Observing Baseball With Mateo Fischer (7/20/2013)
On Saturday, July 20, 2013, Tim, Kellan and I hopped in the car and headed south to our nation’s capital to see the Nationals take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a hot one in DC. Not as hot as the scorcher we attended in DC in July 2012, but it was toasty. According to Baseball-Refernce.com, it was still 92 degrees at 7:05 when the game started! It was even hotter at the beginning of BP.
I was sick of the $35 parking price for the lot right next to the ballpark. So we ventured a few blocks away to a no frills gravel lot. It wasn’t worth it. Parking was still $25. Too much!
We walked by some fountains on our way to the park:
We were hot and sweaty after our walk so we bought some cold waters and…
…jumped in the back of the long line.
In the morning, I bought the boys new cameras. The plan was simply to get Tim a new camera because Kellan had broken Tim’s camera in June at the Toledo Mud Hens ballpark. But as I was looking at the cameras, I found one that looked like a cellphone and it said it was water proof and could dropped 7 feet without breaking. It just seemed to scream out, “Buy me for Kellan!” So I did.
As we waited for the gates to open, the boys tested out their new cameras:
Once we made it into the ballpark, we headed to the corner spot in RF by the Nats bullpen. It was pretty crowded. This is what it looked like from the corner spot:
See that red line and the green arrow and “X”? He hadn’t gotten any baseballs by 5:00 p.m. And then someone on the Nats absolutely blistered a line drive to RF. It was one of the hardest hit balls I’ve seen. It seriously seemed like it was rising the entire time off the bat.
I’m not big at chasing batted balls because I need to stay right with the boys. But this ball was just to our right about 10 feet. As the ball approached the stands (and still seemed to be rising), I darted to our right and lunged behind the gals in the white hat and the tall guy in the red hat. As I lunged with my glove (left) hand, my back turned completely to the field and I reached out with a backhand just passed the guy’s guy. I thought the guy would catch the ball himself. I lost sight of the ball as it screamed passed the guys noggin. And then:
The ball slammed into the pocket of my glove.
I could hardly believe I caught. I think it is the best catch I’ve ever made in the stands at a Major League game. It was a lot of fun.
I walked back over to the boys with a grin on my face and showed them that I caught it.
Hooray for Daddy!
Very soon after making that catch, I scanned the crowd behind us and found a familiar face. It was Washington’s and New York’s and Minneapolis’s own …
We always have a great time with Mateo. He’s just the right age to be an adult with me while still being a kid with Tim. Tim loves everyone. He’s about the most social person I’ve ever met. And he loves hanging out with Mateo.
Tim pulled out his new camera and showed it to Mateo, and then he took this picture of (almost) all of us:
And then Kellan broke out his camera and snapped some pictures of Mateo:
While we were all hanging out with the boys taking pictures, Mateo and I watched as a Nats batter hit a foul ball into the seats down the RF foul line. Most of the balls batted into the stands are quickly fetched by dutiful ushers. But this one seemed to go unseen by the authorities.
When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, Mateo, the boys and I all scurried over to foul territory and I found the ball right where I thought it would be waiting for us.
Then we split away from Mateo – who I think headed back to the outfield.
Tim, Kellan and I headed over to the 3B foul line. The Dodgers had taken the field and Tim wanted nothing more than to take tons of pictures on his new camera. And so he did:
While Tim took photos, Kellan and I watched something rather unique happen on the field. There were two Korean-American folks right behind us (a teenager and his mom). They had a couple pearly white baseballs and they were on the lookout for Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. When he wandered over to the LF corner, they called out to him in Korean and he briefly chatted back to them and put up a hand to signal, “Throw me the baseballs and I’ll sign them.” This is what happened:
The mother-son combo tossed their two baseballs and a pen to Ryu. Ryu grabbed them and walked back into fair territory to sign them. As he walked toward fair territory, another guy behind the mother-son yelled something like, “Sign mine too!” and he tossed it onto the outfield grass.
And then baseballs rained down like a Midwest hail storm. People from foul territory and homerun territory tossed 10-20 baseballs at Ryu. He patiently signed them all. But there was a problem. Other than the mother-son, he had no clue whose baseballs he was signing. He just started chucking balls back into the crowd after signing them.
There was a fairly annoying teenager right next to us who chucked a cheap-plasticy Nationals logo ball (one of the balls with fake dirt on it that is supposed to look game used) at Ryu. His ball was the easiest to differentiate on the field because it wasn’t white. When Ryu signed and tried to toss the kid’s ball to someone else in the crowd, the plasticy ball fell on the warning track. The kid proceeded to have a near heart attack going crazy until he got his ball back.
See those three guys behind Ryu (but further out into LF) in the photo above? One of them fielded a batted baseball while Ryu was signing and he rolled the ball into the signature pile. It actually rolled to a stop right next to Ryu’s toe. Knowing that it was *no one’s ball*, I called out to Ryu to see if he would toss it to us, but he randomly hurled it into the stands.
The whole autograph session (with the exception of the whining kid with the cheap ball) was hilarious and wildly entertaining.
Anyway, we decided to head over to the seats behind the Dodgers bullpen:
A couple homeruns got hit into the bullpen while we were back there, including one that was hit directly in line with us, but fell too short.
At one point, Dodgers coach (and former Mariner) Steve Yeager came into the bullpen and tossed one of the baseballs to the lady next to us. I think they knew each other. He stood below us and chatted with her for a bit. During their chat, Yeager ended up tossing a baseball to Tim.
When we got home that night, I looked in my old pictures and made a neat picture:
That’s me and Steve Yeager (wearing No. 7 for the Mariners) in the Kingdome on photo day in 1986 and Tim and Steve Yeager (wearing No. 7 for the Dodgers) in 2013.
After BP, we headed to the kids play area in the CF concourse. But, guess what? It was closed…
…for excessive heat. We asked an usher what was up with the play area and they said it was too hot that the hard plastic of the playing-contraption could burn the kids.
We decided to put the old switcheroo. We headed to the upper deck for the dessert portion of the switcheroo.
Near home plate, there is an elevator that will take you up to the upper deck at Nationals Park. We got smashed way in the back of an elevator full of catering stuff. All of a sudden, it sounded like running water in the elevator…and then the back of my leg felt wet. Oh no!
One of the bottles of water opened up in my backpack and 20 oz. of water poured straight through my backpack and onto the elevator floor.
That was less than ideal.
As they sometimes do, the boys made the decision to get dippin’ dots instead of ice cream helmets. They ate their frozen treats one of the blue picnic tables behind home plate:
In the top of the first, I got my first look (the boys had a limited view from the picnic table) at Yasiel Puig:
He grounded out harmlessly, but really busted it down the line trying to beat out the throw.
Soon, we met up with vegetarian sabrmetrician, Mateo Fischer, who was unfamiliar with this view…
…and, more understandably, these delicious Nationals Park chili nachos:
We crushed those nachos. Tastiest nachos in MLB!
Here’s a fun view that I always enjoy from the LF upper deck at Nats Park:
While Mateo and I chatted and watched “Cranky” Zack Greinke…
…pitch to the Nats, the boys pulled out their cameras and had a professional-caliber photo session:
Eventually, we headed over toward our seats in section 417. Our actual seats were in about row 6 or so, but it was pretty crowded around there. So we headed up to the back row…
…where this was our view of Nationals Park:
And this was our view of Bryce Harper hitting a foul ball:
While the boys and I were taking tons of pictures, I noticed something that neither Mateo or I had ever noticed before:
Check out that little handicapped seating cross aisle at the front of the upper deck in RF foul territory. That’s pretty cool. We’ll have to check that out some day.
Kellan was taking tons of pictures while we were in the upper deck. I managed to get this cute picture of him…
…during one of the brief moments he wasn’t holding up his camera taking pictures.
As usual, the Presidents’ race was thrilling…
…and it was won by the new guy, Mister President/Chief Justice William Howard “Bill” Taft, after he fooled the other Presidents into taking a detour into the stands – classic Presidential hijinks.
Here’s more Puig:
He went 0-5 on the day – very un-Puig’ish.
After spending a couple innings up in the upper deck, we decided to do some roaming round the stadium. On our way out of the upper deck, an usher took a horribly blurry photo of us…
…, which is too bad because the coloring of the photo (particularly the sky) is pretty cool.
We headed down the ramp on the 1B side…
…and headed down to the 200-level where the boys and Mateo posed for a picture with a Thomas “Tom” Jefferson bobblehead:
We walked across the 200-level concourse all the way out to CF where it ends with a stairway leading down to the field level. We were heading to the play area. It was much cooler now. No chance of kids burning their skin on the hard plastic toy. But it was still closed. I figured they probably told the employees charged with running the play area to head home for the day, so they had no one to run the play area once the temperature went down to an acceptable level. Oh well.
By the way, the score was still zero-zero. In fact, one two runs were scored during “regulation” – the Nationals scored 1 run in the bottom of the sixth and the Dodgers tied it up with their own run in the top of the seventh.
Anyway, we headed over to LF and loitered in the concourse for a bit behind Bryce Harper:
This was my view with Kellan lounging on my shoulders while resting his batting-glove clad hand on the bill of my hat:
We decided to head back up to the upper deck. We trudged up the switch-back ramp in the LF foul corner. We headed up to the same spot where we ate our nachos and Tim and Mateo grabbed a prime spot to watch the game…
…while I followed as Kellan ran up-and-down…
…and up-and-down (repeat, repeat, repeat) from the bottom of the top leg of the ramp and the table where Tim and Mateo were watching the game:
As I mentioned earlier, upper deck concourse in LF is pretty cool at Nationals Park. We had a great view of the U.S. Capitol building:
Here are a couple of view of the game from up there:
And a panoramic view of Nationals Park from the same spot:
In the eighth inning, we decided to head down toward home plate and the umpire’s tunnel. Before heading out, we asked a lady if she could take our picture and then began the longest three-picture photo session in the history of the world.
In the photo she took on Mateo’s cellphone, she cut off Kellan and stuck her finger in the shot. For me, the lady held the camera noticeably crooked. It was amazingly slow and awkward waiting for this lady to take two photos for me. But, hey, she did the job:
As you can see, Tim had his camera ready for the lady to take more pictures. But I had to shut him down. We didn’t have another hour to wait for her to take one more picture.
Instead, we headed to the concourse behind the home plate end of the 3B dugout. There is a camera platform right where we were standing waiting for a break in the action. During a break in the action, the camera man called Tim up and let him run the camera:
The camera guy told Tim that his cameraman work would appear on the Los Angeles game broadcast. So, all of you Angelinos, I hope you enjoyed Tim’s handiwork.
In the ninth inning, we grabbed some open seats with a great view of the action:
The game was still tied 1-1 after nine innings. In the top of the tenth, Adrian Gonzalez led off with a double to CF. Red hot Hanley Ramirez (batting a mere .390 at the time) followed with an RBI double to CF. Ramirez advanced to 3B on a sacrifice bunt by Juan Uribe and he scored the third Dodger run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier. Despite two more Dodger hits in the inning, that was all the scoring for the Dodgers.
Kenley Jansen came in for Dodgers in the bottom of the tenth and shut the Nationals down with two strikeouts and a groundout to end the game.
Dodgers win 3-1. Chris Withrow, who pitched the ninth inning for the Dodgers, earned the “W” (the first of his career).
After the game, Mateo and Tim both tried to get an umpire ball, but neither succeeded. Kellan and I went to the dugout and were quickly joined by Tim and Mateo. As the victorious Dodgers cleared the field, Kenley Jansen tossed a baseball to Tim. We were all set to head to the gates when Jansen popped his head back over the top of the dugout and asked to trade baseballs with Tim. Turns out he had given Tim the ball that recorded the final out of the game, thus earning Withrow his first career win. Tim tossed Withrow’s “Win” ball back to Jansen and caught the replacement ball that Jansen tossed to him.
Before heading to the gates, I took a group selfie (featuring a Monkey pose by Kellan):
We had a great time hanging out with Mateo, as we always do. We walked part way to our car with Mateo because the route matched his walk to where he was going to catch a train (or a bus…some sort of public transportation).
The boys quickly fell to sleep once we got on the road…
…with Kellan still holding the baseball Jansen tossed to Tim.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|18 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox|
|31 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 3, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4|
|86 Baseballs – Mariners 11, Royals 4, Phillies 14, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3|
|10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith|
|10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez|