GFS 2011 Game 6 – Mariners at Rays (8/20/11)

Our 2011 Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip continued on Saturday, August 20, 2011.  But before the game, we had some mini-golf and alligator feeding on the schedule.  For those in the Tampa-Saint Pete area and feel the need to feed alligators and play mini-golf, you better head on over to…

Smugglers Cove!  This was easily the coolest mini-golf place I’ve ever seen.  They have a pool filled with about 20 alligators in the middle of the course.  For a couple extra bucks, you can buy a pack of food to lower down to the gators.  They go crazy trying to be the lucky gator to get the food.  Fun times!

After mini-golf, we headed to Johns Pass for some lunch and to watch the pelicans fish in the bay.  More fun times!

We headed over to Tropicana Field in time to be there before the gates opened, but we missed being within the first 100 cars with four-plus passengers, so we had to actually pay for parking.

When we entered the ballpark, no one was on the field, but the batting cage was sitting behind home plate.  So we checked out the rays tank from the CF seats.  Eventually, Juan Cruz
and another Rays pitcher walked out to the bullpen and a few Mariners started trickling out onto the field by the 3B dugout.  I headed around the RF foul pole and asked Cruz if the Rays were going to take BP.  “No, sir,” he responded.

I continued walking over to the Mariners dugout.  By the time I got over there, pretty much the whole team was stretching:

A few minutes later, Ichiro started playing catch…

…with Chone Figgins along the 3B foul line.

Down below me, Jack Zduriencik, Dave Henderson and Dave Simms were hanging out in front of the dugout:

I had a baseball in my backpack that I had intended to use for autographs and I was thinking a Dave Henderson autograph would be pretty cool.  But “Hendu” denied my request with the excuse, “Jack told me not to sign autographs so we can focus (motioning toward the team) on these guys.”  I am 99.999% positive that Hendu was just feeding me a line, but, oh, well.

Unlike the Rays, the Mariners were going to take BP.  So I headed back out to CF and met up with Tim and my mom.  As we all headed over to the rays tank, Blake Beavan was kind enough to toss us a baseball.

Thanks, Blake!

The rays and horseshoe crabs were, once again, great.  Tim played director and made sure I got the perfect pictures of the little critters:

As we were watching the rays, another fan standing in the front row started chatting with us.  He told me to come down into the front row so I could get a baseball for Tim.  I told him that I couldn’t because you have to have front row ticket to stand up there during BP.  He pulled out a front row ticket and said, “Come on up.”  When the usher came over (ten seconds later) to boot me out, the fan said, “He’s with me, Paul.”  (FYI, I just made up the name Paul, I have no recollection what the usher’s name was).

Anyway, I successfully made it to the front row.  A few minutes later, one of my Mariners hit a homerun right to me.  It was going to be a pretty easy catch.  But at the last minute, an old guy sitting a couple seats over from me slid over, stuck his glove just barely in front of mine, and deflected the ball back onto the field.  It was a bummer.  I was excited about the prospect of catching a BP homerun two days in a row.

A few minutes later, my front row positioning paid off when Tom Wilhelmsen tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Tom!

After getting that baseball, I thanked the fan for letting me hang out in the front row, and then my mom, Tim and I went on a ballpark tour.

We started by racing up a big outdoor spiral outside the LF foul corner side of the stadium.  Well, Tim and I raced and my mom walked.  We headed out to the deepest LCF corner of
the second deck seats – section 355:

We watched the rest of Mariners BP up there.  After BP ended, we got this picture of Tim in the upper deck before heading on our way:

During this weekend, Tim starting trying to look like a cool, tough guy in a lot of pictures.  That last picture is a perfect example of that phenomenon.  Looking past Tim’s tough guy expression, check out how low the closest cat walk is.  Its barely above the second deck seats.

The outfield concourses at Tropicana Field are decorated with a bunch of different themes.  In the LF second deck area, the concourse is designed like a street (with a disco ball above):

I personally didn’t realize this next thing until later in this game, but check out this picture of the catwalks:

The lowest catwalk is behind the foul pole in homerun territory.  If a ball hits that catwalk it would have already crossed over the outfield fence.  But the other catwalks are partially in fair territory.  As a result, there are little foul pole extensions hanging from the catwalks.  I thought that was pretty interesting.

It’s time for some panoramas.  Here is a panoramic view of Tropicana Field from section 345:

Heading into foul territory, I took this next panorama from section 323 while standing next to the bottom corner of the tarps that cover many of the upper deck seats:

Behind third base, here is the view from section 315:

Like on the field level, the upper deck concourses are split into inside/outside portions of the upper deck concourse behind 3B:

Tim and my mom stayed on the concourse level when I ran up to the last row of the upper deck behind home plate to get this panorama from section 300:

Right above me when I took that last picture is a walkway that runs from the back wall of the out to the catwalks and the centerpiece that hangs from the roof.  Just for kicks, I took this picture of myself while standing in the back row of section 300:

Next we wandered over to section 310…

…where Tim spotted a TV camera in the stands.  He walked over and got a close-up look at the camera set up.

Finally, we headed out to the RF corner of the upper deck – section 324:

From up there, we could see my Dad down below sitting in our seats in section 132.

After our tour of the upper deck, we headed outside and down the spiral ramp.  On our way we noticed several things:

(i) the Rays used the space in the middle of the ramp for storage of various things, (ii) we could see the CF entrance we had used to enter the ballpark both days, (iii) the columns we had previously noticed ringing the dome were designed like big baseball bats with MLB logos, and (iv) from the ramp Tim could pose with the top of a tall palm tree.

There are a bunch of carnival games in the field level concourse that Tim had been aching to play.  So after our upper deck tour, my Mom headed off to meet up with my Dad and Tim and I went to play some games.

On our way over to the games in the LF foul corner, we stopped into a room with a bunch of artwork:

The games were a big hit.  They have four games – whack a mole, a racing game where you have to roll a ball into single, double or triple holes to make your player advance, mini golf, and a throw-a-ball-into-a-basket game.  The best ones were whack-a-mole…

…and the racing game.  The moles on the whack-a-mole game were wearing MLB helmets.  Tim and I faced off against each other in a race to 250 points.  I ended up beating Tim because he would only whack the Yankees mole.  I tried not to destroy him, but at his only-bash-Yankees method it would have taken him about an hour to collect 250 points.

After Tim finished playing the games, the carny announced that Tim was entitled to pick a prize from the prize rack.  Although there were bigger and seemingly better prizes available, Tim had no trouble making his selection:

GLOW STICK GLASSES!!!

Tim loved them.  And he looked hilariously cute in them.

For example, see how they spice up this standard “posing with nachos” picture:

The game was another difficult one…in a completely different way than the day before.  We were never in this game.  Dustin Ackley hit a double in the top of the first, but that was all the Mariners could muster.

Our seats at this game were down the RF line and we had a great view of Ichiro:

In the bottom of the first, the Rays took the lead when Johnny Damon hit a triple and Evan Longoria followed with a 2-run homerun.  Unfortunately, the homerun gave us the opportunity to confirm our suspicion that the Tropicana orange sign squirts juice when the Rays hit a homerun:

Yep, it does.

While randomly looking around the ballpark, I noticed something…

…there are tons of wires connected to each other between the catwalks.  Tim actually thought there was a trapeze up there.  When I took that picture was the first time I noticed the foul poles hanging from the catwalks.  Weird, eh?

From our seats, we could see the season ticket holder who let me enter the sacred front row during BP – his seats are in the front row directly next to the Rays tank (he’s the guy in the black shirt):

Soon enough, Tim needed to go see the rays tank.  On our way, we checked out the rotunda-entrance-thingy:

The seats in section 150 by the rays tank…

…were pretty crowded.  We were going to have to go through the line to get inside to see the rays.  But first, the rays scored three more runs, the last of which scored on this sacrifice fly to Ichiro:

That put the Mariners down 5-0 through 3 innings.

After reviewing this sign…

…, it was clear that we had been feeding the rays incorrectly the day before.  We bought a tray of cut up fish and gave it another try.

Then I headed over to the RF side of the tank and got this picture of Ichiro from the rays tank area…

…and this picture (and many others) of Tim and my Mom waiting for some rays to swim by for petting:

After we returned to our seats, I got one of my favorite pictures ever:

Those glasses are just too funny!

One of the Mariners highlights of the day was Tom Wilhelmsen…

…who pitched three hitless innings.  Aside from hitting Desmond Jennings (the first batter he faced), Wilhelmsen was pitched a perfect 4th, 5th and 6th innings.

Here is another picture – of Tim just chatting up his grandpa – that is hilarious due to Tim’s “glow up” glasses:

Wilhelmsen got all three batters in the sixth inning to fly out to RCF, including this fly out to Ichiro:

In the seventh, Tim and I took another walk in the OF concourse.  I got a refill (probably my fourth) of my $9.00 all-you-can-drink diet pepsi.  Then Tim spent some time coloring on the community coloring wall:

And then he played some of the games in the RF concourse:

After more game playing, we checked out the cross-aisle behind the field level seats on the 1B side:

We got this panorama from behind section 120:

We then happily watched as Trayvon Robinson smacked a single on this swing…

…and Ichiro followed with a single of his own on this swing:

Sadly, three batters later the inning ended without any Mariners crossing home plate.

When we returned to our seats, we finally got a panoramic view from section 132:

Then I noticed that the Rays have two retired numbers that almost seem like they are part of a billboard:

42, of course, is for Jackie Robinson.  12 is for Rays *legend* Wade Boggs.  Boggs, of course, is a Hall of Famer.  He was an amazing hitter with a .328 career batter with 3010 hits to his credit.  He played 11 years for the Red Sox hitting at a .338 clip with 2098 hits.  He played 5 seasons for the Yankees hitting .313 with 702 career hits in New York.  In Tampa Bay, he played two seasons, hit .289 with a mere 210 hits.  Neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees have retired Boggs’s number.  So, hmm…it seems like the Rays must have just been aching to retire a number.

Anyway, the Rays scored three more runs in the bottom of the eighth putting the Rays up 8-0.

Despite the bleak circumstances facing the Mariners, Tim was still behind our guys.  He started a rousing chant…

…of “GO MARINER! GO MARINERS! GO MARINERS!”

In the top of the ninth, we scooted over behind section 128:

So we were just a little closer when Kyle Seager struck out swinging to end the game.  After the game, we got and usher to take our picture by the Rays bullpen:

Before leaving the ballpark, we headed back to the rays tank to say our good-byes to the rays for the night.  On our way, I got this panorama from section 138:

When we reached the tank we found that all of the rays were asleep:

Its hard to tell from that picture because the outside of the tank is so dirty.  But a bunch of the rays were all lined up at the top of a ridge in the sand sleeping.

Finally, on our way out of the ballpark, we got Tim’s picture in the two yellow seats in RF:

The yellow seats commemorate the first home run in Devil Rays history, which was hit by Wade Boggs on March 31, 1998, and Wade Boggs’s 3,000th hit.  Interestingly, Boggs hit only 9 homeruns for the [Devil] Rays.  So, 22.2% of his homeruns for the Rays are memorialized with yellow seats.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
25/4 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]
20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (2)).
70 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
12/3 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, Tropicana 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)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim –  Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 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), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana 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.

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