Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Mr. Davis and the Cooks at Safeco Field (8/5/2013)

Who was the first batter at the first MLB game you ever attended?  Personally, I have no clue.

But I can tell you that Frank Catalanotto took “strike 1″ when Tim watched Gil Meche deliver the first pitch of his first Major League game back on September 12, 2006.  And I can tell you that Luke French delivered “strike 1″ to Rajai Davis with the first pitch of Kellan’s first Major League game back on October 1, 2010.

Our goal has been to meet and get an autograph from each of those guys.  And on August 5, 2013, which marked the first full day of our 2013 Seattle vacation, we finally caught up with Rajai Davis.  Here is the story of that day.

We had four Mariners games planned for the trips.  On our way down to this one, we were happy to have Colleen “Mommy” Cook…

…join us for her first game of the season.

We arrived plenty early and entered through The Pen entrance…

…in left field.

At the outset, Tim hung out with Granpda while Kellan, Colleen and I headed out by the batters’ eye:

There were two baseballs in the grass out there and an usher eventually tossed one our way.

Thanks, Usher!

I then split off from Colleen and Kellan and headed over to the LF corner to check out Edgar’s Cantina.  It’s nice, but I’ll never really spend any time here for at least a decade or two because kids are not allowed in there (which seems silly to me since people drink alcohol everywhere in the ballpark…and all ballparks).  Anyway, here are a couple photos.  First, the view to home plate:

The bar:

And through the window looking into the visitors’ bullpen:

Someone hit a homerun into the Cantina while I was in there.  They put a net over the top of the fans during BP, but the ball still trickled down and made its way into the hands of a fan back toward the bar.

So long, Edgar’s, I’ll come check you out again once the boys are in college or something.

When they opened the rest of the ballpark, Tim and my dad headed to RF for a bit and Yoervis Medina tossed a ball to Tim.

Thanks, Yoervis!

Colleen, Kellan and I headed to foul territory in LF.  We had one major goal for this game:  get a special autograph from Rajai Davis.  I knew the 3B line would be our best bet to make it happen.

As the Blue Jays took the field, the scene looked a little like this:

The three of us went to the lower “X” on the far right side of the photo.  Davis was playing catch with one of his teammates and he was in shallow CF throwing to his partner just behind 3B.

I made a big sign (just like I made for Tim’s first batter, Frank Catalanotto) that read:

RAJAI DAVIS

AUTOGRAPH

PLEASE!!?

When I spotted Rajai out in shallow center, I yelled, “RAAAAAAJJJJJJJAAAAAAAAAIIIIIII” at the top of my lungs and held the sign high over my head.

Davis looked over and gave me a nod and a little “hold on a minute” hand gesture.

Yes!!!

I knew we were going to succeed in our two three-year old Davisquest.

After taking some fungo’d pop flies in LCF, Rajai made his way over to us (and my dad, who had joined us) took a lot of pictures:

Top Left: I’m showing Rajai the photo of the first pitch of Kellan’s first MLB game back on October 1, 2013.  The picture was already signed by the M’s starting pitcher, Luke French.

Top Right:  While a Rueters photographer snapped away, Rajai and I look up to track a ball after hearing the crack of the bat.

Bottom Left:  Rajai points at the picture and mumbles (as if half to himself and half to me), “Ah, Oakland A’s.  Luke French.  Yeah…that’s a good night for Mr. Davis.”  After the game, I checked the box score and found that Mr. Davis went 2-3 with an RBI and 2 walks on the night. Nearly everything went wrong that night.  The M’s lost 9-0.  Thankfully, the one thing that went right was that Rajai was retired on the second pitch of the game.  So Kellan started his MLB career with the Mariners throwing “strike 1, out 1” on his first two pitches.

Bottom Right:  Rajai signs the photo for Kellan.

After signing the photo, Rajai was super cool (and patient) and hung out long enough for my dad to snap a few more photos of us (in which, for some reason, Colleen tried to lean back out of the photo instead of joining us – silly girl):

Here’s a close up of Rajai and Kellan (and me since I was holding Kellan):

And here’s a photo I found after the game by search google for “Rueters Rajai Davis”:

That photo was posted on several sports websites around the world…I’m not sure why, but I won’t argue about it.

Finally, check this out:

How many people have a picture of the first pitch of their first MLB game signed by both the pitcher and batter AND photos with both of the players??  Not many, I am sure.  In fact, Kellan is the only one I know (we are still trying to track down Tim’s first pitcher, Gil Meche).

After our Rajai Davis experience, we headed further down the LF line for a while:

There were so many Blue Jays fans down from Canada that we stood no chance at getting any toss-ups.

Late in BP, Colleen and my dad stayed with the boys in the shady foul territory and I headed out to RF to try my luck at catching a BP homer.  It was really sunny out there…

…and I came nowhere near catching any homers.

Check out my dad, Colleen and the boys (you can only see Tim in this photo) hanging out in LF foul territory…

…behind a line of Blue Jays fans.  I’m pretty sure that there are more Blue Jays fans at BP at Safeco Field when the Blue Jays visit Seattle than there are at any Blue Jays home game.

On my way back over to foul territory, I stopped by the Mariners bullpen to check out the new setup…

…, which is the result of the M’s bringing the fences in for the 2013 season.  Last season, there was a tall chain link fence between the bullpen and the fans.  Now, it is just a low railings.  Much more access and less interference between fans and players.  I like it.

Here are a few views of the newly reconfigured LF area:

Lower Right:  Edgar’s Cantina from the seats next to the LF foul pole.

Lower Left: The hand operated scoreboard is now above Edgar’s and set back 10-15 feet from the field – it used to be right above the OF wall.

Upper Right:  Tim touching the LF foul pole.

Upper Left:  The new standing room area above Edgar’s Cantina.  This area replaces two sections of seating that used to be in LF.

Next, we headed off to the Kids’ Play Area for a bit:

Last season, we concluded that Tim wouldn’t be able to go in the play area this season.  This season, he was a smidge taller than the height limit, but they still let him in with Kellan – and he still had lots of fun.

While we watched the kids play, my dad posed for a picture with the Rajai Davis sign and…

…then I drew a “Hit It Here” sign on the back of the Rajai sign.

Before the game started, we headed back to the bullpen to watch Hisashi Iwakuma warm up for the game:

And then Tim acted like he was throwing this Pepsi sign on our way to our seats:

We made it to our seats in CF in time for Kuma’s first pitch to Jose Reyes:

And that’s when I noticed that one of the Blue Jays’ BP homers had busted the out-of-town scoreboard above the bullpens:

It was like this the entire game, but was fixed by the next day.

For most of the game, my dad and Tim sat next to each other…

…and Colleen, Kellan and I sat right in front of them, with me on the aisle seat.

The game was a pitchers’ dual with R.A. Dickey…

…going pitch-for-pitch with Kuma.

In the bottom of the second inning, Justin Smoak hit an infield Popfly that just missed hitting the international space station…

…and it almost went for a base hit, but for the last minute diving catch by Jays third baseman, Brett Lawrie.

In the second inning, Kellan and I set out on foot for a little adventure.  First, we headed out to the SRO area in CF by the Mariners bullpen:

Check out the shadows on “MarinersVision” in those bottom two picts.  The sun was streaming into the ballpark from low on the horizon across Puget Sound resulting in a shadow of the lighting fixture clock in LF being cast against the screen.

Next, we headed to the SRO bar area Edgar’s Cantina:

I guess, in theory, this is somewhat like the Flag Court in Baltimore or the LF corner in Cleveland, but it is much smaller and is partially covered with an overhang.  Not bad though.

Next up, we headed over to the Mariners team store, where Kellan wanted me to buy him a stuffed Mariners Moose thingy (which I meant to buy later in the week, but forgot to do)…

…and then we headed back to our seats.  By this point, it was the fourth inning and I had to shake my head at the fact that people were still arriving for the game!

In the bottom of the fifth, it looked like the M’s were getting something going.  Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a single.  After Humberto Quintero flew out, Brad Miller slapped a single…

…of his own.  But that’s all the M’s could muster in the inning.  Two more quick pop outs followed and the game went into the sixth inning with a scoreless tie.

Here are some random, mid-game cute pictures of Colleen and Kellan:

We held the “Hit It Here” sign a bunch when the M’s were batting.  But no one ever hit us with a homerun.

I had forgotten about this, but Mariners home games against the Blue Jays are usually annoyingly crowded.  I’m all for tons of fans showing up at Safeco Field.  But I’m not for tons of visiting fans showing up.  I don’t particularly enjoy hearing the crowd at Safeco Field cheer AGAINST the Mariners.  I get enough of that phenomenon when we see the M’s play road games.  When I Seattle, I like the crowd to go crazy IN SUPPORT of my boys in blue.  This was the wrong series to attend from that perspective.

Anyway, due to the large’ish crowd (at least large’ish for a Mariners Monday night game), the people running the play area handed out these cards…

…at the beginning of the game.  They ran 15 minute shifts throughout the night and Tim and Kellan (accompanied by Colleen) had their chance to play a bit more from 8:40 to 8:55 p.m.

While they were away at the play area, my dad came down a row to sit next to me.  Soon, a couple of my high school friends sent me messages that looked like this:

My dad and I made the Mariners broadcast with my “Hit It Here” sign.  I think that picture is pretty funny because (1) my dad is smiling like he knows we’re on TV, (2) I’m doing something weird with my mouth (maybe I was eating something???), and (3) Kellan’s cute little glove looks so tiny on the corner of the chair in front of me (next to my knee).  I only wish they would have put us on when Colleen and the boys were all there.  Tim would have gotten a kick out of that.  Oh, well.

In case you were wondering, he was the Mariners outfield for the game:

Michael “The Beast” Morse, Michael “The Condor” Saunders and Rauuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez.

And, in case you were wondering again, here is the oddly cool green-based Ken Griffey, Jr. shirt that Tim wore to the game:

So, Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a massive Smoak-bomb to deeeeeeep RF:

That put the M’s up 1-0 with only sixth defensive outs to go and Kuma dealing a gem on the mound.  I was feeling quite positive about the prospects for an M’s “W”.

But it wasn’t our night.  Kuma gave up a lead off triple to Brett Lawrie in the top of the eighth inning.  After retiring Josh Thole, Kuma gave up an RBI single to Jose “Jose, Jose” Reyes.  Tie ball game.

Funky Cold Yoervis Medina then came in and recorded the second out of the inning.  But then he gave up a single to Jose Bautista, a wild pitch sending Reyes to 3B, and a walk.

By this point, Tim and I were over by the Mariners bullpen…

…watching Oliver Perez warm up:

And just taking photos of the bullpen setup that was still very new to us:

Unfortunately, Perez gave up a 2-RBI line drive single to Mark DeRosa.  That put the Jays up 3-1, and that was the final score.

On our way back to our seats we were hopeful for a Mariners comeback (that was not in the cards).  We stopped along the way at what I think is one of the most unique spots in any MLB stadium – The Pen’s lounge area with open flames:

The boys love that spot.  Unfortunately, you cannot see the game whatsoever from there.

The M’s gave it their best shot, but couldn’t come back.  Final score 3-1 Blue Jays.

After the game, we got some family pictures before heading out:

While we prefer Mariners wins, it is always great to be at Safeco Field, and we left this game knowing we had three more opportunities to see the M’s win at this beautiful ballpark over the course of the week.

Go Mariners!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

20 Games                                                     
19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox, Braves
32 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4
93 Baseballs – Mariners 13, Royals 4, Phillies 19, 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
11 Stadiums – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
33 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, Rajai Davis
11 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez, Rajai Davis

14-Inning Affair in Philadelphia (5/1/2011)

On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season.  Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets.  Unlike last season, this game was a night game.  In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.

We arrived before the gates opened.  But there was a problem:  we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves.  Oh, no!

But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary.  With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.

Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:


1 - Ibanez post toss up.JPGRaul gave us props for our Mariners shirts, and then tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulll!!!

After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…


2 - citz bullpen.JPG…, and checked out the various displays that teach you how to grip the baseball to throw different pitches.

While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium.  So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1).  There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:


3 - CF corner spot.JPGPhillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us.  While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:


4 - Antonio Bastardo.JPGIt was our second baseball, and I barehanded it just fine.

The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…


5 - Four Aces Minus Lee.JPG…and Roy Oswalt was doing all of the shagging.

At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…


6 - Thanks Phils groundskeeper.JPG…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way.  He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us.  Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.

Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks.  Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show.  He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence.  In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:


7 - lost birdie.JPGTim started telling me all about this birdie and his life and family.

By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:


8 - Citizens Bank Park section 101, row 1, seat 1 panorama.jpgWhile hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun.  Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  It sailed about 5 feet over our heads.  In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer.  It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.

A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:


9 - Lee prepares for ND.JPGAs Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag.  Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball.  Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug).  Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads.  Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.”  He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”

After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:


10 - Dubee and Tiamo.JPGAfter Tiamo tossed us the baseball, Tim and I headed to the speed pitch:


11 - 26 mph gas.JPGThe fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour.  He loved the speed pitch.  On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one).  He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far.  We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.

Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:


12 - Tim and Liberty Bell.JPGAnd then it was game time.  On our way through the concourse, we stopped for some nachos and then reported to our seats in Section 140, Section 8, Seats 1-2:


13 - Citizens Bank Park section 140, row 8, seat 1.jpgAs you can see, Row 8 is really the second row of Section 140.  We got these tickets on stubhub and I really loved them.  Great seats.  Highly recommended.

It was a great pitching match-up for this game:  Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young.  Both pitchers were on their game.

After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…


14 - Howard ready to mash.JPG…, but, unfortunately for the Phils, J-Roll got picked off to end the inning:


15 - Jimmy Rollins  picked off.JPGThe two leftfielders both had Northwest connections — Two-time former-Mariner Raul Ibanez for the Phillies and British Columbian and Gonzaga Bulldog Jason Bay for the Mets:


16 - Ibanez and Bay in LF.JPGRonny Paulino led off the second inning with his first hit as a New York Met, a line drive single to center.  But he was left on base when Jose Reyes…


17 - Jose Reyes at bat.JPG…flew out to Ibanez to end the inning.  Now, Reyes, there is a guy the Philadelphia fans really seem to dislike.

During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:


18 - Tim Ibanez baseball and CitzBankPark sign.JPGAnd for good measure, he posed with his vanilla cookies and the field:


19 - chilling and eating cookies.JPGAfter eating a pack and a half of these tasty vanilla cookies, Tim declared himself too sugared up to get ice cream!

During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:


20 - All-Star Ballot.JPGThe game was 0-0 through the first four innings.  Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.

Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:


21 - Tim and ballgirl Emily.JPGAnd while we were at it, he got a personalized autograph on Emily’s ballgirl card…


22 - Emily's ballgirl card.JPG…, which Tim put in his baseball card album along-side his Ichiro, Griffey and other MLB baseball cards.  When we got back to our seats, Tim showed his autographed card to all of our seat neighbors.

Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler.  I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:


23 - speeding Phanatic.JPGWe’d get up close to the Phanatic later in the game.

He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…


24 - Cliff Lee delivers.JPG…was pitching quite effectively.  The only problem for the Phillies was that Chris Young was pitching just as effectively, if not more so.

After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:


25 - All-Star Ballot Complete.JPGStill training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base.  The inning ended in a bizarre fashion.  With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs.  Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.

It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.

And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.

Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game.  Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:


26 - Delayed strike out call Early Toss out call.JPGIn the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats.  Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:


27 - foul ball catcher nearby.JPGI’m sitting in my seat, and the foul ball was secured by the lady in the red hat three seats down from “Lee” (i.e., Lee, Manuel, Victorino, foul ball lady).

Right around this time, something odd happened.  I got a text from Avi Miller:

“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game:  Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled.  Related to national security.”

Then a second text:

“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute.  Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general.  Who knows.  Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”

Then a third text:

“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control.  Will let you know.  Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”

While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family.  What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.

Meanwhile, life and the game went on.

It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0.  I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park.  First, I needed a picture of us in our seats.  A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:


28 - TJCs in section 140 row 8.JPGThen in the bottom of the eighth, things got interesting.  The Phillies tied it up 1-1 when John Mayberry, Jr. scored…


29 - Phillies knot it at 1-1 in 8th.JPG…on an RBI single by Ryan Howard.

Then things go really interesting.  It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!”  I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:

Obviously, something was up.  I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say.  His response:

“that’s why.  Officially announced and confirmed.  Osama dead.  Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”

Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported.  But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate:  President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.

Every once in a while, the chants came back:  “USA! USA! USA!”  A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.

We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout.  It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously.    But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble.  It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing.  There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130.  So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.

It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us.  Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:


30 - 9th inning section 130 back row.JPGIn the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field.  I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel.  But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.

Ooops…

We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10.  Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:


31 - 11th inning section 130 10th row.JPGWe were so close, we could practically hear Jose Reyes ignoring the fans heckling him on the on deck circle.  Here’s what he looked like at the plate…


32 - Reyes.JPG…as the Phillies fans verbally assured Reyes that he is terrible and was destined to strike out.  Instead, he popped out to the catcher.

Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):


33 - 11th inning section 129 2nd row.JPGThe game just kept going and going.  No one could score.  Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it.  Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.

The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.

Enter the Phillie Phanatic.  He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:


34 - Phanatic approaches.JPGI stood up to get some big green, furry hand.  But as he approached, my hand was left unsmacked as I watched “something” whiz by me.

Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”

I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”

I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.

But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts!  “What’s going on!?,” I thought.

The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:


35 - Phanatic immediately post incident.JPGThe guy got back up to his feet and his nose was spewing blood all over the place.  The Phanatic, the guys family and everyone watched as the guy stood there bleeding.


36 - Phanatic friends and USA guy survey the situation.JPG

The guy was not happy.  The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him.  He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.

The guy sat down holding his bleeding face.  I could tell he was fuming mad and...


37 - bloody and unhappy Mets fan.JPG…, as his blood dripped down the empty seat next to him, about ten ushers showed up on the scene.

An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face.  Another usher brought a bag of ice.  A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station.  The guy reluctantly left.

Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan.  After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.

Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…


39 - Buchholz to Sardinha.jpg…for the third out of the bottom of the 13th inning, and then Mets catcher Ronny Paulino (who enjoyed a five hit night), tossed us Tim’s first ever third-out baseball.

Thanks, Ronny!

Now, back to the bloody guy.  The big question:  what the heck happened to him!?

I honestly don’t know.  I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him.  But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout.  All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).

I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy.  I don’t know what that means.  The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives.  Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed?  I don’t know.  Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)?  I don’t know.

Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout.  I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing.  I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.

For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:


40 - clean up ailse 1.JPGThey had little boxes with biohazard signs on them.  They poured white powder all over the ground and sprayed a cleaning substance all over the blood marks on the seats and dugout.

Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat.  Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.

Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth.  It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.

It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:


41 - Hamels Hamels Hamels.JPGHe grounded out.

Tim was really, really tired:


42 - icky clean up tired boy.JPGBut soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game.  Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel.  I called his name.   He looked up and saw us.  He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us.  But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.

That was all the half asleep boy needed:  he burst into tears.  The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground.  Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened.  And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.

Thanks, Blue.

After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.

As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…


43 - I don't want to remember this.JPG…”so we can remember what happened to you when we tried to get that ball from the umpire.”  Tim replied, “but I don’t want to remember that!”

The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot.  I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt.  After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.

Wow, what a day.  Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.

Incredible.

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

6/0 Teams [Tim - Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan - none]

2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)

15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)

3/0 Stadiums [Tim - Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan - none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim - Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan - Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos* [Tim - Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan - Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim - Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan - Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

Chase Field Tour

When we were in Arizona in February, we headed downtown for a tour of…


1 - chase field team store entrance panorama.jpg…Chase Field [formerly Bank One Ballpark ("The Bob")]: home of the 2011 All-Star Game.

Just inside the gate (but still outside of the stadium), our guide showed us a display case holding the 2001 World Series trophy and a bunch of cool memorabilia from the Diamondback’s championship 2001 season:


2 - 2001 WS Trophy etc.JPGAnd next to the case, Tim posed with his third baseball Mickey Mouse:


3 - Tim and Diamondbacks Mickey.JPGCompared to Dick, my uber-cool tour guide at Target Field, our tour guide was a dictator.  He snapped at anyone (including me) who walked even five feet away from the group.  Therefore, my first panorama of the day (of section 132) was from way across the concourse:


4 - chase field section 132 concourse panorama.jpgWe received a special treat that day:  they were laying the grass for the 2011 playing field:


5 - laying field at chase field.JPGOur tour started out by section 132 (3B side), and headed clockwise around the field level concourse toward the RF foul corner.  Our tour guide told us a lot of stuff, but I didn’t really retain much.  So…lets just look at some pictures of this fairly interesting looking ballpark.

Here is a closer panoramic view of Chase Field section 132:


6 - chase field section 132 concourse panorama.jpgOne thing I do remember is that Chase Field is used for motocross and monster truck shows each January.  They bring in tons of dirt to make all of the jumps and it totally destroys the field from the previous season.  Therefore, the Diamondbacks get all new grass every season.

Here is a panoramic view from the infield side of section 136:


7 - chase field section 136 concourse panorama.jpgAnd another from the outfield side of section 136:


8 - chase field section 136 concourse panorama.jpgLooking across the field toward RF, we could see the party area where the famous Chase Field swimming pool is located:


8a - swimming pool from across field.JPGHere is section 137:


9 - chase field section 137 concourse panorama.jpgHere is Chase Field’s odd looking outfield wall in CF, which reminds me a lot of Miller Park:


10 - Chase Field weird center field wall.JPGOur group stopped to chat behind section 137, so I snapped this picture of the concourse:


11 - Chase Field concourse at section 137.JPGAnd then I got a closer panoramic view of the Chase Field infield and the work crew laying the new grass:


11a - Chase Field infield and grass laying.jpgI already showed the view from section 137.  Well, its hard to tell, but this is an ever so slightly different panoramic view from section 137:


12 - chase field section 137 concourse panorama.jpgSection 139:


13- chase field section 139 concourse panorama.jpgHow about one from section 140 too?  Here it is:


14 - chase field section 140 concourse panorama.jpgWhile we walked the LF concourse, we passed this cool picture of the 2001 world series trophy:


15 - Diamondbacks big world series trophy.JPGHey, another (slightly different) shot from section 140:


16 - chase field section 140 concourse panorama.jpgThe bullpens looked interesting because they had removed most of the outfield wall that usually contains them in the outfield corners.  Here are a couple shots of the LF bullpen:


17 - 3B line bullpen.JPGKeeping going…we passed by section 141…


18 - chase field section 141 concourse panorama.jpg…sections 143 and 144…


19 - chase field section 144-143 concourse panorama.jpg…and then we stopped at section 144 to chat about the stadium:


20 - chase field section above 144 panorama.jpg…and here is another, almost identical, panorama from section 144:


21 - chase field section above 144 panorama.jpgAs our guide told us about the ballpark, Tim took it all in (the ballpark, not the guide’s stories):


22 - Tim checks out Chase Field.JPGCheck out this thing:


24 - heavy load descending.JPGNot sure what it is, but they were dropping it down from the roof in the LF corner:


25 - chase field preparations.JPGBehind section 144, there is an all you can eat picnic pavilion:


26 - Chase Field all you can eat picnic pavilion.jpgHere is a view toward the RF corner bullpen…that was part of the staging area for the grass project:


27 - Chase Field grassless RF corner.JPGThis picture looks a lot like the section 144 shots, but it is a bit further toward CF…or even the RF side of CF, but I’m not sure what the section is called:


28 - chase field CF concourse panorama.jpgWhen you fly into Phoenix, you fly right by downtown and you can see Chase Field if you’re on the left side of the plane (at least that is what side it was on for me).  You can see those same airplanes from inside Chase Field:


29 - Chase Field fly by.JPGHere is another panorama as we crossed the concourse in CF:


30 - chase field above pool RCF panorama.jpgAnd another at the “hinge” in the wall at RCF:


31 - chase field above pool RCF panorama.jpgIn that last one, you can see a rock wall in the bottom left of the panorama, my mom and Tim stood in a little corner spot and looked down toward that area…


32 - looking down on Chase Field pool.JPG…it was the Chase Field swimming pool:


33 - Chase Field pool from above.JPGThe pool is essentially like a party suite.  A group can rent it out for a game.

I replaced my mom and Tim in that corner spot and took some more pictures of the grass laying operation…


34 - working on Chase Field.JPG…and these lights that help the grass grow:


37 - Chase Field grass lights.JPGNext, we made our way across the RF concourse toward foul territory.  On the way, I got this panoramic view of Chase Field from section 102:


38 - chase field section 102 panorama.jpgThose pictures of the swimming pool (from the “corner spot”) were taken at the close end of that section of seats hanging out over CF to the right side of that last picture.

Before hoping into an elevator in foul territory, I took this shot of the concourse in the RF foul corner:


39 - Chase Field concourse section 105.JPGWe headed up to the suite level.  Here is the suite level hallway:


40 - chase Field suite hallway RF corner.JPGWe visited this suite no. 23:


41 - Chase Field suite.JPGCompared to Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, and Target Field (the only fields where I have spent time in the suites), this sweet was really small and unimpressive.  Small, cramped suite.  Small seating area outside of the suite.

Here is the first of several panoramas I took of Chase Field from suite 23:


42 - Chase Field suite 23 panorama.jpgUnlike the suites, the scoreboard / jumbotron at Chase Field is really big and impressive:


43 - Chase Field scoreboard jumbotron.JPGHere is a shot of the RF corner from the suite:


45 - Chase Field RF with retired numbers.JPGNotice a couple things in RF:  (i) the area is called “UptoWn” because Justin Upton is the D-Backs rightfielder, (ii) the “Arizona Baseball Club” restaurant is on the second level and its open to all fans, and (iii) the only number the Diamondbacks have retired (other than Jackie Robinson’s universally retired no. 42) is Luis Gonzalez’s no. 20.  I’m not Diamondbacks aficionado but doesn’t it seem like Randy Johnson did as much (or more) for the Diamondbacks as Luis Gonzalez?  Maybe his number hasn’t been retired yet because he just retired from baseball in 2009.

Anyway, this patched together view of Friday’s Front Row shows that there is a kids play area in the upper deck, complete with a batting cage:


46 - more Fridays front row.JPGHere are some random shots of the seats behind home plate…


48 - Chase Field behind home and umpire tunnel.JPG…, the yellow arrow is pointing to what I figure is the umpire tunnel.

Next, we headed down into the bowels of Chase Field.  Here are some shots of the things we saw in the tunnel:


49 - Chase Field tunnel action.JPG

Top left:  directional signage;

Top middle:  Baxter’s jeep;

Top right:  MLB and league signs painted on the wall;

Bottom left:  entering the Visitor’s Clubhouse; and

Bottom right: a little motorcycle…Baxter’s??

Let’s head into the visitors clubhouse:


50 - Chase Field visitors clubhhouse.JPGThe green door in the picture above to the left is a players-only lounge…no reporters.

Here is a closer look at the player lockers…


51 - Chase Field visitor lockers.JPG…complete with lockable cabinets so your teammates or stadium staff don’t steal your stuff during the game!

We didn’t get to go into the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse (standard protocol for stadium tours) because the players keep their stuff in their year round and they don’t want tour participants disrupting the clubhouse.  We did, however, get to watch a 5 minute video tour of the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse, it’s a great looking clubhouse…blows the visitor’s clubhouse out of the water.

Next, we snaked through some more tunnels and hallways and out toward the field through this walkway:


52 - Chase Field walkway to dugout suite.JPGOur destination was the “dugout suite”:


53 - Chase Field dugout suite.JPGThe dugout suite is available for groups to rent.  Its pretty cool.  It shares a wall with the 3B dugout.  There is a sign to warm people not to bug the players during the game:


54 - no talking to the players.JPGHere is a view from the dugout suite into the 3B dugout:


55 - Chase Field 3B dugout.JPGAnd back-to-back-to-back, here are three panoramas of Chase Field from the dugout suite:


56 - chase field dugout suite panorama.jpg
57 - chase field dugout suite panorama.jpg
58 - chase field dugout suite panorama.jpgNext, we headed back up to the field level concourse and we were right where we started, in the concourse by the Team Store…


59 - Chase Field concourse and team store.JPG…and section 130:


60 - chase field section 130 concourse panorama.jpgAnd there you go, that was our tour of Chase Field.  If you’re in Arizona, be sure to stop by for a tour because (while this blog entry showed it in pictures) the tour guide offered a lot of inside info about the team and the stadium.

One last parting comment.  Our guide asked if there were any questions a couple times.  Tim (I think) was the only person who had any questions.  One of his questions was “why did the Diamondbacks change colors?”  Recall, they used to be a really ugly purple and other accent colors combo.  Apparently, the color change was “suggested” (strongly) by MLB because the Rockies complained about another team being so close to them geographically and also having purple as a primary color.  At the end of he day, I think they made the right choice.  The current Diamondbacks colors are much better than the original colors.

 

MLB Pocket Schedules

Tim and I are now three weeks into our 2011 schedule and just had our first “off weekend” of the early season.  Kellan is still waiting for his first game action of the season.  Plenty of baseball left on the Cook & Son schedule for 2011.  Seems like a good enough reason to share our baseball pocket schedule collection.

Each year, I try to grab a few pocket schedules at every ballpark we visit.  We have a baseball card album full of them.  Let’s take a look — and lets do it in the order Tim first saw each of these teams play a home game.

First, our Mariners pocket schedules:

                     
2001 Mariners.JPG    
2003 Mariners.JPG

                    
2004 Mariners.JPG    
2005 Mariners.JPG

                      
2006 Mariners.JPG    
2007 Mariners (Felix).JPG

                      
2007 Mariners (Ibanez).JPG    

2008 Mariners.JPG  

                      
2009 Mariners (Felix).JPG    
2009 Mariners (Griff).JPG  

                     
2010 Mariners (Figgins).JPG    
2010 Mariners (Lee).JPG  

                     
 
2010 Mariners (Wakamatsu).JPG
     
2011 Mariner (Wedge).JPG

2011 Mariners (King Felix).JPG

Second, our Phillies pocket schedules:                       
2007 Phillies (Hamels).JPG    
2007 Phillies (Howard).JPG

                        2008 Phillies (Burrell).JPG    
2008 Phillies.JPG

2009 Phillies.JPG

Third, our Orioles pocket schedules:



2007 Orioles.JPG
2008 Orioles.JPG
2009 Orioles.JPG
2010 Orioles.JPG

Fourth, our Yankees pocket schedules:

                        2007 Yankees.JPG    
2008 Yankees.JPG

2009 Yankees.JPG

Fifth, our Pirates pocket schedules:

2007 Pirates.JPG
2008 Pirates.JPG
2010 Pirates.JPG

Sixth, our Reds pocket schedule (featuring Ken Griffey, Jr.! #3):

2008 Reds.JPG

Seventh, our Indians pocket schedules:

                        2008 Indians.JPG    
2010 Indians.JPG

Eighth, our Mets pocket schedules:

                         2008 Mets.JPG    
2009 Mets.JPG

2010 Mets.JPG

Ninth, our Diamondbacks pocket schedule:

2011 Diamondbacks.JPG

Tenth, our Nationals pocket schedules:

                          2009 Nationals.JPG    
2010 Nationals.JPG

Eleventh, our Red Sox pocket schedules:

2008 Red Sox.JPG
2009 Red Sox.JPG

Twelfth, our Cubs pocket schedule:

2009 Cubs.JPG

Thirteenth, our Twins pocket schedules:


                         
2009 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2009 Twins espanol.JPG

2009 Twins.JPG

                        
2011 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2011 Twins.JPG.

Fourteenth, our Brewers pocket schedule:

2009 Brewers.JPG

Fifteenth, our White Sox pocket schedules:

2009 White Sox.JPG

(This is one of my favorite schedules.  The picture of Ramirez’s homerun celebration couples just perfectly with the fireworks.  Good job, White Sox!)

2010 White Sox (AP).JPG

Sixteenth, our Blue Jays pocket schedule:

2009 Blue Jays.JPG

Seventeenth, our Athletics pocket schedule:

2010 Athletics.JPG

Eigthteenth, our Dodgers pocket schedule:


2010 Dodgers.JPGNinteenth, our Padres pocket schedule:

2010 Padres.JPG

Twentieth, our Angels pocket schedule:

2010 Angels.JPG

Twenty-first, our Giants pocket schedule:

2010 Giants.JPG

Twenty-second, our Spring Training pocket schedules:

2008 Cactus League.JPGOne more to come here…still need to photograph the 2011 Spring Training Schedule.  By the way, these include all Cactus League games for all of the teams in the Cactus League.

Bonus, our Reading Phillies pocket schedules (MiLB):

                         2008 R-Phils.JPG    
2009 R-Phils.JPG .

There you go, that is it for our MLB pocket schedules collection.  We plan to add plenty to this list in 2011.  In fact, by the end of the season, I hope to be able to add new schedules for the 2011 Mariners (actually already added), Orioles, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates, Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Reds, Rangers, Astros, Marlins, Braves and Nationals.

Let’s Play Two, Again: Brewers at Nats (4/17/2011)

After starting out our 2011 season with an outstanding doubleheader in Baltimore (Tim’s first doubleheader), our second game was slated to be the Marlins at Phillies on Saturday, April 16, 2011.  Unfortunately, rain wiped out most of the games in the NE region of the United States that day, including our game in Philadelphia.

The Phillies rescheduled the game for June 15th, thus freeing us up to travel to the Nation’s capital on April 17, 2011 for our second consecutive single-admission doubleheader, featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.

The action was slated to start at 1:10 p.m.  I was confident there would be BP, so we arrived 2.5 hours early.  The Nats and Brewers did not disappoint.  There was full batting practice by both teams.

After a 30-second stop in the LF seats, we headed over to RCF – section 143 – which was practically empty.  A few minutes later, a Nationals batter hit a ball onto the warning track in deep CF.  Nationals bullpen coach came walking out toward CF with his fungo bat in hand…


1 - Thanks Jim Lett.JPG…I waived to get his attention, then pointed to the baseball on the warning track and then to Tim.  He nodded and started walking toward the ball.  He had a long walk.  At the same time, a groundskeeper behind the CF wall saw the ball and walked out to get it.  I yelled down toward him, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Luckily, he grabbed the ball and tossed it to Coach Lett.  Lett turned and, true to his nod, fired the baseball to my waiting Rawlings glove.

Thanks, Jim Lett!

By the way, it was one of the ultra-soft leather “Training” baseballs that the Nationals like to use for BP.

A few minutes later, we relocated to the seats next to the Nationals bullpen at section 139.  There was a group of Nats in RF.  They tossed a few baseballs to Nats fans.

Finally, this happened…


2 - Thanks Mystery Nat.JPG…an unidentified Nationals player wearing a firstbasemens glove sauntered back to the warning track to fetch a stray “Training” baseball and tossed it up to me an Tim.

Thanks, unidentified dude!

All the while, a 45’ish year old dad of two 10-12’ish year old boys was yucking it up in the first row of section 140 because his boys had been the recipients of several toss ups.  He was quite happy…until one of his boneheaded boys dropped his baseball down into the gap between the seats and the RF wall.  Doh!

The guy was perplexed.  What to do!?  The groundskeepers in the bullpen said they couldn’t do anything about it.  Even if they could, it would require accessing a gate and walking between the wall and the stands.  They had no reason to go out of their way to do it to help the dad of the newly baseball-less boy.

Tim and I were down in the first row looking at the boy’s  baseball.  Then we started watching the groundskeepers spray painting the pitching rubbers bright white…


3 - bullpen painting and gap climbing.JPG…I looked back toward my right and witnessed something absurd.  The Dad of the baseball-less boy climbed down into the gap – a good 10-15 feet down – and grabbed the dropped baseball, and another BP homer that found the gap.

As he was climbing up, I could see security running from multiple directions with rage-filled faces, ready to sink their verbal teeth into this apparently clueless dad.

I was amazed later to learn that they didn’t eject him from the stadium.  But they did remove him for the outfield seats for the remainder of BP.  The truly amazing thing was that the Dad was bold enough to yell at the security people (really just retired guys working as ushers) that he only did it because no one would go get his baseball.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE:  If you (or your kid) get a baseball, put it in your pocket or backpack.  If you don’t, and you eventually drop it into a 10-15 gap behind the outfield wall, DON’T CLIMB DOWN THERE TO GET IT!!!  Just live with your boneheaded move.

Next, we relocated to the middle of section 141 where this was our panoramic view of Nationals Park:


4 - Nationals Park section 141 panorama BP.JPGTim sat and munched on some crackers while I incompetently watched a BP homerun land two rows directly in front of me.  Had I climbed over even just one row of seats, it would have been an easy on-the-fly grab.  Oh, well.

When the Brewers came to bat, we relocated to the second deck in search of a Monster Prince Fielders Bomb.  I’m a fairly nervous father of an extremely-high-energy-low-attention-to-danger son.  So I told Tim he had to stand behind this glass barrier if he was going to stand in the front row:


5 - behind the glass.JPGHere was the view of Nationals Park from the third row in section 241:


6 - Nationals Park section 241 panorama BP.jpgFielder did, in fact, several (maybe 4) homeruns into the second deck.  One of them landed about 3 rows above me and bounced directly over my head (too high and out of reach) and back down onto the field.

That was the only one that was anywhere near us.  Another was 3 sections toward CF and I started to run for it before totally biting it trying to jump a row a seats.  Tim thought it was pretty comical.  He described it to his mommy by saying that my “neck hooked onto one row of seats and his feet hooked onto another row of seats and his body just hung in the air!”

At another point, a Brewers pitcher spotted us all alone in section 241 (literally no one within 100 feet of us) and fired a baseball to us. Well, he meant to throw it to us, but he launched it about 8 rows above us.  I didn’t even see it land.  I ran up a couple rows, walked row-to-row and could not find it anywhere.  Meanwhile, a 12’ish year old kid ran from two sections over.  He saw the ball, grabbed it and then laughed at me for missing out on the baseball clearly meant for me and Tim.  I went back over to Tim and he said, “That boy stole our baseball!!!”  It was pretty funny.  I explained to him that I couldn’t find it (it blended in was nudged under the back of a seat and blended in with the white pavement) and he had a right to grabbed it if he could find it.

Still, the next day, Tim told his mommy how the boy “stole our baseball.”  Yep, it was pretty funny.

Anyway, after Prince Fielder finished hitting, I told Tim we could go to the kids play area for a bit.  But first, we walked toward RF foul territory and got this picture with the Nationals Park sign in the background:


7 - Nationals Park Nationals Training Balls.JPGTim had loads of fun, as always, in the kids play area:


8 - Play area stuff.JPGIn addition to the normal play fort-thingy, the Nats put in an inflatable batting station.  And it was a really nice one with an excellent red plastic bat (that fit time perfectly).  It was a long line to bat and we made our way slowly to the front.  A little girl who had no clue how to hit was directly in front of Tim in line.  On her first swing, she completely missed the ball, and then took a ferocious backswing and unintentionally drilled a perfect line drive directly into Tim’s nose.

Tim was not pleased.

And he shed some big time water works.

Once he calmed down, he took it out on the whiffleball:

He was trying to hit a Popfly over the hitting station like he had done at Spring Training in Peoria.

As the game was set to start, we bought some expensive, but quite tasty, chili nachos (more just “meaty” nachos)…


9 - chili nachos in the sun.JPG…which, despite initially not wanting the “chili,” Tim loved.

We had seats in section 105, but we started the game in section 104.  Here was our panoramic view of Nationals Park from our temporary seats in section 104:


10 - Nationals Park section 104 panorama.jpgI was happy to have a former-Mariner…


11 - ex-Mariner Michael Morse.JPG…Michael Morse patrolling LF for the Nats.

After an inning or two, it started to fill up in LF so I figured we should go get some ice cream and return to our actual ticketed seats.

On the way to get ice cream, Tim managed to destroy this water fountain:


12 - busted water fountain.JPGActually, he was just filling his water bottle and it went haywire all on its own.

On the way back to our seats, Tim struck a pose with his fancy (and too expensive ($8) M&M’s vanilla ice cream helmet):


13 - open wide for MMs ice crea.JPGJust like last season when we saw the Brewers at Nationals, they did an elaborate Sausages vs. Presidents race…


14 - presidents vs sausages.JPG…ending in some serious sausage carnage and a Presidents (but not Teddy) win.

In our real seats in section 105, we sat next to a nice Nats fan who Tim chatted up like nobody’s business.  The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Casey McGehee in the first and pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fourth.  Faced with the deficit, the Nats fan put on a rally hat, which prompted Tim to do the same:


15 - rally cap.JPGSpeaking of our real seats, here was our view of Nationals Park from section 105, row M, seat 16:


16 - Nationals Park section 105 row M seat 16 panorama.jpgThe rally hats started to work.  In the bottom of the fourth, Mike Morse got the Nats on the board with an RBI single off of Gallardo.

Hard hitting Danny Espinosa followed in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-run homerun.  Here he about to score the fourth Nats run of the game:


17 - Danny Espinosa homerun trot.JPGAt this point, just for the heck of it, I snapped this picture of Tim:


18 - Tim in Nats section 105.JPGAs we approached DC by car, Tim saw a big battle ship in the Anacostia River
.  I knew you could see the ship from the concourse in RF foul territory.  Eventually, we decided to head over there to look at the ship.

On the way, we walked through the 200 level “Conference Center” concourse.  For some reason, we’d never been on this level before.  We got this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind section 203…


19 - Nationals Park section 203 panorama.jpg…and this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind-and-between sections 205 and 206:


20 - Nationals Park between section 205-206 panorama.jpgWhile we were on the 200-level, a bunch of mascots (on  hand for Screech’s birthday), did a little tug-o-war with some Nats field workers:  The workers and Screen won:


21 - mascots vs workers tugowar.JPGNote the bulldog in the middle of the rope on the mascots’ side.  That is Jake the Georgetown Hoya.  We’ll see him again.

Before leaving this spot, we got a nice picture of Adam LaRoche grounding out to Prince Fielder…


22 - Adam LaRoche groundout.JPG…and a shot of the “Conference Center” sign above the concourse behind section 205:


23 - Nationals Park Conference Center concourse.JPGNext, we decided to continue on toward RF to see the battle ship.  The only issue is that the suite level indoor concourse was in our way – and we couldn’t access it.  So we took an elevator up to the top deck.  Check out who was in our elevator:


24 - scary hoya jake.JPGIt was Jake the Hoya.  Tim charged into the elevator when it opened and was totally freaked out when he saw Jake standing there.  He was too scared to get a picture with Jake.  Even as we exited the elevator, he was hustling to get away from big, bad Jake.

On the final portion of our walk toward the RF concourse where we would be able to see the battleship, Ivan Rodriguez hit the 310th homerun of his Hall of Fame-to-be career.

That made the score 7-2 Nationals.

Finally, we made it to the spot – and there was the ship!


25 - battle ship.JPGTim was so happy to see the ship that he decided to spit seeds off of the top of the stadium.

Before heading down the concourse ramps, Tim pointed out the Capitol Building:


26 - Look its the Capitol.JPGOne level down, I took this interesting view of the field from the ramp:


27 - RF from access ramps.JPGWhen we reached the 200-level, we stopped to watch Rick Ankiel bat…


28 - Ankiel foul.JPG…and Prince Fielder field…


29 - Prince in the sun.JPG…before we continued on toward CF, and the kids play area.

Tim wanted to hit again.  But he was scared of a repeat nose-bashing.  So he hid behind me as we made our way through the line:


30 - hiding behind dad.JPGOnce he reached the front of the line, he put a hurtin’ on the ball:


31 - nothing but lasers.JPGBy the ninth inning, the Nats were winning 8-2.  We watched the ninth from half way down the aisle in section 118:


32 - Nationals Park section 118 panorama.jpgRBI basehits by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder were too little too late.  After this final homerun by Ian Desmond…


32a - Ian Desmond bomb.jpg…t
he Nationals won game one 8-4.

We hustled down toward the front of the section at the last out, but we were too late and missed out on getting a baseball from the home plate umpire.  So, we stood around, chatted with a fan from Seattle, and got our picture taken above the visitors’ dugout:


33 - catcher on shoulders.JPGAs we shuffled around in the fancy seats between games, I kept an eye open for discarded tickets on the ground.  I figured a lot of Nats “fans” wouldn’t be up for two games.  I was right.  We ended up finding 4 really nice tickets.

There was a 30 minute break between games.  Among the first Brewers to come out to warm up for game two was former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt:


34 - Yuni warming up.JPGI always liked Yuni.  I like him even more now that he toss us his warm up baseball:


35 - Thanks Yuni.JPGThanks, Yuni!

Before the second game started, we got a great picture of Tim and Teddy Roosevelt:


35a - Tim and Teddy.jpgWe spent most of the game in or around section 114.  One of the tickets we found was in section1 114, row L.  But we started the game toward the back of section 114.  Here was our view:


37 - Nationals Park section 114 top of section panorama.jpgWe moved up to a totally empty row L:


37a - section 114 row L.JPG…in time to get a great view of Yuniesky Betancourt’s RBI single in the fourth inning:


38 - Yuniesky Betancourt rbi single to CF.JPGThat tied the game 1-1.

We had an even better ticket than the section1 114, row L seat.  But I wanted to wait to make sure they were empty.

We decided to go to the kids play area one more time.  On the way to the play area, I took a picture of what would become “our” ticketed seats for the rest of the game:


39 - peeping our seats in section 112.JPGNice!

And Tim wanted a picture with the blossoming trees behind section 106:


40 - blossoms.JPGAfter some playing, we reported to our section new section.  I showed the usher our ticket for seat no. 3, but asked if it was okay if we sat in the empty seats in the middle of the section – I think it was no 25’ish. He told us it was no problem.

So, here is a picture of Tim standing in front of my seat:


41 - Tim in section 112 row A.JPGAnd here he is watching the game from his seats…


42 - tim hanging on railing.JPG…and waiting for a foul ball:


43 - ready for a foul.JPGOur seats were in an exclusive handicap accessible seating area.  It also had special access points where people like Teddy and Abe…


45 - section 112.JPG…would use to access the field.  They would come from a hallway running under the seats and then they would enter the field at a gate directly next to my seat:


46 - Tim and presidents running around section 112.JPGI was really hoping a foul ball would roll our way because I could easily reach over and scoop it directly off of the warning track.  But this Alex Cora foul was as close as we got to a foul:


46a - Alex Cora foul ball.jpgGame two was a good one.  It was tied 1-1 for a long time.  The decisive blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa hit a bases clearing 3-run triple to put the Nats up 4-1.  T he Nats would eventually win 5-1.

Toward the end of the game, Tim got on the (really) big screen for flashing some fancy dance moves:


47 - Tim dance party on Nats park screen.JPGWhen they put him up on the board, everyone in the two sections behind us gave him a big cheer.  It was really cool.  Later, he could be overheard telling people in our section how, “I was on TV dancing!”

We stayed in our seats until the end of the game.  When the final two people made their way in from the Brewers bullpen, we were still hanging out and Marcus Hanel rewarded us with this baseball:


49 - Tim fake catch on hanel baseball.JPGThanks, Marcus!

And that was it.  Our second doubleheader of the season was in the books.

Before heading out, we had a Nats employee take our picture:


48 - TJCtjc post game at Nats.JPGAs we headed to the exit and took a couple more panoramas on our way…section 107…


50 - Nationals Park section 107 concourse panorama.jpg…and section 105 under the lights:


51 - Nationals Park section 105 concourse post-night game panorama.jpgAs we hit the sidewalk, Tim had me take a picture of some cool looking, big silver baseballs hanging from the side of the stadium (or a parking garage attached to the stadium):


52 - big silver baseballs outside Nationals Park.JPGThat’s it.  Another long and excellent day of baseball for a father and son.  Next time, I fear we will only get to see ONE game!

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

4/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

4/0 Teams [Tim - Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals; Kellan - none]

2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)

9 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers)

2/0 Stadiums [Tim - Camden Yards, Nationals Park; Kellan - none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim - Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan - Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos* [Tim - Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan - Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim - Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan - Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

C&S’s Opening Day: Let’s Play Two (4/9/2011)

Tim and I celebrated our own personal MLB Opening Day on April 9, 2011 at Camden Yards in Baltimore.  Due to a rain out the night before, we were treated to a single-admission doubleheader.  The match-up:  Rangers vs. Orioles.

We met up with national news reporter and MLBlogs Top 50 blogger, Avi Miller, on the sidewalk in front of Camden Yards. (Read Avi’s game update).  As the three of us walked toward the gates, Tim spotted Brooks Robinson’s “5” statue and had to get a picture with his “favorite number”:


1 - First picture Tim's favorite number.JPGFYI, Tim always wants to sit in seat number 5.

We met up with a bunch of Camden Yards regulars and waited for the gates to open.  There was one problem, no one, including the gate workers, knew when the gates would be opening.  We thought it would be 2:30 – two hours before game time – but at 2:30, we were told the gates would not open until 3:00.  And the word was there would be no batting practice.

When we entered the stadium at 3:00, we were happy to discover that the Rangers were, in fact, taking BP.  We headed down to the first row in RF foul territory with the intent of walking around to left field.  Before we could even begin the walk, a Rangers righty hit a looping foul ball down the RF line.  It hit the warning track and bounced right over our heads.  As I turned around, the baseball smacked off of a seat in the second row and flew straight into my glove.  There we go, baseball no. 1 of 2011:


2 - first baseball of 2011.JPGWe circled around toward the LF foul pole and stopped along the brick wall in foul territory.  Moments later, Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vasquez, fielded a batted ball, spotted Tim on my shoulders (fyi, he’s way too big to be on my shoulders these days!), shouted to me “take the boy down! (fyi, players/coaches are always scared of hitting Tim with a baseball when he’s on my shoulders), and tossed the baseball to us:


3 - first toss up of 2011.JPGThanks, Jose!
  (Fyi, that is Jose in the blue sweatshirt just to the left of Tim’s head in that last picture).

One of our goals for this game was to get a picture of Tim wearing his Mariners hat with a Ranger for the 2011 mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt (we are going to do our best to defend our title!).  I made a list of three ex-Mariners who now play for the Rangers:  Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, and Adrian Beltre.  Lo-and-behold, it wasn’t long before Tim got an autograph from and picture with Mark Lowe:


3a - Mark Lowe division rival and former Mariner.JPGThanks, Mark!
  We enjoyed having you in Seattle, and wish you good luck in Texas (provided that, after you get a hold, the closer comes along after you and blows all of the Rangers saves).

So, the day was going great already.  It was time for a snack break.  “Mommy” had packed a big bag of snacks.  Tim chomped down granola bar number one before we left the LF foul line:


4 - first snack of 2011.JPGSoon, a group of Rangers ran in toward home plate to take their turn in the cage.  For some reason, we were fooled.  It seemed like BP was concluding.  So we headed over toward the Rangers dugout.  But it was soon plainly evident that BP was still in full swing.  So we headed out to left field…where Tim did some gymnastics…


5 - BP gymnast.JPG…and then had another snack…


6 - second snack of 2011.JPG…, this time it was peanut butter crackers.

After Tim finished his crackers, we worked our way into the first row in section 86, the closest section to centerfield.  Mark Lowe and Authur Rhodes were shagging balls together – nice to see former- Mariners sticking together!  When Lowe shagged a ball about 75 feet from us, I called out to him.  He turned around and saw Tim and me in the first row and hit us with a perfect strike.

Thanks, again, Mark!

A few minutes later, BP wrapped up (for real this time).  I took our first panorama of the season from an essentially empty section 86:


7 - camden yards section 86 and avi panorama.jpgFYI, that’s Avi tossing his glove in the air in that panorama.

If you click on that last panorama to enlarge it, you’ll see three baseballs in the grass by the batters eye.  Tim and I decided to get some dinner and eat sitting in section 90 next to the batters eye to see what would happen with those baseballs.

We found a nacho stand in the concourse by the kids play area.  So we grabbed some nachos and


8 - first nachos of 2011.JPG…enjoyed them in section 90 as planned.  Our first nachos of the season did not disappoint.  And soon enough, a couple bullpen attendants came by and one of them tossed one of the baseballs up to us.

Thanks, bullpen guy!

While eating our nachos, I got a panorama of Camden Yards from the back of section 90:


9 - Camden Yards section 90 panorama.jpgAs we ate our nachos, we watched the starting pitchers warm up in CF and then in the bullpens:


10 - Orioles Rangers bullpen activity.JPGAs the national anthem ended, I got a picture of the bullpen attendant who had tossed the baseball up to us in section 90:


11  - thanks orioles bullpen guy.JPGAvi pointed out the new retired number markers hanging from the upper deck in LF:


12 - orioles retired numbers.JPG20 is Frank Robinson; 5 is Brooks Robinson; 4 is Earl Weaver; 22 is Jim Palmer; 33 is Eddie Murray; 8 is Cal Ripkin, Jr.; and 42 is Jackie Robinson.

Finally, the first game started.  It was Tim’s first single-admission doubleheader (we did, of course, do a two-city doubleheader last season) and only my second (this was my first – game 1/game 2).

I got a shot of Josh Hamilton playing catch in CF before the bottom of the first inning:


13 - Josh Hamilton playing catch.JPGAnd I figured I ought to get a shot of the Rangers relievers since we were sitting right by them:


14 - Rangers bullpen at Camden Yards.JPGTim and I were sitting in section 86 with Avi, Matt and Zevi, plus a couple of their friends, so I got this somewhat candid shot of Tim with 3-mygameballs.com members for the scavenger hunt:


15 - mygameballsdotcommers.JPGSpeaking of Matt, he was over in the Flag Court in RF during the bottom of the first and came close to snagging Nick Markakis’s homerun off of Colby Lewis.  That put the O’s up 1-0, and that was all they’d need in game one.

Another shot I needed for the scavenger hunt was a picture of Tim with a baseball we caught at the game with a Camden Yard’s sign in the background.  Here was out first attempt:


16 - baseball and distance OPACY sign.JPGA great shot of Tim, but the Camden Yards sign was way too far away.

We were excited to see the O’s new acquisition, Vlad Guererro.  Its nice to see that guy get out of the A.L. West where we won’t do as much damage against the Mariners.  In his first at bat of the day, I caught him as he hit a single off the very end of his bat:


17 - Vlad gets a hit.JPGIn the bottom of the second, Mark Reynolds hit his first homerun as an Oriole.  The ball landed about 2 sections over from us – in straight away left field.  Avi was off with the crack of the bat, but got tripped up and hit the deck en route to the ball.  And that put the O’s up 4-0.

The scoring in the first game concluded in the bottom of the third inning when Adam Jones hit a RBI single to put the O’s up 5-0.  The O’s lead was good for our Mariners, so we were happy with the way the game was going.

Around the fourth of fifth inning, Tim asked if we could get ice cream.  So we went on a little walk.  The concession stands at Camden Yards are all different this season.   It looks good.  Here’s a look at the new Orioles Shirt Shop on the 3B side of the concourse:


18 - Orioles shirt shot.JPGTim and I bought our first chocolate ice cream helmet (with rainbow sprinkles) of the season and grabbed some ice cream seats down the 3B line:


20 - first ice cream helmet of 2011.JPGThe Rangers have a lot of impressive hitters these days.  I snapped this picture of one of them, Nelson Cruz, because he looked like a punk high schooler with his untucked jersey:


19 - untucked Nelson Cruz.JPGCome on, Nellie, tuck it in!

We gave another shot at the “baseball with Camden Yards sign” picture, but we were still a bit too far away:


21 - baseball and slightly bigger OPACY sign.JPGOur handicap accessible seats behind section 58 were great for taking action shots.  Here is a shot of Elvis Andrus grounding out:


22 - Elvis Andrus grounds out.JPGThe ball is the little white blur on the far left side of the picture (vertically, right in the middle of the dirt).

Josh Hamilton singled to center on this swing:


23 - Josh Hamilton singles to CF.JPGHere’s Vlad again, getting ready to pop out:


24 - Big Daddy Vladdy.JPGIn the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to set up for an umpire baseball attempt.  From the cross aisle behind home, we got another shot of Josh Hamilton as he hit another single…


25 - Josh Hamilton singles to LF in 9th.JPG…this time to left field.

When some patrons left the fancy seats, an usher let us take their seats behind home plate.  It’s a pretty sweet view from down there.  Here is a shot of the final batter of the game, Michael Young:


26 - Final batter Michael Young.JPGAnd here is a screen shot from the TV broadcast showing where Tim and I were sitting as the game ended – Tim is sitting on my lap in this shot:


26a - behind home plate in game 1.jpgAfter Jason Berken put Michael Young away to end the game, home plate umpire Marty Foster awarded Tim his first umpire ball of the season:


27 - Umpire baseball and OPACY sign.JPGAnd we finally got the perfect shot of Tim, his umpire baseball, and the Camden Yards sign.

Between games we hung out in the kids play area.  It was essentially unchanged from last season.  Tim did some jumping in the bouncy house…


28 - first kids play area of 2011.JPG…, which Tim loves.  He also played on the wooden fort-thingy.  Finally, before heading toward Eutaw Street, we got Tim’s picture with one of three big Oriole Bird bobbleheads:


29 - Jumbo Orioles bobblehead.JPGYes, that big thing is a bobblehead.

This was the first Saturday of MLB baseball in Baltimore.  Eutaw Street was packed.  I think a lot of people skipped the first game of the doubleheader and they were all showing up for the nightcap.

Tim played in the picnic area behind the batters eye before we headed back into the stands.  As we made our way back into the LF stands, we passed by the MASN crew who, I imagine, were busy talking about the upcoming game:


30 - MASN Orioles crew.JPGI have no clue who this lady is, but as we passed by, some dude yelled really loud, “YOU’RE HOT, WHATEVER-HER-NAME-IS!!!”  Classy, sir.  Classy.

We spent most of game two with Avi, Zevi and Andrew in section 86.  This was our view:


31 - Game 2 view.JPGA lot of players were shuffled around in both line-ups, but big Josh Hamilton was still patrolling center field for the Rangers:


32 - Josh Hamilton roams CF.JPGTim was excited for game two:


33 - Tim set for game 2.JPGIn fact, he was so excited, that he put on a display of his super-rad dance moves:


34 - dance party.JPGIn the picture above, that is Andrew sitting behind Tim in the black sweatshirt.  Tim had great fun “sitting” next to Andrew.   Tim laughed so much he got the hiccups twice during game 2.  When we got in our car after the game, he told me, “That guy who gave me the hiccups was funny!”

The Game one “fan of the game” was standing nearby in his zany outfit, so I snapped  a shot of him:


35 - game 1 fan of the game.JPGThis game was all Rangers.  ALL RANGERS.  In fact, it was 13-1 Rangers.

Actually, the Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second on an Adam Jones solo shot.  This ISN’T the homerun swing:



36 - Adam Jones foul ball.JPGNote, the Orioles were wearing black jerseys for this game.

But the Jones homer was all the O’s could muster.  Meanwhile, the Rangers scored six in the third inning on the strength of 2RBI singles by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton, and a 2RBI homerun by former-Mariner Adrian Beltre – his first as a Ranger.

I was happy to see former Mariner, Chris Jakubauskas warming up in the Orioles bullpen:


37 - Welcome back Chris Jakubauskas.JPGWhen he entered the game in relief, it was his first MLB action since getting drilled in the head with a pitch in the first inning of his first game in 2010.

Here is Jak in action, facing off against Josh Hamilton…


38 - Jakubauskas sends Hamilton to Ksville.JPG…and striking out the reigning A.L. batting champ.

Did I mention that Jakubaukas is officially the only MLB player Tim has ever invited to hang out in our hotel room?  He is (scroll all the way to the bottom).

Unfortunately, things did not go great for Jak in his Orioles debut.  He pitched the final three innings and gave up 5 runs (four in the 9th inning).

In the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to make an attempt for Tim’s second umpire baseball of the day.  Amazingly, we got down to the same exact seats as at the end of the first game.

Tim asked me to take this picture of him hiding in his glove:


39 - hiding behind home plate.JPGThen I got this shot of Big Daddy Vladdy warming up for his final at bat…


40 - Vlad the Impaler.JPG…and this picture of former Mariner Mark Lowe pitching to Jake Fox:


41 - Mark Lowe to Jake Fox.JPGOnce again, a screenshot of the TV broadcast showed our final seating position of the night:


42 - behind home plate in game 2.jpgTim was in perfect position to get another umpire baseball, and the usher even lobbied homeplate umpire, Jeff Nelson, on Tim’s behalf, but the ump gave out only one baseball and it was to a kid on the other side of the umpires’ tunnel.

Not to worry, it was a great day of baseball.  Great father-son time.  A great time hanging out with the Camden Yards regulars.  And it was great to be back to live-and-in-person Major League Baseball.

Before we headed out of the park, a kind usher took this picture of two happy baseball fans:


43 - Todd and Tim complete the doubleheader.JPGHooray for Baseball!

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

2/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

2/0 Teams [Tim - Orioles, Rangers; Kellan - none]

1 Ice Cream Helmet(s)

5 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire)

1/0 Stadiums [Tim - Camden Yards; Kellan - none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim - Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan - Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos [Tim - Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan - Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

1/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim - Mariner Moose; Kellan - Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

C&S’s Opening Day: Let’s Play Two (4/9/2011)

Tim and I celebrated our own personal MLB Opening Day on April 9, 2011 at Camden Yards in Baltimore.  Due to a rain out the night before, we were treated to a single-admission doubleheader.  The match-up:  Rangers vs. Orioles.

We met up with national news reporter and MLBlogs Top 50 blogger, Avi Miller, on the sidewalk in front of Camden Yards. (Read Avi’s game update).  As the three of us walked toward the gates, Tim spotted Brooks Robinson’s “5” statue and had to get a picture with his “favorite number”:


1 - First picture Tim's favorite number.JPGFYI, Tim always wants to sit in seat number 5.

We met up with a bunch of Camden Yards regulars and waited for the gates to open.  There was one problem, no one, including the gate workers, knew when the gates would be opening.  We thought it would be 2:30 – two hours before game time – but at 2:30, we were told the gates would not open until 3:00.  And the word was there would be no batting practice.

When we entered the stadium at 3:00, we were happy to discover that the Rangers were, in fact, taking BP.  We headed down to the first row in RF foul territory with the intent of walking around to left field.  Before we could even begin the walk, a Rangers righty hit a looping foul ball down the RF line.  It hit the warning track and bounced right over our heads.  As I turned around, the baseball smacked off of a seat in the second row and flew straight into my glove.  There we go, baseball no. 1 of 2011:


2 - first baseball of 2011.JPGWe circled around toward the LF foul pole and stopped along the brick wall in foul territory.  Moments later, Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vasquez, fielded a batted ball, spotted Tim on my shoulders (fyi, he’s way too big to be on my shoulders these days!), shouted to me “take the boy down! (fyi, players/coaches are always scared of hitting Tim with a baseball when he’s on my shoulders), and tossed the baseball to us:


3 - first toss up of 2011.JPGThanks, Jose!
  (Fyi, that is Jose in the blue sweatshirt just to the left of Tim’s head in that last picture).

One of our goals for this game was to get a picture of Tim wearing his Mariners hat with a Ranger for the 2011 mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt (we are going to do our best to defend our title!).  I made a list of three ex-Mariners who now play for the Rangers:  Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, and Adrian Beltre.  Lo-and-behold, it wasn’t long before Tim got an autograph from and picture with Mark Lowe:


3a - Mark Lowe division rival and former Mariner.JPGThanks, Mark!
  We enjoyed having you in Seattle, and wish you good luck in Texas (provided that, after you get a hold, the closer comes along after you and blows all of the Rangers saves).

So, the day was going great already.  It was time for a snack break.  “Mommy” had packed a big bag of snacks.  Tim chomped down granola bar number one before we left the LF foul line:


4 - first snack of 2011.JPGSoon, a group of Rangers ran in toward home plate to take their turn in the cage.  For some reason, we were fooled.  It seemed like BP was concluding.  So we headed over toward the Rangers dugout.  But it was soon plainly evident that BP was still in full swing.  So we headed out to left field…where Tim did some gymnastics…


5 - BP gymnast.JPG…and then had another snack…


6 - second snack of 2011.JPG…, this time it was peanut butter crackers.

After Tim finished his crackers, we worked our way into the first row in section 86, the closest section to centerfield.  Mark Lowe and Authur Rhodes were shagging balls together – nice to see former- Mariners sticking together!  When Lowe shagged a ball about 75 feet from us, I called out to him.  He turned around and saw Tim and me in the first row and hit us with a perfect strike.

Thanks, again, Mark!

A few minutes later, BP wrapped up (for real this time).  I took our first panorama of the season from an essentially empty section 86:


7 - camden yards section 86 and avi panorama.jpgFYI, that’s Avi tossing his glove in the air in that panorama.

If you click on that last panorama to enlarge it, you’ll see three baseballs in the grass by the batters eye.  Tim and I decided to get some dinner and eat sitting in section 90 next to the batters eye to see what would happen with those baseballs.

We found a nacho stand in the concourse by the kids play area.  So we grabbed some nachos and


8 - first nachos of 2011.JPG…enjoyed them in section 90 as planned.  Our first nachos of the season did not disappoint.  And soon enough, a couple bullpen attendants came by and one of them tossed one of the baseballs up to us.

Thanks, bullpen guy!

While eating our nachos, I got a panorama of Camden Yards from the back of section 90:


9 - Camden Yards section 90 panorama.jpgAs we ate our nachos, we watched the starting pitchers warm up in CF and then in the bullpens:


10 - Orioles Rangers bullpen activity.JPGAs the national anthem ended, I got a picture of the bullpen attendant who had tossed the baseball up to us in section 90:


11  - thanks orioles bullpen guy.JPGAvi pointed out the new retired number markers hanging from the upper deck in LF:


12 - orioles retired numbers.JPG20 is Frank Robinson; 5 is Brooks Robinson; 4 is Earl Weaver; 22 is Jim Palmer; 33 is Eddie Murray; 8 is Cal Ripkin, Jr.; and 42 is Jackie Robinson.

Finally, the first game started.  It was Tim’s first single-admission doubleheader (we did, of course, do a two-city doubleheader last season) and only my second (this was my first – game 1/game 2).

I got a shot of Josh Hamilton playing catch in CF before the bottom of the first inning:


13 - Josh Hamilton playing catch.JPGAnd I figured I ought to get a shot of the Rangers relievers since we were sitting right by them:


14 - Rangers bullpen at Camden Yards.JPGTim and I were sitting in section 86 with Avi, Matt and Zevi, plus a couple of their friends, so I got this somewhat candid shot of Tim with 3-mygameballs.com members for the scavenger hunt:


15 - mygameballsdotcommers.JPGSpeaking of Matt, he was over in the Flag Court in RF during the bottom of the first and came close to snagging Nick Markakis’s homerun off of Colby Lewis.  That put the O’s up 1-0, and that was all they’d need in game one.

Another shot I needed for the scavenger hunt was a picture of Tim with a baseball we caught at the game with a Camden Yard’s sign in the background.  Here was out first attempt:


16 - baseball and distance OPACY sign.JPGA great shot of Tim, but the Camden Yards sign was way too far away.

We were excited to see the O’s new acquisition, Vlad Guererro.  Its nice to see that guy get out of the A.L. West where we won’t do as much damage against the Mariners.  In his first at bat of the day, I caught him as he hit a single off the very end of his bat:


17 - Vlad gets a hit.JPGIn the bottom of the second, Mark Reynolds hit his first homerun as an Oriole.  The ball landed about 2 sections over from us – in straight away left field.  Avi was off with the crack of the bat, but got tripped up and hit the deck en route to the ball.  And that put the O’s up 4-0.

The scoring in the first game concluded in the bottom of the third inning when Adam Jones hit a RBI single to put the O’s up 5-0.  The O’s lead was good for our Mariners, so we were happy with the way the game was going.

Around the fourth of fifth inning, Tim asked if we could get ice cream.  So we went on a little walk.  The concession stands at Camden Yards are all different this season.   It looks good.  Here’s a look at the new Orioles Shirt Shop on the 3B side of the concourse:


18 - Orioles shirt shot.JPGTim and I bought our first chocolate ice cream helmet (with rainbow sprinkles) of the season and grabbed some ice cream seats down the 3B line:


20 - first ice cream helmet of 2011.JPGThe Rangers have a lot of impressive hitters these days.  I snapped this picture of one of them, Nelson Cruz, because he looked like a punk high schooler with his untucked jersey:


19 - untucked Nelson Cruz.JPGCome on, Nellie, tuck it in!

We gave another shot at the “baseball with Camden Yards sign” picture, but we were still a bit too far away:


21 - baseball and slightly bigger OPACY sign.JPGOur handicap accessible seats behind section 58 were great for taking action shots.  Here is a shot of Elvis Andrus grounding out:


22 - Elvis Andrus grounds out.JPGThe ball is the little white blur on the far left side of the picture (vertically, right in the middle of the dirt).

Josh Hamilton singled to center on this swing:


23 - Josh Hamilton singles to CF.JPGHere’s Vlad again, getting ready to pop out:


24 - Big Daddy Vladdy.JPGIn the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to set up for an umpire baseball attempt.  From the cross aisle behind home, we got another shot of Josh Hamilton as he hit another single…


25 - Josh Hamilton singles to LF in 9th.JPG…this time to left field.

When some patrons left the fancy seats, an usher let us take their seats behind home plate.  It’s a pretty sweet view from down there.  Here is a shot of the final batter of the game, Michael Young:


26 - Final batter Michael Young.JPGAnd here is a screen shot from the TV broadcast showing where Tim and I were sitting as the game ended – Tim is sitting on my lap in this shot:


26a - behind home plate in game 1.jpgAfter Jason Berken put Michael Young away to end the game, home plate umpire Marty Foster awarded Tim his first umpire ball of the season:


27 - Umpire baseball and OPACY sign.JPGAnd we finally got the perfect shot of Tim, his umpire baseball, and the Camden Yards sign.

Between games we hung out in the kids play area.  It was essentially unchanged from last season.  Tim did some jumping in the bouncy house…


28 - first kids play area of 2011.JPG…, which Tim loves.  He also played on the wooden fort-thingy.  Finally, before heading toward Eutaw Street, we got Tim’s picture with one of three big Oriole Bird bobbleheads:


29 - Jumbo Orioles bobblehead.JPGYes, that big thing is a bobblehead.

This was the first Saturday of MLB baseball in Baltimore.  Eutaw Street was packed.  I think a lot of people skipped the first game of the doubleheader and they were all showing up for the nightcap.

Tim played in the picnic area behind the batters eye before we headed back into the stands.  As we made our way back into the LF stands, we passed by the MASN crew who, I imagine, were busy talking about the upcoming game:


30 - MASN Orioles crew.JPGI have no clue who this lady is, but as we passed by, some dude yelled really loud, “YOU’RE HOT, WHATEVER-HER-NAME-IS!!!”  Classy, sir.  Classy.

We spent most of game two with Avi, Zevi and Andrew in section 86.  This was our view:


31 - Game 2 view.JPGA lot of players were shuffled around in both line-ups, but big Josh Hamilton was still patrolling center field for the Rangers:


32 - Josh Hamilton roams CF.JPGTim was excited for game two:


33 - Tim set for game 2.JPGIn fact, he was so excited, that he put on a display of his super-rad dance moves:


34 - dance party.JPGIn the picture above, that is Andrew sitting behind Tim in the black sweatshirt.  Tim had great fun “sitting” next to Andrew.   Tim laughed so much he got the hiccups twice during game 2.  When we got in our car after the game, he told me, “That guy who gave me the hiccups was funny!”

The Game one “fan of the game” was standing nearby in his zany outfit, so I snapped  a shot of him:


35 - game 1 fan of the game.JPGThis game was all Rangers.  ALL RANGERS.  In fact, it was 13-1 Rangers.

Actually, the Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second on an Adam Jones solo shot.  This ISN’T the homerun swing:



36 - Adam Jones foul ball.JPGNote, the Orioles were wearing black jerseys for this game.

But the Jones homer was all the O’s could muster.  Meanwhile, the Rangers scored six in the third inning on the strength of 2RBI singles by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton, and a 2RBI homerun by former-Mariner Adrian Beltre – his first as a Ranger.

I was happy to see former Mariner, Chris Jakubauskas warming up in the Orioles bullpen:


37 - Welcome back Chris Jakubauskas.JPGWhen he entered the game in relief, it was his first MLB action since getting drilled in the head with a pitch in the first inning of his first game in 2010.

Here is Jak in action, facing off against Josh Hamilton…


38 - Jakubauskas sends Hamilton to Ksville.JPG…and striking out the reigning A.L. batting champ.

Did I mention that Jakubaukas is officially the only MLB player Tim has ever invited to hang out in our hotel room?  He is (scroll all the way to the bottom).

Unfortunately, things did not go great for Jak in his Orioles debut.  He pitched the final three innings and gave up 5 runs (four in the 9th inning).

In the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to make an attempt for Tim’s second umpire baseball of the day.  Amazingly, we got down to the same exact seats as at the end of the first game.

Tim asked me to take this picture of him hiding in his glove:


39 - hiding behind home plate.JPGThen I got this shot of Big Daddy Vladdy warming up for his final at bat…


40 - Vlad the Impaler.JPG…and this picture of former Mariner Mark Lowe pitching to Jake Fox:


41 - Mark Lowe to Jake Fox.JPGOnce again, a screenshot of the TV broadcast showed our final seating position of the night:


42 - behind home plate in game 2.jpgTim was in perfect position to get another umpire baseball, and the usher even lobbied homeplate umpire, Jeff Nelson, on Tim’s behalf, but the ump gave out only one baseball and it was to a kid on the other side of the umpires’ tunnel.

Not to worry, it was a great day of baseball.  Great father-son time.  A great time hanging out with the Camden Yards regulars.  And it was great to be back to live-and-in-person Major League Baseball.

Before we headed out of the park, a kind usher took this picture of two happy baseball fans:


43 - Todd and Tim complete the doubleheader.JPGHooray for Baseball!

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

2/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

2/0 Teams [Tim - Orioles, Rangers; Kellan - none]

1 Ice Cream Helmet(s)

5 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire)

1/0 Stadiums [Tim - Camden Yards; Kellan - none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim - Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan - Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos [Tim - Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan - Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

1/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim - Mariner Moose; Kellan - Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

Spring Training VII: Mariners Intrasquad & FanFest

Okay.  We’re two games into the regular season and I have finally reached our final Spring Training entry.  This is a split entry between a Mariners intrasquad game and the Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex.
 
Mariners Intrasquad Game
 
We went to Spring Training for the first week of full-squad work outs.  The first game against another team was the day we left.  But two days before we left, the Mariners played an intrasquad game.  I’d never been to a Major League intrasquad game.  It was pretty cool.  And the Mariners won!
 
The game was on the main Major League practice field (M1).  It was our first opportunity to see Mariners top prospect (and new 5th starter), Michael Pineda, in action.  Here he is pitching to Jack Wilson in the first inning:
1 - Pineda to Jack Wilson.JPGAnd here is Pineda pitching to the Mariners other top prospect, Dustin Ackley:
2 - Pineda to Ackley.JPGI didn’t take many pictures at the game because this is what it looked like from “the crowd” behind home plate:
3 - sparsley populated foul territory.JPGI really wanted to get a foul ball, even it is was with almost no competition at an intrasquad game on a practice field.  Tim clowned around in the grass while I played for foul balls:

4 - Tim clowning around in grass.JPGAnd he met a little friend (just to the left of Tim in the last picture) named Sean to play around with.  My dad and Sean’s dad, the guy with the blue shirt and glove right in the middle of the picture, were my main foul ball competition.  Both my dad and I only played for fouls until we got one, then we concentrated on watching the game.  As that last sentence implies, yep, we both got one.
 
Here is a diagram of our foul balls snags:
5 - Foul balls for everyone.jpgMy dad generally set up in the grass behind the 3B dugout — about 1/2 way back.  I set up on the walk way (where the long yellow arrow beings) for righties and I shifted behind home plates for righties.
 
My dad ended up getting a foul ball from Chone Figgins in the bottom of the first inning.  He had moved all the way back to the beginning of the short yellow arrow to chat with the “usher” who works by the entrance to the Mariners clubhouse building.  Figgins blooped a little looping foul right over me.  It was either mine or my dad’s for the snagging.  But I had to chase after it, while it was naturally traveling right to my dad.  He scooped it up while I was still about 20 feet behind the ball.
 
A couple innings later, I was on the walkway when Dustin Ackley (lefty) came to the plate.  When he popped a foul straight back, I figured there was no chance I would get it.  But for some reason, the 5-10 guys over in that direction stood motionless while I ran from the walkway all the way to the back corner (next to M7) and scooped up the foul ball.
 
Here is the Ackley foul ball:
6 - ST5 - Dustin Ackley (Intrasquad Foul Ball).JPGPineda was out of the game and I’m not sure who pitched it.  It’ll be cool to have this baseball in years to come when Ackley (hopefully) develops into a star player for the Mariners.
 
After getting that foul, I stopped playing for fouls and met up with the rest of my family at the 3B stands.  I ended up holding Kellan for the rest of the game, and when Mariners “bat boy” Jason Phillips saw us, he tossed a baseball over the fence to us.  That guy is great to us!
 
Thanks, Jason!
 
Kellan ended up falling asleep in my arms as I watched the rest of the game through the fence behind home plate.  Check out this view that you normally just don’t get of major leaguers in action:
7 - Watching Mariners like a high school game.JPGAs shown in that last picture, the Mariners had a two-man umpiring crew working the game.  I’m not sure who they were, but they seemed like regular MLB umps.  However, they could be the guys who work the various rookie/fall/etc. leagues that are played in Arizona throughout the year.  Anyway, despite the high school sized crowd, the umps made the game feel much more official.
 
About ten feet to my right as I watched the game behind home plate was a contingent of top Mariners brass — minority owner/majority owner rep Howard Lincoln, GM Jack Zduriencik, and an unidentified third guy.  After the game, Jack Z. took a minute to chat with me and pose for a picture with me and a folded-up, sleeping Kellan:

8 - Jack Z TJC and sleeping Kellan.JPG
Two guys got picked off second base during the intrasquad game, I told Jack Z. that my advice for the season was to work on not getting picked off 2B.  He shrugged in an “Oh, boy!” manner and said something like, “Oh, yeah, we’ll definitely be working on that.”
 
During the game, when Michael Saunders got picked off second (he just broke for third even before first movement), the third unidentified Mariners exec. busted out in laughter and exclaimed, “Ha!  Does he think he’s wearing an invisible suit!?  He think he’s wearing an invisible suit!”  It can’t be good to have the bosses mocking your boneheaded move like that!
 
A momemt after parting ways with Jack Z., Jack called back to us to introduce us to his wife, Debbie.  It was funny because she wasn’t standing there when I was chatting with Jack, and its not like Jack and I are hang out all the time, but for whatever reason he thought he should come back to introduce me to Debbie.
 
One last game note, although I didn’t get any pictures because I was playing for fouls, Ichiro lead off for Pineda’s team and was 2-2 on the day with two singles.
 
Mariners/Padres Fan Fest
 
On our last full day in Arizona, we attended Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex main stadium.  My folks, Tim and I headed over first and Colleen and Kellan joined us after Kellan’s morning nap.
 
When we entered the stadium, Tim was handed a little string backpack with baseball cards, a promotional baseball, and a sharpie from a local baseball card store.  The Padres were on the field.  Right off the bat, I split off from my folks and Tim so I could run over to the Mariners practice fields and see if the guys were practicing before Fan Fest.  They weren’t.  It was the first day of minor league camp and the only guys on the practice fields were minor leaguers.
 
So, I ran back to the main stadium.  I hung out in RF and scanned the stadium for Tim and my folks.  I could not see them anywhere.  While I looked, San Diego Padre Aaron Cunningham…
9 - aaron cunningham.JPG…tossed me a completely unsolicited baseball over the RF bullpen.
 
Thanks, Aaron!
 
Finally, I decided that they must be in the concourse behind the infield grandstand.  Once I headed over there, I found them fairly quickly.  They had been checking out all of the kids stuff set up in the concourse.
 
My mom took these cute pictures of Tim:
10 - funny poser tim.JPGI think they’re both hilarious.
 
They hadn’t played any of the games set up yet, so I got to watch Tim while he tested his skills at a weird batting contraption:
11 - hitting contraption and big baseball.JPGHe also tested his catching skills at a little pop fly station…
12 - catch and throw stations.JPG…and his pitching skills at a pitching station.
 
While Tim took some hacks at the batting tee station…
13 - getting in some tee work.JPG…I chatted briefly with a guy who I thought might be Jack Wilson’s dad (he had a “family pass” and his last name was Wilson), but it turned out he is Josh Wilsons dad.  The funny thing is that he REALLY looked a lot like Jack Wilson.
 
I had heard that the Mariners would be on the field around 11 a.m., and the time was fast approaching.  Colleen and Kellan had arrived by this time.  I grabbed Kellan and headed over to the 1B foul line where players enter the stadium from the clubhouse.  Last season, the “professional” autograph seekers boxed out all the kids during Fan Fest.  So this year, they had a rule that only kids and their adult companions could get into the first couple sections down the 1B line — the best autograph area once the players enter the stadium.
 
The rest of the family met up with us before too long (before the M’s arrived), and Colleen got this picture of Kellan waiting patiently for his Mariners to arrive:
14 - TnK waiting for mariners.JPGWhile we waited, my mom and Tim went over Tim’s kids passport — you got a stamp for each of the throwing, catching, hitting stations and could enter to win something if you did them all — and then my mom pointed out the best spot for Tim to get some autographs:
15 - Gma and Tim plan strategy.JPGAnd that’s just where we set up shop:
16 - Gpa and Tim set up.JPGSoon, our Mariners arrived:
17 - Mariners arrive.JPGAs previously featured in its own entry, the first Mariner we connected with at Fan Fest was Kellan’s first pitcher, Luke French.
 
Tim was all excited about his free promotional baseball.  He got it signed by a bunch of players.  Among them was Jamey Wright…
18 - chatty Jamey Wright.JPG…who literally took 1-2 minutes to chat with each kid as he signed autographs.  He was very cool.  Way to go, Jamie!
 
Tim got an autograph and some bunny ears from the one and only Mariners Moose:
19 - The Moose.JPGAfter all the Mariners had passed by, we got this shot of Tim and Kellan with thier West Coast grandparents:
19a - Grandfolks and Grandkids.JPGHere is a look at Tim’s autopgraph baseball (its too bad he didn’t use a ROMLB for these autographs!):
19b - Tims cheap autoball.JPGAs best as I can tell:
Top Left (top to bottom):  The Mariner Moose, Jamie Wright (#50), and Matt Tuiasosopo (#27).
Top Right (top to bottom):  Chone Figgins (#9), unsure, unsure.
Bottom Left (top to bottom):  unsure, David Aardsma (#53), unsure.
Bottom right (top to bottom):  Justin Smoak, Luke French (#25), Michael Pineda (#36).
 
Next, it was time for the Mariners to take some BP.  My goal for the day was simple:  Catch a homerun hit by Ichiro.
 
I failed.
 
Ichiro hit several homeruns to RF (where we were).  But all but one landed in the bullpen.  My dad should have caught the one that landed on the grass berm, but he was mugged by some out-of-control fan who made everyone miss the ball on the fly (my dad made no effort to dive on the pile for the baseball in the grass).
 
Although I have read that he doesn’t consider himself a particularly good golfer, one of Ichiro’s BP homeruns was a hole in one:
 
20 - Ichiro hole in one.JPGAs illustrated in the picture above, Ichiro’s homerun was coming right at me, but it fell short, hit the back wall of the bullpen (about 5-10 feet below me) and bounced directly into a box on the ground (I think it was the control box for the hose hanging on the fence).  Very impress, Ichi!
 
While Ichiro’s group was batting, Adam Moore was alone in RF shagging baseballs.  When he spotted me and Tim behind the bullpen, he hooked us up with this baseball (which I think, but am not 100% positive, was hit by Ichiro):
 
 
20a - ST8 - Adam Moore.JPGIn my quest to catch an Ichiro homerun ball, I didn’t come up entirely empty handed.  I did manage to make a clean “on the fly” catch of a Justin Smoak homerun along the RCF end of the bullpen:
21 - smoak HR.JPGAfter Ichiro finished hitting, I was certain that he would call it a day and head back to the Mariners clubhouse.  But, to my surprise, he grabbed his glove and headed out to RF.
 
While I was still thinking Ichiro was going to pack up and leave, Tim, my mom and I relocated back to the 1B foul line in hopes of getting a picture with Ichiro on his way out of the stadium.  While we were hanging out over there, Brendan Ryan hit us two foul balls:
                    22 - ST10 - Brendan Ryan.JPG  
23 - ST11 - Brendan Ryan.JPG
 
The first Ryan foul bounced high off of the warning track over a teenaged kid (probably 13-14) and right to me and Tim.  The second Ryan foul ball rattled off of several fans gloves, including that same kid.  I felt bad for him and tried to give him the baseball.  But he declined, explaining that he has about 100 of his own already.
 
Eventually, someone hit a ball down the line and Ichiro looked right at me like he was going to throw it to me.  But Tim had wandered off about 15 feet and Ichiro didn’t seem him.  My mom and I could see the thought process go through Ichiro’s brain, “Oh, I thought that guy had a little boy.  Oh, well, I’ll toss it to that kid over there instead.”
 
My mom and I looked at Tim and in unison we both said, “Oh, Tim, Ichiro wanted to give you that baseball but he couldn’t find you!”  For the next ten minutes, Tim didn’t stray from us at all.  And when the next ball got hit right down the RF line, Ichiro ran over, scooped it up and tossed it right to us:
24 - baseball from Ichiro HOORAY.JPGOur first baseball ever from Ichiro.
 
THANKS, ICHIRO-SAN!
 
Ichiro is hands down Tim’s favorite player.  So its awesome to get a baseball from him.  Tim put his Ichiro baseball right next to his bed with an Ichiro baseball card in a display case next to it.
 
Here is  close up of our Ichiro baseball (below to left)…
                25 - ST12 - Ichiro.JPG    
26 - ST13 - Jack Wilson.JPG
 
…and our final baseball of the day from Jack Wilson (above to right).  The Wilson baseball was funny.  We were back in RF and everyone collectively decided it was time to head out to get some lunch.  As we were leaving the berm in RF, Jack was retrieving a baseball from the warning track just below the bullpen.  I called down, “Hit me over the shoulder, Jack!”  Jack looked up, hiked the ball to himself, rolled out of the pocket to the right, and threw a post pattern to me up on the berm.
 
Thanks, Jack!
 
Thirty seconds later, Jack threw a laser to my dad as he crossed the bridge over the players entrance to the field.  Thanks again, Jack! (on behalf of my dad).
 
Before leaving the stadium, Tim pitched and hit some baseballs at the last pitching and hitting stations.  On one of his final swings, Tim jacked the ball literally out of the Peoria Sports Complex (over that building behind the hitting station):
 
27 - Tim leaves the Complex.JPGThe Moose was watching Tim pitch at the pitching station and afterwards we got this cool picture of Tim and the Moose:
27a - Moose featuring Tim.JPGAfter lunch, we stopped back in at the stadium, but all of the Mariners were gone.  We got some pictures of the Dave Neihaus tribute sign (also a patch the Mariners are wearing this season, which is also featured in our blog banner up top this season):
28 - Mom and Dave MYOHMY.JPGFinally, on our way out to the parking lot, I took some pictures of the Peoria Sports Complex scoreboard…
 
And that was it.  The next morning, I drove by the complex and saw some Mariners milling around by the clubhouse building.  But there was no major league work out due to the first Spring Training game later that day.  Later that day, we caught out plane back to Pennsylvania.  It was a great time at Spring Training, and we left more excited than ever for the regular season to start about a month later.

Target Field Tour

I just spend a week in Minneapolis.  I wanted to tour Target Field, but I was incredibly busy all week and the chances didn’t look good.  One evening, just before my trip through the Metrodome, I headed over to Target Field just to check it out in daylight.

It was looking good:

1 - Target Field exterior 1B side.JPG
See those windows below the Target Field sign in that picture above to the right?  Remember those windows for a minute.

I peaked through Gate 29 and I could see workers taking a plastic cover off of the field:

a2 - Target Field from Gate 29 removing winter cover panorama.jpgI definitely wanted to get in there to see what Target Field is all about.

I finally got my chance just before leaving Minneapolis.  When I arrived at the box office to purchase a tour ticket, there were two guys and a dog sitting in chairs next to their tent:

2 - Twins Single Game Tickets Line 2011.JPGThey were first in line for single game tickets, which were going on sale the next day.

See that lady in the red jacket above?  She was on my tour.  We chatted a bit.  She was very nice and she gave me a run for my money for the title of most pictures taken on the tour…but I still think I got her on it.

My tour ticket looked like a game ticket and was beautiful:

2a - Target Field tour ticket.jpgForty people met up outside of Gate 29.  Two tour guides divided us into groups of 20 and then the groups headed off in different directions.  Our tour guide was named Dick, and he was awesome.

The first thing we did was hop in an elevator right next to Gate 29 and the team store.  We went up a couple floors and headed to our first stop — the Metropolitan Club:

3 - Metropolitan Club.JPGRemember all of those windows in the picture above?  Well, the Metropolitan Club (as show here) is inside those windows.  The Metropolitan Club is a special club for season ticket holders and their guests.  There is a bar and a big buffet is served before each game.

Target Field is chock full of history.  Everywhere you go, there are pictures, paintings and display cases showcasing the Twins and Minnesota’s baseball history.  And almost everything is named after a Twin, a Minnesotan, or a Minnesotan lankmark.

Inside the Metropolitan Club, the Twins have a series of photographs of all-time baseball greats, like the picture of Babe Ruth above playing in Minnesota on the old “barnstormer” tours.  The sign next to the picture says, “Babe Ruth made an appearance at Nicollet Park during an exhibition game in September 1935.”  The picture above to the left is of old Metropolitan Stadium and it covers the entire wall behind the host’s station at the Metropolitan Club entrance.

Here is a panorama of Target Field through the Metropolitan Club windows:

a3 - Target Field metropolitan club panorama.jpg

For $5 extra, season ticket holders can watch the game from the two rows of seats outside of the Metropolitan Club.

Next, we exited the Metropolitan Club walked down a hallway with pictures of all 30 current MLB stadiums, and our next stop was the Johnny Blanchard party suite:

4 - Target Field Johnny Blanchard suite.JPGThere are about 7 of these suites on this level.  I think that Dick said they cost about $100 per person (assuming you fill the suite to capacity, which I think was something like 30 people).  This picture is not very good.  The suite was big, modern and very nice.  It has a really big kitchen area with a full-sized refrigerator.

Each of the party suites is named after a current/former MLB player who was born in Minnesota.  I cannot remember all of them, but Roger Maris and Paul Molitor were two of them.

Here is a panorama of Target Field from inside the Johnny Blanchard suite:

b - Target Field Johnny Blanchard suite panorama.jpgWorkers were actively preparing Target Field for opening day.  There were a couple visible signs of it being winter in Minnesota.  Most notably, the dugouts were enclosed within wood walls:

5 - Target Field visitors dugout covered in wood.JPGIn the LF foul corner, the Twins have each of their retired numbers in red or blue circles:

6 - Target Field retired numbers.JPG42 is Jackie Robinson, 34 is Kirby Puckett, 14 is Kent Hrbek, 6 is Tony Oliva, 29 is Rod Carew, and 3 is Harmon Killebrew.  Dick informed us that 28 will soon be added to the list for Hall of Famer-elect Bert Blyleven.

Here are some shots of the Twins big screens:

7 - Target Field big screens.JPGThe big one over the upper deck seats in left field is huge.  Dick said that if you placed the Timberwolves basketball court in the middle of the big screen, you would have three feet of extra screen space on all four sides of the court.  It looks pretty nice.

Last season, the big scoreboard was the only big screen at Target Field.  Apparently, people in LF complained because they couldn’t see it (particularly from the lower deck), so they just recently put up a smaller big screen above the upper deck seats in RF.  Dick said the RF screen is 1/4 the size of the main scoreboard screen.

After we left the Johnny Blanchard suite, we entered a hallway leading to the Legends Club.  The hallway was full of memorabilia and informative pictures, diagrams, etc., about Target Field.  One wall told all about the construction of Target Field with tons of pictures of the entire process.  For example, there are pictures of the 41 miles of heating tubes below the field at Target Field.  The tubes are set to a temperature during the winter that allows the grass to go dormant, but prevents a hard freeze from setting in.

There was also a display case all about the first game at Target Field.  It had all of the bases, the pitching rubber, pictures of the umpires, important baseballs, scorecards, etc.  My favorite thing in the display case was this:

8 - Target Field First Homerun Catcher.JPGIt is the first homerun ball ever hit at Target Field along with a picture of A.J. Nitzschke, the lucky Twins fan who caught the Jason Kubel homerun.  Behind the picture of A.J. is a short letter A.J. wrote describing the big day.  This seems like a great touch to me.  The Twins clearly understand that the fans are what allows professional baseball to exist, and therefore they made space to celebrate an important fan experience from opening day right along with the on field stuff.

In an interesting side note, Dick mentioned that the Twins offered A.J. an autographed game-used Jason Kubel bat in exchange for the first Target Field homerun baseball.  However, A.J. is apparently a big Joe Mauer fan so he requested an autographed Mauer bat.  Mauer and the Twins were happy to make A.J.’s request happen.  Not only did he get the autographed Mauer bat, he got to meet both Mauer and Kubel.  (Maybe the Marlins should take some notes from the Twins).

Just behind the opening night display case is the architect’s model of Target Field:

9 - Target Field replica.JPGThe model is really cool becuase, in additional to all of the components of the field itself, it shows how all of the roadways/trains pass under Target Field.

Next, we headed into the Legends Club.  I took this picture of the front desk at the Legends Club because I loved the huge picture behind the desk:

11 - Target Field big bat knobs picture.JPGThe Legends Club wraps from the 1B side to the 3B side.  Here is the 1B side of the Legends Club all set up for some event (there are 22 spaces that companies/individuals can rent out for functions at Target Field):

10 - Target Field Legends Club 3B side.JPGBy the way, that is our tour guide Dick in that last picture.

And here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the 1B side of the Legends Club:

c - Target Field legends club 1b side panorama.jpgJust past the Legends Club seating area (two pictures above) is the Kirby Puckett Lounge.  The lounge has several display cases full of Kirby memorabilia.  Its amazing stuff, including his 1991 World Series ring and his Hall of Fame ring:

12 - Kirby Puckett Lounge.JPGPictured above to the right is a bar with Kirby’s signature on the base of the bar and his image burned/etched (not sure which) into the wooden wall behind the bar.  By the way, in addition to his rings, the Kirby Puckett Lounge features several game jerseys, cleats, bats, a gold glove award, pictures, magazine covers, etc., etc., etc.  Much of the stuff is on loan to the Twins from the Puckett family.

Next, we headed to the press box (print media):


13 - Target Field Press Box.JPGHere is a panoramic view of Target Field from the press box:

d - Target Field press box panorama.jpgAnd next door, I got this panoramic view of Target Field from the TV box:

e - Target Field TV booth panorama.jpgHere is a view into the 3B-side of the Legends Club:

14 - Target Field Legends Club 3B side.JPGBehind home plate (and the press boxes), there is a “Call Wall” with famous TV/radio calls from Twins history:

f - Target Field call wall panorama.jpgThe Call Wall looks across the hallway toward the “573” Lounge:

15 - Targe Field 573 Lounge.JPGThis lounge is named in recognition of Harmon Killebrew’s 573 career homeruns and it featuers a Killebrew-based display case including the bat he used for his final career homerun and the baseball (also with a notation of who caught it — I think it was caught be a reliever in the bullpen).  Interestingly, Killebrew hit his final homerun as a Kansas City Royal playing against the Twins in Minnesota.

Next, we headed up the stairs in the 573 Lounge and entered the private suite level.  At the top of the stairs was a cool panoramic painting of Target Field:


g - Target Field painting panorama.jpgHere is a view down the private suite hallway toward the 1B side:

16 - Target Field suite level hallway.JPGEach of the private suites is named after a lake in Minnesota — here is a look at the “Norway Lake Suite”:

17 - Target Field private suites.JPGAs you can see, the suites are really nice and clean looking.  Here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the Norway Lake suite:

h - Target Field Norway Lake Suite panorama.jpgFrom the suite level hallway, we could see down into the Legends Club Rod Carew Lounge:

18 - Rod Carew Lounge.JPGThe suite level hallway is lined with paintings and pictures.  In one section of the hallway, there were pictures of each of the Twins to have won batting titles.  Further down the hallway toward LF, there are painting of each person who has served as the Twins manager over the years — a surprisingly small group of people.  Here are the paintings of the last two managers — Tom “T.K.” Kelley and Ron Gardenhire:

19 - Target Field Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire paintings.JPGWe went into suite 54 (not sure what its “lake” name was) almost directly across the hall from the Gardenhire painting.  Here was the view of Target Field from suite 54:

i - Target Field Suite 54 panorama.jpgAnd here is a closer look at the Twins “Minnie and Paul” logo out in center field:

20 - Target Field Minnie and Paul Sign.JPGA little further down the hallway there was a big painting on the wall of a wobbly-looking Target Field:

22 - Target Field funky painting.JPGAcross the hallway from that wobbly painting, there are two huge party suites.  Here is one of them:

23 - Target Field jumbo party suites.JPGThe suites have big cushy seats and come complete with overhead heaters:

21 - Target Field suite seating and heaters.JPGHere is a panorama of Target Field from the huge party suites:

j - Target Field jumbo suite panorama.jpgI like the yellow-orange rock they used throughout the field.  Behind home plate, there is a very nice looking “Welcome to Target Field” on the yellow-orange rock:

24 - Welcome to Target Field sign.JPGWe didn’t venture out into the outfield during the tour, so this is the best look I got of the bullpens:

25 - Target Field bullpens.JPGNext, we visited the “Skyline Deck,” which (true to its name) has an excellent view of the Minneapolis skyline.  Here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the concourse directly behind Section T of the Skyline Deck:

k - Target Field Skyline Deck concourse panorama.jpgWe took a tour of Chase Field when we were in Arizona for Spring Training and our guide hyperventilated if you walked 3 feet away from the tour group, and we were never allowed down into the actual rows of seats.  So, not wanting to ruffle Dick’s feathers, I asked politely if I could run down to the first row to take some pictures.  He was absolutely fine with it.  He just told me to catch up with the tour and he led the rest of the people away (toward the LF foul pole) as I ran down to the first row.

So, thanks to Dick, here is a panorama of Target Field from the first row of Section T of the Skyline Deck:

l - Target Field Skyline Deck front row panorama.jpgAfter a few minutes down in the first row, I ran over to the foul pole to catch up with the group.  Before hopping onto an elevator with the group, I got this panorama of Target Field from the concourse in the LF foul corner:

m- Target Field Left Field corner panorama.jpgMoments later, I was high above the field on the Budweiser Roof Deck.  As shown in this panorama, we were literally *above* the foul pole:



n - Target Field bud party deck panorama.jpgThat last panorama cut off a lot of the field.  Its hard to get a good panorama when you are shooting from up high and trying to wrap around a corner.  So I ran around the roof deck looking for the best spot to capture a good picture of the view from up there.  My second attempt was from the top of a couple standing room risers:

o - Target Field bud party deck risers panorama.jpgMy final attempt was probably the best view (although it cuts off the LF seats).  Here is a panorama from the *foulest* front corner of the roof deck:

p - Target Field bud party deck LF foul corner panorama.jpgWhile in that *foulest* corner, I turned around and good a shot of the lighting tucked into the wing-looking upper deck “roof”:

26 - Target Field lighting.JPGIt would probably make more sense if it was game time and everything was set up, but here is a shot of the bar area on the roof deck:

27 - Target Field Bud party deck.JPGBy the way, the roof deck is totally separated from everything else.  To get to any other level or seating section, you have to take an elevator down from the roof deck.  Also, you can only get up to the roof deck if you have special roof deck tickets.

From high atop the roof deck, we took the elevator all the way down to the bowels of target field.  We walked around from LF toward the visitors’ clubhouse on the 3B side.

En route to the clubhouse, we stopped to take a look at “Keg Room No. 5.”  Check it out:

28 - Target Field Keg Room No. 5.JPGApparently Twins personnel were always carting around kegs through the Metrodome concourses, which wasn’t ideal for fans walking the concourse.  So, at Target Field, they now have (I think) 8 “keg rooms.”  See the yellow arrow above the keg room?  Instead of taking kegs to each of the beer stands, all of the kegs are in the keg rooms and there are 14.8 miles of “beer pipes” twisting their way through Target Field delivering crisp, cold beer straight from the keg rooms to your plastic beer cup.

Next up, the visitors’ clubhouse.  Here are three pictures:

29 - Target Field visitors clubhouse and batting cage.JPGIn the top picture, that is the main clubhouse area with the player lockers and couches in the middle.  As photographed in that picture, the field is to the right of the clubhouse.  Directly to the right of where I was standing when I took the top picture, is the little kitchen area shown above to the left.  Finally, just down the hallway from the clubhouse (on the way to the dugout) is the single batting cage shown above to the right.

They took us into the visitors dugout, which (as mentioned above) was encased in a wood cover:

30 - Target Field enclosed visitors bullpen.JPGLet me explain the yellow and green arrows.  First, the bottom left picture is the view from the 3B side of the dugout (where the players enter the dugout) toward the homeplate side.  There are little spaces between the wood cover and the railings in the dugout.  The picture above to the right is looking toward home plate through the front-homeplate side space in the dugout cover.  Essentially, I just stuck my camera through the hole in the dugout and snapped a picture without knowing what it would look like.

I did the same thing on the 3B-side of the dugout (at the green arrow in the top right picture above), but I took a couple totally blind photos that I was able to piece together to make this half-way decent panorama:
q - Target Field visitors dugout panorama.jpgNext, we headed to the Champion’s Club, directly behind home plate under the fancy seats.  Here are a couple photos of what it looked like in there:

31 - Target Field Champions Club.JPGIn that middle photo, that is a sports radio broadcast that was taking place from a studio in the back corner of the Champion’s Club.

The Champion’s Club essentially goes from dugout-to-dugout and it has several entrances to the super-luxury seats behind home plate.  On the far 1B-side of the Champion’s Club, there is a window where people can watch the Twins take hacks in their two batting cages:

32 - Target Field Champions Club view of Twins batting cages.JPGI’m not sure if Dick was going to take us out into the seats (which were still partially covered in snow), but I didn’t wait around to ask.  I tested the door and when it was unlocked, I bolted for the seats.  (By the way, Dick later brought just a handful of people out into the seats.  He absolutely didn’t care that I was already out there taking pictures).

Here is a panorama of Target Field from (approximately) row B of Section 7 of the Champion’s Club:

r - Target Field Champions Club section 7 panorama2.jpgI took a couple photos of myself on the tour so I’d have proof that I was actually at Target Field.  Here is the least terrible of my self-photos:

33 - TJC at Target Field.JPGHere is another Champion’s Club panorama, this one from row A of Section 10 (with my arm and camera wrapped around the protective screen so we don’t have to look through the net):

u - Target Field Champions Club section 10 panorama2.jpgBefore heading back into the Champion’s Club, I ran up to the walkway behind the Champion’s Club seating and took this panorama of Target Field from behind Row M of Section 9:

v - Target Field Champions Club section 9 back row panorama.jpgOur tour was winding down.  It was a great tour that lasted almost two hours.  On our way out of the Champion’s Club, we stopped to look at the 1987 and 1991 World Series trophies.  They are in the entrance way to the Champion’s Club, which had really odd lighting that made my pictures look terrible.  But it was cool to see the trophies, along with three world series rings.

Dick took us back up an elevator on the 1B side and we ended up right where we began the tour.  Before heading out, I ran over to the seats and took a couple more panoramas.

Here is a panorama of Target Field from the concourse directly behind section 103:

w - Target Field section 103 concourse panorama.jpgI ran down to the RF corner and took this panorama of Target Field from the top of a pile of snow behind section 141:

x - Target Field section 141 concourse panorama.jpgFinally, my tour was complete after I took this final Target Field panorama from the concourse behind section 101:

y - Target Field section 101 concourse panorama.jpgBottom line:  Target Field is beautiful.  The Twins did a great job designing the stadium and filling it with loads of Minnesota baseball history.  If you’re in Minnesota and the Twins are playing, definitely stop by Target Field for a game.  If they are not in town, stop by anyway and grab a tour.  You’ll love it.

m

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

After a brief detour through the Metrodome, its back to Spring Training.  We still have a few more reports to go from the desert.  This one has no real *story* per se, its just a bunch of pictures.  It does, however, have a theme:  practice.  We took a bunch of nice pictures of Mariners doing the hard work of preparing for the 2011 season and its time to share them.

Each morning, the entire Mariners major league camp would report to practice field M3 for a big stretching routine:

1 - pitcher stretching.JPGYou can always expect to see the guys playing a lot of catch at Spring Training:

2 - Ichiro throwing.JPGAbove, Ichiro is playing catch with…hmm…probably Milton Bradley on practice field M1.

The Mariners coaching staff hits hours of fungo to the Mariners infielders during Spring Training.  Here, Justin Smoak gloves a grounder on the first day of full team workouts on M2:

3 - Justin Smoak grounder.JPGJosh Wilson got into the action right next to Smoak:

4 - Josh Wilson grounder.JPGAcross the diamond, Chone Figgins — back at his native third base — got hand cuffed by this grounder, but made the play:

5 - Chone Figgins handcuffed by grounder.JPGBetween fields M1 and M2, there is a little half field (infield only).  Here, Dustin Ackley practices taking grounders at second base on the short field:

6 - Dustin Ackley grounder.JPGThe pitchers spend a lot of time re-learning how to field their position during Spring Training.  Here, big Michael Pineda practices his pick off move as a bunch of his colleagues watch:

7 - Pineda drills.JPGThis next picture is hilarious to me.  This was the first day of full squad workouts and the coach (cannot remember which one) said, “First grounder of the season!” and then hit this ball to King Felix Hernandez a/k/a Larry Bernandez:

8 - Felix first grounder of 2011.JPGThe look on Felix’s face is priceless.  FYI, despite his surprised look, he did catch the ball.

Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips was working the fungo a bunch the week we were in Peoria.  Here is an action fungo shot of Jason on M4:

9 - Jason Phillips fungo.JPGErik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise this Spring.  He is flat out pitching like a stud and finally looking like he might live up to the original hype.  Here he is getting in his work in the mega-bullpen between M3 and M4:

10 - Erik Bedard bullpen.JPGThree or four mounds over from Bedard, King Felix was strutting his Cy Young-stuff:

11 - Felix Hernandez bullpen.JPGIn a little strip of random grass between M2 and M7 (the half field), Ichiro, Dustin Ackley and a couple other guys played a little pepper:

12 - Ichiro and Ackley pepper.JPGSomeone peppered a hot one Ichiro’s way and Ichi had to make an acrobatic catch at close range:

13 - catching pepper.JPGWhat makes this next picture cool was unintentional and hard to decipher.  However, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I captured two balls in the air — Figgy gunned a ball to Justin Smoak that appears in the upper lefthand corner of the photo and Brendan Ryan his underhanding a second baseball to 2B:

14 - smoak and two balls in air.JPGAs I said, lots of pitcher fielding practice.  Here, Jason Vargas, Luke French and Brandon League handle hot shots back up the box:

15 - vargas french league.JPGAnd here is another hilarious picture of King Felix fielding his position — he did not catch this one:

16 - Larry Bernandez.JPGBut Ichiro caught this one (during outfielder practice on M5):

17 - Ichiro catch.JPGYou can get so close to your favorite players during Spring Training that its almost ridiculous.  Here, Tim played in the warning track dirt just behind Ichiro waiting his turn at the plate:

18 - Ichiro stretch pre-batting.JPGOne day, the guys all came out to practice and the outfielders reported to M6.  Ichiro was all set to play catch with Milton Bradley when he realized he’d forgot his glove in the clubhouse.  Ichiro’s interpreter, Anthony Suzuki, bolted off to the clubhouse and came cruising back with Ichiro’s glove:

19 - Anthony Suzuki glove retriever.JPGMichael Saunders tracks this ball in the birght Arizona sun during outfielders practice on M6:

20 - Saunders ranging.JPGMore pitcher fielding practice — Erik Bedard doesn’t show the best form while snaring this grounder from the short stop position:

21 - Bedard grounders by short.JPGOne last group of photos, all of Ichiro.  I took the picture of Ichiro in the top left (below)…

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…Tim took the other three from close range.

So there you go, a look behind the scenes at Spring Training practice.   For my money, practice is where the fun is at Spring Training.

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