September 2010

The Ichiro Line

We’re in Seattle on vacation and looking forward to our first home Mariners games of the season.  We’re still a few games behind in our game entries, but it seems like a good time to take an break from game entries and celebrate one of the best hitters ever —  Ichiro!

In ten seasons, Ichiro has had 200+ hits ten times.  Its as if he’s set his own Anti-Mendoza line (.200 avergae).  He’s set “The Ichiro Line” (200 hits in a season).

Its a remarkable feat.  Let’s take a look back at Ichiro’s ten seasons and see how rare a performance Ichiro has turned in ten times in a row.

Between 2001-2010, the top seasons in terms of players reaching The Ichiro Line were in 2006 and 2007, when 8 players reached The Ichiro Line.  The fewest Ichiro-Liners were in 2005 and 2008, when only 3 players in MLB reached the Ichiro Line.  Let’s check it out by year:

2001


25 - ichiromotion hit 184.jpg1.  Ichiro 242

2.  Rich Aurilia 206

2.  Bret Boone 206

4.  Shannon Stewart 202

4.  Juan Pierre 202

 

2002

1.  Alphonso Soriano 209

2.  Ichiro 208 (2)

3.  Vlad Guererro 206

4.  Miguel Tejada 204

4.  Bernie Williams 204

 

2003

1.  Vernon Wells 215

2.  Ichiro 212 (3)

2.  Albert Pujols 212

4.  Todd Helton 209

5.  Michael Young 204

5.  Juan Pierre 204

7.  Garret Anderson 201

 


20 - ichiro singles.jpg2004

1.  Ichiro 262 (4)

2.  Juan Pierre 221 (2)

3.  Michael Young 216 (2)

4.  Mark Loretta 208

5.  Vlad Guererro 206

6.  Miguel Tejada 203

7.  Jack Wilson 201

8.  Adrian Beltre 200

 

2005

1.  Michael Young 221 (3)

2.  Ichiro 206 (5)

3.  Derek Jeter 202

 

2006

1.  Ichiro 224 (6)

2.  Michael Young 217 (4)

3.  Miguel Tejada 214

3.  Derek Jeter 214 (2)

5.  Juan Pierre 204

6.  Chase Utley 203

7.  Freddy Sanchez 200

8.  Vlad Guerrero 200

 



Thumbnail image for 14 - Ichiro singles in 1st 6-12-10.JPG2007

1.  Ichiro 238 (7)

2.  Magglio Ordonez 216

2.  Matt Holliday 216

4.  Hanley Ramirez 212

4.  Jimmy Rollins 212

6.  Derek Jeter 206 (3)

7.  Michael Young 201 (5)

8.  Placido Polanco 200

 

2008

1.  Ichiro 213 (8)

2.  Dustrin Pedroia 213

3.  Jose Reyes 204

 

2009

1.  Ichiro 225 (9)

2.  Derek Jeter 212

3.  Robinson Cano 204

4.  Ryan Braun 203

 

2010

1.  Ichiro 214 (10)

2. Robinson Cano 200 (2)

 

As shown by the parentheses following certain players names above, Ichiro has a ten season streak of reaching The Ichiro Line.  The next longest streak of reaching The Ichiro Line belongs to Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Ryan Braun whose streaks all sit at 1-year.  There is very little chance that Jeter (170 hits) or Braun (184 hits) will extend their streaks to 2 years.   Cano, on the other hand, currently sits at 192 hits and is on pace for 199 hits.  Therefore, if he can scratch out at least one extra hit he will just barely extend his streak to 2 years of reaching The Inchiro Line.

Aside from Ichiro’s current 10-year streak, the next longest streak between 2001-2010 was 5-years by Michael Young (2003-07).   Since Young snapped his streak, he has yet to achieve The Ichiro Line again.

All five of the top five season hit totals between 2001-2010 belong to Ichiro:


20 - Ichiro's 149th hit of 2010 in 1st 6-14-10.JPG1. Ichiro 262 (’04)

2. Ichiro 242 (’01)

3. Ichiro 238 (’07)

4. Ichiro 225 (’09)

5. Ichiro 224 (’06)

6. Juan Pierre 221 (’04)

7. Michael Young 221 (’05)

8. Michael Young 217 (’06)

9. Michael Young 216 (’04)

10. Magglio Ordonez 216 (’07)

11. Matt Holliday 216 (’07)

12. Ichiro 214 (’10)

13. Miguel Tejada 214 (’06)

14. Derek Jeter 214 (’06)

15. Ichiro 213 (’08)

16. Dustin Pedroia 213 (’08)

17. Vernon Wells 213 (’03)

18. Ichiro 212 (’03)

19. Hanley Ramirez 212 (’07)

20. Jimmy Rollins 212 (’07)

21. Derek Jeter 212 (’09)

22. Albert Pujols 212 (’03)

23. Todd Helton 209 (’03)


35 - ichi-knocks moe.JPG24. Alphonso Soriano 209 (’02)

25. Ichiro 208 (’02)

26. Mark Loretta 208 (’04)

27. Ichiro 206 (’05)

28. Vlad Guererro 206 (’02)

29. Rich Aurilia 206 (’01)

20. Bret Boone 206 (’01)

31. Vlad Guerrero 206 (’04)

32. Derek Jeter 206 (’07)

33. Michael Young 204 (’03)

34. Juan Pierre 204 (’03)

35. Juan Pierre 204 (’06)

36. Robinson Cano 204 (’09)

37. Miguel Tejada 204 (’02)

38. Bernie Williams 204 (’02)

39. Jose Reyes 204 (’08)

40. Miguel Tejada 203 (’04)

41. Chase Utley 203 (’06)

42. Ryan Braun 203 (’09)

43. Shannon Stewart 202 (’01)

44. Juan Pierre 202 (’01)

45. Derek Jeter 202 (’05)

46. Garret Anderson 201 (’03)

47. Jack Wilson 201 (’04)

48. Michael Young 201 (’07)

49. Adrian Beltre 200 (’04)

50. Freddy Sanchez 200 (’06)

51. Vlad Guerrero 200 (’06)

52. Placido Polanco 200 (’07)

53. Robinson Cano 200 (’10)

 

There have been so many historically great hitters in Baseball’s storied-history — guys like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, George Sisler, Wee Willie Keeler, Tony Gwynn, and Roberto Clemente — so I am not going to make as to where percisely Ichiro ranks among the game’s greatest.  But one thing is clear:  Ichiro is clearly among the elite hitters in the history of Major League Baseball.

I’m looking forward to Ichiro continuing to put on a hitting clinic for the world in 2011.  And hopefully he will once again achieve:

THE ICHIRO LINE!

I-95 Day/Night Doubleheader (9/6/10)

At some point during the 2009 season, I got in my head that I really wanted Tim and I to attend a doubleheader.  But not a traditional doubleheader.  September 6, 2010 was finally the day.

I made sure we had all of our tickets in my backpack in the morning:

1 - two tickets.JPGIt would be a two city day/night doubleheader.  At 1:05 p.m., we would meet Washington, D.C.’s newest resident, my cousin Nathan, at Nationals Park for a game between the Mets and the Nationals.  Then, we would drive up I-95 to Philadelphia where we would see the Marlins take on he Phillies at 7:05 p.m.

We made it to Nationals Park with no troubles…

2 - first stop nationals park.JPG…and we were ready for a big day of baseball.

We made it in plenty of time for BP.  We decided to head over to RF where we could hang out in the shade, right in the corner spot above the Nationals bullpen.

3 - Nats BP.JPGAfter about 10 minutes, Livan Hernandez tossed us a baseball from a good way out into the RF grass.  After trying like crazy over the last month, I was finally able to get a picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt

4 - Livan Hernandez toss up.jpg…of a player throwing us a baseball with the ball in mid-air.  Its a hard picture to get and it helped that Hernandez was so far out into the OF.

Thanks, Livan!

Tim posed with his prize…

5 - Thanks Livan.JPG…and then he left the seats and headed over to the kids play area:

6 - play time.JPGWe hung out in or by the play area for about 15-20 minutes until my cousin, Nathan, arrived at the ballpark.

Nate just moved to D.C. and had never been to Nationals Park yet.  So, we toured around the stadium a bit.  We did a lap around the field level concourse and then headed up to the upper deck in LF where you can see the US Capitol building.

While up in LF, I got a picture of Tim and Nate:

7 - Tim and Nathan.JPGThen we walked around the upper deck concourse toward RF where there is a nice view of the Anacostia River.  Tim enjoys watching boats, you know.

After a bit more playing in the play area, we reported to our seats in the front row of section 141.  This was our view of the field:

8 - Nats Park section 141 row A seat 18 panorama.jpgI was surprised to find Nyjer Morgan playing CF…

9 - Nyger Morgan pending appeal of suspensions.JPG…and hitting lead off for the Nationals.  He’d just received two separate suspensions of 7 or 8 games each for various altercations.  But he’d appealed both suspensions and was in the line up.  He managed to behave himself all day for us.

Jordan Zimmerman started for the Nationals and gave up two unearned runs in the top of the first thanks to an error by SS Danny Espinosa.

With big Adam Dunn on base, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez couldn’t even the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the second…

10 - Ivan Rodriguez  Nats 2nd out in 2nd inning.JPG…instead, he flew out to Mets centerfielder Angel Pagan…as did his teammates, Roger Bernadina and Willie Harris.

It was sunny and hot all day in D.C.  It was like the sun was right on top of us.  Tim’s not a fan of the sun, but he made the best of it:

11 - tim happily endures the sun for now.JPGSpeaking of Willie Harris, he was playing RF for the Nats.  Leading off the top of the third inning, Mets right fielder Chris Carter hit a ball to the wall dierctly in front of our seats.  Harris came racing over at full speed.  He thought he had a play on the ball.  I stood up and leaned out as far as I could over the out-of-town scoreboard, but it was impossible to see the play directly below us.

After Willie raced out of our view, we heard a low *thud* and, all of a sudden, I saw a glove come flying into view and land half way across the warning track.

Harris had crashed into the unforgiving wall at full speed — interestingly, this same exact thing happened the last time we had front row seats in RF, but Jose Bautista made that catch — and Harris was hurting bad.  I was quick with the camera:

12 - Willie Harris meets the wall.JPGAfter Nyjer Morgan helped him to his feet, Harris walked out into the grass and fell down to his knees again.  Former Mariners manager and current Nats Manager, Jim Riggleman ran out to RF, as did the Nats trainer.  And the result was that former Mariner Mike Morse came in to replace Harris in RF.

We were having a good old time in our front row seats:

13 - Tim and Nathan.JPGWe spent a lot of time spitting sunflower seeds over the wall and onto the warning track, which Tim thought was great fun.

One of those FanFotos people came by to take our picture, and I got her to take our picture again with my camera…

14 - 3 dudes at Nats Park.JPG…Tim loves to NOT smile for those FanFotos people.

Eventually, the sun became too much for us.  So we headed for some shady seats in the RF foul corner.  That’s where we were when Teddy Roosevelt did not win the Presidents’ race…

15 - Teddy Loses Again.JPG…which we watched while Tim and Nathan enjoyed ice cream helmets…

16 - shady ice cream seats in section 136.JPG…Nate mentioned that it might have been his first ice cream helmet ever.

I took this panorama from our ice cream seats toward the back of section 136:

17 - nats park secton 136 ice cream seats panorama.jpgGoing into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mets were up 3-1.  But they were about to start giving up a whole bunch of runs.

After Ryan Zimmerman grounded out, Mike Pelfrey walked Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina.  Ivan Rodriguez then hit a looping line drive to Chris Carter in RF.  I’m pretty sure that I would have caught the ball.  But Carter came in and then couldn’t get back in time and the ball went over his head and all the way to the wall.  Dunn and Bernadina both scored and Rodriguez ended up on third, with a double advancing on the throw.

It was an incredibly sloppy play and this picture shows the Mets moping as they returned to their respective positions:

18 - Ivan Rodriguez 2RBI double in 4th 9-6-10.JPGThe Nats would score three more runs in the fourth before Adam Dunn…

19 - Adam Dunn.JPG…recorded the third out of the inning in his second at bat of the inning.  The damage was done.  The Nats led 6-3, and that was all that it would take.

After Tim and Nate finished their ice cream, we noticed that Abe Lincoln was in the concourse.  We raced after him and got this picture:

20 - Tim Nate and Honest Abe.JPGThen we took some seats in a shady spot just behind first base.  It was the sixth inning.  After watching this low pitch…

21 - Pudge in the 6th.JPG…Ivan Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly for the first run of the inning.  Four batters later, Danny Espinosa hit a grand slam.  That made the score 12-3 Nationals.

We relocated back to a shady spot in RF:

22 - shady RF seats to end the game.JPGI was starting to get nervous.  This game was taking forever.  I was hoping the game would conclude by 4pm because its a good 2-and-a-half hour drive from D.C. to Philadelphia.  It was 3:45 and it was still the 7th inning.

I told Nathan that we’d have to leave by 4:10.  It was disappointing, but I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and arrive extremely late to the Philadelphia game.

But then something amazing happened.  The entire 8th inning (from first pitch in the top of the inning to third out in the bottom of the inning) took about 8 minutes.  The top of the 8th literally took 2 minutes and only 6 pitches from Scott Olson: ground out 4-3, ground out 6-3, ground out 6-3.  The bottom of the 8th was almost as quick, but it included a double by Danny Espinosa (who went 4-5 with 6 RBI and 2 runs scored).

We ended up staying until the final out (luckily there was no bottom of the 9th).

And then we said our good-byes to Nathan and bolted to our car.

Luckily, the drive was a breeze.  Through Maryland, past Wilmington, Delaware…

23 - I-95 N Wilmington DE into PA.JPG…and into Pennsylvania.

As we approached Philadelphia, Tim and I discussed the fact that we were heading to the Phillies game.  Tim told me that after the Phillies game, we should drive around and find wherever the Mariners were playing and watch the Mariners game too.  Unfortunately, the Mariners had already played a day game in Oakland.  But I let the dream survive for a bit, I told Tim we’d try to see if we could track down the M’s after the Phillies game.

Twenty minutes before game time, we were in the parking lot at Citizens Bank Park…

24 - second stop philadelphia.JPG…and we were ready for some more baseball.

The Phillies were playing a double-header of their own.  Therefore, I highly doubt they even took BP before this game.  Whether they did or not, we didn’t see any BP in Philadelphia.

After entering the stadium, he headed down to the Phillies dugout…

25 -hello philadelphia.JPG…where we ended up seeing Mike Sweeney:

26 - Mike Sweeney.JPGI called out to Mike and when he turned around he was happy to see our Mariners jerseys.  We ended up chatting for a couple minutes.  I wished him good luck as he and his teammates push toward his first post-season appearance ever and I thanked him for all he did for the Mariners.

He was extremely cool and was very appreciative of our well-wishes and thanks you.

We pretty much hung out right there until the game was about to start, including during the national anthem:

27 - phillies anthem.jpgWe were there to see Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez walk into the dugout after doing his final pre-game stretching:

28 - Ibanez ready for game.JPGIt was game time, so we reported to our assigned seats in section 104, row 14, seats 4-5.  We really like these seats.  They provide a great view of the ballgame and an opportunity to catch a long ball if you’re lucky.  We were not.

In the first inning, I had my camera trained on controversial star, Hanley Ramirez…

29 - Roy Oswalt to Hanley Ramirez.JPG…but he provided no fireworks in this at-bat.

On the hill for the Phils was their newest Roy…

30 - more Oswalt.JPG…Roy Oswalt.  And in the bottom right of that picture?  Playing right field right in front of us was former Reading Phillies star, Domonic Brown:

31 - Dominic Brown former R-Phil.JPGBrown was one of the offensive stars of the night last season when we saw Pedro Martinez pitch a tune-up game for the R-Phils.

While the action played out behind him, Tim had fun with his fingers:

32 - fun with fingers.JPG“Take a picture of this!  Take a picture of this!”

In the top of the second inning, I found something else that was picture-worthy:  young slugger Mike Stanton:

33 - whiff before mega-bomb.JPGThis was a somewhat confusing at-bat…for both me and Stanton.  On this swing, Mike and I both thought he struck out.  You can faintly see the ball in “Chooch” Ruiz’s glove.  Stanton turned and marched back to the Marlin’s dugout.  I put my camera away and figured we’d catch some Stanton-based fireworks later in the game.

But it turns out that Ruiz dropped the ball.

Stanton marched back to the plate and crushed the longest homerun we’ve ever seen at Citizens Bank Park:

34 - second effort second deck by Mike Stanton.JPGIt was an absolute missle.  The green arrow shows where it landed.

Stanton was Brown’s counterpart in right field so we had a good few of him.  He’s a big guy:

35 - big mike stanton.JPGThe Stanton homerun put the Fish up 1-0.

But the Phils came roaring back in the bottom of the second inning.  The Phils scored their first run of the night on a bases loaded walk by Carlos Ruiz.

Two batters later, Shane Victorino hit an RBI single to RF, but Mike Stanton cut down Domonic Brown at home for the second out of the inning.

Palacido Polanco then followed with a 2-RBI ground rule double and Chase Utley drove in the final run of the inning with a single.

The Phillies’ 5-run second inning gave them a 5-1 lead, and it was our (Tim’s and my) third 5-run half inning of the day.

Hey, two games in a day suits us.  We were having a great time:

36 - TJC in Citz OF section 104.JPGWe sat in these seats earlier in the season and did a panorama, but it was a day game.  So how about a night time panorama from section 104:

36a - Citz section 104, row 14, seat 4 night panorama.jpgWith his team trailing 5-1 and with two outs in the inning, Hanley Ramirez had his second at-bat of the night in the top of the third inning, and this time he did his job…

37 - HR for Hanley Ramirez.JPG…this swing sent the ball into the first row in LCF.  Rookie Logan Morrison scored on Ramirez’s homerun and after 2-and-a-half innings, the Phillies led 5-3.

We decided to take a trip to the kids play area…

38 - second stadium second playset.JPG…both of the day’s stadiums feature excellent kids’ play areas.  The Phillies’ play area is a bit bigger and it has a TV for the dads (D.C. does not), however it is usually extremely packed.

After the play area, we visited the main entrance on the 3B side of the stadium where we had noticed a bunch of painted Phanatics on our way into the game.  Tim decided to get his picture with all twenty Phanatics, including these…

39 - four phantics and Tim.jpg….and these…

40 - Tim and four more phanatics.jpg…these ones too…

41 - Tim and still four more phanatics.jpg…and four more…

42 - even more phanatics and Tim.jpg….and of course these ones too:

43 - Tim and last four Phanatics.jpgIf forced to pick, I would say my favorite was the Ben Franklin Phanatic (first Phanatic in the second row of Phanatics pictures).

After the Phanatics, we stopped by our usual Philadelphia ice cream spot for a huge ice cream helmet:

IMG_0323.JPGTim doesn’t usually like sharing his ice cream helmet.  However, we made a deal, we shared a helmet at both games so at the end of the day we both essentially ate one helmet a piece.

Back in our seats, I got this “action” shot of Stanton manning RF…

44 - Stanton deeper than Brown.JPG…which makes it look like he was playing a bit deeper than Brown.

The Marlins tacked on their final run of the night on a 5th inning homerun by Cameron Maybin.  That made it a 1-run game until the Phils scored two more in the bottom of the inning.  After Polanco led off the inning with a triple, Chase Utley hit him in with a single to centerfield.   A couple batters later, Raul Ibanez hit a double to CF that scored the final run of the game.

Late in the game, we headed to the 3B side.  The original plan was to try to get down by the umpires’ tunnel to try to get a baseball from the homeplate umpire, but we ended up finding some seats in section 131, which is a section or two over from the umpires’ tunnel.  This was our view:

45 - Citz section 131 panorama.jpg

In that panorama, a Marlins rookie who we had never heard of was pitching.  His name was Jay Buente and he pitched the final two innings of the night for the Fish.

By the end of the game, we made it down to the third row:

46 - late innings good seats.JPGThe stadium was electric as Brad Lidge came in to go for the save…

47 - Lidge on for save.JPG…after striking out Wes Helms and popping out Mike Stanton, Emilio Bonifacio hit a single on a full-count.  But Lidge then struck out pinch-hitter Scott Cousins for the final out of the game.

The score board showed the final:

48 - Phils win.JPGWe hung out for a few minutes…

49 - Two guys two cities two games.JPG…in case a kind Marlin wanted to toss a baseball up to Tim.  No one did.  Amazingly, it was somehow the first game of the season that we haven’t collected at least one baseball to display on Tim’s dresser.

I mentioned to Tim, “Well, it looks like we won’t get a baseball at this game.”  Tim responded, “That’s okay, we got one this morning.”  That’s a good attitude.

And it was a great day:  morning, noon and night.

Speaking of night, we took a couple funny pictures in the parking lot before hopping in the car for the drive home…

50 - end of a great day.JPG….on the drive, I broke the bad news to Tim that I had found out that the Mariners had already played earlier in the day.  We wouldn’t be able to go find their game.  So we just headed home.

Amazingly, after this long day of baseball, Tim stayed awake almost all the way home.

Two games in two cities in one day was an awesome experience.  We were there for all 18 innings.  We’d definitely do it again. 

2010 Fan Stats:

24 Games

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

20 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

55 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees)

12 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, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field) 

Baseball Ph.D. Interview

A couple weeks ago, I received an email unlike any other I’d ever received:  Ed Kasputis from Baseball Ph.D. wrote to request an interview in connection with Baseball Ph.D.’s forthcoming Seattle Mariners Podcast.

Baseball Ph.D. pitches itself as a baseball tour company for your mind.  And their tag line, and really the philosophy behind the thing is “Getting a Ph.D. in life — through Baseball.”  In my discussions with Ed, I learned that he started Basebal Ph.D. after reading a book “The Catcher Was a Spy” about the fascinating life of former Major League Baseball player and U.S. spy, Moe Berg.

The interview took place a couple weeks ago.  And this past Friday, the Mariners podcast was released on the Baseball Ph.D. website:

baseball phd on seattle mariners.jpgMy interview is about half way into the 40 minute podcast, which was the final installment in a week’s worth of Seattle-based entries posted on the Baseball Ph.D. website.

Why don’t you head over to Baseball Ph.D. and check it all out.  While you are there, you can listen to podcasts and learn about all of the other Major League baseball teams and cities.

Mariners and The City (8/21/10)

On August 21, 2010, the weekend after our Cleveland trip, we headed up to NYC to see our Mariners play in the Bronx:

1 - Bronx Gate 6.JPG

We were planning on seeing the M’s play Saturday, spend the night in a hotel and then get right back at it on Sunday for a second game.  Although they played the Sunday game (with a 1-hour mid-game delay), the rain washed out our Sunday plans.  But that was okay, because we packed a ton of excitement into our Saturday in NYC.

When we entered the ballpark, the batting cage was set up and a couple players (including C.C. Sabbathia) were playing catch with their kids in shallow CF behind the “bucket.”  We decided to head over to LF to see if anyone was in the Mariners bullpen.

As we walked into section 136, this was our view: 

1a - Yankee Stadium LF field level panorama.jpgWith a day of baseball just getting underway on the field, we decided it was time to take a picture for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt…

2 - pink backpack.JPG…we borrowed the pink backpack from Tim’s cousin, Kate.  (Thanks, Kate!)  The funniest thing about this picture is that Tim put his glove on the wrong hand!

Then, as I watched the action in the Mariners bullpen, Tim played like crazy with a little give-away truck he’d received upon entering the stadium:

3 - WB Mason truck.JPGHe was having a blast with that little truck.  He really loved that it was a delivery truck with a removable top.  We’ll check in later to see what Tim was delivering.

Here was the aforementioned “action” in the Mariners bullpen:

4 - Moore doing work in pen.JPGPitching coach Carl Willis was throwing wild pitch-after-wild pitch at Adam Moore.  Moore was bouncing and sliding all over the place trying his best to keep the pitches in front of him.  One of the “pitches” bounced up, hit Moore in the mask and bounced over the wall behind him.

As the home team hit, the Mariners pitchers came out to play catch in LF.  Tim and I headed around into foul territory to stand behind the pitchers on the foul line:

5 - Sweeney and Wright.JPGTwo seconds after arriving there, I called out to Brian Sweeney.  He spun around, found me, and lobbed a baseball in our direction.  Unfortunately, it fell about 3 feet short and a fan of the other team reached up and bare handed it.  Sweeney looked at me and shrugged a big, “uh, oh.  sorry.”  The guy who snatched the ball 10 inches in front of my glove looked up at and made eye contact with me.  My first thought was that he saw Tim and realized he just stole a ball from a kid and was going to give it to him.

I said, “No problem, man.  Its all good.”

He didn’t say a word.  He just kept looking at me with this weird, somewhat ambiguous look.  It wasn’t a look of happiness, or shame, or gloating.  It was sort of like, “Yeah, I stole it.  Deal with it.”  Then, the second he broke his 3 second stare at me, he took off and was gone.

Soon, we were about to be gone too.  An usher started walking through the section checking everyone’s tickets and telling people to leave if they didn’t have field level seats.  Finally, he made his way to us.

I tried to sweet talk him, “can we just stay for a few more minutes?  We came a long way, we just want to see the M’s warm up and then we’ll leave.”

“Sorry,” he respond with no real remorse in his voice, “you only get 40 minutes of batting practice.”

So we slowly made our way up the stairs.  I could see an usher in every section enforcing the “you only get 40 minutes of batting practice” rule.  All of them were in the first couple rows just off of the field.  So, instead of heading into the concourse, we cut to the right around the 20th or 25th row…

6 - Circuitous route out.JPGWe walked two and a half sections into the OF seats when I spotted an usher who was mid-section and heading toward CF.  She’d already checked overyone to the right (closer to the LF foul pole) so we headed back down…you know, just for one more peak at the field.

We headed to the first row and did our best job of looking like people with $100 tickets (Note: we’re never the guys with the $100 tickets).

This was the view from the $100 OF seats…

7 - well lets take one more look.JPG

We nestled into that open spot in front of little A-Rod with the luggage tag on his hat.

I just wanted to see if Brian Sweeney would give us another shot.  Unfortunately, he was deep into CF now as he played catch with Jamey Wright.  It wasn’t going to happen.  So, I started to tell Tim that it was time to head out of there.

Just then, I heard the crack of the bat, and I look up to see a ball sailing our way.  It was probably 10 feet to my left — around where the luggage-tagless Teixeira kid is standing.  I extended my glove up to a sea of gloves (along with the blue chip guy and the guy next to Teixeira).  I thought to myself, “I have no clue if I WILL, but I really MIGHT catch this!”

BOOM!

The ball slammed into my glove.

Wow…I caught a BP homer on the fly!

 

8 - marcus thames clean catch BP HR.JPGBy the way, I was right around the green “X” several pictures above when I caught the baseball.

Tim had never seen me catch a hit baseball on the fly at a MLB ballpark.  He was super excited.  He told me (and later his mom and his grandparents on the phone) about the catch countless times over the rest of the day — “daddy jumped up super high speed right on the edge of the seats and caught the ball and the whole crowd went ‘WOAH!’ when he got it!”

It might have been his proudest moment ever of his dear old dad.

Anyway, it was time to explore the stadium a bit.

We passed through Bronx Central Station heading from the RF corner toward home plate.  As we walked, we noticed that all of the big pictures of past baseball legends were in black and white…

9 - sterile hall.JPG…then Tim looked back and noticed that the other side the black and white banners featured pictures of modern day (or closer to modern day) players that were in color.

Next, we headed up top to (I think) section 329, where this was the view as we watched Felix Hernandez play catch with Jason Phillips:

9a - upper deck view of felix and jason.jpgHere’s a close up to prove it…

10 - Felix from above.JPG…yep, it was King Felix, alrighty.

Tim requested a picture with his truck:

11 - Tim and his truck.JPGAnd then we headed down to LCF to watch some more “action” in and around the Mariners bullpen.  As we hung out in the first row of section 238, Tim played with his truck on the cement wall, which made a perfect road for him:

12 - CF trucking.JPGIn that last picture, his truck had crached into the “tree” along the side of the road.

As Tim played with his truck, I watched as some stadium workers removed the netting…

13 - odd netting decisions.JPG…protecting monument park, which seemed odd to me.  Maybe the nets are there solely to protect the fans in monument park during BP.  But I’d always figured they were also supposed to protect the monuments from getting clobbered by homerun balls.

We also watched the M’s get ready for the game.  The first ones out there were Josh Bard and Jason Phillips:

14 - phillips and bard.JPGWhile we waited for starting pitcher, Jason Vargas, to join Bard and Phillips, Tim showed off what he was hauling in his delivery truck:

15 - Tims cargo.JPGFinally, Vargas arrived.  After stretching, he played catch with Bard in the outfield:

16 - vargas-to-vargas.JPGThen they took it to the bullpen:

17 - vargas bullpen.JPGI’m a big fan of Vargas.  He’s been pitching superbly this season (with no run support).  But I was a little concerned.  He looked fine in the bullpen, but I could hear him making some comments that led me to believe he didn’t think his pitches were popping as much as he wanted them to.

I took the following picture just because I thought it looked cool that a bunch of his colleagues were standing around watching Jason warm up:

18 - vargas rolls with a posse.JPGThe M’s pitchers like to stick together and support one another.  I like it.

Finally, Vargas was ready and everyone showed him some pre-game love:

19 - go get em vargas.JPGOur seats were actually in RCF in section 201, but for some reason we decided to hang out at the back of section 238 and 239 in the LF bleachers…

20 - LF bleacher concourse diagram.JPGWe started out at the yellow “X’ at the back of section 238 (the red “X” shows where we later ending up eating nachos).  The obstructed view from out there (especially in section 239) is almost unconscionable — particularly when you realize they spent something like $1.5 BILLION dollars building this stadium.  Nevertheless, we choose to sit here when we actually had better seats.

Here was our view in the first inning:

21 - obstructed view from section 238.JPGAnd let me tell you, the obstruction came into play BIG TIME.

Not on this pitch…

22 - Ichi-jack.JPG…but Ichiro led off the game with a homerun to RCF.  Us poor suckers at the back of section 238 had no clue what was happening.  All we saw was a ball driven toward the RCF gap and out of our view.  We waited.  There was no audible signs from the crowd as to what might have happened (no cheers for an out or groans for a hit).  But then Ichiro just kept running.  He circled the bases for a homerun.  Easily the oddest homerun I have ever witnessed.  Not because of the hit iself, but because of our massively obstructed view of it.

Two batters later, the obstruction came into play again.  This time, it was a little different.  Russell “The Muscle” Branyan uncorked what I understand was the longest homerun hit so far at this new stadium in the Bronx (and the first to reach the upper deck).  It was an absolute no-doubter homerun…

23 - upper deck branyan.JPG…unlike Ichiro’s blast two batters earlier, us folks behind the obstruction knew this was a homerun immediately upon contact.  In fact, neither of the 2 outfielders in our view even moved a muscle.  We knew it was a homerun, but we had no clue where the ball landed.  In fact, I only learned that it was an upper deck shot when I saw a replay on a nearby TV screen.

So, bottom line is that at the end of the top of the first the Mariners had hit two homeruns, but we’d seen neither land in the seats.

It was time for Vargas to take the mound.  Things didn’t go well from the start.

Lead off hitter, Derek Jeter, hit a weak grounder…

24 - jeter going both ways.JPG…that Vargas got a piece of, but couldn’t secure.  Essentially, he just slowed the ball down so second baseman Chone Figgins had no shot at throwing out Jeter.

The home team would go on to score four runs in the bottom of the first on a 2-RBI single by Robinson Cano and a 2-run home run by Jorge Posada.

 Fortunately, Vargas would settle down after the shaky first inning.

Tim and I were hungry so we went to the nacho stand.  I asked for some nachos and the guy asked “with what on ‘em?”  I said, “I don’t know.  What do you got?”  “Everything,” he replied.

Well, I don’t know if he really had everything, but he certainly put together some delicious nachos for us…

25 - wholly nachos.JPG…with heaping helpings of cheese, ground beef, and guacamole.  Or as Tim said, “Guaca!”

For another unknown reason, we decided to eat our nachos in the last row of section 239.  It was like we were asking to not be able to see half of the game.   Here was our ridiculously obstructed view:

26 - obstructed view from section 239.JPGI can’t imagine that there is a worse obstructed view in MLB.  And guess what?  It came into play again.

Yep, on the second pitch in the top of the third inning (this pitch!)….

27 - ichi-jack part 2.JPG…Ichiro blasted a drive that quickly sored out of our view and, moments later, into the stands in RF.  It was another Ichiro homerun, and once again we did not see it land in the seats.  (FYI, in that picture, the ball is right below Ichiro’s neck).

On Ichiro’s second homerun of the game and an RBI single by Casey Kotchman, the Mariners tied up the score at 4-4 in the third inning.  And it would stay that way until the 7th inning.

That was enough of LCF for us, we moved over to section 202 (RF’s mirror image of section 238), which was right next to the section of our actual seats (section 201 — the RF mirror image of section 239).

While there was still an obstruction our in LF, the view was much better from the back of section 202…and this ice cream helmet made it evern better:

28 - Bronx sundae.JPGWhile my camera is excellent for taking zoomed-in pictures, it just can’t compete with this monster professional lens that was standing behind us for much of the second half of the game:

29 - Ichi-Stalker.JPGThis lady was there to take pictures of Ichiro for the Kyoto News, and she probably got a much better pictures of Ichiro than these:

30 - ichi-grab.JPGIn the seventh inning, Vargas started to struggle again.  He ended up giving up another run and was then pulled with two of his runners on base…

31 - obligatory OF huddle.JPG…Ichiro, Gutierrez and Sauders did the obligatory OF huddle while Jamey Wright warmed up on the mound.  Wright then promptly allowed both of Vargas’s runners to score.  And just like that the M’s were trailing 7-4.

We decided to roam around a little bit.  As Franklin Gutierrez batted in the top of the eighth, we found ourselves on top of the view obstructing batters’ eye sports bar:

32 - bronx straight away.JPGGutierrez went down on strikes.

Just then, I looked toward RF and I noticed something new…

33 - Is That Springsteen.JPG…wait, isn’t Bruce Springsteen “The Boss”?

The team in the white-striped pajamas scored two more runs in the bottoms of the 8th.  All of a sudden, the game was out of hand.  It was a real shame because it was a great game for the first 6-and-a-half innings.

In the top of the ninth, we were ready to leave a little early to go see a bit of the city, but we had to stick around to see Ichiro’s final at bat of the day.

Mariano Rivera was brought on in a non-save situation…

34 - What you got Moe.JPG…so it was future Hall of Famer vs. future Hall of Famer…

35 - ichi-knocks moe.JPG…and our future Hall of Famer won the battle.  Ichiro hit this pitch to left field for his third hit of the day.  We would be waiting for the subway across the street when Russel Branyan hit Ichiro in for the final run of the game.

Unfortunately, the M’s couldn’t rally and they lost 9-5.

Despite the loss, it was a fun day at the ballpark.  Now, it was time to find more fun exploring Manhatten.

First, we headed downtown to our hotel.  While waiting for the No. 1 train in the upper west side…

36 - subway rat.JPG…Tim spotted a huge rat searching for a snack on the tracks.  It would be the first of many huge rats we’d see before retiring for the night.

We stayed at the Club Quarters hotel.  I knew it was downtown by the World Trade Center area, but I wasn’t sure exactly where it was located.  As we tracked street addresses on the way to the hotel, we kept getting closer and closer to “ground zero.”

When we reached the hotel entrance, we could see cranes just behind the hotel.  When we reached our room… 

37 - club quarters world trade center.JPG…and pulled back the shades, we were looking straight down into the ground zero construction site.  Ground Zero literally came right up to the edge or our hotel.  It was pretty crazy.  I figured we’d never see Ground Zero like this again, so I took a little video clip:

After relaxing at our hotel a bit, we headed out into Manhatten.  We rode the 1-Train up to 59th Street & Columbus Circle — which is right at the southwest corner of Central Park.  We brought Tim’s bat and a couple foam baseballs and Tim did some hitting in one of the baseball fields in the park:

38 - central park baseball.JPGIt was pretty cool.  A couple times some random passersby stopped to watch Tim hit.  After it got too dark to see my pitches, we packed up the baseball stuff and went on our way.  While heading south to the edge of the Park, Tim posed for a picture on one of the HUGE rocks in the Park (bottom right photo above).  He wanted to climb all over the rocks and in a play area that we passed through, but it was getting too dark to see.

We headed back into the concrete jungle of Manhatten.  We walked down 7th Street toward Times Square until we found my favorite place to grab a bite to eat in Manhatten…

39 - dinner at Rays.JPGRay’s Pizza (at 49th & 7th)!  Tim devoured a huge piece of cheese pizza…and so did I.

Then it was back into out to the street.  We made our way a couple more blocks south toward Times Square.  I took this picture as we approached Times Square:

40 - approaching Times Square.JPGWe reached Times Square at about 9:00 p.m.  It was pandamoneum.  People were everywhere:

41 - pandamonium.JPGTim was excited to be out and about and in the middle of all this action.  This picture does a terrible job of capturing his mood at the moment…

42 - Tim and a lot of people.JPG…but sadly it is the only one I took.  Oops.

In the middle of all the people, we found a guy painting an interesting picture of President Obama:

43 -  puzzling obama.JPGI always enjoyed watching the painters on the street and in Rittenhouse Square when I used to live in Center City Philadelphia.  Tim enjoyed watching this guy paint this picture.

Just down the street, we found everyone staring up at the side of a building…

44 - cant find us.JPG…watching this huge TV screen and waving to try to find where they were in the picture.  Tim was on my shoulders and I can’t find us anywhere in that picture.

At the south end of Times Square, we saw “the ball” for 2010:

45 - ball dropped and rose again.JPGI walked us down to the Times Square subway station at 42nd Street.  As we made our way underground to our train, we found this cool band playing…

46 - subway rockers.JPG…I can’t tell for sure, but it was something like a 10-12 piece band.  They were rocking pretty good.  I always enjoy the musicians in the subway tunnels in NYC.

We took the 1-Train down just a little bit to Penn Station…Hmm…I think it was Penn Station.  It was definitely 34th Street.  We’d had a plan since the morning, go up to the top of that building where Buddy the Elf’s dad works.

This building:

46a - tracking the empire state building.JPGIn the morning, Tim picked out Buddy the Elf’s dad’s building (as the “pointy” building) from the car as we made our way from New Jersey toward the George Washington Bridge.

About 12 hour later, we finally made it to the Empire State Building…

47 - empire.JPG…after waiting in an incredibly long, and frustrating line on the 2nd and 80th floors for about an hour, and then walking up the final six flights of stairs with Tim on my shoulders, we finally made it to the top of the Empire State Building at around 11:00 p.m.

48 - empire state building view.JPGThe view was pretty cool lookng north toward Central Park and Times Square.  The lights of the city were pretty cool.  The only problem was that the east, south, and west sides of the building were really windy.  An extremely tired Tim was not a fan of the wind.  So we weren’t up there all that long.

Still, it was cool.  I got this picture of the tip of the building from the observation deck:

49 - pointing.JPGBy the way, if you take a baseball bat to the Empire State Building, they’ll make you check it at a security desk on the second floor.  After we retreived Tim’s bat, we headed back to the 1-Train.  Tim fell asleep on my shoulders while waiting for the subway.  Finally, I made it back to our hotel where our long and exciting day finally came to an end.  That bed felt great after being on the go since about 7:00 a.m.

As I mentioned, we did not go to the Sunday game because it was raining (and this Stadium does not have a kids play area or really anything designed to entertain a kid during a long rain delay).  It ended up being just fine that we missed the game because the Mariners got destroyed by a score of 10-0.

After a pizza “brunch”…

52 - tim sized pizza.JPG…at Ray’s Pizza at 82nd & Columbus, we hopped in our car and were home in time to watch part of the game on TV and spend a nice Sunday with Colleen and Kellan.

2010 Fan Stats:

22 Games

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

18 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals, Indians, Yankees)

54 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees)

12 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, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

100 Baseballs

Tim and I have a blast going to MLB games (particularly, of course, Mariners games).

I am a goal-oriented guy and I’ll admit that I set all sorts of goals for things that I would like Tim to experience at games.  I’ll also admit (as I must) that I have always loved catching a baseball in the stands at a game.  However, other than some very basic things (e.g., I’d really love for us to catch a game homerun or a game foul ball), I don’t really set goals related to catching baseballs at games.

Basically, we just show up for BP and hope to find a baseball in our glove by the end of the night.  Often times, after we get a baseball during BP, we leave the field level to go explore the stadium during the rest of BP over visit the kids’ play area.

But things changed a little over the past few weeks:  I set a goal.

It all started on September 12, 2006.  Tim got his first baseball from Davis Romero…

10 - tim's first ball ever.jpg…at his first game ever.  He was about seven months old.  About 3 years and 10 months later, we had collected about 80 baseballs.

Now, Tim thinks that “100” is just about the biggest and best number ever.  When trying to describe something *HUGE*, Tim often invokes the number 100 (e.g., “It was ONE HUNDRED BIG!”) 

So, one day I noticed on the MyGameBalls.com milestone tracker that it said *we* were approaching the 100 baseball milestone.  On MyGameBalls.com, Tim and I are signed up as a two-person team.  I started thinking that it would be cool if we could get to 100 baseballs before our little 2-man team takes on a third teammate on October 1, 2010, when Tim’s little brother Kellan makes his MLB debut at Safeco Field.

Still, it was a long shot.  In fact, there is no way it would have happened if not for the fact that we lucked out in Cleveland a couple weeks ago by finding seven “Easter Eggs” (our first and only ever) before witnessing a wonderful Mariners win over the Tribe.  All of a sudden, with just about a month to go before Kellan’s first game, it became an actual possibility that Tim and I might acheive the century mark before Kellan joins our MLB exploration squad.

Well, on September 12, 2010, sitting on 98 baseballs, we headed to Washington, D.C., for Tim’s 4th Annual MLB Anniversary Game.  I thought it would be incredibly cool to reach the 100 baseball milestone on Tim’s MLB annivesary, which is always one of the highlights of the season for us.

There was no BP due to the soggy weather conditions.  Nevertheless, quite possibly the very first baseball to find its way into the stands traveled from the pitching hand of Florida Marlin Alex Sanabia…

IMG_0414.JPG…to the happy little hands of this guy:

IMG_0418.JPG…and that made 99.

About 40 minutes later, Marlins pitcher Jay Buente finished playing catch with his partner down the LF line.  He started walking back toward the bullpen baseball bag.  But then he took a hard left turn, walked our way, and deposited the big number 1-0-0 right here:

And Buente was kind enough to stick around to pose for a picture with Tim:

IMG_0426.JPGBy the way, Tim has the milestone baseball in his left hand in that picture.

After Buente went on his way, Tim held up the baseball up and proclaimed with joy “We’ve got *one hundred* baseballs!!”  [BTW, he said that if we can get six more we will have *one million* baseballs!)

I grew up in a different era and did not get my first baseball until I was around 12 years old, after attending countless games at the Kingdome.  Thus, when we went to Tim’s first game four years ago, I never imagined we would have 100 baseballs four years later.

Although “100” seems like a ton of baseballs, each one has been special to us.  We haven’t forgotten a detail about how any of these 100 baseballs came into our hands.  To every player, coach, trainer, umpire and stadium attendant who has picked Tim out as a worthy recipient of an official MLB baseball, each of you made our day and we offer a very sincere:

Thank you!!!

Let’s take a look at Tim’s collection (click to enlarge): 

100 baseballs.jpgFrom left-to-right, top-to-bottom, here is a run down of Tim’s 100 baseballs: 

  1. Davis Romero (Blue Jays) – BP toss up at Safeco Field.  (Sept. 12, 2006).
  2. Unidentified Blue Jay* – BP toss up at Safeco Field (Sept. 12, 2006).
  3. Brandon Morrow (Mariners) – Toss up during rain delay (Aug. 9, 2007).
  4. Glenallen Hill (Rockies) – In-game toss up at Citizens Bank Park (Sept. 12, 2007).
  5. Chris Perez (Cardinals) – BP toss up at Great American Ball Park (Aug. 15, 2008).
  6. Danny Bautista (Pirates) – Pre-game toss up at PNC Park (Aug. 18, 2008).
  7. Jarrod Washburn (Mariners) – In-game toss up at Safeco Field (May 1, 2009).
  8. Unidentified Mariner – BP homerun caught on fly at Safeco Field (May 4, 2009).
  9. Unidentified Ranger – BP homerun snagged on bounce at Safeco Field (May 4, 2009).
  10. Ian Kinsler (Rangers) – Pre-game toss up at Safeco Field (May 5, 2009).
  11. Jimmy Rollins (Phillies) – Pre-game toss up at Nationals Park (May 17, 2009).
  12. Baltimore Police Officer – BP toss up Camden Yards (June 10, 2009).
  13. Guillermo Quiroz (Mariners) – BP tossup at Camden Yards (June 10, 2009).
  14. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – Pre-game toss at Camden Yards (June 10, 2009).
  15. Jim Joyce (Umpire) – First umpire baseball – Camden Yards (June 28, 2009).
  16. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – In-game toss up at Yankee Stadium (July 2, 2009).
  17. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – Autographed post-game at Yankee Stadium (July 2, 2009).
  18. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – BP toss up at Fenway Park (July 3, 2009).
  19. Lee Tinsley (Mariners) – Pre-game toss up from dugout at Fenway Park (July 3, 2009).
  20. Bullpen Attendant (Red Sox) – Post-game toss up from Red Sox bullpen (July 3, 2009).
  21. Erik Bedard (Mariners) – Pre-game at Fenway Park (King Felix Auto) (July 4, 2009).
  22. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – BP Green Monster toss up at Fenway park (July 5, 2009).
  23. Erik Bedard (Mariners) – BP toss up at Fenway Park (July 5, 2009).
  24. Nelson Robledo (Nationals) – In-game toss up at Nationals Park (July 19, 2009).
  25. Ronny Cedeno (Pirates) – GFS BP toss up at Wrigley Field (Aug. 14, 2009).
  26. Unidentified Twin (Twins) – GFS BP toss up at H.H.H. Metrodome (Aug. 15, 2009).
  27. Bud Norris (Astros) – GFS BP toss up at Miller Park (Aug. 16, 2009).
  28. Willie Bloomquist (Royals) – GFS BP toss up at U.S. Cellular Field (Aug. 17, 2009).
  29. David Aardsma (Mariners) – BP toss up at Progressive Field (Aug. 22, 2009).
  30. Stadium Attendant (Indians) – BP baseball at Progressive Field (Aug. 22, 2009).
  31. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – Pre-game at Progressive Field (Aug. 22, 2009).
  32. Stadium Attendant (Yankees) – In-game BP baseball (Sept. 12, 2009).
  33. Stadium Attendant (Mariners) – In-game from Safeco Field bullpen (Sept. 17, 2009).
  34. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – In-game toss up at Safeco Field (Sept. 17, 2009).
  35. Garrett Olson (Mariners) – Pre-game toss up at Rogers Centre (Sept. 26, 2009).
  36. Brandon Morrow (Mariners) – Pre-game toss up at Rogers Centre (Sept. 26, 2009).
  37. Ryan Rowland-Smith (Mariners) – Toss up to Tim at Rogers Centre (Sept. 26, 2009).
  38. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – Post-game toss up at Rogers Centre (Sept. 26, 2009).
  39. Jose Cruz, Sr. (Astros) – BP toss up at Citi Field (Oct. 3, 2009).
  40. Strech Suba (Astros) – Pre-game toss up at Citi Field (Oct. 3, 2009).
  41. Damien Beal (Umpire) – Post-game at Citi Field (Oct. 3, 2009).
  42. Jeremy Accardo (Blue Jays) – BP toss up at Camden Yards (Oct. 4, 2009).
  43. Todd Tichenor (Umpire) – Post-game (end of season) at Camden Yards (Oct. 4, 2009).
  44. Cito Gaston (Blue Jays) – Pre-game toss up at Camden Yards (April 10, 2010).
  45. Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays) – BP toss up at Camden Yards (April 10, 2010).
  46. “Cowboy” Joe West (Umpire) – BP at Camden Yards (April 10, 2010).
  47. Julian Martinez (Nationals) – Pre-game toss up at Nationals Park (April 18, 2010).
  48. Stadium Attendant – BP toss up at Nationals Park (April 18, 2010).
  49. Stadium Attendant – BP toss up at Nationals Park (April 18, 2010).
  50. Stadium Attendant – Pre-game at Nationals Park (April 18, 2010).
  51. Jim Lett (Nationals) – In-game toss up from bullpen (April 18, 2010).
  52. Mike Everitt (Umpire) – Post-game at Nationals Park (April 18, 2010).
  53. LaTroy Hawkins (Brewers) – Post-game toss up at Nationals Park (April 18, 2010).
  54. Bruce Dreckman (Umpire) – Post-game at Citi Field (April 24, 2010).
  55. J.C. Romero (Phillies) – BP toss up at Citizens Bank Park (May 1, 2010).
  56. Dave Racaniello (Mets) – Post-game toss up at Citizens Bank Park (May 1, 2010).
  57. Unidentified Mariner – 26th-out toss up at Camden Yards (May 11, 2010).
  58. John Wetteland (Mariners) – Post-game toss up at Camden Yards (May 11, 2010).
  59. Billy Wagner (Braves) – Pre-game toss up at PNC Park (May 22, 2010).
  60. Melky Cabrera (Braves) – BP toss up at PNC Park (May 23, 2010).
  61. Brian Snitker (Braves) – BP toss up at PNC Park (May 23, 2010).
  62. Unidentified Brave – BP foul ball grounder at PNC Park (May 23, 2010).
  63. Orioles Coach/Trainer – Pre-game toss up at Camden Yards (June 5, 2010).
  64. Victor Carapazza (Umpire)* – Post-game at Camden Yards (June 5, 2010).
  65. Stadium Attendant (A’s) – Pre-game at Oakland Coliseum (June 9, 2010).
  66. Jered Weaver (Angels) – BP toss up at Oakland Coliseum (June 10, 2010).
  67. Brad Ziegler (A’s) – BP toss up at Oakland Coliseum (June 10, 2010).
  68. Michael Wuertz (A’s) – BP toss up at Oakland Coliseum (June 10, 2010).
  69. Justin Miller (Dodgers) – BP toss up at Dodger Stadium (June 11, 2010).
  70. Luke Gregerson (Padres) – BP toss up to Petco Park beach (June 12, 2010).
  71. Ian Snell (Mariners) – BP toss up at Petco Park (June 12, 2010).
  72. David Aardsma (Mariners)* – BP toss up at Petco Park (June 12, 2010 - represented by University of Hawaii baseball give to Tim by Teemo Dixon at Camden Yards).
  73. Brandon League (Mariners) – Pre-game toss up at Petco Park (June 13, 2010).
  74. Jason Phillips (Mariners) – Pre-game toss up at Petco Park (June 13, 2010).
  75. Angel Hernandez (Umpire) – Post-game at Petco Park (June 13, 2010).
  76. Unidentified Angel – BP homerun on one-bounce at Angel Stadium (June 14, 2010).
  77. Giants Batboy – Post-game toss up at AT&T Park (June 15, 2010).
  78. Joe Vavra (Twins) – Post-Game toss up Citizens Bank Park (June 20, 2010).
  79. Unidentified Batter (Phillies) – BP foul at Citizens Bank Park (June 26, 2010).
  80. Jose Mijares (Twins) – BP toss up at Camden Yards (July 22, 2010).
  81. William Hohn (Umpire) – Post-game at Camden Yards (July 22, 2010).
  82. Erick Threets (White Sox) – Pre-game toss up at Camden Yards (Aug. 8, 2010).
  83. Phil Cuzzi (Umpire) – Post-game at Camden Yards (Aug. 8, 2010)
  84. Easter Egg at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  85. Easter Egg at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  86. Easter Egg at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  87. Easter Egg at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  88. Easter Egg at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  89. Easter Egg at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  90. Easter Egg at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  91. Jamey Wright (Mariners) – Pre-game toss up at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  92. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) – Pre-game toss up at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  93. Lee Tinsely (Mariners) – Post-game toss up at Progressive Field (Aug. 14, 2010).
  94. Jason Vargas (Mariners) – BP toss up at Progressive Field (Aug. 15, 2010).
  95. Rob Nodine (Mariners Trainer) – BP toss up at Progressive Field (Aug. 15, 2010).
  96. Alonzo Powell (Mariners) – BP toss up at Progressive Field (Aug. 15, 2010).
  97. Marcus Thames (Yankees) – BP HR clean catch at Yankee Stadium (Aug. 21, 2010).
  98. Livan Hernandez (Nationals) – BP toss up at Nationals Park (Sept. 6, 2010).
  99. Alex Sanabia (Marlins) – Pre-game toss up at Nationals Park (Sept. 12, 2010).
  100. Jay Buente (Marlins) – Pre-game toss up at Nationals Park (Sept. 12, 2010).

[* – Baseball no. 2 was given to my cousin Janet’s daughter, Julie, who celebrated her first Mariners game along side Tim; baseball no. 64 was given to Tim’s Hawaiian buddy from MyGameBalls.com, Teemo Dixon; and baseball no. 72 was given to another fan at Petco Park.  Pictures 2 and 64 above are actual pictures of Janet/Julie and Teemo holding baseballs 2 and 64.  I didn’t take a picture of baseball no. 72 before giving it away, so it is represented above by the University of Hawaii baseball that Teemo gave to Tim, which Tim keeps in a hard case along with the rest of his MLB baseballs.]

You Win Some and…(8/15/10)

On August 15, 2010, Tim and I woke up in our hotel in Cleveland ready to see the Mariners take another game from the Indians and for Tim to run the bases at Progressive Field.

But first we had to walk around downtown Cleveland a tiny bit to see what the city had to offer.  Just down the street from our hotel was a big park where Tim and I rocked out on some huge guitars…

1 - guitar free.JPG…and then we checked out a really huge “FREE” stamp, which I figured was a reference to the library nearby.

Sitting on the edge of Lake Erie and just down the hill from the park, we found this scene: 

2 - RnR HOF.jpgThat is the Cleveland Browns Stadium (check out the huge windmill to the right of the stadium), some sort of NASA building (the domed thing), and the Rock’N’Roll Hall of Fame.

Okay, that’s enough Cleveland for us, it was time to head to Progressive Field.

We arrived shortly before Gate C opened.  We were about 50 people back in the single line.  After a few minutes, a stadium attendant came up to us and told us to walk up front to start a new line.  So, all of a sudden, we were first in line:


3 - systems check.JPGIt was interesting to witness the stadium workers preparing to open up the gate.  It was like NASA mission control.  The guy standing by us had a walkie-talkie that was *blowing up* with ready checks.

“Team store ready?  “Check!”

“Suite ready”  “Check!”

“Right field ramp ready?”  “Check!”

Finally, all of the checks checked out and we hussled into the stadium to watch our Mariners take some BP.

All of those boxes at the gate?  They were filled with mustard hot dogs…

4 - Mustard Vargas.JPG…several weeks later, Tim still loves that hot dog.  A few minutes after that pictures, young ace-in-training Jason Vargas tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Vargas!

Tim wasn’t liking the sun beating down in RF, so we headed into the infield to hang out in the shade.

I was just hanging out watching BP and Tim was taking pictures of stuff all over the field.  He loves to take pictures.

At some point, one of our fine Mariners drilled a line drive off of the L-screen and it landed in foul territory…

5 - Rob Nodine.JPG…Mariners trainer Rob Nodine walked over, grabbed the baseball and tossed it up to us.  The baseball had really cool green marks from hitting the L-screen.

Thanks, Rob!

When BP wrapped up, Tim was sitting on my shoulders and we were shooting a video clip as all of our Mariners passed below us into the dugout.  And that is when I got this clip of Alonzo Powell tossing us our third and final baseball of the game:

Thanks, Alonzo!

With BP concluded and half-an-hour or more until game time, we headed up to the second deck in RF so Tim could play in the kids’ play area…

6 - imfamous playarea.JPG…the sight of a major melt down last season shortly before we saw Griffey hit his 624th career homerun.  Hmmm…Tim looks like a giant on that little motorcycle.  He might be too big for this play area.

Before the game started, we headed back down to the field level behind the M’s dugout.  During the national anthem, I got some pictures of our coaching staff including two Major League newcomers, veteran minor league coaches Daren Brown and Roger Hansen…

7 - new management.JPG…along side a couple Mariners coaches who had both thrown us a baseball within the last 24 hours, Alonzo Powell and Lee Tinsley.  By the way, Hansen is the same guy featured in a large scale Ken Griffey, Jr. prank during spring training.  Griff and Hansen go way back.  I think this is Hansen’s first stint in the majors and I hope that Griff gets out to the ballpark (any ballpark) to show his friend some major league support this season.

So, it was game time, and Tim and I found ourselves in the standing room area just behind the last row of seats on the 1B side of home plate.  Yesterday, Ichiro led off the game with a quick single.  Today, he never swung the bat…

8 - 4-for-Ichiro.JPG…and received a four pitch walk to lead off the game.  Unfortunately, he was left on 2B at the end of the inning.

It was lunch time.  Amazingly, Tim did not want nachos.  Instead, all he wanted was a ridiculously huge cup of french fries…

9 - fries time.JPG…that we ate at a table in the 1B side concourse.  While Tim sat and attacked the fries, I nibbled on my fair share of fries while standing next to the table watching Felix Hernandez dominate the Indians.

With the score knotted at zero, Adam Moore grounded out in the second inning:

10 - Adam Moore is No 10.JPGHe’s playing an excellent catcher now-a-days.  But after this game, his batting average dipped to a frighteningly low .159.

The Mariners were doing nothing offensively.

No worries.  Felix Hernandez was still dominating:

11 - King Felix.JPGIchiro was still looking for his 151st hit of the season when he came to bat in the third inning.  No dice.  He grounded out:

12 - Ichiro grounder.JPGIt was time for some ice cream.  We found this place in the 1B side inner concourse (the concourse on the 1B side splits into a two parts – the inside part is open to the field and the outside part is enclosed between concession stands, bathrooms, etc.).

They had ice cream helmets here and some excellent choices of real ice cream flavors…

13 - fancy ice cream.JPG…”Mariner” Moose Tracks, Mint Chocolate Chip, French Vanilla, Chocolate, Superman…and two others that I cannot read.

I got some “Mariner” Moose Tracks and Tim got Superman.  The lady was even kind enough to scoop only blue, yellow and green for Tim (and no extreme hyperness inducing red dye no. 40 ice cream).  Thanks, lady!

Tim enjoyed his Superman ice cream helmet from the handicapped accessible seating right by where we’d previously been standing in the SRO area…

14 - superman ice cream.JPG…I asked if he could sit there and the usher was nice enough to allow it.

Felix, well, he was still dominating:


15 - Felix induces Marson to Groundout 1-3.JPGActually, through four innings, we had a double no-hitter on our hands.

Finally, in the top of the 5th Casey Kotchman broke through with the Mariners first hit of the game, a leadoff double to deep CF.  At this point, our ice cream was gone and Tim was wrapped up in playing with his new mustard hot dog…

16 - fun with mustard.JPG…note that in the bottom center and right pictures, Tim is showing me that the mustard hot dog is eating and spitting sunflower seeds.

While Tim was busy with the mustard hot dog, the Mariners were busy trying to scratch out a run or two for King Felix.  And, despite their best efforts, it wasn’t going too well for the M’s.

With runners on first and second, Michael Saunders attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt…

17 - failed sacrifice for Saunders.JPG…but Indians pitcher Justin Masterson was able to get the lead runner at 3B.

After Chris Woodward walked to load the bases with one out, Ichiro absolutely crushed a line drive…

18 - Ichiro crushes bases loaded line-out.JPG…that Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta snared for the second out.  It had extra bases and 2 RBIs written all over it!  Chone Figgins then laid down another failed bunt for the third out of the inning.

Still, no runs for the Mariners.

Luckily, Felix was still dominating the Indians:

19 - Felix still dominating.JPGSure, he gave up a hit in the fifth and another in the sixth, but he was looking pretty unstoppable.

If the M’s could just scrape out one run, we would have been feeling really good about our chances at seeing a second straight Mariners win.

Tim needed to visit the play area again.  And he tossed some foamy baseballs into this pitching thingy:

20 - all strikes for Tim.JPGSince we were up in the second deck in RF, we figured we better  revisit the spot where we witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 624th career homerun.  Everything looked beautiful from up there…

21 - Site of No. 624.JPG…except that Griffey was retired and not in attenance.

I noticed that the walkway went out over Gate C (in fact, this walkway is what we tried to take cover under during the rainstorm the day before) and then turned left and headed toward Heritage Park.  So, we followed it.  This was the view from the walkway in almost straight-away CF:

22 - Jake Centerfield bridge panorama.jpgIt was a beautiful day.  We were witnessing an excellent pitchers duel.  We were excited to be at the ballpark:

23 - TJCs on Jake CF bridge.JPGWe decided to go down and visit Heritage Park.  I saw this hanging on the wall, and it looked new to me, so I figured I should share it here…

24 - The Ray Champman Story.JPG…if you click on the picture you can enlarge it so you can read The Ray Chapman Story.

While down there, we spied on the Indians reliever…

25 - Spying on the Indians bullpen.JPG…Masterson lasted only six innings and then Tony Sipp took over for the Tribe.

It was getting into the bottom of the seventh at this point.  We headed to the bleachers in LF.  Felix still had no run support, but he was still looking unhittable.

The first batter in the bottom of the seventh flew out to Franklin Gutierrez.

The second batter grounded out to short stop.

And then things took a disasterous turn.  King Felix induced former Mariner Luis Valbuena to ground to 2B.  But instead of recording the third out of the inning, Chone Figgins booted the ball.

It was nightmare time.  Felix should have been out of the inning.  The Mariners should have been batting in the top of the 8th.  Instead, the Indians proceeded to score SEVEN UNEARNED RUNS.  Six unearned runs were *charged* to Felix, including a grand slam by Travis Hafner.  Then Sean White came in and gave up the final unearned run of the inning — a homerun by Jayson Nix.

Stick a fork in the Mariners.  After a dominating 6.2 inning performance by King Felix, the Mariners were done.

Felix’s line on the day:

6.2 innings, 6 Hits, 6 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 4 BB, 7K

We headed into the infield for the end of the game.  We found some seats under cover where I got some close-up shots of some Mariners throw-away at bats…including, Russell Branyan…
 26 - Russell Branyan watches a strike.JPG…watching a low pitch en route to a four pitch walk in the top of the 8th.

And Jose Lopez fouling off a pitch…

27 - Jose Lopez fouls.JPG…before hitting a single to RF, which sent Branyan to 2B.  Branyan would go on to score the Mariners only run of the game on an infield single by Franklin Gutierrez.

Tim loves a kids show called “Team Umizoomi,” which has taught him to have “pattern power.”  Tim grabbed my camera and showed off his pattern power with alternating shots of his mustard hot dog and the infield…

28 - Tim's got pattern power.JPG…Pattern Power!

In the eighth, the Indians tacked on two more runs on a homerun by Michael Brantley, who by all indications appears to be the son of former Mariner Mickey Brantley…who happens to be the first person to ever give me a baseball…way back in my youth at the Kingdome.

Like yesterday, we found ourselves sitting in the front row behind home plate in the ninth inning.  It was interesting to watch the home plate cameraman switch camera positions each time a different handed batter came to the plate… 

29 - righty camera lefty camera.JPG…for righties he moved to the left side of home plate and then he switched to the right side when a lefty came to bat.

The game ended with little fan fare.

Once again, a million kids of all age materialized at the umpires’ exit and the home plate umpire ignored everyone.

We headed over to the Mariners dugout to cheer on our non-victorious guys and to pose for a picture:

30 - post-game pre-bases.JPGI guess Tim is posing with his non-existent umpire baseball.

Finally, it was time to line up for Kids Run the Bases!  Exactly 1 year and 363 days ago, Tim, my Dad, and I lined up in this very ballpark for our first ever Kids Run the Bases experience.  We had to go almost to the top of the stadium to find the end of the line…

31 - one tall line.JPG…you can’t really tell in that picture, but the line weaved back and forth up all of those ramps shown in the picture.

I was interested to see something while in line.  When we ran the bases on August 17, 2008, we passed by a sign in the bowels of Progressive Field that notified us that it has been “19” days since the Indians last “Lost Time Accident.”  I was interested to see how many days they were at now.  My math powers (just like Team Umizoomi) told me that the most days it could possibly be up to was 747 (August 17, 2008 to August 15, 2010 + 19 days = (365 x 2) – 2 + 19 = 747).

The suspense mounted as we wound our way down and down and down into the belly of Progressive Field.  Finally, we reached the bottom.  We turned the final corner and walked into a machine storage / random work stuff area and found the sign:

32 - 365x2-2+19.JPGGood Job, Indians!

Let’s hear it for on-the-job safety!

Finally, we were on the RF foul warning track.  We got some nice person to take our picture by the 325 sign… 

33 - first foul pole reunion.JPGjust like the one my dad took 728 days earlier.  Tim has grown a bit in the past two years.

Then, I had a terrible idea:  I would video Tim’s run around the bases.  I’ve done this a couple times to moderate success.  This time, my filming was a complete failure (well, of the running the bases portion at least, the lead up to the bases is okay).  Here is the evidence:

One cool thing that is hard to tell from this video is that there were several Indians stationed on the field giving kids high fives — one by 1B (not sure who) and one at home plate (manager Manny Acta).

After running, we strolled by the 3B dugout and I got pictures of the fancy dugout seating between the two dugouts and behind home plate (to the left below)…

34 - dugout seating dugout.JPG…and the Indians dugout (right above).

After running the bases and before we could meet up behind the plate, Tim scratched his finger on the metal fence in front of the dugout seating area.  It was a teeny, tiny little scratch, but you would have thought his whole arm was ripped off.  Here he is *gutting out* one last picture from the field…

35 - progressive field with a booboo.JPG…as he holds out his injured pinky to avoid touching anything with it.  When we arrived back at our hotel, we applied a huge adult sized band-aid that really did the trick.

Before leaving the field, I got this panorama from foul territory down the 3B line:

36 - jake LF foul territory panorama.jpgAnd then I walked us back to our hotel with Tim on my shoulders.  On our way back, we (once again) discussed this burnt out building a couple blocks north of the stadium (far left below)…

37- burnt out building.JPG…this rock-with-a-tongue (middle), and I got a picture of us walking (reflection in windows).

Despite the bizzare 7-unearned run inning and the loss following a dominating performance by King Felix, we had a great time at this game and on our entire weekend trip to Cleveland.

2010 Fan Stats:

21 Games

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

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

53 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)

11 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, Progressive Field)

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Indians Lose! Indians Lose! (8/14/10)

On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…

1 - My Ohio My.JPG…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!

As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels).  We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint:  see the title of this entry).

Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it.  We stayed at the Doubletree.  Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…

2 - Pondside Doubletree.JPG…all that blue at the far left is the aforementioned “Lake.”  Lake Erie.  Its huge!  Still, Tim persisted in referring to it as a “pond” all weekend.

Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark.  As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…

3 - Indians Stuff in Little Park.JPG…which is right across from Gate C.

We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened.  In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet.  So we got a picture…


4 - Tim at Gate C.JPG…and headed toward the LF corner of the stadium (where I was told I would find the main ticket office).

We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…

5 - TJCs Progressive home plate entrance.JPG…for a photo opportunity.

And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game.  Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:

6 - Progressive Kids Fun Day.JPGTim was ready to play and have some fun, but nothing was open yet.  We did get a funny picture…

7 - Little Headed Indian.JPG…but otherwise all we could do was look at all the fun they had planned for a little later.

So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…

8 - prophetic tarp.jpg…there had not been a drop of rain all day, but the tarp was on the field.  I wondered if the Indians knew something that I did not.

They did.

About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down.  It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain.  By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.

It was massive, massive rain.

They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain.  We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.

Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea.  No one was in the RF stands.  No one at all.  I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life — easter eggs.

Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:

10 - easter in august.JPGSeven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball.  Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF.  The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF.  The balls were SOAKED.  However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.

Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…

9 - rain rain go away.JPGIt took a long time, but eventually CF was playable.  Kudos to the grounds crew.

Eventually, the Mariners pitchers came out to stretch out their arms:

11 - M's Pitchers Warming at Jake.JPGAt the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game.  So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up.  The guys were having fun as they did their work.  As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head.  It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that.  Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms.  Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads.  There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.

As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…


12 - Thanks Jamey Wright.JPG…”Hmm…,” I thought, “cool a baseball from Adam Moore.”  He looked sort of like Adam, but he was clearly wearing Adam’s number 50.

Here is Adam wearing his number 50 last season in his MLB debut.

Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.

“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.”  I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.

Thanks, Jamey!

(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle.  Who knows?)

Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack.  We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).

Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…

13 - Phillips and Felix.JPG…who were playing catch in RF.

I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason.  I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).

While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!”  I thought that was pretty hilarious.  But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.

The next picture tells two stories:

14 - felix throws into seats.JPGFirst, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out.  Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips).  A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.

Thanks, Felix!

We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.

Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands.  They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.

Finally, the tarp came off of the field…

15 - tarp wrangling.JPG…althought it was giving the grounds crew some troubles.

It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…

16 - sleeping tim.JPG…he fell asleep on my shoulders for about 15-20 minutes.

Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…

17 - jake field level home panorama.jpg…and the tarp was put back on the infield (although there wasn’t any more rain).

At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs.  We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit.  We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left.  We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.

Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game.  And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…

18 - backwards walking pink backpack.JPG…being carried by Chris Seddon.

The 2010 Mariners bullpen…

19 - national anthem.JPG…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen.  But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.

When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144.  That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:

20 - Ichiro's 149th hit of 2010 in 1st 6-14-10.JPGIchiro moved to third when Chone Figgins followed with a single of his own.  Then he scored the first run of the game when Russell Branyan grounded into a double play.

We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.

This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:

21 - jake 1B field level view panorama.jpg

We were still absolutely soaking wet.  Particularly our feet.  I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks.  His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours.  We had to do the unspeakable.  We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks.  I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes.  All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.

In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again.  Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…

22 - tim and ichiro.JPG…some day we hope to get one “actually with” Ichiro.  Maybe next year at Spring Training.

By the way, Ichiro grounded out.

Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…

23 - all thumbs.JPG…this boy can find fun anywhere, even when just confined to his hands.

One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…

24 - vargas weird leg.JPG…and he was looking strong.

Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance.  We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…

25 - flag zoom.JPG…it was an Indians flag up there.  While we don’t endorse the team, its good to see Cleveland supporting their squad.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.

Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.

I felt bad for Marte.  I know nothing about the guy.  Literally, nothing.  But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland.  There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad.  I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players.  Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family.  But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win?  It doesn’t make any sense.

With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets.  Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting.  Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.

Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:

26 - jake concourse.JPGThis *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle.  They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess.  And it took forever to get the waffle cone.  While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.

Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.

Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5’s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte.  That did not help his cause.

It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.

Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.

We relocated to the standing room area in LF.  Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…

27 - whaffle cone.JPG…the bottom of that cone snapped off and about half of that ice cream ended up smeared all over Tim’s clothes.  It was a chocolately mess.

Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out.  And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:

28 - Ichiro's 150 hit of 2010 in 6-14-10.JPGBetween innings, I took this panorama from the standing room area:

28 - Jake LF standing room panorama.jpgWhile in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch.  Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…

29 - outfielers ready position.JPG…but Ichiro was firmly planted on the ground with each pitch.  Interesting, indeed.

In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:

30 - Kotchman goes yard.JPGThat made the score 9-2 Mariners.

Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…

31 - rocking slider.JPG…could help the Indians figure out Vargas and get back into the game.

Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit.  Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3.  But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.

In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF.  We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.

This was our view:

32 - jake LF wheelchair seats panorama.jpgWe stood there for two innings without an usher uttering a word to us (such as, “hey, you can’t stand there”).  It was a nice spot from which to watch the game.

In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.

Here was our view:

33 - jake behind home back of field level panorama.jpgWe could see some empty seats down low behind home, which looked perfect for positioning ourselves for an umpire baseball opportunity.

By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:

34 - jamey wright pitches in 9th.JPGIt was an excellent vantage point from which to watch Jamey Wright close out the Mariners win.

It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:

35 - M's dugout at Jake 8-14-10.JPG

Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:

Mariners win!

It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out.  So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball.  But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.

Oh, well.  It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired.  Which was just fine with us.  We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.

And guess what?  Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:

36 - tinsley for ten.jpgCrazy!  Of course, this happened solely because the driving rain kept people out of the RF seats so I could extract 7 soggy easter eggs.  But still, all we could say was “WOW, 10 baseballs!”

Our day was still far from concluded.  For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n’Blast” fireworks show.  It is a big fireworks show set to music.  I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.

As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands.  Tim was all excited to try to catch one…

37 - flinging shirts.JPG…but nothing was shot short.

Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.

Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:

After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.

2010 Fan Stats:

20 Games

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

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

50 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)

11 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, Progressive Field)

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)

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