October 2011

The Best Mariners Game of 2011 (9/26/2011)

For the second season in a row, we decided to end our season at Safeco Field with our Mariners taking on the Oakland Athletics.  The first game of the series as September 26, 2011.  The crew on hand would be Colleen, Tim, Kellan, my mom, my dad and me.  The night started earlier for my dad, Tim, Kellan and me.  We headed down early for BP, and Colleen and my mom joined us.

It is old news at Safeco Field, it was my and the boys’ first time checking out the *new* “The Pen” area at Safeco Field.  It is on the field level in straight away center field (below what would otherwise be called the *field level* concourse) and it opens 2.5 hours early.  The rest of the ballpark opens 2 hours early.  I think it is a great move by the Mariners because in years past, Mariners fans only got to see about 5 minutes of Mariners BP when the whole stadium opened only 2 hours early.

We entered the ballpark through the LF bullpen level entrance and made our way to the singles patio (SRO area) directly over the CF wall.  We parked Kellan’s little stroller at the back of the patio and my dad held him.  I don’t have any pictures or video to show it, but within moments the four of us were all smiling and waving for the TV camera as the Mariners pre-game show went to commercial.  And then we got our game faces on.  My Dad and Kellan went right on the wall to watch the Mariners hit.  Tim and I hung
out behind the TV camera well for a few minutes, but then we relocated behind the Mariners bullpen.

Almost immediately after we reached the Mariners bullpen, my dad and Kellan walked over to meet us and my dad pulled a baseball out of his glove to show me.  “I caught it on the fly!,”  he announced with a smile.  I was excited because on the drive to the ballpark we had discussed catching BP homers on the fly, and my dad said he’d never caught one at Safeco Field.  Very cool.

Then it dawned on me:  he caught a BP home on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!  WOW!  I wish I would have seen it.  It must have been incredibly awesome.  FYI, he explained that he was a ball that barely cleared the wall and required my Dad to reach down over the railing to grab it.

Like two seconds later, a Mariners employee walked by and handed Tim our first baseball of the day.  She explained that it was Shawn Kelley’s warm up ball.  That is pretty
cool.

Oh, by the way, we entered this game with 96 total baseballs on the season.  I truly never thought we would ever in our lives get 100 baseballs in a season.  But with 3 more (after the Shawn Kelley ball from the Mariners employee) we would reach the amazing milestone.

Anyway, my dad handed Kellan off to me right as the rest of the ballpark opened.  My dad headed to the seats in CF (just to the RF side of the batters’ eye) and Tim, Kellan and I headed to section 106 in RF.  Intentionally set up shop behind Michael Pineda (because he is awesome)…

…and before long, guess what happened?

I’ll give you a hint:  it looked sort of like this:

That’s right.  I caught a BP homer on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!!!

Kellan was having quite a day!

It felt awesome!  When I made the grab, I immediately held my glove high over my head in victory!  A couple fans cheer for the catch.  And best of all, Pineda gave me a celebratory fist pump!  With my glove still held aloft, I turned toward CF and *showed* the catch to my dad (who can be seen under the little yellow arrow two photos above).

The three of us should have stayed put, but instead we headed over toward RCF to chat with my dad.  When I looked back to the spot where I caught the homer, another guy caught another homerun standing in the exact same spot!  Ah, well.  One homer on the fly with Kellan was good enough for me.

Soon, the Mariners cleared the field and the A’s pitchers came out to play catch down the LF line.  We decided to walk all the way around the ballpark around the RF foul pole, toward home plate (where Tim got his picture with this big Ichiro baseball card)…

…and down the 3B/LF foul concourse.  Eventually, we cut through the seats and diagonaled through some sections trying to make our quickest route to the railing above the A’s pitchers.  As we cut through the last full section before reaching corner, an A’s batter hit a line drive that landed right in the middle of the section about four rows below us.  A bunch of fan scrabbled for it as Kellan, Tim and I continued on toward the railing.  But as we reached the last seat in the
section, I looked down and the baseball popped out at us.

And, holy cow, it was the elusive Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative baseball!

That was pretty crazy.  We had been trying to get one of these baseballs all season.  We had actually gotten 5 baseballs from the Angels this season, but all 5 were normal ROMLBs.

Even crazier, that was our 99th baseball of the season.  I could not believe it – one more and we would reach the 100 baseball plateau!

But No. 100 would not be all fun and games.  Things were about to get scary.

We made it to the railing right above the A’s pitchers.  I was holding Kellan in my left arm.  Tim was standing to my left with his hand on the railing.  Just then, I noticed a fellow-MLBlogger, Wayne Peck, about 10-15 rows below us.  I had never met Wayne before, but we had communicated through our blogs and twitter.  When I saw him, I called out his name and he came up to say hi to us.

And then I committed a cardinal sin of BP:  I took my eyes off the batter and turned to my right to shake Wayne’s hand as he approached.  Right as Wayne and I clasped hands, several of the A’s pitchers yelled, “HEAD’S UP!!!”

I turned back to the field (still holding Kellan in my left hand and with Tim was literally standing leaning against my left hip).  I scanned the area and surrounding area and I saw NOTHING!  And then…

DIIIIINNNNNNGGGG!

A liner buzzes in and clanks off of the railing.  I thought it got all railing at first.  But then Tim broke out crying.  The ball hit right where his pinky knuckle met the railing.  It pinched Tim’s hand really hard against the railing and bounced onto the field.  I knelt down to comfort him and look at his hand (still holding Kellan).  It was a little bit red and obviously hurt a lot.  I turned to start taking him out of there when this guy arrived on the scene:

I cannot remember his name…it was something unique.  By the way, those pictures are from the following day when we visited the scene of the accident.  Anyway, this guy came to our aid and led us to the First Aid office.  Now, get this, as we walk out of the section with the usher leading the way, an A’s pitcher (I have no clue who) called out to me and tossed me the baseball that had just smashed Tim’s hand.

The little meany was both our 100th baseball of the season and another Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative.

I truly couldn’t believe it.  Who gets a milestone baseball with this kind of crazy story behind it?  Just Tim, I guess!

Anyway, we were ushered off to the First Aid room.  With Tim still whimpering in pain, the walk to the First Aid room was like torture.  Kellan started feeling like he weighed 200 pounds and I couldn’t do much to comfort Tim while holding him.  I quickly called my dad and told him where to come meet us with Kellan’s stroller.

As they started checking out Tim’s hand…

…my dad and Wayne both arrived at the First Aid office to check on Tim.  I handed Kellan off to my dad so I could talk to the first aid people.  Tim’s hand puffy and red.  But I think we were pretty lucky.  I’m pretty sure it was more of a glancing blow getting some of the meat of Tim’s hand and a lot of the railing.

The first aid people were very nice.  They gave me some advice about what to do for Tim’s hand and they gave Tim an ice pack for now and one for later.  They told me that I might want to go get an x-ray the next day if it kept bothering Tim.

Then the First Aid guys did a little whispering and the bearded-usher left.  He reappeared a few minutes later with a you-just-got-drilled-with-a-BP-foul-ball prize pack for Tim.  It included a Felix Hernandez t-shirt, a funny M’s hat that Tim loved, a pennant for Tim to color with crayons, and, most notably, a baseball that the usher had run down and got from the Mariners dugout.  You know, it is an odd way to get a baseball at a game, but since Tim had to endure a lot of pain to get it, we counted it!  No. 101 for the season.

As the usher handed removed it from the bag and handed it to Tim, I said, “Don’t’ let this be an incentive to get hit by any more baseballs!”

So, yeah, it was a crazy and scary situation.  I hate thinking about what could have happened.  In the end, I made a big mistake in not waiting to watch the pitch before turning to shake Wayne’s hand.  It could have plunked any of us square in the head.  So we have to be thankful that it was just a minor injury.  Tim took it like a champ and handled the bad situation really well.

Big thanks to the usher and First Aid people.  And to Wayne for coming and checking on Tim, very cool.

Anyway, we eventually made our way back out to the field.  Tim had been hit right at the beginning of A’s BP so they were still hitting when we got back to the field.  Tim was
understandably scared and did not want to go down by the field.  So Tim, Kellan and I grabbed some seats toward the back of one of the sections on the 3B side…

…while my dad and Wayne went back to the LF corner.

As Tim iced his hand, we checked out more goodies in his goody bag.  There were baseball cards and some posters (one for Tim and one for Kellan) featuring Justin Smoak.  Tim was super excited that the posters were *autographed* (they were not real autographs, but part of the poster).

After a little while, we decided to go to the very back of the seats in CF…high enough up that we did not think any baseballs would be able to reach Tim.  One our way out there, we got a picture with the Mariners Moose…

…and with the new (and really cool) Dave Niehaus statue:

Here are my boys hanging out with their grandpa in row 34 out in CF:

We were, indeed, high enough up in the seats that nothing came even remotely near us.

Once BP ended, we headed off to the play area where both boys had a lot of fun:

Finally, just before game time, we headed back down to “The Pen” where we eventually met up…

…with Colleen and my mom.  Check out that cool seating area in The Pen!  I have never seen open flames in a public area of a MLB ballpark.  Very cool, Mariners.

While we were in The Pen, we stopped by and said hello (once again) and got a picture with Wayne (and his wicked awesome Big League Chew t-shirt!):

And then we grabbed some delicious nachos and reported to our seats in section 108:

Tim and Kellan cannot get enough of their grandma and grandpa.  They always have a blast hanging out with them at a Mariners game:

Here was our outstanding view from the second row of section 108:

We were hoping to witness Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life and Tim and I were trying to break a nasty 10‑game Mariners losing streak dating back to last season.  The game did not start out ideally.  With Jason Vargas on the hill, Jemile Weeks led off with a double, he advanced to 3B on a groundout by Coco Crisp, and then scored on a single by Hideki Matsui.

While the Marines batted in the first inning, I noticed a familiar face patrolling RF for the A’s:

It was Michael Taylor, who played AA-ball for the Reading Phillies a couple years ago.  We saw him play as an R-Phil and he could definitely put on a show with the bat.  He got heckled mercilessly during this game by a four fans about 2-3 rows directly behind us.  Thankfully they kept it clean while having a whole lot of fun at Taylor’s expense.

Of course, our view in the top of each inning was a bit better – we were right behind Ichiro:

In the second inning, we got a great picture of Tim with our Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs and the Safeco Field clock/sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

After helping me and his grandpa catch those BP homers before the game, Kellan was all set to catch a game homerun of his own:

The boys had lots of fun getting their mommy into the Mariners spirit too:

Early in the game, my cousin Nathan texted to let me know that my other cousin (and his sister) Annie was at the game in my parents’ normal seats on the 3B side.  My mom and Colleen headed off to the team store to do some shopping (or browsing at least) and Kellan and I headed off to see Annie.  On our way, Kellan and I stopped off at the Mariners bullpen to what was going on…and I got this cool picture of Kellan sitting on the SRO counter:

The last time we saw Kellan was just a few days after Kellan was born.  It was great seeing her again.  Happily, we successfully turned our backs to the field for this picture…

…without getting nailed in the backs of our heads with a foul ball.

There was, however, a pretty amazing foul ball when we were chatting with Annie.  A’s first basement Chris Carter became only the second (or maybe third) person ever to hit a foul ball over one of the structural arches in Safeco Field’s roof.  It looked a little like this:

Carter’s foul landed in the staircase at the OF side of the 3B dugout and bounced incredibly high off of the cement before a lucky fan won the jump ball for it.

After spending an inning or so with Annie and her friend, Kellan and I headed back toward our seats…but, once again, we stopped off at the Mariners bullpen.  This time, we ended up chatting briefly with Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips.  I had not seen Phillips during BP, but he mentioned that he saw me and Kellan catch our homerun during BP.  I thought that was pretty cool that he didn’t know we were going to be at the game, but recognized us as we caught the BP homerun.

When we returned to our seats, the score was still 1-0 A’s.  Kellan decided to pull out his Justin Smoak poster and take a bunch of hacks like he was at the plate:

And I think Kellan’s practice hacks helped warm up the Mariners bats.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Miguel Olivo bashed his 19th homerun of the season.  It was an impressive shot to LF, and it tied up the game 1-1.

With the game tied up, Tim watched the Mariners up close with grandma’s binoculars:

Jason Vargas was still on the mound for the Mariners and he was looking really strong.  And his offensive-minded teammates gave him some additional run support in the bottom of the sixth inning.  The inning started very unimpressively, with a swinging strike out by Ichiro and a pop out by Luis Rodriguez.  But Dustin Ackley followed Rodriguez with a single.  Mike Carp followed Ackley with another single.  Then big Justin Smoak stepped to the plate and unleashed a deep blast to RCF:

Party time!  With Smoak’s homerun, the Mariners pulled out to a 4-1 lead!

But the 3-run lead gave us little comfort.  Tim and I had seen the Mariners let leads slip away multiple times this season.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, I was trying to get another picture of Ichiro just standing around doing nothing in RF.  Right as I pressed the button to take the picture, Scott Sizemore hit a shallow fly ball to RF.  I captured Ichiro…

…right when he started to break in and to his left to run down the baseball.

There were a lot of empty seats around us.  Our actual seats were in the third row, but me and the boys jumped around a lot from the first to the fourth rows.  Late in the game, Kellan and I spent a lot of time in the first row where my little No. 51 watched closely the Mariners big No. 51:

Meanwhile, Tim was having tons of fun with his grandma:

And then it was business time…

…the ninth inning arrived.  Kellan has been just three sweet outs away from his first Mariners win before just to have it slip away.  In Baltimore earlier in the season, the Mariners took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 13th inning just to have Brandon League blow the win after Jason Vargas had pitched an incredible game.  I understand that I have no control over the Mariners on-field play.  But I have felt partially responsible for that loss.  It would have been Kellan’s first Mariners win, but Tim and I went to try for an umpire ball and left Kellan and Colleen alone in our seats.  I should have been holding Kellan at the very moment that he witnessed his first Mariners win.  I think the world knew that and intervened to make sure Kellan experienced his first Mariners win the right way.

Well, it was go time once again.  Vargas had once again pitched an absolute gem.  He threw eight innings, gave up 5 hits and struck out 10 Athletics.  Enter the ninth inning and Brandon League.  League has had a great season.  That blown save in Baltimore was smack dab in the middle of League’s roughest patch of the season, it was the third of four straight blown saves/losses for League.

Well, League brought the drama with him to the mound.  He gave up a lead-off single to Coco Crisp.  League then struck out Hideki Matsui, but Crisp stole second and third
in the process.  He scored the A’s second run of the game on a ground out by Josh Willingham.

So there we were, just one out away from Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life.  But then Scott Sizemore hit a double, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Kurt Suzuki.

Things were getting super-tense.

I was holding Kellan tight and hoping for the best.  And Suzuki answered our prayers.  He jumped on the first pitch and hit a weak grounder Luis Rodriguez at short stop.  Rodriguez fired the baseball across the diamond and Justin Smoak’s glove clamped down on the 27th out of the game.

MARINERS WIN!  MARINERS WIN!!  MARINERS WIN!!!

Oh, yeah, MARINERS WIN!  M-A-R-I-N-E-R-S…

…WIN!  Yes!

MARINERS WIN!

Here are three happy Mariners fans basking in the glory of this historic MARINERS W-I-N:

And it was a historic game.  It was Kellan’s first win, it snapped a 10-game Mariners losing streak for me and Tim, my dad and I both caught BP homers on the fly while holding Kellan, and we caught (well, sorta) our 100th baseball of the season.  Historic!

We marked the occasion with a family picture:

And a picture with the Ichi-Meter (and Ichi-Meter lady):

By the way, the 183r of those Ichiro hits occurred in the seventh inning of this game.

On the way out of the ballpark, Tim got his picture with Ichiro (and Shelly):

Did I mention:  MARINERS WIN!?

2011 C&S Fan Stats
31/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
22/11 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins, Pirates, Athletics; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
101 Baseballs (19 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates, 3 Athletics)
14/6 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, PNC Park, Safeco Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Safeco Field]
18/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; 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]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
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.

***2011 All-Star

Cooks & Martelons in DC (9/18/2011)

Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park.  We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to  games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium.  As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park.  While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.

I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC.  It all fell into place perfectly.

On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP.  The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.

It turned out to be a very special time before the game started.  Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys.  Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.

By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance.  I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day.  Not quite.  It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures.  Aye, aye, aye!  I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.

We started out in the LF corner.  There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line.  We made our way down into the first row:

[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan's noggin].  There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching.  The ballpark was completely silent.  I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches.  So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence.  “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.

Thanks, Brian!

When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy.  Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him.  The section was silent no more.  And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.

After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF.  Section 237 to be exact.  Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:

We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg.  We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing.  Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny.  When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up.  I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding.   There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory).  Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up.  But his plan back fired.  The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.

Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball.  On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us.  It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me.  I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm.  I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck.  This was only our second ever.  Very cool.

Thanks, Tom!

Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more.  Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us.  While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:

I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…

…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.

On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:

Kellan is way too small for the play area.  So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…

…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.

After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat.  We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B.  We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:

Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line.  I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.

As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us.  I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…

…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too.  So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right.  Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.

Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch.  Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan.  Sanchez turned around and saw us.  He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan.  Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball.  Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction.  Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again.  Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again.  After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout.  It was an awesome little interaction.

A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B.  We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.

Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!

We decided to head back to the play area.  On the way, a kind usher took our picture:

And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:

As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there.  But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking.  But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:

After Tim hit some whiffleballs….

…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.

It was getting really close to game time now.  Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium.  We planned to meet them in our seats.  But first, we watched Mike Stanton…

…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…

…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.

As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats.  Soon enough, Colleen arrived…

…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate.  (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).

We had some great seats in section 108:

The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races.  These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).

Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:

The Nationals got on the board first.  In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.

Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived.  But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine.  I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):

A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.

In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.

After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…

…we took to our feet…

…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:

Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area.  I had another idea.  Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole.  It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch.  We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:

The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before.  So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.

First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:

What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan.  Funny.  Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.

When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun.  Stanton didn’t cooperate.  So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:

After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:

We had no real plan.  We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures.  When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:

Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:

All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan.  So he took a little nap…

…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.

When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought.  I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:

Yikes!  Oh, well.  Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.

In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun.  That made the score 4-3 Nationals.  But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.

There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning.  Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch.  He ran to first, but the umpires called him back.  I personally had no clue what was going on.  But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point.  The McKeon argument was humorous on its own.  But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:

Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics.  And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game.  Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.

Not much else happened in the game.  At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals

But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet.  It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!

We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:

(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).

I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases.  He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it.  Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:

Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases.  That killed the dream.  Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own.  He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him.  I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?

While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…

…, Tim…

…, and Gill…

…had a lot of fun on the base paths.

Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark.  It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park.  Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!

As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:

I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.

Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
21/10 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
13/5 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, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park]
18/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; 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]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke,
Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]
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.***2011 All-Star

The Many D’s of Comerica Park

We still have FOUR game entries for 2011.  They will be forthcoming soon…hmm, well, soon’ish.  But, with the Tigers in the postseason, I decided to take a little time out to do something I meant to do back in July.  So here we go.

In 2009, Tim and I attended a Tigers/Orioles game in Baltimore.  We attended with a couple Tigers fans and, in the blog entry, I wrote about what I called “THE BIG TIGERS ‘D’ CONTROVERSY.”  Boiled to its essence, the story is that the “D” on the Tigers’ jerseys is completely different than the “D” on the Tigers’ hats.  For years, I have wanted to visit Comerica Park, and one of the reasons for wanting to visit the ballpark was so I could get a feel for how the Tigers use their two D’s.

Tim and I had an great time at Comerica Park.  It is an amazing ballpark.  We took hundreds of pictures, and a bunch of them focused on “THE BIG TIGERS ‘D’ CONTROVERSY.”  So this entry is dedicated to showing the various D’s at Comerica Park.  Before we get to it, let’s review the details behind the conversy.  Here is an excerpt from that entry:

#     #     #

So lets just get it out of the way — THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!  Do you know the controversy?  Interestingly, every single Tigers fan I’ve ever asked about THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY has been totally oblivious to its very existence.  Apparently, the Tigers’ fans are not very observant.

So what is the controvery you ask?  Here it is — the Old English script “D” on the Tigers hat is totally and completely different than the Old English script “D” their jerseys and no one seems to care or notice

Shocking!  Huh?

Here is indisputable photographic evidence:

Let’s take a closer look:

1. The upper right corner of the Hat “D” has little fancy points and a concave diagonal edge while the same part of the Jersey “D” is rounded with no pionts and no concave edge.

2. The traditionally straight edge of the capital “D” is replace in the Jersey “D” with three vertical lines.  The two inner lines are straight and the outide line is sort of shaped like a shark with two pointy fins on his back.  Meanwhile, the straight edge of the Hat “D” has only two vertical lines.  Neither are straight.  Instead, they both look sort of like tall thin S’s.  But congrats to the Tigers, the outside line on the Hat “D” also has the two shark like fins on it!

3. The Two S-like vertical lines on the Hat “D” have two little bars connecting them – one at the top and one at the bottom.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.  The Jersey “D”?  You got it, no connector bars at all between the roughly corresponding vertical lines.

4.  But there are more connector discrepancies.  The left and right side of the opening of the Hat “D” is connected with two little bars – the top bar is concave and the bottom bar is convex.  How about the Jersey “D” — just the opposite.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.

5.  Finally, the Hat “D” is cool and the Jersey “D” is not (this one is subjective).

So you say, “Come on, I never noticed this, but how can it be a controversy?  All Tigers fans must know about this?”  Nope.  You’re wrong.  In fact, Mark himself — a Michigander — was totally unaware of this last year before I asked him about it.  Recently, Mark surveyed a bunch of Tigers fans at Comerica Park.  None of them knew about this.

The big question:  why is it that Tigers have two different D’s on their uniforms?

The answer:  NO ONE KNOWS!!!

According to my limited internet research on this (limited because I don’t really care about it), the Tigers themselves have no clue why they have different D’s on their uniforms.

So there you have it:  THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!!!

#     #     #

Here we go.  No big analysis here.  Let’s just look at some pictures and keep a running tally.  These pictures are in order of when I took them as we walked around Comerica Park.

We parked outside the RF gate…

…, which is adorned with three different types of Tiger D’s — all of them are “jersey D’s.”  I’ll just count each of these types once.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 0, Jersey D’s 3

Walking around the outside of the stadium, we found the “Code of Conduct”… 

…, which featured a nice “Hat D.”

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 1, Jersey D’s 3

All of the street signs featured Hat D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 2, Jersey D’s 3

The walls outside the stadium (and the Tiger Club) had a design including lots of jersey D’s:

There are actually some more jersey D’s about the glass doors behind Tim in that last picture, but I missed them when I edited the picture.  Anyway, I’ll just count all of theseD’s worked into the wall design as 1 jersey D..

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 2, Jersey D’s 4

The 3B gate is awesome at Comerica Park, but these jersey D’s won’t count in the scorecard because they are the same as the RF gate:

The team store is called The D Shop” with a nice hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 3, Jersey D’s 4

On one of the walls outside the stadium, we found this tile jersey “D” with a tiger walking through it:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 4, Jersey D’s 4

For good measure, the Tigers through some historical D’s into the mix that are neither the current hat nor current jersey D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 4, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

When we were outside of the stadium, all of the ticket windows seemed to be closed…

…and they all featured a Hat D on the pull-down window cover.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 5, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

From the street behind the CF wall, we spotted a sign for the Champions Club…

…featuring yet another Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 6, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

The Will Call sandwich board sign was also sporting a Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

Through the team store window, we spotted a bunch of souvenirs:

The baseballs and the foam hand both featured Jersey D’s.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 6, Other 1

From our spot at the front of one of the lines at the 3B gate, there was a plaque adorned with some Jersey D’s:.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 7, Other 1

I was a big fan of the scoreboard inside the ballpark.:

It featured a little analog clock with a Jersey D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 8, Other 1

If you’re milling about in the cross-aisles at Comerica Park, one of these signs…

…might tell you to sit down, and remind you that you’re at a Tigers game with this nice orange Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 8, Jersey D’s 8, Other 1

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a booth featuring “game used” products and a nice big Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 9, Jersey D’s 8, Other 1

Visually, there is a whole lot going on in the food court and Tiger-Go-Round area tucked behind the 3B concourse…

…, including at least banners with Hat D’s, flags with Hat D’s, a big baseball on top of the Tiger-Go-Round with a Hat D, and several Jersey D’s around the top ring of the Tiger-Go-Round.  Just for kicks, there is another “The D Shop” with another Hat D…but we won’t count that again.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 12, Jersey D’s 9, Other 1

This might be my favorite “D” of the day, a little Jersey D embossed into the drains on the walkway in RF:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 12, Jersey D’s 10, Other 1

While on the walkway, we stopped in at a fan assistance office and picked up a “first game at Comerica Park” certificate for Tim:

The certificate featuerd Jersey D’s, but the fan assistance sign featured a Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 13, Jersey D’s 11, Other 1

On top of the dugout?  A big Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 14, Jersey D’s 11, Other 1

On the back of the pitchers’ mound?  Yep, another Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 15, Jersey D’s 11, Other 1

We found a couple billboards in the concourse featuring Jersey D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 15, Jersey D’s 13, Other 1

The scoreboard features a black-and-white’ish scoreboard on the LF side and a full-color screen on the CF side:

The black-and-white’ish screen featured a Jersey D during much of pregame, while the full-color scoreboard had a Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 16, Jersey D’s 14, Other 1

A directory that we found in the upper deck, featured a *sorta* extra thin Hat D in the extreme upper left corner and a normal Hat D in the “you are here” sign:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 18, Jersey D’s 14, Other 1

Here is an interest one.  In the concession stand where we bought our nachos, they had full-sized Tiger helmets that were souvenir popcorn recepiticals:

Although the Tigers actually (and logically) have Hat D’s on their batting helmets, this popcorn helmet featured a Jersey D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 18, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

I think this is a newspaper rack or something like that (albeit an empty one):

Whatever it is, it features tiger stripes and a Had D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 19, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

This could be the most important D in the stadium — the essential behind home plate logo D:

Score a big one for the Hat D’s column!

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 20, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

In the 1980s, they apparently used the same Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 21, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

This concession stand was not being used at this game:

Still, it (and several others just like it) featured Hat D’s on a home plate sign.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 22, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

Verizon had a booth in one of the concourses, and it featured a Jersey D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 22, Jersey D’s 16, Other 1

I’m not sure what this “Extra Bases” booth was all about…

…but it featured several Jersey D’s.  This might be arbitrary, but I’m just going to count that as one D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 22, Jersey D’s 17, Other 1

Remember those popcorn D’s?  They were hats with Jersey D’s.  Well, the ice cream helmets were hats with Hat D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 23, Jersey D’s 17, Other 1

There are some seats in deep LF that I’ll describe as being on *risers*.  Anyway, those risers are wrapped in green fabric with Hat D’s on them:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 24, Jersey D’s 17, Other 1

This day was truly wonderful, and the game experience was capped with Kids Run the Bases, which allowed us to get close enough to determine that…

…the bases feature little Jersey D’s.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 24, Jersey D’s 18, Other 1

There are lots of Hat D’s in the Tigers dugout, most of which are found inside the slots where the Tigers keep their batting helmets:

We’ll count those 24 identifical Hat D’s as just one D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 25, Jersey D’s 18, Other 1

The wall behind the dugout bench features both Hat D’s and Jersey D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 26, Jersey D’s 19, Other 1

On our way out of the ballpark, we found our last new “D” of the day.  It was on a “no autographs” sign in the Tiger’s bullpen in LF:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 27, Jersey D’s 19, Other 1

So, there you go.  Take that for whatever its worth.  Personally, I find the whole BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY to be very interesting.  Head on over to Comerica Park and check it out for yourself.

Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2011)

On September 12, 2011, Tim had a rough afternoon.  He fell on the playground at school, banged up his knee, and had to go see the school nurse:

No fun.

But don’t you worry, things were about to turn around for young Tim.  Today was his Fifth MLB Anniversary and we were about to have an awesome evening of baseball at Camden Yards.

You might have noticed that Tim had a little turtle that he has been bringing to games the last couple months.  His name is “Shelly” (yeah, he’s a boy!).  Tim got Shelly at the Baltimore Aquarium the day after Kellan’s first birthday and he loves that little turtle like crazy.

On our drive to the ballpark, Tim devised a plan revolving around Shelly:

First, he wanted Shelly to get his first baseball at the game.  Second, he wanted to get a player to sign the ball for Shelly.  I told Tim we’d do our best to achieve these goals.

The first goal would not take long.  I bought cheap (super cheap) but good (really good) tickets on stubhub, but they were not “season” tickets, and we were running late and arrived after the ballpark opened and Avi Miller was already inside the ballpark.
So we were stuck in CF-RF for about 10 minutes upon entering the ballpark.

We wandered down into section 90 to see what was happening.  A few moments later, former-Mariner Chris Jakubauskas…

…saw me put on my Mariners jersey.  Jak ended up calling to one of his Orioles teammates who had a baseball.  The teammate tossed the ball to Jak and then Jak waved and then tossed the baseball to us.

Thanks, Jak!

Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:

The last couple minutes before the rest of the ballpark opened to non-season ticket holders ticked by ever so slowly.  But finally we were permitted to make our way into RF foul territory and around home plate.  We were going to head down the foul line toward the LF foul pole.  By this time, the Rays were hitting and the Orioles had all exited the field.  As we past third base and the infield dirt, the batter hit a soft grounder that rolled to a rest in the grass behind short stop.  Rays pitcher J.P. Howell ran over from shallow CF, grabbed the ball, waved to us and made a long throw our way.

Thanks, J.P.!

Mere seconds after gloving the ball, a familiar voice came from behind us, “That’s J.P. Howell.”  It was our friend and future
Orioles Fan Hall of Famer Avi Miller.

Avi knew it was Tim’s fifth MLB anniversary.  Although he was wearing a Rays hat…

…, Avi announced that he had brought a Mariners hat in honor of Tim’s anniversary.  Very kind, Mr. Miller.

The three of us walked down the line toward the foul pole and a Rays batter hit a grounder down the line and directly to the on-field usher (Tom) who was standing directly in front of us.  Tom grabbed the ball and turned and gave it to Tim.  Big thanks, sir!

Avi headed back out into left field and Tim and I stayed put.  It was an unusually small BP crowd.  But after hanging out in foul territory for a bit, Tim wanted to head out into LF as well.

As Tim and I circled around the foul pole, a batter hit a baseball to the wall just below us.  There were really no fans anywhere around us.  When Juan Cruz walked over to retrieve the baseball, I said, “Hey, Juan.  Any chance we could get that baseball?”
Cruz looked right at us with a odd (but otherwise indescribable) expression, and then turned and walked away without saying a word.

So, we headed out to section 186.  Not too much was going on.  We chatted a bit with Matt Hersl.  We chatted a bit with Avi.  At one point, Avi asked if we knew a player’s name…

…it was Juan Cruz.  I told him that I was pretty sure it was Juan Cruz, but he’d given us a really weird look earlier so maybe I was wrong.  Hmm…maybe I’d call him the wrong name?

Nah…I looked in our little book where I record all sorts of stuff.  Yep, Juan Cruz had tossed us a baseball earlier in the season…and my list confirmed that his name was, indeed, Juan Cruz.

Eventually, someone hit a laser line drive homerun directly over our head.  I jumped for it and it probably sailed less than a foot over my glove.

Like two seconds, I heard someone yell (at us) from the field.  It was Juan Cruz!  I was utterly confused.  He was probably 2-3 sections over toward the LF foul pole.  He held up a baseball and pointed at us.  I wasn’t sure if he was looking pointing at us or someone else.  Tim was standing directly in front of me.  In fact, I had my hands on his shoulders as I looked at Cruz with a confused look on my face.  (A little backstory, I am incredibly terrible at deciphering what people with accents are saying, and Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, but for some reason it sounded like he was yelling with a thick southern accent).  He yelled
something that was completely indecipherable to me:

Cruz - “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (confused) What!?

Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (even more confused and not even sure if he was yelling at me or someone else!) “What!?”

Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (really embarrassed by this point) “What!?!?!?!?!”

Cruz – (pointing at Tim directly in front of me) “BEEEEE CAREFULLLLLL!!!!”

Ah, ha.  Finally, it all made sense — he didn’t want to hit Tim with his throw!

Todd – “Oh, okay!”

And then he threw me a strike.

Thanks (and sorry), Juan!

After the baseball from Cruz (already our fourth of the day), the main highlight of the rest of BP was that James Shields made a ridiculously awesome catch, leaping high over the wall in LCF to pick off a would-be BP homerun.

Wait, there was another highlight during BP.  Tim got his picture sitting in one of Camden Yards’ two orange seats (the one where Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 278th homerun landed), and then Shelly got his picture in the Ripken orange seat too:

Wait, again, there was still one more highlight of BP.  At one point, Tim and I were chatting with one of the Orioles regular leftfield ushers (Miss Kelly).  After attending a bunch of O’s games over the last couple years and hanging out with Avi and some of the
other LF regulars, Kelly clearly recognized us.  But I was pleasantly surprised when she actually knew Tim’s name!  “Wow,” I thought to myself, “If an usher knows us by name, I guess we are officially *quasi-Camden-Yards-regulars!”  I like it!

After the Rays cleared the field, the extremely small crowd of BP-goers cleared out of LF except for us, Avi and one or two other guys.  There were tons of BP homers strewn about the ground in the Orioles’ and Rays’ bullpens.

After a while the pitchers, catchers, and coaches headed out to the bullpens.  Former-Mariners pitching coach and current Orioles pitching coach was kind enough to toss us a baseball from the Orioles bullpen.

Thanks, Rick!

Adair also noticed our Mariners shirts and stopped to chat a bit. He asked Tim who his favorite player is (Ichiro) and his favorite pitcher (Tim faltered, but then agreed when I suggested Felix Hernandez).  I told Adair the story of my mom getting one of the Rick Adair prank t-shirts that Ken Griffey, Jr. had made during spring training in 2010.  He got a kick out of that.

After Adair left, another Orioles coach (or a guy who at least seemed to be a coach) came over and started talking to some fans and signing some autographs.  We decided to put Tim’s pre-game autograph plan into action.  It worked perfectly, and now we are proud to say that Tim’s little turtle Shelly is the proud owner of a baseball from Rick Adair bearing a personalized autograph from Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor:

Nice!  Thanks, Scott!

It was getting close to play area time.  But we hung out for a few more minutes.  Eventually, Rays coach Jim Hickey entered the visitors’ bullpen:

There were still probably three BP homers laying in the grass.  Avi asked Hickey for one and he responded, “You’re too old!”  He then turned and weakly tossed a ball in our direction.  But it didn’t clear the fence and it bounced down into the stairway that leads from the back of the bullpen down to the bullpen bathrooms.  His second toss was on the money.

Thanks, Jim!

Interesting side note, someone else later tossed the other ball (the one that Hickey failed to get over the fence) to Avi.

That was it for our field-area pre-game festivities.  We’re typically pretty good at getting 1 or 2 baseballs during BP.  But due to the incredibly small BP crowd, we amazingly came away with six baseballs!  It was pretty crazy.

Aside from a game in 2010 when we got 10 baseballs (including 7 easter eggs), we had never gotten  more than 7 at a single game.
Interestingly, we had come into this game sitting on 191 baseball since Tim’s first game.  Coming into the game, I did not even consider the possibility that we would have a chance to approach the 200-plateau at this game.  But with six baseballs in our backpack, I began to wonder.  I jokingly told Avi that *all we needed* was to get 3 baseballs during the game to hit 200.
There was still no way I thought it could happen, but in the back of my mind, I thought it would be pretty cool to do it because Tim had gotten his first baseball on September 12, 2006 and his 100th exactly one year earlier on September 12, 2010.  How cool would it be to hit 200 on September 12, 2011?  Pretty cool, was my thought.

But enough with the wild speculations, we had a play area to get to.

Tim started out by posing for (another) picture with one of the big bird bobbleheads (this time with his trusty companion, Shelly):

And then he played like a mad man:

As play areas go, Camden Yards is always a fun one.  Lots of things to do and not too crowded to have fun.

As game time approached, we grabbed a hot pile of nachos…

…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:

Actually, that view is from row four of section 10, and our seats were actually about 10-15 feet to the left in row 4 of section 12.  Anyway, the seats were awesome, and there was a constant possibility that the ballgirl would catch a foul grounder and give it to Tim.

I mean, check this out:

The ballgirl was sitting just on the other side of the guy in the blue shirt and blue hat.  She did get a grounder early and gave it to
the son of the guy in orange directly in front of Tim in that last picture.  But we didn’t stick around in these seats (we need our freedom to move around!) long enough to see if she’d eventually give Tim a foul ball.

Here’s an interesting picture:

I took it because the Orioles’ first base coach’s last name is “Kirby,” and that is also the name of our awesome black lab (interesting fact:  my wife and I met at a dog park thanks to Kirby!).  The picture is also interesting because it shows home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.  Cuzzi has given us a post-game baseball once before.  Hmm…I wondered if he might do it again.  We’ll have to wait and see.

The Rays got on the board first in this game.  In the top of the third inning, the Rays scored three runs on a 2-RBI double by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.

Despite the awesome seats and very real possibility of getting a foul ball from the ballgirl, Tim wanted to roam.  And so, we roamed.  First, we tracked down the highly accessible Orioles Bird:

Then it was time to grab a 5th Anniversary ice cream helmet.  We decided to head out to LF:

Here is a panoramic view of Camden Yards from our very, temporary seats in section 80:

When Evan Longoria stepped to the plate, I sent Avi a less than prophetic text declaring that I was about to catch Evan Longoria’s homerun (note:  Avi, in fact, caught Evan’s first homer of the 2011 season).  In reply, Avi mentioned that he was sitting a couple sections to our left; over by the bullpens.  So, after Longoria failed to hit a homerun to me, we relocated to section 86, where Avi delivered on his promise to wear a Mariners cap in honor of Tim’s 5th MLB anniversary:

Over the next several innings, we sat in a lot of different seats in section 86, but here is just one of our short-time views of the ballpark from section 86:

We spent a lot of time during the game hanging out by the Rays bullpen.

Right below us during a big portion of the game, was Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi:

That hyper-crazy look on Tim’s face was induced by a three-pronged attack on his senses – chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce!  Only on his MLB anniversary!

I had no clue what Cursi’s name was, but Avi did and he passed on the info to me and Tim.  Had it stuck in my brain a little better, it
might have paid off in a big way.  In the bottom of the sixth inning (with the O’s trailing 4-1), Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hit a homerun that was hearing almost right to us.  But it was a tiny bit to our left (toward centerfield) and not quite far enough to reach us.  The homerun landed in the Orioles bullpen, bounced over the wall into the Rays bullpen, and right to Scott Cursi.  We were literally the closest people to Cursi at the time.  I wanted to ask him to toss the homerun ball up to us, but “Scott” just couldn’t get off of my tongue.  Before I could recall his name, he rolled the ball back toward the bullpen bench.  It rolled past the bullpen and to a police officer stationed at the other side of the bullpen.  The cop set the ball down against the back wall of the bullpen for a few seconds.  Eventually, one of the players gave him the “it’s okay” sign, and he tossed the homerun ball to a fan above the bullpen.  Shucks!

At one point, Tim went down a couple rows and visited with…

…Avi, Flava Dave (glove on head) and Tim Anderson (Markakis jersey).  In the picture above, Tim is taking great joy in pointing out the Dora the Explorer backpack in the Rays bullpen.

So, late in the game we were still sitting on 197 lifetime baseballs.  I continued to tell Avi in jest that “all we need is three more balls
before the end of the game” to reach 200!  But it wasn’t looking it was going to happen – and why would it?  I doubt we have ever got three baseballs after the start of a game before – certainly, we have never gotten three baseballs after the seventh inning stretch.

But this was Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary!  Magic was in the air!

In the seventh inning, Scott Cursi gave a baseball to a Rays-fan Dad who was celebrating his daughter’s first birthday game (hey, if it was also her first game, she has a great MLB anniversary!).  After he tossed up that  baseball, I called down, “Hey, Scott, it is not my boy’s birthday, but it’s a really special day for him.  Any chance he can get a baseball too?”  Cursi responded in the affirmative.  Then he walked over to his equipment bag (bullpen catchers always have a bunch of loose balls in their
equipment bags!), pulled out and examined two different baseballs, and then tossed one of them to us.

Thanks, Scott!

I was super-excited.  Could 200 actually happen on Tim’s MLB anniversary?  We relocated down by Avi and the guys next to the Orioles bullpen.  Avi had seen us get the ball from Cursi.  “Just two more!”, I reported!

In the eighth inning, our buddy Chris Jakubauskas started warming up for the Orioles…

…he was pitching to Orioles bullpen catcher (and Avi’s chum) Ronnie Deck.  Avi was optimistic that Deck would assist us in reaching the 200-plateau on Tim’s MLB anniversary.  When Jak threw his final pitch, he walked off  of the mound without waiting for a return throw from Deck.  Ronnie jumped to his feet, and I yelled out, “Hey, Ronnie, can we get the baseball, please!?”
Ronnie took 2-3 almost exaggerated running steps toward the bullpen bench, and then stopped on a dime, spun, and tossed us the baseball over the fence.

199!

Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!

We knew what had to happen.  “We’re heading to the umpire’s tunnel, I announced to Avi, Flava Dave, and Mr. Anderson!

Luckily, this was one of the least attended games of the season.  The crowd was particularly sparse with the O’s trailing 5-2 going into the ninth inning.  The ushers were checking tickets and we were able to take the ideal seats beside the umpire tunnel:

As the ninth inning progressed, Tim and I chatted with the guy who sits beside the tunnel and punches the buttons that displays the pitch information (speed and kind of pitch).  I tried my best, but I failed to correctly decipher a single pitch.

As the game drew to a close, I kept waiting for kids to storm the tunnel area, but it wasn’t happening.  Finally, Mark Reynolds struck out to end the game…

…and Phil Cuzzi walked back to the net behind home plate.  After the field crew quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel, Cuzzi stayed put.  He was waiting for his three colleagues to join him before he exited the field.

The mustachioed usher on the other side of the tunnel had brought a little girl down to make an attempt for an umpire ball.  But the little girl and Tim were the only kids in sight while Cuzzi waited for the other umpires.  I looked around expecting a flock of kids to run to the tunnel.  It never happened.

As Cuzzi ducked under the net and entered the tunnel walkway, it was just the little girl and Tim who were waiting for him.  I could not believe it.  Our 200th baseball seemed like a guarantee at this point.

First, Cuzzi placed a baseball into the little girl’s hands.  Next, he turned around and spotted Tim.  He reached out and placed a beautiful, rubbed up gem of a baseball into Tim’s (actually Kellan’s) baseball glove.

YES!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Cuzzi!!!

On the fifth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball, and the first anniversary of our 100th baseball, Tim held up his glove with a smile and displayed our 200th baseball:

I truly could not believe it.  Aside from the 7-easter egg fluke game in Cleveland, we had never got nine baseballs at a game.  It was like the baseball gods were smiling down on Tim trying to make his 5th MLB anniversary as special as possible.

Mission accomplished, baseball gods!

As the fans filed out of the stadium and the relievers made their way to the dugouts, Tim got a post-game photo with Flava Dave:

And then we spotted a couple Rays players lingering along the foul line wall.  He headed over there and Tim autographs from
and Tim’s picture with rightfielder Brandon Guyer…

…and third basemen Russ Canzler:

Before heading for the gates, we got a final Father-Son Camden Yards picture by the dugout:

When I looked back at the field on our way up to the cross-aisle, I noticed something funny – Brandon Guyer had jumped the wall and was standing with the fans (who I suspected were his friends and family) in the seats:

On the way out, we stopped on Eutaw Street so Tim and Shelly could say good-bye for the offseason to Ken Griffey Jr.’s deep RCF homerun maker:

And (okay, that other picture wasn’t the *final* father-son picture), I took a parting shot of Tim and I on our way out of the gates:

It is always sad when we know we will not visit Camden Yards until the next season.

Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…

…and then we called it a night.

It had been an amazing…

…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.

September 12th is quickly becoming one of my very favorite holidays!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
29/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
91 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins,
1 Pirates)
13/4 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, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
18/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; 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]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen,
Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
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.***2011 All-Star

A Pittsburgh Adventure (9/10/11)

On September 10, 2011, Tim and I headed off in our car for a weekend adventure to Pittsburgh.  The plan was for two games at PNC Park.  But the plan got cut short when our basement flooded in a storm and I was needed back on the home front.  But we still had a quality 28-hour
adventure.  Here is how it all went down.

He jumped on the PA Turnpike heading West toward Pittsburgh.  We ended up stopping off in Mechanicsburg, PA so Tim could see where his parents got married:

It’s a gazebo on the Liberty Forge golf course.  It had just opened when we got married back in 2003, and it was truly a beautiful sight for our wedding.  After a brief visit (which occurred during a bustling golf tournament), we grabbed an early lunch and hopped back in the car.

We arrived in Pittsburgh in the early afternoon and relaxed at our hotel before heading off to the park.  Our plan was to meet up PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Zac Weiss at the CF gate to see if we could get in early with the season ticket holders.  But the roads immediately around PNC Park confuse the heck out of me.  We ended up taking the wrong exit from the freeway, looping back around, and getting into a traffic-jam directly outside of PNC Park for 15 minutes.  By the time we parked and made it to the stadium, the gates had been open for
15-20 minutes and Zac was already in there.

We waited on the Riverwalk for a few minutes, and then heading into the LF seats…

…when the stadium opened for non-season ticket holders.  But the LF seats are small and they were relatively crowded.  We briefly bumped into PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Nick Pelescak.  After saying our hellos, I asked if the rest of the ballpark was open to everyone (there was almost no one in the park outside of the LF seats) and he confirmed that it was.  So Tim and I headed up the LF escalator and down into the LF foul seats.

The plan was to walk down to the cross-aisle toward the bottom of the section and then circle all the way around to the RF foul line where several Marlins were playing catch.  As we turned the corner into the cross-aisle, there were no other fans within 6-7 seating sections of us (except in LF, which is disconnected from the foul territory seats and not accessible without taking the elevator or spiral walkway).  Just then, a Pirates batter hit a foul ball right over our heads into section 132.  I quickly ran back up the stairway, cut into the seats and grabbed our first baseball of the day; with zero competition.

The very moment we made it to the RF foul line, former-Mariner Greg Dobbs was just finishing playing catch with monster-bomb-masher Mike Stanton.  We were right behind him as he left the foul line and started to walk toward CF.  I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and saw us, an
“oh, there you are” expression registered on his face, and then he tossed us our second baseball of the day; again, with zero competition.

We decided to go down the foul line to the handicap-accessible seating area.  For some reason, it was almost completely empty for the duration of BP:

There were a handful of fans out there…including the aforementioned Zac Weiss, who can be seen in the background of the last picture wearing his black Pirates shirt.

Mike “The Beast” Stanton and Mike “Cammy” Cameron were hanging out along the foul line running sprints from the foul line out into CF:

When we first arrived in this spot, there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in RF.  As Cameron walked around in foul territory catching his breath after running a sprint, I asked him if he would pose for a picture with Tim after he finished his warm-up routine.  He happily agreed.  Then I pointed out the baseball on the warning track and asked if he could toss it to Tim.  He agreed again.  Cammy is the man.

Thanks, Mike!

After running a few more sprints, Cammy wandered over to the little doorway at the end of the section and posed for this picture with Tim:

He also signed the baseball he’d already given to Tim:

And then he signed about 200 more autographs.  The second he walked over to get a picture with Tim, every autograph hound in the stadium bolted straight for us.  There was quickly a group of ten people.  And then twenty.  And then…who knows how many.

While we were getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we got to chat for just a few seconds.  I told him that my Dad caught one of his foul balls down in Miami on our Roadtrip.  I then told him it was cool that he was wearing number “24” now-a-days since he was previously traded to the Mariners for Ken Griffey, Jr.  He told me that he’d wore “24” when he was *young* – he did wear “24” when he broke into the Major Leagues with White Sox, but I got the feeling he meant he wore “24” when he was a kid, not just a young Major Leaguer.  Anyway, after mentioning Junior, I told Cameron that he did an amazing job coming in and filling Griff’s void after the trade.  He really did an outstanding job for the Mariners and us Mariners fans love him for it.

When Cameron finally started walking back to the dugout, a guy ran down the steps and called out, “One more, Mr. Cameron!?”  Mike responded something like, “Man, I just signed a ton!”  But he came back nonetheless and signed for this guy too.  He was so awesome.  I really couldn’t believe all the signing he did.  And many of the beneficiaries were the big-time autograph dudes who gave board with 5-6 of his cards, and he
signed every single one.  Mike is the man!

As he walked away, I asked Cameron if he got one of the Mariners 116 win, two-person McLemore and Cameron bobblehead.  He started to launch
into a longer explanation, and then stopped himself.  Bottom line, the answer was “yes.”  He got one.  So that’s cool.  When he said he has one, Tim yelled out, “I have one too!”  (Special thanks to Brian Powell for sending us his!).

After getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we relocated to the shallow RF section of the handicap-accessible seating area.  A Marlins lefty ripped a foul grounder right at us.  Tim put his glove over the short wall and tried to scoop it up, but it went under his glove…and right into mine.  Tim immediately turned around with a frustrated look:  “Hey, I was gonna catch that ball!”  “But you didn’t,” I explained, “it went right under your glove, so I had to catch it!”

Tim couldn’t argue with my logic, and he was happy to have the ball despite missing out on the grounder attempt.

He had fun leaning over the wall and practicing so he could catch the next ball hit down the line:

(Note: In the last picture, Cameron is still signing autographs in the background).

Tim also got a kick out of the fact that he could easily lean over the fence and rub his fingers through the warning track dirt:

So we had connected with two former-Mariner Marlins (Dobbs and Cameron), but the Marlins had still another former-Mariner – Jose Lopez.  But
this is as close as we would ever get to Jose:

We spent some time during BP chatting with Zac Weiss:

Just before that last photo, Tim and I were at the back park of the handicapped-accessible seating area and Zac at the front (where he is pictured in that last photo).  A grounder came down the line and snuck past Zac on an unfortunate (for him) bounce.  I leaned as far as I could over the fence and scooped the ball off of the warning track.

As the Marlins cleared off the field, Zac, Tim and I headed over to the Marlins dugout on the 3B side.  Alex Sanabia (who gave Tim the 99thbaseball of his life last season) was standing at the top of the dugout.  He had a baseball and wanted to get rid of it.  He looked at Zac and must have thought “too old.”  Next, his gaze turned to Tim and he though “just right.”  So Sanabia tossed us our sixth and final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Alex!

PNC Park is pretty amazing for BP.  95% of the fans attending BP were out in LF the whole time.  There was lots of competition out there.  Meanwhile, 1% of the fans were in the RF handicapped-accessible seats and we all got some easy, no-hassle baseballs.  Great!

Ah, I forgot to mention, I thought we were going to get another baseball before the Sanabia  ball.  Zac, Tim and I were handing out talking (where we they are pictured in the last phone), and No. 21 on the Marlins drilled a one or two hopper right at us.  I thought it was going to take a nice big (and easy) bounce right to me for an easy catch.  Instead, it took a crazy back-spinning, low, sliding, superfast bounce right at us.  It shot like a rocket right over our heads and went all the way over the seats and into an area where they store groundskeeper-stuff.

After hanging out by the dugout for a bit, we got our picture with Zac:

And then we all  headed to the Riverwalk and then walked out to LF.  Once we got out there, we split up with Zac because Tim wanted to walk up the spiral ramp.  On our way, we ran into Nick Pelescak again and he took a walk with us.  We headed up the ramp and got Tim’s PNC Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

We stopped at the top of the spiral ramp and chatted a while with Nick:

He’s a real nice guy and he’s hauled over 1,000 baseballs out of PNC Park and several other MLB ballparks over the course of the last couple years.

While in the upper deck, we took the occasion to check in with Tim’s first ever water fountain!  Back on September 29, 2007, Tim used this fountain for his first ever water-fountain drink of his life.  Since then, we check in on his first fountain whenever we’re in town.  On our 2010 trip, his water fountain reunion photo didn’t make the cut on the blog report.  So let’s check out both 2010 and 2011 now:

After heading back down the spiral ramp, Nick broke off to go find his wife and son and Tim and I went and bought some nachos.  Here is an ultra-serious looking Tim eating nachos in our seats for the game:

We got those seats in section 136, row C for just a couple bucks per ticket on stubhub.  That’s one of the perks of the end of the season – cheap tickets!

Here is a view of PNC Park from our seats:

Tim cut the serious act, and had some fun goofing around and eating nachos in the LF seats:

And then he did some random posing:

When the game started, it was all Marlins.  Actually, the Marlins did not muster much offense either.  But it did not matter because Anibal Sanchez was on fire.  He was making the Pirates look silly – like this hapless hack back Derrick Lee:

Meanwhile, Tim was licking left over cheese off of his index finger and pretending that it was exploding in his mouth – like this:

Facing off against Sanchez, the Pirates had Jeff Locke make his MLB debut.  Locke pitched five innings, gave up five hits, and three runs, and collected his first career loss.  I got this picture of Locke’s first career Major League swing:

With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Neil Walker hit double.  And that was all she wrote for the Pirates.  Anibal Sanchez threw a complete
game 1-hitter.

In the top of the third inning, we went to go get ice cream helmets.  Tim got mint chocolate chip and I got (the incredibly delicious and highly recommended) Pirates Buried Treasure.  Check out the cool view from the ice cream helmet line:

Ah, yes.  PNC Park is incredibly beautiful.

The Marlins scored three runs while we were in line for ice cream.  They were, ultimately, the only runs of the game.  And we had no clue they even occurred.  When we got back to our seats – after walking through this blue light area –

…there were runs on the board.  And that’s all we knew.  We saw Nick and Zac at the back of one of the sections in LF and I asked them if they caught any homeruns when we were off buying ice cream.  They didn’t.  And that is all I know about those three runs – they were three Marlins runs during which the crowd made absolutely no noise (so as to tip me off that anything was happening on the field) and they did not result in Nick or Zac catching any homeruns.

Just like last season, I enjoyed a “Pirates Buried Treasure” helmet and Tim had a mint chocolate chip helmet:

Here’s what it looked like from our seats after the sun went down:

After eating our ice cream, Tim wanted to roam around the ballpark and check out the river.  We headed out to the Riverwalk area and Tim got a run-by head patting from the Pirates Parrot:

He posed with a picture of a P-shaped bush behind the bullpens…

…and then we headed down toward the river.  This big barge arrived on the scene:

I am pretty sure it is the fireworks barge for the post-game fireworks.

We wandered through a little picnic area behind the batters’ eye:

And we checked out the view of the Roberto Clemente bridge:

Finally, we found a little nook in the picnic area that Tim thought resembled a bullpen.  So we took turns pitching to each other…

…using the drain as home plate.

While I was pitching to Tim, he missed a pitch and it rolled to the steps behind our home plate.  When he went to retrieve, an elderly Japanese couple were walking by.  The man noticed Tim’s Ichiro shirt as he passed by and called out to his wife an excited, “ICHIRO!” with a point at Tim.  He then
doubled back and walked a small loop around Tim to make sure he’d seen it correctly.  After confirming his initial belief, he walked back to his wife and pointed at Tim with increased excitement, “ICHIRO!”  And he looked over me with an approving smile.  It was pretty cute.

After our bullpen session, we headed back to the LF seats.  We hadn’t missed a thing – well, except a couple more Pirate strike outs – it was still 3-0 Marlins.

As I sipped a local brew with a snazzy pin-striped and Pirate-logoed can, an usher kindly took our photo standing in the concourse behind section 136:

It was time for more adventuring, and this was the last we would see of section 136 for the night.  So I took one more panorama from the concourse before we started walking:

Tim wanted to see the upper deck some more.  So we wanted around the big spiral walkway in LF:

There is a really small section of seating above the LF bleachers, just below the scoreboard, that I have never visited.  In the past, it has always been chained off for private parties.  I think it is called the “Pirates Deck.”  As luck would have it, it was open to the public during this game.  So we headed down the stairs at the back of the spiral walkway and entered the Pirates Deck.

The deck was almost empty.  We headed to the last section in deep LCF and got Tim’s picture:

And then I took a panorama of PNC Park from the front row of section 339:

On our way out of the deck area, we noticed a switch-back ramp leading up to two seats perched behind the back row of the seats.  It looked like an elevated perch for the King and Queen to sit and watch the competition down on the field.  Since it was empty, we walked up the ramp and Tim asked me to take the following series of photos:

After the King’s Perch, we headed to the seats behind home plate.  There was another little handicap-accessible seating area right behind home plate.  We claimed a spot and watched the game from there for a bit.  Standing was fine for a bit…

…but eventually Tim got the urge to climb on the railings…which I strongly discouraged.

After getting Tim off the railing, I got a panorama of PNC Park from section 316:

After exchanging a few texts, we met up with fellow MLBlogger Matt “PittPeas” Peaslee and his girlfriend Erin:

I suggested that pose in the classic Peas-pose (that you should no doubt recognize if you’re read his blog).  Upon review, it appears that I need some work on my Peas-pose.  My arms are way too high and straight.  Tim’s Peas-pose needs some work too; he’s just doing a “we are the champions”
celebration pose!  Matt is a great guy.  It was good to finally meet in person.

The game was sailing by quick.  After parting ways with Matt and Erin, Tim and I headed down the spiral walkway behind home plate.  We planned on making an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball.  It was the ninth inning, but for whatever reason, I thought it was still the eighth.  After I got this photo from the concourse of Andrew McCutchen striking out…

…I realized it was the ninth inning and there was only one out left in the game!  We scrambled to get into position, and post-game fireworks made it the easiest post-ninth-inning-third out trip ever from the concourse down to the umpire tunnel (because everyone stayed seated for the fireworks), but we arrived about 5 seconds too late.  Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had unloaded his entire baseball poach by the time we got into position.  Oh, well.

The silver lining is that we were in the perfect spot (and found a couple open seats) when the fireworks started about 5 minutes later:

The fireworks show was great, and no one enjoyed it more than Tim (and Shelly):

To my amazement, the Pirates did not clear out the RF seats for the fireworks show.  Check out how close it looked like the people in right field were to the fireworks:

After the fireworks show, an usher took a final father-son shot of us before we left the ballpark:

And then I noticed a cool “125th season” logo on top of the Pirates dugout:

I wonder why the Angels got a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball, but the Pirates did not get a 125th season baseball?  I’m guessing it is because they were not the “Pirates” the entire 125 seasons – since it says “Pittsburgh Baseball.”  Anyway, it is too bad. That would have been a cool commemorative baseball.

After the game, we spent the night in a Pittsburgh hotel, and then did one *touristy* thing before heading home.  We had heard of the Duquesne Incline from some friends.  So we decided to check it out.  While watching BP, I discussed the Duquesne Incline and discovered there are two inclines in town – the Duquesne and the Monongahela.  So we did ‘em both.

First, the Duquesne Incline:

Essentially, it is a two track train that runs up a really steep hill in Pittsburgh.

At the top, there is a look out spot with a phenomenal view of Pittsburgh:

Following the river from left-to-right and taking the left (upper) fork, PNC Park is on the left (upper) side of the river between the first and second (Roberto Clemente) bridges.

Here’s a good view of the crazy incline train cars:

The two cars are pulled up the incline on big steel cables.  They appear to be balanced against each other, when one is at the top, the other is at the bottom, and they always meet in the middle.

The Monongahela incline also provided a spectacular view of Pittsburgh (although with no view of PNC Park):

And there was a sign at the top pointing the way to ice cream:

After devouring some tasty cones, we rode the incline train back down to the bottom…

….and hopped into our car for the ride home.

Although we wanted to go to the Sunday game (featuring Kids Run The Bases), it was still a great little weekend father-son get-away.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
28/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
82 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
13/4 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, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
16/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron; 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]
7 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron)
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.***2011 All-Star
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