to get in on the scoring.  But first, the Jays needed to hit another homerun right down the LF foul line.  Their third such homerun of the day came off of the bat of Alex Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth inning and it scored both Gonzalez and Fred Lewis.

Things were looking good for the hometown Blue Jays.  They had a comfortable 5-0 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.

That is when visiting Ryan Howard launched a homerun into the batters’ eye in deep CF.  Here is Howard rounding third…

29 - Ryan Howard scores on HR in top of 6th 6-26-10.JPG
…and scoring the only Phillies run of the day (and the final run of the game).

 As we sat in our LCF seats in section 145, I had time to look around and see the sights.  We weren’t far from Ashburn Alley, but I had never noticed the little directional arrows on the Ashburn Alley street sign…

30 - Ashburn Alley sign.JPG
…a .308 career average to the left and 2,574 career hits to the right.  Those are the key numbers that (after never earning more than 41.7% of the writers’ vote in 15 years on the ballot) earned Richie Ashburn a spot in Cooperstown via the 1995 Veterans’ Committee vote.

Late in the game, the Canadian government sent down some of their Royal Canadian Mounted Police (a/k/a Mounties) to watch closely over the visiting Phanatic as he danced on top of the visitors’ dugout…

31 - The Mounties and the Phanatic.JPG
…one inappropriate gyration and the Mounties no doubt would have hauled the Phanatic off in cuffs.

Late in the game, I noticed “The Heckler” warming up in the visitors bullpen:

32 - Zagurski warms in bullpen 6-26-10.JPG
Soon, Zagurski became the first person to personally heckle me at a recreational league softball game…

33 - Mike Zagurski 6-26-10.JPG
…and then go on to appear in a MLB game at which Tim and I were in attendance.  The Heckler pitched one scoreless inning.

The Phillies could not mount a comeback and fell to the Blue Jays 5-1.

After the game ended, someone took a shot of Tim and me at the front of section 145:
34 - TJCs in section 145 6-26-10.JPG
And to cap off the great day at the ballpark, we headed over to the LF line and Tim got his picture…

35 - Brittany the rookie ballgirl.JPG
…with rookie ballgirl, Brittany, who was “playing” in just her second game since being called up to the Show.  Like Bridgette the week before, Brittany also gave Tim an autographed baseball card.

So
it was a great day highlighted by our brief time with Jamie Moyer.  I’m still super excited about getting to meet, shake hands, chat, and get a picture with my favorite pitcher of all-time and the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.

Thanks, again, Jamie Moyer!!!

Due to the impending birth of Tim’s new little brother, Kellan, this would be our last game for almost a month (this is also why I am wearing a bluetooth device in my ear in all of these pictures — so I wouldn’t miss the call if Colleen called during the game).  It was a great way to finish off the first half.  Hopefully the second half will be as much fun as the first half.

2010 Fan Stats:

17 Games

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

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

36 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays,

36 - phanatic phils bp ball.jpg
5 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)

12 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia (6/20/10)

I really wanted to go to a Twins game this season so we could try to get one of those fancy “Target Field” commemorative baseballs.  We had tickets to the Friday, June 18th game, but it was too soon after our return from the roadtrip.  Finally, I found $12/ticket SRO tickets on Stubhub to the Sunday, June 20, 2010 game.

I didn’t realize (I am generally terrible at tracking “holidays”), but June 20th was fathers’ day.  What better way to spend fathers’ day than at a ballgame with your son, right?

Upon entering the stadium, we discovered there was no BP.  The The quest for a Target Field baseball was not looking good.   We headed to the LF foul corner in hopes of getting a toss up from one of the several Twins playing catch in LF.

The quest was looking a little better when we got the corner spot down the 3B line.  Perfect.  It looked like this:

1 - citz bank section 138 row 1 panorama.jpgBut the Twins weren’t in the toss-up mood.  Also, I could tell that none of them were using Target Field baseballs. 

Oh, well.

It was already hot, and Tim hates the sun, so we took off and headed over to the kids’ play area.

When we got to the play area, Tim modeled the Phillies “sarge” hat give away:

2 - sarge hat.JPGThen, like he tends to do, he set up his shop…


3 - buy something.JPG…where Tim will sell you almost anything (french fries, bananas, whatever) through those little holes in the plexi-glass.

Tim’s last MLB kids’ play area was at the Oakland Colesium where the play area is rather blah’ish.  But there is no blah in Philadelphia.  Check it out:

4 - fun time in phila.JPGBy the way, in the bottom right, Tim’s left hand is giving a thumbs up, but his right hand is actually pointing (with his thumb) at the little metal ball that he successfully maneuvered to the middle of the puzzle.

After some playtime, we headed out to RCF to watch Roy Halladay warm up…

5 - halladay vs pavano.JPG…Carl “The ‘Stache” Pavano was also warming up (in the middle picture ‘Stache is rubbing up his warm up baseball with some warning track dirt).

As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:

6 - OF tossing.JPGAs we watched Halladay in the OF, some Twins player (I’m guessing a rookie reliever) walked by with a Monkey back pack…

7 - monkey pack.JPGExcellent, guy.  We loved it!

Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:

8 - halladay and pavano bullpen.JPGHalladay was looking strong:

9 - halladay motion.JPGActually, you should see it for yourself:

Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:

10 - pavanostache.JPGHalladay finished up first and headed to the dugout:

11 - halladay ready.JPGWe headed up to the upper deck in deep RCF…

12 - citz pen from above.JPG…where we continued to watch Pavano warm up from above:

13 - pavano penwork.JPGIn all of Tim’s games at Citizens Bank Park, we’ve never hung out in the upper deck in RF.  Today, was the day.

We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:

14 - nachos behind SRO Upper RCF.JPGThat is where we were in the top of the first when Joe Mauer hit this single…

15 - Joe Mauer singles off Roy Halladay.JPG…off of Roy Halladay.  Orlanda “O-Dog” Hudson had stolen second during this at bat and he scored easily on Mauer’s single to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead.  That score would hold up until the fifth inning.

After the first, we aimlessly walked back and forth a bit in the OF concourse.  I took this random shot of the concourse…

16 - Citz Upper RF corner concourse.JPG…where the upper deck bends from fair to foul territory.

Eventually, Tim and I headed up into the upper deck seats in section 301, the deepest part of the ballpark.  This was the view from almost the very top of the stadium:

17 - citz bank section 301 panorama.jpgWhile up there, I took a shot of Tim…

18 - TJCs in Citz RCF Upper Deck.JPG…and then one of the “Fan Photos” camera people took a picture of both of us.  In that picture, I am wearing Tim’s hat on top of my hat.  While we were eating nachos, Tim took off his hat and I put it on top of mine for safe keeping.  However, after taking these pictures, I looked at Tim and became alarmed.  “Oh, no!  Where did your hat go, Tim,” I asked?  “Its on top of your head, silly daddy,” Tim replied.  I’m pretty sure I was wearing double hats for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, we decided to head to the lower level to cool off in the covered concourses and get an ice cream helmet.  Here are some (out of order views) from our walk from RF to home plate and over to 3B in the concourse:

19 - concourse funny faces and siren.JPGIn the left picture, that big photo of Roy Halladay hangs in the concourse just inside of the 1B enterance from Pattison Avenue.  The middle picture shows a John Deere mini-truck with flashing sirens, something we see wizzing through the concourse almost every time we visit Citizens Bank Park.  To the right, the photo of Brad Lidge and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz hangs in the concourse behind home plate.

