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:
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:
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:
Here was the aforementioned “action” in the Mariners bullpen:
Pitching 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:
Two 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…
We 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…
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!”
The ball slammed into my glove.
Wow…I caught a BP homer on the fly!
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…
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:
Tim requested a picture with his truck:
And 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:
As Tim played with his truck, I watched as some stadium workers removed the netting…
…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:
I’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:
Finally, Vargas was ready and everyone showed him some pre-game love:
We 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:
Not on this pitch…
…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…
…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…
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…
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:
Yep, on the second pitch in the top of the third inning (this pitch!)….
…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:
…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:
Just then, I looked toward RF and I noticed something new…
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…
…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…
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…
…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:
It 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…
…Ray’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:
In the middle of all the people, we found a guy painting an interesting picture of President Obama:
Just down the street, we found everyone staring up at the side of a building…
At the south end of Times Square, we saw “the ball” for 2010:
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.
About 12 hour later, we finally made it to the Empire State Building…
…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.
The 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:
By 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”…
…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:
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)