October 2012

Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2012)

September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar.  The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners.  This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!

A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.

On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game.  It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0.  When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.

And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.

On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.

On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.

On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.

I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons.  First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary.  Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.

Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles.  This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.

Planning was very difficult this year.  September 12 was a Wednesday.  I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game.  But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.

Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals.  That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time.  But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia.  With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia.  Tim would be in school until 3:10.  Going to NY was out of the question.

Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m.  That was a no go, as well.

So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.  It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game.  It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals.  But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered.  BP would be out of the question.  But at least we should be able to make it for the game.  So that was the plan.

Here is what had to happen to make it happen:

Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia.  I was detained until around 4:30.  When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic.  I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia.  Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic.  I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.

The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore.  My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30.  But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia.  We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line.  By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.

Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes.  After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.

Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.

Thanks, Avi!

The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.

So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!

So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball.  I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend.  After this game, we would only have two more games this season.  With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.

During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995).  We hung out in the ideal spot:

We had no luck, but the Orioles did.  On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles.  They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.

After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza.  While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture!  Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.

Oh, well.

It was pizza time.  The outfield was totally packed.  Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:

While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:

We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:

Here was our view for large chunks of this game:

Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area.  It was time to hit the kids’ play area.  Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues.  First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:

And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:

And then we headed down Eutaw Street…

…toward the play area.  We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…

…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:

The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing.  It is bigger and better for the kids.  But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside.  The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.

The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…

…and the pig:

After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets.  There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line.  I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em.  But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl.  When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over.  That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!

We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:

And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:

I’ve gotten ahead of myself here.  I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third.  For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.

Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO.  Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:

Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings.  After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning.  Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.

Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:

Well, that’s not completely accurate.  Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers.  Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher.  Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth.  The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson.  Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.

Johnson had a rough inning.  After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger.  Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger.  After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.

Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun.  So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.

With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit.  As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first.  Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard.  Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy.  One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.

And that ended the top of the ninth inning.

I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth.  Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench.  Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name.  He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball.  We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop.  We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.

Thanks, Scott!

I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season.  We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.

Thanks again, Scott!

Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:

After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF.  He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.

Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless.  This year was different.  The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles.  In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.

The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:

Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:

And, I was sort of a fortune teller.  No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.

The place was going crazy:  Orioles win!  Orioles win!  Orioles win!

As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.

The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously).  At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire.  When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel.  As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us.  We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd.  He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field.  Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him.  We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires.  Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:

Thanks, Marvin!

I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs.  I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game.  Very odd.

Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:

We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:

On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:

We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude.  So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.

Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets.  So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate.  After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:

We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game.  It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.

As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:

This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times.  I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Two Nights At A Ballpark In Philadelphia (9/8 & 9/9/12)

This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia.  Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.

The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks.  But the boys and I had Phillies tickets.  The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.

We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m.  Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.

We made it to the LF gate…

…in plenty of time.  In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35.  We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.

Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports.  But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule.  They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game.  But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.

The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining.  Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.

The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…

…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast).  Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.

Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too.  That concerned the Phillies too.

When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:

No BP.  Sad.

But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch.  There was only a small gathering of fans out there.  I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd.  There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.

See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?

Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys.  We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP.  To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium.  Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain.  But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.

Thanks, Carlos!  And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!

Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend.  I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening.  So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…

…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt?  Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear.  She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).

Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:

And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:

I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear.  But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Edgmer!

Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone.  One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:

Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout.  There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us.  And that means that Harrison got snubbed.  Sorry, Harrison!

Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:

I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too.  They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.

Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…

…toward the RF seats.

The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens.  That’s where we met up again with Harrison:

I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen.  In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence.  When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.

But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…

…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen.  It was right behind the home plates .  It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.

Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.

Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had  thrown?  Well, it was still there.  There was no one on the field.  We just sat around chatting awhile.

Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track.  When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball.  The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:

It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison.  I was happy for him.

But then Harrison started walking closer to RF.  “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.

See the girl in the red shirt above?  That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF.  Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball.  I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.

But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row.  And guess who got it in the scramble?

Not Harrison.  Darn.

So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen.  Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan.  Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:

That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food.  It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined.  Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.

It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF.  The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102.  It was raining.  We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…

…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation.  This is what was happening on the field:

It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.

When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:

We just kept sitting and chatting.  The stadium started filling up a lot more.  Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…

…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing.  Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.

We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:

I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her.  It was pretty hilarious.  Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.

At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:

They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp.   I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast.  Kellan was ready for some Major League action:

When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen.  It was like a chess match with the young girl.  It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:

It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it.  A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.

The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field.  The Phillies never made any announcements.  Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.

Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night.  They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night.  Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:

When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store.  On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…

… and a panorama from the back of the section:

The boys had fun playing around in the team store:

I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff.  And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:

It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time.  We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours.  Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain.  It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.

The boys and I started to head toward the exits.  As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen.  I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night.  But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most.  By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:

I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway.  As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed.  We hung out for a minute.  And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:

We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more.  After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked?  That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.

We waved him down and…

…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.

Holy cow.  I couldn’t believe it.

The ball was SOAK and HEAVY.  Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:

And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below.  I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy.  He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.

Wow.

Thanks, guy!

By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.

And with that, we called it a night.  On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.”  Tim was all for it.  We didn’t have any other plans.

So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.

There was a 1 o’clock game.  Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.

We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work.  But it was completely different with Phillies.  I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats.  I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield.  They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office.  So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.

Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking.  When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits.  Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:

It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.

We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103.  I was pretty excited about that.  We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.

We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened.  Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.

We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:

They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:

But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.

When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:

Check out all of the activity on the field:

So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:

Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!

Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…

…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.

When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim.  Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…

…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands.  Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.

Double thanks, Jesus!

We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…

…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.

Then we played a few games…

…and collected a few game stamps.

We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:

Check out our AWESOME front for seats:

The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own.  So we were packed in like sardines down there.

But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:

Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet.  I very seldom agree, but I did at this game.  And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:

Those pictures don’t do it justice.  Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream.  While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.

The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd.  Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs.  I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:

I did, however, get an action show of Tim:

Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:

The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning.  The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:

Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double.  Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.

Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:

There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…

…and be right on top of the action.

While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence.  This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:

Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back.  Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles.  The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF.  Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…

…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies.  Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom

Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place.  We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks.  But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game.  So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:

Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.

After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:

If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize.  Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right.  And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.

Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…

and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:

The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty.  We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats.  It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.

Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.  That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.

Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them.  You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge).  Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.

Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:

Row 6 is only four seats across.  I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).

The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge.  The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…

…screaming through the megaphone.

A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:

It was pretty hilarious.  From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field.  The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.

The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead.  Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh.  The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B.  However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored.  He hopped to his feet and shouted:

TIM:  “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

TODD:  “No, they didn’t.  Ruiz stopped at third.”

TIM:  “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”

It was pretty hilarious.  And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case.  It was really amazing.  I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times.  AT LEAST!

At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.

And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball.  And that resulted in another cool moment.  Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob.  I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him.  But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch.  It was pretty awesome!

Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:

Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!

Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:

During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:

Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader.  So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day.  Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.

Phillies win 7-4:

As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!”  Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.

Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:

Fun times.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Marlins Park: Take 2 (9/1/12)

We woke up at the downtown Miami Hilton on the morning of Saturday, September 1, 2012, with 8 hours of kill before our second and final game of the weekend at Marlins Park.  We threw on our beach clothes, hopped into the Crown Vicky, and headed off to nearby Miami Beach.

We parked along Ocean Drive.  As I was paying for parking people were taking pictures in front of the building right across the street from our car.  Turns out that it was Gianni Versace’s house (left below):

Some bad stuff happened on the sidewalk in front of that house back in the 90s.  Check out that Versace Wikipedia link to read about it.  After Colleen got a picture with the Versace mansion, we had some fairly unimpressive breakfast at a sidewalk restaurant.  That big thermometer (above right) was right across the street from our breakfast table and people kept getting pictures in front of it.  So after breakfast, Colleen and the boys joined in the fun.

And then it was  off to the beach:

I am not a beach person at all.  But South Beach is awesome!  The water is warm and there are hardly any waves at all.  Lots of fun.

I splashed around a bunch in the water with Kellan, but Tim spent most of his time searching for sea shells…

…and then he posed with a rescue waver runner before we headed out.

After we had our fill of the beach, we headed back to the hotel so Kellan could get a quick nap.  But he had no interest in it.  So we headed to our hotel’s rooftop pool:

The pool at the Miami Hilton is really cool.  And you can see Marlins Park from the deck.

Around 3:45, we packed up and headed out to Marlins Park.  This time, the Cook Family was at full strength.  And, for the record, Marlins Park was Colleen’s 14th MLB stadium (old Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Fenway Park, Citi Field, new Yankee Stadium, Nationals Park, Progressive Field, Rogers Centre and Marlins Park).

We parked at the CVS again.  In fact, the parking attendant remembered us and intentionally had us park in the exact same spot as the night before.  These pictures should be flipped, but here are a couple views of the Marlins parking garages as we approached the stadium:

The picture above to the right is the view across NW 7th Street as we approached the mid-block crosswalk.  The picture above to the left is the end of that same parking garage from the little street approaching the ballpark, and that is a big art piece on the side of the parking garage.

The day before we turned to our right and walked toward the home plate gates.  At this game, we turned left, and headed toward the left field corner.  As we circled the corner, we walked by a “Boletos” window…

…and found some bamboo trees around the corner.

There is a big side walk area behind the LF side of the ballpark, and the sidewalk is littered with the artistic *remnants* of the words “ORANGE BOWL” sunken into the sidewalk.  Tim and Kellan decided to pose with ever letter that was accessible to foot traffic:

Along the left field outer wall of the stadium, there is an entrance for the Clevelander Night Club:

If we had Clevelander tickets, we could have entered the ballpark already, but we didn’t.  The sad thing is that we could see the Marlins inside taking BP.  Only the select few with Clevelander or certain other “premium” tickets ever get to see the Marlins take BP in Miami.  That’s too bad.

As we approached what I will call the Centerfield gate, I turned around and took a picture of the boys and Colleen with several of the sunken letters behind them:

Amazingly, while there were a lot of people milling around outside of the Clevelander, there were zero people in line at the CF gate.  So I hopped in line, and Tim and Kellan played with some green lights set into the sidewalk:

I didn’t realize this until working on this blog entry, but the gates are colored (signs, etc.) and feature lights set into the ground.  And those colors all match the colors of the concourse corresponding where you will enter the stadium.  For example, Tim and Kellan were playing with green lights and the signs on the CF gate were green, and when we ran into the ballpark, we entered the green section of the ballpark.  And if you look at our last entry, you’ll have to take my word for it that we exited the ballpark in the yellow section of the ballpark and there were yellow lights on the ramp down to the ground level outside.  That’s pretty cool.  Well thought out, Marlins.  Good job!

We had ten or so minutes to kill, so Tim and I played catch at the gate:

Check out this nice catch by Tim:

He’s chalk-full of good catches these days.

As we stood at the front of the line, this was our view through the gates:

This is a much better entrance than the RF gate.  In RF, you have to slowly wind your way up a spiral walkway (sorta spiral, at least).  The CF gate gives you a straight shot right up some those steps and into the CF concourse.

So, Tim, Kellan and I headed right down into section 36.  Almost immediately, a groundskeeper walking through the outfield tossed a baseball up to Tim.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

And just a few minutes later, another baseball was hit to the warning track near us.  Tim got Josh Edgin’s attention and Edgin tossed the ball up…

…and Tim made a great grab.  The ball from the groundskeeper was thrown over Tim’s head and we picked it up off of the ground.  But Tim gloved the ball from Edgin cleanly, and it marked the very first Tim that Colleen had ever seen Tim catch a baseball completely on his own at a baseball game.  By the way, she had stayed up at the top of the section and took three of those pictures from behind us.

Thanks, Josh!

Right after Tim caught the baseball from Edgin, Kellan got all excited and stood on the wall with his glove over his head yelling for more baseballs:

It was pretty cute.

We had only been in the park for a few minutes by this time, ten at the most.  During that time, one of the Mets hit a homerun into section 40 along the RF line.  Section 40 was completely empty and I thought it might be a good spot to go to try to catch a BP homer on the fly, so we all headed over there.

As Tim, Kellan and I walked into the section, there was an usher standing on the stairs right along the foul line…

…he pointed to two different spots in the empty rows of seats and lo-and-behold there were two baseballs just waiting to be found.  We grabbed them and then headed down to the front row to watch more BP.  I thought that was really cool of the usher, and quite fan friendly.  We have found very few “easter eggs” at MLB games.  It seems like most teams have their ushers clear out easter eggs before fans can find them.  So it was really cool that this usher kept tabs on the baseballs and then pointed them out to us.

Thanks, Usher!

In addition to pointing out the baseballs, the usher was a really nice guy.  He chatted with us a little more as we hung out in his section.

Colleen followed us into the section and several other fans, maybe 10 or so, followed her.  There actually ended up being a decent little gathering of fans down there.

Several Mets pitchers were running from the RF foul line to CF and Kellan was still hoping that someone would toss him a baseball:

Ready for the blurriest picture I’ve ever posted on this blog?  Here we go:

This shot was taken during possibly the 3 most interesting seconds of BP.  A Mets batter hit a homerun to our right (closer to the bullpen).  It was going to land 10 feet to our right and a row or two behind us.  There were several fans right where it seemed like the homer was going to land.  I didn’t even make a move for it.  There was no chance of me getting over there.  But then, magically, it slammed untouched into a folded up seat between all of the fans and took a crazy ricochet toward the foul pole.  I flung my hand up and – BOOM! – barehanded the baseball as it tried to whiz by my head.  Immediately upon catching the baseball, I turned around (as shown in the picture above) and looked at the ball and another baseball whizzed by me.  As you can see in the picture above to the left, right as I barehanded that homerun ball, Tim was calling out to Jon Neise.  Neise tossed a ball up to Tim but threw it over his head.  It hit the seats right in front of me.  The ball rattled around on the floor for half a second before we scooped it up.

So, we very quickly got four baseballs in section 40.  I figured that was good enough.  So we did a little exploring.

First, we took Colleen up to the upper deck seats above section 40.  Colleen though the “concourse” up there was quite bizarre so she snapped our picture:

We took a stroller through the upper deck seats.  Here is what Marlins Park looks like from section 140:

While we were up there, I noticed something I had not noticed the day before – there is a “Marlins Park” sign above the RF upper deck seats:

I found out later that Colleen took our picture as me and the boys walked across the upper deck seats:

Before  heading down from the upper deck, I got a panorama from the SRO behind the seats in section 134:

After we got our fill of the upper deck, we headed down and over to the SRO area behind the homerun statue.  There were three Mets standing down below us but we only recognized one of them, Chris Young.  Like Tim in t-ball this season, Chris Young wears number 55.  So that made Tim happy.  Tim decided to try to get Young to toss a ball all the way up to us.  But it was clear it wasn’t going to happen.  So we swung around to the LF seats.

Here was our view from the end spot in the first row of section 32:

We were right above the Clevelander, but you wouldn’t really know it.  All we could see below the LF bleachers were a bunch of blue awnings:

We were still relatively close to Chris Young and Tim was still hoping that Young would toss a baseball up to him.  But Eric Langill beat Young to it:

Thanks, Eric!

Young did eventually *try* to toss Tim a baseball…

…but things were a bit complicated.  First off, where we were in the front row it was only about two feet deep.  We were past the last seat and there is just a little extra space that is…just sorta *there*  The point is, there was a big bright lime green wall directly behind us.  Plus, most of Tim’s body was behind the front wall of the section – you know, the wall that keeps people from falling down into the Clevelander.

All this meant that Tim was a really small target for Young to hit.  Add to that fact, the fact that Tim really likes to makes catches on his own.  He doesn’t like me swooping in to make a catch when he thinks he can make it on his own.  So, when Young air mailed the ball over Tim’s head, although I could have easily stepped forward and caught it right above Tim’s head, I hung back and hoped Tim could reach the ball.  When it flew over Tim’s outstretched glove, I tried to play the ricochet off the wall, but it bounced oddly off the wall and the family a couple seats down from us snatched up Tim’s Chris Young baseball.

Tim was pretty bummed out about it because he really wanted to catch a baseball from Young.  I felt bad for Tim not being able to catch the baseball from a fellow number 55.  But, assuming Tim was going to catch the baseball from Young, I was going to give the Langill baseball to that family anyway.  So at the end of the day, missing the baseball was a wash.

As BP started to wind down, we headed over to the LF corner.  It looked a little like this over there in section 29:

There were a couple BP homers scattered in the Marlins bullpen.  I figured we would hang out there until someone wandered out to the bullpen.  As Randy St. Clair made his way down the LF line, an usher came through and told everyone they had to leave unless they had tickets for that section.  I pointed out St. Clair and mentioned we were hoping he would toss up one of the baseballs in the bullpen.  The usher gave us the blessing to stay put.

And when St. Clair passed by below…

…he stopped and tossed the one baseball right below us to a kid just down from us.  He then disappeared and five seconds later reappeared holding up a baseball and calling out to Tim.  It took St. Clair a couple attempts to get the baseball up to us.  His first toss wasn’t high enough and actually bounced out onto the foul warning track.  But St. Clair ran over and grabbed it and made a better toss.

Thanks, Randy!

Before heading out, I snapped a picture of the smaller scoreboard behind section 29:

An usher had told Colleen that some Marlins would be signing autographs behind the LF seats prior to the game.  We had noticed them doing this before the game the night before.  Unless it was Mike Stanton…I mean, Giancarlo Stanton, I had no interest in waiting around on them.  We never did end up seeing any Marlins signing autographs over there, but we did see these guys:

Those guys were hanging out taking photos right by the “Taste of Miami.”  Colleen wanted to check out the T.o.M.  While doing so, we noticed that there was a door leading out to a little landing outside.  We headed out there to get a picture of Colleen and Tim with the city behind them:

And then we headed up the big escalator…

…to the upper deck.

We were essentially just walking around so Colleen could see the stadium and we could kill some time before the game started.  But I did have one thing I needed to do up in the upper deck.  I had not got a panorama all the way out by the RF corner.  So we walked all the way around the upper deck so I could get this panorama from section 302:

We were getting really close to game time.  Colleen and Tim wanted to grab some food and Tim wanted to show Colleen the bobblehead museum so we split up.  While they did those things, Kellan and I headed to our seats.

As I surveyed the area and took some photos, Kellan snuck some of daddy’s diet pepsi and guarded my seat:

Here was our view of Marlins Park from section 3, row E:

By the way, I should point out that row E is the third row off the field in section 3.  The front row (row C) has only two seats.  Row D is four seats wide.  And Row E is eight seats wide.  We had the four seats right on the aisle (seats 8, 7, 6, and 5).  The face value of these tickets was (I believe) $35/ticket, but we picked them up on stub hub for $13/ticket.  I could have actually got the seats directly one row behind us for $11/ticket, but I opted for being a little bit closer to the field.

The was one reason and one reason alone that I picked these seats:  they were the closest we could get (well, closest without spending a lot of money) to the ball boy.  My goal was for Tim to get a live game foul tossed up to him from the ball boy.

Here’s a nice view of the Marlins homerun statue:

Colleen got some food at the Taste of Miami and Ti got a big trough of fries, and then they headed over to the Bobblehead Museum:

When they reached our seats, Tim shared his fries with Kellan and Colleen took tons of pictures of it:

For the second day in a row, Tim was pulling for the Fish.  On the hill for the Marlins was Tim’s number counterpart, Josh Johnson:

Johnson pitched a gem for eight innings.  And this was our view from section 3:

Colleen took lots of pictures during the game, like this…

…and this…

…, and this:

The Marlins took the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Bryan Peterson hit an RBI double – 1-0 Marlins.

Around the fourth inning, Tim wanted to explore a little bit.  So we all took to our feet and hit the concourse.  Heading toward home plate through the 1B side concourse, we past a Guest Services booth and a bank of escalators leading up to the club level:

Just past the Guest Services booth there was a random bar…

…and some equally (nee…more) random art on the wall above the concourse.

Remember those buried “Orange Bowl” letters outside the stadium?  Well, in the concourse down the LF line, the Marlins pay tribute to the Orange Bowl on one of the stadium’s support beams:

You know what else they have on lots of the support beams circling the field?  Marlins Park signs:

Down the LF line, we found an escalator heading down below the field level concourse.  I asked the usher guarding the top of the escalator what it was all about, and she explained it was the entrance to the Clevelander.  You need a Clevelander ticket to enter the Clevelander, but not simply to ride the Clevelander escalator.  This is what the Clevelander entrance looks like from the escalator:

When we resumed our walk around the field level concourse, we saw something hilarious:

Aye, aye, aye…

We continued walking single file from LF toward CF:

In that last picture, Colleen is wearing Kellan’s hat.

We stopped in RCF so I could get a panoramic shot from the concourse behind section 35:

Before returning to our seats we stopped by several concession stands, and all of them had computer error dialogue boxes displayed on the menu boards:

Most of the menu boards had that error box and no prices for any of the food.  I guess that is one potential drawback of technology; an old fashioned manual menu board never has an error that prevents it from doing its one and only job.

Anyway, the menu board errors did not prevent us from getting some tasty ice cream for the boys:

There was some more scoring in this game.  In the top of the fifth, the Mets tied the game up at 1-1 on a Josh Thole groundout.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jose Reyes and Carlos Lee hit singles and then Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single of his own, but his single was of the RBI variety.  So that put the Marlins up 2-1.

Stanton got stranded on base, but that didn’t prevent me from getting some Giancarlo base running photos…

… while he was making a mad dash for 3B as Donovan Solano flew out to CF for the third out of the bottom of the sixth inning.

Before the top of the seventh inning, I noticed that the Marlins employ a umpire-look-a-like usher whose job it is to run out to shallow CF to deliver between-inning water to the actual umpires:

Lucas Duda led off the top of the seventh with a ten pitch at bat, which included five foul balls.  This, I believe, was the first of those five foul balls:

Duda hit that foul ball right down the 1B line.   It evaded the fans down the line and was snared by the ball boy in fair territory right down below us.  The ball boy no-look tossed the baseball into the crowd and I just barely caught it while reaching up as high as I could over my head.

I won’t lie.  I was pretty darn excited about this foul  ball toss-up.  I bought these specific seats with the specific goal of getting a foul ball tossed to us from the bat boy, something that we’ve never got before.  I actually could have got the seats immediately behind our seats for $2 less per seat.  But I went for the slightly more expensive seats that were just a little closer to the field, and it paid off big time.  It is doubtful we would have got this foul ball if we were one row further back from the field.

And, hey, bonus!  Since the baseball was used in the game at Marlins Park, it was a Marlins Park inaugural season commemorative baseball!  Hooray!

Thanks, Lucas and Ball Boy!

Here’s a random picture for you:

Throughout our two games at Marlins Park, I kept wondering what the heck that yellow line was for on the LF foul wall.  The line is ten feet into foul territory.  If a ball hits just behind it on the green wall, its foul, not a homerun.  I just don’t get it.

Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, things were looking pretty good for the Marlins.  Josh Johnson had given up only three hits all night and the Fish had a 2-1 lead.  But they weren’t satisfied.

With one down in the bottom of the eighth, former-Met Jose Reyes drew a walk off of Ramon Ramirez.  While Carlos “El Caballo” Lee stood in, Reyes swiped second.  And then El Caballo dinked a little hit into RCF:

Neither Mike Baxter nor Andres Torres could come up with the ball, and Reyes motored right around third and crossed home for a seemingly valuable insurance run:

Everyone was happy about the Marlins’ lead, including Colleen and Kellan:

I was stilling waiting for a Giancarlo Stanton long ball…

…unfortunately, he followed Lee with a double-play grounder, instead.

The Marlins win was seemingly in hand.  So many of the Marlins *faithful* headed for the doors, which was nice because almost the whole row behind us opened up for Kellan:

Here’s another random shot:

How weird is it that you can see the legs of the people in the front row through the fish tanks?

At 105 pitches for the night, Ozzie Guillen (who we never really noticed while we were at Marlins Park) in decided Josh Johnson had done enough.  He turned the game over to his non-Heath Bell closer, Steve Cishek.  Unfortunately, it was not Cishek’s night.

Daniel Murphy lead off with a single to RF.  David Wright followed with a single to LF.  After Ike Davis struck out swinging, Lucas Duda hit a single to CF.

*POOF*

All of Josh Johnson’s hard work was erased:  Murphy and Wright both scored on Duda’s single and the score was all knotted up at 3-3.

I missed all of that nice action with my camera.  Instead, after the Mike Baxter fouled out, I got an action shot of Cishek pitching to Andres Torres:

It looks like Lucas Duda is stealing 2B on that pitch, but he’s not.  He waited for Torres to collect four balls, and then he walked to 2B.

And that brought Kelly Shoppach to the plate.   On the second pitch he saw from Cishek…

…, Shoppach sent a hard grounder back up through the box.  The  ball quickly made its way out to Marlins CF Justin Ruggiano who was running hard ready to scoop the ball up and throw home, but…OOPS…Ruggiano ran right by the ball and it kept rolling DEEP into CF.

I thought it was going to result in an error-assisted in the park homerun.  But Shoppach doesn’t have the wheel, he only made it to 3B.  But Duda and Torres had no trouble finding the plate.

Ruggiano’s body language told the story:

Aye, aye, aye…

The Marlins were two outs from a 2-run win, and now they trailed the Mets 5-3.

Randy St. Clair came out to deliver the bad news to Cishek:

“Hit the showers, kid!”

And in sprinted former-closer, Heath Bell:

Bell struck out the only batter he faced (Scott Hairston).

As the Mets warmed up for the bottom of the ninth inning, I took this picture of Mike Baxter playing catch with the ball boy:

I took the picture because that is essentially right where the ball boy was standing (although he was running in the general direction of the 1B dugout) when the ball boy tossed the Lucas Duda foul ball up to us.

Speaking for foul balls, the ball boy got another during the bottom of the ninth and he flipped it up to no one in general.  It was going to land right on the other side of the railing between section 3 and section 4 (to our left).  Tim hopped up and reached over the railing.  I thought he had a chance to catch it…that is, he had a chance until a 20-ish year old fan sitting in the front row completely leaned over Tim…

…and crushed Tim’s arm against the railing.  Amazingly, (although he too missed the ball) this guy was totally oblivious to the fact that he crushed Tim’s arm on the railing (and, just in general, smashed into Tim).

Way to go, cool guy!

Frank Francisco took over for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth and he set the Marlins down 1 (Greg Dobbs), 2 (Donovan Solano), 3 (John Buck).

Game, set, match: Mets.

After the game wrapped up, we made our way down to the front row corner spot and got a nice family picture:

But our night wasn’t over.

We relocated over to the front row behind the 1B (visitors) dugout…

…and watched Billy the Marlin entertain the crowd a bit.

Then the Marlins opened up the roof…

…and BOOM GO THE FIREWORKS:

Oooooow….

Aaaahhhhhh….

Ooooooooooh!

It was a decent little fireworks show (nothing compared to an Indians Rock’N’Roll Blast) with a  really strong finale.

After the fireworks wrapped up and we prepared to head for the exits, I snapped a picture that I had meant to take earlier in the day:

See how that green wall comes down to a point just past the visitors’ bullpen in RF?  Well, it looks like the aisle running up the left and right sides of that wall connect at the point of the wall.  Yeah, it *looks* like that…but looks can be deceiving.

In fact, the aisles to meet at the point of the wall, but a railing blocks off the passage way.  So to get from one section to the other, you have to go up to the concourse and then walk 50 feet or so down to the next stair case.

Anyway, it was finally time to leave.

People were heading up the stairs to the concourse.  But I sensed an opportunity for one last Marlins Park exploration.  I noticed there was a tunnel leading down below the field level seats at the back of the moat (between sections 5 and 6).  So we stayed in the first row and walked across toward section 6).

We were the VERY LAST fans to leave the seats down there in the moat, and an usher rewarded Tim for this accomplishment in the form of our final baseball from Marlins Park:

Thanks, Usher!

We headed into the tunnel under seats and it looked a whole lot like this:

That tunnel took us back to the main tunnel that circles under the ballpark.  We turned right in that main tunnel and found a bunch of big colorful pictures of (mostly) current Marlins:

Tim posed with the best of them – Giancarlo Stanton!

And then we were funneled out of the ballpark through a little bar area that is open (I think) to people with 1B-side premium seats:

When we finally made it outside the ballpark, there was a concert in progress (just like the night before):

I gotta give credit to the Marlins.  They’ve created a very fun post-game atmosphere with these little outdoor, post-game concerts.

As we walked toward our car, I noticed an entrance to the main Marlins Team Store.  The “team store” (and that really has to be put in quotes) at Sun Life Stadium was light years beyond pathetic.

But the team store at Marlins Park is a legit Major League TEAM STORE (worthy of all caps):

Not wanting our Marlins Park experience to end, I continued to take pictures as we walked toward our car.  Here is Tim and the Marlins Park roof:

Here is a view from the northwest corner of the ballpark:

And, finally, a night time shot of Marlins Park from the CVS Pharmacy parking lot showing the roof rolled back over in the *open* position:

Here is my official assessment:  Marlins Park is an 80,000,000,000% improvement over Sun Life Stadium.

Good job, Marlins!

We really had a great time at our two games in Miami.

BUT WAIT!  OUR WEEKEND TRIP WASN’T YET COMPLETE.  SCROLL DOWN FOR A FEW BONUS PICTURES.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

23/21 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
37 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
129 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

BONUS PICTS:

On 9/2, we spent a bunch of time in South Beech, where we did some swimming at the beach and saw some cool birds:

And some more cool birds and a Lambourghini:

On 9/3, the big event of the day was our trip to the Miami Seaquarium, where we got to hold some really cool birds:

But best of all, we hung out with a dolphin:

Hooray for dolphins!

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