Finally we made it to the Old City Creamery down the 3B line.  If you are ever in Philadelphia and want the BIGGEST and most sprinkle covered ice cream helmet of all time, make sure that THIS LADY…

20 - Philadelphias best ice cream lady.JPG…around the side corner register at the 3B Old City Creamery makes your helmet.  She always goes crazy with the ice cream and just as crazy with the sprinkles — here is Exhibit 1.  And it was more of the same on this day:


20 - makeshift ice cream seats.JPGAs Tim ate his ice cream helmet (and I knelt next to him helping him), we had possibly the most unique view of the game that we’ve ever had at a big league ball park:

21 - view around old lady.JPGHalladay was looking good as usual.  But so was Pavano:

22 - Pavano working on No-No in 4th 6-20-10.JPGIn fact, the moustached one had a no hitter going into the fourth inning, until he came up against Placido “Here’s One For The Fathers” Polanco, who ripped a single on this one-handed swing:

23 - Placido Palanco singles in 4th 6-20-10.JPGChase Utley followed with a single of his own…

24 - Chase Utley fouls before single in 4th 6-20-10.JPG…but not on this swing.  But it didn’t matter.  Pavano stranded Polanco and Utley on 2B and 1B, respectively.

Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…

25 - Roy Halladay delivers a pitch.JPG…but that did not stop Denard Span from cranking a solo homerun to bring the score to 2-0 Twins.

After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…

26 - Tim and Bridgette ballgirl.JPG…who also gave Tim an autographed ballgirl baseball card.  Tim was pretty bashful about getting his picture with the ballgirl, but after I pointed out how she’d run onto the field to get stray foul balls, he thought it was pretty awesome.  Now, he wants to get his picture with the ballgirls all the time.

After his first ballgirl picture, Tim requested a trip back to the play area.  While we were on our way through the concourse heading over to the play area, Phillies back-up short stop Wilson Valdez poked a solo homerun of his own:

27 - Wilson Valdez scores on homer.JPGBut his run was all the Phils could manage in the bottom of the fifth.  The score was 2-1 Twins.

The play area was PACKED:

28 - back to crowded playarea.JPGIn the sixth inning, the Twins tacked on another run on a single by Jason Kubel.  The run was unearned.

Carl Pavano meanwhile…

29 - Pavano still dealing.JPG…just kept on dealing.

In the top of the 8th, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot to take the score to 4-1 Twins.

That was the score when Shane Victorino grounded out weakly…

30 - Shane Victorino grounds out on a low pitch 6-20-10.JPG…to first base in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Its never a good thing for a team when the opposing starter gets an at bat in the 9th inning, and that is just what happened at this game.  Halladay’s relief, Chad Durbin retired Pavano…

31 - Pavano bats in the 9th 6-20-10.JPG…on a ground out to short stop.

Now, earlier in the game while Tim was eating his ice cream helmet, we got to talking to three guys.  A dad and his teenaged (or maybe young twenties) sons.  It was the usual discussion, they were admiring our Mariners jerseys and telling us they love Griffey.  Out of nowhere, a lady came up to us and handed over 4 tickets to the section immediately behind the 3B dugout.  The lady’s father was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get down to the seats so they were going to hang out in the handicapped area.

The other guys took three of them and said thanks.  I grabbed the fourth ticket knowing we’d never sit there.  But the ticket came in handy in the ninth inning.  They almost always check tickets in the fancy areas at Citizens Bank Park and this ticket would get us down there to try to get an umpire ball at the end of the game.

In the ninth inning, we headed down.  They checked our ticket and waved us down into the fancy seats.  We grabbed some seats in row 11 of section 130.  This was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:

32 - citz bank section 130 row 11 panorama.jpgNot too shabby.

Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:

33 - Tim lounges in the seats.JPGChase Utley couldn’t do anything for the Phillies cause…

34 - Chase Utley about to ground out in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…he grounded out for the second out of the inning.

Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…

35 - Ryan Howard sets up in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…but he extended the game with a single:

36 - Ryan Howard singles in 9th 6-20-10.JPGHoward’s single was too little too late.  Carl Pavano got Werth to pop out to short LF to finish off a complete game victory.  Both Pavano and Halladay moved to 8-6 on the season.

On Werth’s swing, Tim and I scurried down to the first row as close to the umpires’ tunnel as we could get, but the home plate umpire never looked our way.

It was looking like a zero baseball day (and a zero Target Field baseball season) for us.  But as the Twins players and coaches streamed into the dugout, we noticed a guy throwing ball after ball after ball into the crowd.  It was Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra

37 - Joe Vavra Twins Batting Coach.JPG…and with only one baseball left in his hands, Vavra tossed Tim our first (and only) baseball of the day, which turned out to be our first (and most likely only) Target Field commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Joe!

A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek

38 - Rick Stelmaszek bullpen coach.JPG…tossed me his official blue MLB Father’s Day wrist band.

Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:

39 - goodies from Vavra and Stelmaszek.JPGBeing a father-son team like we are, Tim and I were pretty excited about getting the fathers’ day wrist band.  I’m pretty sure that Stelmaszek picked us out because he saw a boy and his dad together.

Thanks, Rick!

It was time to head out.  On the way to our car, Tim just had to get his picture (once again) with the statue of Steve Carlton:

40 - sitting under lefty.JPGTim is a sucker for a statue.  Can’t get enough of ‘em.

On our way our of the parking lot, well, while waiting for the cars to finally get moving, I snapped a panorama of the sports complex parking lots:

41 - citizens bank parking lot panorama.jpgCitizens Bank Park, obviously, is to the far left.  In the middle (far in the back) is the Eagles’ home, Lincoln Fnancial Field.  And to the far right is the Spectrum.  You can’t see it, but behind the Spectrum is the Wachovia Center (I think they still call it that — it was formerly the Core States Center and First Union Center).

And that’s all she wrote.  It was a good fathers’ day.  We drove home and spent the rest of it with my lovely wife and Tim’s lovely mommy, Colleen.

2010 Fan Stats:

16 Games

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

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


42 - ball and wrist band.JPG35 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 7: Orioles at Giants (6/15/10)

[NOTE: I uploaded all of the following pictures and wrote this entire entry while we were at the hospital both before and after the birth of my new son (and Tim's new brother), Kellan].

On June 15, 2010, we woke up early in Anaheim with a long drive to San Francisco ahead of us.  On tap this evening we had the grand finale of the The Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010 featuring a match up of the Orioles against the Giants at AT&T Park.

After six consecutive days of baseball games at four different ballparks, I was exhausted.  So major respect goes to my Dad who drove the entire way while I fought a losing battle of trying to stay awake in the car.

After stopping off at our hotel in San Jose, we finally made it to the City by the Bay, drove by the Giants’ former home, Candlestick Park (top left below)…

1 - heading to ATT Park.JPG…and finally made it to AT&T Park (top right).  We parked across Willie McCovey Cove (bottom right) and right next to a little league sized baseball field called “Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field” (bottom left).

Just across the other side of the Cove, we got some great views of AT&T Park:

2 - across McCovey Cove.JPGAfter walking across a little draw bridge, we made our way to the RF gate:

3 - ATT Park RF entrance.JPGAs you can see, there is a statute of Juan Marichal in the foreground.  To the right, that walk way runs down the outside of the stadium from RF to CF.  At the far end of that walkway there is a marina and a pier (we’ll get to that).

Along that walkway, there are spots where you can see into the field through a gate and a chain link fence…

4 - ATT view thru fence at McCovey Cove walkway.JPG…just above the chain link fence, we could see the back of the hand-operated out of town scoreboard.  The gates wouldn’t open for another 20 minutes after we arrived, but the Giants were already taking BP inside.

Rather than watch through the fence, we decided to take a little walk out to the end of the pier:

5 - ATT Park pier.JPGFrom the end of the pier, you can see AT&T Park at the far left of the following panorama…

5a - ATT end of pier panorama.jpg…and through the sail boat sails, you can see the Bay Bridge (I think that’s what it is called).

If you take a left instead of walking out on the pier, you arrive at the centerfield gate…

6 - ATT Park CF entrance.JPG…which is called the marina gate.

After checking out the pier and CF gate area, we headed back toward the RF (O’Doul) gate along that walkway by McCovey Cove.  Along the walkway, there are a number of plaques embedded into the ground.  Here are a whole bunch of them…

7 - McCovey Cove Walkway plagues.JPGFinally, we headed into the stadium.  Our seats were in RCF so we headed over there to watch BP.  The RF seats at AT&T Park are only 3-5 rows deep.  We headed to a section that was 3 rows deep.  This was the view:

7b - ATT RCF section 145 panorama.jpgSee those people right in the middle of that last panorama?  It looks like three people because of the combining of pictures to make the panorama, but it was really only two guys.  One of them was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head…

8 - Tim Lincecum.JPG…I had an idea about who it was so I zoomed in on his shoe.  Yep, number 55, it was Tim Lincecum.  After I mentioned to Tim that the guy on the field was also named Tim, a Giants fan standing nearby asked me, “Timmy?  Where’s Timmy?”  I pointed him out and the fan yelled, “Hey, Happy Birthday, Tim!”  Lincecum turned around and nodded a little “thank you.”

I was really hoping we could get a baseball at this game so we could complete the roadtrip with at least one baseball at each stadium.  It wasn’t looking promising in RF, so we headed over by the Orioles bullpen where this was our view:

9c - ATT RF foul line panorma.jpg

The Giants were still hitting, but the Orioles pitchers were warming up down the foul line.  When the teams switched, the crowd sung “Happy Birthday” to Lincecum as he entered the Giants dugout.

After a while, Jeremy Guthrie came out to do some throwing…

9 - watching Guthrie.JPG…that is him facing us toward the left side of the picture.  As he walked by us, I said, “Hi, Jeremy.”  He gave us a little wave and said hi.  Guthrie is a nice guy and was a prime candidate to give Tim a baseball  after his throwing.

One funny thing about AT&T Park is that ball retrieving devices were all over the place.  At any given time during BP, there were a couple deployed on the OF warning track.  At one point, an Orioles player came walking by with a ball retrieving device on about 2 feet of rope.  He’d cut it off as someone was going for a ball and was parading around showing it to his teammates.

As Guthrie was wrapping up his throwing, Kevin Millwood came over to chat with him and then Guthrie gave Millwood the baseball to play catch.

While we were hanging out watching BP, Tim showed off his full Mariners uniform for me…

10 - ichi uni in SF.JPG…gotta love the stirrup socks!

With Guthrie out of the picture, we decided to head over to LF to see what it was like over there.  On our way up to the concourse, I noticed “Kville” on the wall:

11 - Kville.JPGAs we made our way to LF, we stopped to get this shot behind home plate:

11a - ATT home field day panorama.jpgHere is where we ended up in LF:

12e - ATT LF foul line field panorama.jpgIt was starting to get pretty crowded.  Our chances of finishing off the roadtrip with a baseball from AT&T Park were getting dimmer and dimmer.  Tim asked that guy standing out in LF (above) for a baseball.  No dice.  Then Tim turned to me and said, “I’ve got a collection of baseballs!”  [It doesn't look very funny written, but his delivery of the line was hilarious].

As we stood along the wall in foul territory we got a rude reminder that the Bay Area is a windy place.  A big swirl of wind kicked dirt from the warning track into both of our eyes.  We both got hit at once.  It was no fun.

As bad as dirt in the eyes is, this is even worse:

12 - disgusting.JPGThe Giants have sold advertising space on their outfield wall that changes the dimensions of the field!  I mean, how annoyed would you be as either a fan or a player if someone on your team hit a  ball that should have been a home run, but instead it hit one of these cartoon car advertisements that stick above the wall.  I’d much rather have a Mariners homerun picked off over the wall by an opposing player than to have it denied by an advertisement!

Finally, we made it full circle.  We ended BP back in RCF.  Actually, we were right next to our seats for the game.

There was, indeed, no BP baseball in store for us on this day.  But that didn’t ruin the hilarious scene that we watched play out during the last 10 minutes of BP in RF.

An Oriole was out there who I can only presume was the same guy walking around with the cut off ball retrieving device.  You see, he had a pair of scissors in his back pocket.  I’m not sure who he was, but he must have been a former Giant because a guy with a ball retrieving device of his own came over and chatted with him and implied that he was a lot more fun when he played in San Francisco.

The guy hung his device over the wall, which was probably a good 20 feet high, and swung it back-and-forth like he was trying to lure the player over.  The Oriole eventually brought a ball over and put it on the warning track for the guy.  As the guy attempted to set his device on the ball, the Oriole took out his scissors and acted like he was going to cut the rope.  The guy quickly pulled it up without the baseball.

The Oriole acted like it was all fun and games and now he was ready to give him the ball.  He set it back down, said something like “go for it,” and headed back out 20-30 feet into the grass.  The guy lowered his device again.  Then, when he started pulling it back up, the Oriole turned and made a full sprint to the wall, he planted his foot on the wall and jumped REALLY high up the wall and just got a hand on the guy’s device.   With one big swing of the paw and a big grin, the Oriole knocked the ball back to the ground.

He then grabbed the ball and went back out 20-30 feet into the grass.  The guy with the device stayed put.  Five minutes later, BP ended and all of the Orioles ran off of the field.  The guy with the ball turned around and held up the ball for the guy with the device.  By the way, here is the Oriole (with scissors in back pocket)… 

13 - device cutter ball splasher.JPG…Then, you guessed it, he fired the ball high and far over the outfield seats and into McCovey Cove.  The two kayakers raced for it and this guy victoriously pulled it out of the water.  During all of this time, not a single HR reached the RF seats, but this was a good little piece of entertainment for me and Tim.

Once BP wrapped up, Tim wanted to head over to the big bottle and little baseball field in LF…

14 - guzzler time.JPGI’ve seen that bottle on TV for years, but I never knew it was more than just an advertisement.  But it is!  And Tim was excited to go check it out.

On our way over there, we stopped to get a picture with a real San Franscisco Trolley that is parked in the RCF concourse:

14a - trolley at ATT Park.JPGAs I mentioned, Tim was excited to go check out the bottle…

15 - guzzler approach.JPG…but first, we had a stop and get a picture with the big baseball glove next to the bottle.

16 - big glove at ATT.JPGSo you have to be at least 42 inches tall to really take advantage of all the bottle has to offer…

17 - tall enough for guzzler.JPG…Tim just made the cut off.

So, we got in line for this:

Okay, that video is actually the second time we rode the guzzler.  The first time, I took this picture from inside the label of the bottle:

18 - inside guzzler view.JPGWhile we were waiting in line for the guzzler the second time, Tim started chatting up a 20′ish year old girl who lives in SF but used to live in Seattle.  She liked his Mariners hat.  When he heard that, he decided to rip off his sweatshirt and dazzle her with his Ichiro shirt.  It was pretty funny.  He was very proud to be showing off his new Ichiro shirt.

After the guzzler, we went to the mini AT&T Park next to the guzzler…

18f - ATT Park in ATT Park panorama.jpgTo play ball in the mini park, you have to be shorter than a certain height.  Tim measured up against the height display and wound up being in the special class of people short enough to play ball in the mini park but tall enough to ride the guzzler.  My Dad took some action shots with Tim at the plate…

18 - hitting at ATT Park Jr.JPG…and I got him scoring the second time he batted:

19 - Tim scores at ATT Park Jr.JPGI also captured his first at bat on video:

After hitting in mini AT&T Park, it was time to report to our seats for the game…

20 - ATT 145 umpire.JPG…once we got there, Tim did some impromptu umpire poses.

The sun was pretty harsh in RF at the beginning of the game.  Here was our view from Section 145, row 2, seats 1-3 while the sun was still up:

20a - ATT section 145 corner sunny panorama.jpgIt was much better once the sun ducked behind the other side of the stadium:

After the first inning, the O’s were leading 1-0 on the strength of a groundout RBI by Ty Wigginton.  The O’s could have scored at least one more run, but Giants centerfielder Andres Torres made an outstanding catch to end the inning.

In the top of the third inning, Tim and I set off into the concourse in search of some Giants ice cream helmets.  I noticed something odd about the concourses…

21 - TVs at ATT Park.JPG…there were several large banks of flat screen TVs literally side-by-side-by-side, but then there wouldn’t be another TV within the next 100-150 down the concourse.  So in some places you can stand in the concourse and take your pick of 5-6 TV screens to watch, but in others you are simply out of luck.

Much to our dismay, for the second day in a row, our ice cream helmet hunt came up empty.  This has been a truly great roadtrip, except on the ice cream helmet front.  After walking around the entire field level concourse, we returned to our seats with this…

22 - no ice cream helmet in SF.JPG…another tasty but dissappointing ice cream helmet substitute.

From a scoring perspective, the third inning proved to be the most active inning of the night with a grand total of 2 runs crossing the plate.  In the top of the inning, the O’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Wigginton replicated his first inning at-bat with another RBI groundout.  Leading off the bottom of the frame, Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval cranked a solo homer to bring the score to 2-1.

In the top of the fourth inning, former Mariner Adam Jones would match Sandoval with a lead-off homerun of his own taking the score back to a 2-run lead (3-1) for the O’s.

In the of the fifth inning, Ty Wigginton one upped himself.  Rather than a mere RBI groundout, Wigginton hit into a run-scoring (no RBI) double play.  At the end of five, the O’s lead 4-1, and that score would hold up for the rest of the night.

In the fifth inning, I decided to split up from my Dad and Tim so I could check out the upper deck a little bit.

I started by heading toward foul territory in RF.  About mid-way between our seats and the foul pole, I got this panoramic view of AT&T Park: 

22a - ATT RF near foul pole panorama.jpgThen I headed to the back row of the last section in RF foul territory.  The view from up there is great.  City, bridge, ballpark, water.  Excellent.  Here’s what it looked like:

22b - ATT upper RF foul panorama.jpgThen I slowly made my way around to LF.  Here is the view from around 1B…

22c - ATT 1B upper panorama.jpgI also spied on Tim and my Dad with my zoom.  Tim (red sweatshirt in middle) was sitting on my Dad’s lap (in black jacket) having a good old time:

23 - spying on Tim and dad.JPGThe view was also excellent from behind home plate:

23a - ATT upper home panorama.jpgHere is the view of the upper deck concourse, which seemed pretty dark:

23b - ATT Park upper deck concourse.JPGHere is the view from the 3B side just a few feet down the line from home plate:

24 - ATT 3B upper panorama.jpgAs I swung further out past 3B, I could see the ferris wheel and other amusement park rides across McCovey Cove…

24a - ATT 3B dugout upper panorama.jpg…I’m not sure if that amusement park is a traveling fair-type situation or if it is always there.  I have never seen it before while watching games at AT&T Park on TV.

Here is a zoomed in panorama of the RF wall and the ferris wheel beyond McCovey Cove:

25 - RF wall and McCovery Cove.jpgOur seats were just above the distance marker on the OF fence on the left side of that last picture (below the fifth flag pole).

Here is the view from the LF foul area in the upper deck…

…and still in foul territory, here is the view all the way out in LF:

25b - ATT LF upper end panorama.jpgLooking off of the upper deck in LF, there is a cool view down to the guzzler and the mini AT&T Park:

26 - guzzler and mini park from above.JPGAfter circling around the upper deck, I headed down the winding foot ramp in the LF corner down to the field level.  I actually passed my Dad and Tim on my walk down.  They were on a tour of their own and were heading up to the upper deck.

I got this picture of the city and Bay Bridge looking out of the stadium from the ramp:

27 - SF scenery.JPGJust for kicks, I took one more LF foul corner panorama when I got back down to the field level:

27a - ATT LF field foul corner panorama.jpgMy plan had been to go back to the seats after exploring the upper deck, but because I knew Tim and my Dad were on a tour of their own, I decided to go behind home plate.  There were ushers guarding the staircases, but no one was patrolling the handicapped accessible ramp that leads to the cross aisle behind the home plate seats.  So I strolled on down the ramp.  Here was the night time view from behind home plate:

28 - ATT home field night panorama.jpgI ended up watching the bottom of the 7th and top of the 8th inning from the 1B side of the cross aisle behind home plate.  Not an usher stopped to ask to see my ticket.  This was the view:

29 - ATT 1B dugout field panorama.jpgThe only action shots I’d taken so far were very unimpressive, so I tried for a couple more.  The Kung Fu Panda provided no fireworks…

30 - Kung Fu Panda.JPG…he grounded out to the pitcher to end the 7th inning.

Nick Markasis cooperated better with me.  On this swing…

31 - Markakis GR doubles in 8th.JPG…he hit a ground rule double to lead off the 8th.  Ultimately, he was stranded on third.

I decided Tim and my Dad were probably done touring so I headed back to our seats.  I was wrong.  They weren’t there yet.  So I hung out in the standing room area in the concourse behind the RF seats, right by the foul pole.

Check out these two seats in the front row at the end of the section…

32 - foul pole seats at ATT Park.JPG

…these people were nestled right in between the railing and the foul pole.  I guess they had to hop over the seat backs to get into their seats.

By this point, the crowd in the RF standing room area was ridiculous.  There were numerous obnoxiously drunk patrons having a grand old time.  Several of the drunkards were mocking an usher who was diligently enforcing the “Stand Behind The Line” rule painted on the ground.

Eventually, Tim and my Dad came strolling back toward our seats.  We decided to head toward the infield to try to locate the umpire tunnel.  We wanted to try for an umpire ball, but we were pretty confused.  On the big screen before the game, I had seen the umpires enter through a set of glass doors.  It appeared it was right behind home plate.  From the OF, we could see the set of glass doors directly behind home plate.  But there were fans in seats sitting directly behind the doors.  It made no sense.  Were the umpires supposed to just walk into the crowd?

We spotted another exit way in the 3B dugout that we thought might be the spot.  So Tim and I made our way about half way down the ailse right by the end of the dugout.  Here was the view:

33 - ATT 3B field panorama.jpgI was still thoroughly confused.  With 1 out in the bottom of the ninth, my Dad came down from the concourse and said they had just put a rope up around the fans right behind home plate.  It looked like I was right, the umpires would go through those glass doors…but where would they go from there?

We scurried over there to the cross ailse behind home plate (no one was manning the ramp once again).  As the final out was recorded, we tried to make our way down to the umpires but we couldn’t get down there in time.  Too many people were streaming up the stairs.  It was unfortunate because the home plate umpire stood back there by the fans for a minute or so until all three of his colleagues met up with him.  Then, they exited down a tunnel…

ATT umpire tunnel.jpg…behind the first several rows of seats.  On his way out, the home plate umpire gave a baseball to a grown man with no kids who didn’t even ask for one!  We’d missed a prime opportunity to get a baseball at AT&T Park.

Before taking off, we decided to do a little more exploring.  Something I didn’t like about AT&T Park was that there were a number of railings keeping the commoners out of the fancier seating areas.  Thankfully, however, there was no mote.  So we easily stepped over the thigh high railing and made our way down front by the Giants dugout.

The Goal:  Get our picture with Tommy Lasorda, who was in attendance and the recipient of robust booing throughout the game when they showed him on the big screen.

We literally rubbed elbows with the Hall of Famer (he’s wearing the brown jacket right in front of me)…

34 - TJCs and Tommy Lasorda.JPG…but he had a team of Giants security people flanking him on all sides.  It might have worked, but I didn’t even ask him for a photo because a security guy was announcing “clear the way, clear the way.”

Oh, well.  It was cool just to see him up close.

We headed over to the dugout to watch Tommy exit through the same tunnel we’d suspected might have been the umpires tunnel.  Before Tommy made his way to the dugout, an usher took a picture of the three of us:

35 - 3 Cooks at ATT Park.JPGWe watched the security guys coach Tommy down the stairs into the dugout and then we just hung out a couple minutes more.  Right as we were about to leave, two bat boys came into the dugout to clear out equipment.  Some guy, I think the guy to the far left shown below…

36 - Watching Dugout Gots A Baseball.JPG…started aggressively begging the bat boys, “Can I have a baseball?  Can I have a baseball?  Can I have a baseball?”  The older bat boy looked up and said, “Sorry, there aren’t any left.”  Then the younger looking bat boy standing behind the older bat boy reached into his back pocket and then handed a baseball up to Tim.

It was a case of “Don’t ask and you shall recieve!”  It was pretty cool to come away with an AT&T Park baseball at the last possible minute.  I was super excited that out of nowhere, that little bat boy helped us complete our goal of getting a ball at each stadium on the roadtrip.

Thanks, little bat boy guy!!!

Another usher took a new picture of us with the ball from the batboy:


37 - 3 Cooks and a Baseball at ATT Park.JPGBy the way, the second the game ended a flock of seemingly hundreds of seagulls flew into the stadium and attacked the food scraps strewn about the seating area in LF.  Tim called it “the birds taking off and landing show” and he was thoroughly captivated by it.  In fact, in the picture above of Tommy Lasorda squeezing by us in the seats, Tim is up on my shoulders paying no attention to the Hall of Famer, all of his focus was on the birds taking off and landing show.

Finally, it was time to leave.  My Dad started to walk up the ailses.  But I stopped him.  Hey, we’re in the fancy seats, we should exit through the club below the fancy seats (which I think is called the “Lexus Dugout Club”).

Here are a few pictures I snapped in the club as we headed out…

38 - fancy club.JPG…into a area of bright orange lit up palm trees next to the Willie Mays gate…

39 - Willie Mays Gate and Orange Palm Trees.JPG…and we said our good-byes to AT&T Park as we made our way back around McCovey Cove to our car:

40 - goodnight ATT Park.JPGRoadtrip Completed.  A smashing success.

2010 Fan Stats:

15 Games

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

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


41 -  ATT Park baseball.JPG34 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants)

10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

 


42 - 2010 Roadtrip Baseballs.JPGWhen we got home to Pennsylvania, I snapped this picture of all of our roadtrip baseballs (minus the one I gave to the girl San Diego).

The New Guy

Introducing the newest member of Cook & Son Bats…

IMG_8292.JPG…Kellan Patrick Cook!

Look for Kellan to make his MLB debut at Safeco Field on October 1, 2010.

IMG_8300.JPG

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 6: Brewers at Angels (6/14/10)

On the morning of June 14, 2010, we woke up in our KOA camping cabin in Chula Vista, California. We had a night game on tap in Anaheim and only a two hour drive.  So we had some time to kill and we had two plans — Hollywood and lunch with my cousin.

We left the San Diego area early and headed straight to Hollywood for a little sight seeing.  We parked in a parking garage connected to the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and then we hit the street on foot:

1 - Tim in Hollywood I.JPGTop Left – the very first star we saw on the walk of fame was the Los Angeles Dodgers, which was fitting for our trip.

Top Right – we walked the sidewalk a bit and took some pictures with people of interest, like Matt Damon, Bruce Lee, and Kermit the Frog.

Bottom Left – right at the entrance to the street, there was a Mariners Mickey Mouse, which was also fitting for our trip.  I guess for the All-Star game there are Mickeys all over the city, one for each MLB team.  Later in the day, we found the Angels Mickey in front of the Big A.

Bottom Middle – Tim got his picture with wax Samuel L. Jackson at Madame Tussaud’s.

Bottom Right – Tim put his feet and hands in Humphrey Bogart’s (and others) cement prints at Groman’s Chinese Theatre.

By the way, here is a panorama of the Chinese Theatre:

1a - gromans chinese theatre.jpgAs we walked down the street, we came to a big tent where Top Chef was putting on shows.  They had some games you could do on the sidewalk including a little putting green.  On Tim’s first “putt,” he took a near full hack…

2 - Tim in Hollywood II.JPG…and hit the bright orange golf ball across Hollywood Boulevard.  The camera man’s face in the middle picture is an instant classic.  The funniest thing to me is that the camera man stopped filming as he made the shocked face.  The arrow in the picture to the right is pointing to the ball resting on the other side of the street.  Luckily, the ball weaved between several cars going both directions on its journey across the street.

After a short visit in Hollywood, we hit the road again and drove down to Huntington Beach…

2a - huntington beach.jpg…where we met my cousin Molly and her husband Eric for lunch at Ruby’s at the very end of the pier.  If you click on that beach panorama, Ruby’s is the red roof at the far left.

While we waited for Molly and Eric to arrive, we watched surfers.  This old school surfer on the left…

3 - surfers at huntington beach.JPG…made Tim’s day when he waved at him as he paddled by.  Baseball player, surfer, fireman, truck driver, Tim loves it when people out in the world wave at him.  Tim loved watching the surfers.  He was also amazed when a father and son fishing on the peir caught a little baby shark.  We watched them unhook it and then throw it back into the water.

After lunch, we hit the beach for just a little bit of running around and splashing:

4 - huntington beach.JPGIn the top left picture, Tim is making one of many tiny little “sand castles” — which really were just mounds of wet sand.  The waves kept washing away his castles.  In the top right, that is Molly standing between me and Tim.  She went to high school about a mile from this beach — looks like a tough life, eh?

After lunch and beach time, we headed to our hotel in Anaheim.  After a little relaxing (and a little running for me), we hit the road for a mile-and-a-half drive to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.  This was the view as we pulled into the parking lot… 

5 - driving into Big A parking lot.JPG…parking was only $8.

We got a shot of Tim standing on a big baseball as we approached the entrance…

6 - Big A entrance.JPG…at the right side of that picture, the Angels Mickey Mouse is behind the guy in the green t-shirt.

The highlights of the entrance are a bunch of huge wood baseball bats… 

7 - Big Bats Bit Hats.JPG…and two huge Angels caps.  The hats were complete with New Era and size tags on the inside.  By the way, these hats are size 649 1/2.

Once we headed into the stadium, we spent most of Angels’ BP hanging out behind the bullpens in right field.  Here was the view from section 258: 

7a - angel stadium section 258 row 2 panorama.jpgWe headed to this section for three reasons:  (i) the sections behind the dugouts were almost empty, (ii) there was very little chance that any homeruns would come flying in there hot and take out little Tim, and (iii) Joel Piniero was out in LF (in the field just above the home plate in the bullpen) and I hoped he might want to hook us up with a baseball like he had for my dad several days before in Oakland.

Joel never looked out toward us.  However, at one point, a homerun came right toward us.  It was going to bounce in the upper bullpen.  As it bounced, it went out of our view and then…

8 - bouncing HR.JPG…it hopped up directly into my glove.  A clean catch on one hop.  Tim was impressed with us.  We got a ball without anyone throwing it to us.  He asked me, “How’d you get that?  No one threw it?”

He posed with the new acquisition right where we caught it:

9 - baseball from Big A.JPGActually, we caught it just to the left of that little green fencing behind Tim.

After catching the baseball, we met up with my Dad in the seats by the LF foul pole.  This was the view:

9a - angel stadium section 102 panorama.jpgMy Dad had already had enough of that section.  He decided to head over to RF.  I told him to hang out 20 rows deep once the Brewers started hitting so he could catch a Prince Fielder homerun.

After her took off, Tim and I watched this Angels pitcher…

10 - soccer dude.JPG…put on a “futbol” clinic with a baseball.  The dude has some serious soccer skills.

Soon, Tim and I decided to do a little exploring.  We headed out toward CF where we checked out the “Monster” sign in the “grass” in the big batters’ eye area.  The “grass” is actually some sort of field turf.  We also grabbed this panorama: 

10a - angel stadium section 257 concourse panorama.jpg

And, what the heck, we got another picture of Tim with his Angel Stadium baseball:

11 - have ball will tour.JPGNext, we headed a few feet to our left and checked out the big “A” rock formation and waterfall in the batters’ eye:

12 - Big A rocks and water.JPGThen it was on to RF.  As you head from LF to RF, there is an open concourse that runs behind the seats in LF and behind the batters’ eye in CF.  As the concourse reaches RCF, it goes under the RF seats and there are a series of big tunnels…

21 - big tunnels in RF.JPG…that head out to the RF seats.

We headed to the last row in the deepest part of RCF where we checked out the batters’ eye from the other side.  Its an odd batters’ eye with the fake grass, big rock formation and water falls, and then a big green deck-like area right next to and in front of the RF seats.

Here was the view of the field from up there:

12a - angel stadium section 249 back row panorama.jpgNext, we swung around to foul territory in RF.  This was the view from the back of section 231:

12b - angel stadium section 231 panorama.jpgOh, by the way, my Dad didn’t catch a homerun from Prince.  He almost caught one from someone else, but he was robbed by another fan who was running wild out in the RF seats.  Prince was blasting some bombs, deeeep bombs.  My Dad did work his way down to the dugout area (which was generally closed off unless you had a ticket there) and got this picture of Prince hanging out down there:

13 - Dad checks out Prince.JPGTim and I walked around the field level concourse next.  Although there wasn’t anything particularly special about it, I liked the field level concourse at Angel Stadium.  It was nice and open with a lot of head room above.

Here is a look down the front of the concourse looking from the RF corner toward home plate:

14 - Big A concourse RF foul.JPGDown at the far end of that last picture, I took this panorama:

14a - angel stadium section 222 panorama.jpgSome usher had let my Dad down to the dugout (commenting, “we always like out of towners”), but this was as close to the dugout as Tim and I could get.

As we made our way around home plate toward the 3B side, we found this wall…

15 - Angels HOF.JPG…I’m not sure if there is more to the Angels Hall of Fame or if this is it.  If there is more, we missed it.  This is all that we saw.

Here is a look at the concourse looking from home plate out toward LF…

16 - Big A concourse LF foul.JPG…note the nice picture of former Mariner Joel Piniero.  Also noteworthy, there is a Ruby’s about half way down in that picture.  That’s the same place where we ate lunch on the pier in Huntington Beach earlier in the day.  My Dad doubled up on the day having Ruby’s for lunch and dinner.

Soon, we found ourselves back out by the LF foul pole:

16a - angel stadium section 104 panorama.jpgTim and I were hungry, so we headed to a nacho stand.  After ordering our nachos, I realized that I couldn’t find my wallet.  I was praying that I left it in the hotel and had not lost it somewhere in the stadium.  After the game, I discovered that is exactly what had happened.  Anyway, no nachos for us, at least not just yet.

Eventually, we made our way back to section 258 where we’d got the BP homerun.  My Dad found us and we hung out there a bit.  Before long, a guy named Warren (who you might see commenting here from time-to-time under the name “yankeehater626″) stopped by to say hello.  Actually, he did more than that, he had a special gift for Tim.  I’ll show you it a little later.

It was great meeting and chatting with Warren.  (Hi, Warren!)  Notably, we chatted about the fact that Warren had just caught a foul ball and a home run ball at the same game at the Oakland Colesium (the day before Game 1 of the GFS Roadtrip) and several commentators on ESPN had apparently taken the opportunity to wrongfully mock Warren on the air when he was shown on TV giving the foul ball away to a young fan.  Warren explained the whole situation and all of the media hype following it.  It was very interesting…maybe he can provide a link to the blog entries he wrote about it in the comments here.

After splitting up with Warren, Tim stayed with my Dad and I did a little more exploring.  First, I headed up to the upper deck in LF where it looked a little bit like this:

16aa - angel stadium section 501 panorama.jpg…and I made my way around the upper deck taking a bunch of panoramas.  Like this one…

16b - angel stadium LF upper foul panorama.jpg…this one…

16c - angel stadium 3B upper panorama.jpg…this one…

16d - angel stadium home plate upper panorama.jpg…and this one too:

16e - angel stadium section 422 panorama.jpgIn the upper deck, the concourse is behind the seats and it is pretty narrow:

17 - RF upper deck foul concourse.JPGHeading back into the upper deck seating area, I noticed that the seats in the upper deck did not all look the same.  Some of them (to the left) had an Angels logo (which is hard to see because it is just raised metal, no red or white paint or anything like that)…

18 - shabby chic seats.JPG…and some of them (right) had a weird yellow and white picture on them.  You know what?  On a hunch, I just typed in www.edison.com in my brower and confirmed that little picture is Edison International’s logo.  According to Wikipedia, from 1998 to 2003, it was called Edison International Stadium of Anaheim.

I took the pictures of those seats as I climbed to the back row to take a picture over the back of the stadium of the big “A” out front: 

19 - The Big A.JPGThe sun in RF was blinding.  I could hardly see when I got this panorama from the top of the stadium…

19a - angel stadium RF foul upper panorama.jpg…visibility was no better when I reached the end of the infield seats and got this panorama:

19b - angel stadium RF HR upper panorama.jpgAfter taking that panorama, I turned to my right and got this picture…

20 - Big A View toward seats concourse.JPG…showing the side of the scoreboard and the concourse at the top of the RF seats.  That concourse is above the concourse that I mentioned earlier that runs from LF to CF and then under the RF seats.

This next panorama was taken from that concourse behind the RF seats:

20a - angels stadium RF HR bleaches panorama.jpgOn my way back to our seats to meet up with Tim and my dad, I headed down into the RF seats and then into the concourse below the RF seats.  At the opening of the concourse under the RF seats, I walked by Angelitos, which appeared to be a Mexican restaurant…

21a - Angelitos and CF seating.JPG…and then behind a seating area where people were eating dinner behind the batters’ eye.

Finally, I made it back to our seats.  We sat in LF in section 260.  It was game time and this was our view: 

21b - angel stadium section 260 row k seat 7 panorama.jpgI think this is the first time that Tim has ever had a “child” ticket.  His seat in LF was only about $5.

Speaking of $$, I still had no wallet.  So my Dad bought us those nachos we’d had our eyes on…

22 - anaheim chicken nachos.JPG…huge and tasty chicken nachos, to be exact.

 After the nachos, we headed to the concourse to grab some ice cream helmets.  I couldn’t find ice cream for awhile and did a bunch of walking in the concourse.  And I took this panorama from the concourse behind section 208:

22a- angel stadium section 208 concourse panorama.jpgThen, we got some bad news…

23 - thumbs down to malt.JPG…Tim had to get a tasty, but personally disappointing, chocolate malt cup.  That’s right – NO ICE CREAM HELMETS!!!

I had a discussion with two ladies at the concession stand trying to figure out the ice cream helmet situation.  The first lady told me they used to have ice cream helmets, but now they only have rally monkey cups.  She did not speak highly of the rally monkey cups.  It did not matter, I was having no part of a rally monkey cup.

Here is the deal, I’d love to have an Angels ice cream helmet in our collection.  An Angels helmet shows we attended a game in Anaheim.  It doesn’t endorse the Angels.  Its just memorabilia.  But the rally monkey, he’s different.  The sole purpose of the rally monkey is to support and encourage the Angels.  We neither support nor encourage the Angels.  In fact, I’d be happy if they went 0-162 each season.

So, no rally monkey cups for us.  And, sadly, no Angels ice cream helmet either.

Anyway, there was a game to be played.  And, thankfully, the rally monkey would have to stay in his cage on this night.

The Angels got the scoring started in the second inning.  Kevin Frandsen hit a double to RF that scored Howie Kendrick and Juan Rivera.  And, that would conclude the scoring for the Angels on this night.

One thing that I really liked about Angel Stadium is pictured below…

24 - behind home plate scoreboard.JPG

…its the thin scoreboard right behind home plate.  It was so nice not to have to scan down the LF or RF line looking for the count or number of outs.  All of the information was right there in front of us as we watched the batters.

Now, bring on the Brewers.

The Brewers got the game winning runs in the top of the third inning.  First, George Kottaras (whose career first homerun landed about 15 feet from us last season in Boston) hit an RBI double scoring Alcides Escobar.  The Brewers then loaded up the bases so Ryan Braun could unload them with a grand slam, his 10th homerun of the season.

Speaking of Braun, he was stationed right in front of us in LF during the bottom half of each inning:

25 - braun in LF.JPGDuring the game, several Angels stood on the LF wall watching the game from the bullpen.  I thought it was interesting that this guy…

26 - standing on pitching rubber.JPG…was standing on an unearthed pitcher’s rubber.

There were plenty of interesting sights around the ball park in addition to the game.  Like at Dodger Stadium three days ago, there were beach balls bouncing all around the stadium.  We caught a beach ball twice so Tim could hit them.  He quite enjoyed that.

Each time Hideki Matsui came to the plate, a group of fans in RF held up cards spelling out… 

27 - Matsuiland.JPG…M-A-T-S-U-I-L-A-N-D.  I’m guessing this was some sort of reference to the fact that Disneyland is right down the road.

In CF, there is a row of trees popping up above the fence.  From our seats, I noticed that the trees are not planted in the ground…

28 - potted trees.JPG…they are in big box-looking things.

After Braun’s grand slam, the score stayed at 5-2 until the top of the sixth inning.  In the sixth, the Brew Crew tacked on an extra run on a unique play.  Casey McGehee hit a deep fly ball to the warning track in CF.  If left untouched, it would have hit the wall right in front of those big potted trees.  However, nine time gold glove winner Torii Hunter raced over and jumped to make a spectacular catch, but the ball would not cooperate.  The ball hit the pocket of Hunter’s glove, rattled around, and popped out and over the fence for a solo home run.

Torii Hunter couldn’t believe it.  Neither could the rest of us.  You can check out the play HERE.

The Angels were trailing 6-2.  So Tim was happy:

29 - smiley in anaheim.JPGI kept watching for Prince Fielder to blast a mammoth shot….

30 - my name is prince.JPG…but he never did.  In fact, he went 0-4 on the day.

Throughout the game, this guy (who, I guess, might have been the soccer playing pitcher from above)…

31 - you want a baseball.JPG…kept walking to the bathroom and then standing at the top of those stairs while a bunch of little kids screamed at him for baseballs.  Eventually, he walked over and handed out a couple balls — two to little kids and one to an allegedly cute girl, I believe.

Angels Stadium has two big screens.  One of them was behind us.  The bigger big screen was in RF and looked like this:

32 - Anaheim scoreboard.JPGTim is a goofy kid with an active imagination.  So at some point, he thought it would be fun to stand around…

33 - shoe balancing.JPG…balancing his hat on his shoe.

Above, I mentioned that Warren brought Tim a special gift.  Here it is:

34 - thanks 2 warren 4 griffey ball.JPGI just mentioned in the entry for our first game in San Diego that I don’t like it when fans try to give baseballs to Tim at games.  This is the exception.  From reading our blog, Warrent knew we are huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fans.  So he gave Tim this baseball that Griffey hit for a homerun during BP the last time he was in Anaheim, which was shortly before retired.  I set up this picture like this because Warren mentioned that he caught the ball in RCF, just above where Tim is holding the ball in this picture.

A huge, Thank you, Warren!

This ball is now sitting in a case in a special spot in Tim’s room.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, I wanted to head back up to the upper deck in RF.  I wanted to take some more pictures because the sun was so bright out there before the game.  My dad wanted to check it out up there too, so we all headed toward RF.

On the way, I took this shot from the upper concourse behind the RF seats:

34a - angel stadium RCF upper concourse panorama.jpgTim was still acting goofy when we reached the upper deck…

35 - upper deck funny faces.JPG…and the view was much better up there with the sun down:

35a - angel stadium RF foul upper night panorama.jpgThe seventh inning was another big inning for the Brewers.  First, they scored two runs on a double by Corey Hart.  Hart later scored on a single by Ryan Braun.

Casey McGehee was hit by a pitch after Braun’s single.  McGehee was on first when Carlos Gomez grounded into a potential double play.  But McGehee prevented the double play by taking out Angels short stop Erik Aybar, and I mean he took him out.  Out of this game, and out of about the next 9 games as well.

Everyone rushed to Aybar to check on him…

35b - angel down and angels all around.jpg…well, everyone but Angels leftfielder Juan Rivera.  Eventually, Rivera noticed he was the only Angel fielder who had not gathered around Aybar.  He walked reeeeealllly slowly toward the infield and finally joined the rest of his team before the trainers helped Aybar off of the field.

A little later, we noticed something in the sky behind 3B… 

36 - disney fireworks.JPG…it was nightly celebration at near by Disneyland.

We decided to walk around to the 3B side to see if we could get a better view of the fireworks.  We ended up watching the end of the game from right here…

37 - 9th inning seats.JPG…this was our excellent view:

37a - angel stadium home-3B upper night panorama.jpgThe Angels still couldn’t get anything going.  Here is Hideki Matsui…

38 - Matsui in 9th 6-14-10.JPG…striking out to end the 8th.

For good measure, the Brewers added a twelfth and final run in the top of the 9th inning on a bases loaded ground out b Alcides Escobar.

And that was it.  Final score 12-2 Brewers.

An usher took our picture before we headed back to the hotel:

39 - 3 Cooks in Anaheim.JPG

By the way, at no point during this Angels home game were we ever in Los Angeles.  Not the City of Los Angeles.  Not the County of Los Angeles.  Los Angeles was nowhere in sight at this California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California home game.

2010 Fan Stats:

14 Games

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

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


40 - ball no. 75 BP homer.JPG33 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

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

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

 

When we made it home after the Roadtrip, Tim has his No. 24 baseball action figure (unfortunately, a righty) hit the Griffey ball that Warren gave to him…

 


41 - Grrffey baseall from warren.JPG

…and then for good measure, we added in an opposing pitcher…


IMG_7720b.JPG

…thanks again, Warren.

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 5: Mariners at Padres (6/13/10)

On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced.  Here it goes.

We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast.  Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:

1 - morning fun at KOA playset.JPGIt was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park.  I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego.  Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game.  I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.

Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium.  But we arrived about 45 minutes before him.  So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP.  After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today.  Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed.  There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.

Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.

Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…

2 - RRS getting a sweat on.JPG…and Ichiro was stretching and playing catch with his interpreter in shallow LF:

3 - Ichiro warms up.JPGSoon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch.  While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off.  I wasn’t sure where he had gone.  When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…

4 - figgy kotch and dads baseball.jpg…Kotchman walked back to the dugout.  As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt.  Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.

Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad.  The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere.  People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball.  At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:


5 - petco lawn care.JPGThe Padres helmets came with number stickers.  I put “18″ on the back of Tim’s helmet.  When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5″ on the bill of his helmet.  Then he told me to put a “1″ in front of the “5.”  I did…

5a - Ichiro 15.JPG…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!”  He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15″ — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.”  A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front.  Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51″ on it.

We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…

6 - rounding petco park.JPG…around to the main entrance by home plate.  Inside the main entrance, there is a big, cool, rock waterfall wall:

7 - petco waterfall wall.JPGMy Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate.  They were amazing seats.  A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.

We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch.   First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us.  At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…

8 - french vargas.jpg…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove.  I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in.  When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished.  He said, “Maybe.”  Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.

Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us.  The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…

9 - aardsma waves league stretches.JPG…which Tim thought was pretty cool.  After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line.  Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up.  As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch.  He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”

As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:

10 - tim and chad cordero.JPGTim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up.  League was still pitching to Aardsma.  Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up.  For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.

WHHHHHHHIZZZZZZ BAAAAAANGGGGGGGG!!!

The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma.  From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track.  As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall.   People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim.  Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side.   And it would have really hurt, I could tell.  An usher came to ask us if we were alright.  Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.

Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.

The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching.  Today, we watched first hand as…

11 - RRS working with Cliff Lee.JPG…RRS worked with (and learned from) Lee.

Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back.  This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished.  Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.

Thanks, Brandon!

Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen.  We decided to head over there as well.  Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there.  We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.

When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:

12 - CS HOFs RRS and Phillips with autos.jpgBetween pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi.  After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit.  It was nice to chat with him.  As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball.  So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan.  But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair.  When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips.  So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.

Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together.  But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame.  I guess I should ask him later this season.

After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?”  (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions).  We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.”  Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!”  That gave Jason a big smile.

Then we headed to our seats.  Check this out:

13 - Tim 51.jpgIn that picture, I am sitting in my seat (Section 101, Row 18, Seat 1) and Tim is standing next to the row in front of us (wearing his new helmet with Ichiro’s “51″ on the front and side).

Here was the view:

13a - petco section 101 row 18 seat 1.jpgSo you want to hear something crazy?  We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family.  Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting.  I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son.  He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know:  Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies.  (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).

The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were.  Here is a look at one of the rings:

14 - Tim the World Champion 51.JPGJason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years.  And these were some huge and legit looking rings.  Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.

By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity.  This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…

18 - a stranger among us.JPG…and it belonged to a Yankees scout (whose work failed to prevent the Mariners from soon taking 2 of 3 against the Yankees in the Bronx).

 You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field.  Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days.  There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…

15 - military day.JPG…and a whole bunch more sitting in the upper deck down the 1B line.

This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…

16 - padres camo jersey.JPG…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious.  That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.

Soon, the game was underway.  Ichiro led off with a walk…

17 - Ichiro walks in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…check out that view!  Unfortunately, as is happening way too much this season, Figgy erased Ichiro…

19 - Figgy GIDP in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…by grounding into a double play.

This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.

I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats.  It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:

20 - Felix baffles Eckstein in 1st 6-13-10.JPGBy the way, that is David Eckstein about to pop out to lead off the bottom of the first.  He would go 0-4 with 2 Ks against King Felix.

The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun.  No shade at all.  Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun.  But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…

21 - ice cream time 6-13-10.JPG…early in the game.  By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth.  He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips.  And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.

The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana.  Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…

22 - sacrificial felix.JPG…like this successful sacrifice in the top of the third.  Unfortuantely, this sacrifice ultimately did not produce any runs because Ichiro…

23 - Ichiro grounds out in 3rd 6-13-10.JPG…followed with a groundout for the final out of the top of the third inning.

 Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…

24 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 1.JPG…but the ball was low and must have knuckled.  I could see right off the bat that Guti was having trouble figuring out how far the ball would travel.  The ball was coming down quick…

25 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 2.JPG…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it.  But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall.  Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”

I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not.  After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns.  They’re fundamentally different than homeruns.  Pretty exicting.  I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.

 All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres.  We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…

26 - Milton Bradley post HR celebration.JPG…in the form of a traditional 2-run homerun in the top of the fourth.  The score was now tied 2-2, much better.

Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun.  So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before.  We headed up to the upper deck in RF… 

27 - exploring petco.JPG…where it looked like this:

27a - petco RF upper deck panorama.jpgThen we headed to the top of the upper deck in deep RCF:

28 - petco RCF upper deck back panorama.jpgFrom up there, we could look down on the Park in the Park…

28a - petco PITP from RF.JPG…the bleachers…

29 - petco bleachers from RF.JPG…and the Beach:

30 - petco beach from RF.JPGBy the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field.  Not a bright idea.  Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.

On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):

31 - TJCs petco RF ichiro.JPGWe noticed a weird little flag court area in the RF foul upper deck area where the Padres have flag depicting the league standings…

32 - petco hidden standings flags.JPG…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see.  In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.

Even from above, Felix looked dominant:

33 - felix from above 6-13-10.JPGWe decided to go up to the top of the RF foul seats behind the military guys.  Here was the view:

33a - petco RF foul upper military view panorama.jpg…and a very, very similar view (from just across the aisle and down a little bit from the last panorama:

33b - petco RF foul upper end military view panorama.jpgTim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:

34 - Tim and Zamora.JPGSometimes Tim is a little shy.  Just before these pictures, he walked down the stairs whispering “thank you” to the Marines.  I am positive that none of them heard him.

As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:

35 - petco architecture.JPGAt the very bottom in RF (it seemed like it was even lower than the field level), the concourse was full of military stuff.  Like this huge model aircraft carrier:

36 - petco aircraft carrier RF lower concourse.JPGBy the time we returned to our seats, Al had taken off.  So it was just the three of us roadtrippers when an ausher took this picture of us as Felix warms up in the background…

37 - 7th inning stretch at petco.JPG…with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

After our stadium tour, Tim did a much better job staying cooling in the seats.  He did some fake running poses…

39 - petco seat fun.JPG…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells.  See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture?  That old lady was unintentionally hilarious.  She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle.  At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence!  hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.

Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.

Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2.  The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.

Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins.  Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…

40 - jose lopez go ahead double in 8th 6-13-10.JPG…for a line drive double down the 3B line.  Chone touched home to grab a 3-2 lead for the Mariners.

Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…

41 - bradley works a HBP.JPG…the Padres weren’t too happy with the call, but Hernandez wasn’t persuaded to reconsider his call.

In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres.  Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson.  It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career.  Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.

Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.

That brought Ichiro to the plate.  Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead.  Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…

42 - ichiro foul bunt in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…next he watched a ball and foul tipped a stike…

43 - ichiro watches one 6-13-10.JPG…then with a count of 1-2, Ichiro got his pitch and played a little game of switcheroo with Johnson…

44 - ichiro insurance in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…Ichiro took Rob’s spot at second and Rob took Ichiro’s at home.  And just like that the Mariners had a 4-2 lead.

Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game.  But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried.  Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.

The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout.  In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel.  An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby.  He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.

I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel.  He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game?  Sure!”  And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:

45 - Felix goes 26 outs.JPGIn that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout.  He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez.  When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play.  But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.

Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game.  But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:

46 - happy totals from petco 6-13-10.JPGAfter the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire.  He was very nice.  But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.

Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…

47 - Cowboy Joe West and Tim.JPG…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball.  He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim.  He was very amused by his little prank.  And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.

I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt.  It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get.  The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games.  They take off quick.  So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.

Thank you, Joe West!  And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!

Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

The line started deep in the Park in the Park…

48 - like a parade.JPG…while waiting to get back into the stadium, the Marines marched by and the crowd gave them a long ovation as they filed by.  Tim was up on my shoulders and asked, “Is this a parade?”

We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:

49 - petco RTB approach.JPGThe line took a while to finally get into the field.  But finally we made it!  And it was awesome.  Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases.  Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400″ foot sign:

50 - TJCs and petco 400.JPGNormally during Kids Run The Bases, we have to ask other fans to take our pictures because the ushers just say, “Keep moving, keep moving.”

We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…

51 - Time the OF umpire.JPG…after I took those pictures, he told me he was standing like an umpire.

We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker.  This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…

52 - Tim makes the catch.JPG…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322″ like he was playing outfield.  Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball.  I absolutely love that jumping picture.  Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!

The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen.  Tim played a little catcher…

53 - Tim mans the bullpen plate.JPG…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate.  Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them.  But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen.  They missed out on some great photo opportunities!

Thanks, Padres!

Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…

54 - Tim and petco.JPG…and then I opened up this box and checked out the bullpen phone…

55 - Tim in petco bullpen.JPG…and Tim sat on the bullpen bench.

The Padres did a great job with the actual run too.  They spaced the kids out really well.  When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!”  So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing… 

56 - tim runs the bases petco.JPG…along the way, Tim gave the Friar a high speed high five.

My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:

After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed.  I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…

57 - TJCs and Petco 3B dugout.JPG…then an usher let my Dad hop down onto the field to get this picture with us…

58 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…and I transferred Tim over to my Dad’s shoulder to get this picture by the “336″ sign in LF:

59 - Tim and Grandpa 336.JPGBy the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence?  Those go into the Padres team store.  There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.

After that last picture, we headed out to our car…

60 - goodbye petco.JPG…and said our good-byes to Petco Park.  It was a great two game set in San Diego.

We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again.  After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…

62 - post game swim and mexican food.JPG…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall.  It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice.  So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.

2010 Fan Stats:

13 Games

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


61 - SD ICH and baseballs 6-13-10.JPG12 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 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)

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

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