August 2011

GFS 2011 Game 3 – Giants at Braves (8/15/11)

After our last game in Miami, we drove through driving rain, thunder and lightning storms to a hotel in Jacksonville, Florida.  On Monday morning, August 15, 2011, we had a much more peaceful drive into Georgia…

…and to our hotel in Atlanta.

After lunch and a little bit of relaxing, we headed to Turner Field for our first of two games between the Giants and Braves.  With this game, Tim and I closed out the N.L. East – we have now been to games at Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium and Turner Field.  Following the A.L. West earlier in the season, the N.L. East is the second of the sixth MLB divisions that Tim and I have closed out.

We were a few minutes  late to the stadium because we misjudged traffic a bit so we hustled to get into the ballpark.  We did, however, take time to get Tim’s picture with two statues of all-time great and living legend, Henry “Hank” Aaron…

…and non-Brave but Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb:

Upon entering the ballpark, my Dad went off to look at hats in the team store and Tim and I reported to section 150 in CF:

Two funny things happened right when we arrived in CF.  First, the normally chained off TV camera area in the batters’ eye area was open (but Tim refused to walk out on it for a picture)…

…the Braves were using a pitching machine for the first round of BP.  I’ve never seen that before on a big league field.

Only the outfield is open for the fans during the first half hour of batting practice.  There was no shade and Tim wasn’t a big fan of it out in CF.  So right when the rest of the stadium opened, we hit the concourse, got this picture with Braves Mickey…

…and relocated to a shady spot down the LF foul line:

As we watched the Braves take BP, I spotted my Dad all the way across the field by the RF foul pole:

In that picture, he had just caught a baseball from Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca and he is looking up Tosca’s name in a little line-up card booklet that the ushers gave us when we entered the ballpark.

Meanwhile, we were having no luck in LF.  A Brave named “Vizcaino”…

…was shagging baseballs in LF but we had no clue about his first name.  Then I remembered that little booklet that as resting in my back pocket.  I had not even looked at it and I got the notion that I should check it out in case it could provide any assistance.  I pulled it out and found  the line-ups of both teams (with pictures of all of the Braves) and discovered that Vizcaino’s first name is “Adroys.”

Literally on the next baseball hit to him, Tim and I both called out, “Adroys!”  He looked over and tossed us the baseball.

Thanks, Adroys!

As we hung out in foul territory, Tim went crazy with the spray bottle (this picture was taken before he unloaded the spray bottle all over himself):

We watched Tim Lincecum warm up down the LF line…

…and a bunch of Giants BP from this same spot.  But the Giants are not a very fan friendly bunch – or at least they haven’t been during this Roadtrip.  So we were having no luck down the LF line.  Toward the end of BP, I noticed that Tim Lincecum was actually having some fun during BP out in CF.  So we headed over there.  Lincecum was the first Giant we witnessed actually interacting with fans and tossing baseballs into the crowd.  It would have been great to be on the receiving
end of one of those baseballs, but it didn’t happen.

So BP ended with one baseball in our backpack and one baseball in my Dad’s backpack.

Before heading off to check out Turner Field, Tim jumped into a funny little nook in the LCF and did his best statue pose:

Tim was super-excited to check out the kids’ play area that we passed by on our way into the stadium.  But on our way, we ran into the Braves mascot, Homer:

Homer was hanging out in a little courtyard’ish area directly behind the scoreboard.  You can see that area behind Tim and Homer in that last picture.  And on the right side of this double picture…

…you can see what the back of the scoreboard looks like.  The back-of-the-scoreboard scoreboard is a clutch move.  The only other place I’ve seen it done is at
Citi Field.  Well done, Braves (and Mets).  To the left if that last picture, Tim is standing in front of the Cartoon Network (CN) play area.  I am assuming that this means that Ted Turner owns CN.  Anyway, it was very different any other play area we have seen at a MLB ballpark, but the CN play area was a ton of fun for Tim.

He particularly liked this little station where he could throw balls at moving skeletons (that he happened to always refer to as Pirates):

Among other things (that we’ll save for our next entry), the CN play area also features a tree/boat to climb in and slide down (left)…

…weird electrical thingys (middle), and two whiffle ball fields.

After a while, I had to rip Tim out of the play area or we might have missed the entire game.  It was time to explore.  We headed from the play area to section 151:

And then we continued on the section 139 in the RF side of the Braves bullpen:

Behind the concourse in the RF corner, there is a switch back ramp all the way up to the upper deck.  Tim loves long switch back ramps.  So we had a long way up to the top of the stadium.  On our way up, we noticed that the players parking lot was below the ramp:

And it appeared that several guys were washing some of the players’ cars.

The ramp dumped us out in the concourse behind section 431:

We were at the RF foul pole, but the upper deck seats continue part way into RF so before heading toward home plate, we moseyed out to the last upper deck section in RF, section 437:

Looking down from section 437, we had an excellent view of Tim Hudson warming up in the Braves bullpen:

While doubling back toward the foul pole in the concourse, we noticed something very interesting – an Evacuation Route sign:

These signs are all over the place at Turner Field.  Anyway, back to our walking tour.  We swung around home plate and out to left field stopping along the way to take panoramic views of Turner Field from section 421…

…and section 405:

We stopped behind the plate to get this picture of Tim and Turner Field:

And then Tim scooted out of frame and we got this panorama from section 402:

Heading down the 3B line, we got this panorama from section 416:

And then we tried (but pretty much failed at) something new – a myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt bonus picture looking down at the “Turner Field” sign painted on the top of the 3B dugout:

Well, it sort of worked, but the sign was too blurry for my liking.

Continuing on our walk out to LF, we ran across some Coca-Cola cannons:

My Dad and I had been discussing whether they would have Coke or Pepsi at Turner Field.  It seems like most stadiums have Pepsi products.  When given the choice, we’re a Coke family.  I figured the Braves would have Coke products because Coke is based in Atlanta, and I have previously had Coke vs. Pepsi discussions with some Georgians and they would not even consider holding a Pepsi product let along drinking one.  Anyway, the Coke cannons tipped us off to our answer:  Turner Field is Coca-Cola territory.

From the concourse area by the Coke cannons, we had a great view of the Braves retired numbers hanging from the upper deck area in LF:

Let’s see, 6 is for Bobby Cox, 47 is for Tom Glavine, 31 is for Greg Maddux, 3 is for Dale Murphy, 35 is for Phil Niekro, 44 is for Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, 41 is for Eddie Mathews, 21 is for Warren Spahn, and 42 is for Jackie Robinson.

We continued on our way, and took this panorama from the concourse area above section 324:

Looking down from above section 324 (or thereabouts), we had a nice view of the interesting set up at the front of the visitors bullpen:

The relievers sit on top of the bullpen roof!

Finally, we made it all the way out to the end of the concourse in LF and we got this panorama from above section 336:

The 400-level extends all the way out to where I took that last picture, but there are no seats.  Instead, there is a random fake dugout, home plate, first base line, first base, and pitcher’s mound that kids can sit in, run on and fake-pitch from.  Here is a four part picture of Tim having some fake-field fun up there:

Behind all of this stuff, there is a nice lookout over downtown Atlanta, and some oversized Coke bottle chairs from which you can take in the view:

It was getting close to game time, so we started heading toward our seats.  But before leaving the upper deck, we headed up to the tippy-top of section 422 for one more upper deck panorama:

I was confused about the location of our seats.  They were in the “200 level,” which I thought might be the club level just up the field level seats.  But as we walked the main field level concourse (I say “main” because there is a lower tunnel concourse that is also a “field level” concourse), I noticed there were signs for sections in the 200s.  Here is a panorama from the concourse behind section 208:

It turns out that what we would traditionally call the “field level” is split into two parts – below the cross aisle and above the cross aisle.  The 100 level seats are below the cross aisle, the 200 level seats are above the cross aisle and the 300 level is that club level that I was thinking might be where we were sitting for this game.

We were still making our way to our seats when the game started.  We arrived at our seats in section 207 just in time to see Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval foul a ball off of his ankle and hit the deck writhing in pain:

Of course, we were late to our seats because we had stopped to get nachos on our way through the concourse:

Tasty nachos in Atlanta.  And the food service people (in fact every employee at Turner Field) are incredibly nice.  Everyone greets you with “Welcome to Braves
Country!”  And I mean EVERYONE!  You run into an usher in the ninth inning and you’re going to be welcomed to Braves Country.  But in additional to all of the “welcoming,” everyone was just incredibly nice and very much concerned about making sure you are having a good experience at Turner Field.  High marks for
everyone at Turner Field!

Despite a hit and an error, Tim Hudson escaped the first inning unscathed.  We were officially hoping to witness our second “Tim” pitching victory of the Roadtrip at this game.

Between the top and bottom of the first, we got this panorama from our seats in section 207:

In the bottom of the first, Brian McCann helped out the get-Tim-a-victory cause by hitting a solo homerun.  I missed the swing, but got a nice “trotting” shot of McCann:

This was the first game after Dan Uggla broke his (I think) 33-game hitting streak.  Uggla was looking to start a new streak when he followed McCann’s homer, but instead he struck out in an ugly, and I mean UGLY, fashion:

Half a second after I took that picture, Uggla was sitting on the dirt facing the umpire.  That pitch twisted him up like nobody’s business.

Leading 1-0 in the top of the second, Tim Hudson…

…gave up a leadoff single to the well-traveled Orlando Cabrera.

Between Cabrera and Eli Whiteside, I got this picture of the Braves very impressive group of Division, League and World Series Championship pennants:

NTS!

On this pitch…

Timmy H. (as I hope he was referred to in pre-school) coaxed Whiteside to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

For the second day in a row, I had good luck with getting some action shots.  Here, Jason Heyward hits a towering pop up…

…and Brandon Belt waits under the baseball (circled in red) ready to make the catch).  My action shots aside, the highlight of the second inning was that the Braves extended their lead to 2-0 when Jose Constanza hit a single to LF scoring Freddie Freeman.

