July 2011

Ballhawking Prankology 101: The Plant

In case anyone who reads this blog hasn’t seen this yet, I thought I would share the guest column I wrote recently for myGameBalls.com.  Enjoy:

Here are a couple bonus pictures.  First, Tim with one of the FeMeBe baseballs:

Here is a photo by Avi Miller of Jeremy Guthrie standing in LF with the FeMeBe baseball in his glove pre-toss-up:

Here is a group shot from the myGameBalls.com “Ballhawkfest 2011″ featuring the FeMeBe baseball:

Finally, Avi and I did not tell Zack about the prank or the article.  We wanted him to find out about it through normal channels…just however the news would reach him.  I’m still not sure how the news got to him, but a few hours after the article was posted this message from Zack showed up on Twitter:

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!

Comerica Park: A Diamond In The Rough (7/3/11)

Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.

So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…

…Detroit, Michigan.  The Motor City!

I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time.  But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect.  As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd.  It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it.  I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.

That didn’t seem right.

When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished.  It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.

Yikes.  Detroit was not looking good.

The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation.  Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.

As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better.  But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye.  Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:

The parking lot was a disaster.  Huge pot holes.  I mean huge.  Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into.  That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one.  As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time:  “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”

I broke into laughter.  It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.

So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.

But you know what?  It was all worth it.  Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”

Comerica Park is AMAZING!  I loved it.  I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point.  All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures.  And this entry is going to have a ton of them.

We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place.  We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):

The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park.  After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):

Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw.  He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:

This gate is pure awesomeness.  It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos.  I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.

This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall.  The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area.  On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:

Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:

Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.

All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:

Cool.

Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design.  It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail.  They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium.  In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc.  But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park.  If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans.  They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.

After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium.  There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field.  We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:

Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:

In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance.  Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.

Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:

The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot.  That street provides a clear view into the ballpark.  We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:

These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.

Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles.  While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…

…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park.  As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures.  And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.

When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.

  • No batting practice;
  • Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
  • Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.

As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up.  We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:

It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch.  After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate.  Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet.  He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound.  At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:

A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.

With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game.  But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.

We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers.  It was pointless to stay there.  Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line.  But it was packed by the time we got there.  So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.

This was our view from the first row of section 121:

And the move worked out.  As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line.  Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.

Success!  A baseball from Comerica Park:

It was officially time to explore!

Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:

Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side.  It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:

Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture.  Cool, eh?

We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point.  Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…

…in search for the carousel that I had heard about.  After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:

You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.

Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge.  So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter.  So we continued on our
tour.

We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:

Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:

Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past.  I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years.  So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s.  Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor.  You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.”  The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well.  Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.

Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…

…and another from section 210:

While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):

Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field.  Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:

And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):

When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:

Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars.  We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water.  But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.

On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:

Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based?  While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:

Look at that!  It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars.  Awesome.  These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.

While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water.  Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:

Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story:  “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”

Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.

First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):

Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:

Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:

Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture  (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…

…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium.  Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium.  From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned.  I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place.  Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.

Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:

Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl.  Outstanding!

When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head.  He said it showed that I was really a baseball player.  I thought that was cool.  Thanks, usher guy!

Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:

I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture.  Cool.

Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:

The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…

…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:

It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…).   Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.

After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides.  So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel.  In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards.  It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.

First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:

Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:

And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:

Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB):  (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle.  More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game.  The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards.  It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.

Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:

We were really lucky.  There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel.  But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.

Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel).  But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay).  So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:

Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again.  Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):

We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):

On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:

When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel.  We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side.  We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line.  By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!

I told Tim we would have to come back later.  That line was going to take forever.

So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144.  On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:

This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):

There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:

Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:

See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence?  They’re watching free baseball!  The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game.  I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.

Here is a look down into the bullpens:

The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.

Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:

It was ice cream time.  We grabbed some helmets…

…and found some ice cream seats in our section.

Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:

The scoreboard has three screens.  A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side.  Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen.  The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages.  I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen.  Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.

Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):

Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:

It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle.  Pretty cool, idea.

I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:

After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot.  Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle.  We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…

…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game.  It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…

…for Magglio Ordonez.  Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…

…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers.  (Note:  right as I was about to  get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).

With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel.  The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good.  We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:

All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape!  Super V!  They were actually pretty cool.  Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.

Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:

The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:

The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool.  The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.

