May 2013

New Blue Jays Ice Cream Helmets

We just returned from the Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. We attended games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto (5/24/13), Comerica Park in Detroit (5/25-26/13), and Citi Field in New York (5/27/13). It will be a while before I have any of the blog entries up so I thought I’d share a little two photo teaser.

In 2009, we attended our first game ever at Rogers Centre and the ice cream helmets were decent, but nothing to write home about:

In 2013, the Blue Jays re-designed their uniforms with a retro Jays feel. Along with their fancy new duds came some great-looking new ice cream helmets:

Now there’s a helmet you can write home about. Heck, you can bring this helmet home to meet your parents!

Good job, Jays.

 

You can check out our entire MLB ice cream helmet collection at the Cook & Son Baseball Museum.

Felix Day in Pittsburgh (5/8/2013)

For months, we planned to go see our Mariners at PNC Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  But then something came up at work and Tim had a Little League game scheduled that evening so our plans were foiled.  This was only the second time the M’s had ever played in Pittsburgh, and the first time since Tim was born.  I really wanted the boys to get to see the M’s play at PNC Park.  And I just generally really wanted to see a Mariners game.  The only other game in the Pittsburgh series was Wednesday, May 8, 2013.  It was a *early* day game with a 12:35 start time.  We had to do it.

We live 4 hours from Pittsburgh.  The early game time meant we needed to leave the night before.  So at 8:47 p.m. on May 7th, after my business dinner and the rain out of Tim’s Little League game, the boys and I hopped in the car…

1-late-night-drive-to-pittsburgh

…for a late night drive across the Pennsylvania turnpike.  The boys fell asleep around Harrisburg, PA, and then I listened to some “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and chatted with my dad on the phone for about 2 hours.

We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. and had no trouble making it a complete mess by the *following* morning:

2-first-hotel-room-of-season

After a decent free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road and made it to PNC Park before 10:00 a.m.

It was #FelixDay and we predicted…

3-pnc-felixing

…complete Felix domination.

I knew there would be no BP so I didn’t feel compelled to go get in line at the CF gate.  So, instead, we walked around to the other side of the stadium and hung out by the autograph collectors where the players arrive for the game:

4-rauuuuuul-on-the-street

In that last photo, that’s Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez wearing a stylish suit (NOTE: baseball players shouldn’t wear suits) and listening to an mp3 player.

The first person we witnessed arrive at the players/employees entrance was our buddy Jason Phillips.  All of the autograph collectors were on the other side of the entrance from us.  Jason saw us as he exited his cab, signed one or two autographs, and then told the autograph collectors that he had to go chat with us.

Jason and I shook hands and chatted for a minute or so.  He confirmed there would be no BP.  He asked if we’d ever been to PNC Park.  He told us that he’d *opened* PNC Park with the Mets back in 2001.  And then he headed into the ballpark, after showing his official MLB credentials to the people guarding the entrance.

Jason Phillips is a cool guy.  It’s always good to get to chat with him, and it was nice to begin our 2013 in-person Mariners season with a  brief on-the-street chat with him.

After a while, I asked a guard if we could get around the stadium on the river side before the stadium opened.  He confirmed we could so we headed toward the river.  On our way, the boys posed with the new (in 2012) Bill Mazeroski statue:

5-maz

Then we walked along the river toward the CF gate:

6-the-riveer-along-pnc-park

When we arrived at the CF gate, PNC Park regular Zac Weiss was already there.  After setting our bags down in line behind Zac’s bag, I took Tim’s photo with the Roberto Clemente statue (Kellan was avoiding the camera):

7-tim-kellan-roberto

Before the gates opened, Zac busted out a baseball and we all headed out to the Roberto Clemente Bridge to play catch:

8-catch-on-clemente-bridge-with-zac-weiss

I played catch with both Zac (real baseball) and Tim (soft, practice baseball) at the same time, alternating throws between them.  I almost threw Tim’s baseball into the River!

Zack Hample was in line next to our bags when we finished playing catch.  He was there with Neal Stewart from Bigs Seeds and the two of them were on another leg of Zack Hample’s BIGS Baseball Adventure.

The CF gates opened at 10:30, but that just let us into the Riverwalk.  Zac, Zack, Neal, Tim, Kellan and I all gathered at the inside gate behind the bullpens…but we were stuck.  Normally, season ticket holders, such as Zac, can get into the field before regular fans, and they can take guests with them.  But the Pirates don’t do the early access for day games.  So we were stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:00.

We passed the time by posing for some fist bump photos…

9-fist-bumpin-zack-at-pnc

…and trying hot sauce seed sample packs that Neal had in his seed satchel.  They were tasty.

Thanks, Neal!

I was excited when we saw our first uniformed Mariner of the season:

10-our-first-mariner-of-the-season

I think it was Hector Noesi.

Several Mariners joined Hector to play catch down the LF line.  Nothing was happening in CF. So the boys and I headed over to LF to see if there was a spot where we could watch the M’s playing catch.  There wasn’t.

So we headed to the kids play area instead:

11-pnc-play-area

When the rest of the gates finally opened, Oliver Perez and his partner (who I didn’t recognize at the time, but am pretty sure it was Yoervis Medina) had just finished playing catch and the only other pair of M’s out there at the time were Hisashi Iwakuma and Lucas Luetge:

12-kuma-luetge-our-baseball

Perez and Medina has been doing a little post-throwing running.  On their way back toward the dugout, Perez grabbed one of the several baseballs sitting on the ground and walked over and handed it to Tim.  I took the opportunity to ask him for a photo:

13a-oliver-perez-baseball-and-photo

Thanks, Oliver!

FYI, Kellan was still on my shoulders at the time and didn’t want to get down.

When Perez and Medina left, they were replaced along the baseline by Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps.

When Kuma and Luetge finished throwing, Lucas tossed his baseball to Tim and then he posed for pictures with both boys:

13b-lucas-luetge-and-the-boys

Thanks, Lucas!

Meanwhile, Kuma had started signing autographs a little further down the LF line.  We ran over there and he was happy to sign his and Lucas’s warm up ball in both English and Japanese

14-kuma-auto-photo

…and to pose for a picture with the boys.

、ミスター岩熊をありがとう! (Thank you, Mr. Iwawkuma!)

Some Mariners had run out to the bullpen, but the only action left in LF was Maurer and Capps playing catch:

15-maurer-capps

When they finished, Carter tossed the baseball to Tim, and then followed the ball so we could autograph it and pose for a picture with Tim:

16-carter-capps

Thanks, Carter!