We were in the last row of section 207 (almost right below a big TV camera).  After he went to get some dinner of his own, I got this shot of my Dad…

…waiting in the concourse while the current hitter finished his at bat so he could head down the stairs (all one or two steps that it takes to get to the back row) and
rejoin us.

I have no clue who hit this ball, but here is Constanza camped under a pop fly…

…ready to make a put out.  Easily, my best action shot of the game.  Pop flies are hard to capture, because you never know when they will happen.

The Giants (much to my dismay) mounted a comeback in the top of the fourth.  It all started on a bizarre play.  Leadoff batter Aubrey Huff hit a line drive
right at Braves center fielder Michael Bourn.  The flight of the ball fooled Bourn and he jumped at the last second.  The ball ricocheted off of Bourn’s glove and then off of his face before falling to the ground.  Miraculously, Bourn was able to keep Huff at first.  But the error eventually lead to two unearned runs on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Cabrera and Whiteside.

In the middle innings, Grandpa volunteered to take Tim back to the play area for a bit.  All that playing built up Tim’s ice cream appetite so we invested in a pair of ice cream helmets:

The Giants took at 3-2 lead with a leadoff homerun by Nate Schierholtz in the top of the sixth.  And they extended it to a 4-2 lead with a leadoff homer by Mike Fontenot in the top of the eighth.

Tim and I decided to head down to the cross-aisle and take another shot at the Turner Field bonus picture:

That one worked better.  While we were at it, we got a picture of Tim and the field from the cross aisle:

And then, back in our seats, we got a picture of Tim, his trusty side-kick and stuffed turtle, Shelly, and the field:

In the ninth, we decided to head back down to the cross aisle in an attempt to make a go for a post-game umpire baseball.  On our walk over to the 3B side, we got panoramas from the cross aisle behind section 101…

…and section 108:

The Giants were still winning 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth.  It was impossible to get into section 108 to try to get into position at the umpires’ tunnel.  So we continued to hang out in the cross aisle.

Brian Wilson and his extremely played out and over-exposed beard came in to shut the door on the Braves.  But the fans weren’t going to let it happen
without a fight.  They went into full Tomahawk Chop mode:

The place was loud as could be.

Constanza led off with a single.  The Tomahawk Chopping grew louder.

Eric Hinske followed with a walk.  Louder still.

Julio Lugo came in to run for Hinski.

Constanza and Lugo advanced to 3B and 2B on a bunt by Michael Bourn.

The crowd when crazy some more when Martin Prado singled to LF scoring Constanza – Giants 4-3 with the tying run on 3B.

I was all set for Brian McCann…

…to win the game with an extra base hit.  But instead Wilson walked McCann.

Dan Uggla couldn’t get it done.  He struck out swinging…but he did manage to stay on his feet this time.

Finally, it was rookie Freddy Freeman’s turn at bat.  Down by one, two outs, two on, and with a full count: it was “go” time!

I was holding Tim so we could bolt down the stairs toward the umpire’s tunnel upon the final swing of the game.  The stadium was going absolutely crazy.  Screaming, hooping, hollering, and Tomahawk Chopping galore.  And at the climactic moment, Tim laid down his head on my shoulder and
the lights were completely out as Freeman connected on a slow grounder up the middle (as photographed by my Dad)…

…Lugo and Martin Prado hurried around 3B scoring the tying and winning runs.  Braves win! (But sadly not a Tim Hudson win).

I could tell Freeman’s hit was gonna do the trick.  It was a perfect slow developing play.  By the time the winning run was crossing the plate, we were five rows from the umpire tunnel.  We would have been right there ready to ask “Cowboy” Joe West for a post-game umpire baseball.  But every row was still totally packed.  It was absolutely impossible to get within even ten feet of the tunnel.  And Cowboy Joe sailed by without distributing a single baseball.

So, no umpire baseball for us.  But we did get a great view of the post-game celebration.  And we go this panorama from the front of section 108:

A few minutes later, Giants reporter Pedro Gomez walked by and started to pack up his stuff:

Before meeting up with my Dad to walk to the car, I got someone to take this hilarious picture of us (and Tim managed to half open his eyes):

All-in-all, it was a great day at a great ballpark.

The next day, we would have a day off from baseball, an awesome tour of an amazing old mine in Dahlonega, GA, and a very nice visit with my Dad’s aunt.

And then we’d be right back here at Turner Field on August 17th.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
22/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
17 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (1)).
59 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 3 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 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, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training** divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

GFS 2011 Game 2 – Giants at Marlins (8/14/11)

On August 14, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in Miami, Florida.  We had another Giants vs. Marlins game on tap for the afternoon.  But, first, we had some business to attend to…beach business.  We hopped into our rental car and headed to Miami Beach.  South Beach to be exact:

I’m not a big beach fan, but South Beach was awesome.  The water was perfect and we had a blast.  We arrived early and by the time the beach was really starting to get hopping, we headed out.

It was time for our second and final game at Sun Life Stadium:

I was not expecting there to be batting practice so I was pleasantly surprised as the Marlins were running off of the field and the Giants were just beginning their stretching routine as we entered the seating bowl behind home plate.  We headed over to the Marlins dugout where a few players and coaches were still walking off of the field and into the dugout.

I’ve learned over the years that listening is key.  I had no clue who any of the remaining Marlins were.  But someone else did.  I heard a lady say hi to “Joe,” and then “Joe” walked over to chat with her.  I noticed that “Joe” had a baseball in his glove.  So when he finished talking to the lady, I called out, “Hey, Joe!”  He
walked over to say hi.  And soon enough, Joe’s baseball was in Tim’s hand.

By the way, “Joe” ended up being third base coach, Joey Espada.

Thanks, Joe!

I was ecstatic for us to finally get a baseball at Sun Life Stadium.

As we continued to stand around behind the dugout, I noticed that Marlins manager Jack McKeon was just below us chatting with a guy.  I waited until they had a natural break in their conversation (in fact, they even took a step or two away from each other for a moment) and then I held up the baseball from “Joe” and asked McKeon if he would sign the baseball for us.

McKeon held up one finger as if to say, “yep, in just a minute,” and then he re-engaged his conversation with the guy.  And unhappy looking (and quite large) Marlins stadium attendant…

…who was standing by McKeon on the field stepped toward us and barked with a menacing scowl: “He’s busy talking to someone right now.”  Of course, that is why we had patiently and politely waited for a natural break in McKeon’s conversation.

Anyway, despite the evil eye from the stadium attendant, McKeon did not seem to think we had done anything wrong.  After another thirty seconds of conversation, he looked up and put his hands out for me to toss him the baseball and our pen.  He signed the baseball, tossed it back and was on his way.

As the Giants started to hit, Tim and I headed out to deep RCF.  Tim is not a fan of the sun, and it was beating down pretty hard at this point, so he grabbed a shady seat at the back of the section…

…and watched as I snagged a BP homer off of the bat of a Giants lefty.  That ball landed in about the seventh row just as I approached and then rolled all the way down to the first row with me hoping the rows following it.  It hurt like crazy as I bashed shin-after-shin and knee-after-knee on the seats.

Shortly after getting that baseball, Tim and I decided to walk around a little bit.

We headed over to the LF foul corner and checked out the drop off created by the folded-up seats:

Nothing was going on over there, so we headed to the kids’ play area.  But when we reached the McDonald’s play area that we had visited the night before, we found that…

…it was gone.  But over by the batting cage, we found a batting tee and bouncy house that were a lot of fun for Tim:

After bouncing, we headed over to section 142 quickly to check out our seats for the game.  Then it was time for lunch.  On the way out of the seating bowl, I got this picture that shows Tim’s new give-away Marlins bag:

Our nacho lunch was much better than our nacho dinner from the night before because I invested $1.00 for some extra cheese:

And then it was time for the game, this was our view from section 142, row 4:

Tim and I decided that we wanted the Marlins to win this game.  So we were happy when Cody Ross grounded out to lead off the game for the Giants:

There was an unexpected guest hovering over this game – the Goodyear blimp:

Since we got a baseball (or two) during BP, we were excited to be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus point picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Here is our first attempt:

We tried again later and I decided to go with the second attempt instead of this one.

The night before, we were sitting right behind Mike Stanton and I was telling my Dad what a beast Stanton is.  Living in Seattle and not getting to many N.L. games, my Dad had never heard of Mike Stanton (well, not this Mike Stanton at least.  He had heard of the other less beastly Mike Stanton or maybe it was this Mike Stanton).

Tim and I saw Stanton hit at least three homeruns last season (including a monster upper deck shot in Philadelphia).  Well, make it one more:

Stanton hit this one to the absolute deepest part of CF at Sun Life Stadium.  And then there was nothing left to do but trot:

That put the Marlins up 1-0 at the end of the first.

In the bottom of the second we had a little excitement come our way.  We were in the fourth row between the Marlins dugout and the Marlins bullpen.  Our assigned seats were 5-6-7, with 7 being the closest to home plate.  Tim’s seat of choice is always seat number 5.  My Dad took seat 7.  So that naturally left me with seat 6.  But there was no one sitting to our left in 1-2-3-4, so I opted for seat 4 and the open route to the aisle so I could run for a foul ball in the general area.

What I didn’t expect was that a foul ball would come directly to us.

But when former-beloved-Mariner Mike Cameron came to the plate and put this swing…

…on the ball, that is exactly what happened.

The ball was a towering foul pop up that travelled directly to us off the bat.  It did not hook, it did not slice, it did not blow in the wind.  From the second it hit
the bat, it was plain as day obvious that this ball was destined to land right at seats 6-7 of row 4 in section 142.  I am an inch or two taller than my Dad and would have had the natural advantage if I was standing directly next to him in my assigned seat.  But instead I was blocked off by Tim (grandpa’s little helper!).  My Dad and I both put our gloves up next to each other.  Mine came down empty, and my Dad’s came down cradling this little beauty:

It is my Dad’s third foul ball of the season, but his first caught on the fly.

Aside from the foul ball potential, section 142 is a fun place to sit at Sun Life Stadium because it seems to be the entertainment hub of the ballpark.  D.J. Petey is set up in the “beach” section of the ballpark during the games and between innings he was constantly setting up games and other stuff right in front of us:

It is also an access point to the field for the mascots, dancers and other on field entertainers.  This game was Billy the Marlins birthday so there were about 15 different mascots on hand to celebrate.  At one point, about 6-7 mascots were right in front of us tossing shirts into the stands.  But mascots can’t throw very far!
So most of them all landed in the lower seats.  And I came away with this Marlins t-shirt:

An interesting thing about this game was that both starting pitchers’ names started with the letters “Vo”…

Ryan Vogelsong vs. Chris Volstad.  In the battle of the Vo’s, Vogelsong dominated.

This was one of my best games for getting action shots.  Here is a cool picture of Aaron Rowand just about to ground out:

The Marlins have a scantily-clad dance troop called the Mermaids…

…that also used section 142 as a main point of access to do their in-game entertaining.  Those Mermaids must have changed outfits about 3-4 times throughout the game.  And (as you can see in the picture above) whenever D.J. Petey did a contest, they had two Mermaids flank him and the contestant(s).

While I was busy catching that Marlins t-shirt above, my Dad and Tim were hiding away in the shady concourse.  When they returned, they were bearing gifts of ice cream:

Between innings at some point of the game, they did a little video tribute to Jack McKeon on the big screen in honor of this being the 2,000th game that he has managed in the Major Leagues:

I thought that was pretty cool to find out that we got Jack’s autograph at his 2,000th game.

Thanks again, Jack!

In order to keep a full roster of Mermaids ready for Major League action, the Marlins have a minor league (so to speak) dance crew in training, the Minnows:

These little gals are just 6-8 years and a Mermaid-twisted ankle away from getting called up to the Show!

Back to the action, Dwayne Wise turned around this pitch…

…for a harmless pop fly out to LF.

Like at ballhawkfest last month, Tim had a spray bottle full of water and was blasting himself in the face most of the day to stay cool.  Of course, he took the opportunity to spray down his hair and make a little mohawk:

In the top of the seventh inning with the Giants leading 4-1, Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop drilled Ryan Vogelsong in the back with a pitch.  Vogelsong was furious.  He slammed his bat to the ground like he was chopping wood with an axe.  I was super-excited at the possibility of getting one of the most difficult shots from the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – fake punching another fan in the stands while the players brawl in the background.  “Quick,” I said, “Tim, act like you’re punching Grandpa in the face!”

We did our part, but Vogelsong totally failed us.  The brawl just didn’t materialize.  So sad.

Here is a weird picture:

Can you tell what’s going on in that picture?  It is hard to tell.  You have to click to enlarge the photo.  Throughout most of the game there were about 50 dragonflies buzzing all around over our heads.  It was alike a Dragonfly convention.

Not only was section 142 a hot spot for D.J. Petey, the Mermaids, and the mascots, it was also home base for a cameraman.  Between almost every inning, the cameraman focused in on different fans in section 142 and put them up on the big screens at the end of both endzones – on in baseball terms, RF and the 3B line.  At one point, he caught staying himself in the face with his water sprayer…

…but right when I took a picture of the big screen, Tim turned around and looked at me with a big smile so all you could see on the big screen was the back of Tim’s head.

There were so many mascots all around that Tim just had to get his picture with one of them.  While he would have favored Billy the Marlin or the Miami Dolphins’ dolphin, his best opportunity involved Sebastian the Ibis from the University of Miami.  A little background is in order.

First, I have strongly disliked the Miami Hurricanes since the 1980s.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I have a lot of company.  It seems like everyone dislikes the Hurricanes.

Second, a couple months ago, Miami hired Al Golden, Jr. as its new head football coach.  Golden (or Cousin Al) is related to us through my wife’s family.  It is not like we’re so close that we are spending Thanksgiving with the Goldens.  But we are related.  Here is the situation as I have figured it out:  Tim’s great-great-great
grandparents (on Tim’s mom’s dad’s mom’s side) are Coach Golden’s great-grandparents (on his dad’s mom’s side).  In terms of generations, Coach Golden is on the same generational level as Tim’s grandpa (my wife’s dad, Kevin Gill a/k/a Poppy).  So, Poppy and Coach Golden share the same great grandparents.  Kevin’s mom is first cousins with Al Golden Sr. – their parents’ are sisters.  So that clears it all up, right?  Anyway, the family connection (despite the fact that Coach Al recently dumped my alma mater, Temple) has made it so I can at least stomach the Hurricanes a little bit, at least enough for Tim to get a picture with the Hurricanes mascot, Sebastian.

Anyway, there is a little handicapped access area just below section 142 (and running all the way to the LF foul corner).  Sebastian was hanging out just below the handicapped area in the field level seats below.  No one from up above can get down to those seats.  So Tim camped out on the stairs…

…waiting for Sebastian to wander by close enough for us to arrange a picture.

This is what it looked like just above the handicapped accessible area where we were waiting for Sebastian:

Eventually, Sebastian made his way down to us and posed for a picture with Tim:

And at the very same moment, D.J. Petey was running a “Hug Your Kids” segment with one of the cameramen right in front of section 142.  So after Tim posed for the picture with Sebastian, the big Ibis (which we kept referring to as a duck) picked up Tim and started hugging him and swinging him around like a ragdoll.  The
cameraman turned and the little scene was broadcast throughout Sun Life Stadium:

Tim thought it was hilarious!  In those pictures, he is looking at me and my Dad smiling and laughing with joy.  Ah, good times at Sun Life Stadium!

Late in the game, we were excited to see former Mariner Jose Lopez come to bat for the Marlins…

…he popped out on that swing.  It must have been his first at bat of the season because the scoreboard said he was batting .000 and had played in only one game, which I was thinking must be this game.

In the eighth or ninth inning, Tim and I headed over to section 156 to see if we could get an umpire baseball from Angel Hernandez.  We stopped at the top of section 156 to get this picture…

…and to look at this cricket:

By the way, as you can see two pictures above, Tim was wearing his University of Hawaii baseball shirt that he got from our friends from myGameBalls.com and MLBlogs, Todd and Tim Dixon, from Hawaii.  (Great names those guys have, eh?)  Tim loves his UH baseball and t-shirt.  And whenever I mention that we only have a couple more baseball stadiums to visit before we have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game, Tim also mentions, “But we haven’t been to the Rainbows stadium yet in Hawaii.”  So someday in the future, we’re going to have to Roadtrip to Hawaii to see the Rainbows.

The umpire tunnel was considerably less congested at this game.  There were two people in the front row on the outfield side of the tunnel and no one else was in the first 5-6 rows.  So we grabbed some seats in the first row one section over (in the orange seats just next to the off-limits blue seats).  Our plan was to bolt down the second row of blue seats and jump over to the first row next to the tunnel right when the game ended.

This is what our view looked like from the first row in section 101 (which is directly next to section 156 on the outfield side of section 156):

The night before, we saw Aaron Rowand ground out to Greg Dobbs in the ninth inning.  At this game, we saw Greg Dobbs fly out to Aaron Rowand in the ninth inning:

At this point, the Giants were leading the Marlins 5-2.  When we left section 142, my Dad had told us that he was going to stick around on the 1B side to see if he could get Mike Cameron’s autograph after the game.  I assumed he meant on the Mike Cameron foul ball he had caught earlier in the game. With the Marlins losing, I knew that the only way he would even have a chance to get Cammy’s autograph after the game was if (1) the Marlins came back to win the game or (2) the game ended with Cameron on base so he had to walk back to the dugout.

Well, on the Mike Cameron front, the stars were perfectly aligned for my Dad on this day.  In the bottom of the ninth, Cameron singled up the middle on this swing:

He would eventually make it to second base.

Jeremy Affeldt was warming up in the Giants bullpen…

…and eventually came into the game (instead of Brian Wilson) even though it was a save situation.

Tim was fully committed to the Marlins winning this game.  He gave his best “GO MARLINS” chant:

But his youthful exuberance was not enough, and the Marlins fell to the Giants by a final score of 5-2.

The game ended with Mike Cameron on second base, and the former-Seattle fan favorite (it is amazing how well Cameron fit in as a Mariner, particularly considering that he was replacing every Mariners fan’s favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.) stopped to sign a baseball for my Dad on his way back to the dugout:

I was slow on the camera trigger and only caught the above photo after Cameron had tossed the baseball back up to my Dad.  But I had a good excuse.  We were busy getting the third and final umpire ball tossed into the stands by Angel Hernandez.  That makes two years in a row that Angel Hernandez has given Tim a baseball on the GFS Roadtrip.  He might get a lot of flack for his actual umpiring work, but Angel is a-okay in our book!

Thanks, Angel!

After the game, an usher took this (would be excellent) photo of the three of us behind home plate:

Unfortunately, a single drop of rain landed directly on my lens.  The guy took two photos to make sure we got a good one, but both are marred by the rouge rain drop.

And our picture wasn’t the only thing the rain ruined.  The scoreboard in RF in the following panorama from the top of section 150 tells the sad story…

…Kids Run the Bases cancelled due to inclement weather.  Shortly after we got in the car and hit the road, the skies opened up and dumped a near-Biblical flood’s worth of water all over Florida.

So, with no Kids Run the Bases to cap our day at the ballpark, we simply took a follow-up photo for our myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Sun Life Stadium bonus picture…

…and then we hit the road.

Thanks, Sun Life Stadium!  Despite your many flaws, we had a lot of fun.

On to Atlanta and Turner Field!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
21/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
58 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 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, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 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, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami); 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]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

GFS 2011 Game 1 – Giants at Marlins (8/13/2011)

Its that time of year again.  Time for the fourth installment of the Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  This will likely be the last Roadtrip with the original line-up.  In 2012, Kellan will likely come on board as the fourth Roadtripper.  But as for now, the cast of characters remains: Grandfather = Jim Cook; Father = Todd Cook; and Grandson = Tim Cook:

We flew into Tampa and stayed the night in a hotel.  In the picture above, we are about to pile into our rented Nissan Altima and head south to…

…Sun Life Stadium!  Note: that port-a-potty out front of Gate F is just one of the many luxury amenities the Marlins offer at the ballpark.

From a snagging a baseball perspective, my base goal was to get at least one baseball at each of the three stadiums we are visiting on this Roadtrip (Sun Life, Turner Field, and Tropicana Field).  As far as Sun Life Stadium goes, I was counting on this being our best bet.  It was a Saturday night game (presumably) with batting practice.  But then it started monsoon-caliber rain at our hotel about 15 minutes from the ballpark.  The gates weren’t scheduled to open yet, but we decided to head up to the ballpark anyway and just roam the concourses while clouds drained out all of their rain.

But then an amazing thing happened.  It was serious Noah’s Ark type rain at our hotel, but it was completely dry at the ballpark.  So we ran into the ballpark when it opened and were happy to find the Giants just starting to take BP.

Despite getting full-Giants BP, several things were working (quite effectively) against us: (1) the Marlins don’t like to let fans anywhere near their precious multi-purpose field, (2) the Giants have no power to right field (the only spot the ordinary fan can get to the front row on the field), and (3) the Giants (are quickly
proving to us that they) do not like fans.

We tried our luck in section 126:

That section is just on the CF side of the big tunnel that separates RF from CF.  The BP crowd was smaller on our side of the tunnel, but it would take a mighty blast to get a baseball out to us.  Tim relaxed in a multi-shaded orange seat right on the tunnel:

Only one homerun reached the deep RCF seats.  It landed about 3 rows behind us and only about 15 feet away, but I was blocked in by another couple fans and couldn’t even make a real attempt to catch the ball.  I say a “real” attempt because I did make an instinctual lunge toward the blocked off aisle as the ball came off
the bat – Sun Life Stadium punished me for this in the form of trying to break my shin on a cup holder bolted to the back of the seat in front of me.  Ouch.
A word to the wise:  at Sun Life Stadium, the rows of seats are narrow, the cup holders make them even narrower, and many of the seats fail to fold up.  So there are many, many opportunities to bash your knees and shins while passing through the aisles.

Meanwhile, the Giants literally tossed zero baseballs into three sections of seats in RCF.  BP ended with us still looking to secure our first ever baseball at Sun Life Stadium.  Our chances were not looking good and I was fearing that we might never get a baseball at this soon-to-be retired “baseball stadium.”  Even worse, without getting at least one baseball, we would not be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus picture point for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Anyway, it was time to tour around a little bit.  We started by visiting the McDonald’s kids area:

The concourses on the 1B and LF sides of the stadium (which I assume match up with the sides of the Miami Dolphins football field) are largely empty (well, LF is completely empty).  But on this day, McDonald’s had  set up a couple face painting booths (FYI, I am about the biggest anti-face painting person on earth), two
basketball pop-a-shots, two football accuracy throwing things, and two baseball strike zone throwing things.  While my Dad wandered around looking for a hat and Sun Life Stadium baseball (FYI, they don’t have them) in the team store, Tim and I shot tons of hoops, tossed a few footballs, and pitched many, many strikes.

After the play area, we started the process of walking around the ballpark.  It was a shorter process than normal because the entire upper deck was closed, and the LF concourse is essentially unused.

First, we visited section 150 behind home plate:

Next, we grabbed some nachos and found some seats in section 106:

The nachos were good…

…but the cheese ran out prematurely.  The problem was that they only had one cheese holder and didn’t pour any cheese directly onto the chips.  That’s just not enough cheese.

While eating nachos, we noticed something that showed just how plain it is that the Marlins have second billing at Sun Life Stadium:

Yep, the stadium used to be called Dolphin Stadium, and the end seat on each row is adorned with a dolphin.

Since there is nothing in left field, we turned around after eating our nachos, and headed back toward home plate.  We were still baseball-less, so we decided to make an effort at a pre-game throwing baseball (something that I think we have only ever obtained once – from Ian Kinsler May 5, 2009).

Here is Tim hanging out in the “front row” by the dugout:

I say front row because it is row 1, but there are more seats below row 1.  They are right down on the field and you can’t get to them without those tickets.

As former-Mariner Greg Dobbs played catch below us, Tim had fun watching Billy the Marlin catch the “first” pitches:

He quite enjoyed little Billy too:

At one point, Billy came over to the first base side and gave Tim a happy point in exchange for Tim’s excited wave:

In that picture, you can see Greg Dobbs (No. 29) on the far left side of the picture:

Dobbs scooted way back past first base and played long toss before retreating to the dugout.   Dobbs was our best chance to get a baseball at this game.  He ended up with the ball just 15-20 feet below us.  He clearly wanted to give it away.  But the music was pumping loud through the stadium and Dobbs just couldn’t hear me.  If he had, I’m sure he would have given us the baseball.  Instead, he gave the ball to a 20-something fan in the true front row who had not even been paying any attention.  Dobbs essentially walked over and said, “Here, take this.”  Bummer.

My Dad headed out to RF where we had our tickets for the game.  Tim and I hung out behind the dugout for the top of the first inning to see if we could get a third out baseball (something we’ve only ever obtained once before – from Ronny Paulino earlier this season).

Cody Ross led off the game with the fly out to LF:

Jeff Keppinger followed Ross with a solo homerun to LF.  Eventually, Aubrey Huff struck out looking to end the first inning.  We were expecting the final out to be at first base, so we were nowhere near where we needed to be for a catcher toss-up.  So some other lucky fan got that third out baseball and we gave up and headed out to RF to meet up with grandpa:

This was our view of the game:

Tim “The Freak” Lincecum was pitching for the Giants…

…and he pitched a very solid game.

Eventually, Tim needed some ice cream.  I told him I would go get it while he stayed with Grandpa.  But when I turned toward CF in the concourse, there was no ice cream to be found.  It was time to explore again.

From CF all the way to the LF foul line, all two of the tunnels into the closed and/or non-existent seating areas were closed off.  In CF,the tunnels are covered with a blue tarp that serves as the batters’ eyes…

…and in LF two of the tunnels are open exclusively for cameramen.  Meanwhile, in the LF concourse, there is absolutely nothing going on.

I stopped off in section 107 where I took this panorama:

A couple more sections over toward 3B (probably section 105), I found this weird single seat at the back of the seating section:

My thought is that this seat is for the usher patrolling this section.

I checked in again at section 154 where this was my view:

While in section 154, I got some of my best photos of Lincecum:

Finally, I found ice cream helmets (vanilla/chocolate twist) and reported back to Tim and Grandpa.  As always, Tim enjoyed his ice cream:

We were ready for the weather to be blisteringly hot and disgustingly humid on this entire Roadtrip.  In fact, we failed to pack anything for the possibility of cold weather.  But the ice cream made Tim chilly.  He had to bundle up in my Mariners jersey…

…and snuggle with Grandpa for heat:

Meanwhile, I were still trying to figure out to come away from this game with a baseball.  I exchanged a bunch of texts with Ben “Benny Bang Bany” Weil, who in turn exchanged some texts with Mateo Fischer, and the word came back that  this tunnel…

…just past the third base dugout was the umpires’ tunnel.  So I surveyed it with my zoom lens and made our plan.

Meanwhile, the Giants tacked on a couple more runs to take the score to 3-0 Giants.  In the fifth inning, Nate Schierholtz scored from third on a wild pitch by Javier Vazquez.  And in the sixth, Cody Ross scored on a double by Aubrey Huff.  That was all the scoring for the night.

Mike Stanton was playing RF for the Marlins in front of us:

He has had some great games for me and Tim.  But he went 0-3 at this game.

From our seats, we had a nice view of the Marlins bullpen:

I thought the bullpen set up was pretty odd at Sun Life Stadium.  It is not that unusual for the bullpens to be located down the base lines.  But at Sun Life Stadium, the Marlins bullpen and the Marlins dugout are both on the first base line and the visitors’ bullpen and dugout are both on the third base line.  That’s odd because usually a baseline bullpen is located on the opposite baseline from the dugout so the manager can see his relievers warming up in the pen.

Tim found various ways to make wearing his dad’s jersey more fun:

The fans tried to get the wave going at one point.  So Tim decided that he and I should do our own wave:

In the eighth inning, Tim and I started to slowly make our way over toward the umpires’ tunnel.  First, we stopped in section 134 to take this panorama from just behind a big advertisement that blocks the view of numerous entire rows of seats behind “the Beach” area behind the Marlins bullpen:

Then we swung around to section 138 and got checked out the bullpen…

…and the beach:

And here is a panorama from section 138:

Two seconds after taking that panorama, a police officer in the Marlins bullpen told us we had to stay at least five rows back in the seats, which did not make much sense, but oh, well.

We headed up to the concourse and circled around to section 156 where the umpire tunnel is located.  The umpire tunnel is surrounded by blue seats.  The Marlins station ushers at the top of the blue seats and won’t let anyone down into them without a blue seat ticket.  So we found aisle seats in the orange seats just behind the blue seats.  Here was our view from section 156:

The umpire baseball attempt was going to be tricky.  There were two rows of people at the OF end of the tunnel, and one row of people at the infield side of the tunnel.  It seemed like our best bet would be to go directly above the tunnel, but that would mean home plate umpire Ron Kulpa would have to spot us long before
getting to the covered tunnel and make a lot toss over the tunnel to us.

But there was some more game to watch first.

Our new seats were just behind Greg Dobbs…

…and we had an excellent view of the action when Aaron Rowand grounded to Dobbs, and Dobbs threw him out at first.

My Dad was still lounging out in RF:

The Giants brought in Brian Wilson to close out the game:

I’ll tell you, I am officially sick and tired of hearing about his beard.  Can someone else win the World Series already so we can all forget that Brian Wilson has a big beard?

Anyway, Wilson and his beard did their job.  The Giants won 3-0.

After the game, Ron Kulpa did not hear us and did not give away a single umpire baseball.  We headed over to the Giants dugout for the relievers to make their way in to the dugout.  But , to our surprise, they never came.  They apparently have their own tunnel to the club house.  So the only person we saw at the dugout after
the initial victory high-fives was Jeff Keppinger as he was interviewed post-game.

Soon, my Dad found us and a Giants fan took our picture with a grumpy looking usher behind us:

On our way out of the stadium, we discovered there was a full batting cage with rotating arm pitching machine in the concourse behind the first base dugout:

So the first game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip was in the books.  A 7 inning shutout win by Tim Lincecum and the Giants.  With our final game at Sun Life Stadium being the next day at 1:10 p.m. and still sitting on zero baseballs at Sun Life Stadium, we left this game unsure whether we would ever
be able to say we got a ball at Sun Life Stadium.  If not, Sun Life would join Shea Stadium, old Yankee Stadium, and Chase Field as the only stadiums Tim has visited and not got at least one baseball.  We’ll visit Chase Field again, but Sun Life Stadium was in jeopardy of joining Shea Stadium and old Yankee Stadium on the never-gonna-happen list.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
20/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
15 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 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, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 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, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
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)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U of Miam); 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]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

The Mariners’ Seventeenth Straight Loss (7/26/11)

We were supposed to go to Bronx to see the Mariners on Monday, July 25, 2011.  But then we had to cancel and reschedule for Wednesday, July 27, 2011.  Finally, after a series of crazy and annoying circumstances, we ended up going to see the Mariners on Tuesday, July 26, 2011.  This, of course, if the story of that game – Kellan’s first in the Bronx
(his fourth stadium overall).

Usually, we always park in Manhattan and take the subway to either of the New York ballparks.  But at this game, we decided to drive right to the stadium and pay a small fortune (almost as much as our game tickets) to park in an official team parking garage.

As a result, it was our first time ever entering the ballpark at Gate 8 (behind CF):

While we were in line, we met some nice Washington-based Mariners fans.  Always good to meet some good guys at an opposition ballpark.  While we waited the last couple minutes for the gates to open, I noticed that right next to our line there was an employee check point:

What do they think employees are going to bring into the ballpark?

When we entered the ballpark, the batting cages were set up, the home team with the white pin-striped pajama outfits was stretching in RF, and there were no Mariners in
sight.  So we headed over to the Mariners dugout on the 3B side.

Moments after a guy who reads our blog (I’m embarrassed to say, I’m not 100% of his name anymore.  I’m pretty sure it was Jonathan…but Andrew also seems right too. Hmmm….), Colleen snapped this picture of me and the boys:

Moments later, the first two Mariners of the day popped out of the dugout and headed toward the LF foul line:

This next picture is blurry but cute.  As we watched Michael Pineda and Chris Ray head down the LF foul line…

…a few more Mariners joined them on the field.

We followed the Mariners a little bit down the line, but stayed behind the big protective nets that they put up during batting practice.  There were two Mariners pitchers playing catch right in front of us (well, way down there in front of us…we were trapped behind the Legends Suite seats), but I had no clue at all who the closer of the two Mariners was.  He was obviously a pitcher, but he did not look familiar at all from the distance.

Just then, the same two Mariners fans who we chatted with in line wandered by and took a family photo of us:

I asked the guy if he had any clue who the Mariners pitcher down below us on the foul line was.  He guessed it was Josh Lueke.

Here is a panorama that I took a bit later, but it shows the scene:

We were hanging out in the empty aisle all the way to the right of that panorama.  Lueke was standing on the foul line between the second and third protective netting poles.
We were just chilling and passing time in the shade…

…and then Lueke and his partner finished throwing and Lueke (holding the baseball) started to turn to walk away.  I called out, “Hey, Josh!”  He turned around (hey, the
Mariners fan was right, it was Lueke!) and I flashed my glove at him.  He reared back and lobbed a high ball over the protective netting.  With Kellan strapped to my chest…

…it was anything but a routine catch.  I had to reach up and back as far as I could and I just barely got enough glove on the ball to reel it in.  But I got it.  The catch garnered some cheers by nearby fans.

Thanks, Josh!

I knew that the ushers would check tickets soon and start asking people to head to their own seating areas.  So I asked Colleen if it was okay for her to keep the boys so I could run out to LF for a few minutes.  She agreed.  But there was absolutely no action out there.  I wasn’t there long, but in that time not a single homerun was hit into the LF seats.
Consequently, the only thing I got out there was this picture of my cute little family chilling in the seats in foul territory:

Nothing was going on out there, so I headed back to my peeps in foul territory.  We watched the Mariners pitchers finish their throwing routines:

The timing of BP seemed totally wrong.  The ushers still had not checked tickets when the home team cleared the field.  But before the Mariners batters started warming up, the grounds crew removed the batting cages.  WHAT!?  We got cheated out of Mariners BP!  No fun.

So, we decided to take a circuitous walk in the concourses in search of food.  We ended up at a SRO counter in the LF corner on the second deck with nachos, hot dogs, and garlic knots.  After chowing down, I decided to take Colleen to “Bronx Central Station” a/k/a the least baseball-stadiumesque concourse in all of Major League Baseball.

But on the way, we stopped off to take this picture that fairly well illustrates our feelings about the team that calls this ballpark home:

I suggested the thumbs down, but the priceless expression on his face is all Tim’s doing.

And then we continued on our journey.  At the top of the stairs down to the aforementioned train-station-looking outer concourse, I got this picture of Tim and Colleen:

When we reached the far end of the station, we posed for another picture and Kellan showed us his true feelings about this *magnificent* ballpark:

*Yawn*

Two seconds after that picture, we ducked into the nearby team store for some much needed air conditioning.  Ah, that felt good.  But it was almost game time, so we had to
re-enter the heat and humidity and make our way to our seats in LCF.  We had planned to get ice cream on our way, but we cut it too close and we would have missed the Mariners at bats in the top of the first, so we headed right to our seats.

We arrived just as someone-or-other sang the National Anthem:

This was our view from section 239, row 4, seats 1-4 (actually, it was my view from seat 1):

Note the police officer stationed at the bottom of the aisle just in front of us.  There is an armed police officer in every section in the bleachers.  You know, you gotta keep the people in the cheap seats in line, we can’t be trusted to police ourselves.

As he always does, Ichiro led off for the Mariners, and he was facing the perennially dominant C.C. Sabbathia:

Unfortunately, Sabbathia (who is almost always on his game) was extra on his game tonight.  It wasn’t going to be pretty.

By the way, I think that Tim and Kellan could use Sabbathia’s game pants as a sleeping back – one boy per pant leg.  Those are some huge – seemingly flared at the thighs – pant legs.

As the bleacher creatures out in RF did the roll call, I go this picture of former-Athletic great (now mediocre) Eric Chavez acknowledging the fans:

After Sabbathia sat our Mariners down 1-2-3, we procured two twist ice cream helmets and one twist cone and headed back to our seats.  I think this might be Kellan’s first ever taste of ice cream:

He liked it.  So did Tim.

Here is something odd.  Between innings, instead of playing catch with Jason Phillips, Greg Halman played catch with the third base line ballboy:

Here’s a random photo just for kicks:

Doug Fister (sadly, now a member of the Tigers) was on the mound for the Mariners and he was solid as usual.  Through the first three innings, the score was 0-0.  When Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the fourth, I figured I ought to get a picture of him hitting, you know, since he’s in the 3,000 hit club now and all.  And he didn’t disappoint:

Boom!  Weak ground out, scored 5-3.

Unfortunately, Curtis Granderson followed Jeter with a solo homerun.  In the bottom of the fifth, the bad guys added two more runs on an RBI single by Eric Chavez and another ground out by Derek Jeter.  That put the Mariners in a 3-0 hole.  Even worse was the fact that Sabbathia was, through six innings, pitching a perfect game.  Not good.

I sent a strategic text to twitter designed specifically to jinx Sabbathia’s perfect game.  Sure, it would be amazing to witness a perfect game, but not a perfect game *against* our Mariners.  That would be terrible.

And guess what, I think the jinx text worked.  No, the Mariners didn’t start hitting, walking or reaching base on errors.  Instead, it started raining!

RAIN DELAY!

We retreated to the upper deck where there was more room to hide from the rain.  All throughout the ballpark, fans were finding shelter from the rain wherever they could:

Here is some more of the same:

And we also used the opportunity to get our Bronx NY bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Once the rain stopped and the grounds crew started pulling off the tarp, and I got this panorama:

The concourses were a packed, sticky hot mess:

We grabbed an open spot and passed the time with some snacks:

Before too long, it was time for baseball once again.  The nice thing about a good rain delay is that a lot of the fans leave and a lot of seats open up.  So, instead of going back
to row 4 of section 239, we  headed to the first row of section 238.

As we waited for the tarp to be rolled up and carted off, Kellan reclined in my arms and just chilled out:

And then I got a panorama from section 238…

…the tarp still had not moved much.

Before the game started up again, I finally got a photo of something I noticed at the beginning of the game, a new elevated bench in the bullpen:

When the top of the seventh finally rolled around, Sabbathia was right back out there ready to go for his perfect game.  Ichiro struck out for Sabbathia’s nineteenth consecutive out.  But that is as far was this sad little experiment in perfection would go.  With the raining falling again our hero for the night, Brendan Ryan stepped to the plate and laced a line drive single into LF.  Here is actually photographic evidence (albeit quite blurry) that the Mariners had a baserunner at this game:

That was a relief.  Now it was time to try to win the game.  We were only down 3-0.  The game was still in our reach.  Oh yeah, how did I forget to mention, the Mariners were trying to break a then-club record 16-game losing streak.

After the Ryan hit, the Mariner couldn’t advance him past second base and we squandered our first scoring opportunity.

Fister was still solid in the bottom of the seventh.  Then, in the top of the eighth, Sabbathia fell apart.  He walked the first three batters of the inning and was pulled from the
game.  Sadly, once David Robertson entered the game, the Mariners could only score one run in the eighth – on a Chone Figgins fielder’s choice to third base.

I was longing for a grandslam.  But it just wasn’t in the cards.  And the 3-1 score was as close as the M’s could get it.  In fact, in the bottom of the eighth, the Mariners gave that run back when Mark Teixeira solo homerun.

There was one more rain delay during the game, and we ended up spending a lot of time running up the section 237/238 stairs to high from the rain, and then running back down the stairs to watch more of the game once the rain would stop again.

While Tim worked on his water on cement art skills…

…Kellan spent a lot of time waving at the 20-something girls sitting about 2 rows and ten feet behind us.  What can I say, the ladies love
Kellan.

Big special thanks to my lovely wife, Colleen, for letting us stick it out until the bitter end in hopes that we would finally see Kellan’s first Mariners win.  Sadly, his inaugural win will have to wait for another day…hopefully at Safeco Field later this season.  For now, his lifetime Mariners record dropped to 0-4.

He fell asleep on my shoulder on the walk to the car:

After a sitting through a big traffic jam getting out of the immediate area of the ballpark, we had an easy drive home…plenty of time to sit and lament the Mariners historic
seventeenth straight loss.

Luckily, there would be no eighteenth loss.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
19/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers Yankees; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 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, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
9/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 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, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
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]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2011 (7/23/11)

Tim and I were in for a long day on Saturday, July 23, 2011.  We are members of myGameBalls.com, and by the decree of founder Alan Schuster, this game was dubbed “Ballhawkfest 2011.”  While the battle between the Angels and Orioles was the primary focus of Ballhawkfest, there was a lot more going on than just the MLB game.

Tim and I left home at about 9:00 a.m. and we arrived at Carroll Park Field #2 for a friendly softball game at 11:00 a.m.  Well, that was the original plan.  But the 100+ degree weather scared off some of the would-be participants and we did not have enough for a full game.  In fact, we only had 10 softball players.  But that did not stop us from having a great time.

First, we divided up into two teams.  My team included me, Alan Schuster, Mateo Fischer, Mike Rowles and the late arriving Ben “Wild Thing” Weil.  Our opposition included Zack Hample, “Flava” Dave Stevenson, Oliver Rowles (Mike’s son), Alex “Gold Glove” Kopp, and Garrett Meyer.

In the dugout, we had Jona (of Team Hample fame), Tim (who kept busy keeping score and hitting whiffle balls), and James (a documentarian who is filming a piece about Zack).

I have no clue how we decided the rules of the game, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a very interesting format.  We played seven innings of super-modified homerun derby.  At the outset, Zack pitched to both teams.  Once Ben arrived in the third inning, each team pitched to itself.  Each inning, each batter got two outs – one hitting a softball and one hitting a baseball.  All fielders played in the outfield.  Any ball that landed in the outfield grass without being caught on the fly scored one run.  Any baseball hit over the outfield fence scored five runs.  Any swing that did not result in a run was an out.

It was hard to get pictures because we kept running in and out from the field to the dugout.  But here is the best of what we got.  First, Alan Schuster sized up a sweet Hample baseball pitch:

Interesting side note, for the baseball portion of the derby, we used Alan Schuster’s entire MLB-snagged baseball collection.

Zack was a quality pitcher for our first two innings:

I was happy to take him yard twice.

The final score was high because homeruns counted for five runs each, but really it was difficult to score runs because everyone played stellar defense.  Would you expect any less from this group?  My unofficial Gold Glove award goes to Alex Kopp…

…pictured here in the red shorts.  He patrolled left field like a pro.  He was running all over the place and made a ton of great catches.  He personally robbed me of several runs.

In the dugout, Jona was busy taking tons of pictures (by the end of the day (including the MLB game) she took over 900 photos)…

…and Tim used a spray bottle of cold water to keep cool as he played.

It was harder to score with the softballs because they did not travel as far as the baseballs.  Here is Mateo putting a good stroke on one of Ben’s neon yellow softballs:

Special thanks to Jona for taking a couple shots of me at the bat.  Here I am turning on an inside pitch from Benny Bang Bang and driving a homerun that stayed fair by about five feet:

This picture looks better than the last, but it resulted in only a one-run hit, not a homerun:

The game was tight until the bottom of the fifth inning when we went off for 14 runs.  The final score was…

…44-29 good guys.  Zack and I tied for the most homeruns with 4 each.  Alan Schuster also had one bomb.  Speaking of Alan, the game ended on a great play.  Zack was the final batter in the top of the seventh.  He hit a ball that was clearly going to land over the fence.  But Alan calmly drifted back to the fence, leaned his entire upper body over the fence, and, with full extension, flat out robbed Zack of a homerun.

After the game, we set up our cameras on a flipped over garbage can and got some group photos.  First at home plate:

From left to right:  (Front) Jona, Flava Dave, Tim, me.  (Back) Ben Weil, Zack Hample, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, Garrett Meyer, Alex Kopp, Mateo Fischer, and Mike Rowles.

I do not have a photo that goes with it, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Oliver made an amazing running grab on one of my swings.  I hit a deep ball to RCF that I was sure was going to score one run.  But Oliver ran…who knows, maybe 75 feet to his left and made the catch at a full gallop.  Excellent catch, Oliver!

Back to the pictures, we turned around and got another group shot standing at the mound:

I should note that Ben threw on some official Cleveland Indians “Major League” give-away glasses to complete the “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn look.  Nicely done, Ben!

Next, we all hopped in our cars and scooted across town to Di Pasquaele’s Italian Marketplace.  Matt Hersl, who skipped out on softball/baseball, picked the restaurant and it was a good one.  Tasty, tasty.

Tim requested a picture with the “chef”…

…and he posed with Alan and the Andruw Jones bobblehead that he won in the drawing Alan organized.  That bobblehead now rests on a bookshelf in Tim’s room.

Here is the best picture of our table at lunch:

That’s an official eating action shot!

Lunch wrapped up around 3:30 and people started to break up and head their own ways.  The plan was to meet up again outside the CF gate on Eutaw Street.  The gates would
not open until 5:05 p.m., and I was absolutely dreading the idea of standing in the sun at the gates for an hour or more in the 100+ degree heat.

So we found a very favorable alternative.  After parking in a garage on Eutaw Street, we headed to the Hilton on Pratt Street and found some empty couches in the lobby.  Soon, Mateo wandered by and the three of us ended up chatting for almost an hour while gate opening times drew nearer.

Actually, it was primarily me and Mateo doing the chatting.  Tim was spending most of his time monkeying around and spraying himself with his spray bottle:

We did not have tickets for the game yet.  As we relaxed in the Hilton lobby, I exchanged a bunch of texts with our Baltimore ticket agent, Avi Miller.  Avi arrived at the CF gate just about ten minutes before gate opening.  When we got the text that he’d arrived at the ballpark, Tim, Mateo and I left the air conditioned Hilton lobby and headed to the blisteringly hot gate at the CF side of Eutaw Street.

Before the gates opened, we said our hellos to the myGameBalls.com guys whom we’d dined with just an hour or so ago.  We posed for a bunch of group shots (but not with my camera…so see here and here) and then every headed toward LF as the gates opened.

Everyone, I should say, except us.  We headed to the shady third base line where (among all of the Angels stretching in front of the dugout) we found former-Mariner Russell Branyan (no. 39):

It is always good to see a former-Mariner, even if he’s playing for one of our A.L. West rivals like the Angels.  Actually, there is another former-Mariner (although one who was never an everyday player for the Mariners) in that picture, Adam Jones.

After a few minutes, we drifted down the line a bit toward the outfield.  Right along the foul line, Osaka Japan’s Koji Uehara (wearing tight running pants under his shorts in the 100+ degree weather) was chatting with Toyko Japan’s Hisanori Takahashi:

Maybe they were discussing the “cultural fault lines” between their respective hometowns.  Or maybe they were discussing the fact that Takahashi (April 2, 1975) is exactly one day older than Uehara (April 3, 1975).  Whatever they were discussing, it did not prevent Koji from fielding a batted ball and walking over and handing it to Tim.

As Koji approached, I said “Hey, Koji, could we get a picture with you?”  He said, “Yes.”  And then he handed the baseball to Tim, turned around and walked away.  Hmm…I don’t think he understood my request…I probably should have asked him in Japanese.  Nevertheless…

Domo arigato, Koji-san!

A few minutes later, Russell Branyan finished playing catch with his partner and he flipped the baseball to Tim.  Tim just watched the ball sail by his face and land in the empty seat next to him.  But no one else was around, so we picked up the ball and no error was charged on the play.

As he tossed the baseball, I asked Russell if he could pose for a picture with Tim.  Sure he could:

After the photo but before heading back out onto the field, Russell reached out his humongous hand and gave Tim and I each a mighty hand shake.  They don’t call him Russell the Muscle for nothing.  That dude is huge.

All of the myGameBalls.com ballhawks were going crazy out in LF chasing homeruns.  Around this time, Avi came and visited us in foul territory so he could inform us that our prank of Zack Hample had been successful – for the complete story click here.

While Avi was over chatting with us, someone sliced a foul ball about 10 rows behind us.  It hit the seats and ricocheted right to Avi.

A few minutes later, Takahashi’s interpreter and trainer Yoichi Terada (at least that is my assumption of who this guy is)…

…walked by and handed Tim a baseball.  Terada had been playing catch with someone…maybe Takahashi…along with all of the other Angels pitchers playing catch along the LF foul line.  When he finished, he picked up two baseballs (including the baseball he gave to Tim) that were sitting on the ground along the line.  The two baseballs were *extras* that were brought out there in case someone lost their warm up ball.  Those baseballs were never used, and the one that Terada handed to Tim looked like it was brand-spanking new.

Eventually, Tim asked to go check out the bullpens.  We did, but no one was in either.  So when we spotted Jona sitting in the shade in the first row above the cross aisle, we joined her for a little bit of sun relief.  This is what it looked like:

And that is where we were standing when Dan Haren…

…unloaded a mega-toss-up over section 84 and directly into my glove for our fourth and final baseball of the day.

After BP ended, most of the myGameBalls.com’ers gathered toward the bottom of section 86.  Most of the guys were there in hopes of snagging one of the 8 or so homeruns that had been hit into the Orioles bullpen.  But we were just there to chat with the others, chew on some of the free ice the Orioles were providing in the concourse, and to spray Tim’s spray bottle all over the place.

Our “Ballhawkfest” shirts had our names and the number of baseballs we had snagged in our lives (through the all-star break) on the back.  Just for kicks, I got this picture of Tim and Zack showing off their numbers and they watched the empty field:

Not too shabby, Tim is (or was!) only 5,052 baseballs behind Zack.

Eventually, the Angels starting pitcher (and former-Mariner) Joel Piniero made his way out to CF to warm up:

When Piniero moved to the bullpen, Tim and I headed up to the top of section 86 to watch Joel:

Well, I watched Joel.  Tim spent most of his time squirting himself in the face:

With the game just about to start, a bunch of us met up in the LF corner for a group photo with the baseballs we had snagged during BP:

Lets see…going clockwise: Zack had 5 at the time (including a special FeMeBe baseball from Jeremy Guthrie), Alex Kopp had 4, Garrett Meyer had 4, Flava Dave (who you can
hardly see except for his arms) had 4, Jeremy Evans (who was a late arrival) had 1, Alan Schuster had 3 (his first 3 of the season), Oliver Rowles had 5, Tim and I had 4, Avi had 3, and Jona and Ben each had empty hands.  FYI, those are not necessarily final totals.

Right before that group photo, the Orioles PA announcer informed us that the game time temperature was 102 degrees.  We were hungry and hot.  So Tim, Ben, Avi and his
girlfriend Beverly, and I headed to the air conditioned club level.  Avi and Beverly headed to section 258 to watch the game in person.  But Tim and I grabbed a table in front of a big flat screen and ate dinner:

After a few minutes, Ben joined us.  We had been out in the hot sun so long that we were in no rush to head outside and watch the game in person…the air conditioning and flat screen were a-okay for us.  We stayed in there until the fourth inning!  After eating, Tim entertained us with some extreme high pants…

…and some fake DJ’ing on one of the nearby easy chairs:

While we were eating dinner, Ben and I discussed (among other things) the definition of a “ballhawk” and whether we qualified under that definition.  Personally, I don’t think of me and Tim as “ballhawks” because we don’t go to games with the purpose of getting baseballs.  We go to games because we love baseball and want to experience all that a Major League game has to offer.  It just so happens that trying to get a baseball during BP is one of those experiences…and an important part of the game experience since I was a little boy.  But, when you compare us to the other participants in ballhawkfest, our *strategies* and *skills* are quite limited.  Essentially, Tim and Kellan are cute kids (players like cute kids…most people do actually) and we know where to stand during BP.  But, if that makes us *ballhawks* I suppose we can live with the title.  Although,
maybe a better title would be baseballhawks or ballparkhawks…or, simply, baseball fans.

Anyway, it was an interesting conversation, and it was a lot of fun chatting with Ben.  We actually met Ben at U.S. Cellular Field back in 2009, and we had a lot of fun with him on that day too.

Before joining Avi and Beverly in the seats, Tim and I walked the club level to check out what it had to offer.  Most of my pictures came out blurry (I guess because of the lighting) so I will just share this one of Tim and the Orioles Hall of Fame:

Here is what Camden Yards looks like from section 258 in the club level:

N.T.S.  (You know it, not too shabby).

By the time we arrived in the seats, the Angels had already scored all of their runs for this game.  In fact, all of the Angels runs came in the first inning on a 2-run homerun by Vernon Wells.

The Orioles got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning courtesy of a solo shot by Adam Jones.  Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead on an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  And that was all of the scoring in this game.  While I was happy to see the Mariners division rival fall, it was sad that Piniero got tagged for the loss.

We sat in section 258 from the fourth through the seventh.  Tim spent most of that time unloading 3 squirt bottles full of water on Avi:

Avi laid down a rule that Tim could live with:  No spraying Beverly, but Tim could spray Avi as much as he wanted.  And Tim wanted to spray Avi a lot.  In the eyes, in the ears, on his shirt, on his shorts, back of the head, shoulders, elbows, a direct shot to the mouth, Avi was an excellent Target, and Tim was a happy triggerman.

Between sprays, Tim did a little spinning happy dance:

Before the Angels removed him in the bottom of the sixth, I got this shot of Joel Piniero on the mound:

As I said, gotta love former-Mariners.  Particularly, a former-Mariner who performed well and was a fan favorites while in Seattle.  And that describes Piniero.

Our bright yellow “Ballhawkfest” t-shirts served their purpose perfectly; it was easy to spot the guys all around the stadium.  Like here – we spotted Garrett Meyer sitting about half-way up the field level seats behind third base:

In the seventh, Tim and I decided to head down to the field level behind home plate.  On our way out of the club level, I had a little bit better luck taking photos.  This is the seating area where we ate dinner (at the empty table in the middle of the photo):

Oversized autographed baseballs art:

From left to right, that is Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell (with the notation “MVP ‘70”), and Cal Ripken, Jr.

A busy bar:

Orioles World Series trophies and four gold glove awards:

And six Orioles Cy Young Awards:

When I was taking the picture of Tim and the World Series trophies, Avi was standing behind me chatting with Adam Jones’ mom (and several other people).  When Jonesys’ mom walked by Tim she said something like, “Oh, honey, you should squirt me!”  Tim was still holding his squirter, but he did not squirt her.

We ended up sitting with Jona (who deserves special thanks for being so cool and chatting so much with Tim throughout the day) for the last couple innings.  She had been sitting in the last row on the ailse in section 32.  Before joining Jona in the back row, Tim tested out a double seat setup:

The Angels were trying to come back, but Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg were too much for them.  Neither Bobby Abreau…

…nor Vernon Wells…

…could help the Angels.  Both grounded out against Gregg in the ninth.

Toward the end of the game, Tim enjoyed a twist ice cream helmet to cap off a great day…

…and after the game he used his water squirter to clean the ice cream residue from his dirty face.

After the game, the remaining Ballhawkfest participants met up again behind the third base dugout.  We got our picture with Alan Schuster:

Then Garrett (who was visiting from Kansas City) requested a picture with Tim:

Of course, with two cameras going, Tim was looking at one camera while Garrett looked at the other.  Doesn’t it always happen that way?

Here is one of the coolest pictures of the day:

And one more featuring everyone’s sweaty faces:

Once again that is (right to left): Jeremy Evans, Mateo Fischer, Zack Hample, Jona (she’s only got one name like Ichiro), Alex Kopp, Tim (posing with one of Garrett’s baseballs
because ours were packed away in my backpack), Garrett Meyer, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, and Benny “Bang Bang” Weil.

A great group of guys (and girl).  Ballhawkfest 2011 was loads of fun and a smashing success.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
18/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 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, Mets and Indians]
13 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
54 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 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, 5 Angels, 4 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]
13/9 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, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
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]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Kellan and Tim, 1 and 100 (7/16/11)

July 16, 2011 was a special day.  Most importantly, it was Kellan’s first birthday.  Yep, he’s finally made it to the single digits.  We decided to celebrate his birthday with a weekend trip to Baltimore with a whole bunch of friends and family.  The big event on Saturday (Kellan’s actual birthday) would be attending the game between the
Indians and the Orioles.  The following day, we would visit the famous National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

As an added bonus, the baseball game would be Tim’s 100th game.

Just like the Cleveland Indians, we stayed at the Renaissance Harborside hotel across Pratt Street from the Inner Harbor.  We started off with lunch a Tir Na Nog and then it was back to the hotel for birthday cake:

We were a little bit late to batting practice and missed out on most of the Orioles BP.  Right as we circled around to the 3B side, two Indians pitchers were finishing playing catch and one of them tossed their baseball to us.

A few minutes later, Avi Miller (decked out in full Indians garb) was chatting with Tony Sipp.  I called out, “Hey, Tony!  It is this guy’s first birthday, how about a picture!?”

Thanks, Tony!

Just a few minutes later, Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch.  A quick “Hey, Chad” later, he spun around and tossed his baseball to me, Tim and Kellan.  A few seconds after that, Durbin became the second major leaguer to hold the birthday boy:

In that last picture, the Orioles stadium attendant (Tom) has pointing at me and telling me to give him my camera so Tim and I could get in the picture.  The funniest part was when Tom delayed the picture so he could clear all of the people out from behind us – Tom apparently thought they were cluttering our picture with Durbin.

The picture of all of us with Chad Durbin turned out pretty hilarious…

…because Kellan is about to blink and his eyes are half closed.  He looks like he is falling asleep.

Earlier in the day, Avi had told me that the day before Zack Hample had pre-arranged to get the line-up cards from Manny Act after the game.  It would be awesome to get a line-up card for Kellan’s first birthday game.  So I figured it was worth a shot.

At the time, it was me, Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my cousin Nathan and his buddy Matt.  We all relocated from the 3B line to the seats behind home plate:

We spotted Manny Act hitting fungo on the 1B side of the batting cage.  Kellan and I scooted down to the first row on the side of the umpire tunnel.  Everyone else grabbed some seats, and Tim provided the entertainment:

Things worked out ideally.  I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get his attention.  But he ended coming over to the net on the other side of the umpire’ tunnel to talk to some
people he knew:

To get back to the Indians dugout, Manny would have to walk directly in front of us.  While we were waiting on Manny, an Orioles reporter (who Avi Miller has identified as Craig Heist)…

…came over and played with Kellan.  It was pretty funny.  The guy acted like Kellan was the cutest and funniest baby of all time.

And then Manny Acta walked by and stopped…

…to chat with us after I called out his name.  The discussion went something like this:

Todd:  Hi, Manny.  Hey, it is my son’s first birthday today.  I was wondering if there is any way that after the game we could get the line-up card with his birthdate on it?

Manny:  Oh, sure.  No problem.  But, it has to be after the game.

Todd:  Awesome!  Thanks so much.

Manny:  But, after the game!

Todd:  Sounds good.

Manny:  Yeah, but you have to wait until after the game.

Todd:  Cool.  Thanks.

Manny:  So just come down to the dugout, but not until after the game.

Got it.  I was excited to come back to see Manny, after the game, and see if he would remember us.

Tim, Kellan, Colleen and I spent the rest of BP out in left field, but nothing came of it…well, except for some nice family time:

So, it was game time.  We reported to our seats in section 7.  This picture is out of order, but here was our view from section 7, row 11:

There were 21 of us in all, including Tim’s buddy Sam…

…, who is the son of Colleen’s friend, Deb.

To start the game, we moved over a section so we could hide in the shade.  Kellan spent some quality time sitting on his aunt Kimberly’s lap:

In the bottom of the first, J.J. Hardy led off with a double for the Orioles.  He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  That made the score 1-0 Orioles after one inning.

At one point, the Orioles Bird showed up in the seats just below section 7.  I called out for whoever wanted a picture with the Bird to follow me.  And then began the slowest Bird chase of all time.  My crew included my sister-in-law Kimberly, my nephew and niece Gill and Kate, and Noah.  None of them had ever chased down a mascot before and they didn’t understand the urgency of a mascot chase.

Tim and I could have got our picture with the Bird and been back in our seats eating a pile of steaming hot nachos before this rag-tag group of Bird watchers made it to the
spot where the Bird used to be.  But the Bird had darted into a new section and was making his way through rows of fans handing out high fives and posing for pictures.

I repositioned our group at the bottom of the next section over where I predicted the Bird would return to the cross aisle.  While we waited, Kimberly posed with some displeased Orioles fans:

And then the Bird arrived on the scene and made Noah’s day:

When the moment came, Kate opted not to get in the picture.  The funniest thing about this picture is that I was the only person taking a picture.  The Bird is looking at the camera, and I have no clue what Gill and Noah are looking at…maybe they are watching the game!  And check out Gill with the classic Ted Williams glove on, ready to catch a foul ball.  Atta’boy, Gill!

The Orioles extended their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Derrek Lee singled in Nick Markasis.

With a group of 21 people to choose from, it was our first real opportunity to get one of the more difficult photos from the 2011 myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

15 people in 3 rows of 5, each holding a baseball.  Many thanks to (front row) Noah, Kate, Tim, Sam and Ellie; (second row) Jenn, Geralyn, Gill, Kristen, and Andy; and (back row) Mark, Kevin, Will, Matt and Nathan!

In the middle innings, it was time to hit the play area and get some dinner:

After having lots of fun on the fort, Tim gave us a huge scare by trying to inhale his hot dog and choking on it.  It was really freaky.  It was just like in “Field of Dreams” when the daughter chokes on a hot dog.  I slapped Tim on the back and he shot a two inch piece of hot dog out of his throat.

We’ve learned our lesson.  MLB games are nacho time, not hot dog time.

We had to hustle back to our seats because we were expecting something fun on the scoreboard.  But first there was more scoring.  The Indians tied up the score at 2-2 in the
top of the sixth on a double 2-RBI double by Mariner-child Michael Brantley.  The Orioles then recaptured the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Nick Markakis blasted a homerun to RCF.

And then our scoreboard message appeared out in CF:

Kellan’s first ever scoreboard “Happy Birthday!”  First of man, I am sure.

Then Avi and Zevi showed up at our seats to say hello, and I handed off a Mexican League (FeMeBe) baseball to Avi for a little prank I had in mind and with which Avi offered to help – you can see that story here.

Avi also told me that Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon would soon be heading back to the Dominican Republic to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the celebratory-shooting death of his cousin.  I figured I should take an action shot of Simon in case he gets convicted and never returns to MLB:

Of course, we got some random shots in the stands.  Like this shot of Colleen and Kellan seemingly in the middle of a staring contest:

And this shot of the Steeles as they get ready to call it a night:

And you know we had to get a brothers-in-matching-shirts shot:

It was a nice and relaxing evening at the ballpark.  The birthday boy got lots of attention…like here where he gets some snacks from Geralyn while I hold him:

Tim was his usual silly self:

In the eighth inning, Tim, Kellan and I relocated to some seats behind the Indians bullpen in hopes that Manny Acta would remember that he said Kellan could have the line-up cards.  Soon after grabbing some seats, Avi joined us.  And then a few minutes later, Colleen joined us as well.

Here was our view from the first seats we found:

Avi, Tim, Kellan and I eventually moved down to about the fourth row.  Nice seats. This doesn’t really do the view justice, but it looked  something like this:

Now, the Orioles were leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.  But then, on the strength of a trio of doubles by Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Felix Pie, the Orioles put up three more runs to make it a 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

Koji “Now A Ranger” Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the Orioles, but they did not bring him back for the ninth.  Instead, they went with Kevin Gregg.  It was not a good decision.  Gregg was anything but clutch.

After striking out the first batter in the top of the ninth, Gregg walked the bases loaded.  He then struck out the Lonnie Chisenhall for the second out of the 26th out of the game.  As Orlando Cabrera strode to the plate and the Orioles still leading 6-2, Avi declared, “The Orioles are going to win this game 6-5.”

He was spot on.  Cabrera laced a double to the RCF gap.  It cleared the bases and made the score 6-5 Orioles.

Buck Showalter had seen enough of Mr. Gregg.  He got the hook and was replaced by Mike Gonzalez.  Three pitches later, Grady Sizemore grounded out to first base and that was the ballgame.

I was did not have high hopes of actually getting the line-up card for Kellan because the Indians started filing into the tunnel to their clubhouse instead of out onto the field
for high-fives.  But we walked down to the first row right above the player exit to the clubhouse.  Just then, Manny Act walked by.  He looked up and saw me and gave me a look that made it clear we were getting the line-up card!  I was excited.  Manny ducked out of view for a few seconds and then he popped out of the dugout, reached up high and handed me the line-up cards – not one card  (like the one taped to the dugout wall), but two (as in the official cards he kept in his pocket during the entire game).  They were beautiful.  One for the Orioles.  One for the Indians.  Each signed by the respective managers (Manny Acta and Buck Showalter.  And both emblazoned with the date of Kellan’s first birthday.

Outstanding.

Thanks, Manny!

Before heading for the exit, Avi took two family pictures for us – this one with Kellan finding the field much more exciting than the camera (can you blame him)…

…and this one (where we could at least see his face):

On the walk to the exit, I took this photo of Kellan’s birthday gift from Manny Act:

He is officially the first Cook to ever receive birthday gifts (two baseballs and two line-up cards) from Major Leaguers….of course, he is also the only Cook whose birthday is
during the baseball season, so he has an advantage over the rest of us.

All-in-all, it was a great night!

Ah, I almost forgot, we also got another baseball post-game behind the Indians dugout.  The next day was Noah’s birthday and we had got him a Rawlings baseball glove.
Conveniently, it was in a gift bag and not sealed up in a wrapped box, so I slid that baseball into the glove when we got back to the hotel and gave it to Noah at breakfast the next day.  I am pretty sure he likes the baseball more than the glove.

Speaking of the next day, we had a blast at the aquarium and Inner Harbor.

The National Aquarium is great.  Here is a family photo of us in the Australia exhibit…

…and a shot of Tim and his cousins looking at some fish…and it appears Tim is applauding the fish.  “Good job swimming, guys!”

Tim really loved the dolphins (who were practicing for their show):

That is Uncle Kevin holding Kellan in the dolphin arena.

Tim and Kellan both loved the big jelly fish exhibit…

…but the sharks were scary with all of those teeth.  Actually, Tim told me the scariest thing about the sharks was their gums!

After the aquarium, we took a water taxi…

…to Fells Point for an early dinner.

What can I say, it was a great birthday weekend for our little boy.  Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped make it extra special.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
17/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 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, Mets and Indians]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
50 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, 4 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]
12/9 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, Chad Durbin; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin
Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
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]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.
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