As a result of growing up at the Kingdome, I’m a big fan of domes. Sure, I’d rather play ball at Safeco Field. I recognize it is objectively better than every domed stadium out there. But a domed stadium gives me a great sense of nostaglia for my long lost Kingdome.
In my book, the H.H.H. Metrodome was a first class domed baseball stadium. As you entered Minneapolis from some-or-other direction, the Metrodome’s bubbly white roof welcomed you to the city:
My dad, Tim and I visited the Metrodome on the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2009. Tim and I trudged all over that place and it was awesome.
Last November, I visited Minneapolis and enjoyed an outstanding view of the Metrodome (now displaying the name “Mall of America Field”):
Then on December 12, 2010, a massive snow strom resulted in the Metrodome roof collapsing and snow crashing down to the football field below:
The Twins were already relocated to Targe Field for the 2010 season, but the Vikings still called the Metrodome home at the time of the roof collapse. The collapse took the dome out of commission for the rest of the football season.
Last week, I found myself in Minneapolis once again. The once mighty dome was no longer visible from across town like it had been last November. So, I decided to walk over to the dome and see what it looked like.
I found that it looks drastically different these days:
I walked all the way around the outside and peered through the glass doors. The entry ways include two sets of glass doors. Across the concourse floor, a third set of glass doors closes off the concourse from the seating area.
As my camera and I peered through the layers of glass, the view was terrible but I could clearly see the roof hanging down into the middle of the dome:
That white stuff is the roof, and you can see two orange streamers hanging from the roof.
Oddly, I could also hear music inside the dome. I figured there must be workers in there working on the roof. And then, all of a sudden, a shadowy figure streaked across the windows inside the concourse
What the what-what?
The shadowy figure was clearly a person…on rollerblades…skating in the field level concourse.
I was thoroughly confused.
I was about half way around the dome at this point and I decided to keep walking and see if I could find an entry point into the dome. When I was two-thirds the way around, I found it. One of the doors at Gate D was open, and there was a big sign on either side of the door that simply said “Rollerblade.”
I walked through the open door and through the revolving inside door. I was now *inside* the collapsed Metrodome. I saw a little kid down the concourse to the right playing around by what looked like a concession stand. To the left, there was a makeshift barrier keeping me from entering the main area of the concourse and there was a table further blocking my access. I could see a guy standing about 150 feet down the concourse to my left, far behind the table blocking my way. He had to notice me, but he didn’t look my way at all.
I decided to squeaze past the table blocking my way and walk down to the guy. When I reached him, there were several younger guys (20s’ish) sitting around with him.
Todd: “What’s going on here?”
Younger guy: “Rollerdome! Rollerblading!”
Todd: “So anyone can rollerblade?”
Younger guy: “Yep.”
Todd: “Do you have rollerblades for rent?”
Younger guy: “Yep.”
Todd: “Well, I’m in if it will get me in to look at the dome.”
Older guy: “It will but you can’t stop at the windows to look down into the stadium because that’s a high speed area. You can stop on the opposite side of the concourse and look across.”
I was told Rollerdome doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m (check out their website). I had about half-an-hour to wait. I really just wanted to see into the dome. So I asked if I could go look in the window into the stadium now. The younger guy said sure. After I peered into the first window, he asked me if I wanted to see something really cool. Of course, I said “yes.” Eventually, he took me all the way around the field level concourse so I could take pictures looking into the field area.
Before sharing those pictures, let’s look at a couple pictures for context:
This is a map I got of the Metrodome concession stands when we visited the dome in 2009. I approached the dome from Seventh Street. Essentially, it leads right into Gate G. I then circled the dome clockwise. The picture above looking through the windows is at Gate A. I saw the first rollerblader through the windows at Gate C and then I entered through Gate D.
At our game in 2009, we sat in Section 100 in left field. On our self-guided tour around the stadium, I took this picture from section 224; high above and behind home plate:
I took this picture at the top of the upper deck. Note a couple things that I have circled (from top to bottom) — (i) a huge speaker hanging directly behind home plate high above the second deck, (ii) a large American flag hanging above the second deck and the scoreboard above sections 100 and 200 in left field, and (iii) our seats in section 100 in left field.
Here is another picture from our trip in 2009:
Again, this picture shows our seats and the American flag above sections 100 and 200. The other yellow circles show the entrance ways to the seating area. Those entrance ways lead to the field level concourse. I took all of the following pictures (well, the following post-collapse pictures) through these field level entrance ways.
Another pre-collapse picture:
Again, that is the same speaker circled up top. I’ve also circled the Twins dugout on the 3B line and more field level entrance ways to the field. The fifth (counting from either direction) circled entrance way is section 122, just to the left of 122 is section 121.
Finally, (last pre-collapse picture for now), here is a look toward the baggy:
Okay, let’s get to the present day photos. The first photo is looking into the stadium through section 121:
In the foreground, you’ll see the “really cool” thing my guide offered to show me; the home plate area had been emptied out and it is a big pool of water. The roof is so low that you can hardly see any of the upper deck. Finally, note how far the big American flag has dropped; its now below the upper deck hanging just above section 100 (again, our seats from 2009 are circled).