By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth.  We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…

…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).

We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:

As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:

It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:

My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box.  At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable.  Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…

…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.

We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:

It is always great to get an umpire baseball.  And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.

Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!

The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not.  It was Kids Run The Bases day!  Hooray!

On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:

And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:

It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…

…and down under the RF seats.  Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.

The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases.  Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience.  The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.

We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…

…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).

Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…

…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is.  And it wasn’t just chalk foul line.  The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground.  These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.

Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:

Then we approached the first base area.  There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”

When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?”  She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”

So I followed Tim out toward first base…

…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:

As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…

…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:

We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…

…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!

SAFE!  (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).

As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B).  But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you!  I don’t see you!”

Thanks!

So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…

…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.

Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.

On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:

Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field.  Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background.  A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:

The Tigers staff are cool folks.

Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!

Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?”  With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!”  The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball.  Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”

Thanks!

I’m serious.  Comerica Park is awesome!  Well, done Tigers!

We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot.  When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left.  We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park.  And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:

In the famous word of the Terminator:  “[We'll] be back!”

2011 C&S Fan Stats
16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

The Ohio Cup (7/2/11)

I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now.  It has never seemed to work.  My original plan this season was to work it  into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work.  So we came up with a new plan:  Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.

Cincinnati was up first.  We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh.  On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.

But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati.  No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened.  So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!

First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…

…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager.  We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate.  Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.

Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields.  It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.

Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:

In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.

Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van.  I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays.  He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.

It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’”  His reply was priceless:  “So are we!”

It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s.  He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear.  Nothing overly important or exciting.  Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000.  It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.

The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student.  He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously.  They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.”  And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”

If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.

One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store.  It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever.  He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”

Oh, yeah.  And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it.  He never played games there.

And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.

Great American Ball Park is interesting.  Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River.  Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river.  The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River.  If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…

…to get to the stadium.  (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.)  In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings.  The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.

Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…

…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.

This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate.  There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:

In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.

When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening.  And it was really hot.  We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line.  While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:

After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:

The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing.  BP got packed quick.  My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP.  But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us.  When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.

As he walked away, I called out, “Wait!  What’s your name!?”  He reply, simply, “Tony!”  I thought that was pretty funny.  We’re on a first name basis, you know?  I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.

Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…

…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:

Thanks, Tony!

Okay.  We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us.  We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring.  We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):

Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water.  It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.

Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:

Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:

Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so.  There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.

They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout.  But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:

There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out.  So that’s what we did…well, we tried to.  You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.

So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes.  Here was our view:

One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field.  I had no clue who he was.  The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games.  They hardly got the ball out of the infield.

But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field.  He was way out there in CF.  After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF.  I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up.  As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me.  It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.

Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:

I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered.  In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.”  The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade.  So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.

Thanks, Chad!

This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:

Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball.  It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.

Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:

And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:

After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:

Next, we headed over into the infield.  We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:

After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:

Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:

Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck.  Too high.  So we headed down to the upper deck concourse.  I kept dousing Tim’s head with water.  When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror.  Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk.  When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:

Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:

It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas.  First, section 516…

…section 423…

…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…

…section 430…

…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:

That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:

Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen.  This is what the bullpen looks like:

The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me.  A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area.  The Reds, however, did the opposite.  Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.

There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye.  Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:

We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem.  Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:

Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met.  But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot.  The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.

We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way.  As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:

Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs.  Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture.  While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp.  Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen.  We waited patiently.  And then he reappeared.  I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.

When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him.  At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen.  I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up.  But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger.  It was very impressive.

After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!”  That put a huge smile on his face.  During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him.  Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude.  He really seemed like a great guy.

Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.

Finally, it was time for the game to start.  We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…

…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103.  This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:

It was crazy hot in our seats.  I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats.  But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:

It was good to see the Reds play again.  We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds.  During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games.  They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years.  Like this guy…

…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto.  In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.

This was a low scoring game.  The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey.  We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.

We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station.  It really felt amazing in there.  We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning.  That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.

While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could.  After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.

As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:

We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while.  It looked like this:

And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:

Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:

An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:

We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends.  We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:

And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…

…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day).  Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).

Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:

That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…

…flied out to CF.  I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it.  Booo!

We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…

…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:

Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.

Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…

…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30).  Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right):  Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.

After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…

…but just for a minute.  We had our sights on ice cream helmets.  So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008.  As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction.  I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim.   Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.”  But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it.  He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:

Awesome!  Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!

The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous.  It was as if every fan at the game was in line.  We were in line for at least a full inning.  But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait.  They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!

We both got twist soft serves.  Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces.  Delicious.

We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:

Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:

It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long.  So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF.  On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:

As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:

It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area.  Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television.  But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:

That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures.  He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”

Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:

We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game.  So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game.  The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.

Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):

With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:

While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout.  Here is what it looked like:

The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate.  With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:

Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.

Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:

With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run.  But he struck out to end the game.

Indians win 3-1.

On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:

We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:

Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.

And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us.  It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations.  Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))
45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Mariners Baseball In The U.S. Capital (6/21/2011)

When the 2011 season scheduled was released, I was extremely excited to see that the Mariners would be making their first trip to Nationals Park.  The downside was that the three game series was mid-week, with one game being a day game.  I really wanted our whole family to attend one of the games so both Kellan and Tim could see the Mariners in only their second trip to D.C.  But real life was not cooperating.

As the series approached, it was certain that we could not attend the second or third games the series because I would be on a brief business trip.  The first game looked like it was effectively out too.  But something happened during the day of the game that all of a sudden made the game possible.  It was such a late call, however, that Colleen (and therefore Kellan too) wasn’t prepared to make the trip down.  So around 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 2011, Tim and I hopped in the car hoping we could at least catch the tail end of BP.

And that is exactly what happened.  We walked in and saw literally two minutes of BP before the Mariners cleared the field.  In fact, it was so quick that we didn’t even get a single BP picture!

With the field empty, we headed into the infield to see if any Mariners were milling around over there.  They weren’t.

So, we hung out down the 3B line and watched the field for a bit.  After a while, the one and only Jason Phillips popped out of the dugout and headed out to the bullpen.  We said our hellos and how-you-doings as he passed by on his way to the bullpen.

Once his colleagues joined Jason out by the bullpen, we snapped this picture of Doug Fister and Chris Gimenez stretching out:

Soon, Adam Kennedy made an appearance down the 3B line:

Kennedy gave Tim a friendly wave, which is always cool to get from a Mariner.

Soon some more Mariners joined Kennedy, including Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley.  This was the first road game of Ackley’s career.  And when a guy in a Mariners fan called out his name and asked for an autograph, he came over…

…and signed for a few minutes.  We didn’t have a baseball yet so we didn’t ask for a signature.  And for some bizarre reason, I didn’t even think of asking Ackley if he would pose for a picture with Tim.  Man, I must have been off my game!

Anyway, before the game started, we headed out to the LF and sat behind the Mariners bullpen.  Actually, before sitting down, we peered down into the bullpen.  Bullpen coach Jaime
Navarro walked by just then, saw Tim, and motioned to us as if to say “hold on, stay right there.”  He then disappeared and reappeared with…

…this lovely Rawlings Official MLB baseball, which he tossed up to Tim.

Thanks, Jaime!

Okay.  It was game time and we were primed for our first Mariners win of the season.  This was only our second Mariners game of the year, and they lost the first game 2-1 to the Orioles in the 12th inning.  It was part of Brandon League’s stretch of losing 4 consecutive games.  Ouch.  So, we needed a win in a big way.

Things started out beautifully.  Tim’s favorite player, Ichiro spanked a single into LF:

Tim then told me to take a picture of Ichiro on first base.  So I did:

Ichiro then took second on a weak ground out by Brendan Ryan.  As Ichi stood on second, Tim told me to take a picture of Ichiro scoring.  And a few seconds later, Adam Kennedy singled
to CF and Ichiro scored:

FYI, Ichiro is directly behind Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in that picture.  His left leg is visible to the immediate right of Ramos.

Things were going great so far!

The Mariners scored a second run in the first inning when Dustin Ackley …

…singled to RF in this career debut road at-bat.

Doug Fister then came in and shut down the Nationals in the first.  In the process of Fister shutting down the Nats, I got this picture of Ichiro playing RF.

After one inning, the Mariners led 2-0.  We liked it.

We also liked this huge pile of chili nachos that we got before the top of the second inning:

Although it resulted in a nice action shot…

…Ichiro grounded out in the top of the second.  But the Mariners tacked on a third run in the third inning on a Dustin Ackley RBI ground out.  And this is what the scoreboard looked like after three innings:

Not only was the 3-0 score a happy sight, but it was nice to see “Seattle Washington” on the board as well.

Between innings, Screech rolled by on his lazy guy walking machine:

Between innings, we were also happy to find A.L. MVP candidate Larry Bernandez sitting nearby:

Larry Bernandez is an instant Mariners legend that hit the scene this scene.  Great to see him in the OF at this game.  Also, check out the cool 3D effect as Larry’s face matches up with his sign holder’s face!

During the bottom of the third inning, we needed to go on a water run.  As we strolled through the 3B side concourse after filling a bottle with water, Ian Desmond hit a deep fly ball that
Franklin Gutierrez caught to end the third inning.  We were in the concourse above the Mariners dugout, so we scurried down the stairs and nearly caught the ball after Guti flipped it about six rows deep into the crowd.

There were about 8 empty seats right where Guti flipped the ball, so we decided to sit down and give it one more shot at a third out ball.  But before we knew it, we ended up spending five innings sitting in those empty seats.

On this pitch, Franklin led off the top of the fourth with a solid single into CF:

Franklin then stole second and Chris Gimenez…

…, shown here with all-round good guy Greg Halman, struck out swinging.  That led to an 8-pitch at-bat by Mariners pitcher Doug Fister:

On the 8th pitch, Fister bounced a singled into RF and Gutierrez came around to score the fourth Mariners run of the game:

Ichiro and his classic pre-pitch pose…

…followed Fister, but grounded into an inning ending double play.

I don’t know what’s going on in this picture, but Tim looks hilarious:

See all the Mariners fans and people wearing baby blue behind us?  More on them later.

Fister was pitching lights out all night.  I was thinking he could pitch a complete game shut out:

In the top of the fourth inning, Adam Kennedy hit in yet another run.  At that point, the Mariners lead 5-0.  What a game!  We were having a great time!

In the middle innings, I shot a bunch of pictures of Tim in our seats.  Here are a couple of them:

And then I decided to take one with my cellphone to post on Twitter…

…and a couple minutes later the @Mariners replied: “What a handsome young man.”

Thanks, Mariners!

The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ian Desmond crossed the plate following a Roger Bernadina single.

On this swing, Ichiro led off the top of the sixth with his second hit of the night:

But he was stranded on base after stealing second base.

Inning-after-inning Justin Smoak tossed third-out-baseball-after-third-out-baseball to the same people:

I’m not sure if he was tossing them to the older gentleman under the red arrow or the younger girl under the red arrow.  Either way, it didn’t matter.  The younger guy under the yellow arrow leapt high in the air and intercepted three of the baseballs (and his dad intercepted another when the yellow-arrow-guy was out of the seats).

Over the course of several innings, I struck up a little conversation with the guy right behind me.  That whole row had super thick southern accents.  I asked the guy behind me how all of those folks became Mariners fans with such thick southern accents.  Turns out, they were Dustin Ackley’s friends and family visiting from North Carolina.

The three girls behind us looked like sisters and my understanding is that they are Ackley’s cousins.  The guy also pointed out Ackley’s father sitting nearby.  His mom and grandparents and a whole slew of other Ackley-people were sitting around us too.  And the Mariners knew it because they were trying like crazy to get a third-out ball to these guys.  One of the balls, in the bottom of the sixth inning, was a double-play ball started by Ackley.  But the Ackley-people got robbed by the guy in front of them every time, and they went home empty handed.

Aside from watching their quest to get a third-out ball, the most interesting thing about sitting by these folks is that they all called Ackley “Dusty” the whole time.  Here’s hoping that Dusty* has a long and stellar career as a Mariner.

Late in the game, Tim got a scrumptious ice cream helmet:

In the top of the ninth, Tim posed with Ichiro:

We were bursting with excitement for the Mariners win that was only three Nationals outs away in the bottom of the ninth.

As the Mariners were warming up for the bottom of the ninth, Tim and I slid into some seats right behind the 3B end of the Mariners dugout.  When Justin Smoak tossed the infield warm up ball in toward the dugout, it bounced off of the netting and back into the middle of the warning track.  But Michael Pineda hopped out of the dugout and grabbed the baseball.  I called out “Hey, Pineda!  Michael!”    He looked up, saw Tim and me above the dugout, and flipped the extremely dirty infield warm up ball to us:

Thanks, Michael!

It was the ninth and the end of a long day, but Tim was still choke full of silly faces:

As things got started in the ninth, King Felix looked our way and gave us a little nod:

A few drops of rain started to fall, and Tim laid back in his seat to track the rain on its way down to earth:

As for the game, even though it was not a save situation and Fister had thrown only 99 pitches and given up 3 hits, Brandon League game came in to attempt to finish out the game.   Jason Werth led off the inning and reached first on an error by Justin Smoak.  Then League walked Roger Bernadina.  Not a good way to start the ninth, but I felt okay with a four run lead.

Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a double play sending Werth to third with only one out to go in the game.  I was feeling good at this point.

And then I had a stupid, stupid idea.  League worked Jerry Hairston to a 2-strike count.  I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to take a picture of Hairston striking out to end the game for the Mariners win?”  I snapped this picture:

Ball 1.

Then I quickly started thinking that trying to take a picture of the final out of the game was a great way to jinx the Mariners.  But it was too late.  The jinx was on.

Harrison singled to center to score Werth (unearned run number 1 of the inning).  5-2 led Mariners.

Former Mariner Michael Morse then drilled a line drive off of Brandon League’s leg.  League had to leave the game:

No one had been warming up at all.  David Pauley had to jump up and head to the mound cold.  Even though he would get unlimited warm up pitches, it seems like pitchers who come in following an injury to the previous pitcher always struggle.  Pauley was no exception.

Danny Espinosa singled to RF scoring  Harriston (unearned run number 2 of the inning).

Wilson Ramos (who??) crushed a walk-off home run deep into the RCF seats (unearned runs 3, 4, and 5 of the inning).

Mariners lose.  We sat there stunned.  It was painful.  As I sat with my head hung in disbelief, the Mariners looked equally dumbfounded.  Most of the team just stood there for a minute.  Then Adam Kennedy slowly walked off of the field and his teammates started to follow him.

Such a great day of Mariners baseball turned so ugly at the end.

It had truly been a great evening at the ballpark with Tim…right up until the 26th out was recorded.  Aye, aye, aye…

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
14/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
43 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Cook Family In The Citi (6/18/2011)

With Kellan still less than a year old, most of our games this season will be just me and Tim.  Essentially, I have planned out one game at each of our “local” stadiums (i.e., northeastern United States minus Boston) for our entry family to attend.  On June 18, 2011, it was Kellan’s and Colleen’s first game at Citi Field.  And we made a weekend of it.

Lots of “firsts” for Kellan on this trip.  First NL stadium (Citi Field).  First NL team (Mets).  First Inter-league game (vs. Angels).  First trip to New York.  First hotel room (Club Quarter’s Wall Street).  First sub-river tunnel (Holland).  First subway ride (I can’t remember if it was the A, C, B, or D, but it was from 86thto Columbus Circle).  First trip to the big FAO Schwartz….

…and to Central Park (FYI, this list isn’t in chronological order).  First New York Pizza…

…(from Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus).  First elevated train (the 7 Train…Queens portion).  And first picture with a gigantic apple…

…or maybe I should say a “Big Apple.”  Yep, lots of firsts.

I thought the stadium would already be open when we arrived, but it was not.  So we got to stand in a fairly big line for about 10-15 minutes.  I snapped this picture of Tim and Colleen as we waited:

Not only was this Colleen’s first game at Citi Field, it was her first home Mets game, period.  She never joined me on any of my handful of trips to Shea Stadium.  So was it was good to finally get her out to Queens.

By the time we made it to the seats, there were already a lot of people in the stands.  But deep LCF was open.  So we headed out to the corner spot by the even “Bigger” Apple:

Kellan is a humungous baby for a Baby Bjorn, but it is still the most convenient way to get him around the ballpark.  Even then, Colleen had to lug the stroller along the way.

There were two “Mets” right in front of us…

…and another “Met” about 75 feet over toward left field.  All three of them had “OO” and their first names (Anthony, Travis and Jimmy) on their backs.  I guess they are bat and/or ball boys.  Tim was pretty confused about why there were multiple people wearing “OO,” but he promptly forgot about the confusion and rained down a loud “THANK YOU” on Travis when he
tossed us a baseball:

Colleen thinks the ball is in my glove and she should know best since she took the picture.  But, to me, it looks like I’m still watching the flight of the ball on its way up to me.  Who knows?

Right when Travis tossed us the baseball, the Angels pitchers all reported to the LF foul line for stretching and throwing.  I apologized in advance to Colleen and explained that we needed to relocate over there because I was hoping we could get a baseball from the Angels, and that it would be an Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball (which is the reason I picked this particular game for Kellan’s first at Citi Field).

Us three boys grabbed a spot along the railing behind Scott Downs (among others), as Tim pointed out airplanes passing over head:

And what do you know, Downs tossed us his baseball when he finished playing catch:

Although it was not a commemorative ball, we were mighty appreciative.

Thanks, Scott!

Colleen was hanging out in some seats about 15 rows back from the field.  We lingered a few minutes after getting the baseball from Downs, and then we raced over to her:

And , upon arrival, Colleen snapped this picture of Tim’s big cheesy grin:

Of course, we are competing in the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt, so we needed a Citi Field *bonus* picture.  Colleen snapped two of them and I love them both.  This is the one we submitted on mygameballs.com:

I picked that one because it shows Kellan more clearly and it clearly shows that he is trying to eat the baseball like an apple.

But I also love the funny face that Tim is making in this one:

After those pictures, Colleen headed to the family restroom to change Kellan.  Tim and I headed back down to the front row while we waited for them to return.  It was extremely obnoxious down there.  We were surrounded by a group of young boys (maybe 10-13 years old…its hard to judge).  They were flat out screaming at every player who touched a baseball.  “THROW ME THAT BASEBALL!”  They also mixed in a smattering of foul and derogatory language.  You know, the kind of stuff that just *really* makes a ballplayer want to give a kid a baseball (yeah, that’s sarcasm).

While those kids were ensuring that no baseballs would be tossed into our section, the strangest thing happened.  We got a *hit* baseball!  It was so unlike us.  An unidentified Angels lefty sliced (or is it hooked) a ball right down the LF line.  I ran a full section over down a completely empty row.  I was certain the ball was going to fall 10-15 feet (and 3-5 rows) below me and I was hoping that it would hop up in my direction.  But lo-and-behold, the ball hung in the air and made it all the way to me.  I was so surprised that it hung up that I botched the play as I turned my glove over in slow-motion to make the backhanded attempt.  Luckily, it hit the pinky of my glove and fell into the seat right there.  All I had to do was bend over and pick it up.

It was our first ever hit ball in Queens.

Colleen and Kellan were literally walking down the aisle toward us when we got the hit baseball.  I picked it up, gave a kid a high five, and Tim and I went back up to where Colleen and Kellan were sitting.

We decided to skip the rest of BP and instead head out to the kids play area.

When we reached our destination, Mr. Met was out there taking photos with fans so we got a family shot with him:

Two notes:  (1) I am attempting to catch Mr. Mets’ head and (2) all of us Cooks (except Kellan) are looking at our camera while Mr. Met is looking at the Mets fan photos photographer.

A few minutes later, Tim was manning the field…

…in the whiffle ball Citi Field.  Like Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Tim has got some “Tenacious D.”

After a little hitting…

…and a little baserunning…

…it was time for dinner.  We walked almost all the way around the stadium in our quest for food.  It was took crowded in the large eating area above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.  So we headed out to the Pepsi Porch in RF.  On the walkway out to the Pepsi Porch, I got this shot of Tim with *muffler city* in the background:

By the way, that’s just my name for it.  It is basically a big eye-sore composed of dingy car repair shops.

We decided on an all-Nathan’s Famous hot dog dinner:

A corn dog for Tim.  Spicy vegetarian dog for Colleen.  A big sloppy hot dog with mustard, onions, relish and sauerkraut for me.  And cut up hot dog bits (no condiments) for Kellan.  Tasty.

While we ate, we were serenaded with the National Anthem by Roy Hobbs’s girlfriend, Glenn Close:

Mrs. Hobbs totally botched the second to last line of the anthem.  Well, she sang all the right words, but her voice totally broke on the high note (“…land of the free-eeeeeee”).  She rolled with it, gave a big laughing smile and the old college try as she belted out that cracking “freeeeeee,” and, in the process, she really won the crowd over.  She got a huge ovation after she finished.

We sat in section 523 for almost the entire game.  When Tim, Kellan and I climbed to the top, we took this picture of Colleen that shows a fair representation of our view (although, we were obviously closer than the camera view):

Obviously, we were hoping the Mets would win because that would be better for the Mariners.  And at the end of the day, that’s what happened.

I was mighty pleased when native-British Columbian and Gonzaga University alum Jason Bay…

…came to the plate to Pearl Jam’s “Alive” off of their smash-hit debut album “10,” which was released during my freshman year of high school and was, of course, HUGE at my school.

I was quite pleased to hear Mike Pelfrey representing the Seattle Grunge era with his batting intro song:  Nirvana’s cover of the Meat Puppet’s “Lake of Fire.”

It was also nice to see that Russell Branyan…

…had found a place to fit in this season.  That guy can mash the ball!  Luckily, he did not do so at this game.

In fact, the Angels didn’t do much mashing at all at this game.  Mike Pelfrey pitched a complete game, giving up only five hits and 1 run.

The Mets had a good day at the plate.  It started in the third inning, when Jose Reyes hit a single, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored the first run of the game on a single by Carlos Beltran.

In the third, Tim and I went to grab an ice cream helmet, and Tim spontaneously busted out in an in-stadium statue pose:

When we returned to our seats, Kellan was conked out on Colleen’s lap:

The Mets got right back at it in the fourth inning.  Angel Pagan led off with a single.  He then stole second and scored on a Jason Bay single.

Meanwhile, Bay didn’t look like he was long for first base:

Within seconds of taking that last picture, Bay swiped second base.

I should mention that Dan Haren was pitching:

It wasn’t his night.

Soon after stealing second, Bay scored the third run of the game…

…on a Russell Branyan error.

Both the ice cream and the Angels deficit were keeping us happy.  Actually, Tim was focusing more on the ice cream at this point:

Here is a random picture of Citi Field and Kellan as he sits on my lap:

It should be noted that Kellan is wearing a hand-me-down Mariners t-shirt that he received (with love) from his big brother.  It should also be noted that this was Kellan’s fourth Major League Baseball game and Tim wore the exact same shirt to his fourth MLB game.

Most of our pictures from this game are random smiling Cook Boys pictures.  Here is one of them:

In our four previous games at Citi Field, we had never seen a Met hit a homerun and raise the Big Apple.  Well, Carlos Beltran finally did it for us:

High fives for Carlos:

Beltran’s blast made it 6-0 Mets (Reyes had scored on the batter before Beltran’s homerun) at the end of the fifth inning.  In the top of the sixth, the Angels got their sole run on a Mark Trumbo homerun.  And that was all the scoring in this game.

Here is one of Tim’s standard silly faces that I never tire of:

I also never tire of playing with Kellan…

…or feeding him a bottle while taking in a ballgame.  (Although Kellan will soon graduate from the bottle stage of life).

In the seventh inning, Tim asked to do some exploring.  So, we walked through the CF area where the “Shake Shack” was all lit up in Mets blue and orange:

And we spent some time behind the bullpens watching relievers warm up for both teams:

At the very end of the game, we scooted back over toward the 3B side and positioned ourselves in the concourse above the umpire’s tunnel.  With two outs in the top of the ninth (when they were still checking tickets), Vernon Wells hit a towering pop up for the final out of the game.  As the ball ascended, I scooped up Tim and we started to scurry down the stairs towards the umpires’ tunnel.  But a voice from above called us back.  An usher told us, “you can’t go down there.”  He did not realize the game was going to be over in literally 2-3 seconds.  When he
realized it, he stuck to his guns, “the game is over, you can’t go down there.”

Oh, well.  No umpire ball attempt for us at this game.

We slowly made our way out of the stadium, and we ended up sitting on some benches outside for a while so the traffic on the 7-train could die down a bit.  While we were waiting, I got this picture of Tim with Citi Field lit up at night:

We then made our way back down to Wall Street and our waiting hotel room beds.  The next morning, we trooped around the downtown area a bit before heading home.   We got Tim’s picture with the famous bull:

And we checked out lady liberty from a far:

All-in-all, it was a nice little trip to New York City and Citi Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
13/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
8 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
41 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden
Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark
in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.
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