Archive for the ‘ Kellan ’ Category

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 1, Orioles at Blue Jays (5/24/2013)

The Sixth Annual installment of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip on the evening of May 23, 2013, when my dad (Jim), Tim, Kellan and I…
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…hopped into our car and headed north to Syracuse, NY. All we did on May 23rd was to drive to our hotel.

The baseball and sight-seeing portion of the Roadtrip kicked off the following morning, on May 24, 2013. And we had a jam-packed day on the 24th.
After grabbing some free breakfast at our hotel, we hopped back into the car and headed over to Niagara Falls:

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The falls are split into two parts, the American Falls and, I guess it’s probably called, the Canadian Falls (but who knows, that’s just a guess). In those last two photos above, we’re all standing next to the top of the American Falls.

There is a chunk of land between the two parts of the falls, and there is a bridge you can walk…

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…(or drive) across to the other part of the falls. Hey, look at that sign, it calls the “Canadian Falls” “Terrapin Point Horseshoe Falls.” And check out that statistics: 675,000 gallons/second of water flow during the summer. That’s a whole lot of water.

That Terrapin Point Horseshoe Falls sign is at the top of a hill that looks down on this view:

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After first, I stayed up at the top of the hill as my dad and the boys walked down to the point. Check out the scene as they approached the edge of the falls:

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The whole thing is so big (and impressive) that it’s hard to get everything in the picture, even from a long distance away:

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 Here’s a closer view that shows both sides of the horseshoe:

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WARNING: I’m going to show a lot of pictures that have nothing to do with baseball. Here is another, of Tim at the top of the horseshoe:

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And one of all of us taken by a nice passerby:

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Back at the top of the hill, here’s another shot of my dad:

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See how my dad is holding his cellphone? We’d just received text messages from Verizon saying (this is a paraphrase) “Welcome to Canada, your phones ain’t gonna work no more!”
As we got hot chocolate…

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…and walked back toward the American Falls, we both made calls trying to figure out what was going to happen with our phones once we actually entered The Great White North. The bottom line was, unless we were going to pay bazillions of dollars, our phones weren’t going to work.

Oh, well…it was time to pull on some blue plastic ponchos…

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…and hop onto the Maid Of The Mist for a closer look at the falls:

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It was really misty out there:

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See all that *white* behind Tim, that’s mist, which was blocking my camera’s view of the falls.

Here’s my attempt at a panorama from the Maid of the Mist:

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And another, using my camera’s “sweep” function, which I usually never use:

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After the boat ride, we got a some more falls pictures…

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…before heading back to the car. And then it was off to Canada across the rainbow bridge:

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Check out my GPS in the photo above to the bottom right! No phones, no GPS. Aye, aye, aye!

Luckily, it is super easy to get to Toronto:

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The stadium didn’t open until 5:30, and we were hours early. So we headed to the top of the CN Tower, where the boys sat/stood/laid on a glass floor 116 stories above the Rogers Centre:

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Check out the view from the main observation deck:

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But we didn’t stop there. We headed up to the Sky Pod…

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…ONE-HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEVEN STORIES above the Toronto streets below!

This was officially the highest up in the air we’d ever been while NOT in an airplane. In that last photo, that is the Rogers Centre above and immediately to the right of the CN Tower. Above and to the left of the CN Tower we looked down on a train round house that is across the street from the Rogers Centre and CN Tower.

While up in the Sky Pod, the boys played a little fake baseball…

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…because, why not!?

Here’s a shot of the boys looking at the city over 1,460 feet below:

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And here is the view back up toward the CN Tower from the area right below the glass floor:

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After visiting the CN Tower, we stopped by the Blue Jays’ team store, where we founds a Jays Mickey and Jays pig:

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And my dad and Kellan got their first ever views inside the Rogers Centre:

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But it still wasn’t time for baseball quite yet. Our CN Tower tickets also came with access to a ride of some sort (that the boys were too young to ride) and a 3D movie called “Legends of Flight.” Here is Kellan wearing his 3D glasses and waiting for the movie to start:

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The movie was pretty awesome. We sat in the front row and the boys kept trying to grab all of the airplanes flying at us. It was pretty awesome.

After the movie, which was about 30 minutes, we headed over to the roundhouse to poke around a bit:

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Finally, it was getting close to game time…or at least gates opening time. We took a walk all the way around the Rogers Centre…

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…and then we hopped in line at Gate 6…

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…, which is down the RF line.

From growing up at the Kingdome, I love attending games in domed stadiums. The one bad thing, however, is that photos often come out blurry inside domes. Therefore, when we headed into the stadium and camped out down the RF line…

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…I had no clue who that blurry guy is at the end of the red arrow. And because he’s so blurry, I can’t even ask our buddy, Avi. Anyway, he was kind enough to toss a baseball to us.

Thanks, mystery Oriole!

Before that guy tossed us a baseball, I thought I was going to catch a one hopper off the bat of an Oriole, but it hopped to high for me to reach, and my dad ended up snatching it up several rows behind us. His first ever Major League baseball snagged outside of the United States! Way to go, Pa!

Things were pretty slow down the RF line, so we headed out CF, just to the left of the batters eye. And look who we saw out there:

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In case you can’t tell, aside from my dad sitting in the first row, that’s our buddy Zack Hample off in the distance in the bright orange Orioles shirt.

Zack came over and took this photo of us…

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…, which unfortunately does not have my dad in it (because it is the best group photo we got all night).

As is often the case, all of the Orioles looked exactly the same to me. Unfortunately, Avi wasn’t there (since we were in Canada and all) and I couldn’t call Avi because our phones didn’t work (since we were in Canada and all). Luckily, Zack recognized everyone and told us that Jim Johnson was standing right in front of us.

Shortly thereafter, an Oriole hit a homerun that hit the batters’ eye and bounced back down onto the field. Luckily, it bounced over a bunch of people and Jim Johnson grabbed it. I called out his name and pointed to Tim and…

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…we had to thank Mr. Hample for the assist.

Thanks, Jim (and Zack)!

The ONLY Oriole I could recognize (because he was wearing his BP jersey and not a name-hiding pull-over) was Brian Matusz. He was in the LF corner so we headed over there. When a ball got hit down into the corner, Brian handed it over to Tim:

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Thanks, Brian!

We kept on the move. Next, it was off to RCF. Something funny happened there:

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Someone hit a ball to Orioles coach Wayne Kirby right below us. When Tim asked for it, Kirby tried to fungo it up to us, but came nowhere near us. He chased the ball and then tried to toss it to someone else. He missed them too. He then fielded it again and tried to toss it to us again, but missed us by ten feet. The ball went right to the guy above in the red, which was absolutely fine.

A couple minutes later, the guy came over and gave the ball to Tim. Usually, I try not to let other fans give us baseballs. I usually tell them we’ve already got one, thanks, but they could give it to another kid. But I didn’t get a chance to stop the hand off this time.

So, anyway, when fans successfully give us baseballs, we try to give them to other kids or use them for autographs. There was a kid in the RF corner who had been there all BP trying to catch a ball and I didn’t think he had succeeded. I told Tim we should go give the fan-ball to him. Tim agreed. He handed the ball to me and we started to head over to the RF foul corner.
On our way out of the section, an usher thanked us for coming to the game and asked if Kellan had caught a ball. I was holding the fan ball so I held it up triumphantly and said, “Yep!” So Kellan and I walked by her and the usher handed a baseball to Tim. I guess she wanted both of the boys to get a baseball.

Thanks, usher gal!

The kid was in the RF corner as we started walking over there…but then BP ended, the Orioles ran off the field, and *poof* the kid disappeared. We trekked all over looking for him. He was *gone*!

Oh, well. I gave the baseball to my dad and (as you’ll see two entries from now) he gave it to a kid Tim met up with at Comerica Park.

Here was the best pre-game scene down the RF line:

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That’s Adam Jones getting all stretched out.

Here was the view from our seats in Section 115R, Row 7:

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Kellan was in a roaming mood. Heck, he’d never been to Rogers Centre, can you blame him? So we roamed…behind home plate:

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We ran into the Blue Jay in the concourse:

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When Tim, Colleen and I visited Rogers Centre in 2009, I never visited the 200 level for some reason. So that’s where we headed. Here was the view from behind section 240:

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Here’s something interesting we found in the concourse:

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I liked how they built a TV that looked like the scoreboard into a big picture of the outfield. Now, see the section between the two red arrows? Historically, that’s been a restaurant or something like that. Well, that’s gone now and it’s just a SRO hang out. We’ll see it in just a second.

Here’s a panorama from behind section 243, just to the right (while facing the field) of that glassed in restaurant):

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Just for kicks, here’s what it looks like from right behind the big “Budweiser” sign:

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And here is a panorama from the middle of the SRO homerun porch (I just made up that name…who knows what it’s really called):

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We needed to get a picture with a “Rogers Centre” sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. I planned for us to get one outside after the game because there isn’t a big Rogers Centre sign inside the stadium. But we ran into this sign…

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…out in LF, so I snapped a quick picture just in case. Luckily, I did because it was the only one we got.

We kept walking and got this panorama behind section 207:

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Just about now, I realized that we forgot to get a picture with Zack! Zack is a great guy and we should get a picture with him anyway, but getting a picture with him at this game would also get us two bonus points in the photo scavenger hunt because he is the Rogers Centre all-time career leader.

I figured that Zack would be behind the Orioles’ dugout going for a third out ball. And he was:

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A couple innings later, he snagged a third out ball from Manny Machado.

Before Kellan and I went on our expedition, I told Tim we would come back with ice cream. And we did, in these sweet new Blue Jays’ ice cream helmets:

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Ice cream time in Canada!

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Let’s catch up with the game, shall we? This game was a homer-fest.

In the top of the first, Nick Markakis and Manny Machado led off the game with back-to-back singles. J.J. Hardy then followed with a bomb. In the bottom of the frame, Melky Cabrera hit a lead off homerun.

3-1 Orioles after one inning.

In the top of the second, Danny Valencia doubled, Steve Pearce walked, and Yamaico Navarro singled. That brought us back to Nick Markakis, and he cleared the bases with a double of his own. Adam Jones ended the top of the second with a foul out on this swing:

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Brett Lawrie led off the bottom of the second with a laser of a homerun:

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The Jays scored another run of a Colby Rasmus double followed by an Emilio Bonafacio RBI single. Sadly, former-Mariner Munenori Kawasaki…

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…grounded out.

6-3 Orioles after two innings.

Chris “Crush” Davis led off the top of the third with another homerun:

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After a Matt Wieters walk, guess what Danny Valencia did? He hit a two run homerun.

And, similar to the second, Manny Machado fouled out to end the third:

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9-3 Orioles after three innings.

My dad wanted to see the Rogers Centre a bit so we all set out on foot. We headed to the 500-level down the LF line. Here’s what it looked like from section 540…

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…, which was closed so an usher asked me dad to vacate the section.

As we circled the upper deck, check out what we found:

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It was a vending machine full of baseball cards. Pretty cool.

We got a shot from section 524…

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…and another from section 518:

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After Muni batted again…

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…, we headed down a little hallway, corridor thingy in CF. I think the front wall (to the left) of the hallway was part of the hotel at the Rogers Centre.
Circling back to the LF corner, we took a switchback ramp down to the 200-level:

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After checking out the homer porch, we ran into Neal Stewart from BIGS seeds…

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…and Zack Hample in the CF concourse. Neal gave us more sample packs of BIGS seeds.

Thanks, Neal!

We kept walking through the 200 level concourse. Eventually, we came across a cool painting of the Rogers Centre…

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…with its roof open. See how the CN Tower is right over the wall in RF? I’d love to see a roof-open game at the Rogers Centre some day.

Next, we got this panorama, which I think must be about section 211:

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We found our way to section 215, where there is a bar called “Bar 12” (named after Roberto Alomar). We walked through it and found these seats:

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More specifically, these seats:

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In the top of the sixth inning, Adam Jones hit a solo homerun to make the score 10-3 Orioles. In the bottom of the inning, got two runs back on an RBI double by Kawasaki and an RBI single by Cabrera.

Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista followed with a harmless single…

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…but did not score.

After six innings, the score was 10-5 Orioles.

Something really odd and cool happened next. I had bought a big soft drink that came with a free refill. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we headed to this concession stand…

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…where the guy who filled my Diet Coke was really nice. While he was filling the soda, a guy came out from the back (I felt like he was one of the *cooks*, if there are such things at MLB stadiums) and he…

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…gave Kellan a baseball! Look at that, a free refill and a baseball in the 200 level! Kellan loved it!

Thanks, concession guy!

The usher in charge of section 215 (who had checked our tickets an allowed us to downgrade from section 115 to section 215) brought activity books and crayons for the kids:

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In the bottom of the seventh inning, Adam Lind led off with a solo homerun:

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10-6 Orioles after seven innings.

After the end of the eighth inning, the weirdest and worst part of the night began. It started harmless enough. After the last out of the eighth inning, I noticed a HUGE patch of empty seats behind the Blue Jays’ (3B) dugout. I told my dad that Kellan and I were going to head behind the 3B dugout to see if we could get a third out ball after the top of the ninth (we got right behind the home plate end of the dugout, but the third out ball was tossed to the OF side of the dugout) and then we were going to meet up with Zack behind the Orioles (1B) dugout at the end of the game.  And that is exactly where we ended the game:

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An Oriole (couldn’t tell who) tossed us a baseball after the Orioles won the game and Zack took this picture of us:

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Kellan and I looked around for my dad and Tim. They were nowhere to be found. We kept looking around. And we kept looking around. And we kept looking around.
No Tim. No Dad. No Tim and Dad.

It made no sense.

I started wondering if I had mistakenly said we would be behind the Orioles *bullpen*, not dugout.

The ushers eventually asked everyone to head out of the seating area. On the way out, I took this photo from the top of section 117:

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No Tim and Dad anywhere in that picture, right?

We walked out to the Orioles bullpen. No Tim and Dad. We exited the stadium. No Tim and Dad. We walked to our car. No Tim and Dad. (We left a note on the car telling them where to meet us).

We walked back to the stadium. Despite being promised absurd phone charges, I turn on my phone and called my Dad.  Nothing.  Straight to voicemail. We walk around the stadium some more. I called again.  Nothing.

I am very nervous by this point.  It’s been more than half an hour since the game ended. I figured my dad would have turned his phone on by now too.  Now I’m thinking my dad must have gotten hurt and they were sitting in a first aid office or hospital with Tim having no clue how to reach me.

I called again, but accidentally dialed my wife. I probably scared her because I was panicked.  I’m not a fan of losing my son and dad in a foreign country with no phone service.

We walked through the team store. Nothing. We started walking around the stadium looking for a first aid office.  Nothing.

I had no clue what to do.  We start walking back toward Gate 6 where we had entered the stadium.  All of a sudden, I spotted Tim and my Dad way off in the distance walking away from the stadium in the wrong direction (i.e., not toward our car).  We ran them down.  Success!  We were all back together again.

I have no clue what happened. My Dad and Tim said they were behind the Blue Jays’ (3B) dugout, not the Orioles’ (1B) dugout. I don’t see them in any of my pictures, or any of the other pictures I’ve seen. They said *they saw* Zack behind the Orioles’ dugout, but somehow didn’t see me and Kellan.  That doesn’t make much sense because we were standing right next to Zack behind the dugout.  My dad *had* turned on his phone and tried to call me, but couldn’t get through to me, just like I hadn’t been able to get through to him.  He had also already called first aid and had all sorts of security personnel looking for us.

Aye, aye, aye…it was a terrible way to end an otherwise great game at the end of a great day, and it wouldn’t have happened at any other MLB stadium because our phones would have worked and we would have found each other right away.  Geez, how did we all manage before cellphones!

As a result of this frustrating episode, we NEVER got a group picture of all four of us Cook boys at the Rogers Centre (booo!).  In fact, that picture Zack took (way above) of us talking to Neal in the CF concourse is the ONLY picture with all four of us in it at Rogers Centre (booooo!).

We also did not get a picture outside of the stadium with the Rogers Centre sign.

Oh, well.

We hopped in the car and headed toward London, Ontario…

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…and the boys crashed out very quickly in the back seat.

Woah! What a day!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

8 Games

13 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays
14 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2

41 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2

7 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre

14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

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

The Pavarotti of Intentional Talk

I enjoy watching MLB Network in my down time.  And, when doing so, I enjoy watching replays of “Intenional Talk”…

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…with Kevin Millar and Chris Rose.

During each episode, Kevin and Chris show a video clip of someone caught on tape doing something embarrassing.  They call the bit “Got Heeeem.”  Lately, I’ve noticed that they have been setting up the Got Heeeem bit with a video of someone saying “Got Heeeem” — sometimes the person is a MLB ballplayer, a coach, a celebrity or a broadcaster.  Other times, it appears to me to just be some random person from the world.  So I’ve been thinking I should film Tim or Kellan saying “Got Heeeem” and send it in to see if they’d use it.

I didn’t plan it out at all.  But the other night when it was just me and Kellan still awake at the house, I pulled out my phone and asked Kellan to say “Got Heeeem.”  I didn’t tell him *how* he should say it and he just naturally extended the “Heeeem” to “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem.”  I thought it was pretty cute.

It was January 23rd.  I filmed Kellan saying the line twice.  The second take was better than the first.  So I edited it down a bit and tweeted it to Millar, Rose and the Intentional Talk twitter account:

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I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch “IT” the next day (Thursday, January 24th) so I programmed our DVR to record the show.  But I never actually watched it (still haven’t).   On January 25th, although I still planned to watch the recorded show from the 24th, I went on with life assuming that they did not use Kellan’s “Got Heeeem” clip on the January 24th show and that it would never see the light of day.  Part of this assumption was because I had never heard anything about it, no one responded to my tweet.

But, in the evening on January 25th, I received a tweet from a fellow MyGameBalls.com member asking if Kellan was just on Intentional Talk.  Here is the exchange:

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This was some exciting news (that I very much appreciated receiving from Danny).  Sure, it’s just a little 7-second clip on a cable show that tons of people have never even heard of, but the idea of Kellan having a “speaking role” on a show I watch pretty regularly was definitely a cool thought.

I’d already missed the original showing of the program and we had plans to go out to dinner.  I recorded the next showing, which aired while we were out to dinner for Tim’s birthday.  And when we got home, there he was…

Kellan on IT

…”Got Heeeeeeeeeeeee, eeeeee, eeeeeeeeeeeen”!  (He actually ended his “Heeeem” it with an “n,” instead of an “m”).

While our family watched the show together for the first time standing around the TV, Kellan looked around at us and then pointed up at the TV and exclaimed, “It’s me!”   Tim was a bit jealous, especially because his little bro was on TV on Tim’s birthday.  But I told Tim not to worry, we’d make our best effort to get him onto “Got Heeeem” in the future, during the 2013 season, with a bit of luck.

I took a very poor quality video of the scene on my cellphone, but the boys were pounding on drums or what-have-you in the background and I couldn’t get a decent recording of it.  Luckily, fellow-MLBlogger Nick Batters came to the rescue.  He downloaded the free podcast and put together and emailed to me this great little clip:

I could watch that all day!  I wish Kellan would have been wearing one of his Mariners t-shirts so he could be showing his Mariners pride.  But, heck, it was late and he was already suited up for the night in his jammies.  Anyway…

I absolutely love how Millar and Rose give Kellan an ovation after his “Got Heeeeem” and how Rose dubs Kellan the “Pavarotti” of Intentional Talk.  That’s a title I can get behind!

Today, I watched the whole episode for the first time and I noticed that they gave “Special Thanks” to us and the other fans who had contributed questions or pictures for the show:

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My overal take on having Kellan on Intentional Talk:  Awesome!

If you can get on there, I highly recommend it.

That’s all for now.

Last Game of 2012 (9/29/12)

Our baseball season came to a close at Camden Yards on September 29, 2012, where the surging Orioles faced off against the floundering Boston Red Sox.

We had four goals for this game:  (1) have a ton of fun taking in our final game of the season, (2) catch at least one baseball to complete our first ever perfect season of getting at least one baseball at each game we attended, (3) try to get our hands on at least one more Fenway 100 commemorative baseball, and (4) have even more fun.

The past several seasons, the Orioles have had a lot of signs all over downtown Baltimore during a bulk of the season, and then in September they were nowhere to be seen.  I was excited to see whether thing would be different in September 2012 with the Orioles just a game back in the A.L. East and in wild card position.  And it was:

There were Orioles banners all over downtown Baltimore, as well as an Orioles van!

We arrived at Camden Yards with plenty of time to spare before the gates opened:

It was the final statue (Brooks Robinson) dedication night so there was a huge crowd when we arrived at the CF gate:

We met up with Alex Kopp and Avi Miller (and Avi’s sister and friend), and past time Felixing…

…and eating various special flavored oreos until the gates opened.

When the gates opened, we grabbed our Brooks Robinson statues, handed them off to Avi (who had given us free tickets in exchange for our statues), and headed over to foul territory down the LF line:

By the time the gates opened, a huge crowd was ready to head inside for the dedication of Brooks Robinson’s new statue.  Earlier in the season we were at Camden Yards for the dedication of Frank Robinson’s statue.  At that game, the line outside the ballpark was also huge, but BP was pretty much just like any other game.  But that was early in the season before the Orioles acquired tens-of-thousands of new fans.  BP at this game was packed.

We were in a prime spot to get a ball from one of the Red Sox pitchers…

…and we were hoping it would be one of those beautiful Fenway 100 commemoratives.

Eventually, an Orioles batter hit a ball down the line into the LF corner and this trainer guy…

…tossed it over to us.

Thanks, unidentified trainer guy!

That made Tim and me 27-for-27 and Kellan 25-for-25 on the season!  Our first ever perfect season, which was pretty cool.

But we still had our sights set on snagging one of those Fenway 100 baseballs.

The only Red Sox reliever who was near us and I recognized was Andrew Bailey:

He was in the last set of Red Sox down the line and, as you can see, he was on the OF side as they warmed up.  But then they did some pitching to each other.  Bailey came in to approximately 60 feet and popped-a-squat to play catcher.  After his partner finished pitching they switched spots and Bailey pitched from the warning track just in front of us.  As he pitched, I could tell that he was using a Fenway 100 baseball!

As we watched Bailey with great interest, our ears were treated to a number of speakers telling tales of the great Brooks Robinson – who was no more than 100 yards from us at the time:

By the time Bailey finished pitching, the seats around us at had filled in with fans.  But, luckily, I was the first and only person to call out, “Hey, Andrew!”  When he turned around, I pointed to Tim and asked if he could toss his ball over.

On his first throw, I didn’t think the ball was going to make it into the stands so I reached out for it and Tim and I clanked our gloves together and the ball bounced back towards Bailey.  He tossed it again and I stood back so Tim could make a high catch on it:

What a beauty:

Thanks, Andrew!

It was getting so crowded down the LF line that we decided to relocate to LCF by the bullpens.  On or walk over there, this was our view of the Brooks Robinson statue ceremony:

Here is the best view we ever got of Brooks or his statue:

Shortly after setting up shop by the bullpens, Tim declared it was snack time.  He was wearing his new white (and highly stainable) Felix Hernandez jersey that his grandparents gave him after the Ichiro trade.  Snack time brought on the first of several stain-preventing outfit changes for Tim:

In that picture above to the left, he is stuffing his white jersey into a bag so he can enjoy some “pirates” (shown in the middle picture).

Not much was happening in the OF, either from a homerun or a Red Sox toss-up perspective.  So we entertained ourselves by chatting, snacking, crowd watching, and taking pictures.

Here’s a picture of a temporary banner the Orioles hung behind home plate to thank their new fans – winning creates new fans:

Here’s a picture of the boys just clowning around in the seats:

Now check out this picture of the crowd:

It’s hard to believe that is Camden Yards!  As I said, winning creates new fans.   If you have a very keen eye (and know what he looks like), you might be able to spot a red-shirted Alex Kopp in that last picture.

After BP ended, we hung out by the bullpens until around game time.  Alex came over and we chatted with him a bit.  With the crazy BP crowd, he had not managed to catch a baseball.  But he ended up getting one from Rick Adair at the bullpen before the game started.

Just before game time, we started to make our way over to the kids’ play area.  By that point, they had cleared the statue area so they could clean up all of the seats, etc., used during the ceremony.  This was our view of the final new statue as we passed by:

Pretty much at every game we spend some time in the kids’ play area and some time watching the game.  At this game, we let the kids call the shots and it resulted in what might be a world, single-game record for amount of time spent in a kids’ play area.

We started with some air-T batting:

We did a little bouncing:

Tim took his cuts in the batting cage:

And then we landed at the pitching cage, where we would spent a huge amount of time at this game:

In Tim’s first turn in the pitching cage (three tosses per turn), Tim threw the fastest recorded pitch of his young life:  37 blazing miles per hour.  He matched it once more during the night (and I didn’t get a picture of either of them), but most of this pitches clocked in between 33-36 miles per hour.  Kellan, on the other hand, did not throw a single clockable pitch.  But he was definitely a fan favorite in the pitching cage.

After the first pass through the kids’ play area, we decided to pull the old switcheroo – dessert before dinner.  It was the bottom of the first inning with no score, and we headed to the statue area for our last ice cream helmets of the season.

It was packed out there.  Every seat was filled with a brand-new Orioles fan or a dejected Red Sox fan, and all of the good standing room spots were full.  The boys grab some non-prime seating spots along the wall where I could sort of see the action:

Adam Jones went down swinging…

…to the first inning.

We watched the scoreless top of the second inning from the same spot.  And Kellan made certain that he didn’t waste even a drop of melted ice cream:

During the bottom of the second inning, the Orioles put a little rally together and the boys and I decided to head back behind home plate and then back to the kids play area.  On our way through the cross aisle, an usher was kind enough to take our picture:

As we approached the cross-aisle behind third base, Manny Machado hit a ground ball single up the box and into CF.  Chris Davis scored the first run of the night on the play.

We made it back to home plate just in time to watch Lew Ford…

…foul out to end the inning.

So, with the score 1-0 Orioles after two inning, we were off to the kids play area again.  On our way, we stopped to get the boys’ picture with a muscle car:

(Tim loves pointing out muscle cars when we are in the car).

And then it was off to the pitching cage again:

(those lines are running from the muscle car toward the cage).

We stayed at the kids’ play area for a long, long time doing all sorts of playing.  Like this…

…and this:

And some standing around waiting to play, like this:

When we finally left the play area, the game was heading into the bottom of the fourth inning and it was still 1-0 Orioles.  We headed out to the flag court.  It was packed out there:

I should mention that right before we headed to the flag court, or maybe even while we were en route to the flag court, Chris Davis launched his 30th homerun of the season deep into the seats in RCF (much more CF than RF).  That made it 3-0 Orioles and the place was going crazy – partially because the Orioles were playing a “Gangnam Style” parody video on the big screen called “Camden Style.”

We were out in the flag court for the top of the fifth.  Unforutnately, the lead off batter walked and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 2-run homerun into the seats in RCF just past the flag court.

That made the score 3-2 Birds.

The Orioles Bird was out in the flag court and, despite the Salty-Bomb, he was plenty happy about the O’s 1-run lead.  He celebrated by eating Tim’s head…

…and a few minutes later, he came back to shake Tim’s hand while we were on our way back to the play area.

On our way back to the play area, I noticed this big picture of Memorial Stadium:

I’m not sure how long its been there.  Maybe it’s always been there.  But I have never really paid attention to it.  I was never at a game at Memorial Stadium.  But it is cool to see that the Orioles paid tribute to it on the design of the home plate area at Camden Yards – the two look very similar.

After our final many rounds of pitching in the cage…

…we headed off to the club level to meet up with Avi and have some dinner:

While we were in the Club Level, Avi was none-to-pleased to see Adam Jones and Chris Davis fail to communicate properly, leading to a dropped ball by Davis and a game-tying third run for the Red Sox.  That was in the top of the sixth inning.

The score remained 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning, which Machado led off by belting a homerun into the LF seats.  And just like that, the O’s were back on top 4-3.

In the eighth inning, we decided to head down to the field level.  On our way through the Club Level on our way to the elevator, I snapped some pictures of the décor:

We headed here…

…for the rest of the game.  This was my standing-room view from the cross-aisle behind second 32:

I should mention that the Yankees had already lost their game against the Blue Jays.  With the Yankees loss, the O’s were just half a game back in the A.L. East.  The team and the crowd badly wanted a share of first place.

The Orioles sent in their All-Star closer Jim Johnson to get the final three outs of the game.  Meanwhile, we pondered the idea of going for a post-game umpire baseball.  We moved more directly behind home plate in the cross-aisle.

It took six pitches, but Johnson mowed down Cody Ross on strikes.  Eight pitches later, Johnson retired Mauro Gomez on a line drive to RF.  It was no routine liner though.  It was softly hit and former-Royal/Expo/National/Phillie/Met/Mariner Endy Chavez had to race in and make a nice diving catch to record the out.

When the whole crowd rose to its feet in anticipation of the final out of the game, the Red Sox sent Saltalamacchia to the plate, and I sent Tim down the stair case to get into position for an umpire ball.  Kellan and I stayed at the top of the stairs where this was our view of the Tim and the game:

This was the TV viewing audience’s view of Tim and the game just prior to the final pitch of the night:

And so was this:

That guy right next to Tim is about to tap him on the shoulder and give him the open seat right along the umpires’ tunnel.

On the third pitch of the at-bat, Saltalamacchia flew out to LF to end the game.  Tim was already in perfect position.  The crowd was going crazy and no one was leaving.  So Kellan and I had an easy time making our way down the stairs to the fourth row (two rows behind Tim).

I had told Tim already that the umpires’ name was Greg Gibson.  When the four umps converged on the warning track just behind home plate, Tim must have already called out Gibson’s name because once they opened up the umpires’ gate, Gibson ducked into the tunnel and walked right over to Tim.  They had a little conversation that probably lasted 10-20 seconds.  And then Gibson pulled a beautiful Camden Yards commemorative baseball out of his pouch and set it into Tim’s glove before giving Tim a final smile and turning back toward the exit.  Two steps later, Gibson handed another beautiful commemorative baseball to Kellan.

Double thanks, Mr. Gibson!

We quickly relocated to the first row to watch the stadium celebrate.  The highlight of the celebration was when the Orioles Bird ran over and gave all three of us high fives through the protective netting.  I thought that was pretty funny in light of the fact that we were all wearing Mariners jerseys.  But, hey, we were celebrating right along with everyone else.  It was a great atmosphere.

A few minutes later, an usher took a final, blurry photo of the three of us before we started to pack up to get out of there:

It’s been another great season with my boys, and a lot of fun having Kellan join in the fun with Tim and me.

On our way out of the ballpark, Tim posed for a picture with Brooks Robinson’s number 5 posted on the warehouse:

They had already locked up RF and CF gates into the flag court and CF bleachers:

But Eutaw Street was rocking:

On our way out, we tried to go over and get a better look at the new Brooks Robinson statue, but about 3,000 other people had the same idea and this is as close as we got:

And just like that, our in person MLB season was over…

…, goodbye, Camden Yards.

We can wait to come back for more in 2013.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

27/25 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
44 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   9, Orioles 7, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
155 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 11, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 8,   Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
27 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 13, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 2, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field,   Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC   Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park10/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (4); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Gill and Kate’s Citizens Bank Park Debut and Some Crazy BP (9/22/2012)

On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park.  And it was a special one because we weren’t alone.  We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.

Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons.  So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.

Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia.  There was an interesting parade going on…

…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.

We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…

…before the gates opened.  After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…

…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan.  And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF.  That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.

As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day.  I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.

Things started off normal enough.  We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened.  Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan.  Kellan was wearing his glove.  When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it.  “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.”  And that’s just what happened:

Thanks, Steven!

Things were quite in LF.  Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened.  But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.

Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:

Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.”   In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track.  A great catch by Tim!

Thanks, Rod and Antonio!

There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.

Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen.  I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield.  Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield.  Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:

Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench.  He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!

Thanks and thanks, Eddie!

So, there you go.  The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs.  We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.

While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate.  In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games.  So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.

And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened.  Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…

…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance.  We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge.  Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.”  And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims:  Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson.  Bot had eluded us.  But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim!  How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim.  As  the green “7” above suggests, it worked!

We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.

Thanks, Tim!

But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate.  Oh, no!

There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.

So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!

But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…

…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.”  Tim replied, “No!  Not this one!”  He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.

“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”

But how many more opportunities would we even have!?

Well, luckily, we had at least two more:

Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me.  And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us.  Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?”  And Maholm obliged.

Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!

So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.

And the day wasn’t over yet.  In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!

Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…

…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.

Okay.  Things were officially ridiculous at this point.  So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits.  We  headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…

…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…

…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:

So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start.  We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission.  When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes.  The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet.  We wanted it bad.

So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…

…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.

At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:

I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench.  He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was.  I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.

As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?

He tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Jesus!  You were truly awesome to us this season!

While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.

And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:

It took  right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!

Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived.  After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:

And then it was game time.  We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:

(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).

Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:

We were in the first row of section 427.  I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game.  (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).

We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed.  The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.

Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp.  He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game.  Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF.  Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward.  Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF.  This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.

Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:

That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.

I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures.  Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:

In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line.  Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.

The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.

The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second.   Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann.  After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado.  That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.

And Heyward to this loaded up…

…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…

…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play.  Heyward ended up at second.  Hey wouldn’t stay there long.

Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:

Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…

…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).

After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.

We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:

We also did some birding.  Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:

(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird.  Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).

Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:

This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies.  Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:

(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)

At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI.  Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit.  But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.

By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.

After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves.  And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …

…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…

…circle around home plate…

…, and pose with a pig…

…on our way to the kids’ play area:

Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:

I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed.  It was pandemonium in there!  And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:

Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing.  That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.

We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.

Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…

…up the ramps to the upper deck.  We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:

Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:

If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States.  The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years.  Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.

We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:

Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:

In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single.  Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…

…at bat that we will ever witness.  It looked like this:

It ended with fielder’s choice to SS.  And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:

In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy.  He needed to take a walk.  On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:

With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd.  Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…

…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:

Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:

I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…

…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:

After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball.  Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.

When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:

Here’s what happened.  We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130.  There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club).  As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row.  I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight.  I figured he must have stayed with Colleen.  As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name:  “Jerry!”  He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.

Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below.  He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us.  He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion.  And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).

Double thanks, Jerry Meals!

By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate.  If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14).  Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.

After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration.  Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing.  As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row.  They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left.  I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them.  But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path.  It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.

Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove.  It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture.  He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper.  It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way.  It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us.  All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene.  The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field.  I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again.  But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.

We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:

Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:

Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.

From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark.  Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

26/24 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners  Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (3); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2012)

September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar.  The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners.  This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!

A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.

On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game.  It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0.  When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.

And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.

On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.

On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.

On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.

I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons.  First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary.  Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.

Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles.  This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.

Planning was very difficult this year.  September 12 was a Wednesday.  I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game.  But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.

Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals.  That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time.  But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia.  With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia.  Tim would be in school until 3:10.  Going to NY was out of the question.

Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m.  That was a no go, as well.

So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.  It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game.  It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals.  But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered.  BP would be out of the question.  But at least we should be able to make it for the game.  So that was the plan.

Here is what had to happen to make it happen:

Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia.  I was detained until around 4:30.  When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic.  I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia.  Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic.  I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.

The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore.  My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30.  But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia.  We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line.  By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.

Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes.  After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.

Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.

Thanks, Avi!

The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.

So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!

So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball.  I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend.  After this game, we would only have two more games this season.  With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.

During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995).  We hung out in the ideal spot:

We had no luck, but the Orioles did.  On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles.  They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.

After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza.  While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture!  Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.

Oh, well.

It was pizza time.  The outfield was totally packed.  Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:

While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:

We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:

Here was our view for large chunks of this game:

Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area.  It was time to hit the kids’ play area.  Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues.  First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:

And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:

And then we headed down Eutaw Street…

…toward the play area.  We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…

…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:

The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing.  It is bigger and better for the kids.  But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside.  The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.

The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…

…and the pig:

After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets.  There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line.  I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em.  But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl.  When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over.  That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!

We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:

And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:

I’ve gotten ahead of myself here.  I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third.  For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.

Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO.  Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:

Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings.  After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning.  Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.

Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:

Well, that’s not completely accurate.  Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers.  Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher.  Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth.  The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson.  Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.

Johnson had a rough inning.  After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger.  Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger.  After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.

Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun.  So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.

With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit.  As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first.  Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard.  Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy.  One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.

And that ended the top of the ninth inning.

I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth.  Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench.  Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name.  He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball.  We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop.  We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.

Thanks, Scott!

I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season.  We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.

Thanks again, Scott!

Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:

After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF.  He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.

Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless.  This year was different.  The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles.  In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.

The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:

Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:

And, I was sort of a fortune teller.  No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.

The place was going crazy:  Orioles win!  Orioles win!  Orioles win!

As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.

The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously).  At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire.  When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel.  As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us.  We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd.  He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field.  Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him.  We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires.  Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:

Thanks, Marvin!

I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs.  I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game.  Very odd.

Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:

We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:

On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:

We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude.  So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.

Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets.  So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate.  After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:

We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game.  It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.

As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:

This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times.  I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Two Nights At A Ballpark In Philadelphia (9/8 & 9/9/12)

This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia.  Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.

The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks.  But the boys and I had Phillies tickets.  The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.

We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m.  Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.

We made it to the LF gate…

…in plenty of time.  In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35.  We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.

Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports.  But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule.  They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game.  But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.

The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining.  Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.

The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…

…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast).  Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.

Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too.  That concerned the Phillies too.

When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:

No BP.  Sad.

But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch.  There was only a small gathering of fans out there.  I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd.  There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.

See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?

Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys.  We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP.  To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium.  Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain.  But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.

Thanks, Carlos!  And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!

Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend.  I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening.  So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…

…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt?  Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear.  She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).

Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:

And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:

I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear.  But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Edgmer!

Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone.  One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:

Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout.  There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us.  And that means that Harrison got snubbed.  Sorry, Harrison!

Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:

I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too.  They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.

Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…

…toward the RF seats.

The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens.  That’s where we met up again with Harrison:

I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen.  In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence.  When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.

But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…

…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen.  It was right behind the home plates .  It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.

Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.

Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had  thrown?  Well, it was still there.  There was no one on the field.  We just sat around chatting awhile.

Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track.  When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball.  The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:

It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison.  I was happy for him.

But then Harrison started walking closer to RF.  “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.

See the girl in the red shirt above?  That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF.  Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball.  I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.

But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row.  And guess who got it in the scramble?

Not Harrison.  Darn.

So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen.  Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan.  Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:

That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food.  It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined.  Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.

It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF.  The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102.  It was raining.  We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…

…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation.  This is what was happening on the field:

It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.

When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:

We just kept sitting and chatting.  The stadium started filling up a lot more.  Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…

…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing.  Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.

We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:

I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her.  It was pretty hilarious.  Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.

At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:

They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp.   I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast.  Kellan was ready for some Major League action:

When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen.  It was like a chess match with the young girl.  It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:

It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it.  A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.

The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field.  The Phillies never made any announcements.  Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.

Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night.  They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night.  Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:

When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store.  On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…

… and a panorama from the back of the section:

The boys had fun playing around in the team store:

I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff.  And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:

It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time.  We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours.  Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain.  It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.

The boys and I started to head toward the exits.  As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen.  I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night.  But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most.  By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:

I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway.  As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed.  We hung out for a minute.  And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:

We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more.  After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked?  That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.

We waved him down and…

…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.

Holy cow.  I couldn’t believe it.

The ball was SOAK and HEAVY.  Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:

And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below.  I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy.  He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.

Wow.

Thanks, guy!

By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.

And with that, we called it a night.  On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.”  Tim was all for it.  We didn’t have any other plans.

So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.

There was a 1 o’clock game.  Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.

We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work.  But it was completely different with Phillies.  I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats.  I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield.  They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office.  So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.

Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking.  When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits.  Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:

It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.

We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103.  I was pretty excited about that.  We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.

We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened.  Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.

We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:

They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:

But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.

When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:

Check out all of the activity on the field:

So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:

Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!

Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…

…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.

When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim.  Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…

…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands.  Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.

Double thanks, Jesus!

We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…

…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.

Then we played a few games…

…and collected a few game stamps.

We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:

Check out our AWESOME front for seats:

The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own.  So we were packed in like sardines down there.

But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:

Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet.  I very seldom agree, but I did at this game.  And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:

Those pictures don’t do it justice.  Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream.  While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.

The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd.  Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs.  I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:

I did, however, get an action show of Tim:

Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:

The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning.  The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:

Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double.  Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.

Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:

There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…

…and be right on top of the action.

While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence.  This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:

Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back.  Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles.  The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF.  Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…

…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies.  Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom

Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place.  We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks.  But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game.  So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:

Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.

After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:

If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize.  Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right.  And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.

Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…

and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:

The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty.  We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats.  It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.

Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.  That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.

Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them.  You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge).  Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.

Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:

Row 6 is only four seats across.  I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).

The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge.  The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…

…screaming through the megaphone.

A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:

It was pretty hilarious.  From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field.  The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.

The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead.  Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh.  The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B.  However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored.  He hopped to his feet and shouted:

TIM:  “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

TODD:  “No, they didn’t.  Ruiz stopped at third.”

TIM:  “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”

It was pretty hilarious.  And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case.  It was really amazing.  I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times.  AT LEAST!

At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.

And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball.  And that resulted in another cool moment.  Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob.  I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him.  But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch.  It was pretty awesome!

Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:

Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!

Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:

During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:

Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader.  So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day.  Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.

Phillies win 7-4:

As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!”  Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.

Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:

Fun times.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Marlins Park: Take 2 (9/1/12)

We woke up at the downtown Miami Hilton on the morning of Saturday, September 1, 2012, with 8 hours of kill before our second and final game of the weekend at Marlins Park.  We threw on our beach clothes, hopped into the Crown Vicky, and headed off to nearby Miami Beach.

We parked along Ocean Drive.  As I was paying for parking people were taking pictures in front of the building right across the street from our car.  Turns out that it was Gianni Versace’s house (left below):

Some bad stuff happened on the sidewalk in front of that house back in the 90s.  Check out that Versace Wikipedia link to read about it.  After Colleen got a picture with the Versace mansion, we had some fairly unimpressive breakfast at a sidewalk restaurant.  That big thermometer (above right) was right across the street from our breakfast table and people kept getting pictures in front of it.  So after breakfast, Colleen and the boys joined in the fun.

And then it was  off to the beach:

I am not a beach person at all.  But South Beach is awesome!  The water is warm and there are hardly any waves at all.  Lots of fun.

I splashed around a bunch in the water with Kellan, but Tim spent most of his time searching for sea shells…

…and then he posed with a rescue waver runner before we headed out.

After we had our fill of the beach, we headed back to the hotel so Kellan could get a quick nap.  But he had no interest in it.  So we headed to our hotel’s rooftop pool:

The pool at the Miami Hilton is really cool.  And you can see Marlins Park from the deck.

Around 3:45, we packed up and headed out to Marlins Park.  This time, the Cook Family was at full strength.  And, for the record, Marlins Park was Colleen’s 14th MLB stadium (old Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Fenway Park, Citi Field, new Yankee Stadium, Nationals Park, Progressive Field, Rogers Centre and Marlins Park).

We parked at the CVS again.  In fact, the parking attendant remembered us and intentionally had us park in the exact same spot as the night before.  These pictures should be flipped, but here are a couple views of the Marlins parking garages as we approached the stadium:

The picture above to the right is the view across NW 7th Street as we approached the mid-block crosswalk.  The picture above to the left is the end of that same parking garage from the little street approaching the ballpark, and that is a big art piece on the side of the parking garage.

The day before we turned to our right and walked toward the home plate gates.  At this game, we turned left, and headed toward the left field corner.  As we circled the corner, we walked by a “Boletos” window…

…and found some bamboo trees around the corner.

There is a big side walk area behind the LF side of the ballpark, and the sidewalk is littered with the artistic *remnants* of the words “ORANGE BOWL” sunken into the sidewalk.  Tim and Kellan decided to pose with ever letter that was accessible to foot traffic:

Along the left field outer wall of the stadium, there is an entrance for the Clevelander Night Club:

If we had Clevelander tickets, we could have entered the ballpark already, but we didn’t.  The sad thing is that we could see the Marlins inside taking BP.  Only the select few with Clevelander or certain other “premium” tickets ever get to see the Marlins take BP in Miami.  That’s too bad.

As we approached what I will call the Centerfield gate, I turned around and took a picture of the boys and Colleen with several of the sunken letters behind them:

Amazingly, while there were a lot of people milling around outside of the Clevelander, there were zero people in line at the CF gate.  So I hopped in line, and Tim and Kellan played with some green lights set into the sidewalk:

I didn’t realize this until working on this blog entry, but the gates are colored (signs, etc.) and feature lights set into the ground.  And those colors all match the colors of the concourse corresponding where you will enter the stadium.  For example, Tim and Kellan were playing with green lights and the signs on the CF gate were green, and when we ran into the ballpark, we entered the green section of the ballpark.  And if you look at our last entry, you’ll have to take my word for it that we exited the ballpark in the yellow section of the ballpark and there were yellow lights on the ramp down to the ground level outside.  That’s pretty cool.  Well thought out, Marlins.  Good job!

We had ten or so minutes to kill, so Tim and I played catch at the gate:

Check out this nice catch by Tim:

He’s chalk-full of good catches these days.

As we stood at the front of the line, this was our view through the gates:

This is a much better entrance than the RF gate.  In RF, you have to slowly wind your way up a spiral walkway (sorta spiral, at least).  The CF gate gives you a straight shot right up some those steps and into the CF concourse.

So, Tim, Kellan and I headed right down into section 36.  Almost immediately, a groundskeeper walking through the outfield tossed a baseball up to Tim.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

And just a few minutes later, another baseball was hit to the warning track near us.  Tim got Josh Edgin’s attention and Edgin tossed the ball up…

…and Tim made a great grab.  The ball from the groundskeeper was thrown over Tim’s head and we picked it up off of the ground.  But Tim gloved the ball from Edgin cleanly, and it marked the very first Tim that Colleen had ever seen Tim catch a baseball completely on his own at a baseball game.  By the way, she had stayed up at the top of the section and took three of those pictures from behind us.

Thanks, Josh!

Right after Tim caught the baseball from Edgin, Kellan got all excited and stood on the wall with his glove over his head yelling for more baseballs:

It was pretty cute.

We had only been in the park for a few minutes by this time, ten at the most.  During that time, one of the Mets hit a homerun into section 40 along the RF line.  Section 40 was completely empty and I thought it might be a good spot to go to try to catch a BP homer on the fly, so we all headed over there.

As Tim, Kellan and I walked into the section, there was an usher standing on the stairs right along the foul line…

…he pointed to two different spots in the empty rows of seats and lo-and-behold there were two baseballs just waiting to be found.  We grabbed them and then headed down to the front row to watch more BP.  I thought that was really cool of the usher, and quite fan friendly.  We have found very few “easter eggs” at MLB games.  It seems like most teams have their ushers clear out easter eggs before fans can find them.  So it was really cool that this usher kept tabs on the baseballs and then pointed them out to us.

Thanks, Usher!

In addition to pointing out the baseballs, the usher was a really nice guy.  He chatted with us a little more as we hung out in his section.

Colleen followed us into the section and several other fans, maybe 10 or so, followed her.  There actually ended up being a decent little gathering of fans down there.

Several Mets pitchers were running from the RF foul line to CF and Kellan was still hoping that someone would toss him a baseball:

Ready for the blurriest picture I’ve ever posted on this blog?  Here we go:

This shot was taken during possibly the 3 most interesting seconds of BP.  A Mets batter hit a homerun to our right (closer to the bullpen).  It was going to land 10 feet to our right and a row or two behind us.  There were several fans right where it seemed like the homer was going to land.  I didn’t even make a move for it.  There was no chance of me getting over there.  But then, magically, it slammed untouched into a folded up seat between all of the fans and took a crazy ricochet toward the foul pole.  I flung my hand up and – BOOM! – barehanded the baseball as it tried to whiz by my head.  Immediately upon catching the baseball, I turned around (as shown in the picture above) and looked at the ball and another baseball whizzed by me.  As you can see in the picture above to the left, right as I barehanded that homerun ball, Tim was calling out to Jon Neise.  Neise tossed a ball up to Tim but threw it over his head.  It hit the seats right in front of me.  The ball rattled around on the floor for half a second before we scooped it up.

So, we very quickly got four baseballs in section 40.  I figured that was good enough.  So we did a little exploring.

First, we took Colleen up to the upper deck seats above section 40.  Colleen though the “concourse” up there was quite bizarre so she snapped our picture:

We took a stroller through the upper deck seats.  Here is what Marlins Park looks like from section 140:

While we were up there, I noticed something I had not noticed the day before – there is a “Marlins Park” sign above the RF upper deck seats:

I found out later that Colleen took our picture as me and the boys walked across the upper deck seats:

Before  heading down from the upper deck, I got a panorama from the SRO behind the seats in section 134:

After we got our fill of the upper deck, we headed down and over to the SRO area behind the homerun statue.  There were three Mets standing down below us but we only recognized one of them, Chris Young.  Like Tim in t-ball this season, Chris Young wears number 55.  So that made Tim happy.  Tim decided to try to get Young to toss a ball all the way up to us.  But it was clear it wasn’t going to happen.  So we swung around to the LF seats.

Here was our view from the end spot in the first row of section 32:

We were right above the Clevelander, but you wouldn’t really know it.  All we could see below the LF bleachers were a bunch of blue awnings:

We were still relatively close to Chris Young and Tim was still hoping that Young would toss a baseball up to him.  But Eric Langill beat Young to it:

Thanks, Eric!

Young did eventually *try* to toss Tim a baseball…

…but things were a bit complicated.  First off, where we were in the front row it was only about two feet deep.  We were past the last seat and there is just a little extra space that is…just sorta *there*  The point is, there was a big bright lime green wall directly behind us.  Plus, most of Tim’s body was behind the front wall of the section – you know, the wall that keeps people from falling down into the Clevelander.

All this meant that Tim was a really small target for Young to hit.  Add to that fact, the fact that Tim really likes to makes catches on his own.  He doesn’t like me swooping in to make a catch when he thinks he can make it on his own.  So, when Young air mailed the ball over Tim’s head, although I could have easily stepped forward and caught it right above Tim’s head, I hung back and hoped Tim could reach the ball.  When it flew over Tim’s outstretched glove, I tried to play the ricochet off the wall, but it bounced oddly off the wall and the family a couple seats down from us snatched up Tim’s Chris Young baseball.

Tim was pretty bummed out about it because he really wanted to catch a baseball from Young.  I felt bad for Tim not being able to catch the baseball from a fellow number 55.  But, assuming Tim was going to catch the baseball from Young, I was going to give the Langill baseball to that family anyway.  So at the end of the day, missing the baseball was a wash.

As BP started to wind down, we headed over to the LF corner.  It looked a little like this over there in section 29:

There were a couple BP homers scattered in the Marlins bullpen.  I figured we would hang out there until someone wandered out to the bullpen.  As Randy St. Clair made his way down the LF line, an usher came through and told everyone they had to leave unless they had tickets for that section.  I pointed out St. Clair and mentioned we were hoping he would toss up one of the baseballs in the bullpen.  The usher gave us the blessing to stay put.

And when St. Clair passed by below…

…he stopped and tossed the one baseball right below us to a kid just down from us.  He then disappeared and five seconds later reappeared holding up a baseball and calling out to Tim.  It took St. Clair a couple attempts to get the baseball up to us.  His first toss wasn’t high enough and actually bounced out onto the foul warning track.  But St. Clair ran over and grabbed it and made a better toss.

Thanks, Randy!

Before heading out, I snapped a picture of the smaller scoreboard behind section 29:

An usher had told Colleen that some Marlins would be signing autographs behind the LF seats prior to the game.  We had noticed them doing this before the game the night before.  Unless it was Mike Stanton…I mean, Giancarlo Stanton, I had no interest in waiting around on them.  We never did end up seeing any Marlins signing autographs over there, but we did see these guys:

Those guys were hanging out taking photos right by the “Taste of Miami.”  Colleen wanted to check out the T.o.M.  While doing so, we noticed that there was a door leading out to a little landing outside.  We headed out there to get a picture of Colleen and Tim with the city behind them:

And then we headed up the big escalator…

…to the upper deck.

We were essentially just walking around so Colleen could see the stadium and we could kill some time before the game started.  But I did have one thing I needed to do up in the upper deck.  I had not got a panorama all the way out by the RF corner.  So we walked all the way around the upper deck so I could get this panorama from section 302:

We were getting really close to game time.  Colleen and Tim wanted to grab some food and Tim wanted to show Colleen the bobblehead museum so we split up.  While they did those things, Kellan and I headed to our seats.

As I surveyed the area and took some photos, Kellan snuck some of daddy’s diet pepsi and guarded my seat:

Here was our view of Marlins Park from section 3, row E:

By the way, I should point out that row E is the third row off the field in section 3.  The front row (row C) has only two seats.  Row D is four seats wide.  And Row E is eight seats wide.  We had the four seats right on the aisle (seats 8, 7, 6, and 5).  The face value of these tickets was (I believe) $35/ticket, but we picked them up on stub hub for $13/ticket.  I could have actually got the seats directly one row behind us for $11/ticket, but I opted for being a little bit closer to the field.

The was one reason and one reason alone that I picked these seats:  they were the closest we could get (well, closest without spending a lot of money) to the ball boy.  My goal was for Tim to get a live game foul tossed up to him from the ball boy.

Here’s a nice view of the Marlins homerun statue:

Colleen got some food at the Taste of Miami and Ti got a big trough of fries, and then they headed over to the Bobblehead Museum:

When they reached our seats, Tim shared his fries with Kellan and Colleen took tons of pictures of it:

For the second day in a row, Tim was pulling for the Fish.  On the hill for the Marlins was Tim’s number counterpart, Josh Johnson:

Johnson pitched a gem for eight innings.  And this was our view from section 3:

Colleen took lots of pictures during the game, like this…

…and this…

…, and this:

The Marlins took the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Bryan Peterson hit an RBI double – 1-0 Marlins.

Around the fourth inning, Tim wanted to explore a little bit.  So we all took to our feet and hit the concourse.  Heading toward home plate through the 1B side concourse, we past a Guest Services booth and a bank of escalators leading up to the club level:

Just past the Guest Services booth there was a random bar…

…and some equally (nee…more) random art on the wall above the concourse.

Remember those buried “Orange Bowl” letters outside the stadium?  Well, in the concourse down the LF line, the Marlins pay tribute to the Orange Bowl on one of the stadium’s support beams:

You know what else they have on lots of the support beams circling the field?  Marlins Park signs:

Down the LF line, we found an escalator heading down below the field level concourse.  I asked the usher guarding the top of the escalator what it was all about, and she explained it was the entrance to the Clevelander.  You need a Clevelander ticket to enter the Clevelander, but not simply to ride the Clevelander escalator.  This is what the Clevelander entrance looks like from the escalator:

When we resumed our walk around the field level concourse, we saw something hilarious:

Aye, aye, aye…

We continued walking single file from LF toward CF:

In that last picture, Colleen is wearing Kellan’s hat.

We stopped in RCF so I could get a panoramic shot from the concourse behind section 35:

Before returning to our seats we stopped by several concession stands, and all of them had computer error dialogue boxes displayed on the menu boards:

Most of the menu boards had that error box and no prices for any of the food.  I guess that is one potential drawback of technology; an old fashioned manual menu board never has an error that prevents it from doing its one and only job.

Anyway, the menu board errors did not prevent us from getting some tasty ice cream for the boys:

There was some more scoring in this game.  In the top of the fifth, the Mets tied the game up at 1-1 on a Josh Thole groundout.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jose Reyes and Carlos Lee hit singles and then Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single of his own, but his single was of the RBI variety.  So that put the Marlins up 2-1.

Stanton got stranded on base, but that didn’t prevent me from getting some Giancarlo base running photos…

… while he was making a mad dash for 3B as Donovan Solano flew out to CF for the third out of the bottom of the sixth inning.

Before the top of the seventh inning, I noticed that the Marlins employ a umpire-look-a-like usher whose job it is to run out to shallow CF to deliver between-inning water to the actual umpires:

Lucas Duda led off the top of the seventh with a ten pitch at bat, which included five foul balls.  This, I believe, was the first of those five foul balls:

Duda hit that foul ball right down the 1B line.   It evaded the fans down the line and was snared by the ball boy in fair territory right down below us.  The ball boy no-look tossed the baseball into the crowd and I just barely caught it while reaching up as high as I could over my head.

I won’t lie.  I was pretty darn excited about this foul  ball toss-up.  I bought these specific seats with the specific goal of getting a foul ball tossed to us from the bat boy, something that we’ve never got before.  I actually could have got the seats immediately behind our seats for $2 less per seat.  But I went for the slightly more expensive seats that were just a little closer to the field, and it paid off big time.  It is doubtful we would have got this foul ball if we were one row further back from the field.

And, hey, bonus!  Since the baseball was used in the game at Marlins Park, it was a Marlins Park inaugural season commemorative baseball!  Hooray!

Thanks, Lucas and Ball Boy!

Here’s a random picture for you:

Throughout our two games at Marlins Park, I kept wondering what the heck that yellow line was for on the LF foul wall.  The line is ten feet into foul territory.  If a ball hits just behind it on the green wall, its foul, not a homerun.  I just don’t get it.

Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, things were looking pretty good for the Marlins.  Josh Johnson had given up only three hits all night and the Fish had a 2-1 lead.  But they weren’t satisfied.

With one down in the bottom of the eighth, former-Met Jose Reyes drew a walk off of Ramon Ramirez.  While Carlos “El Caballo” Lee stood in, Reyes swiped second.  And then El Caballo dinked a little hit into RCF:

Neither Mike Baxter nor Andres Torres could come up with the ball, and Reyes motored right around third and crossed home for a seemingly valuable insurance run:

Everyone was happy about the Marlins’ lead, including Colleen and Kellan:

I was stilling waiting for a Giancarlo Stanton long ball…

…unfortunately, he followed Lee with a double-play grounder, instead.

The Marlins win was seemingly in hand.  So many of the Marlins *faithful* headed for the doors, which was nice because almost the whole row behind us opened up for Kellan:

Here’s another random shot:

How weird is it that you can see the legs of the people in the front row through the fish tanks?

At 105 pitches for the night, Ozzie Guillen (who we never really noticed while we were at Marlins Park) in decided Josh Johnson had done enough.  He turned the game over to his non-Heath Bell closer, Steve Cishek.  Unfortunately, it was not Cishek’s night.

Daniel Murphy lead off with a single to RF.  David Wright followed with a single to LF.  After Ike Davis struck out swinging, Lucas Duda hit a single to CF.

*POOF*

All of Josh Johnson’s hard work was erased:  Murphy and Wright both scored on Duda’s single and the score was all knotted up at 3-3.

I missed all of that nice action with my camera.  Instead, after the Mike Baxter fouled out, I got an action shot of Cishek pitching to Andres Torres:

It looks like Lucas Duda is stealing 2B on that pitch, but he’s not.  He waited for Torres to collect four balls, and then he walked to 2B.

And that brought Kelly Shoppach to the plate.   On the second pitch he saw from Cishek…

…, Shoppach sent a hard grounder back up through the box.  The  ball quickly made its way out to Marlins CF Justin Ruggiano who was running hard ready to scoop the ball up and throw home, but…OOPS…Ruggiano ran right by the ball and it kept rolling DEEP into CF.

I thought it was going to result in an error-assisted in the park homerun.  But Shoppach doesn’t have the wheel, he only made it to 3B.  But Duda and Torres had no trouble finding the plate.

Ruggiano’s body language told the story:

Aye, aye, aye…

The Marlins were two outs from a 2-run win, and now they trailed the Mets 5-3.

Randy St. Clair came out to deliver the bad news to Cishek:

“Hit the showers, kid!”

And in sprinted former-closer, Heath Bell:

Bell struck out the only batter he faced (Scott Hairston).

As the Mets warmed up for the bottom of the ninth inning, I took this picture of Mike Baxter playing catch with the ball boy:

I took the picture because that is essentially right where the ball boy was standing (although he was running in the general direction of the 1B dugout) when the ball boy tossed the Lucas Duda foul ball up to us.

Speaking for foul balls, the ball boy got another during the bottom of the ninth and he flipped it up to no one in general.  It was going to land right on the other side of the railing between section 3 and section 4 (to our left).  Tim hopped up and reached over the railing.  I thought he had a chance to catch it…that is, he had a chance until a 20-ish year old fan sitting in the front row completely leaned over Tim…

…and crushed Tim’s arm against the railing.  Amazingly, (although he too missed the ball) this guy was totally oblivious to the fact that he crushed Tim’s arm on the railing (and, just in general, smashed into Tim).

Way to go, cool guy!

Frank Francisco took over for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth and he set the Marlins down 1 (Greg Dobbs), 2 (Donovan Solano), 3 (John Buck).

Game, set, match: Mets.

After the game wrapped up, we made our way down to the front row corner spot and got a nice family picture:

But our night wasn’t over.

We relocated over to the front row behind the 1B (visitors) dugout…

…and watched Billy the Marlin entertain the crowd a bit.

Then the Marlins opened up the roof…

…and BOOM GO THE FIREWORKS:

Oooooow….

Aaaahhhhhh….

Ooooooooooh!

It was a decent little fireworks show (nothing compared to an Indians Rock’N’Roll Blast) with a  really strong finale.

After the fireworks wrapped up and we prepared to head for the exits, I snapped a picture that I had meant to take earlier in the day:

See how that green wall comes down to a point just past the visitors’ bullpen in RF?  Well, it looks like the aisle running up the left and right sides of that wall connect at the point of the wall.  Yeah, it *looks* like that…but looks can be deceiving.

In fact, the aisles to meet at the point of the wall, but a railing blocks off the passage way.  So to get from one section to the other, you have to go up to the concourse and then walk 50 feet or so down to the next stair case.

Anyway, it was finally time to leave.

People were heading up the stairs to the concourse.  But I sensed an opportunity for one last Marlins Park exploration.  I noticed there was a tunnel leading down below the field level seats at the back of the moat (between sections 5 and 6).  So we stayed in the first row and walked across toward section 6).

We were the VERY LAST fans to leave the seats down there in the moat, and an usher rewarded Tim for this accomplishment in the form of our final baseball from Marlins Park:

Thanks, Usher!

We headed into the tunnel under seats and it looked a whole lot like this:

That tunnel took us back to the main tunnel that circles under the ballpark.  We turned right in that main tunnel and found a bunch of big colorful pictures of (mostly) current Marlins:

Tim posed with the best of them – Giancarlo Stanton!

And then we were funneled out of the ballpark through a little bar area that is open (I think) to people with 1B-side premium seats:

When we finally made it outside the ballpark, there was a concert in progress (just like the night before):

I gotta give credit to the Marlins.  They’ve created a very fun post-game atmosphere with these little outdoor, post-game concerts.

As we walked toward our car, I noticed an entrance to the main Marlins Team Store.  The “team store” (and that really has to be put in quotes) at Sun Life Stadium was light years beyond pathetic.

But the team store at Marlins Park is a legit Major League TEAM STORE (worthy of all caps):

Not wanting our Marlins Park experience to end, I continued to take pictures as we walked toward our car.  Here is Tim and the Marlins Park roof:

Here is a view from the northwest corner of the ballpark:

And, finally, a night time shot of Marlins Park from the CVS Pharmacy parking lot showing the roof rolled back over in the *open* position:

Here is my official assessment:  Marlins Park is an 80,000,000,000% improvement over Sun Life Stadium.

Good job, Marlins!

We really had a great time at our two games in Miami.

BUT WAIT!  OUR WEEKEND TRIP WASN’T YET COMPLETE.  SCROLL DOWN FOR A FEW BONUS PICTURES.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

23/21 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
37 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
129 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

BONUS PICTS:

On 9/2, we spent a bunch of time in South Beech, where we did some swimming at the beach and saw some cool birds:

And some more cool birds and a Lambourghini:

On 9/3, the big event of the day was our trip to the Miami Seaquarium, where we got to hold some really cool birds:

But best of all, we hung out with a dolphin:

Hooray for dolphins!

Marlins Park: *First Lap* Around MLB Ballparks Completed (8/31/2012)

Back in May, Tim and I achieved the goal of having seen every MLB team play a home game.  But those pesky Florida Marlins changed their name to the Miami Marlins and traded in Sun Life Stadium for Marlins Park since we saw them play in Miami in August 2011.  So we needed to head back to Miami before we could say we had visited every current Major League stadium.

In May or June, we made the tentative plan to visit Miami over Labor Day weekend.  And before we knew it, all the pieces fell into place and it was time to go.  But it wasn’t just me and Tim.  And it wasn’t just me, Tim and Kellan.  No, it was a full-on Cook Family vacation!  We planned for two games, a day or two at South Beach, and a dolphin encounter at the Miami Seaquariam.

We kicked off all of the fun on Friday, August 31, 2012.

We hopped an 11:00 a.m. flight from Philadelphia to Miami…

…, passing over and Sun Life Stadium and driving by fancy new Marlins Park on our way to the hotel, the downtown Miami Hilton (which I would definitely recommend.  Very convenient to Marlins Park, South Beach, the Seaquarium.  Great pool.  Lots of fun).

We rented a car from Dollar Rent-a-Car and they gave us the most hilarious car possible:

CROWN VICTORIA!!!

Oh, yeah.  We were rolling in style!

We arrived at our hotel around 2 p.m.  The ballpark didn’t open until 5:30.  So we grabbed some lunch at The Daily (http://www.thedailycreativefoodco.com/) and then walked through a little park along the water.  On our way into the park, Tim posed with a fire hydrant (he has lots of interesting pictures with fire hydrants) with palm trees in the background:

Then it was time to rest up and figure out some pre-game logistics before our first game at Marlins Park.

For this game, it would be just me and the boys.  Colleen would enjoy the evening sitting by our rooftop pool reading a book.

The drive to Marlins Park was really short.  My GPS couldn’t find the stadium (because it is brand new) but we had no problem getting there because you can see it from downtown and it was self-evident how to get there.

All of the official Marlins parking garages that we passed on NW 7th Street had “prepaid only” signs.  So we ended up parking just passed and across the street from Marlins Park in the CVS Pharmacy parking lot.  The lot had “customer parking only” signs all over it, but it also had official looking guys selling parking tickets.  It all seemed legit, and it was.  It cost $20, which was the same as the parking garages.

Here was our view of Marlins Park from the CVS parking lot:

We walked down NW 7th Street to mid-block, crossed at a crosswalk, and walked down a little street that T’d into the side of the stadium:

We had no idea where we should enter, or where we were for that matter, so we just turned right and started walking around the stadium.  Very quickly, we came to an entrance where about 100 people were already standing in line to get into the stadium.  I guess it would have been considered the home plate entrance.

We hopped in line for about 5 seconds.  But then Tim wanted to explore.  The gates weren’t going to open for another ten minutes so I figured “what the heck.”

We turned around and started walking down this multi-colored piano-keyboard looking walkway:

Tim saw a big Marlins “M” and wanted to get pictures with it.  Here they are:

Just behind the “M” there was a stage set up (but empty at the time) and, after grabbing a Spanish language pocket schedule at a ticket office, we found another entrance behind the stage.  I’ll call it the LF entrance, but I’m not sure if it had an official name.

The line was short and we were inside the games after just a few more minutes.  The only drawback of this entrance is that you have to walk up a long winding walkway to get to the field level concourse.  Here is a picture I took from the walkway looking back toward the home plate entrance:

And here is what the ramp looked like after we snaked back to our left and kept circling up to the field level:

Right when we got inside, we headed down to the field out by the LF foul pole (well, in the vicinity of it).  Feeling the weight of the milestone, I promptly took a very unimpressive picture of Tim and myself:

There you go.  Photographic evidence of the two of us inside our 30th current Major League stadium!  Overall, it was Tim’s 34th and my 37th MLB stadium.  In addition to the current MLB stadiums, Tim has also been to (1) the Metrodome, (2) old Yankee Stadium, (3) Shea Stadium, and (4) Sun Life Stadium, and I have also been to (5) the (beautiful and wonderful) Kingdome (many, many wonderful and glorious times, (6) Veterans Stadium, and (7) RFK Stadium.

There wasn’t another fan to shake a stick at down the LF line.  Very, and I mean very, quickly, Mets reliever Robert Carson tossed us our first ever baseball at Marlins Park:

With that baseball, Tim has now got at least one baseball at 31 and I have got one at 33.  The only current stadium at which neither of us has ever got at least one baseball is Chase Field (where we have both only been to one game, on September 12, 2008).

Anyway…

Thanks, Robert!

And very, very quickly after that, Mike Baxter…

…tossed another baseball to Tim.

One of my complaints about Sun Life Stadium was that they didn’t let fans from the cheap seats get close to the field, even during BP.  You really could never get right down on the field down the lines.  First off, the bullpens were huge and took up tons of prime real estate down both foul lines.  Second, you had to enter from an entirely different area that required premium tickets (or so it seemed) to get next to the field in the little bit of space between the dugouts and bullpens.

In this regard, Marlins Park is a vast improvement.  For some crazy reason, Marlins Park does have an incredibly fan unfriendly moat.  But I knew from Zack Hample’s blog that they let everyone down into the moated-off area during BP.  So we went over there just to check it out.

While anyone can go right up to the dugouts, we did find out that you need special tickets to enter the first four rows between the end of the dugouts and the OF end of the moated-area.  Here is a panorama from section 7 that shows what I’m talking about:

We didn’t know the rules at first and walked right up to the field (something that could never have happened at Sun Life Stadium because the normal seats were elevated above the restricted area), but the lady in the red shirt on the right side of the picture above let us know that we needed to stay back in the fifth row unless we had a ticket up in the front section.

That rule is somewhat silly, but it is still a vast improvement over Sun Life Stadium because at least you can be down low enough that you’re essentially on field level, just pushed a few rows back.

We hung out there for a bit and watched the infielders warm up.  And then I took a blurry photo of the three of us:

I love Kellan’s casual little pose there.

If you enlarge the last panorama (from section 7) you will see a sign behind the CF upper deck seats that says “502.”  Tim requested that we go up there to check it out.

So we headed to the concourse.  I thought it was unique, so I took a picture of the bright yellow concourse down the RF line:

Eventually, I realized that Marlins Park has a rotating color scheme.  From 1B to RF the field level and upper deck concourse walls and floors and the tiles in the field level seating areas are yellow.  Approximately behind section 40 in RF (and you’ll see this soon enough), the yellow starts to break down, get mixed some white, and then transition to green.

From RF to LF everything is green, including the outfield wall (which I had never liked on TV).  In section 30 in LF (and you’ll see this too), the green transitions to red.  From the LF corner to around 3B, the concourse is bright red.  Around 3B, the red transitions to blue.  And then the blue wraps around home plate until it eventually transitions into the original yellow that I discussed around 1B.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have never liked the look of Marlins Park on TV.  Frankly, it has looked tacky to me.  But in person, I really thought it looked great.  Sure, green of the outfield wall is a bit much.  But, overall, the colors are fun and they work.  We’ll talk a tiny bit more about the colors a little later.

Behind section 40 in RF, we headed up some stairs to the RF-CF upper deck.  Half way up the stairs, we ran into a HUGE duct:

I am pretty sure that is to pipe all of the air conditioning around the ballpark.

If you want to call it a concourse, then the RF-CF upper deck *concourse* is bizarre to say the least:

From that main walk way, smaller other walk ways split off to the side and lead fans into the seats:

Check out (above) that suspension system…I guess that is what it is.  When we were up there, and there were only maybe 10 other fans in the entire upper deck, I could feel the entire upper deck move and shake a little bit.  I’m never a fan of that phenomenon.

Here is the view from that second with the “502” sign, which is actually section 134:

And here is a souvenir of our time up in the upper deck…

…that was tossed to us by Jon Rauch.

The rows of seats in the upper deck were really steep.  I was not a fan of hanging out there with the boys because I feared that Kellan would trip and fall over a row a seats – we hung back in the second and third rows.  So right after we got that baseball from Rauch, I snapped that picture of Tim (with Rauch pictured under the ball) and then we started to head out of the section.

As we cut across the third row toward the stairway on the CF side of section 134, I heard someone yell at us from below.  It was Rauch and he was holding up another baseball.  I guess he wanted both boys to have one.  He made another accurate toss for an easy catch.

Thanks and Thanks, Jon Rauch!!!

Before leaving section 134, we got a couple pictures of the odd homerun statue thingy in LCF:

I took a few more pictures on our way back down to the field level (start clockwise from top-right):

Top Right:  There is a little press box looking office behind the seats in section 134.  I’m not sure what it is.  I’m guessing they work the controls for the retractable roof…but I’m not sure.

Top Left:  There is a staircase in that little “concourse” behind section 134 and one of the walkway support beams (a huge concrete beam) frames in the staircase.

Bottom Left:  Mid-way down the staircase we had a nice view of downtown Miami out of the LF-CF retractable outer wall of the Marlins Park.  One regret of our trip (that was totally out of our control) is that we never got to see the ballpark with the wall open.

Bottom Right:  The view of the field level concourse in CF where the stair case dropped us into the field level.

The pieces of the LF-CF retractable wall move of train track like tracks through the field level concourse:

Behind the homerun statue, there is a little, moveable TV studio.  When I got a blurry picture of the boys standing by the TV set, one of the TV guys walked over and handed Tim one of the real deal Fox Sports microphones:

When I took that picture, Tim refused to look at me.  And in retrospect, he was completely right.  It looks more authentic with him not looking at me.  It is like he is doing a report looking at the TV camera.  Good job, Tim!

Here is the back of the homerun statue:

And a panorama taken just to the LF side of the homerun statue in a SRO area:

Next, we swung around to LF foul territory to get a look at the Marlins bullpen, LF seats, and the Clevelander (night club at the ballpark):

Note how you can see the tile changing from green to behind the LF seats!  You can see other color transitions in the infield tile on the wall of the moat.

Two Mets coaches were hanging out in LF.  One of them was Eric Langill.  When he shagged a ball hit down the line, Tim asked “Eric” if he could please toss the ball up to him.  He did…

…and Tim made a nice catch.

As we walked away from the spot, the batter hit a ball that landed ten feet behind us, right were we had just been walking.  It was my best chance to catch a hit ball on the fly at Marlins Park, but it was not to be.  It ricocheted back onto the field.

And then we headed into the moated-off area behind the Marlins (3B) dugout:

I read online on some random webpage that the red seat (that the article actually said was on the 1B side) marked the first seat installed at Marlins Park.

I snapped this panorama from the cross aisle behind section 19:

And then we got this Marlins Park “bonus picture” for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

There was a really friendly usher hanging out in this area and he gladly snapped the following picture of me and the boys:

As BP wrapped up and we headed out of the section, the usher told us to enjoy the game.  Good guy.

We headed up to the concourse and I bought a huge “all you can drink” souvenir soda.  There were two things we wanted to check out: (i) the bobblehead museum and (ii) some fish tanks we had heard about online.  I asked the lady at the concession stand where they were located in the stadium.

Her answer regarding the fish tanks confused me:  down by the field.

She told us to ask the ushers behind home plate.  Very confusing, indeed.

But soon it all made sense.  And it is completely awesome….but most awesome for the people in the diamond club.  Check out the fish tanks built into the short wall behind home plate:

You can’t get down there for a close-up look unless you have diamond club (I’m guessing that is what it is called at Marlins Park) tickets.

We decided that the closest and best view we could get would be from the very corner spot in the first row behind the visitors (1B) dugout (although there is a fish tank on both sides of home plate so either dugout would work)

Before going over by the dugout to take a look, I got a picture of Tim #FELIXING to celebrate his 34th MLB baseball stadium:

Then I got a panorama from section 12…

…and a picture of my boys (and my diet pepsi):

After getting all of the behind-home-plate photos that we needed, we head over to the stairs down into the moat.  There was a lady stationed there now who asked for our tickets.  I told her that we just wanted to get a closer view of the fish tank from the corner spot behind the dugout.  She said that once BP wraps up, you need tickets down below the moat to get into that section.

But then she added (paraphrasing here), “Maybe check back around the fourth or fifth inning and I could probably slip you in to check it out.”

That was pretty awesome, but made me wonder why they needed a moat at all!?

And then we headed to the Bobblehead Museum, which is located behind home plate in the blue section of the concourse:

The museum is a big oval-shaped glass case with bobbleheads from every MLB team.  There is a computer so you can look up teams or players and it will tell you where to look in the museum.  The whole case shakes a little so the bobbleheads are in a constant state of bobbling.  It was a lot of fun.

I decided only to post that one picture, but I took a bunch including a bunch of Mariners (and particularly Ichiro) bobbleheads, a couple Hank Aaron bobbleheads, some old school funny-uniformed Pirates, and a cool Prince Fielder wearing a big crown.

It was getting near game time.  So we headed out to RF.  Here are a couple not-so-random photos from the concourse:

The funniest thing I noticed in the concourse were the line-up pictures posted on the support beams behind each section of seats.  It is a cool idea.  But most fans stay relatively in the same spot throughout a game so they would probably never see the whole line up.  In fact, we move around about 20 times more than the average fan and we never noticed the entire line-up.  But we saw Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton and Greg Dobbs (pictured above) several times.

Here is the view of Marlins Park from our $3/ticket stub hub seats in the second row of section 40:

One thing about Marlins Park can be a little confusing.  Some of the sections have a few lettered (e.g., A-D) rows below row the numbered rows.  I originally bought $5 tickets in row 1 of section 40.  When I “sorted by rows, ascending” on stub hub, it indicated that row 1 was the first row in the section.  In fact, I didn’t even see that there were any lettered rows at the time because they all showed up below (i.e., behind) the tickets in numbered rows.

However, a day or two before our trip, I realized that Row A was the actual front row.  I emailed stub hub about how I was fooled by the “sort by rows, ascending” feature into buying “front row” tickets that were actually in row 8 or 9.  They credited back my purchase price and fees.  And then I found these wonderful $3/ticket seats in row B, the actual second row off of the field.

Giancarlo Stanton was right in front of us:

(FYI, it is hard not to call him Mike, but I am trying).

Here was our view of the Clevelander from across the stadium:

I had always been confused why this club area was called the “Clevelander.”  The confusion cleared up the following day when we saw the actual “Clevelander” club on Ocean Drive in South Beach.  This Clevelander is just a ballpark version of the real life Clevelander a couple miles away in South Beach.

The pitching match up featured Nathan Eovaldi for the Marlins and former-Mariner and newly minted *Ace* R.A. “The Knuckleballin’ Mountain Climber” Dickey:

At 37 years of age, Dickey is having the season of his life.  He has almost 1/3 of his entire career wins this season!  And, spoiler alert, this game was going to be his 17th win of the season, in complete-game, shut out fashion.  (Unfortunately, Tim decided he would root for the Marlins to win this game).

I noticed that the visitors’ right fielder had to warm up between innings with the Marlins ballboy down the RF line:

Really, that made no sense because the Mets bullpen was right there in RF.  I’m not sure if every visiting team has their right fielder warm up with the ballboy or if the Mets relievers were just being lazy.  My guess is the former.

Just for kicks, here is another panorama from our seats in section 40:

And here are some more photos from section 40:

The Marlins used lots of cool graphics on the big screen for both the Marlins players and the visiting Mets.  Here is one of the Miami-ified artsy photos used for the Marlins batters early in the game:

By the way, I am happy to report that from our seats in section 40, we had a clear view of both the big CF screen and the smaller (but still big) LF screen.  If you were at the back of section 40, I imagine (but don’t actually know) that you wouldn’t be able to see the CF screen.

Here is a random action shot of Jose Reyes hitting a foul ball with two outs in the bottom of the third inning:

Reyes would end up striking out.

With the game heading into the fourth, we decided to give up our spot in prime homerun territory and do a little exploring.  On our way out of section 40, we looked down into the Mets bullpen and realized several of the Mets had been sitting right by us in the corner of the bullpen:

Tim and Kellan called out, “Hiiiiiiii!” and the two closest guys turned and gave the boys waves and some big smiles.  Nice Major League ballplayers are great.  Kids (and grown up alike) always enjoy a wave from a major leaguer.  Thanks, guys!

We always bring a little kid “sippy cup” type cup to all of our games.  They’re just too darn convenient, plus stadiums always allow you to bring them in.  We spend a decent amount of time filling up the cup with water.  While filling our cup afer leaving section 40, a probably 25 year old stadium employ (seemed like a maintenance type guy) asked, “Is that for the baby (Kellan)?”  When I said, “Yeah.”  He shook his head no and warned us, “That water is no good!”

A couple seconds later, I got this awesome picture of Tim who had worn the perfect outfit to sit in section 40 at Marlins Park:

When I took this picture and then we turned left and walked into the green section of the concourse, the rotating color scheme finally all made sense to me!

By the way, mommy packed for the boys and forgot to pack any baseball clothes for Tim.  That is why he is wearing his hilarious banana shorts and cheesehead cow pants t-shirt.

Our plan was to head to the upper deck in the infield.  We headed across CF toward the LF foul corner.  We got this panorama by the TV set in CF:

In the LF corner, there is a little hallway leading away from the field into an area called “The Taste of Miami”:

All the food options back there reflected the multi-cultural Miami palate.

In the LF foul corner there are two escalators.  One connects to the club level on the second deck (off limits without tickets) and the other connects to the upper deck.  We hopped on the really long upper deck escalator.  During our ride, I took this pananorama…

…and R.A. Dickey threw THREE pitches, including this one:

Note how you can see the blue tile turning into yellow tile on the wall of the moat in the picture above!  Cool!

We headed up to the very top corner of section 327 where the boys sat on an extra little piece of concrete in the corner…

…while I took pictures, including this panorama:

While we were up there, we also found a bunch of random coins scattered through the seats.  It was pretty odd, but Tim is always a fan of finding money.

We noticed something else while we were up there (but we didn’t really draw the connection until a little later in the game):  the Marlins “M” logos on the end seats of each row are colored…

…to match the concourse walls and floors corresponding to that same section of the ballpark.  So, above the Marlins logos were in red to match the red concourse.

We also got a good view of the Clevelander from up there:

Swimming during a baseball game?  That’s weird.  I’m not saying my boys wouldn’t love to do it.  But its weird.

As we moved cross the upper deck, we stopped in section 322 to get another panorama:

While we were up in section 322, we also watched a shark win a race of a bunch of sealife around the warning track:

I was hoping we would see Giancarlo Stanton hit a monster bomb…

…but instead he struck out.

By the way, I guess I should mention that the score at the time was 1-0 Mets.  They had scored their first run of the night in the top of the fourth inning, while we were exploring the CF concourse.  Ruben Tejada had lead off the 4th with a single.  He advanced to 3B on a single by Daniel Murphy.   And then he scored the first run of the night on a sacrifice fly to CF by Ike Davis.

Now you  know why the scoreboard said 1-0 when I show you this great graphic of Greg Dobbs on the main scoreboard:

Here are some more random views of the weird little ins-and-outs of the Marlins Park upper deck, and a view down to the Marlins dugout from section 320:

And here is the whole ballpark in a not-so-impressive panorama from section 320:

Next, we wondered into a handicap seating around behind home plate.  We sat there for a couple minutes.  This was the view of field:

Here is what it looks like behind home plate from up there:

And this was the view of RF where I would like to point out two things:

Top Arrow:  That guy snagged Ike Davis’s 7th inning home run that landed in the first or second seat in the first row of section 140, almost exactly above our seats in section 40.

Bottom Arrow:  Our seats in section 40.

If you’re keeping track, that Ike Davis homerun made the score 3-0 because it immediately followed David Wright’s leadoff single.  And that would be the final score.

Soon, an usher came by and told us we couldn’t sit in the handicapped seating area.  That was fine.  We were on an exploration mission.  We headed up to the top of the stadium behind home plate.  This was the view from section 314:

Check out that huge air conditioning pipe.  It runs to the upper edge of section 314.  Check out what the view is like from the end seat up there:

And check out our view of R.A. Dickey doing his thing:

Between our early morning breakfast at the airport, late lunch at The Daily, and ice cream at the beginning of the game, our meal schedule was completely thrown off for the day.  We had still never eating any dinner, and it was getting late in the game.

Instead of pizza or nachos, Tim decided he just wanted some french fries.  At a concession stand behind home plate, they told us they sold fries at section 305.  We walked down there, into the yellow section of the concourse, but there was nothing at section 305.  We went past section 305 and asked someone if they had fries, and they too directed us to section 305.  I’m not sure what the story was, but there were no fries to be found.

But we did find this cool little emergency response truck:

(the same thing is also parked on the field level)

And we found “found” a nice view of the ballpark from section 305…

…but no fries at all.

We headed downstairs on an elevator that said it was reserved for handicapped people and families needing assistance.  They offered to let us ride in it despite the fact we clearly didn’t need assistance.  Check out the great TV in the elevator:

When we reached the field level, we continued our quest to find french fries, but we failed again.

It was already the 8th inning.  We watched Jose Reyes and his teammates take their hacks in the 8th from the SRO area in the concourse:

The Marlins applied pressure, but failed to deliver against Dickey.  They left two runners on base in the 8th.

Tim remembered what the usher guarding the moat told us before the game started.  He had been asking since the fourth inning if we could go back to look at the fish and I had been telling him it was too crowded but we could do it when everyone cleared out after the game ended.

But the usher’s invitation to slip into the moated area after the fourth inning gave me encouragement about trying to get an umpire ball after the game.  We knew from Zack Hample’s blog at the umpires’ tunnel is at the OF end of the 3B dugout.

So when the ninth inning rolled around, we boldly walked down the stairs toward the moat hoping the usher would actually let us in.  To our surprise, we found that the usher was no where to be found.  There was no one at all guarding the moat.  We simply walked down there, turned right and walked down the cross aisle to the area behind the umpires’ tunnel.  It could have been easier or less eventful.

We just stayed in the cross aisle, which is sunk below the main field level seats so we could stand there without blocking anyone’s view.

As the top of the ninth inning wrapped up, I was holding Kellan in my arms and Tim was standing along my side.  A bunch of kids were clamoring about above the Mets dugout and we could see a couple balls being tossed to them in the front row.  Here was the scene as Dickey prepared to pitch the bottom of the ninth:

It’s impossible to see who it is in that picture, but Jeremy Hefner is leaning against the dugout railing behind the kid in the blue shirt.  As those kids were begging for a baseball in the front row, Hefner (while still learning on the railing) twisted to his right and was scanning the crowd.  His eyes briefly locked with mine and he immediately flung a baseball back in our direction while still leaning on the railing.  He essentially lobbed it over his shoulder.  It was clear to me that he was tossing it to us, but that he wasn’t making any great effort to actually make sure we got it.

He tossed it high and one step to my right.  I went up for it bare handed while still holding Kellan.  An older guy jumped at it from our right and knocked into my arm sending the ball over my head behind me (closer to home plate).  I quickly turned around and bare handed it on the bounce.  Hooray!

Thanks, Jeremy!

When the innings started, we grabbed some seats that gave us an excellent view of Master Dickey at work, and a clear view of Hefner still leaning on the railing:

I still wanted to see Stanton go yard…

…but he couldn’t solve Dickey’s knuckler on this day.

The game ended in 2 hours and 7 minutes!  A 3-0 Mets win and a masterpiece for Dickey’s 17th win of the season.  He now has 19 and I am hoping he can get to 20.

There were tons of kids trying to get an umpire ball and home plate umpire Scott Barry ignored everyone.

So we headed over to the end seat by the corner of the dugout.  Here is what it looked like as the Marlins started to crack open the roof:

And here is a not-much-better-at-all view of the fish tank:

Tim really wanted to go down there to get a close up view, but it simply isn’t allowed unless you have those tickets.  Too bad.  It is a really cool ballpark feature that I had never noticed on TV.

Out of the blue, an usher (pictured at the top of the stairs in the last panorama) popped out of the dugout and tossed us a hug stapled MLB-wide statistics report that the Mets had been using in the dugout.  It is huge.  I’m not really sure what to do with it.  But it is very cool to see.

Another usher took a final picture of me and the boys before we headed out:

As we trudged up the stairs reluctantly leaving for the first time our 30th and final current MLB stadium, I turned around and got one last panorama from section 8:

The fun continued as we made our way out of the stadium. There was a concert in progress on that stage we had seen outside by the RF gate:

We followed the colored-brick piano’ish road back toward the home plate gate:

I thought it was pretty cool that there were a couple restaurants (bottom right in the picture above) open on the outside wall of the stadium.  Tim thought it was cool that there were tons of sparkly metal-looking flakes in the ground (top right in the picture above).

We capped off our ballpark experience with one more fire hydrant picture…

…before walking across NW 7 Street, to Wendy’s for a late night snack, and then to our car at the CVS parking lot  Then we drove back to the hotel and told Colleen all about our adventures.

We were excited that she would get to join in the fun the next day at our final game of the weekend.

It was a great milestone game!  Here is the complete let of Tim’s 34 MLB stadiums with the date of his first game at each in parenthesis:

1. Safeco Field (9/12/06)
2. Citizens Bank Park (6/30/07)
3. Camden Yards (8/9/07)
4. Yankee Stadium (’23) (9/3/07)
5. PNC Park (9/29/07)
6. Great American Ball Park (8/15/08)
7. Progressive Field (8/17/08)
8. Shea Stadium (9/7/08)
9. Chase Field (9/12/08)
10. Citi Field (4/25/09)
11. Nationals Park (5/17/09)
12. Yankee Stadium (’09) (7/2/09)
13. Fenway Park (7/3/09)
14. Wrigley Field (8/14/09)
15. H.H.H. Metrodome (8/15/09)
16. Miller Park (8/16/09)
17. U.S. Cellular Field (8/17/09)
18. Rogers Centre (9/26/09)
19. Oakland Coliseum (6/9/10)
20. Dodger Stadium (6/11/10)
21. Petco Park (6/12/10)
22. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (6/14/10)
23. AT&T Park (6/15/10)
24. Minute Maid Park (5/27/11)
25. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (5/28/11)
26. Comerica Park (7/3/11)
27. Sun Life Stadium (8/13/111)
28. Turner Field (8/15/11)
29. Tropicana Field (8/19/11)
30. Target Field (5/12/12)
31. Busch Stadium (5/14/12)
32. Kauffman Stadium (5/16/12)
33. Coors Field (5/18/12)
34. Marlins Park (8/31/12)

And here is one final picture that I have already shared:

2012 C&S Fan Stats

22/20 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
35 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
119 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 14, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field,   Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC   Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

The Nationals, Nationals Park, Shea Stadium, the Cooks & 2008 Converge On Citizens Bank Park (8/25/2012)

For months, we planned to visit Citi Field on August 25, 2012, for our only Astros game of the season.  It was going to be our best opportunity of the season to try to get our hands on one of the Astros 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs, we had already caught at least one of each of the other five 2012 regular-season commemorative baseballs.

A couple days beforehand, I bought our tickets on stubhub.  The night before, we were all set to head up to Citi Field.

And then I realized something: no one had bought the Phillies-Nationals tickets we had listed on stubhub!  Oye!

I put our Mets-Astros tickets back on stubhub, took a loss when they resold, but avoided the bigger loss that would have resulted from not selling or using the Phillies tickets.  And, just like that, we had a new plan for August 25, 2012:  Nationals-Phillies at Citizens Bank Park!

It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.

We arrived before the games opened.  While in line, we played a little catch, ate some snacks, and hung out with the Tishlers (center)…

…, Tami (mom), Harrison (son), and Seth (dad).

The Tishlers are a fun family that we have run into and spent some time with at several Phillies games this season.  Twelve-year-old Harrison is an up-and-comer on MyGameBalls.com, and Seth brings his glove and likes to get in on BP action as well.

Tim loves hanging out with older kids and he always has a blast hanging out with Harrison.  While waiting in line, Tim whipped out his camera and took a picture of himself and Harrison:

When the gates opened, Tim and I ran over to the LF seats and Kellan enjoyed the ride on my shoulders.  We’ve only ever got one “hit” baseball at Citizens Bank Park, a BP homerun at Kellan’s first Phillies game that bounced around in the seats before I grabbed it.

But almost right off the bat this happened:

Kellan and I were standing at the green dot (he was still on my shoulders).  Tim was standing just to my right, closer to the foul pole.  A Phillies batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  I turned around watched it hit off the first seat in about row 10 or so.  It ricocheted on a single bounce right to me.  I casually lifted my glove and caught it right in front of my head and Kellan watched on from above.

That was the first hit baseball that I have ever caught with Kellan on my shoulders.  I thought it was pretty cool, but Seth really thought it was great.  He was all smiles and quickly let me know that he thought it was awesome how casually I caught the ball with Kellan up there.

Before going on, I should point out the guy in the last picture who is standing closest to the camera wearing a dark Phillies shirt and his son in the front row (left of the green dot) wearing a Phillies jersey.  About 10 minutes after I took that picture, the guy approached me and asked if I had a blog.  He didn’t seem to know us by name, but he had read our blog and recognized us from our Mariners gear.  He was a nice guy.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name.  He introduced us to his son and several other family members.  I think he said that he has been to about 17 MLB stadiums.  The best thing about the interaction was how he asked who we were.  He asked me something like, “Are you the guy who takes his son all over to different MLB stadiums and takes tons of pictures of everything?”  While I don’t know if I am “the” guy, I definitely am “a guy” who does that.

The clouds started to sprinkle the tiniest little bit of rain.  So we headed over to the back of the one foul territory section that is open during the first hour of BP and took cover under the second deck seats.

Shortly after arriving there, a security guard came over and asked if it was the boys’ first Phillies game.  I pointed at Tim and said, “He’s been to lots of Phillies games,” and then pointing to Kellan, “and this is his second Phillies game.”

I didn’t see it yet.  But I had the strong feeling that the guy had a baseball and wanted to give it to a kid experiencing his first game.  We certainly do not meet that criteria and I didn’t want to pretend we did.  When he did, in fact, pull out a baseball, I practically tried to talk him out of giving it to us.  But he also didn’t seem like he wanted to make the effort to find another little kid who might be at his/her first game.  So he gave the baseball to Kellan:

(By the way, that is the same baseball in both pictures).  It was our 109 baseball of the season, setting a new Cook family single-season record.

Even though he didn’t get to make a true baseball rookie’s day like he had originally planned, I’m pretty sure he was happy with his decision to give the baseball to Kellan because Kellan gave him the cutest 2-year-old “Thaaaaaank you!” which gave the guy a chuckle and a huge smile.

Thanks, security guard guy!

Just before the security guard found us, I had opened a bag of cheesy rice cakes, which we refer to as “pirates.”  When the guy handed the baseball to Kellan, his fingers were already a cheesy mess.

Tim and Kellan kept throwing back the pirates like they were going out of style:

Normally, we head out to the pizza wedge when the rest of the stadium opens.  But we decided to head down the LF line to watch the Nationals pitchers warm up because we had heard recently that they were using old commemorative baseballs (Shea Stadium and Nationals Park) from 2008.

Just before the rest of the stadium opened, three of the Nats coaches were hanging out down the LF line, with one of them sitting in the seats:

When we got down there, Tim and Kellan got the most hilarious picture ever with Steve McCatty, the only one coach who was still down there.

We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…

…and it appeared that none of them were using commemorative baseballs.

The highlight (or maybe lowlight?) of our time over on the foul line was that someone hit a foul ball in our direction.  It was going to land several rows below us.  The Tishlers were right there, but they were focused on the Nats pitchers.

I screamed, “HEEEEEEEEADDDDS UPPPPPPPP!!!!!”

It didn’t help.

The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.

Once the Nats pitchers began to disburse, the boys and I relocated to the pizza wedge.  Two Nats were hanging out in RCF.  One of them fielded a baseball near us and tossed it up to us…

…before walking back to our spot.  It was Tom Gorzelanny (T.G. in the picture above).

Thanks, Tom!

Now, the baseballs the pitchers were using along the LF line were from the pitchers baseball bag.  The baseball that Gorzelanny tossed to us was a batted ball from the BP bucket, and we were very happy to find it was 2008 Shea Stadium final season baseball!

Double thanks, Tom!

I was very happy for us to get one of the 2008 Shea Stadium baseballs because Tim and I went to a Phillies-Mets game during the final month of baseball at Shea Stadium.

I soon overheard someone mention that they had caught a 2008 Nationals Park inaugural season baseball.

Now remember “S.B.” in that picture above?  That’s Sean Burnett.  I had no clue who it was at the time.  But at one point, a nearby fan started chatting with him a little bit and I overheard the fan call him “Sean.”  The second he finished chatting with the fan and turned around to walk back to Gorzelanny, I called out, “Hey, Sean!”  When he turned around, I made a bold move, I asked Burnett if he came across a Nationals Park commemorative baseball during BP if he would toss it up to us.  Without hesitation, Burnett said, “Sure!”

A few minutes later, he caught a fly ball right by us and tossed up to us a beautiful 2008 Nationals Park commemorative baseball!

Thanks, Sean!

Look at these two beauties:

Before long, the Tishlers arrived on the scene.  I got a picture of Tim and Harrison in the tip of the pizza wedge, but Kellan wanted nothing to do with being in the picture:

Harrison had snagged a baseball or two, but no commemoratives.  He really wanted to get one of each of the 2008 commemoratives.  Before too long, someone tossed a Nats Park baseball to Harrison.

As BP progressed, a couple No. 1 overall picks made their way out to CF.  Bryce Harper was only out there for a short time…

…until he had to go take his hacks in the cage.

But Stephen Strasburg spent a bunch of time out there shagging fly balls:

When one of his teammates hit a baseball to the CF warning track, Strasburg ran over, fielded the ball and tossed it up to us.  It was another Nationals Park commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Stephen!

Now, I don’t really remember the timing of this hit.  But at some point during BP, one of the Nationals hit a homerun over the pizza wedge:

It hit the back wall of the Phillies’ bullpen, and rolled out in the grass between the bullpen mound and bullpen plates.  While still focusing on the field in hopes of getting a Shea Stadium baseball, Harrison also set his sights on the homerun baseball waiting in the bullpen.

Toward the end of BP, a Nationals batter hit a homerun directly to us.  We were in the first row of the pizza wedge (section 101).  Kellan was standing in front of me leaning on the railing and Tim was to my right.  The baseball sailed right over Kellan and into my waiting glove.

I turned it over to find that it was another Shea Stadium commemorative.  Tim immediately instructed me to, “Give it to Harrison!  He needs a Shea ball.”

But Harrison said he wanted to get one on his own.  I must admit, I was a bit relieved that Harrison didn’t want that baseball because it was the first BP homer I had ever caught on the fly at Citizens Bank Park.

So we turned our focus back to watching Harrison and hoping he would be able to snag a Shea Stadium baseball of his own.  While we watched, Tim demolished some more cheesy pirates:

Well, some of them, as you can see above, escaped Tim’s mouth and found their way onto the warning track.

Eventually, the Phils cleared the field and, a bit later, Roy Halladay and the bullpen coaching crew headed out to the bullpen:

As Phils bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo (an all-round nice guy by all accounts) walked across RF and approached the warning track by the bullpens, Harrison told Tiamo that there was a left-over BP ball in the bullpen and asked if Tiamo would toss it up to him.  In the picture above to the right, Tiamo is the guy in the middle (wearing No. 81).  He happily obliged Harrison’s request and that baseball ended up being the Shea Stadium commemorative that had evaded Harrison during BP.

I wanted to snap some pictures of Roy Halladay warming up before the boys and I departed the pizza wedge for the play area.   But he took his sweet time getting ready to throw.  After visiting the bullpen mound to grab a baseball from the bag, (shown above), Halladay headed out into CF where he and Erik Kratz (who I had never heard of before at the time) did some stretching while lying on the ground:

Although we are a Rawlings family, I liked the look of Halladay’s Nike glove.  But doesn’t that just seem weird?  A Nike glove?  I am all about Nike shoes, but I am going to keep my Nikes on my feet and continue to let Rawlings outfit my glove hand (and Tim’s and Kellan’s too).

Roy then slowly made his way to the little boys room in the bullpen (and the following shot also includes a better shot of Tiamo):

And then he did a bunch of stretching against the CF wall…

…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:

We decided it was time for a little gaming.  Last season, the Phils had a speed pitch, a trivia game, and a running the bases (in place) game.  This season, Chickie’s and Pete’s has taken over the speed pitch area and only the trivia and base running games are left.  But Tim has fun with both of them:

The trivia game asks all Phillies trivia.  Tim knows none of the answers and I know very few.  But sometimes we get lucky on them.  The base running game is pretty funny to watch.  Each time we did it, Kellan would run about 5-10 steps and then just stop to watch Tim run.

From there, we headed on to the nacho stand and then the kids play area.  Kellan hadn’t had any real lunch (just snacks) following his nap so I hoped he would eat nachos with me while Tim played in the play area.  That was silly.  He ate 2-3 cheesy chips, but all he wanted to do was play.

I released him first into the little kids portion of the play area:

But he really wanted to go into the big kids play area.  I thought it was too big for him.  But Tim did some excellent big brothering.  He took Kellan up into big playarea and showed him all around.  It was really cute.  I could see Tim showing and explaining stuff to Kellan up there.  They posed for a picture together in one of the spheres:

And they even climbed all the way to the very top so they could ride the big spiraling slide all the way to the bottom:

Kellan had a blast with his brother and the other big kids.  I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with Kellan going up there alone yet, but he did great with Tim.

The game started while we were walking to the playarea.  Halladay retired the Nationals in order in the top of the first and then Phillies scored two runs on RBI singles by Chase Utley and John Mayberry.

Finally, I decided it was time to head to the seats.  But one our way, we swung by the ice cream spot in the concourse behind 3B.  I always ask for a tray with our ice cream, but for some reason I failed to do so this time.  With an ice cream  helmet in each hand and Kellan on my shoulders, Tim and I began the long walk from the 3B side, around the scoreboard in LF, behind the batters’ eye, and to our seats in section 104 (RF).  It wasn’t overly hot at this game.  In fact, it was somewhat pleasant.  But that didn’t prevent both helmets from melting down and dropping all over my shoes on the walk.  It was pretty crazy, after the game, you could clearly tell that I had held Tim’s chocolate-vanilla twist in my right hand and Kellan’s vanilla helmet in my left hand.

I dropped the boys and the ice cream in our seats in row 14 and then quickly ran 20 feet over to the nearest concession stand to get trays for the boys to use to hold their helmets.  Finally, we were ready to eat ice cream…

…and watch some baseball:

That last picture is from the top of the fifth inning.  In that picture, Roy Halladay is pitching to Kurt Suzuki and Danny Espinosa is leading off first base.  Espinosa and Roger Bernadina had already both hit singles in the inning.

While Suzuki was hitting, Bernadina was over at second behind held closed by Chase Utley:

Suzuki singled to load the bases.  Gio Gonzalez failed to help his own cause.  He put the ball in play, but Bernadina was forced out at home plate.

But rookie Steve Lombardozzi came through for Gonzalez.  He hit a single to CF that scored Espinosa and Suzuki to tie the score at 2-2.  Bryce Harper grounded out to end the inning, but the damage was done.  Halladay’s lead was gone and we had a new ball game.

Just like old times in Philadelphia, look who was patrolling RF:

We didn’t stick around too long in our seats.  The boys needed some real food.  So we got out of there.  At our last Phils game, Tim and I got pizza and sat in the upper deck.  We decided to do that again.  But first we stopped by the RF councourse and played a few more games:

You get 1 or more stamps in a little book depending on how well you do in each game.  The more stamps you collect the better prize you can get when you cash in your stamps.  Tim collected 10 stamps which were good enough for a Citizens Bank Park pencil and this weird “water bottle”:

It was much more “bag” than it was “bottle” but Tim loves it.  We filled it up and headed up to the upper deck in search of pizza.

We got a picture of the boys and the Liberty Pig:

Finally, we grabbed some pizza…

…and found some seats in section 424:

The Phils regained the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning when John Mayberry, Jr. hit a solo homerun to LF.  They tacked on an insurance run in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly, also hit by Mayberry.

During the late innings, the Phillie Phanatic pumped up the crowd from the top of the Phils’ first base dugout…

…and Kellan was super-excited about it:

As it got to the 8 inning, we decided to walk down to the field level concourse.  We were considering making an attempt at an umpire ball, which is always difficult at Citizens Bank Park, but we weren’t certain.  We figured we’d just go down and check out the situation first.

On our way out of section 424, we had an usher take our picture:

And then we started a long walk down the concourse to the RF corner and then back-and-forth down the switch-back ramps to the field level:

When we finally got down to the field level where the red line turns into a green line, I realized something.  When we sat down in section 424, I had set Tim’s new water bottle down on the ground behind our seats.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I had left it there.  We stopped and checked my backpack.  Nothing.

So we followed the green line (which is a magic line that shows through the seats) up a set up stairs and all the way back to section 424.

This whole walking process took so long that it was already the bottom of the ninth when we retrieved the water bottle.  We grabbed a standing room spot behind the 300-level seats to watch the final three outs of the game.  While Jonathan Papelbon warmed up for the Phils, Tim posed with his new missing tooth hole:

And then Paps got to work.  He struck out Jayson Werth and induced a fly ball out from Roger Bernadina.

The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:

But on this pitch  (the third pitch of the at bat)…

…, Papelbon struck out Espinosa to record the “W” for the Phillies.

Everyone celebrated:

It was a little weird seeing the final out from the upper deck.  That doesn’t happen too often for us.  Before we headed out of there, we had an usher take one more picture of the three of us…

…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.

Then we slowly made our way to our car.

All around, the whole day was a lot of fun.  I like the slightly less packed Citizens Bank Park of 2012.  Two thumbs up!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

21/19 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
33 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
113 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
11/11 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens   Bank Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Hello, Safeco Field 2012! (8/13/2012)

SAAAAAAAAAAAAAFECO FIELD!  Yes!  On August 13, 2012, accompanied by my parents, Tim, Kellan and I finally made our way to Safeco Field.

We were in town to visit my folks and brother for the week and we would be taking in three Mariners games including two games against the Rays (but not Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, which occurred two days after this game while we were just across downtown Seattle at the Space Needle) and one game against the Twins.

Sadly, these would be our final Mariners games of the season.  Coming into this game, our Mariners season record was 2-1.  With one win this week, we would assure ourselves of at least a .500 Mariners record.  And with 2 or more wins, we would enjoy a *winning* Mariners season.  Whatever happened, our 2012 Mariners season would be better than our 1-8 2011 season record.  So let’s get to it!

Colleen sat this game out.  But the boys, my parents and I arrived right around 5:00 p.m., twenty minutes after the CF and “The Pen” gates opened and ten minutes before the whole stadium opened.

Tim and I hustled in from the *Kingdome* parking lot while my folks and Kellan took a more leisurely stroll to the stadium.  Tim and I headed into The Pen and grabbed a spot behind the M’s bullpen:

Oliver Perez (who is wearing No. 36 in the photo above to the left) quickly fielded a ball right in front of us and lobbed it over the bullpen right to us.  If the throw was a couple inches higher it would have hit the screen that protects the out-of-town scoreboard and fallen into the bullpen.  Luckily, it didn’t and I was able to make the easy grab.

Thanks, Oliver!

All three games at Safeco Field this season, The Pen area was way more crowded than I remember it being last season.

Shortly, we met up with my folks and Kellan and then the rest of the stadium opened.  We headed up the stairs behind the visitors’ bullpen and made our way down into the seats in foul territory.  Right when we arrived in foul territory, the Mariners hurried off the field.  It was sad.

Tim and my mom ran off to explore a bit.  Kellan and I stood…

…along the foul line waiting for the Rays to finish up their stretching and head out to the field to take BP.  My dad hung out with us too:

Eventually, James Shields and Matt Moore started playing catch down the LF line:

Kellan and I headed over to watch them.  On Shields’ first throw after we arrived, Matt Moore just flat out missed the ball.  He put his glove up and it just sailed right by it and into CF.  Although it was the simplest and straightest throw possible, I jokingly yelled to Shields, “That’s just nasty, James!”  He turned around and, with a smile and a shrug, made a little motion a little hand throwing motion to show he agrees that he just has filthy *stuff*

After Moore returned with the baseball, they each made about four more throws and then decided to relocate about 50 feet closer to the OF wall.  As Shields started to walk down the LF line, he looked back and saw we were still there.  He then bent down and grabbed that baseball that you can see sitting on the ground in the last picture and tossed it to us.

Thanks, James!

By the way, if you go see the Rays and attend BP, keep an eye on James Shields.  He’s a guy who knows how to have fun during BP.  Many teams have a *fun* pitcher like him and, in fact, the Rays have two (Shields and David Price).  Shields interacts with fans and runs around like crazy trying to make highlight reel catches.  Last season at Camden Yards, we saw Shields make a great catch to pick off a would-be BP homerun into the Orioles bullpen.

Anyway, Kellan and I headed back down the LF line toward the dugout just to see what was going on over there.  As we made it to the dugout, Desmond Jennings (shown here getting ready to take his hacks in the cage)…

…ran in from the field and tossed a baseball to us on his way toward the dugout.

Thanks, Desmond!

Next, something bizarre happened:

Tim and my mom were sitting about 30 rows up just past third base.  Kellan and I stopped by to chat and see what they’d been up to and then we started walking back out to the LF corner to meet up with my dad.  As we were cutting across a row of seats, a Mariners maintenance guy was walking up one of the aisle holding a seatback that he’d just removed from one of the seats right off the field.

As the guy passed by, I jokingly asked if we could get a souvenir Safeco Field seat back.  He stopped, looked at the seatback with a quizzical look, and then looked at me, “Well, I was just going to throw it away.  You really want it?”  Of course, I did!  He explained that he had to take it somewhere to find a match to replace it.  He said he would be back in a few minutes and would give it to me.

And there you go, our first ever souvenir seatback.

I have a HUGE backpack that I got while in school so I could carry a dangerously heavy and large compilation of text books.  I figured this seat back would fit in it.  And it almost did.  But, no, it didn’t.  Luckily, my backpack has straps that wrap around the back and clip on the opposite side.  I was able to use these straps to strap the seatback onto my backpack.

If you want to get some strange looks, walk around a MLB ballpark with a seatback (that is obviously from that stadium) strapped to your back.

After my mom took that last picture, she and Tim headed off to the kids play area.  On their way, they ran into the loveable Mariners Moose:

Last season, my folks and Tim determined that he wouldn’t be able to play in the play area this season because he would be too tall.  There is a little sign that says you must be under a certain height to play in the play area.  Anyway, he was taller than the max height now, but they didn’t question it.  He played until his heart was content.

Meanwhile, Kellan and I hung out with my dad down the LF line.  When we met up with him, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi out-of-the-blue walked up and handed Kellan this baseball:

That is Cursi pictured just above this baseball.  This was our third time seeing the Rays play this season and our third baseball from Cursi – one per game.

Thanks, Scott!

That was all of the action down the LF line.  We hung out and I took some cute pictures like this:

I kept hoping someone would hit a foul ball into the stands that my dad could catch, but no one hit a single ball into the stands while we were over there.

Eventually, my dad decided to head out to the play area to see Tim and my mom.  A few minutes later Kellan and I followed him over there.  But before heading into the play area, we checked out the action in CF and I got an awesome picture of Kellan just chilling:

Then it was off to the play area for some playing:

After a whole bunch of playing, we left the play area and the boys tossed some coins into the little fountain:

And then I spotted the Mariners pig:

I’m not sure why the boys look so darn serious in this picture.

We all headed down to The Pen area to watch Blake Beavan…

…warm up for the game.

Eventually, the rest of the relievers made their way out to the Mariners bullpen:

Recently, Shawn Kelley and Lucas Luetge have been joking with each other a lot on Twitter.  A day or two before this game a new Twitter account had popped up called “@Luetgeshair” that was providing tweets directly from Lucas Luetge’s hair.  I had a feeling that Kelley was the mastermind behind @Luetgeshair.

So when Kelley (as well as Stephen Pryor and Josh Kinney) signed the Scott Cursi baseball for Tim…

…, I mentioned @Luetgeshair to Kelley.  I asked him if he knew who was behind @Luetgeshair and suggested that I assume it was him.  He chuckled and gave a *whaaat…who….meeee?* response that pretty sealed the deal…yep, I’m pretty darn certain that Kelley is @Luetgeshair.

I told Kelley that I was going to send a picture to @Luetgeshair.  He was all for it.  And here it is:

…and here it is, here.

Beavan doesn’t have a great record, but I see good things coming from him.  He’s had a good bunch of solid outings.  We watched him warm up a bit more once he moved to the bullpen:

And then it was both game and dinner time:

Kellan did have his own seat and it was actually pretty packed in RF, at least down in the lower seats, so Kellan spent a lot of the game on my lap.  So I spent a lot of time taking picture of him, like this one featuring a cheesy mess on his face:

But Kellan was a bit restless, so I also spent a decent amount of time following him around exploring the concourses:

Here’s hands down cutest picture from Kellan’s time sitting on my lap during this game:

As for the game itself, everything went smoothly for Beavan in the first two innings.  But then came the third inning.  The Rays exploded for five hits and four runs and the half inning seemed to last forever.  The major damage was done on a 2-run LF upper deck jack by B.J. Upton.  The other two runs were scored on a single by Desmond Jennings and a double by Ben Zobrist.

Other than the tough fourth inning, Beavan settled down and pitched sixth other solid innings.  The big problem is that the Mariners were doing nothing at the plate.

Anyway, we were in section 109, row 32, seats 1-4.  I was holding Kellan in seat 1 and there just wasn’t enough room.  So at one point, I moved back about five rows and sat in the first seat directly across the aisle.  This resulted in Kellan walking-and-down the step…

…over and over again to see me for two seconds and then see grandma and grandpa for two seconds.  Eventually both boys spent some time up there with me.  And I got this shot of Tim showing off his new autographed baseball:

But Kellan still wanted to roam so we headed over to the Dave Niehaus statue for a picture:

We miss you, Dave!

Next, we headed over to the CF SRO by the end of the Mariners bullpen.  Right when we walked up an usher gave Kellan a Mike Jackson baseball card…

…and a minute later another usher gave Tim a Mariners Moose card.  Getting cards at the ballpark is always fun.

We grabbed the only open spot on the SRO counter behind the bullpens:

The spot was open because the barrier between the Mariners’ and visitors’ bullpens completely blocks the view of the infield.

Soon the end spot opened up at the other end of the Mariners bullpen.  It was the bottom of the fifth inning and this was our view as Trayvon Robinson led off the inning with a triple:

Eric Thames followed Robinson with a RBI single.  Hooray!  The Mariners were on the board!  The score was 4-1 in favor of the Rays.

Mariners rookie reliever Carter Capps started warming up.  Here’s a comparative view of my view from above the counter…

…and Kellan’s from below the counter.

At one point, Kellan noticed a big “Classic Mariners” picture of Norm Charlton and he ran over to pose with it:

Jamie Moyer was right next to Norm and, you know, he is the winningest Mariners pitcher of all-time and an all-around great guy, so I had Kellan post with his “Classic Mariners” picture too.

It was already getting late in the game and the boys hadn’t had any ice cream!  So we headed back to our seats to meet up with Tim and my folks.  There is an ice cream place in the concourse right by section 109 so we got ice cream on our way back.

I knew that Tim would want chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  And I knew that the lady would give scoop a HUGE helmet full of ice cream so I decided to just get one for the boys to share.  It worked out just fine with Tim did eating most of it:

Late in the game, I took the following panorama from our seats in section 109, row 32:

And then all of us headed over toward the 3B dugout.  We’ve only ever got one umpire baseball at Safeco Field.  There seemed to be some open seats around the umpires’ tunnel so we decided to give it a go.

We watched Shawn Kelley give up a single and then strike out the side in the top of the ninth:

Before the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim, Kellan and I headed down to section 136, row 18:

For some reason, my folks stayed in some seats by the concourse.  Kyle Seager led off the bottom of the ninth with a single.  With Seager waiting on first base, we had a great view of John Jaso as he and the rest of the Mariners tried to mount a ninth-inning comeback:

This was the third time we’d seen the Rays play in 2012 and they had lost the both of the previous games on walk-off homeruns by the hometeam (Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the Red Sox and Jim Thome for the Phillies) so I had high hopes in the bottom of the ninth.

But it wasn’t meant to be.  Jaso struck out, Jesus Montero grounded out, and then Trayvon Robins stuck out to end the game.

Getting an umpire ball also was not meant to be.

But, hey, a great post game family photo was mean to be:

And then we headed toward the gates:

On our walk to the car, we discussed how hilarious it was that during the whole game not a single Mariners employee stopped to ask me why I had a Safeco Field seatback strapped to my backpack.

Well, despite the loss, it was a great night and great to be back at Safeco Field sharing some quality time with family and the Mariners.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

18/16 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
27 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 1, Phillies   2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
99 Baseballs – Mariners 16, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 8, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
11/10 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park7/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose, Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

 

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