Here is a view from section 122, more directly behind home plate:
Again, home plate is a big pool of water. In this picture, I’ve circled the spot out in CF where a Twins pitcher tossed a baseball to Tim and me in 2009 (the commemorative baseball pictured above to be exact). I didn’t circle it in that last picture, but just above the folded sections of seats, check out the lights hanging below the upper deck.
Here is a shot looking in through section 125:
Hanging down right in the middle of that picture is the speaker that is circled in the two pre-collapse pictures above. The two orange signs way out across the field is the big party suite that I enclosed in a yellow box in the pre-collapse picture above.
Here is a shot from a little further toward 3B:
In case you cannot tell, those cement highway dividers are connected to roof by big metal lines. I guess the purpose is to keep the roof from blowing up and down in the wind. Check out how low that speaker is hanging.
Even further down the 3B line (into the outfield foul territory), you can see a big circle roped off on the playing field:
My guide told me that circle is where the big splash of snow came crashing down onto the field in the famous collapse video (above). Above the circle, you can see some torn parts of the roof hanging down, along with some yellow ropes (or something).
In the LF foul corner, I took this shot looking down at the top of a speaker that used to hang high above the surface of the playing field:
Here is another picture from the LF foul corner where you can see the big party suite above the baggy (or where the baggy used to be):
More LF corner — right along the foul line, still in foul territory:
In the next picture, we are behind section 100 and you can see the big American flag hanging down above section 100, a lot of rips hanging down above the snow splash zone, some lights dangling below the upper deck, and tons of stacks of something-or-other across the field by the 1B dugout:
Although the picture to the right is zoomed in further than the picture on the left, its a good comparision to show how far down the roof is hanging. Note that the entire upper deck is hidden behind the sagging roof in the picture to the right. Also, check out how the lights are at the very top of the picture to the left, high above the second deck, but they are hanging below the second deck in the picture to the right.
Here’s a look in through the RF corner in foul territory…
Here’s a close up looking into the Twins dugout with more speakers hanging down:
I did not catch his name, but a big huge THANK YOU to the guy from Rollerdome who so kindly led me around the Metrodome. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I will never forget. If you’re in Minneapolis, go check out Rollerdome.
In the fifth installment of our series of Spring Training updates, we’ve assembled our favorite family photos from Spring Training. These are photos taken while the Mariners were practicing, but they focus on one or more members of our family (mostly Tim) and show a different perspective on the Spring Training experience.
Here is one of our first pictures from Spring Training 2011:
By the way, here is a closer look at the map of the Peoria Sports Complex:
In the picture of Tim pointing at the sign, he is standing at the “M” (inside a diamond) just below and to the left of practice field M3. If you follow the walkway from that “M” straight up the map, you will reach a circle with a blue box inside it (between M3, M6 and M2). That circle/blue box is a concession stand and restrooms. The lines running left and right from the concession stand/restrooms are cement walkways that run down the middle of large strips of grass. The grass and walkways run all the way from a fence that connects M1 and M7 (right around the infield dirt of both fields) to another fence that connects M3 and M4 (also right around the infield dirt of both fields). All of that grass area is open to the public during Mariners workouts.
Pretty much the first thing we’d do each day (assuming the Mariners weren’t out on the fields already) was head to the grass between the player parking lot at M2.
The grass areas are perfect for playing catch with you father or your son (or both). As everyone else waited down by the player entrance, this is where we set up for some catch:
FYI, that building down there on the left is the indoor batting cages.
Tim has got a lot better at catching and throwing over the last 6 months. His catching improved dramatically when we got him a smaller glove that he can actually close! Here, he fields a grounder:
Sometimes Tim’s throws are perfect. Other times, he throws like Rick Ankiel at the end of his pitching career. Thus, I have to be ready for anything when he uncorks a hard throw:
As the Mariners head out to on in from M3-M6 before or after a work out, its an ideal time to get up and close for your favorite players. Here, my mom got some shots of Mariners walking by and giving Tim “five” as they headed out to M3:
M6 seems to get the least action…or at least the fewest spectators…so its a nice place to hit without having to worry about other fans getting in the way.
Here are two great pictures Colleen took of Kellan watching Tim pitch to my mom as I play the field:
Kellan missed the first day of Spring Training workouts because the rain was threatening, the wind was gusting, and he was tired. So he made his debut at Spring Training the next day, and this was his first picture “watching” the M’s prepare for the 2011 season:
There are a bunch of bushes and small trees between M4 and M5. Here, Tim climbs in a tree (with M4 behind him):
WIth seven practice fields and 60+ players running around from field-to-field plus getting to play catch and hit with your family members, there is a lot going on at Spring Training. Tim couldn’t stay put in one place for too long. He had to go, go, go:
In the picture above to the right, Miguel Olivo is trying to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim has a handful of rocks. Instead of shaking Miguel’s hand, Tim opened his palm and showed Olivo the rocks he had collected beyond the M3 RF wall.
One day, Colleen fed Kellan a bottle while sitting on a little stone wall that circles the concession stand. Tim took a break from his own BP and ran over to his mommy and spelled his name in the gravel:
The picture above to the right is the actual picture of Luke French that Tim is taking in the picture above to the left. I thought that this was funny because right before taking this picture, Tim said to me, “Look, daddy, its the number of Christmas!”
Tim did most of the batting when we took BP beside M6. But my mom and I took a few hacks too. Here is a hilarious picture of Tim throwing at his grandma:
Shortly after the last picture, a bunch of Mariners outfielders started warming up down the M6 LF line just on the other side of the fence from out little BP site. We took a break from BP to watch the guys play catch. When Greg Halman caught the last ball thrown by his partner, I called out, “Hey, Greg!” He turned around and I pointed down to Tim. About 5-10 seconds later, I took this picture of Tim:
While Tim was pitching to my mom, I took a long range photo across the grassy area of Colleen and Kellan watching some pitchers warm up:
One last fun family photo for this entry:
Tim loves trying to push these big baseballs — click here for proof. As for Kellan, he might have had a little help (hidden mostly behind the baseball) sitting up on top of that big baseball for this picture.
As I think these pictures show, the lazy days hanging around the Mariners Spring Training workouts at Spring Training are great.
A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team. We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria. So, let’s take a look at what we got.
At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3. There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields. That is where we got most of the following pictures.
First up, we ran into Adam Moore:
Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:
The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez. We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time. But its almost impossible. Felix, however, is another story. We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park. Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:
Before this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager. Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training. And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:
Note: In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom. This was a common problem during Spring Training. We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera. Oh, well.
Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon. Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:
It was actually quite funny. We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim. Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above. Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera. Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:
Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:
D.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip. However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power. At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:
I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:
Before this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person. Let me tell you, you cannot miss him. He is HUGE! If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge). Pineda also signed this baseball for us:
Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:
After signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim. He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks. Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP. Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:
For our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:
He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised. The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling. Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?” This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining. I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life. I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.” Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.
Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip. It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo. This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:
Note: In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.” Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.
As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…
The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy. Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry). It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture. And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.
First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:
Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:
This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:
We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:
We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:
Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures. I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.
That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us. Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:
Lower left: Justin Smoak 17
Lower right: Ryan Langerhans
At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:
It’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre. See that baseball Zaun is holding? The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it. The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB. It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it. It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it. Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs. Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.
Thanks again, Luke!
Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:
As you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners. We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training. Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas. But maybe we can track him down during the regular season. We will see.
Last October 1st, we took Kellan to his first game. The Mariners took on the Athletics and I snapped this photo…
Last season, Tim and I tracked down his “first batter,” Frank Catalanotto, and got him to sign Tim’s “first pitch” picture:
We’ve still never tracked down Tim’s first pitcher, the recently retired Gil Meche. But I was hoping that we would be able to get both Luke French and Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first pitch picture during Spring Training. Unfortunately, Davis was traded to Toronto and is in Florida for Spring Training.
Therefore, our number one goal for Spring Training was to get an autograph from and photo with Luke French.
We kept an eye on Luke from the first day of our Spring Training trip…
Still, we kept an eye on Kellan’s first pitcher that day as he threw a session in the Mariners huge bullpen (its about 10 pitchers mounds wide):
A couple days later (the same day Milton Bradley gave Kellan his bat), we were still looking to connect with French. In fact, tracking down and getting a picture/autograph with French was the sole goal of the day before we planned on leaving the Peoria Sports Complex early to go on a tour of Chase Field.
As the Mariners made their way out of the clubhouse, they were all business. I didn’t see French as he made his way out to the practice fields. But it didn’t matter because all of the players were telling fans they couldn’t sign autographs until after practice.
Once we headed out of the field, Luke was there…
As I mentioned in the Milton Bradley entry, my mom, Colleen and Kellan hung out watching live BP on the main field during most of this practice session. After getting in his work, French grabbed a bucket and sat down (about 25 feet in front of my mom, Colleen and Kellan) to watch live BP on the M3 practice field:
After a while, French hopped up from his perch and milled around a little bit behind home plate. As Tim snapped this picture, Luke was exuding a strong “I’m about the leave” vibe:
There was no time to wait for her thoughts, I grabbed Kellan’s picture (which I had in a protective portfolio folder) and scurried around home plate and toward the other end of the complex.
This aerial photo shows my path in yellow and French’s path in red:
I was trailing behind French and he must have heard footsteps because he turned around and stopped in his tracks and waited for me to catch up. I asked Luke if he could sign something for me, and he said “no problem.”
I felt a little weird with the portfolio in hand because Spring Training is chalk full of sports memorabilia dealers who carry big notebooks full of baseball cards and glossy photos and collect autographs to take back to their shops to sell. I showed Luke the picture and explained that it was the first pitch of my son’s first game. And I flipped through the portfolio to show him that it was empty except for this picture — i.e., I was not just a random dealer looking to make a buck. It seemed like he appreciated that.
Luke happily signed the picture for me. I thanked him profusely and explained that I was sad that Kellan was asleep in the bleachers because I had wanted to get his picture with Luke. I told him we would try to catch up with him again by the end of the week. He said okay and we parted ways.
I ran back over to M3 and “showed” Kellan his newly improved “first pitch” picture:
By the end of the week, we’d still never run into French again. It was Saturday, and the Mariners/Padres fan fest was our last opportunity to track down French during Spring Training.
Fan Fest, which will get its own entry soon enough, featured a bunch of games for kids in the concourses of the Peoria Sports Complex main stadium and a work out by both teams on the field. The Padres went first.
Around 11:00 a.m., we knew the Mariners would show up soon so my mom, dad, Colleen, Tim, Kellan and I gathered together down the 1B line in hopes of getting a picture with Ichiro (a still as of yet unfulfilled goal) as he entered the stadium through the players entrance in the rightfield corner.
Eventually, the Mariners arrived en mass. While I didn’t see Ichiro anywhere (at least at first), I saw Luke French front and center:
He’s the player closest to the camera with his glove on his left hip in that last picture. The guys were down the line about 20 feet from the end of the seats in foul territory. Several of the Mariners ventured on the field to chat with some of the Padres.
None of the fans around us made any attempt to chat with or lure any of the Mariners over toward the stands. I thought, “what the heck,” and I called out, “Hey, Luke!” I figured that with a crowd of his teammates all around, French would probably appreciate it if someone singled him out. He did.
He turned and looked at me like, “Huh, what’s up?” I gave him a big “hey, come over here” wave. Three seconds later, Kellan’s first pitcher was standing next to us along the foul line.
I asked if he’d pose for a picture with my son and, when he said yes, I handed Kellan over to him. I explained that we’d met earlier in the week and he’d delivered the first pitch of Kellan’s MLB career. Luke remembered our first encounter and he was happy to meet Kellan and pose for pictures:
He must have thought the paparazzi were descending on him because my mom and Colleen both pulled out their cameras and we attacked the photo opportunity from three angles:
Thanks, Luke! And best of luck in 2011!
So, we’ve been taking a million pictures at Mariners Spring Training this week. I’ve been debating how to write up our experiences.
Chronologically by day?
Nah…too many pictures for some days and not many at all for others.
By experience (or groupings of experiences)?
Okay, let’s give that a shot.
First up, the Milton Bradley experience.
The first week or two of Spring Training are the best. Games haven’t started yet. Its just practice. The Mariners have 6.5 practice fields. During most of Spring Training, the big leaguers practice on the two least accessible practice fields. But during the first couple weeks, the big league camp spends most of its time on the four most fan accessible fields.
A couple days ago, the Mariners stretched, played catch, ran defensive drills, and then broke into hitting groups. Groups rotated between four practice fields — M3 through M6:
M3 – batters tried to get hits off of pitchers, but the pitchers played hard to get;
M4 – pitchers threw their “bullpen” sessions on the field as batters stood in and tracked the pitches and baserunners practiced leading off of second and breaking for third base;
M5 – batters took traditional BP while baserunners practiced leading off of third base and breaking for home plate; and
M6 – traditional BP, no baserunning.
Here is a peak at M3 with Brendan Ryan in the cage (I cannot recall or identify who was pitching):
At the beginning of the rotation process, Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my mom, and I watched live BP on M3. The first batter was Milton Bradley who faced Chris Seddon. Bradley’s first two swings hit the right centerfield fence on the fly. His third swing almost took out Seddon on the mound. After a couple more random hits, Seddon’s final pitch to Bradley was hard and inside. Milton swung defensively and helplessly (and sarcastically) yelled “Get off me!” as he hit a weak can of corn into the grass just behind second base.
I could tell Milton cracked his bat on the swing. He immediately went to his duffle bag and swapped out bats (each player brings two bats from the clubhouse to the practice field). I took a mental note.
My mom, Colleen and Kellan generally stayed put at M3. But Tim and I shifted around and watched some of the action on each of the fields.
On M4, Tim and I stood just behind Ichiro and watched him sit on a bucket and swing a weighted bat as he prepared to not take some hacks at the plate…
…all the while Michael Saunders and his group practiced getting a jump from second to third base. When Milton Bradley’s group was at this station, I noticed he was using a bat with athletic tape around the middle. I figured it was probably the bat he cracked against Seddon. (By the way, Seddon really settled down and missed a lot of bats after Bradley’s first round).
On M5, Ichiro and his group got jumps from third toward home plate as other guys took BP:
We had planned to leave at 11:30 a.m. to head down to Chase Field for a tour. We started to leave — we made it out to the sandy/rocky area beyond the OF wall at M3. But then we decided to push off Chase Field until later in the week.
When we got back to the area between the four home plates, Kellan and I looked around for Milton Bradley, but we couldn’t find him anywhere:
…and all of a sudden I saw Milton enter M3 coming from M4. (By the way, that’s Tim in the red and blue in front of Kellan and me in the picture above to the right). Players were starting to pack up and head back to the clubhouse.
As Milton headed toward his duffle bag, Kellan and I took off (my mom and Colleen had no clue what was going on, but they followed us)…
…and rounded the corner of M3′s 1B dugout. There is a gate just past the dugout and I was hoping it would be open. As you can see in the picture above to the right, it was. As Kellan and I arrived at the open gate, we saw Milton pack up his duffle bag and start to walk toward the RF corner (where players exit the field to return to the clubhouse).
Todd: “Hey, Milton!”
[Milton looks over and sees us. He veers over in our direction.]
Todd: “Hi, Milton. Hey, is there any chance my boy can get your broken bat?”
Milton: “What’s he gonna do with it?”
Todd: “Hang it on his bedroom wall.”
[Deeming this a worthy response, Milton extracts a bat from his bag and hands it to me and starts to walk off.]
Todd: “Thanks, Milton!!!”
[I start to walk away with the bat and a great big smile.]
Milton: “Hold up! Is that the broken bat?”
I didn’t hear him. But my mom pointed me back to Milton.
Lo-and-behold, Milton had given me the wrong bat. Above to the right, we made the switch. Now, I had the bat with the tape around the middle that he’d been using on M4.
In the next picture, I guess we’re examining the bat:
Sure he would:
You know, Milton has a terrible reputation. But I invite you to click on these pictures to enlarge them. As he was signing the autograph, he has a big huge smile on his face. He was very pleasant in our little interaction.
As he signed the bat, I added:
Todd: “Hey, could we get a picture too?”
Milton: “Hey, you got me here, why not?”
So we turned toward my mom and Colleen (who both had cameras out and trained on us).
As they snapped away at the pictures, Kellan grabbed at Milton’s hat:
Milton had taken off his hat and put in on Kellan’s head:
…as Milton and I smiled for the cameras:
After more “thank yous” to Milton, we split up and started celebrating Kellan’s awesome new bat:
So, it was an awesome interaction and experience with Milton Bradley. Many, many thanks to Milton! He was incredibly nice, and not just becuase he gave us the bat. He seemed like a very nice and genuine guy. We’ll be pulling for Milton to have a comeback season in 2011.
Anyway, check out the bat closeup:
We had to mail the bat home because we couldn’t carry it onto the airplane. Its finally here and hanging on Kellan’s wall. Here is what it looks like now:
We’re here in Peoria, AZ for Mariners Spring Training. We’ll see no games while here. Just practice. Frankly, I think that practice is the best part of Spring Training. We’ve had many memorable encounters and have tons of great pictures to share. But I haven’t had time to put an entry together yet. So I figured we’d share a couple videos from Spring Training before putting together a write up.
The first day of spring training was extremely windy with periodic spurts of rain. After the Mariners stretched on one field, the different position groups split off onto separate fields. This video shows the outfielders running over to the Mariners main practice field, and features Ichiro giving me a funny little look as he passes by me and Tim:
Many of the chain link fences on the Mariners Spring Training complex are wrapped in dark green fabric meant to cut down wind on the field. Its my least favorite part of the M’s Spring Training complex. Interestingly, the Padres complex (just on the other side of the Mariners and Padres shared stadium) doesn’t have any of these annoying wind barriers on the fences. In this video, Felix Hernandez is seen pitching in a jumbo-bullpen through a little flap in the wind barrier:
In this video, a group of Mariners pitchers are going through pitcher fielding practice (PFP) on one of the Mariners practice fields. At this point, the pitchers were fielding ground balls and then throwing to third base. You’ll notice that the few fans watching the Marines practice are almost completely silent. That’s the standard at Mariners Spring Training. Well, Tim isn’t the standard fan. He’s loud. After this video, Felix fielded a ball and threw to third base. Tim let out a loud, “Good job, Felix,” prompting Felix to spin, lung toward Tim and give him a double arm point and a loud “THANK YOU!!!” This prompted Nate Robertson (following Felix) to ask, “What about me?” Tim was silent, so I responded in a somewhat sarcastic tone, “Good job, Nate.” All of this drew a chuckle from the players and normally silent fans.
In the final video in this entry, Ichiro is shown taking BP on one of the Mariners practice fields. Pretty much every swing shown here resulted in a nice line drive into shallow right field:
I’ve mentioned on here before that there is a Rawlings outlet store in our town. I’m one of the biggest Rawlings baseball glove advocates in the world. So, needless to say, I think the Rawlings outlet is just about the best store ever (the Mariners team stores are also excellent).
Tim and I often swing by “the baseball store,” as we call it, on weekends, just for kicks. And that is where we found ourselves on Sunday, February 13, 2011, as MLB pitchers and catchers began arriving at their respective teams’ spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida.
We weren’t the only ones with the idea. The place was a buzz with amateur baseballers of all ages.
The trough along the back wall of the store was filled to the brim with an assortment of beautiful gloves of various colors and styles. Tim gave his mark of approval:
…gives a better view of the dark brown and black glove with white lacing that I’ve had my eye on. I might have picked one up, but the Trap-Eze style was already sold out! I liked the modified Trap-Eze and one other style, but there is no beating a Trap-Eze. I decided I should hold out for it to be re-stocked — not that I necessarily need another glove (see below).
When we wandered by one of the bargain glove bins, Tim pulled out this catcher’s glove…
I checked out the “Primo” line of fancy Italian leather gloves:
That’s some nice looking leather! But I don’t need that fancy of a glove. I think these were in the $300-$400 range. I’m sure they are outstanding gloves. But if you know how to treat a glove right, I think you can be just as happy with any of the more modestly priced gloves. I’ve never spent even $100 on a glove…and I’d put any of my gloves up against the top priced gloves (well, most of my gloves, at least).
Here is the other glove that I really have my eye on:
It is a training glove similar to the “flat” gloves. This one looks like a normal glove (i.e., it is not flat), but it is really stiff and essentially doesn’t close at all. By the 2011 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2011, I plan to own this glove and play lots of catch with my dad using it on the trip.
Interestingly, you cannot see anyone but Tim in any of these pictures. But the place was packed. People were looking at gloves, trying on gloves, debating gloves (including one dad who wouldn’t even let his son try on the $300 gloves), swinging wood bats, looking at clothing, cleats, batting T’s, baseballs, and catcher’s gear (in fact, Tim asked me to buy him an entire set of catcher’s gear, I did not). It was great to see that the world is getting back into the swing of things…baseball things, that is.
With all of this talk of Rawlings gloves, why don’t I take the opportunity to share mine?? And how about in chronological order?
Wally Joyner model Rawlings RFM14 (first basemens glove):
I probably got this glove in 8th or 9th grade, around 1990. I restrung this glove with green laces in 2010 and featured it in an entry called “The Tale of the Prodigal Glove.” This glove has the distinction of being my only all-brown leather glove.
My first glove growing up was an old used Rawlings. I don’t have it anymore. Aside from the Prodigal Glove, this RBG36B glove was my first “new” Rawlings glove. It was also my first black glove. I got this in high school to replace my old Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove. This was my outfield “gamer” in high school and American Legion ball. It is formed to absolute perfection. It is also the first glove that I restrung with different colored laces (because I loved Griffey’s black Trap-Eze with brown laces) and the first glove that I installed extra ties between the middle three fingers (see upper right picture). It sits on my bookshelf in my home office and I almost never use it. But, of all of my gloves, it is the glove to which I have the strongest sentimental attachment.
Randy Johnson signature model Rawlings RBG10B (modified Trap-Eze):
I wrote an entire blog entry about this glove in 2009: “Weekend Project: The Trap-Eze-ification of a Non-Trap-Eze Glove.” This glove holds an interesting place in my life. My folks gave me this glove as a gift while I was in college so I could use it for intramural softball — I didn’t want to ruin my RBG36B by using it to catch softballs. In years of playing softball, it never felt right. I just couldn’t get it formed to my liking. Because of this, I really didn’t care for this glove. And that’s probably why I didn’t mind experimenting with it. After I turned it into a blue-laced Trap-Eze, it was a whole new glove. It feels perfect as a Trap-Eze. It craddles the ball effortlessly. It went from my least favorite to my most-used glove. Since the modification, I have taken it to almost every game Tim and I have attended and I now use it as my softball glove. I absolutely love this glove now.
In a new city without any friends (or sons), I found myself at Dick’s Sporting Goods a day after receiving my first paycheck in my first (real) job out of school. I was looking at gloves, just for kicks, when I found this beauty. I loved the thatched pocket and grey “Rawlings” stitched on the back of the index finger. I had no softball/baseball team and no one to play catch with me, but I had a new job and my first paycheck, so I decided that was all the justification I needed to buy myself this glove. I’ve hardly used it since I bought it and its still not formed to my liking (largely because I let someone else use it and they, lets just say, didn’t treat it in compliance with my standards). Eventually, I’ll break it in properly in the backyard with Tim (hopefully before Kellan can even play catch).
This glove is absolutely perfect for softball. I got it to replace my pre-op RBG10B as my everyday softball glove. I found this beauty in the “blemish” bin at the Rawlings outlet. I’m not sure why it was in the bin, I cannot find a blemish anywhere on it. My folks were visiting when I bought this and my Dad bought the same glove at the same time. Interestingly, they charged him $19.99 for his non-blemished “blemish” glove, and they charged me $12.99 for the same exact thing. It was the deal of the century because this is a stellar softball glove. By the way, you can see my Dad’s RBG10B in our GFS Roadtrip entries (see, e.g., here).
This is my first ever “real” Trap-Eze glove. I love it. I bought it a couple years ago at the Rawlings outlet. I’m very protective of it. If you ask me to borrow it to play catch in my presence, I will say no (unless, perhaps, you are my dad, brother or Paul Samione). I have respected (i.e., not restrung) the factory lacing, which is odd for me. I have not even installed my customary between the finger ties. I use this glove a lot in the backyard with Tim (or with my Dad when he visits), but I almost never take it to games and I never use it for softball. Interestingly, this is my only glove that I wear with my fingers slid over one slot to the left (i.e., two fingers in the pinky slot and no finger in the index finger slot).
This is the last glove I have bought - in 2009, I think. I bought this glove at the Rawlings outleft because I loved the white Trap-Eze lacing and I thought it would be good to have a shorter (infield sized) glove (although I never play infield). This glove is still very new, but it feels good. Like the GG601B, I use this primarily around the house. I did take it to one Mariners game at Fenway on July 4, 2009 – see here.
There you go: a glimpse into the bustling Rawlings store on the day PItchers & Catchers began reporting to Spring Training and a tour of my person baseball glove collection. Hope you enjoyed.
Hey, pitchers and catchers report in just about 10 days. Excellent!
But its been a slow month for baseball. So slow, in fact, that I recently saw an article “reporting” that Derek Jeter was hitting in a batting cage with his team’s hitting coach. Wow, that’s shocking “news”!
To fill a tiny little part of the pre-spring training baseball void, I thought I’d share a picture of Ryan Rowland-Smith that I just slapped together:
For some reason, I was recently thinking about the Australian flag, which of course features six stars. Before long, I figured I should replace those stars with the Houston Astros’ star logo in honor of C&S Hall of Famer and new Astro, Ryan Rowland-Smith.
After combining the Australian flag and the Astros’ logo, it was only logical to go the extra step and create a nickname for RRS with another Australia-Houston Astros smash up. So, I came up with “The Houstralian.” Of course, “Australia” also blends nicely with “Astros” — so I modified RRS’s jersey to read “Austros.” (I also modified it by adding the “18″ from my RRS Mariners jersey).
So there you go MLB play-by-play announcers and color commentators, feel free to start tossing around “Ryan ‘The Houstralian’ Rowland-Smith” or the more formal “Ryan ‘The Houstralian Austro’ Rowland-Smith” while commentating.
Is its baseball season yet?
With all of the photos we take at games, its both fun and helpful to make entries grouping different types of pictures. We recently finished recategorizing all of our panoramic pictures. So now, its time to compile all of our pictures with MLB players (in chronological order). Here we go:
ADAM MOORE. Tim’s first player picture was with Adam Moore…
…at the Mariners spring training in 2008. At the time, Adam was a prospect yet to make his regular season MLB debut. Turns out that in 2009, we were in attendance for Adam’s MLB debut.
Matt Capps. The first MLB player with whom Tim got his picture at a MLB park was then-Pirates reliever Matt Capps…
…at PNC Park. This picture was taken during the inaugural Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.
T.J. Beam. Shortly after the Matt Capps picture, we met T.J. Beam…
…another Pirates pitcher. Beam, Sean Burnett, and Tyler Yates signed that baseball I am holding in this picture (given to us by Denny Bautista).
Ryan Perry. We got this picture with Ryan Perry at Camden Yards in May 2009:
…taken on the sidewalk in Boston while walking back from Fenway to our hotel after an excellent Mariners win over the Red Sox.
“King” Felix Hernandez. We got a special treat on the Fourth of July in 2009, this picture with King Felix:
This was taken shortly after Felix finished playing catch with Erik Bedard. When Felix started signing autographs, Bedard tossed us their warm up baseball. Tim and I then met up with Felix for this photo and autograph. To cap it all off, the Mariners beat the Red Sox.
Jason Phillips. We met up with C&S Hall of Famer Jason Phillips…
…for this picture at Progressive Field in August 2009. Phillips has been extremely cool to us since we met him in ’09. Thanks, Jason!
Scott Olsen. We set a goal of getting a picture with a player from each team we saw in 2010. We fell short of reaching the goal, but had a lot of fun trying. Scott Olsen was our first player picture of the season…
Jeff Suppan. At that same Brewers-Nationals game, we got this picture with the incredibly nice Jeff Suppan:
Frank Catalanotto. May 1, 2010 was a big day. Kids Run the Bases at Citizens Bank Park and getting an important autograph and this outstanding picture with Tim’s “first batter” Frank Catalanotto:
Ryan Rowland-Smith. On May 11, 2010, we ran into RRS twice during pre-game festivities in Baltimore. During our second meeting, we got this picture:
Billy Wagner. On May 22, 2010, we met, got a baseball and two autographs from, and this picture with Billy Wagner at PNC Park:
Tommy Hanson. On May 23, 2010, we met and got this picture with up-and-coming Braves hurler Tommy Hanson:
Mike Cameron. One of our goals in 2010 (at least when we weren’t seeing the Mariners play) was to get pictures with former Mariners. On June 5, 2010, we went to a Red Sox/Orioles game in Baltimore with the goal of getting a picture with Adrian Beltre. I had forgotten that beloved former Mariner Mike Cameron also played for the Red Sox. We were very excited to come home with this shot with Cammy:
Jered Weaver. June 10, 2010 was the second game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010. We started off the day by getting a baseball tossed to us by Jered Weaver…
Joel Piniero. At that same game on June 10, 2010, we managed to get a wonderful picture with former Mariners pitcher, Joel Piniero…
…giving Tim a fist-bump for the 2010 Photo Scavenger Hunt on MyGameBalls.com.
Ryan Rowland-Smith. We met up with Ryan Rowland-Smith…
…again in San Diego on June 12, 2010 while on the GFS Roadtrip. After signing that autograph (that I gave to my dad), he chatted with us for a while and posed for this group shot:
Chad Cordero. On June 13, 2010, we met, got an autograph from and picture with Mariners reliever, Chad Cordero:
…taken on June 13, 2010 after King Felix pitched 8.2 dominating innings in an exciting Mariners win over the Padres. The backstory is that home plate umpire Angel Hernandez gave Tim a baseball on the way off the field, which third base umpire Joe West then stole from Tim before walking into the tunnel. West then came back chuckling at his prank and gave the baseball back to Tim. I jumped on the light hearted opportunity to ask the Cowboy to pose for this picture with Tim. He didn’t balk at my request.
Jamie Moyer. On June 26, 2010, the Blue Jays came to Philadelphia for a series of “home games” at Citizens Bank Park. The “visiting” Phillies took BP second so we had great access to the team. It all worked to our advantage because we were able to get this series of three pictures with Mariners legend (and my personal all-time favorite pitcher) Jamie Moyer:
Bert Blyleven. July 22, 2010 was our first game back in action after Kellan’s birth. The date will likely go down as the first time we’ve ever met two Hall of Famers (or eventual Hall of Famers) in one day. The first was the extremely nice Dutchman, Bert Blyleven:
The second picture of Palmer earned us some more points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.
Omar Vizquel. Talking about Hall of Famers or eventual Hall of Famers, Omar Vizquel should be enshrined some day. The guy is a flat out amazing fielder. On August 8, 2010, he gave us his “John Hancock” and posed for this picture with Tim:
Jay Buente. On September 12, 2010 (Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary), Tim and I got our 100th baseball from Marlins pitcher Jay Buente. Before hustling off, Mr. Buente posed for a picture with Tim:
Thanks, Jay! In an interesting note (and something that I just realized), with this picture with Jay Buente, Tim closed out his first MLB division — he got a picture with a member of each team in the N.L. East in 2010 (Scott Olson of the Nationals, Frank Catalanotto of the Mets, Billy Wagner and Tommy Hanson of the Braves, Jamie Moyer of the Phillies, and Jay Buente (and Brian Sanches) of the Marlins). Cool.
Brian Sanches. Shortly after crossing paths with Jay Buente, we ran into another Marlins pitcher, Brian Sanches. He was incredibly nice. He signed a baseball for us and posed for this picture with Tim:
David Pauley, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Garrett Olson and Chris Seddon. At Kellan’s MLB Debut on October 1, 2010, he was lucky enough to get his picture with four Mariners David Pauley (top left), Ryan Rowland-Smith (the first player to get his picture with both Tim and Kellan), Garrett Olson (who had the bright idea of having Kellan wear the ice cream helmet in the picture), and Chris Seddon (bottom right):
Jack Zduriencik. On October 3, 2010, we closed out the season at Safeco Field. We ran into Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik in the centerfield SRO area before the game and got this wonderful picture of Jack Z. kissing Kellan:
Cook & Son Trivia: Jack Zduriencik is the only baseball executive with whom Kellan, Tim or I have even gotten our picture. He is easily the most accessible G.M. the Mariners have ever had. My mom has gotten her picture with Jack about 4 times. He’s all over the place.
Petco Park - San Diego Padres
Petco Park section 302 panorama:
Petco Park bleacher beach panorama:
Petco Park bleacher beach panorama:
Petco Park section 132 panorama:
Petco Park section 116 panorama:
Petco Park section 133 panorama:
Petco Park section Park in the Park panorama:
Petco Park section Park in the Park panorama:
Petco Park bleacher beach panorama:
Petco Park section 230 (back row) panorama:
Petco Park section 226 (back row) panorama:
Petco Park section 311 panorama:
Petco Park section 309 panorama:
Petco Park section 118 panorama:
Petco Park section 120, row 29, seat 1 panorama:
Petco Park section 101 panorama:
Petco Park concourse between sections 223-225 panorama:
Petco Park section 235 panorama:
Petco Park section 325 panorama:
Petco Park section 327 panorama:
Petco Park section 102 panorama:
Petco Park section 218 panorama:
Petco Park walkway between section 328 and Western Metal Supply warehouse panorama:
Petco Park on top of Western Metal Supply warehouse panorama:
Petco Park section 322 panorama: