April 2013

Build-Your-Own Doubleheader: Fenway Park-to-Yankee Stadium (4/14/2013)

So here’s the deal:  April 14, 2013 was awesome.  April 14, 2013 was really, REALLY awesome.  And it all started on April 13th.  Our buddy from Baltimore, Avi Miller, arrived at our house in Pennsylvania around 1:00 p.m.  We packed up the car and then Tim, Kellan, Avi and I hit the road en route for Rhode Island:

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We passed over the   George Washington Bridge in NYC, and eventually made it to Warwick, RI around 8:00 p.m.  I gotta say that the low light of the drive was when the entire side of the boys’ bag of chex mix ripped off and the entire bag of snacks dumped onto the floor of my car.  After checking into our hotel, we all headed to Bertucci’s for dinner, where Avi promptly spilled a big iced-water all over the place.

The following morning, Kellan woke up bright and early at 6:00 a.m.  We hit the pool for a bit and then we hit the road north toward Boston.

We parked in the lot on the corner of Ispwich and Landsdowne and hit the street:

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As the picture in the center above shows, we had a big day on tap:  at 1:35 p.m. we would see the Rays face off against the Red Sox here at Fenway.  Then at 8:05 p.m., we planned to be down in New York to see the Orioles battle the Yankees.

We started off our Fenway experience with a walk around the exterior of the ballpark.  It was 10:00 a.m. and we had an hour to kill before the early gates would open for members of Red Sox Nation (that includes us).  We got some photos of Tim and Kellan posing with some signs and logos on Yawkey Way:

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Around the corner on Van Ness, we got a shot of Tim and Avi with a big Fenway Park sign behind them:

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Down at the other end of Van Ness, Tim and Kellan posed with a statue of Ted Williams and a little boy:

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As you can see, two sailors and a girl were hanging out in front of the statue of Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom Dimaggio.  I thought they’d probably clear out if I offered to take a picture for them.  But no dice.  After I took their picture with the statue, they just kept standing there.  So I just snapped a picture of the statues with them in front of it.

Around the corner (I guess that would be back on Ipswich), the Rays were all piling out of the team bus and heading into the ballpark.  The only guy I recognized in civilian wear was Fernando Rodney:

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We headed back down Landsdowne so Avi could check out the Bleacher Bar:

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As shown above to the right, I noticed something really interesting:  there is a head level window above the urinals in the little boys’ room so the gents can keep an eye on the bar and CF from the john.

Around 10:30, we jumped in line with the Red Sox Nation folks.  We ended up standing next to  a guy who is hands down the biggest Matt Albers fan in all of New Englands.   While the boys snacked on all sorts of goodies, Avi chatted up the Albers fan.

At 11:05, we headed into the ballpark and ran up to the top of the Green Monster.  This was Avi’s first game at Fenway Park!  Tim, Kellan and I have been to Fenway before, but none of us had ever been out in the seating area up on the Monster.  It was pretty cool.  Check out the view from Monster Section 4:

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And Check out this merry band of baseball fans:

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There wasn’t going to be any BP at this game, but I still wanted to try to get at least one baseball.  I had a master plan to get it done:  find amazingly nice Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi.  When we were up top on the Monster, I spotted Scott and another Rays coach walking out of the Rays dugout and heading toward the visitors bullpen in RF.  So Tim, Kellan and I quickly headed off to the bullpen.  We made it there by the time Cursi arrived.

As Scott entered the bullpen, I said hi and struck up a little conversation.  I explained to him that the boys and I were doing both Fenway and Yankee Stadium TODAY and we were hoping that we could get a souvenir baseball at both games.  I asked if there was any way Cursi could help us out.  “Sure,” Cursi responded, “I can help you out with that”:

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In fact, Cursi said he’d give us one dirty baseball and one clean baseball.  The dirty baseball that he tossed to me and Kellan was actually a beautiful game-rubbed up ball.  He then looked at Tim and asked if he had his glove.  Unfortunately, it was still packed in my backpack.  I tried to hand Tim my glove, but Tim told Cursi that he didn’t need one.  And he was right.  As show above, Cursi flipped the second ball up to Tim and he made a nice bare-handed catch.

Thanks, Scott!

Cursi then asked us more about our day.  “Are you flying?  Taking a train?”  “Driving,” I responded.  Then he told us about 10 times in a row to “be careful, guys!”  I thought that was pretty funny because last year at Safeco Field Cursi warned us a bunch to be careful about foul balls hit during BP.

Cursi is really awesome.  Everyone should be this cool.

While Avi chatted some more with Cursi, Tim, Kellan and I headed up to our seats in section 38, row 19.  When we were up there, we took our Fenway Park bonus baseball picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Then we headed over to the Ted Williams red seat homerun marker…

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…and Avi met us up there to get a picture of his own with the red seat.

Nothing was going on yet, so we headed into the concourse under the bleachers.  Avi was loving Fenway Park.  It’s really unlike any other ballpark, even Wrigley.  I got a cool shot of Avi and Tim under a bunch of support beams with painted concession signs:

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Then we headed back into the bleachers and Tim and Avi got another posed photo:

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And then we noticed something awesome.  Remember the no BP thing?  Well, the reason for no BP was because it was photo day at Fenway Park.  And the “something awesome” we noticed was that they had just opened the big garage door in CF and were letting the small crowd of fans down onto the warning track.  We darted out to CF, and then head over to the bullpens.

Avi demonstrated his homerun robbing skills:

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On the other side of the bullpen wall, Cursi was getting ready to catch Matt Moore.   Tim and I each took a photo of Cursi  behind the bullpen plates:

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My picture is to the left:  he is posing for a close up.  Tim’s picture is to the right:  Cursi had just caught a throw from Moore.

Here is my absolute favorite action photo of the day:

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If you cannot tell, that is Matt Moore throwing a ball right at us (well, a little to our left) as we peaked over the bullpen wall from the warning track.  If you look closely, you can see the ball in the air.  How awesome is that, huh?

I was holding both boys to look over the bullpen wall.  Then I did a big spin around and Avi photo’d us looking in four different directions (with four cool backgrounds).  First, the visitors bullpen:

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Second, home plate:

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Third, the CF bleachers:

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Fourth, the glorious Green Monster:

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We headed out to CF where I got a great panorama featuring Avi:

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All four of us were absolutely loving being out on the field at Fenway.  We approached the “Monstah”:

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An usher took a strategically posed photo of us…

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…between the “BAL” and “SEA” signs.

Avi needed a closer look at his O’s “BAL” sign:

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And I needed a close up of the boys in front of the Outs and “H” indicator lights.

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Tim had the great idea of taking photos looking straight up the Monster:

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In the photo above to the right, check out the awesome dent in the green “HIT” light.  I love it!  I wonder who peppered balls off of that light to contribute to that dent.

Of course we needed some pictures in the LF corner:

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I had to get into one myself too:

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Down the LF line, we used one of the baseballs from Cursi to get an action photo of Kellan:

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And then came the mascots.  Wally the Green Monster obviously likes Mariners fans more than Orioles fans:

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How funny is it that the Celtics have a real-guy as a mascot:

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You can’t tell in that last photo, but the Bruins mascot had hijacked Tim’s Mariners cap.  See how Tim is taking a self-photo of himself and the Patriot?  He did that a bunch of times.  I was pretty bummed because Tim deleted all of his self-photos before I could see them.  He said none of them were any good, but I bet they would have been great.  Oh, well.

We could go anywhere on the warning track except in front of the Red Sox dugout.   The hilarious part was that the Rays had to walk through the crowd of people to get from the dugout to the field and back.  We had some great up-close access to the Rays dugout:

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And then the Red Sox started circling the field.  Kellan didn’t want to get off of my shoulders so almost all of the pictures are only of Tim.  Tim got his picture with 11 different Red Sox including Daniel Nava and Alex Wilson…

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…Andrew Bailey and Pedro Ciriaco…

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…former Mariner, Mike Carp…

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…former Oriole Koji Uehara (who liked Avi’s Joneys jersey) and Will Middlebrooks…

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…Joel Hanrahan (who gave Avi some grief about his O’s attire) and Jonny Gomes…

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…and Alredo Aceves and Clayton Mortensen:

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Mortensen also commented about Avi’s O’s jersey, but then he told Tim that he couldn’t knock a Mariners jersey because he is from the Northwest.

We forgot to bring a water bottle and Tim was getting thirsty so we left Avi on the field and headed into the concourse to grab some water.  When we bought our water, the cash register lady told us to be sure to get some free food for Tim and Kellan and the nearby concession stand – kids eat free in April at Fenway!

We grabbed two free kids meals…

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…and headed to the seats so the boys could chow down.  I’m happy to report that neither of the little guys spilled ketchup or mustard on their white M’s shirts!  Success!!!

And then it was back down to the field for us.  We circled the outfield in reverse…

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…and headed over to the famous Pesky Pole:

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And then they started to usher the fans off of the field.  We met up with Avi again in LF and the four of us dragged our feet as much as we could and ended up being the very last fans to leave the playing field!

Then we headed behind home plate:

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Check out this great photo:

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I think that photo really puts into perspective how tiny Fenway Park is.  Mentally compare that photo to any other ballpark…the others will look a whole lot bigger.

We took Avi out to the LF foul concourse to see the big lego Fenway…

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…and we checked out a big picture of Teddy “Ballgame.”

And then it was out onto Yawkey Way with us (Yawkey Way is both outside and *inside* the stadium.  We ran into Big League Brian…

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…and listed to some great music by a local band.

Tim and Kellan both tried their hand at the speed pitch:

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And then we back inside and upstairs:

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It was Wally the Green Monster’s birthday and he had a little party on the field with his buddies:

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We hung out for a while behind section 9:

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While doing so, an usher repeated told us that there were extra seats so we should sit down.   I told her we didn’t have seats anywhere near there and we were just roaming around taking pictures…but she insisted.  Ultimately, we relented and begrudgingly grabbed some $90 seats:

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Where this was our view:

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We didn’t even stay there until first pitch.  Speaking of first pitch, here is it:

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It was Clay Buchholz vs. Desmond Jennings.  Buchholz was on fire during this game.  Neither Jennings nor Evan Longoria…

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…got hits in the first.  Neither did anyone else in a Rays uniform for a long time.

We headed out to our seats via the in CF via the cross aisle behind the grandstand.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me of a funny story.  On our way down the elevator (actually, this might have been later in the game), I asked the elevator operator, “We want to go to the level that is at the top-back of the grandstand, what’s that level called?”  She had no clue what I meant and took us all the way down to level 1 (the lower concourse).  I peaked out of the elevator and said, “No, one up from here.”  She hit “2’ and when the elevator door opened again, she announce, “Grandstand level.”

Oh, I guess that’s what the level at the top-back of the grandstand is called, the grandstand level.

Anyway, walking across the back of the grandstand, Kellan (wearing his knit frog hat) did his best Green Monster impression…

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…and then we got some ice cream helmets (on Avi…thanks, Avi!).

After the ice cream, Kellan was a little grumpy, he was starting to get a bit tired (nap time).  I took him to the restroom.  While we were out there, the Red Sox scored four runs (Kellan and I missed all of them!).  During the scoring frenzy, Tim took a great action photo (unfortunately, his camera doesn’t have a very big zoom):

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That is Pedroia getting thrown out at home while the Rays pitcher, Alex Cobb, lays on his back flaying his legs.

Instead of heading back up to the seats, Tim and Avi came down and met up with me and Kellan.  And then we all headed back to LF to look at the lego Fenway again.  While we were looking at the lego Fenway, a lady (who was with her daughter) asked us if we got our “welcome kit” from guest services (which was right behind us).  Avi went over and asked for a welcome kit and they gave him 4 of them, one for each of us.  They are just little plastic baggies with a couple things in them. The highlight by far is that they each had a packet of real Fenway Park dirt!

Next, we headed up to the foul corner of the Monster.  You can get up there onto the Monster in foul territory without tickets, but you need Monster tickets to get into fair territory.

Here’s a sorta-panorama from up there:

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And here is Dustin Pedroia a split second before grounding out:

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Here’s a picture with no story, I just liked the angle:

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While up on the Monster, we got pictures of the parking garage across the street behind the Monster…

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…and down a hallway leading to the suites on the second level (or maybe the third level…not the “grandstand” level).

I’d never known how to get up top down the LF line.  From the foul corner of the monster, we saw another set of stairs leading upward so we followed it.  And check this out…

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…that beautiful view is from section 18.

Kellan got all huffy-puffy while I was taking that panorama.

He wanted down off my shoulders.  And when I put him down, he bolted down and around the corner behind section 18.  I ran after him, and there is where he was running:

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He had apparently noticed Mickey on our way up to section 18 and he needed some Mickey Mouse!

Here’s a little patio area behind section 18 (and some other sections)…

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…, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because you can’t see the field from this patio, whatsoever.

We circled back toward RF.  On our way, here is a view from the aisle way between sections 12 (left) and 10 (right):

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Avi and the boys were having fun checking the place out:

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Here’s another view from between section 10 (left) and 8 (right):

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Then (after running back-and-forth a bit because I forgot my backpack in section 10) we made our way back to section 9 where we chatted with the same lady who had forced us to sit in the expensive seats before the game.  She explained how we could get out to the upper deck porch out in RF.

Here is a party porch area where you need special tickets to get into it:

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And here is what it looks like in the SRO area down there behind section 27’ish…

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…and behind section 37’ish:

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A lady took our picture.  I’m not sure why Avi didn’t jump into the picture…

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…maybe because that random other guy jumped in into Avi’s spot??

Then we headed down to the bar area all the way out in the RF corner…

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…until we decided to settle in again in the SRO area in section 37.

It was the seventh inning by this point and the score was still 4-0 Red Sox.  Our plan was to leave at 4:00 (regardless of whether the game was over) so we could get on the road to New York.  It was fast approaching 4:00.

And then Avi realized something important: Clay Buchholz was pitching a no hitter!

We decided we couldn’t leave during a no hitter.  Avi started to actively root for a Rays hit…I was fine hanging out longer if it meant we got to see a no-hitter.

We decided to head out to the tunnel way out in CF so we would be close to our car.  If the Rays got a hit, we would bolt.  We made this decision with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th.  The Rays pulled Cobb and put in Jamie Wright who, without throwing a single pitch, picked Shane Victorino off first base to end the inning.

Kelly Johnson came up first in the top of the 8th inning and promptly broke up the no hitter.  We were still heading out to CF and we promptly changed our focus toward the exit in the RF corner.  Before we reached the exit, Sam Fuld hit into a double play.  And then we slipped out of the stadium and hightailed it over to the parking garage where we had to wait for one of the valet guys to get my car off of the top of one of these elevator machines:

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And then we were on the road for New York.  The traffic was terrible getting to the freeway, it probably took us 10-15 minutes, during which time the Red Sox scored one more run.

Final score of game 1:  5-0 Red Sox over the Rays.

Once we got to the freeway (aside from one quick wrong turn), the trip down to New York was all smooth sailing.

Check out my passengers:

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Avi actually only slept for about 10 minutes.  Two funny things happened during the drive.  Both Tim and Kellan slept the entire way from Boston to New York.  About midway in the drive, Tim woke up briefly, looked around and said, “Is it another day now?”

While Avi was asleep, he said to me, “That’s not a real state!”

The Orioles vs. Yankees game started at 8:05.  We pulled into the parking garage just a few minutes before game time.  Avi ran ahead and made it into the field for first pitch.  I had to change Kellan’s diaper (he’s only 2, you know), but we still made it into the field in time to watch the first pitch to the second batter of the game.

Here is the most ridiculous part of our entire day:  although I was carrying all sorts of stuff, the Yankees usher made me put everything down and get out my tickets to prove to him that Tim, Kellan and I were entitled to enter section 239…

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…hands down the worst section of seating in all of MLB (probably the worst section in all of professional sports).

Here’s what our view looked like from our seats in the third row of section 239:

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Notice that even in the third row, you cannot see any of RF.

Want to see a little trick that the Yankees’ architect played on the fans sitting in section 239?  Check this out:

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Pretty neat huh?  It looks like you can see right through the glass of the Mohegan Sun sports bar and you can see all of RF.  But that’s not the case.  That is actually a reflection of LF (you can see Vernon Wells out in LF and again in the reflection in the window).  They really did an amazing job lining up that glass.  Check out how the reflection of the upper deck exactly matches up with the real upper deck all the way across the stadium and the field level exactly matches up with the field left on the 1B side.

Shortly after arriving, it was time for a second round of hot dogs for the day…

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…, but we had to pay for these ones.

We also had a second helping of hot chocolate…

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…, which I didn’t mention but we also got at Fenway.  In the background, Avi is giving his assessment of Yankee Stadium.  We also got a second helping of ice cream:

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When I got the boys their ice cream and hot chocolate, I got myself a pretezel:

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It was hands down the worst pretzel that I’ve ever had.  I told Avi that I thought it was left over from last season.  He got a kick out of the comment, but it wasn’t far off.

The match-up for this game was Hiroki Kuroda for the Yankees against Wei-Yin Chen for the Orioles:

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In the fifth inning (with the game still scoreless), we decided to take a walk and explore around a bit.  We were in the SRO area behind section 104…

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…ended up scoring 3 runs, including a second deck homerun by Brett Gardner.  That homer made the score 3-0 Yankees.

We headed over to the “Great Hall,” which I prefer to call Bronx Central Stadium because it looks more like a train station than a ballpark:

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After the people at Fenway being so incredibly nice, Avi was not feeling the customer service policies at Yankee Stadium, particularly the constant instructions for me to take Kellan off of my shoulders.

Avi also was not very happy about this highly obstructed SRO view in the 200 level:

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When we got back to our seats (actually, we went one section over into section 238), Tim and Avi had a little fun with Avi’s iPhone camera:

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The front row cleared out so the boys were able to stand right above planters at the front of the section:

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Unfortunately, Kuroda ended up pitching a complete game shutout.

After the game, Orioles bullpen coach Rudy Arias tried to toss a baseball to Tim, but it feel short.  An usher saw it all happened and made sure the ball was thrown back to Tim.

Thanks, Arias and Usher!

Both boys posed with the ball and the Yankee Stadium sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Before leaving our section, we got a group shot in the bleachers:

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And then we headed over to section 102 (or so) to meet up with Zack Hample.  And this picture with Zack (who has snagged more baseballs at Yankee Stadium than anyone else on MyGameBalls.com) earned us a couple more bonus points in the scavenger hunt:

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Each time we see Zack, he gets a picture fist bumping Tim.  But after our long day, Kellan wasn’t interested in fist bumping and Tim was took excited to stand still:

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We ended up giving Zack a ride home from the game:

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It was pretty amazing that he fit in there because there is almost no room whatsoever between Tim’s and Kellan’s car seats.

Before we left Zack’s place in Manhattan, Zack took a parting shot photo of me and Avi:

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And then it was more driving.  We got back to our place after 2:00 a.m.  Avi had class in a few hours.  I invited him to stay the night, but he hopped into his car and headed home.

Long, long day.  But more importantly, an awesome day:

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2013 C&S Fan Stats

3 Games
6 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees
5 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 1, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2
10 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1
3 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium
11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

Tim’s Highlights: Liberty Lightning Game 1 (4/18/13)

Tim has his first coach pitch game of the season today.  His squad is called the Liberty Lightning.  They had a great game and Colleen got a bunch of great shots of Tim playing the field.  So Tim and I made a little video highlight reel tonight before bed.  Here you go:

PS – Tim likes to jump for joy after making a good play (you might have noticed this).

PPS – Go Lightning!

Let’s Get Back to Baseball (4/6/13)

Baseball season is back! It is an exciting time of year. It’s slowly but surely getting warmer in Pennsylvania. Tim is now playing coach pitch baseball in our local Little League. We’re playing a lot of baseball in the backyard. And, on April 6, 2013, Tim, Kellan and I hit up our first Major League Baseball game of the young 2013 season.

The whole day was good. Even having to pack all of our stuff into the car and drive…

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…more than an hour to the game was great fun. We listed to music, most notably “Orion” by Metallica, which remind Tim of the constellation, Orion’s Belt, that his Grandma pointed out to him a year or so ago. We love listening to music in the car.

Tim and I played several of our standard car games too. You know, classic Cook Family car games like (i) the alphabet game (we go through the entire alphabet and each of us has to point out something starting with each letter of the alphabet), (ii) the number game (Tim calls out a number and then we have to spot it somewhere), and (iii) the turkey vulture game (see who can spot the most turkey vultures. We also played a new game that time made up, the rhyming game (it involved rhyming, if you can image that).

As you might have noticed from the picture above, our destination was Philadelphia. We arrived plenty early and had some fun hanging out at the LF gate:

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Early season games are a little crazy for us because I end up brining about 10 changes of clothes – so we won’t get stuck in the wrong kind of weather. We had so much stuff for this game that my HUGE backpack couldn’t’ handle it all. So for the first time ever, Tim was in charge of his own stuff. As the workers prepared to let the fans into the ballpark…

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…, Tim and I prepared our backpacks for their first security frisking of the season.

And then we headed for the LF corner, which was cold and shady:

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We were in LF for until about 5 minutes before the Phillies opened the rest of the stadium, and almost nothing was going on. The Phils were hitting, a little. There might have been 2-3 homers hit to LF. Kyle Kendrick was running back-and-forth across the outfield warning track with a stop watch. In by the 3B dugout, two Royals (or Royals coaches) played catch with a football (pictured above with yellow arrow).

Finally, I made the call that it was time to head toward RF. We all jumped into the second row and took no more than two steps when a Phillies batter laced a ball down into the LF corner. Kellan was already up on my shoulders for the walk to RF. I told Tim to hold on. Kellan and I popped back over the row of seats to the front row, and Erik Kratz tossed us our first baseball of the season. (pictured above with other yellow arrow).

Thanks, Erik!

We headed over to RF with a few minutes to spare before the seats were opened to the fans. We had just enough time to buy a big bottle of water. And then we headed down to the tip of the pizza wedge. We staked out some prime real estate in section 101.

Within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lunched a towering fly ball right at us. I didn’t have to move my feet at all. But I didn’t think it would carry far enough. I leaned forward to try to backhand the ball over the fence, but then it carried a bit further than I expected. I ended up making the UGLIEST chest high, backhanded, two handed catch of all time. When it was all said and done, but ball was right on my palm and about 80% of the ball was hanging outside of my glove. But I caught it.

Down below us, Raul Valdes was walking from CF to the warning track below us to grab a ball that rolled to a stop out there. He watched me catch the ball and then he picked up the other ball and tossed it up to Tim. Tim made a great sure-handed catch with his trusty glove.

Thanks, Raul!

I handed the homerun ball to Kellan and the boys posed with their prizes:

5-first-pizza-wedge-of-2013

Then we started about the most peaceful 45 minutes or so of all time. The sun was shining and it was nice and warm. There were tons of fans in LF, but RF was still fairly quiet. We just sat and relaxed and the Phils chatted to each other below…

6-cole-lee-and-some-dude

…and Cliff Lee ran back-and-forth from the RF foul line to CF.

I got two awesome pictures of Kellan just chilling:

7-kellan-relaxing-phils-royals

We watched some groundskeepers water the bullpen (including watering the bottom mound from the top bullpen)…

8-bullpen-watering-and-shadowplay

…and Tim made funny shadows in the bullpen grass.

The Royals pitchers started throwing down the LF line while the Phillies were wrapping up BP. By the time the Phillies retreated from the field…

9-bro-long-toss

…the Royals were playing long toss. Ah, baseball stuff. Gotta love long toss, right?

That Phillies player running off the field in the last photo was Antonio Bastardo. I took his picture because he had just made me laugh. As he started to clear the field, he grabbed one last baseball from the warning track and threw it to a kid (maybe 13-14 year old) about 15-20 seats down from us. He hit the guy right in the chest. The ball rattled around in the kid’s glove, but then fell to the ground in the first row. Bastardo saw the kid botch the easy catch and said loudly, but to himself, “Come on, bro!” with a sound a legitimate disappointment and then he sprinted to the dugout.

Royals BP was a lot of fun. They hit very few homeruns, and nothing remotely near us. But the stadium just had a great, relaxed, first-weekend-of-the-new-baseball-season vibe.

The only down point was that some random kid jumped over the second row of seats and stood right between Tim and Kellan for a while:

10-come-on-in-kid

It was very odd because the rest of the front row in section 101 was wide open.

Jeremy Guthrie was out in RF having fun with some teammate…

11-royals-chilling-in-phila

…and another big group of guys were socializing in CF.

A Royals coach who was wearing a catchers’ glove (pictured above standing behind Guthrie) ran out to CF to grab a few stray balls and he tossed on of them to us.

Thanks, Coach!

When we said hi, Guthrie gave the boys and I a big wave, smile and “Hi!” A little while later, he came over and tossed a ball up to us.

Thanks, Jeremy! Good luck this season!

Eventually, our buddy, Tang, from Kansas City wandered by and joined us in the pizza wedge. Kellan had asked to sit on my lap for a while, so I had Tang take out picture:

12-daddy-and-kellan-phils-royals

Toward the end of BP, Luke Hochevar tried to throw a baseball to Tim, but he threw it too high and it sailed right over Tim. Kellan and I were eating some snacks and I had a hand full of food. I helplessly tried to slap the ball down as it sailed past Tim, but it was a lost cause.

We shrugged it off and moved on with life. But Hochevar wasn’t satisfied. He called over to a teammate in straightaway RF who had just fielded a ball. Hochevar gave his teammate the universal throw-me-that-baseball glove flap. The teammate tossed it over and Hochevar made a perfect second throw to Tim. And Tim squeezed it into this glove with no problem.

Double thanks, Luke!

And that was all for BP.

I asked Tang if he would help us out with a photo we needed for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. He kindly agreed. We decided to trudge all the way up to the upper deck for the photo. On the way, we witnessed a tragic and fatal fire far off in the distance.

13-bad-fire-in-phila

Up in the upper deck, we Tim and Kellan got their picture with Tang (another MBG.com member) with every drink holder in the row filled with a baseball:

14-scav-pic-with-tang

Thanks, Tang!

While I was taking the picture, an usher offered to take one of all of us. We happily took him up on his offer and he did a first rate job:

15-cooks-tang-citz-sec-301

Then we went over to the tip of the upper deck version of the pizza wedge and looked down at the odd angles of Citizens Bank Park:

16-upper-deck-pizza-wedge

Pretty cool.

Then, at Tim’s request, we headed up to the last row of the upper deck and I got a picture looking over the back of the seats down to the “Games of Baseball” and Bull’s BBQ area:

17-birds-eye-view-games-of-baseball

Once we made it back down to the field level, Tang split off from us and we headed over so the kids could play the running game:

18-running-game-phils-royals

The boys played the running game a few times and the quiz game a couple times. And then it was time for the game to start.

We headed over to section 112 where it looked like this:

19-citz-sec112-panorama

Check out Tim’s *pro* SRO form:

20-tim-lounging-SRO

And here was the first pitch of our 2013 baseball season:

21-first-pitch-phils-royals

John Lannan to Alex Gordon for Ball 1. Eventually, Gordon would go down on strikes.

Then we headed to the kids’ play area:

22-kids-playarea-phils-royals

Quite oddly (note, this was only the second home game of the season for the Phillies), the TV in the play area was not working. So I had no clue whatsoever what was happening in the game as the boys played for a while. Eventually, I would find out that *nothing* was happening.

While in the play area, I reorganized all of our stuff and came to a horrifying realization: we had lost Kellan’s glove! When I realized this I rounded up the boys and we began retracing our tracks.

Eventually, I figured that maybe we left it down in section 101 during BP. As we approached the top of section 101, I started to ask the two ushers if anyone had found a kid’s glove. But before the words could come put, I saw Kellan’s glove tucked into some a bag (or something) hanging on the fence railing at the top of section 101.

That was a big relief!

We decided to celebrate with ice cream. Tim convinced me that the old switcheroo (desert before dinner) was in order. It made complete sense. We would eat ice cream before it got too cold, then we’d eat a warm dinner later.

Even though it as only the second home game of the season, there were tons of empty seats in the upper deck. So we decided that we would get our ice cream down the 3B line (our normal spot0 and then head upstairs to eat it.

On our way to the ice cream place, we noticed that the “Schmitter” stand moved during the offseason and a Federal Donuts is now in the old Schmitter spot:

23-schmidter-moved

But, nevermind, we had more important things to think about: Ice Cream.

We were greeted at our standard ice cream spot, by our standard ice cream lady with a very non-standard ice cream option. Behold, the beautiful and wonderful new $9 jumbo Phillies cookie sundae ice cream helmet:

24-new-big-phils-ich

That guy consists of two huge cookies, a healthy (or unhealthy?) heaping helping of hand-dipped chocolate ice cream (no soft serve here), caramel sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles!!!

While this monster of a sundae is more expensive than a standard ice cream helmet, it is big enough that we only needed one to share between the three of us. And just check out that beautiful two-tone helmet!

I smashed out tray and folded it in half and it made a perfect table for the boys to share the sundae:

25-eating-cookie-sundae-ich

And check out our beautiful view from the very back row of section 433:

26-citz-sec433-panorama

I always love it when you can look down on the top of the foul pole:

27-bullpen-top-of-foul-pole

And Tim always loves it when there are huge chunks of cookies in his ice cream!

28-thats-a-tasty-cookie

Seriously, after Tim’s very first bite of this sundae, he proclaimed (almost involuntarily), “THIS IS AWESOME!”

After the ice cream, it was about the 4-5 inning, the score was still 0-0, and the boys were officially freezing from the ice cream. They threw on their winter jackets…

29-jackets-on-phils-royals

…and we headed off in search of that warm dinner. As we walked around toward RF, the Royals scored two runs and the Phils scored 1. I was on the phone with my wife, we couldn’t see the field, and we had no idea that anything had happened. I literally started to tell Colleen that the score was still 0-0 when I looked up and saw the score and was like, “Whaaaaaaatt? Huh?”

I still have no clue how those runs were even scored.

After scrapping the initial plan of nachos, and the second plan of pizza, Tim settled on…

30-hot-dogs-in-cf-phils-royals

…hot dogs! We went up to the walkway way out in CF to eat. Unfortunately, it was pretty windy out there and the SRO counter was too tall for Tim. We ate sitting on the ground. Eventually, Tim spilled most of his food on the floor. Ooops.

We went to the team store to warm up a bit…

31-warming-up-in-team-store-phils-royals

…and the Royals scored again (on back-to-back doubles by Francoeur and Miggy Tejada). I figured that at some point this season, we’d finally see some scoring in person. I was right.

We decided to go meet up with Tang in section 132. Until the inning break, we watched the game from the SRO area behind section 131:

32-SRO-phils-royals

Each half inning in the 8 and 9, we keep working our way closer to the home plate end of the visitors dugout.

During a momentary break in the action, I got this random photo of Frenchy chatting up the home plate up, Jeff Kellogg:

33-frenchy-chats-up-ump

Maybe that’s not very exciting, but I liked it and thought I’d share it.

Here was our view in the top of the ninth with the Royals up 3-1:

34-nice-view-of-royals

I should note that the fans started racing for the gates when it hit the ninth inning. It was a little sad. Such a short time ago the Phillies fans believed the Phils could win every game. Now they are giving up and heading for the doors when down by only 2 runs in only the second home game of the year!

Well, guess what? Those fans missed out. Because after Eric Hosmer made the last out of the top of the ninth…

35-royals-blow-it-phils-walkoff

…, the Royals’ closer, Greg Holland, walked three Phillies (Utley, Howard and Michael Young) in a row to start the bottom of the ninth. Holland then struck out Dominic Brown and John Mayberry, in pretty embarrassing fashion too.

It all came down to pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen. On Holland’s first pitch, Frandsen laced a ball into the RF gap. Everyone was already on their feet, including us, and a distressed Tang who wanted his Royals to pull out the victory. On contact I announced (to myself), “Well, we have a tie game.”

But somehow the ball rattled around in RF or the outfielders were sluggish and Michael Young motored around all the way from first base for the walk off win.

What fans were still in attendance were going B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

After the game, we all tried to make it down near the umpires’ tunnel, but there was just too much celebrating to get through the crowd down there. The four of us (Tang included) settled into a spot just above the dugout where the players head down the steps into the clubhouse.

The Royals high tailed it out of there. Eventually, a bat boy stuck his head out and started throwing about 7-8 balls into the crowd, including one to us and one to Tang.

Thanks, Batboy!

I had Tang take one last wintry looking picture of us above the dugout:

36-citz-bank-park-bonus-pic

Then, right as we started to leave, another baseball started rolling across the top of the dugout. A loud and crazy adult fan grabbed and handed it to Tim. I suggested we give it away to another kid, but Tim wanted to save it for autographs…so we did.

We said our goodbyes with Tang, and headed to our car. Minutes later, the boys were out like a light.  Sweet dreams, boys!

37-heading-home-phils-royals

And then, as I traditionally do, I called and chatted with my mom on the drive home.

It was a nice day of baseball, and it was great to be back at the ballpark again after a long winter.

BONUS PICTURE:

38-fan-ball-helmet

NOTE: This is the fan ball from the end of the game. It is very suspicious to me. It is obviously game rubbed up. It also has two big reddish smudges on it, which to me clearly means it was used in the game. It might be a ball that was fouled straight back against the net. However, those are usually rolled over to the MLB authenticators on the 1B side dugout, I believe. One other theory has bounced around in my brain: it could be the ball that Frandsen hit to win the game, which the game tape shows ended up with the Royals catcher, Salvador Perez, and entered the Royals dugout. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

1 Game

2 Teams – Royals, Phillies

1 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo)

7 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3

1 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park

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