Archive for the ‘ Citi Field ’ Category

No Sleep Till Brooklyn & Queens (5/24/2014)

May 24, 2014 was a fun day that I had been looking forward to for a while for both baseball and non-baseball reasons. On the baseball front, we were going to see the Mets host the Diamondbacks. I bought the tickets in April when our buddy and former Mariner Ryan Rowland-Smith was in the Diamondbacks pen. But before this series arrived, Ryan was designate for assignment and was pitching in AAA in Buffalo, NY when this weekend rolled around.

That was a bummer. And it made me not really want to go to this game…I would have preferred another game at a different park.

But…the non-baseball reason still had me excited to go to NYC.

The game was scheduled for a 4:10 start. But we packed up the car…

…and were on the road…

…to NYC by 7:30 a.m.

Did you catch those two clues? You see, my boys, baseball and the Mariners…

…aren’t my only interests. I’ve always been very much “into” music. And from the fifth grade and the release of the classic album “Licensed to Ill,” I have been a big fan of the Beastie Boys.

Truth be told, I was a much bigger Beasties fan when I was younger (I prefer harder music these days and am not really into rap anymore). But from fifth grade through college, I listened to the Beastie Boys a ton. In fact, during my sophomore year in college, I hosted an hour long radio show each Monday night called “Beastie Revolution” that featured all Beasties all the time.

Now, you see, Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer in 2012. In May 2013, a park in Brooklyn was renamed for him (“Adam Yauch Park”). Since then, I have wanted to visit Adam Yauch Park. And since this past offseason, I have had a very specific idea for our eventual visit to Adam Yauch Park: to remake the cover of the Beastie Boys’ classic album, “Check Your Head.”

So that was the major plan for the morning.

But I decided to make Beasties morning of it. So, on the way to Brooklyn, we had to stop by the corner of Rivington & Ludlow in downtown Manhattan (not Brooklyn) to visit the site of Paul’s Boutique:

The Paul’s Boutique building looks nothing like it used to on the cover of the Beasties’ sophomore album (pictured above to the right). However, if you open up the album cover and unfold the panorama, the intersection is still recognizable due to a few unique features – such as the building diagonal across the intersection and the “Talmud Torah” arched sign above the building two down from Paul’s Boutique.

I did my best to recreate the panorama of the intersection. Here you go:

 

By the way, I should mention, as we first approached the intersection, I pulled out my Paul’s Boutique CD and held up the booklet inside trying to see if I could match it to the corner. Right then, a random guy walked past us and stopped for a beat, pointed at Paul’s Boutique, and said, “It was right there on that corner,” and then he just kept walking. I thought that was pretty cool.

This was a quick stop. We had bigger plans for the morning.

We hopped back in our car, turned off “Check Your Head,” turned on “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, this might seem odd (or maybe not), but this was the first time I’d ever driven over the Brooklyn Bridge. Every other time I’ve been to Brooklyn, I’ve taken a subway there. Also, this might have been Tim’s (and definitely Kellan’s ) first trip to Brooklyn. Anyway, I found the Brooklyn Bridge to be pretty cool. Great view out toward the Statue of Liberty and it has a cool walkers section in the middle. I recommend it!

It was a pretty quick drive from “Paul’s Boutique” to Adam Yauch Park:

The park is a in great city neighborhood that reminded me a lot of parts of Center City Philadelphia, where I lived during law school.

The park was tiny, jammed into the space between the neighborhood and a freeway on ramp, and (most importantly) really nice. Here’s what it looks like:

The boys played there for a while, but before playing, we got down to business.

Here is the “Check Your Head” album cover:

My original plan was to simply remake it in the same format with each of us playing the park of a different Beastie Boy, but with the “Adam Yauch Park” sign in the background. But, after a lot of internal debate, I decided to cut myself from the picture, and remake the album cover with Tim, Kellan and Adam Yauch.

I brought props. It took some coaching (especially with Kellan) to get the poses right (or as right as Kellan could do for playing the part of a 20-something year old guy).

So here was the initial effort (what I could do “on the street” with no computer work):

I gotta tell you: I loved it. It came out so great I thought maybe I was just done there…leave it at that with the Adam Yauch Park sign hanging above an empty spot where Adam Yauch (or someone playing his role) should have been sitting. Of course, I kept a version of the photo that way so I will always have it. And I still love it just like I took it on the street.

But, when we got home that night (and into the next day), I couldn’t help tinkering and trying out my original plan. So, here is the same photo with “MCA” added in:

Again, I completely loved it! (And still do). I couldn’t get Adam to sit quite right on the curb and still mesh right with Tim – probably because he’s a grown man who was originally sitting next to two other grown men, not 8 and 3 year old boys – but, hey, I forgive myself. I’m not a professional photo editor or anything. The only problem is that his bass guitar case is resting on the curb instead of sitting flat on the street like in the original. But I’m okay with that.

Finally, several days later, I completed my original concept, which due to size constraints, couldn’t include the “Adam Yauch Park” sign:

Not too shabby, eh?

I gotta say, after visiting Adam Yauch Park, where my boys had a ton of fun climbing around on the play toys and taking that original black-and-white photo of just my boys and the park sign, my day was pretty much made. But, as an added bonus, we still had a baseball game to go to!

We didn’t have time to drive to the upper west side to park and then take the train like we usually do. Instead, we drove straight from Adam Yauch Park to Citi Field. As a bonus, we got to experience two views that we’d never seen before.

First, a cool view of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn:

Second, we drove for 2.4 miles under the 7 train…

 

…, which was pretty interesting. I’ve really never driven around neighborhoods in Queens. Lots of interesting things to see out there!

We reached the ballpark in plenty of time, which was good we had to go to the Mets fan assistance office to get our tickets printed.

While we were in line at the gates, Kellan practiced his pitching to Tim:

Once we got into the ballpark, we headed down the RF line and then quickly made our way toward section 142 in CF.

When we got down to the front row corner spot, there was already a baseball sitting in the huge gap between the seats and the shortened outfield wall. The Mets were hitting and a few Diamondbacks pitchers were milling about. Fairly soon after we arrived in CF, an groundskeeper came to grab the ball in the gap and he decided to toss it up to Kellan.

Just before the groundskeeper tossed the ball, Brad Ziegler (who was walking from LF to the bullpens) popped through the door in the OF fence and tossed us a ball. Tim was standing right next to me on the right (sort of behind me as I faced Ziegler). When I caught the ball from Ziegler, the groundskeeper refocused his gaze from Kellan to Tim, and Tim made the easy catch on that ball.

Thanks, Brad, and thanks, groundskeeper!

About 20-30 second after we got the balls from Ziegler and the groundskeeper, Josh Edgin…

…(who is the guy on the left) turned around, shouted to get our attention, and tossed us a third baseball, even though Tim and Kellan were both visibly holding balls at the time. Luckily, the second was basically empty other than us at the time.

Thanks, Josh!

At the very end of Mets BP (and, as it would turn out, BP in general), Bartolo Colon caught a pop fly. Tim called out to Bartolo, but Bartolo first ignore Tim, who did not include “please” in his request. Then, when Tim called out, “Bartolo, could you please toss me that ball?”, Colon turned around and fired a strike to Tim’s waiting glove:

Gracias, Bartolo! (Or, as Tim later called him, “Barlesto”).

Once the Mets cleared the field, the groundscrew ran out and started taking down the nets, but they left the batting cage in place. As a groundscrew guy wheeled a screen out to the gap in CF, I asked him if the Diamondbacks were not taking BP (which, obviously, seemed to be the case, but why were they leaving the batting cage in place?). He confirmed that BP was finished. So, with a few Diamondbacks starting to appear down the LF line, we decided to relocate to the second just past third base:

It turns out that the Diamondbacks decided to take a full “infield/outfield,” like back in the good old days. It was cool to watch.

Both Martin Prado and Eric Chavez were playing 3B at first. Eventually, a ball trickled by them and came to a rest on the grass behind 3B. A little while later, Chavez headed to the dugout while Prado stayed put at 3B.

I called out to Chavez after his first step toward the dugout, and I pointed toward the ball in the grass behind 3B and then at Tim. That’s all it took:

Thanks, Eric!

Soon, another back squibbed by Prado, not more than 5-10 feet behind him. It stayed on the infield dirt and Prado just ignored it.

After the outfielders took fly balls from home plate, they call congregated in CF and Dave McKay fungo’d them a bunch more pop flies and they worked on their throws in to a cutoff man. Gerardo Parra was one of the outfielders taking fly balls from McKay.

When Parra headed toward the dugout, he ran right behind 3B. Prado and that stray ball were still there. I called out to Parra – just like with Chavez – and pointed to Tim. Again, that was all it took. Parra retrieved the ball and tossed it to Tim:

This ball, however, was a little bit more interesting. See Cody Ross (the next player heading toward the dugout behind Parra). He’s watching the ball fly toward Tim’s waiting glove. Well, the ball sailed a little to the right and sunk a bit. Eventually, Tim caught the ball (literally, not exaggeration at all) 1-2 inches in front of Kellan’s face. Had Tim not reached out for the ball, it would have smashed Kellan right in the nose.

Cody Ross got all nervous and jumped a bit as the throw played out. He might have even yelled a bit. They he yelled at Parra “you almost hit that kid in the face!” But Parra was on his way out, he didn’t even realize what Ross was talking about. Luckily, Tim’s got a good glove!

Thanks, Gerardo & Tim! (And thanks to Cody Ross for the concern).

So, all this while, there was another kid, probably 10-12 years old, a few steps to Tim’s left. He was just standing there quietly. I could tell he wanted a ball. I’m not big on giving away baseballs, because I like the personal connection we get with the player who tosses them, plus we’re trying to build a wall of baseballs that needs a bunch more baseballs before we can build it. But I do like to help other kids get their own baseballs. Eventually, it seemed like Dave McKay was the only option left on the field. He was still hitting fungos and he had a big bag of baseballs. I told the kid that his name was “Dave” and that he should ask him for a ball by name when he walked into the dugout.

But the kid was too shy. Standing next to him, I could hardly hear him call to Dave. So I shouted, “Hey, Dave!!” and I pointed to the kid still standing five feet to Tim’s left. McKay gave us a nod sort of like he was saying, “No problem, but hold on just a sec.”

I told the kid and his dad that I thought McKay was going to toss him a ball so he should keep watching him. McKay walked down into the 3B dugout, set down the bag of balls, and then reached in and pulled three balls out. He tossed the first one high to us. As it sailed our way, I called out to Tim, “Let him catch it! Let him catch it!” But Tim reached up and made the easy grab. Oops…

I told Tim to hand the ball to the kid. McKay then fired the other two balls directly to me one-after-the-other. We all thanked McKay and then the kid and his dad thanked us. I wished the kid could have caught the ball on his own, but oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

Thanks, Dave!

That was it for pre-game. The Diamondbacks cleared the field and we (along with Zack Hample and Rick Gold) headed back out to the CF seats where all the “boys” posed for this picture:

And then Kellan ate a ton of “pirates” (that’s our nickname for a snack Tim and Kellan both enjoy) and he made a mess that amused Zack greatly:

When Kellan was all done eating, he took some picts, including this one of Zack:

We all hung out in CF while the groundscrew readied the field for the game. Check this out:

They are sweeping the grass to make the “NY” logo stand out better.

Just before game time, we grabbed some hot dogs and headed out to the picnic tables behind the bullpens (under Shea Bridge)…

…, which is one of our favorite spots at Citi Field.

After the Mets had taken the field but before first pitch, the Mets sound people blared some Beastie Boys (Sabotage) throughout Citi Field, which seemed like a fitting way to start the game on this day.

And here was the first pitch:

Like at our other game at Citi Field earlier this season, we spent a lot of time at this game in this picnic area. A lot of that time, we were playing catch (including Tim pitching to me):

Some of that time, we were posing for pictures, like this one:

And some of that time, Kellan was playing hand-baseball:

In the third inning, with the Diamondbacks already up 3-0, we decided to head out to CF to play some kids’ games. On our way, we got a panorama from the back of section 141…

…and a picture of the boys in the same spot:

Unfortunately, right after we left the picnic area below Shea Bridge, Curtis Granderson hit a ground rule double into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen. It would have rolled all the way to the back of the bullpen…right to where we had been hanging out moments earlier. Poor timing, I guess.

By the way, that groundrule double made the score 3-1 Diamondsbacks.

The boys had a lot of fun at the kids’ whiffle field:

Both fielding balls…

…and hitting them. Kellan hit several line drives off of the LF fence and Tim hit a couple balls over the wall in LF and CF.

After numerous rounds of hitting in the whiffle field, we got some ice cream and headed back to the bullpen picnic area:

David Wright hit a homerun in the fifth inning to bring the score to 3-2 Diamondbacks. That’s where the score remained into the ninth inning when we headed over toward the umpires’ tunnel.

Addison Reed came in and shut down the Mets in the bottom of the ninth, including former Phillies all-star Bobby Abreu…

…who lined out to short stop (I thought it was going to get in for a hit).

So, in the end, the Diamondbacks won 3-2.

After the game, home plate umpire Jim Reynolds gave baseballs to several kids, including both Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Blue!

And then we got a final picture (taken by Mr. Hample) before leaving the ballpark for the evening:

Check out how nice the Jackie Robinson Rotunda looked on our way out as the sun was low in the sky:

I’d never seen it look like that before. The low pre-setting sun suits the Rotunda well.

We ended up driving into Manhattan and walking around a whole bunch through Central Park. We played some eye spy and wanted to play some baseball, but the sun was down by this point and the fields were chained shut.

So, we headed back up to the upper west side where we parked (after the game) and grabbed some late dinner at Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus:

A fine way to cap off an excellent day of Beastie Boys and baseball. The boys conked out quick in the car…a sure sign that it was a good day.

2014 Fan Stats
7 Games
10 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Orioles, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals, Diamondbacks)
5 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards, PNC Park)
52 Baseballs (9 Mets, 2* Expos, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 6 Umpires, 6 Orioles, 2 Royals, 4 Cardinals, 1 Pirates, 4 Diamondbacks)* Olympic Stadium Staff
6 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star, Orioles 60th Anniversary)
7 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies, 2 Orioles, 2 Pirates, 2 Mets)
 

 

David Wright Ruins Our No-Hit Bid (4/18/2014)

Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…

…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.

Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:

We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:

Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.

Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…

… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.

The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…

…and running around between the growing lines of fans:

Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:

And Kellan declared it to be banana time:

He destroyed that banana!

Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:

Thanks, Mets guy!

We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.

So…

We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:

At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:

As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.

Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.

Thanks, usher-type-guy!

We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.

Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:

First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.

Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.

Thanks, Ervin!

Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.

Thanks, again, Ervin!

Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):

We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…

…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.

On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:

Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:

And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…

…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”

Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:

We headed to Shea Bridge…

…where it looked a lot like this:

The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…

…struck out swinging.

We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:

Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:

For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:

Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….

…and section 531:

It was windy and freezing up there!

Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!

If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:

Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:

It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…

That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:

Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:

When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.

So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.

I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:

Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.

Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.

Booo!!!!!

(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).

For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:

Check out these silly guys:

The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…

…hit a sacrifice fly.

Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.

Boooo!

After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:

After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.

We had a great day packed with fun and…

…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.

2014 Fan Stats
4 Games
5 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)
3 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
27 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff
5 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)
1 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)
 

 

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 4, Yankees at Mets (5/27/2013)

On May 27, 2013, my dad’s birthday, we woke up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, with a bonus Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip game on tap for later that night in Queens.
We had plenty of time to get to NY so we started the day with a nice leisurely free breakfast in our hotel dining area:

1-breakfast-in-dubois

We had nothing but good things to say about the brand-spanking new Fairfield Inn in DuBois. A very nice place to stay for the night.
We hit the road and had a nice drive across Pennsylvania. It was route I’d never taken before. The boys did a little snacking in the car, and did some jumping jacks to burn some energy at a rest stop…

2-from-pa-to-nj-to-ny

…, then it was in to New Jersey, and on to the big city.

When we reached Manhattan, we parked in the upper west side and then dined on some huge pizza slices…

3-the-famous-original-only-first-famously-original-rays

…at Rays on 82nd and Columbus.

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out where we should get on the subway in the upper west side. So I gave Zack Hample a call. He pointed us in the right direction. And, wouldn’t you know it, as we approached the subway…

4-zack-city-subway

…we ran into Zack on the sidewalk. It had only been 3 days earlier that we were hanging out with Zack in Toronto. It was cool to bump into him again on the same roadtrip, although not at another game.

My boys love riding the subway:

5-subwaying

My dad had never been to Shea or Citi Field and he was happy to get to see the sights…

6-crahfeetee

…from the 7 Train.

You know we had to get this photo right after arriving at Citi Field:

7-grandpa-boys-shea-homerun-apple

We played a little catch in the parking lot and then hopped in line. As I held our spot, my dad took the boys for a little walk so he could see the outside of Citi Field. On their way back…

8-citi-line

…, Tim was showing off his muscles.

Once we headed into the stadium, we all headed to foul territory down the RF foul line. After a few minutes, the boys and I headed to the corner spot in RCF by the bullpens. Here was out view (to the left)…

9-rcf-parnell

…and my dad snapped that picture of us hanging out at the bottom of the steep RF steps. In that line up of player in RCF, the left one in from the left (closest to us) was Bobby Parnell. Eventually, a baseball was hit out to the warning track about half way between the players and us. Parnell ran over to grab it, and he was kind enough to toss it up to us.

Thanks, Bobby!

It was really bright in RCF and nice and shady in LF, so we decided to head over there. On our way, we met up with Mr. Met:

10-mr-met-2013

This was our view in LCF:

11-quiet-in-lcf

Nothing was doing out there. The most interesting part of our time out in LCF was getting to watch Mariano Rivera shagging fly balls.

Coming into this game, at least one player or coach from every MLB team had thrown us a baseball since Tim’s first game back in 2006, every team, that is, except the Yankees. I was hoping we could cross the Yankees off the toss-up list at this game.

I was really hoping we could get a toss-up from Ichiro, but before Ichiro made it out to RF, we ran into another former Mariner, Shawn Kelley. And, wouldn’t you know, the former-Mariner now in a Yankees uniform tossed us a baseball:

12-why-you-catch-that-daddy

IN that picture, Tim is looking at me in disbelief because I had the audacity to catch the baseball that Shawn tossed to him after it sailed two feet over Tim’s head. Had I not caught it, we never would have seen it again. But Tim was definitely bummed out that he didn’t get to make the catch. Anyway…

Thanks, Shawn!

Then Tim’s favorite player (who sadly now wears pinstriped pajamas as his home uniform) came out to field some balls in RF:

13-is-that-ichiro

Hey, I failed to mention that, while we were in LCF, my dad found his way over to the corner spot where we got the ball from Parnell. At the time, Ichiro was blistering balls all over RF and the RF seats. When he hit a laser out to RCF, an unidentified Yankee fielded the ball and tossed it to my dad; a pretty cool birthday present from the Yankees.

We headed over to RF to watch Ichiro. He tossed several balls into the seats in foul territory, but nothing anyway near us. Once he headed to the dugout, we decided it was a bit too crowded in the seats. So we called it a day for BP, headed off to get some ice cream and headed to the picnic tables under Shea Bridge so the boys could eat their ice cream in peace:

14-seventeen-pullups-two-ice-creams

Kellan is still only two years old and is only potty trained when he feels like it. So he wears pullups most of the time. As we pulled into Manhattan, I changed Kellan and realized that I only had one more pullup! We were far from my car when we stopped into a drug store to get a fresh pack of pullups. As the kids ate their ice cream, I counted that I had 17 pullups in my backpack — quite possibly a new Major League record. I think this meant that my dad had about 8 in his back pack too. By the way, it ended up that I did need to buy them. Oh, well…better safe than sorry.

As the boys ate their ice cream two interesting things happened:

15-two-baseball-by-bullpen

First, a usher came over and toss a ball over the fence to the boys. Tim was mid-ice cream and couldn’t get his glove on in time. After the Shawn Kelley toss-up, I knew Tim wanted to be the one to catch (or at least secure) this ball, so I literally let the ball just hit me in the chest and bounce back against the fence. Tim ran over and grabbed it with his glove still in his throwing hand (picture above to the right).

Second, the same usher came back over to us two minute later with another ball. He felt that both boys should get a ball. This time, Tim had time to get his glove on and he made a nice catch on the high toss over the fence (there he is with it in the photo above to the left). Meanwhile, Kellan was shoveling ice cream into his face.

Double thanks, Usher!

By the way, that is the usher walking away from us behind Tim in the photo above to the left.

My dad came and found us. And look who else found us once my dad arrived:

16-mr-met-and-the-birthday-boy

From time-to-time, Kellan has a case of the terrible twos. And this game featured a couple of them, including right when the game was about to start. That’s okay though. He can sit on my shoulders and fuss it up while we walk around and have a nice time. My dad needed to see some more of the ballpark so we all headed up to the Pepsi Porch in RF. That’s where we were when the game started. Here’s the second pitch…

17-second-pitch-is-better-photo-than-first-pitch-tonight

…because it ended up being a better picture than my shot of the first pitch.

The pitching match up was Jon Neise vs. Phil Hughes. That second pitch picture features a match up of Neise against Brett Gardner. Neise won that match up by way of strikeout.
My dad got his first taste of New York ushering…

18-watching-robby

…while watching Robby Cano strike out for the final out of the top of the first. Neise k’d all three batters he faced. Anyway, see that little gate to my dad’s right in that picture above to the right? When we walked up to the standing room area, my dad walked up to that gate and rested his hands on top of the gate – a very natural thing to do in an SRO area. The usher told my dad that he couldn’t stand at the gate, he had to move over to the left…which was a pretty pointless rule.

On our way out of the Pepsi Porch, we got a picture of Tim posing in front of the 7 Train and muffler city (that’s my name for it. Whatever it’s called, it is an eye sore):

19-tim-muffler-city-seven-train

And then Tim and my dad got a (bonus) picture with the Citi Field sign and some baseballs for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

20-citi-field-bonus-shot

We were in the upper deck concourse down the 3B side in the top of the second when Ichiro came to the plate:

21-bitter-sweet-ichiro-at-bat

Tim watched on with uneasy anticipation as his all-time favorite batter took the batters’ box wearing the wrong uniform. It was the first time we’d ever seen Ichiro bat in person wearing a non-Mariners uniform, and it was a bit unsettling.

We are never accustomed to wanting a Yankee to get a hit or do anything positive in a game. But all of us were happy when Ichiro laced a harmless single to CF:

22-still-hitting

It was Ichiro’s only hit on the day. He went 1-3 with a walk.

If I had it my way, Ichiro would rip off another 200 hit season this year, but his teammates would always squander the opportunities and leave him stranded on base.
While we watched Ichiro bat, my dad chatted with an usher who pointed out this:

23-row-six-and-row-six

You see it? Row 6 and, right behind it, row 6. Oops!

In the top of the third, we grabbed some food and finally found our seats:

24-short-lived-seats

Tim and my dad enjoyed their food and ended up sitting in our seats for a while. Kellan and I were I our seats for about five minutes tops. I ended up ripping off a big piece of Kellan’s soft pretzel and giving it to him to eat. I knew it was a mistake the second I did it. Kellan launched into another case of the terrible twos. Instead of letting his whining annoy our fellow fans, I decided to head back over to the bullpen area where Kellan could work the crankiness out of his system without bothering other fans. Somehow, we ended up staying there most of the game.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Brett Gardner led off the inning with a triple and scored on a Jayson Nix RBI single.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gardner helped keep the 1-0 Yankees lead intact. At the time, Kellan and I were in the field level concourse in LF. There were two outs when Daniel Murphy came to the plate. Murphy blasted the ball to deep LCF. It had just enough to get out of the ballpark…but it didn’t have quite enough to get out of Gardner’s reach. Garden jumped high against the wall and brought the homerun back into the park for the final out of the inning. Here is a video clip of the catch.

Tim and my dad ended up meeting up with us back by the bullpens around the sixth or seventh inning. We played a ton of catch back there:

25-catching-for-smiles

Above to the left, Kellan was throwing balls against the wall while my dad played back up. Above to the right, I was throwing long tosses (essentially the entire length of Shea Bridge to Tim. No one seemed to care that we were doing there, so that was pretty cool.

You know what wasn’t cool? The fans by the bullpens:

26-sweet-new-york-fans-way-to-go-guys

There were a bunch of Mets and Yankees fans and they were cursing up a storm at each other and putting down each other’s team. It was ridiculous. Eventually, an usher came over and threatened to kick out the guy above in the Mets shirt who is facing the camera. He felt this was a grave injustice and that it was the Yankees fans who should have been threatened to get kicked out.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, David Wright launched a game tying homerun to LF.

We had signed my dad up for a “First Game” certificate at the fan assistance booth in the upper deck early in the game. They told us to come back for the certificate in the seventh inning or later. We decided to head up to grab the certificate and get a picture of the four of us.

Turns out my dad’s certificate wasn’t ready so they ended up mailing it to him. During the eighth inning, an usher took this photo of us on our final stop on the GFS Roadtrip:

27-four-cook-dudes-at-citi-field

Here was our view of the action from our SRO spot in the bottom of the eighth:

28-view-of-some-duda

Lucas Duda ended up striking out to end the eighth inning, but the Mets fans didn’t care because two batters earlier Daniel Murphy had come through with a go-ahead RBI single to CF. So the Mets were up 2-1 going into the top of the ninth.

As Bobby Parnell came in for the save attempt, we relocated to the SRO behind the field level seats behind 3B so we would be closer to the exits when the game ended.
Historically, I have found it difficult to get down to the umpire’s tunnel at the end of Mets home games at Citi Field. At first, I wasn’t even thinking we would try. But Kellan and I ended up walking down to the SRO area just behind the section immediately above the umpire tunnel.

The usher was not checking tickets. But we stayed in the concourse.

With one out, this was our view as Ichiro worked a walk:

29-ichiro-walks-in-ninth

In a 8-pitch at bat, Lyle Overbay ended up striking out for the second out of the top of the ninth inning. In this course of battling Parnell, Overbay ended up hitting a little foul nubber right in front of the plate. I watched as catcher John Buck retrieved the ball and gave it back to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Culbreth inspected the foul ball and then put it back in one of his baseball pouches.

Travis Hafner was the final batter of the game. As he batted, Kellan and I stood in the aisle right at the top of the stairs. Hafner ended up being retired on a moon shot, infield pop out to David Wright at 3B.

In terms of trying to get into position to get an umpire ball, pop fly outs are the best possible ending to a game. As everyone stood to watch the play, Kellan (on my shoulders) and I took off down the stairs and we had no problem reaching the umpire tunnel before Culbreth arrived. Culbreth ended up tossing a few baseballs to kids on the OF side of the tunnel. Then he turned and tossed his final baseball to us:

30a-umpire-ball-foul-ball

The baseball was all smudged and dirty. I have a strong feeling it was the foul nubber that Overbay hit before striking out for the second out of the game. Of course, there is no way to ever confirm that suspicion…but it’s fun to speculate.

Thanks, Fieldin!

Right after we got the ball from Culbreth, a teenage fan standing next to us looked at me and asked, “Todd and Tim!?” “Yeah…well, Todd and Kellan,” I responded. I didn’t recognize him at first because he has almost doubled in size since the last time we saw him, but I was pleased to be face-to-face once again with our former ballpark buddy and MyGameBalls.com member, Alex K.

We chatted for a minute or two in the seats and then I asked if he could head up to the concourse with us so he could say hi to Tim. I knew Tim would be psyched to see him. Here’s the thing about Tim, he loves people. Especially, kids, of all ages. In 2009, we met Alex in Chicago and then saw him several times in NY, along with his buddy Joe Faraguna. Back then, every time we went to a game, Tim asked, “Will Joe and Alex be at the game?”

Tim was definitely thrown off at first at how much older and taller Alex looks now. But once he realized it was Alex from “Joe and Alex,” he was excited to see his old buddy. Of course, almost right away, Tim asked, “Where’s Joe?”

Check out these now (2013) and then (2009) picts of Tim and Alex:

30b-hey-hey-its-alex-k

They’ve both grown a lot!

After chatting with Alex a bit, we headed toward the gates. On the way out, I realized my dad had missed out on a Citi Field must see, the big Jackie Robinson “42”:

31-post-game-42s

On the way to the 7 Train, we saw a cool Mets car:

32-fancy-mets-car

We said good-bye to Citi Field from the 7 train…

33-see-ya-from-the-seven

…, the local 7 Train, that is.

It was a long but fun commute back to our car on the 7 Train and the 1 Train:

34-commuting-post-game

And it was an even longer commute out of NY and back to Pennsylvania. We arrived home around 2:30 a.m.

So there you go, another successful Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip in the books. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in Texas in 2014 because my dad has now seen every team play a home game except the Rangers (he saw the Astros at the Astrodome so he still needs to visit Minute Maid Park and he saw the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium so he still needs to go to Marlins Park). Can wait to help him check all of those stadiums off of his list!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

11 Games

16 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets.

20 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2.

50 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 3, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2.

9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field.

16 Player+ Photos – 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, Rick Anderson.

5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo.

Cook & Son’s MLB Adventures (Vol. 1)

The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.

As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:

I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!

Every MLB Stadium: Check!

I am way behind in writing our game entries — 4 games to be exact.  But, in the meantime, I wanted to share a photo compilation I completed today.  This past weekend, we attended two games at Marlins Park in Miami.  Tim and I have now been to every current MLB stadium, plus several closed stadiums.  Here is a photo six years in the making:

As of today, Tim has been to 139 MLB games, with Safeco Field, Camden Yards and Citizens Bank Park topping the “most games” list.  But here is a list of the first (or only) game Tim attended at each of his 34 MLB stadiums:

  1. Safeco Field (9/12/06)
  2. Citizens Bank Park (6/30/07)
  3. Camden Yards (8/9/07)
  4. Yankee Stadium (’23) (9/3/07)
  5. PNC Park (9/29/07)
  6. Great American Ball Park (8/15/08)
  7. Progressive Field (8/17/08)
  8. Shea Stadium (9/7/08)
  9. Chase Field (9/12/08)
  10. Citi Field (4/25/09)
  11. Nationals Park (5/17/09)
  12. Yankee Stadium (’09) (7/2/09)
  13. Fenway Park (7/3/09)
  14. Wrigley Field (8/14/09)
  15. H.H.H. Metrodome (8/15/09)
  16. Miller Park (8/16/09)
  17. U.S. Cellular Field (8/17/09)
  18. Rogers Centre (9/26/09)
  19. Oakland Coliseum (6/9/10)
  20. Dodger Stadium (6/11/10)
  21. Petco Park (6/12/10)
  22. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (6/14/10)
  23. AT&T Park (6/15/10)
  24. Minute Maid Park (5/27/11)
  25. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (5/28/11)
  26. Comerica Park (7/3/11)
  27. Sun Life Stadium (8/13/11)
  28. Turner Field (8/15/11)
  29. Tropicana Field (8/19/11)
  30. Target Field (5/12/12)
  31. Busch Stadium (5/14/12)
  32. Kauffman Stadium (5/16/12)
  33. Coors Field (5/18/12)
  34. Marlins Park (8/31/12)
 Since Tim’s milestone stadium was his 34th stadium overall, he celebrated before the game with a little #Felixing:
Time to do it all again!
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