With nothing else going on down the LF line, we headed out to LCF near the bullpen.  On our we stopped to get a PNC Park bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

17-pnc-river-walk

Just as we approached the LF seats, a group of about 20 people ran through the seats from LF to LCF and filled almost the entire section right next to the bullpen.  That foiled our plan to get a close up look at the action in the bullpen.  So we hung back in the shady cross-aisle behind the LF seats and had a nice chat with an usher.  She took our only family photo of the day for us:

18a-cook-dudes-at-shady-pnc

Tim was spitting his BIGS seeds all over the place and we ended up talking about seeds for some reason.  She mentioned that her co-worker gave her some pickle flavored seeds.  When she pulled them out, she realized she didn’t have the pickle seeds today, she had BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds:

18b-nice-usher-with-seeds

We still had about 45 minutes until game time and nothing was happening on the field.  We ended up meeting up with Zack, Zac, Neal and PNC Park regular Robbie “Scoonz” Sacunas for lunch in the Hall of Fame Club:

19-lunch-crew-pnc

We’d never been in, or knew anything about, the Hall of Fame Club so it was great to experience it.  As our food was being prepared, Kellan and I walked around and took some pictures of the club:

20-pnc-hall-of-fame-club

The Hall of Fame Club is right behind the LF upper bleachers.  There are big windows that look at over the field.  As Kellan and I walked around, we saw King Felix warming up out the windows:

21-felix-warms-in-OF

Zack, Neal and I all tried the new, off-menu novelty meal, the donut burger:

22-donut-burger-hold-the-fried-egg

The burger is a bacon cheese burger with a fried egg on a donut bug.  I find eggs to be incredibly disgusting so my burger was eggless.  I would recommend everyone try the donut burger so you can say you had one.  But it doesn’t rank near the top of my best burgers list…in fact, if I really had such a list, it would be way down on the list.  More than like eating a donut, the weird combination and texture of the burger made it seem like I was eating meat filled french toast.

The boys split a footlong hot dog.  Tim smothered his in ketchup and mustard, most of which seemed to find its way onto the front of his mostly white Mariners t-shirt.  Luckily, Kellan has no condiments on his half of the hot dog because he ate his dog while sitting on my shoulders.

Before leaving the club, I got this panorama out of the front windows:

23-pnc-hall-of-fame-panorama

When we got back down to the field, King Felix warming up in the bullpen.  We headed over there to watch.  The bullpen set up is pretty interesting at PNC Park.  It’s not very good watching a pitcher warm up from the bleachers.  Here’s what it looked like:

24-felix-warming-in-pnc-pen

Just before the game started, Felix headed toward the dugout…

25-felix-pen-prepare-for-game

…and the members of the Mariners bullpen gave each other a bunch of high fives.  See that baseball sitting on the garbage can in the last photo?  Jason Phillips ended up tossing it to us (after giving it a thorough rubbing).  It was thoroughly dirty and beautiful.

Thanks, Jason!

Here is where we were sitting for first pitch:

26-first-pitch-nice-seats

Those were our real seats.  They were pretty awesome – section 31, row C, seats 1-3.  It was a three row section.  To our left was the aisle and then LF:

27a-tim-pnc-lf

The seats were pretty amazing.  They are regularly priced $36/ticket, but I found them on stubhub for $17/ticket.  Gotta love below face value tickets!

The tough thing about day games is that Kellan still takes a nap in the afternoon most days.  For a night game, I work his nap into the drive to the game.  But for a day game, there is no good nap time.  At this game, that actually played to our benefit.

When we reached our seats, Kellan was sitting, totally relaxed on my shoulders.  I tried to take him down, but he was very fussy.  Sometimes he refuses to get off of my shoulders, and this was one of those times.  I realized there was no one behind our third seat in.  In fact, there was no one behind that seat in the entire section.  So I figured there was no one whose view would be blocked if I sat there with Kellan on my shoulders.  That’s how we started that game.

It didn’t take long for an usher to stop by and tell me that Kellan needed to come down off of my shoulders.  “No problem,” I responded, “it’s just that it’s his nap time and he’s a little cranky and didn’t want to get off of my shoulders.”  When I took him down, he protested by crying, yelling and kicking.

Upon seeing the little tandrum in process, the usher came back and told Kellan that we could move to some other, even better seats in the third inning if Kellan behaved now.  Lucky for us, he did.

The M’s didn’t score in the first.  And then King Felix took the mound:

27-feeeeeeeelix-the-dominator

With the dominating King Felix on the hill, I felt pretty safe leaving our seats to go get ice cream in the first inning.  My plan actually wasn’t too good.  The very first Pirates batter of the game, Starling Marte, hit a ground ball right past third base and down the LF line for a double.  That happened just as we started to walk up the stairway toward the concourse.

Felix struck out the next batter.  But Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single as we walked through the concourse toward the ice cream place.

After twos innings, the Pirates still led 1-0.  The boys were still eating their ice cream helmets when the last out of the second was recorded.  I immediately stood up and waved at the usher who had mentioned the seat upgrade in the third.  I pointed at the seats and he gave me a confirming thumbs up.  And then we moved here (essentially) for the rest of the game:

28a-check-out-these-sweet-seats

Is that beautiful or what?  Here is what our view looked like from the front row:

28b-pnc-3b-front-row-panorama

That picture above with Tim and Kellan sitting by the ballgirl is actually way out of order (it was just the best picture I got showing our seat location).  In the third inning, this…

28c-making-friends-with-pirates-ballgirl

…is the ballgirl who was sitting right next to us.  She was quite nice.  While Kellan finished his ice cream…

29-eating-some-pirates-buried-treasure

…I chatted her up a bit.  She is a former college softball player.  And guess what happened when King Felix induced Andrew McCutchen into hitting a foul ball to the ballgirl in the bottom of the third?   Here’s a hint:

30-foul-ball-from-felix-to-mccutchen-to-ballgirl-to-tim

Yep, she gave it to Tim!

Thanks, Felix, McCutchen and Ballgirl!

These seats were the absolute best seats possible for us.  Tim and Kellan do pretty good sitting in the seats when we have my dad or Colleen or some four person with us.  But when it’s just the three of us, for some reason, they really want to roam around and be on the move a lot.  But there was so much room to move in this seating section that we stayed put and I got to watch the entire (awesome) Mariners game!  Yes!

One of those in-seating-section activities included playing with the dirt and bugs:

31-playing-with-pnc-dirt-and-bugs

Into the fourth inning (aside from Michael Saunders who kept drawing walks), the Mariners batters, including Kendrys Morales…

32-kendrys-morales

…, couldn’t find any success against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.

In addition to showing Tim spitting seeds onto the warning track, this picture sets the scene for what happened next:

33-just-spitting-seeds-at-pnc

Let’s examine that photo closer.  Upper left corner, the small scoreboard shows the score is 1-0 Pirates in the top of the second with two outs (Morales, above, was the second out of the inning).    Also, notice that the Mariners have no hits on the day.   Next, Mariners centerfielder Michael Saunders is standing on 3B after drawing a leadoff walk, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch and to 3B on Morales’s groundout.  Finally, the ribbon board shows that Dustin Ackley is about to step to the plate (he hadn’t seen a pitch yet because the count is shown as 0-0).

Five pitches later, Saunders scored the tying run on a Burnett’s second wild pitch of the inning!  One pitch later, Ackley struck out to end the inning.

So, while being no hit by A.J. Burnett, the Mariners were all tied up 1-1 with the Pirates after 4 innings.

The Mariners finally broke through with their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning.  With Burnett pitching so well, it was a good thing we had King Felix on the hill…

34-king-felix-dealing

…throwing a dominating game of his own.  In fact, it was as if mother nature was behind Felix and the M’s during this game – she even set an all-natural crown worthy of a king right above Felix:

35-king-felixs-rainbow-crown

Nothing could stop the Mariners fair and just King Felix.

Well, almost nothing, A.J. Burnett did a competent job of shutting down King Felix at the plate:

36-tim-kellan-king-felix-at-bat

But, obviously, hitting isn’t Felix’s thing.

The boys lost interest in the dirt and bugs and played a little grounders/bouncing balls catch behind our row of seats:

Despite numerous warnings from me only to *roll* the ball, the kids kept bouncing them…

37-playing-catch-in-accessible-area

…and, every once in a while, Kellan was throw the ball in the air to Tim.  This resulted in two different incidents, one good and one bad.

On the good front, Kellan tossed a ball to Tim that hit the railing behind our handicapped accessible section, rolled along the top of the railing, and then fell right into a cup holder handing from the back side of the railing.  When it happened, the entire section behind us erupted in applause for Kellan – they were all apparently watching the boys play catch rather than watching King Felix and A.J. Burnett playing catch with their catchers.

On the bad front, Kellan threw another ball that bounced off of the head of the lady in the black Pirates jersey:

38-reckless-game-of-catch

I didn’t actually see this happen.  However, given the facts that (1) the boys were using a cloth/foam-y-ish ball (that incidentally looks exactly like a ROMLB), (2) Kellan is only 2 and (3) the ball bounced before it hit her, I’ll go out on a limb here and say there is zero chance this incident actually hurt the lady.  But she was very mad about the situation.  I thought we were going to get kicked out of the section and sent back to our regular seats.  I immediately put the kids’ ball away and sincerely apologized to her and she just glared at me with complete and utter contempt.

We let this incident bother us for about 30 seconds and then we let it go.  We have better, fun things on which to focus.  Like the pierogies race:

39-perogy-race

And the shirt cannon/slingshot/toss, which resulted in Kellan coming up with this prize:

40-kellan-gets-a-shirt

And, most importantly, Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer to RCF in the top of the seventh inning:

41-montero-goes-yard

2-1 Mariners after 7!

Kellan’s shirt was tied up with balloons, which the boys used to sling shot seeds on the warning track:

42-playing-with-balloon-ties

Felix was dominating and he was getting solid defense behind him.  In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to CF that Michael Saunders grabbed with no problem:

43-felix-induces-pop-out-to-saunders

The next batter was pinch hitter Jose Tabata, and he hit a low liner to RF and Endy Chavez made a great play on it.  Starling Marte then singled, but was thrown out by Jesus Montero when he tried to swipe 2B.  Starling no swiping, Starling no swiping, STARLING NO SWIPING!

At the end of the 8th, we left our wonderful seats, took a bathroom break, walked through a small team store behind home plate, and then found ourselves here for the bottom of the ninth:

44-shoulders-in-seats

FYI, Kellan refused to get off of my shoulders so I crouched on the ground in front of the seat so he wouldn’t be too tall for the fans behind us.

Although Felix Hernandez was out in the on deck circle at the end of the top of the ninth, Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen…

45-the-bartender-in-for-save-at-pnc

…came in for “closing time” in the bottom of the ninth.

Wilhelmsen got a quick ground out by Travis Snider for the first out.  He then has a 10 pitch battle with Andrew McCutchen, which included a foul ball that landed two rows in front of us, that ended with a  fly out to deep LCF.

Garrett Jones made things more interesting by hitting a 2-out single.  But Michael McKenry hit another deep fly ball for the final out of the game.

MARINERS WIN!!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

It was truly a beautiful thing.

During the post-game celebration…

46-mariners-win-at-pnc

…, Aarong Harang tossed a pearly white baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Aaron!

As the celebration died down and the interviews with the heroes began…

47-talk-to-the-heros

…, Robbie Thompson tossed a muddy (game-rubbed?) baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Robbie!

After the game ended and all the Mariners took off, we met up again with Zack, Robbie and a few other guys where Kellan was too tired and cranky to give another fist bump:

48-kellan-avoiding-zacks-fist-bump

We had noticed the Pirates pig statue earlier in the day and wanted to get a picture with it on our way out of the ballpark.  As you can see below on the left, an usher wouldn’t let us go over to the pig for a picture and then wouldn’t get out of our view when we tired to get a picture with the pig from a distance:

49-tim-pig-stargell

Luckily, he didn’t follow us out to block our picture with the Willie Stargell statue.

When we hopped in the car, Kellan fell asleep almost instantly and slept for at least three hours.

All around, this was a near perfect baseball experience.  It was awesome seeing our Mariners.  It was fun to see them in a new park (for Tim and Kellan).  And it was even better to see King Felix bring home the win in a great pitchers’ duel.

GO MARINERS!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

7 Game
12 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates
12 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2
35 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1
6 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park
14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Fun Fun Fun As Fish Fry Phils (5/4/2013)

The weekend of May 4-5 was going to be the first weekend of the MLB season during which we did not go to a game. But when we woke up on Saturday morning (May 4, 2013), a tweet was waking from us from Phillies Phan Harrison Tishler: “headed to Philly today?”

After reading Harrison’s tweet, I asked my wife, “Should the boys and I go to the Phillies game today?” “Sure,” she replied.

Game on!

I bought some tickets online and we headed down to Citizens Bank Park. I can’t stand e-tickets so I selected the “will call” delivery option. The website said I could pick up our tickets at a ticket machine on either the 1B or 3B sides of the stadium. After checking in with the Tishler’s at the LF gate, we headed off toward the 3B side of the stadium, did find any ticket machines…

1-running-around-citz

…, so we circled around to the 1B side, picked up our tickets at the 1B will call box, and ended up running around the entire stadium.

Back at the LF gate, we prepared our backpacks for the security check:

2a-back-at-the-gate-with-the-tischlers

That’s Harrison, Tami and Seth Tishler right behind Tim. It was great seeing them for the first time of 2013. Harrison had recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and he brought us one of his personalized Phillies-themed “H” baseballs…

2b-HarrisonTishler-BarMitzvah

…, which is now on display on one of Tim’s baseball shelves.

Thanks, Harrison!

When the ballpark opened, Tim, Kellan and I headed into the first row in the LF corner. Right when we arrived in the first row, Bernie the Usher called over to Tim and told him to come over and see him. When he did…

3-thanks-bernie-5-4-2013

…, Bernie set a baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Bernie!

This was our view during the beginning portion of BP:

4-back-right-here

During our first game at Citizens Bank Park of the season, Erik Kratz tossed us ball to Tim in the LF corner early in BP. This was our second Phillies game of the year, and it was like de ja vu all over again. The funny twist this time is that the ball tipped off of Tim’s glove and landed in the flower bed:

5-erik-kratz-flowers

Tim reached for it with his glove, but it was too far to reach. I reached down for it but Tim wanted to grab it on his own. Tim ended up hopping into the flower bed to grab the ball.

Thanks, Erik!

I like to keep the boys out of the direct sun as much as possible, so we decided to head to the back of the section that straddles the LF foul pole:

6-behind-tischlers

Sometimes when we’re up front in this section, homeruns or long fouls get hit into the back of this section. So I figured we’d wait a bit and see if one would come out way.

No dice.

So we headed out to CF until about 5 minutes before the whole stadium opened:

7-quiet-cf-at-citz

Right before the rest of the stadium opened, the boys played the running-the-bases game:

8-racing-tim-wins

Can you guess who won? Yep, Tim. That jump is his excited/victory pose. [Note: there was another kid around Tim’s age to the far left on the yellow footprints. So Tim wasn’t just celebrating because he beat Kellan.]

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed down into the pizza wedge. When we got down there, there was a stray baseball at the back of the Phillies bullpen and two groundskeepers working on the mound. In all of my experience at Citizens Bank Park, I’ve seen the two guys who chalk the foul lines give away some stray balls, but all other groundskeepers have said they were not allowed to give away baseball. Knowing these guys almost certainly couldn’t, I pointed out the stray baseball and asked the groundskeepers if they could toss it up.

They were not allowed to, one of them responded. And then they headed out into CF, walked the warning track toward the RF corner, and exited the field through the tunnel under the concourse.

A few minutes later, the same groundskeeper who had said he couldn’t toss up the baseball appeared above the RF seats, walked down the stairs into the pizza wedge, and handed a totally different baseball to Kellan. He apologized for not being able to toss the baseball from the bullpen up to us. It was pretty funny.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

While we were in LF, Alex Sanabia kept running back-and-forth across the outfield. Early in BP, we said “hi” to him (“Hi, Alex!”) and we exchanged waves. . When we reached the Pizza wedge, Sanabia was hanging out in RCF. When he fielded a ball, Sanabia made a long throw to Tim…

9-thanks-alex-sanabia

…but it sailed high over Tim’s head so I had to catch it for him.

Thanks, Alex!

Tim and Kellan posed with their baseballs from Sanabia and the groundskeeper:

10-boys-with-balls-in-pizza-wedge

Lately, we’ve stayed in the pizza wedge until BP ends. At this game, we decided to switch things up. We headed back over to LF…

11-hanging-in-shade-in-LF

…where Chad Qualls tossed us a baseball…

12-chad-qualls

…and then the boys ate a bunch of snacks:

13-snack-time-at-citz-5-4-2013

After the boys were full of snacks, we decided to head back to the pizza wedge. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we walked across the LF seats about 15 rows back from the field…

14-hr-on-fly-diagram-5-4-2013

…when we made the bend toward CF a Marlins batter took a mighty hack and sent a fly ball in our direction. I stopped mid-row and watched the balls flight. It was right in line with us, but seemed like it wasn’t quite going to make it to us. But it kept carrying. With Kellan still on my shoulders, I leaned forward over the row of seats in front of us and reached and made a back-handed catch on the fly.

It was the first time I’d ever caught a batted ball on the fly with one of the boys on my shoulders and it was pretty darn cool. [Note: I have caught a BP homer on the fly while holding Kellan with my right arm…so has my dad.].

When we made it back to the pizza wedge, Kellan crawled around like a dinosaur a bit:

15-dinosaurs

And Tim caught a baseball tossed to him by A.J. Ramos:

16-thanks-AJ-Ramos

Thanks, A.J.!

BP ended way early because it was Little League day and a whole bunch of Little Leaguers got to march around the ballpark on the warning track. As we watched, Tim said he wanted to go find Harrison, but I assured him that Harrison would turn up in the pizza wedge before too long. Meanwhile, former Mariner Miguel Olivo started stretching in CF.

I was right. Harrison and Tami soon showed up. We all camped out in the first row of the pizza wedge. Eventually, Phillies bullpen coach Rich Dubee walked out to the bullpen. He grabbed a bunch of baseballs and tossed one to Harrison and then a bunch to other fans to our right (higher in the pizza wedge seats). Dubee was all out of baseballs, but then he spotted that same baseball sitting on the hose (the one I’d asked the groundskeeper to toss up to us)…

17-thanks-mr-dubee

…and Dubee tossed it to us.

Thanks, Rich!

Meanwhile, back in CF, Olivo wasn’t getting much of a chance to warm up because he was giving high fives to Little Leaguers and posing for photos:

18-miguel-olivo-is-pretty-darn-cool

Soon, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo made his way to the bullpen. He too ended up grabbing a bunch of baseballs and tossing them into the crowd. He tossed one to Harrison, then another to me and Kellan, and then one to Tim.

That last one that Tim caught was extra special…

19-jesus-tiamo-is-also-very-cool-400

…because it was the 400 baseball that we’ve got at MLB games since Tim’s first game back on 9/12/2006. Jesus ended up signing it for us too!

Double thanks, Jesus!

We watched Cole Hamels and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz…

20-hamels-chooch

…warm up for a few minutes and then we parted ways with the Tishlers and headed off to find some dinner.

The plan was hot dogs for dinner. But at the last minute, Kellan rejected the hot dog concept and opted to get a giant pretzel.

We picked a nice random spot in the RF concourse to eat:

21-dinner-in-support-beams

What was in that plastic bin sitting behind Kellan in that last picture, you ask? Well, a bunch of…

22-bin-full-o-wet-rocks

…rocks, water and sludge, of course!

Tim finished eating before Kellan so he did some dancing to pass the time:

23-party-boy-dance

Usually, we like to get a picture of the first pitch of the game. We missed it at this game, so the third pitch will have to do:

24-third-pitch

This game absolutely flew by. It was amazing. After watching the first batter of the game *live*, we headed to the kids’ play area:

25-play-area-5-4-2013

Cole Hamels blanked the Marlins in the first (despite hitting a batter). Freddy Galvis knocked a single in the Phils’ half of the first, but was left stranded on base. After Galvis’s first inning single, the Phillies would not collect another hit all night. And the Marlins only had four hits in them.

The first three innings blew by in a blink of an eye. Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna knocked a solo homer in the top of the second and Chris Valaika followed with a solo blast of his own in the top of the third.

That made it 2-0 Marlins and we finally left the kids’ play area.

We were ready for some ice cream so we went to our go-to ice cream lady:

26-our-citz-ice-cream-lady

Check out this monster chocolate chip cookie sundae:

27-big-ol-helmet-o-ice-cream-5-4-2013

We took it up to our seats (or almost our seats) in section 306…

28-zoinks-ice-cream

…to eat our sundae:

29-this-is-yummy-5-4-2013

I’ve taken hundreds of stadium panoramas over the past several years and this one from section 306 row five might be among the very best looking panoramas:

30-citz-sec306-row5

After devouring our ice cream, the boys wanted to keep on moving. We headed back to the kids’ play area. As the kids were playing, I was amazed to notice that it was only 8:30 and the game was already in the seventh inning!

We decided to switch things up, and head to spot where we had not spent much time. He headed up to the second deck in LF. Check out the view from the SRO area right behind section 243:

33-citz-sec243-SRO

Over Kellan’s objection, a nice usher took our picture with the field behind us…

34-todd-boys-5-4-2013

…and another with the liberty bell:

35-boys-todd-5-4-2013

And I took an extra shot of Tim with my cellphone that turned out pretty cute:

36-tim-and-flags

The boys stood on this little railing a bit…

37-tim-and-kellan-watching-baseball

…and watched the game. But then they decided they should play some fake baseball:

38-tim-and-kellan-playing-fake-baseball

While the usher nearby cracked down on some fans standing in the wrong SRO spots. But, thankfully, he had no problem with Tim and Kellan playing fake baseball in the middle of the cross-aisle.

Heading into the ninth inning, the boys and I headed down to section 129 to make an attempt at an umpire baseball. We had a nice view of Steve Cishek…

39-steve-cishek

…and he pitched to J-Roll…

40-j-roll-5-4-2013

…in the bottom of the ninth. But Kellan was tired and cranky and he didn’t want to sit down. Actually, he did want to sit down, but he wanted to sit on my shoulders, which couldn’t happen in the third row of the seats. So we took off.

We headed down the LF line and watched Chase Utley fly out…

41-chase-utley-flies-to-end-game

…to end the game.

We headed to the gates, but our game experience wasn’t over quite yet. We ended up trudging around in the Phillies parking lot for probably half-an-hour, but we finally found what we were looking for:

42-veterans-stadium-home-plate

The Veterans Stadium home plate marker! That picture earned us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

On our way to the car, Tim got a final photo fake catching a baseball at the Veterans Stadium first base marker:

43-out-at-first-at-veterans-stadium

And there you go. Another great game at Citizens Bank Park.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

6 Games

10 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins

10 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2

28 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4

5 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park

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

2 Autographs – Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Reds and National Monuments in D.C.

On April 28, 2013, for the second weekend in a row, we headed to a certain MLB ball game because Kellan had yet to see the visiting team play a game. This time, the venue was Nationals Park and the team checked off of Kellan’s “must see” list was the Cincinnati Reds.

I wasn’t happy to find out that our overpriced parking lot went up yet another $5 over the offseason (booo!), but I was happy to pull into the same parking spot we park in at all of our Nationals home games.

While walking toward the ballpark, we noticed that the Nats replaced the big photo on the back of the scoreboard. Tim recreated Bryce Harper’s jump in the new photo:

1-jumping-like-bryce

By the way, because we were super busy the day before (we usually go to Saturday night games), our only option was to go to this 1:35 Sunday game. Still, we arrived before the gates opened because the Nats always seem to have BP when we have attended 1:35 Sunday games. And this day was no different. Plus, as a bonus, it was kids run the bases day. And, as a double bonus, we planned to tour around the DC monuments after the game.

Tim had to use the restroom as we approached the stadium…

2-silver-baseball-w-baseballs

…(can you see us in that big metallic baseball?), so we headed into the Nats’ Team Store for a quick pit stop. We’d never been in there before so I’d never seen this big wall of red and white baseballs making a curly Nats “W.”

We had a bit of a wait until the gates opened and we passed the time by playing catch:

3-catch-at-nats-gate

I don’t think we have ever made it to Nats Park, which is 2.5 hours from our house, before the gates opened. So we got a picture of Tim standing in front of the gate while the ushers prepared to open up:

4-ready-to-get-inside-nats-park

Once the gates opened, we headed over to the section above the visitors’ bullpen. The Nats pitchers were warming up in RF and batters were getting ready for BP. In the LF grass, Bronson Arroyo was playing catch with the Reds bullpen catcher. Eventually, he wandered into the bullpen and threw a bullpen session…

5-bronson-arroyo-bullpen

…and we watched him.

While Bronson was throwing, former Mariners pitching coach Brian Price came out to watch and chat with Bronson:

6-brian-price-arroyo-juan

Price oversaw a stellar Mariners rotation during the most successful days of the organization, the Lou Piniella years. When I saw him, I shouted out a greeting and pointed to my M’s jersey.

After Arroyo finished his session, he tossed his ball up to Tim:

7-baseball-from-bronson

Thanks, Bronson!

As the crew started clearing out, I had a quick chat with Price. I told him to come back to Seattle, and he said something like “maybe I will some day!” And I said, “And bring Lou with you!” But he was pretty sure that Sweet Lou is retired for good from managing. Brian was super friendly and seemed very happy to chat up some Mariners fans for a bit. Just after he left, we realized we should have asked him to sign the Arroyo’s warm up ball. But it was too late, the whole crew headed out of the bullpen and headed to the dugout.

He hung out in LF a while longer as BP started up. Eventually, we decided to head over to the seats in RCF. Zach Duke was running all over shagging balls out there:

8-zach-duke-in-cf

Eventually, Duke ran back and caught a high pop fly on the warning track in straight away CF. When he looked over toward RF, we called out his name and I flashed him my glove. In response, Duke (apparently thinking I was made out of glass or some other delicate material) softly tossed the baseball short and way to our right and right into the storage area in CF. Many players would have shrugged their shoulders and headed back to shagging fly balls. But Duke walked all the way to the back of the storage area and retrieved the ball and tossed it to us again. I was thinking about this and I would be this is the first baseball we’ve ever caught at a MLB game where the player tossed the ball toward the field of play for us to catch.

Thanks, Zach!

We promptly headed over to the corner spot above the RCF end of the Nats’ bullpen:

9-hanging-in-rf-at-nats

But right as that happened, all of the Nationals with the exception of Zach Duke cleared the field. We just hung out there for a while and watched Duke play catch with the Nats bullpen catcher.

Soon’ish, the Reds headed out to LF to begin their team stretching routine. We were at the ballpark to see the Reds, so we headed back over to LF. When we arrived in LF, this was the scene:

10-circle-of-reds

Once the rest of the stadium opened up at 12:00 (or maybe 12:05), we headed down to the corner spot where we had a great view of Aroldis “Fireball” Chapman:

11-aroldis-chapman

That guy is pretty impressive!

As we watched Chapman play catch, the Reds started hitting. We were right at the OF end of a big net that protects several sections of seats along the foul line. So when a Reds batter smacked a hard grounder down the line, it carried along the netting and rolled right to me. Kellan grabbed a seat to inspect his new baseball:

12-kellans-new-bp-foul-ball

Now check out something crazy captured in the following two-part photo:

13-chapman-looooong-toss

Chapman starting playing looooooong toss with is partner. Above to the left, Chapman is the guy standing right in front of the “G” in Geico on the RF wall. As shown on the right, from that extreme distance, Chapman still managed to toss a ball so hard that he got it past his partner on the LF foul line. He essentially threw the ball into the protective net.

It was mighty impressive!

After we got one more baseball in the corner spot, we repositioned, and then I took a photo of where we had been standing:

14-can-i-squeeze-in-and-get-the-next-one-and-never-leave

See the guy in the red shirt right behind the pole (he has his glove hand on the green railing and his other hand in his pocket)? That’s right where I’d been standing earlier with Tim just to my left (in the corner) and Kellan either sitting behind me or standing in front of me.

At one point before we moved from that spot, a Reds batter hit a TOWERING pop up in our direction. I didn’t think it was going to reach us, but it just kept carrying and carrying.

Kellan was standing right in front of me along the railing. I put my throwing hand on top of his head so I would know exactly where he was standing while tracking the ball. I then leaned out toward the field and made the catch on the fly. I’m pretty sure it is the highest pop up I’ve ever caught, and it stung my palm pretty good.

After catching the pop up, we moved down the line to watch Johnny Cueto throw through the net:

15-cueto-stuff

That is a whole lot of hair in that hat!

Cueto was throwing hard and wild. He sailed several balls over his partner’s head and into the net. I had to keep warning Tim to sit back from the net because I thought he was going to get smacked in the face through the net. Luckily, it never happened.

Toward the end of BP, we headed back to the corner spot in RF…

16-rf-corner-logan-ondrusek

…where two unidentified Reds were shagging balls. We used my trusty old camera zoom to read their names off of their gloves. It was J.J. Hoover and Logan Ondrusek. Eventually, Ondrusek fielded a ball right in front of us on the track and tossed it up to Tim for our final ball of the day.

Thanks, Logan!

And, with that, it was off to the kids’ play area for us!

It’s great with Kellan being big enough to climb all around in the kids’ play areas there days. Tim’s a great big brother in the play areas. He sticks right with Kellan and makes sure that he has lots of fun and doesn’t get trampled by the bigger kids.

Here they go up one of the climbing areas:

17-boys-in-nats-playarea

They poked their heads out of baseball sphere to give a wave to my camera:

18-boys-in-nats-baseball-bubble

And here’s a short video clip of the cutest moment of the day:

After a thorough play session, we busted out of the kids’ play area just in time for first pitch:

19-nats-reds-first-pitch

An usher was standing nearby and I asked her to take a family photo of us. He was very nice to accommodate the request, but it seems she might never have used a digital camera before. Her first two pictures were close ups of Tim’s elbow and hands. It took her the first two batters of the game, but she finally got a couple good shots, including this one:

20-cook-boys-at-nats-reds

It was lunch time and we had the best nachos in MLB on our mind. He headed to LF to grab ‘em, but we got side tracked when we saw this:

21-tim-the-rushmore

I’m a bit confused about this thing. I don’t remember seeing it last season. But the Nats have a new president on the team this season…so I’m not sure…but it seems new. And Tim and Kellan liked it so that’s all that counts.

They also enjoyed playing catch off of this wall:

22-mlb-style-wall-ball

This would be a recurring theme throughout the day.

Finally, we grabbed our nachos and headed to the upper deck down the LF line:

23-tasty-nachos-by-us-capitol

Check out our view of the U.S. Capitol Building behind us (right above Tim’s head). Pretty cool, eh?

There are a couple rows of picnic tables up there and we were in the last row. You couldn’t really see much of the action on the field from our table. But stepping a few feet over, we had a nice view of Bryce Harper…

24-bryce-harper-vs-reds

…preparing to ground out to end the bottom of the first inning. Reds rookie pitcher, Tony Cingrani, was on the hill and he was *on* during this game. In six innings, he struck out 11 Nationals.

Oh, yeah, I should mention that the Reds scored 2 runs in the top of the first.

And the Reds tacked on another run in the second, in part due to this fielding miscue by Nats second basemen Danny Espinosa:

25-e4-danny-espinosa

At the time, Cigrani had singled and was on 1B. Shin-Soo Choo followed with what should have been an easy ground out to 3B. Anthony Rendon fielded the ball and threw the ball to Danny Espinosa who booted the ball. After a walk to Zack Cozart, Joey Votto singled home Cingrani.

3-0 Reds after two innings.

We decided it was time for some ice cream. We walked across the concourse from LF to around 1B. On the walk, we got a Nationals Park bonus photo of the boys for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

26-nats-park-bonus-pic

Do you see that little foam baseball in Tim’s left hand? An usher or some stadium employee gave that to Tim just before the game started. That’s what Tim was throwing against the wall in the photo above. He eventually lost that ball when it bounced off the wall and rolled completely out of the stadium, which was pretty upsetting to Tim.

The boys’ ice cream eating…

27-ice-cream-sleepy-time

…went somewhat hilariously. Day games are tough for us because Kellan usually naps in the afternoons. During this game, Kellan actually fell asleep mid-ice cream eating.

By the way, here was our view of the game while Tim ate his ice cream:

28a-ciangrani-foul-bunt

After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed back to the little covered nook where the boys had previously been throwing the ball against the wall. Tim made another 100 or so throws while I sat holding sleeping Kellan and watched the game.

While we were over there, the Presidents showed up and we got a photo with them (completely with a totally conked out Kellan):

28b-new-president-joins-the-crew

I have no clue who the new President in the middle is supposed to be.

Once Kellan finally woke up, we headed back toward the field. I wanted to see Joey Votto bat. Unfortunately (unbeknownst to us), it had started raining while Tim was playing catch with the wall. It wasn’t a lot of rain. But the fans flooded the concourse. We had to peak around multiple heads to get a distorted glimpse of Votto striking out:

29-joey-votto-foul

By the way, by this point, it was 4-0 Reds.

The concourses were terrible so we headed back toward the outfield. On our walk we saw something cool:

30-blue-griffey-red-griffey

A Griffey jersey. I’m only a fan of the Mariners, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the Reds because I watched tons and tons of Reds games during Griff’s tenure with the Reds.

We essentially walked around and around and around the ballpark aimlessly because it was too crowded everywhere in the concourses and rainy in the seats. As we passed by the 3B side of the concourse again, we saw something unfortunate:

31-no-kids-run-the-bases

Kids’ run the bases was cancelled due to rain. I think it was a premature call, but in the end we were fine with it.

We headed up to the second deck in RF for a bit. Here was our view from section 239:

32a-nats-sec239

We had never sat up there before during a game. It’s pretty nice. I liked it.

While we sat in the upper deck, probably for no more than 1 inning, Tim filled out an All-Star ballot, something he always enjoys doing. I had to take a picture because this ballot was awesome:

32b-ballot-from-pencilvania

In case you can’t tell, here are the highlights of Tim’s ballot:

AL 1B – Justin Smoak

AL 2B – Dustin Ackley

AL SS – Brendan Ryan

AL 3B – Kyle Seager (oops…Tim accidentally made a huge hole when punching Seager’s name).

AL C – Jesus Montero

AL DH – Kendrys Morales

AL OF – Michael Morse, Michael Saunders and Ichiro (still Tim’s favorite player despite his unfortunate status as a member of the Yankees).

NL 1B, SS, 3B, C, P – No vote

NL 2B – accidental vote for Dustin Solano because he originally thought it said he played for the Mariners. Tim crossed out Solano’s name after realizing he had voted for a Marlin.

Information section:

Name – Timothy Cook

City – Pencillvanya

Email Address – Mariners

Favorite Team – X√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√

All-Star Write In Votes – Timothy, Timothy

Late in the game, we sat in section 135 (the section where our actual ticketed seats were located). Here was our view of Bryce Harper’s at bat in the eighth:

33-bryce-harper-again

He eventually walked and later scored on a double by Ian Desmond. That made the score 5-2 Reds after 8 innings.

Here are our two views from the spots we sat in during the late innings:

34-nats-section-135-views

And here some random shots of Brandon “Dat Dude” Phillips:

35-dat-dude-bp

With the Reds up 3-runs heading into the bottom of the ninth, we were treated to a save by Aroldis Chapman…

36-aroldis-goes-triple-digits

…and his 100 M.P.H. heater!

Reds win!

Instead of Kids’ Run The Bases (which would have been fun too), we ran all over Washington, D.C. after the game.

We parked two blocks behind the Capitol Building and made our first stop at the U.S. Supreme Court:

37-us-supreme-court

This was both boys’ first visit to the Supreme Court. The last time I was here was on my mom’s birthday in 2009 when I was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Roberts and most of the other members of the Court.

Interestingly, in that picture of the Court above, what you are really seeing is *picture* of the Supreme Court hanging from the scaffolding that is currently encasing the entire Supreme Court building.

Next, we headed across the street to the U.S. Capitol Building:

38a-capitol-stuff

In the bottom right photo above, Tim is catching a fly ball on the lawn of the Capitol Building (the ball is just above to the right of the rotunda).

Kellan was on my shoulders for all of those Capitol Building photos. He didn’t want to come down for a photo. But he did give me a smile from up top:

38b-kellan-at-capitol

We decided to walk around the reflecting pond and a nice pair of tourists from New Jersey took our photo on the far side:

39a-cook-boys-reflecting-pool

And then I took a shot of the boys walking:

39b-kids-and-capitol

Kellan was loving the walk. We had to hustle just to keep up with him. It was super cute at one point when we were back up to the Capitol lawn and the boys were racing and Kellan told me, “This is so much fun!” (That doesn’t read as cute of funny, but he’s got a hilariously cute little voice).

From the front of the Capitol Building, we got a photo of the boys with the Washington Monument in the distance:

40-boys-with-DC-mall

We walked back to the car and headed off toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

41-barry-os-house

The boys were excited to see Barack Obama’s house. They made some funny faces while sitting on the base of the front fence:

42-funny-faces-at-white-house

And then we finished off our little tour at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial:

43-mlk-memorial

I’d never seen the MLK Memorial. It is really cool. I highly recommend it. As you can see above, there is a big *mountain* in the background. The middle section of the mountain is pulled forward and MLK is carved into the front of it. On the side of the MLK statue, the rock says “From a mountain of despair, a stone of hope” or something along those lines. On either side of the mountain, walls extend about 50 yards and they have a number of MLK quotes engraved on them.

Pretty cool. Check it out.

And that was our day. A great day of baseball and sight-seeing.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

5 Game

9 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals

9 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo), Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2

18 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1

5 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park

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

1 Autograph – Ryan Hanigan

Everyday Interleague Play & The Dodgers Visit Camden Yards (4/20/2013)

During the offseason, I typed out a list of the nine Major League teams that Kellan had not yet seen play a game live. On April 20, 2013, we reduced the list to eight when Tim, Kellan and I headed down to Baltimore to meet up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in our first Camden Yards game of the season.

Tim has only seen the Dodgers twice. So we really haven’t had many opportunities to see Dodger all-stars like Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, or Andre Either. I was really looking forward to seeing these guys up close during BP. But, unfortunately, I knew BP might not happen because the Orioles planned to do an on field tribute to Earl Weaver before the game. On April 19th, our BP fate was sealed. Rain washed out the Friday night game and a day-night doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday. We were going to attend the night game.

As we approached Camden Yards a bit after 4:00 p.m., fans were streaming out…

1-out-with-the-old

…from the first game, which was won by the Orioles.

We met up with Avi…

2-front-of-new-line

…Tim Andreson, and Romeo (whom we’ve seen a lot at games, but I had never known his name). Three huge lines had formed at three of the four gates closer to the warehouse side of Eutaw Street. For some reason, there were no fans at all lined up at the fourth gate on the field side of Eutaw. We were deep in line at the second gate when one of Avi’s friends (who I’ve seen a lot but have no clue what her name is) came and told us that an usher said the fourth gate was also opening with all of the rest. So, as you can see in the photo above, we jumped up to first in line at the fourth gate.

When the gates opened at 5:00 p.m., we were among the very first people to run inside. When we approached the gate above the bullpens where they let season ticket holders in early, the gate was locked. Almost no one was in the stadium. I called over to an usher and he explained that the stadium was closed until 5:30 because stadium workers were cleaning up after game 1. Indeed, there were some stadium workers in the upper deck down the 1B line. But the field level was essentially empty.

Oh, well. We stood here for the next half hour and watched one Orioles pitcher throw a bullpen session…

3-front-of-inside-line

…and, after he was finished, we just watched the grass grow.

This was the scene behind us:

4-getting-crowded-on-the-inside

If you’re a regular at Camden Yards, you probably recognize most of the people in the forground of that photo. To the far right is “stretch lady,” the hugger wearing the hard hat with feather Mohawk is Romeo, the guy to the left of Romeo’s head is Boston Doug (I just gave him that nickname), just behind Romeo’s hugging partner in the white jacket is Tim “Homerun” Anderson (I also just gave him that nickname). The girl with the long hair front in center in that photo is Avi’s friend who told us about the fourth gate opening. I feel like I should know her name.

This was our first Orioles game since our Camden Yards friend Matt Hersl was killed in a terrible, tragic, stupid, senseless one car wreck. The driver of that car better get the book thrown at him. Matt was a big character and a staple-part of all of our Camden Yards experiences over the last several years. It was really weird that Matt wasn’t in that crowd above. Normally, in this situation, he’d be standing right at the front of the line with all of these Camden Yards regulars.

I worked up this photo…

matt

…, which I happened to have on my phone, and showed it to the usher standing at the gate. He gave me a business card so I could send it to the O’s as my suggestion of honoring Matt. I doubt it will happen, but it would be really fitting.

Anyway, pregame was incredibly slow and uneventful. When the gates opened at 5:30, we hustled around to the Dodgers dugout where there was absolutely no action. We sat and chatted with Tim Anderson for a long time:

5-tim-and-tim

Look how excited T.A. is to hear about T.C.’s Kirkland Brand Nut & Seed bar!

After snacking a bit, the boys jumped back two rows and put on an air guitar concert:

6-air-guitar

Eventually, a Dodgers coach who (from a far) I initially thought was Don Mattingly came out and started chatting with someone in the front row right by the end of the netting. We ran over there to get a closer look. It wasn’t Don. But our new vantage point gave us a nice view of Dodgers starter Josh Beckett:

7-beckett-thinking-of-warming

When a catcher headed out to the Dodgers bullpen, we figured we might as well follow along. So we watched A.J. Ellis…

8-aj-ellis-in-pen

…practice blocking balls in the dirt. When he finished up, he chatted with a guy in the stands who I think must have been his high school coach. He gave the guy two baseballs, and then autographed them after chatting for a few minutes. And the coach gave Ellis a jersey and hat. The jersey said “Ellis” on the back. He held it up with a smile and posed for a picture taken by some guys above/behind the bullpen. In the photo above to the left, Ellis is talking to the guys above the bullpen…possibly old high school teammates.

While Kellan and I watched all of this play out, Tim chatted up Romeo like you wouldn’t believe:

9-tim-gives-romeo-an-earful

Of the time Tim spends awake and not at school, I think he is talking 97% of the time. The boy loves to chat and explain everything in great detail. I love Tim’s chattiness and energy.

Around 6:00 p.m., a ceremony started on field in memory of Earl Weaver. Weaver passed away over the offseason.

After a while, we headed over there to see what was going on. Rich Dempsey was speaking while he walked over there and, essentially, he spoke about how much he hated Weaver every day of his playing career, but later realized that he loved him.

Cal Ripken, Jr. and…

10-talking-about-the-earl-of-baltimore

…Buck Showalter gave traditional “I-hated-him-free” talks about the great Earl of Baltimore.

I felt cheated by our lack of pregame time getting to see Dodgers. None of the big names were anywhere in sight. Eventually some guys, including Matt Kemp, came out to warm up along the LF foul line. Only about five guys game out.

I got a nice picture of Jerry Harriston running by us…

11-dodgers-pregame-throwing-luis-cruz

…and when the Dodgers headed in Luis Cruz tossed us his warm up ball. Actually, he had used that ball to play three-way warm-up catch with Nick Punto and Jaun Uribe.

Thanks, Luis!

With no action on the field, we headed off to the kids’ play area. After the kids’ heated up the radar gun…

12-heating-it-up-for-the-radar-gun

…, I promised we could come right back after watching the first few Dodgers batters in the top of the first inning. So we headed back out to the field for the National Anthem:

13-anthem-time-in-baltimore

And then we watched Carl Crawford lead off the game with a hit-by-pitch:

14-crawford-the-dodger

For aesthetic appeal, those Crawford pictures are out-of-order. The picture above on the fight (where Crawford is fouling the ball down the LF line) is actually the first pitch of the game.

Nick Punto was the second batter of the game and he singled to CF, sending Crawford to 3B.

He hung out in the cross aisle behind home plate until Matt Kemp batted:

15-mvkemp

Kemp hit a liner to SS that J.J. Hardy couldn’t handle in the air, but he picked up to force out Punto at 2B. Crawford stayed put at 3B. Then, as we walked back to the play area, Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to score Crawford from 3B and put the Dodgers on the board 1-0.

Unfortunately for Beckett, that was all of the run support he would get on the day.

Back at the play area, Tim and Kellan played a new game where you try to slingshot stuffed oriole birds into nests:

16-new-game-at-os-play-area

And they took some hacks in the cage. Here Kellan swung at a ball that the machine threw behind him:

17-kellans-fancy-swing

And then they threw more pitches in the speed pitch:

18-comets-comets-and-more-comets

Tim usually throws around 32-33 mph. The crowd always gets a kick out of Kellan when he pitches, but he can’t throw it fast enough to register on the gun. I missed getting a picture of it, but on Kellan’s last two throws, the guy running the speed pitch pushed a button that made the speed register come up at “125 mph.” The small crowd roared and applauded Kellan for his prodigious heater.

Next, we decided to grab some food. We headed out to Eutaw Street and around to the concession stand in LF. On our walk, Chris “Crush” David crushed a solo homer to tie up the game 1-1.

I can’t really place where we were at the point of each additional scoring play, so I’ll just say now that the Orioles scored 5 more runs during the game on fifth-inning doubles by Manny Machado and Adam Jones, and a sixth-inning homerun by Machado.

On our walk, we got pictures of the boys and Earl Weaver posing with their hands in their back pockets (well, Kellan used his front pockets)…

19-hands-in-pockets-with-earl

…, preparing to take their hacks with Eddie Murray…

20-crouching-with-eddie

…, and pitching with Jim Palmer:

21-legging-it-with-jim

Avi met up with us in line for food. The place was packed for this game. In fact, Avi had got us some great seats in LF and we never even sat in them because it was way too crowded down there.

We decided to eat our food (hot dogs) on top of the batters’ eye…

22-face-smashing-posters

…, which was also craaaazy packed:

23-crowded-top-of-batters-eye-at-opacy

After I took some pictures, an Orioles worker came and told me that I can’t use my camera flash when on top of the batters’ eye. I asked why and she explained it bothers the batters. That’s an absolutely logical and fine policy…but (looking at that last photo) do you think the batters could see my flash during this game while buried behind 5-rows deep of standing room only fans?

For some reason (probably “because it’s fun”), Tim attacked Avi with food:

24-food-wrestling

In that picture above to the left, Tim is trying to force-feed “pirates” (one of our favorite snacks) to Avi. Above to the left, Avi and Tim are hot dog wrestling.

After eating, we headed down from the batters’ eye and headed toward left field in search of ice cream – the word was that the O’s had new, two-tone ice cream helmets in 2013.

On our way, we met up with the Orioles Bird:

25-orioles-bird-and-tim-4-20-13

We decided to get ice cream in the upper deck and grab some last-row upper deck seats. I had already seen the two-tone helmets, so I knew they existed. But the upper deck only had the old, all-black helmets. So, after trekking up to the upper deck, we headed down many flights of stairs on our way back down to the field level. There, we found the two-tone helmets and he headed back up all of those stairs again.

During all of that walking, I got a group text from Alex Kopp showing off his new, fancy third out all that he’d just got from Adrian Gonzalez that this same game. I texted back that we were at the game too. Then Avi and Alex coordinated via text and we all met up at the very top of section 306:

26a-alex-tim-avi-upper-deck

Check out this beauty of an ice cream helmet:

26b-new-orioles-ich

And here is what the game looked like (zoomed in) from section 306:

27-agon-eithier

The ice cream was good. But it made the boys freeze. Check out this multi-layered, frog-hatted ice cream eater:

28-cold-froggie-boy

Soon after Alex got that third out ball, he got a foul ball too. In the process, one of his fingers could smashed and was all bloody. So we all eventually headed to the first aid room. I wanted to get a good picture of the first aid room, but a lady was laid out on a cot. So this is the best I could do:

29-opacy-first-aid-roo

We spent the rest of the game either in the cross-aisle behind home plate or in the seats behind home plate. From the cross-aisle, I got a picture of the warehouse with Earl Weaver’s number “4” lit up in lights:

30-weaver-4-of-warehouse

Here was our view from the cross-aisle:

31-top-of-eigth-view-opacy-4-20-13

Here (on the left) is Matt Kemp’s 8th inning ground-into-double-play…

32-kemp-gonzalez-opacy

…and A-Gon following (maybe not on that exact swing) with a harmless single to LF.

In the ninth, we took our normal Camden Yards ninth inning seats:

33-opacy-behind-home-plate-4-20-13

Trailing 6-1 in the top of the ninth, Andre Ethier…

34-eithier-ninth-inning-opacy

…couldn’t help the Dodgers’ cause. He grounded out for the 25th Dodgers out of the night.

The crowd as a whole got a kick out of the horse fan sitting behind home plate:

35-the-horse-fan

Bonus points for anyone who can spot Avi and Boston Doug in this shot:

36-who-sees-avi-and-dave

The game ended with a 6-1 Orioles win.  On his way out of the ballpark, home plate umpire Tim McClelland gave a baseball to both Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Tim!

After the game, an usher took a blurry picture of us:

37-cook-boys-at-opacy-4-20-13

And Manny Machado got shaving cream pied during his post-game interview:

38-manny-pie-face-machado

It was great to be back at Camden Yards. On our way out of the seats, we got our Camden Yards bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

39-opacy-bonus-pic

The boys both fell asleep right away once we hit the road.

Baseball!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

4 Games

7 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers

7 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo), Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2

13 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2

4 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers