Archive for the ‘ roadtrip ’ Category

2012 Cook GFS Game 6 – Mariners vs. Rockies (5/19/12)

On May 19, 2012, we headed back to Coors Field on a grey and drizzly morning for the sixth and final game of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

When we headed into the ballpark, it felt like only about 10 other fans joined us.  And there was no one on the field.  The tarp was out.  The batting cage was nowhere to be found.  There would be no BP to speak of.

Luckily, we did not have to wait too long for some on field entertainment.  Pretty quickly, the Mariners pitching corps popped out of the dugout and headed to the CF grass next to the visitors’ bullpen.

As the Mariners pitchers stretched and chatted amongst themselves…

…Kellan and I were the only fans in the front row section.  There were a couple fans above us in the bleachers.  The only other people in the front row were my dad, Tim, Dan and Emily, and they were chatting amongst themselves over in LF at Dan’s seats:

This was our view out in CF:

When the Mariners paired up and started playing catch, the closest Mariners to us were Hisashi Iwakuma (along the warning track in RCF) and Brandon League (in the CF grass):

While the M’s played catch on the field, Kellan pushed his stroller around, stomped in puddles, and just hung out and watched the action on the field:

Eventually, League short hopped Kuma with a hard throw.  The ball trickled past Kuma and was scooped up by his interpreter.  Kuma pulled a second baseball out of his pocket and he and League played catch for a few more minutes.

Once they finished playing catch, League tossed the ball they were using to a guy in the bleachers behind us.  League then motioned to Kuma’s interpreter for their original warm up ball.  He tossed that ball to us, and it was a Dodger Stadium commemorative ball!

Thanks, Brandon!

After getting the baseball from Brandon, Kellan and I stayed put for a few minutes.  But when I looked back over to LF, Dan gave a big *come over here* wave.  When Kellan and I reached Dan’s seats, he introduced me to a guy from mlb.com who said he wanted to interview me about our Roadtrip.  He ended up shooting a five minute video interview (during which I felt like I was continually looking off camera to check on Tim and Kellan who were running back-and-forth).  I’ve never seen that video turn up anywhere.  But later the same day of the game, the following blurb popped up on MLB.com’s Cut4 page:

When the interview wrapped up, the only Mariners still playing catch were Tom Wilhelmson and Charlie Furbush.  And they were playing extreme-long-toss – from the LF foul line to the RF warning track.

When they finished up and started to walk off…

…, one of them (I think Furbush) tossed the baseball to my dad…actually, he completely air mailed him, but it stayed in the front row where we were the only fans who could get to it.  It was also a Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball, my dad’s second!

Once Furbush and Wilhelmson wrapped up their long-toss show, there was absolutely nothing happening on the field.  So we just hung out for a bit and watched Felix and Brandon League…

…get in some work in the bullpen.

Eventually, Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Suzuki (Ichiro’s interpreter) started playing two person pepper along the LF line:

Tim, Kellan and I headed over there to watch since nothing else was happening.  After playing some pepper, Muni ran some sprints.  Check out those fancy shoes he is wearing.

When he wrapped up the running, Muni and Anthony started walking back to the dugout, and all of the fans hanging out down the line were completely silent…except us.

I called out a simple, “Hey, Muni!”  He looked over and then did an exaggerated backspin to crow-hop before gentling tossing one of the two baseballs he’d been using to us.

Thanks, Muni!

After he tossed the baseball to us, another fan got brave and asked for an autograph.  He ended up coming over and signing a bunch of autographs, including signing the baseball he’d just thrown to us:

I’ve thought for a while that it would be cool to get a Japan-born Major Leaguer to sign a baseball in Japanese (Iwakuma did this for my dad at spring training).  So, as Tim handed the baseball to Muni, I asked if he would sign in Japanese.  He responded (essentially), “No Japanese!  This is America!  Only English!”

No problem, an English Muni-autograph was just fine for us.

Thanks, again, Muni!

My dad was still out in LF and he took this picture of us as we walked back to LF:

Check out all of those fans!  Man, it was packed!

It was quiet and peaceful in the stadium.  The grounds crew was using the quiet time to tidy up the outfield grass:

We still had a long time until the game was scheduled to start.  So we headed over to the Blue Moon Brewery restaurant in the RF foul corner concourse.  I had a big, tasty BBQ sandwich…

…but Kellan wouldn’t let me simply sit and enjoy it.  Instead, while Tim and grandpa hung out at the table, I ate on foot while watching Kellan run up-and-down and up-and-down and up-and-down this ramp:

After lunch, we headed back out to the OF.  My took Tim to get some pizza (he didn’t want to eat in the Brewery), and Kellan and I checked out the tunnels under the OF bleachers:

We noticed a funny site as the Mariners relievers approached the bullpen before the start of the game:

They had to stop and wait for the band that played the national anthem to finish marching by before they could get to the bullpen.

As the band belted out the national anthem, the boys were ready to get to the baseball:

Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich’s (who is pictured in LF before Tim in the first game picture from our last entry) first pitch to Dustin Ackley was called a ball…

…and we were underway!

I am quite happy to report that this game was all Mariners.  And the scoring got underway when Kyle Seager belted a 2-run homerun in the top of the second inning:

With the 2-0 lead in hand, the Mariners never looked back.

Of all the games to which I have taken both boys together, this was by far the easiest because Kellan fell asleep while I was holding him in the first or second inning:

And he just kept on sleeping until THE SIXTH INNING!

For most of that time, Kellan and I sat with Don the Rockpile Ranter and his son, Hunter:

It was great chatting with these guys.

Sadly, I did not get a picture of the “Bring Back Helmer” sign that Hunter periodically held up for the TV cameras.  (It looked a whole lot like this).

I hardly took any pictures while sitting there holding Kellan.  But I did manage to get a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

And one of Ichiro drilling a line drive toward short stop:

If you click on that picture, you can see the ball just to the left of Ichiro and just barely above his head level.  Unfortunately, Tulowitzki made a diving catch on the ball.

But it didn’t matter.  The Mariners were already piling on the runs.  They scored 2 more in the third inning, 1 in the fourth (on a single by Jason Vargas!)…

…, and 4 more in the sixth.  That made the score 9-0 Mariners.

Don didn’t like the score so much, but I sure did.  And Kellan would have too if he was awake.

Eventually, I headed further out toward LCF to see my dad and Tim.

Kellan was still fast asleep, but it was ice cream time for Tim:

Want to see essentially those same exact two pictures again, but this time as one picture?  Okay, here you go:

Kellan woke up just in time for Don to catch a Rockies shirt in the T-shirt launch.  He ran up into the bleachers to make the grab and he handed the shirt to us on his way back down:

Kellan was mighty satisfied holding it all wrapped up in cellophane.  But he was still a little cranky from his nap.  When I unwrapped the shirt, Kellan gave me a piece of his mind.  Apparently, he wasn’t ready to see it unwrapped quite yet.

In the sixth inning, the Rockies brought Eric Young in to play CF as part of a double switch.  I took some pictures of the Rockies outfielders, but really I just wanted to show how tiny Eric Young seems to be:

My dad spent most of the game chatting with Rockies regular Robert Harman:

Before this trip, I knew about Robert from the Rockpile Rant and an article Zack Hample wrote about Barry Bonds’ final career homerun.  Robert was very nice and he and my dad got along swimmingly during the game.

Here are some pictures I took in the tunnel under the bleachers in LCF:

Top left:  There is some sort of security office under there, right around the corner from the women’s restroom.

Top middle: There was a brief rain shower late in the game.  The game wasn’t delayed at all, but we hid out for a few minutes in the tunnel where this was our view of the field.  We ended up putting our backpacks in the tunnel for the rest of the game to keep dry.  It is definitely convenient having your own personal tunnel like this for a game!

Top right: Tim, Emily and Emily’s friend played tag in the tunnel.  This was just one of the many things they did to entertain themselves in the tunnel.  Kellan tried to mix it up with the big kids a bit too.

About 5-10 minutes before the rain, the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The final two runs came on a homerun hit by Wilin Rosario that sailed right over our heads into about the sixth or seventh row of the bleachers behind us.  I was hoping it would ricochet back down to us (my Dad had caught a Miguel Olivo BP homer like this the day before and Robert got a Michael Cuddayer game homer like it earlier in the season), but the crowd swallowed it up, never to be seen again by us folks down in the first row.

It was too bad this homerun couldn’t have been hit in the eighth inning instead of the seventh, because almost no one was left in the bleachers after the rain…

…and the ball almost certainly would have bounced back down to us.

The Mariners got one run back in the eighth on a passed ball to Kyle Seager that scored Ichiro.  That made it 10-3 Mariners, which would hold up to become the final score of the game.

The previous day, I had noticed that Michael Saunders…

…tossed the CF-LF warm up baseball into the crowd in the ninth inning.  There were zero fans in the front row out in CF by the batters’ eye.  So I figured that Kellan and I ought to head over there in the ninth so Saunders would have a target.

It was a solid plan.  After finishing his ninth inning warm up tosses with Casper Wells, Saunders turned and threw a strike right to us.  Another Dodger Stadium commemorative!

Thanks, Michael!

Sean Kelley and Steve Delabar each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning of relief to cap off the game.  Another wonderful Mariners win!  That made them 2-0 for us on the season.

After saying our good-byes to Dan and Robert (Don had left during the rain because he feared for his super-nice camera’s safety), we got an usher to take our picture:

Then we walked around to home plate…

…and got an usher to retake the family photo the fan had botched the night before:

The key to that picture was that Tim had his foot up on the step above us.  He thought this made the picture look very, VERY cool.

Outside the stadium, I got a shot of my three Roadtrip mates outside Coors Field:

And then we headed over to the 15th Street Mall for some dinner.

On our walk back to the hotel, my dad and Tim were locked in battle in a fierce game of “yellow cab” (the objective being to spot as many yellow cabs as possible) when we walked by Coors Field for the final time:

“YELLOW CAB!” (in the foreground)  “YELLOW CAB!” (across the street)

The yellow cab battle continued as the fifth installment of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip slowly walked down Park Road to our hotel and into the sunset

It was an OUTSTANDING trip.

Let the planning begin for the 2012 GFS Roadtrip!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

10/9 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3
51 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
10 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4
8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 5 – Mariners vs. Rockies (5/18/12)

Friday, May 18, 2012, marked a big baseball milestone for me and Tim.  When we entered Coors Field to watch our Mariners take on the Rockies, we were able to check the Rockies off our list of MLB teams we have seen play a home game.  The Rockies were the 30thof 30.  So, now we’ve seen them all.

But before we could make our personal baseball history, we needed drive from Kansas City to Denver.  We woke up in Kansas City on May 17 and hopped in the car.  When we pulled out of Kansas City on I-70, our GPS foreshadowed a long day.  By the time my dad pointed it out to me, the GPS was telling us that we had 514 miles to drive until our next turn.

A ton of those miles represented the trek across Kansas, a state that was new to all four of us (well, my dad might have passed through on a train years ago).  Aside from a looooooooooong, straight road with a 75 mile per hour speed limit, this is what Kansas looked like:

By all accounts, the best thing is all of Kansas is this little park in Wakeeney, KS that features a retired F-14 Tomcat fighter jet just sitting in the grass:

We all around Eisenhower Park (home of the jet) to stretch the legs and get some energy out of the boys after a nice lunch at the Wakeeney McDonalds.  Fun times in Kansas!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun and games in Kansas.  Tim watched back-to-back-to-back movies on his portable DVD player while Kellan napped.  The prolonged starring at a small TV screen while cows, fields, and windmills whizzed by his window resulted in Tim starting to feel a little car sick by the time we reached Colorado.

Before long, he was much more than a “little sick.”  His head was spinning and it made for an ugly end of the drive.

Once we were checked into the hotel, he was feeling a bit better.  He hadn’t eaten a thing in a while, so we headed out on foot…

…we walked past Coors Field where Tim posed with a fire hydrant.  But the walking didn’t sit well with his car sickness.  It came out of hiding and attacked him again as we neared the Blake Street Tavern:

The food was very tasty at Blake Street.  I was quite happy to see that it is a University of Washington alumni bar (as well as several other universities).  I also liked that they had a South Park pinball machine.

After dinner, I carried Kellan home and my dad pushed queasy Tim back to our hotel, which was just a little under a mile down the road from Coors Field.  We called it a night and hoped that Tim would be feeling better the next day.

The next day we woke up and took it nice and leisurely.  Rockies season ticket holder and Top Ten All-Time Ballhawk (as announced in Zack Hample’s “The Baseball”), Dan Sauvageau, advised us that the 16th Street Mall was a good place to check out for some food.  So we did.  And it was.

After a late lunch, Kellan rested (not quite napped) while Tim and grandpa went swimming.

And then it was game time.  Well, it was close enough.

We were going to be sitting with Dan and his daughter Emily.  We headed out from our hotel on foot with the plan of meeting Dan and Emily at the LF gate around 4:30.

I have been excited to get to Coors Field for a long time.  I’m a loyal reader of the Don Chilcote’s Rockpile Rant on MLBlogs.  In addition to taking amazing game action photos, D’s Rant makes you feel like the Coors Field regulars are like a big extended family.  And, you know what, they sort of are.  His blog also made me feel like I was going to know (or at least recognize) everyone out in the outfield at Coors Field.  And, you know what, I sort of did.

D made us feel right at home before we even reached the ballpark.  As Tim, Kellan, my dad and I walked up Park Avenue toward ballpark on Blake Street, D cruised by in his car on his way to the stadium.  His trademark khaki Rockies bucket hat made it clear that it was the Rockpile Ranter himself welcoming us to Denver with a fist pump and a loud shout from his speeding car window.   I gotta say, it was a cool experience to be greeted by a Coors Field regular before ever setting foot inside the ballpark.

Thanks, D!

On our walk past the home plate entrance, we stopped to get a picture with my 35th, Tim’s 33rd and Kellan’s 10th MLB stadium:

As we waited for Dan and Emily to arrive and the gates to open, Tim and I played catch, tossed baseballs off of a wall…

…, and did a little birding under a little under-pass next to the gate.

Now, the call Sean Casey “the Mayor” on MLB Network.  But the MLB Network is based in Secaucus, New Jersey.  Out in Denver, Dan Sauvageau is “the Mayor” – or at least he’s the unofficial Mayor of Coors Field.  He knows everyone – fans and stadium employees alike.  He helps other fans navigate the strict bag-checking process at the gate.  He brings tootsie pops for seemingly his entire section.  And he’s generally just incredibly knowledge, helpful and nice about every aspect of the Coors Field experience.

And if Dan is the Mayor, Emily is the first daughter of Coors Field.  She has been to more than 425 Rockies games.  Everyone knows her.  And watching her navigate LF, it appears that that Coors Field is her second home.  She’s one lucky little girl!

Anyway, aside from hooking us up with amazing tickets for the game, the first perk Dan got us was the ability to enter the stadium through a tunnel under the OF seats:

My pictures don’t do the experience justice at all.  It was extremely cool to walk through the LF gate and, instead of heading up the stairs to the concourse, entering a door and walking the tunnels under the stadium where stadium employees were preparing for their work day.

After a short walk, we popped out of a little tunnel and found ourselves at our seats:

Is that pretty or what?

Yep, we were literally sitting right on the LF wall.  The front row is a wide handicap-accessible seating area with a single row of seats running from the LF foul pole to the batters’ eye in CF.  Dan’s seats (and ours) are in prime time homerun territory, straight away LF.

Here is a panorama that I took from row 1 in the LF corner (section 151) that shows the field and a bit of our fancy front row seating area:

In that last picture, there is a kid in a red hat and shirt standing to on the far left.  He is in the “second” row.  It is elevated a few feet above our row.  The people sitting in rows 2 and above in LF cannot access the first row.  It is crazy and awesome.

And we thoroughly loved it.

As you will see below, this could be most ideal seating section in all of Major League Baseball, particularly for people with little kids.

Before too long, the Mariners and the Rockpile Ranter showed up in LF:

We spent some time chatting with D at this game, but even more the next day (as we’ll see in our next game entry).  D is one cool dude.  A great guy to kick back with and watch some baseball.

D usually sits up in the “Rockpile” in deep CF (hence the name the “Rockpile Ranter,” but he’s friends with Dan and the rest of the guys in the front row and Dan lets him come down into the front row during BP (and games when he has extra tickets).

Now, there was one bad thing about Coors Field.  Well, not really Coors Field, but our experience at Coors Field.  While chatting with D, I set my camera (which had been having its share of troubles lately) on the OF wall, in the little crevasse between the yellow pad and the green railing), and it crashed to the ground when Tim bumped into the wall.

It was a silly move on my part, and I paid the price.

I didn’t notice the problem at first.  But I did notice when Lucas Leutge finished playing catch along the LF line.  As he walked away, I called out, “Hey, Lucas” and then flashed my glove.  He turned and walked toward us.  When he got close enough, I put down my own glove and pointed at Tim.

And Luetge hit Tim with a gem:

BOOM – Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball!  Wow!

Thanks, Lucas!

The ball actually bounced out of Tim’s glove and he caught it in the inside of his elbow (what’s that little area called?).  Tim was quite happy with the unique catch.

And we were both thrilled to see the commemorative logo.  I didn’t know when, if, how we would ever have a chance to get our hands on a Dodger Stadium baseball this season.  Now we know, Mariners/Rockies at Coors Field!

Tim, Kellan and I then swung around to foul territory once the rest of the stadium opened up so we could watch high-socks-buddies, Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmson play catch along the line:

But we didn’t stay there long because we saw Ichiro…

…run out to RF.

We knew the odds would not be good, but we wanted to try to get a baseball from Tim’s favorite player at this milestone game.

But Hector Noesi was too nice.  He tossed us a baseball before Ichiro had a chance to do it himself:

Oh, yeah, can you tell my camera was broken from that last picture?  The black triangles on the top/left and bottom/right are pieces of the shutter than cover the lens when the camera is turned off.  In the fall, the front of my camera was bent in and it wouldn’t let the lens open properly.

Oh, yeah:

Thanks, Hector!

After getting a baseball from Noesi right in front of Ichiro, we knew we wouldn’t be getting one from Ichiro too.  So, we watched him a bit, and then we headed back to LF.

Pretty much right when we reached LCF, Blake Beavan tossed us another Dodger Stadium baseball!

Thanks, Blake!

While just standing around watching BP, I noticed something cool.  The back of Tom Wilhelmson’s right sock had a MLB logo sewn onto it:

My dad had been hanging out in LF chatting with Dan and waiting to catch a big fly.  After getting the toss up from Beavan, Kellan and I headed back down to the LF corner while Tim stayed with his grandpa.

At some point, I was wearing Kellan’s little kid glove and Kellan was just walking around checking stuff out…

…and then one of the Mariners batters launched a near homerun right at us.  Ten minutes after the fact, I was already fuzzy on the details.  I might have picked Kellan up, but I’m not sure.  I might have just stepped by him and shielded him from the baseball heading toward us.  Ultimately, I thought it was going to fall short.  It did, but not too short to evade my kid glove.  I reached far over the wall and made a snow cone catch on the fly!

In that picture above to the right, Kellan is checking out the baseball.  I took that right after catching it…but I’m still unclear on if I picked up Kellan and handed him the baseball before taking the picture (which seems un-natural and not something I would do)  or if I was already holding him and just handed him the baseball.

Me making a clean catch on a batted ball is a very rare occasion for me.  I was thrilled to make the catch while wearing Kellan’s glove.  Immediately upon the catch, I held my glove over my head and both my dad and D gave me congratulatory nods…and it sure seems like I was holding Kellan when that happened….but who knows.

Kellan and I then headed back over to LCF, and guess what?  Tim was holding a baseball that Charlie Furbush had given him, completely unsolicited.

After catching the homer, Kellan and I headed back over to LCF and chatted with my dad, my dad and Dan.  I noticed that Tim was holding a baseball.  Turns out that Charlie Furbush, who was standing in LCF with Casper Wells…

…walked over and handed a baseball to Tim.  Meanwhile, Jason Vargas and King Felix were standing around in LF.  When Vargas fielded another one of those fancy Dodger Stadium baseballs and tossed it to my dad.

Thanks, Charlie and Jason!

A few minutes later, my dad caught a Miguel Olivo homerun on the ricochet.  It landed up in the seats above us and bounced down to my dad on a big hop.

When BP wrapped up, Kellan and I were standing in CF right next to the batters eye.  As the Mariners started clearing the field, I noticed that there was one lone baseball left on the field.  It was sitting in the grass in (very) shallow CF.  Blake Beavan was in CF and he was the last Mariner to start running toward the dugout.  As he started running, I called out, “Hey, Blake!”  When he turned to look at us, I pointed at the baseball and flashed him my glove.  He gave me a *a-okay-buddy* hand gesture and started running toward the baseball.  Just then Iwakuma swooped in from RF and grabbed the baseball.  He was just trying to be helpful, cleaning up the Mariners mess.

I’m not sure if Beavan said something, but then Kuma turned turned and lateralled the baseball back to Beavan who was about 15 feet away and approaching rapidly.  Beavan received the ball like a quarterback in the shotgun, and then he immediately spun and launched a long arching pass in our direction.  It was right on the spot.  And as I squeezed my glove around the very last baseball of BP, Beavan gave an exaggerated Kirk Gibson walk off homerun arm pump to celebrate his fine pass.  And I gave Beavan a “you the man” point with my index finger and shouted a big:

Thanks, Blake!

And that was BP.

We had some plans for post-BP/pre-game.  We met up with Dan and Emily and headed…

…to the seats in the LF corner.  There was a little league parade going on around the warning track.  We went to see if Tim and Emily could get into an on-field kick ball game that the Rockies run after BP some days (maybe every day, I’m not sure).  Unfortunately, the Rockies had already selected two of the little league teams to play kick ball.

So we split up again.  Tim and my dad headed to the kids play area and Kellan and I headed out to CF to watch Kevin Millwood warm up in the Mariners pen:

I have never been a Kevin Millwood fan.  Little did I know he was about to pitch a complete game shut out two hitter!

Check out the cool view from the concourse above the batters’ eye and visitors’ bullpen at Coors Field:

Next, we headed over to section 142 and watched the Mariners position players do their final warm ups for the game.  A nice fan offered to take our picture:

And I took a panorama from the stairway between sections 142 and 141:

So it was game time.  We reported back to our seats in the first row of section 153.  And it was wonderful.  You might have noticed from our game reports that we move around a lot at games.  We do it because the boys don’t want to just stay put in the seats for 9 innings.  But in these seats, my dad and I could stay put and watch the game while Tim and Kellan ran around and played in the nice wide “row” behind us.

Kellan started off the game by running back and forth with his stroller…

…, which resulted in Coors Field’s famous beer vendor, Captain Earthman, taking note and chatting up Kellan a bit.

The 2011 season was pretty rough for me and Tim when it came to seeing the Mariners in person.  The M’s were 1-8 when we were in attendance, including 6 consecutive losses to start our season, two walk-off losses, and the Mariners’ historic 17th consecutive loss in late-July 2011.

To put it mildly, we were hoping for a better in-person Mariners season in 2012.  And we really wanted a Mariners win at this milestone game.  Well, the Mariners started things off great for us.  With one out in the top of the first, Michael Saunders drove a triple into the OF.  Ichiro couldn’t get Saunders home with this week groundout:

But Kyle Seager followed with an RBI single.  And just like that Kevin Millwood had all the run support he’d need on this night.

Our seats were truly great.  They were just to the foul-line side of where Carlos Gonzalez and Mike Carp were stationed out in LF:

The low point in the game had nothing to do with the game itself.  Kellan was sitting on my lap eating some nachos when he decided he wanted to sit in his stroller.  As I set things up for him, he stepped on the corner of our nacho tray causing most of our nachos to fall on the ground:

That’s a definite nacho foul.  And very sad.  Kellan was fine with it because I let him eat all of the remaining nachos.  Wouldn’t you know, it was only my share of the nachos that ended up on the ground.

Millwood mowed down the Rockies in the bottom of the first, and then Mike Carp hit a homerun into the batters’ eye in the bottom of the second to make the score 2-0 Mariners.

As the Mariner did their thing, the boys did their thing in our spacious front row:

The Rockies’ scoreboard was behind us in LF and it is a nice looking scoreboard topped with a big Rockies’ logo:

In the top of the third, Ichiro recorded our first *Ichiro hit* of the season:

But he was stranded on base.

I wandered around the front row a bit and took some photos.  Here is the view out in the LCF corner (section 158):

One of the perks of our front row seats is that they have special mens and womens restrooms in a tunnel under the seats in LCF.  I took this panorama from section 155 while standing in the tunnel leading to the front row restrooms:

The kids were permitted to do just about anything they wanted to do during the game, except touch the OF wall during each inning (they could touch it all they wanted between innings).  Tim, Emily and Kellan spent a lot of time rolling one of Tim’s cloth training baseballs back and forth to each other behind our seats:

Our usher, Barb, had to remind Tim just to roll, and not throw, the baseball.  But all-in-all, the kids were free to go crazy having fun.  And they had lots and lots of fun:

And then it was time for ice cream:

Dan grabbed my camera and got a nice family photo (except my dad is hiding behind Kellan) while the boys were chowing down on their ice cream:

In the top of the sixth, Ichiro hit another single.  He then stole second and took third on a throwing error.  He then scored the Mariners third run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Seager.

So it was 3-0 Mariner going into the bottom of the sixth.  And, amazingly, Millwood still had not given up a single hit.  He retired the first two batters in the bottom of the sixth inning too.  But then Marco Scutaro hit a weak grounder to Kyle Seager at 3B.  Seager booted the ball.  I thought it was an error, but the official scorer was stumped.  If it was ruled a hit, Millwood’s no hitter would be gone.  The scorer just sat and thought about it for a while.  And then Jordan Pacheco took the official scorer off the hook – he hit a solid, no doubter single up the middle.  The no hitter was gone, no matter how the scorer would ultimately rule on the Scutaro-to-Seager play.

Pacheco decided he would take 3B on the hit, but Michael Saunders had a different idea.  He gunned Pacheco down at 3B to end the inning.  Millwood would go on to pitch a complete game shut out without giving up another hit.  So, had Seager made that tough, but completely doable play, we would have seen a no hitter!

After the no-no was gone, I decided it was time to run around and see the ballpark a bit.  I started by running up to the Rockpile.  Quite fittingly, I ran into D as I ran up the steps into the Rockpile.  He was holding court with some of his fellow Rockpilers.  I said a quick hello and then headed up to the last row of section 402, where it looked like this:

The concourse below the Rockpile seats juts out a big around the seats on either side.  I got this picture from the concourse on the RF side of the Rockpile:

And then I headed to RF.  Up in section 201, it looked like this:

From the second deck, I could see my dad and the boys hanging out with Dan and Emily:

And then I headed up to section 301:

I had to go all the way over to section 314 before I could get all the way up to the top of the upper deck.  It looked like this up there:

And it looked like this from the aisle behind home plate and between sections 331 and 300:

This was the scene from section 332:

Millwood was unstoppable as he pitched to Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton in the bottom of the seventh:

Over in section 346, it looked like this:

I turned to the side and these purple seats…

…told me that I was one mile above sea level.

I took one last panorama from the upper deck, in section 346…

…before heading back down to the field level.

Back in the front row, I took another panorama from section 151:

Heading into the top of the ninth, Kyle Seager took advantage of the spacious outfield.  The play developed so slowly that I had time to pull my camera out of my pocket and find Carlos Gonzalez in the LCF corner retrieving the first triple of Seager’s young career:

Like Saunders before him, Seager also scored following his triple, thanks to John Jaso sacrifice fly.  That made the score 4-0 Mariners.

The kids were still having a heap of fun playing around behind the seats:

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, I was pulling for Millwood to complete the shut out.  The Mariners were on their toes playing some great baseball behind Millwood.  Actually, Seager wasn’t even on his toes, he was levitating an inch or two off the ground:

I’m not sure if he came in for defensive reasons or what, but Casper Wells…

…played the last couple innings in LF.

Millwood secured the win when he induced Cargo into a line out to 1B on this swing:

Mariners win!

There were four happy Mariners fans out in LF:

Check out those happy totals behind us:

Although the win was tucked safely in our back pockets, we still had work to do at this game.  We still needed our Coors Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Unfortunately, like Busch Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, there are not many “Coors Field” signs inside Coors Field, which is funny because there are about 80 of them outside the stadium.  But I had an idea.

On our way to the stop where I thought we could get the picture, I took some pictures of some cool seats:

How do you like that, a one-person bleacher bench!  On the right, I just liked the Rockies logo on the side of the chair.

So, here you go, here is our Coors Field bonus picture:

Nice assist by the garbage can, eh?

Before heading back to the hotel, we got a panorama in the aisle behind home plate between section 131 and 130:

Then we got one more group shot.  We asked a lingering fan to take the picture for us.  I mentioned that I would like him to get the scoreboard in the background.  All I meant was that I didn’t want him to zoom in on us and not get the stadium in the background.

Well, he focused on getting the scoreboard, and not so much on getting us all in the shot.  Here is his handiwork:

So there you go.  A wonderful night at Coors Field.  The Mariners run their record to 1-0 with us in attendance in 2012.  Millwood flirts with a no hitter but settles for a 2-hit complete game shutout.  And Tim and I reached the milestone of having seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game.

Great night!  And there was more to come the next day.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

9/8 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins,   Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs,   Cardinals, Royals
13 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1,   Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 2
48 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
8 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 2
8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens   Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch   Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards,   Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim –   Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
4 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 4 – Orioles vs. Royals (5/16/12)

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, we woke up for the last time in our St. Louis area Caboose and hit the road for Kansas City.  The drive to KC was pretty easy, just a few hours. Nothing like our 550+ mile trek from Minneapolis to St. Louis.

However, we had put the wrong address in our GPS, which resulted in us driving right by our hotel (literally right by it, it was right off Exhibit 18 on I-70), right by Kauffman Stadium…

…and all the way into one of the least desirable sections of Kansas City.  After figuring out our mistake and backtracking 20 minutes, we found our hotel and just rested in our room for several hours.  But our hotel time, I reconnected by phone with Royals season-ticket holder and myGameBalls.com member Garrett Meyer.  We’d met Garrett last season at Ballhawkfest.  Garrett knew we’d be at this game.  After catching up a bit, Garrett and I discussed gate times and the Royals “early-bird” tour.

After discussing it with my dad, we opted to meet up with Garrett and do the early bird tour, which gets you into the Royals…

…Hall of Fame (where we saw some cool stuff like this…

…) and then it gets you into BP way before the rest of the public.

Besides getting in early, the normal BP people have to stay in the outfield for a while once they are let into the stadium.  Meanwhile, the early bird tour people stay on the infield, behind the dugouts.  We set up shop behind the Orioles’ visitors’ dugout on the 3B line:

It was beautiful.  Our view looked like this:

At the beginning, Garrett was on the Royals side (where the Royals pitchers were warming up).  A bunch of fans wearing Orioles gear were on our side and they all seemed to be either autograph collectors or folks who just wanted some extra time to see the Orioles.  No one seemed to have any interest in getting a baseball tossed to them.  Also, if foul balls are hit into the stands down the foul lines, the usher will let you run down and grab it.  It was a crying shame that ZERO baseballs were hit into the foul seats (which is amazing).

Anyway, while the Royals were taking BP, several infields took grounders at SS and 3B.  The first group of infields included Alcides Escobar…

…and the second group included former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt.  Both the tossed stray BP balls to us on their way off the field.

Thanks, Alcides and Yuni!

A few Orioles were hanging around in the bullpen below us.  Since people were asking for autographs, I asked Tim if he wanted to get one of our new baseballs signed.  He did.  Dana Eveland was happy to oblige Tim’s request:

During much of BP, Tim played with ants that were crawling out of a little hole in the cement…

…and Kellan just walked up and down the rows like walking was going out of style.

At some point, Garrett came over to the 3B dugout.  I hadn’t even seen him yet when I noticed an Orioles coach standing by the Orioles BP ball bin start tossing balls out in the crowd.  He must have thrown 6-7 baseballs in a row.

Moments later, Garrett walked over to me and Kellan and said, “That Orioles coach is tossing a Camden Yards Commemorative to anyone who asks for one!

Kellan and I high tailed it down there.  He was no longer throwing baseballs, but was still standing at the ball bin.  I called out to him and when he looked up I was happy to see the face of former-Mariner Jim Presley looking back at me.

I asked for a OPACY commemorative ball, he dug around in the bin until he found one (I saw it too), and then he tossed *a baseball* to us:

(Photo taken after the game started)

I was thrilled!  I shouted out a big:

Thanks, Jim!

And then Garrett whispered to me, “it is not commemorative!”  He could see in my glove as I thanked Presley and saw the MLB logo on the ball he’d thrown.  I was utterly confused because I *saw* Presley grab a commemorative baseball and throw it to me.  Or at least I thought I did.

Garrett and I exchanged puzzled looks.  And then I got bold.  I called out to Jim again and asked (paragraphing), “Hey, Jim.  I don’t mean to be annoying, but is there any way I could trade this baseball for one of the Camden Yards baseballs?”  He looked up at me with a confused look and asked, “That one wasn’t one!?”

Nope.

I tossed it back to him.  He put it back in the bin and he tossed me a pearl of a Camden Yards commemorative baseball.

Thanks again, Jim!

Presley then walked away from the bin.  My dad and Tim had not heard or seen what was going on.  When Garrett, Kellan and I went back down toward the OF end of the dugout, I told my dad that he and Tim should give it a shot if Presley wandered back over to the bucket.

Well, wouldn’t you know, he did…

…and they did, and he hooked them up to!

Sweet!

Quadruple thanks, Jim Presley!

It was our first Camden Yards baseballs and my dad’s first baseball of the trip.  So it was a very special interaction with a first class former Mariner.

Moments after Tim and my dad returned with their Camden Yards baseballs, an Orioles fan was getting an autograph from Brian Roberts at the camera well at the end of the dugout.

Tim and I swooped in and capitalized big time:

In one fell swoop, we accomplished three things: (i) Tim got Roberts to sign his new Camden Yards baseball, (ii) he got his picture with Roberts (first ever picture  with an Oriole!), and (iii) Roberts held the baseball and gave a thumbs-up in the picture so it qualified for five points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Thanks, Brian!

Tim was in a thumbs-up mood.  So he got a thumbs-up picture with Garrett too:

While the Orioles pitchers warmed up down the LF line (where we could only go if a foul was hit into the stands), three set of Orioles position players played catch right in front of us at the dugout.  When the final group was finished, Chris Davis tossed us his warm up baseball before walking back into the dugout.

Earlier in BP, my dad and I had a little bit of discussion with former-Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair.  Tim and I have had several nice discussions with Adair at Camden Yards since he joined the Orioles’ coaching staff.

Well, after all of the Orioles pitchers had warmed up down the LF line, I saw Rick down the line chatting with an O’s pitcher and tossing a baseball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand.  He was probably 150 feet down the line.  When he finished chatting with the player, I called out, “Hey, Rick!” and I flashed him some leather.  I was hoping he would make a big long toss throw to me.

Instead, he walked toward us.  He was on his way to the dugout.  It was clear he was going to give us the baseball, but he wasn’t into the long toss idea.  As he got closer, he was into Tim’s catching range, so I pointed to Tim.

Adair made a good toss, but Tim botched the catch.  It fell to his feet and he picked it up.  He’s actually botched the toss from Jim Presley too.  So he wasn’t having a gold glove day so far.  But he got the ball on his own, so it was all good.

Big thanks to Rick Adair!

Eventually, a friendly female usher who was chatting with us behind the dugout told us that the entire stadium was open so we could move around wherever we wanted to go.  My dad went to the team store to buy some baseballs (he buys a team or stadium baseball at each stadium he visits), Garrett went out into the outfield where we saw several Orioles air mail baseballs over his head, and Tim, Kellan and I headed down the LF line, but stayed in foul territory.  We took up a spot on the wall and watched BP:

Orioles pitcher Luis Ayala was running around LF wearing a huge, oversized glove.  From myGameBalls.com and other mlblogs, I know there are several guys around the country who use a “big glove” like this.  So I scanned the crowd, and soon we met Minnesota’s own Big Glove Bob:

I love that picture of Tim and BGB.  Bob has the face of a man stuck in the middle of Tim unfolding a long and overly detailed story.  I believe this particular story was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.  That was a story with which Tim regaled anyone who would listen while at Kauffman Stadium – notably, Garrett about five times or so.

Kauffman Stadium was great, but the setup of the seats down the LF line was frustrating me while we were down the line.  At some stadiums the seats in the corner are situated diagonally so the end seat in each row butts up against the fence.  In that type of row, I can block Kellan into a defined space.  But  none of the seats down the line at Kauffman Stadium butt up against the fence.  In fact, there is a huge amount of space in front of the seats.  So it was very difficult to keep Kellan near us without chasing him back and forth.

I decided we should go out to LCF so I could block in Kellan at the end of the bottom row next to the batters’ eye.  We ended up going out there for a very brief time, but the sun was right on us and it was too hot.

While we were there, Ronnie Deck and someone named “Flaherty”…

…were shagging fly balls in CF and LCF.

I placed my third or fourth call of the day to my “Orioles guy,” Avi Miller.  The call went like this:

Todd – “Hey, Avi, what is Flaherty’s first name”?

Avi – “Ryan.”

Todd – “Oh…wait, I gotta go.”

I called him back about 30 seconds later.  That call went like this:

Todd – “Ryan Flaherty just tossed us a Camden Yards commemorative.  Thanks for the assist!”

Avi – “Any time, sir.”

If you’re visiting Camden Yards or seeing the Orioles on the road, Avi is a good guy to know.   Well, he’s a good guy to know in general, I guess.

Thanks, Ryan and Avi!

That was it for BP.  Thanks for the early bird tour, we snagged 7 baseballs with almost no effort.  Not too shabby.

As we made our way toward foul territory, we stopped briefly at the bullpen.  One of the Orioles coaches was crossing the warning track grabbing stray balls.  Totally out of view, he tossed one right over me.  I didn’t see it in time to get my glove up and it sailed right into the fountain.

Doh!

While we were out in LCF, me and the boys met up with my dad and Garrett.  After BP, Garrett offered to take us to the only “Kauffman Stadium” sign in the ballpark, which is above the Royals dugout on the 1B side, so we could get a Kauffman Stadium bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Because of the Diamond Club, you cannot get from the 3B side to the 1B side on the field level without going up into the concourse.  While we were passing through the concourse, Tim and Garrett posed for a picture with the Royals pig:

There were a bunch of kids in the first row above the dugout and it was far from an ideal situation to get a picture featuring the Kauffman Stadium sign.  This was as good as we could do with Garrett’s assistance:

I took a second picture of Tim from the first row just in case the last picture came out horribly:

Then, we split off from Garrett and the boys, my dad and I headed up to the upper deck to try again from up there:

That one isn’t ideal either, but it was better.  Tim was pretending to be scared his heights while up there.  That’s why he isn’t smiling in the photo.

While up there, I also got this panorama from the front of section 420:

And then we walked the concourse a bit.  All the way down the LF line, we could see a classic spiral ramp and the KC Chiefs stadium next door:

We all headed down to the field level for the beginning of the game.  We got some great tickets on stubhub for way under face value.  This was our excellent view from section 112:

And this was the view of the first pitch of the game:

Fairly quickly after the game started, Tim wanted to go see the kids play area that I’d mentioned was behind the scoreboard in CF.  I didn’t know what all was back there, but I was up for checking it out.  On our way, we met Sluggerrr:

As passed behind the Royals Hall of Fame, we noticed that the crown on top of the scoreboard had little spikes on it.  We figured we ought to take a picture of it:

We also figured we should take some panoramas from the top of section 202 in LF:

And from down at the bottom of section 202, just above the LF fountains:

As we made our way to the play area, we ran into the Kauffmans…

…who were apparently very enthusiastic with their waving.

On the back of the scoreboard, the Royals have a big “KC” logo instead of a “Kauffman Stadium” sign:

There was one big problem with the play area:  it had too much fun stuff.  Literally, it was just too much.  Tim was really excited about it.  But I quickly realized we could end up spending the entire game there.  And I wasn’t too excited to spend our only game at Kauffman Stadium behind the scoreboard where I couldn’t see the game.

Here are two of the things we didn’t do:

On the left, that is a miniature golf course.  See how the ground is all wet in front of the mini-golf?  Well, we didn’t notice as we made the approach.  And then a huge blast of water flew straight up my pants.  I walked over a fountain set into the walkway exactly when it went off.  My shorts were completely drenched.

It was funny, but I could have lived without the comic relief.

Tim was really excited to play, but I had to limit him to the play fort thingy.  Mini-golf just takes too long!

The play area would be great if this wasn’t our first game at Kauffman Stadium.  It would be ideal for the down time between the end of batting practice and the beginning of the game.

The other non-ideal thing was that the play fort was a bit too advanced for Kellan.  So Tim played for a bit while Kellan and I just roamed around.  And I got this panorama from behind the scoreboard:

And soon enough, it was time to head back into the infield and grab some dinner:

We go the nachos and grandpa got the BBQ sandwich.  In retrospect, I wish I would have tried a BBQ sandwich too, but I missed out.

Actually, I basically just missed out on dinner because this was going to be our only game in KC and I needed to run around and see the stadium.  So the boys ate dinner with Grandpa and I took off.

I started by heading the LF corner and I got this panorama from behind section 104 – just on the CF side of the Royals bullpen:

Then I checked out the fountains…

…and the trough behind the CF wall, where a few people have jumped down to grab homerun balls.  I could see several baseballs down there.

I got this panorama from the walkway behind section 101:

Then I walked through the area behind the batters eye and below the scoreboard, and I popped out on the other side in the party porch:

I walked across the party porch and got another panorama from RF:

Behind the Orioles bullpen in RF, there is a bar thingy that I didn’t go inside…

…and I’m not sure if it is open to the public.

There are more fountains and less seating in RF than in LF.  There are also more statues in RF than in LF:

Here is one of my favorite panoramas that I got at Kauffman Stadium, from above/behind the fountains in RF (the thing on the far upper right is the bottom corner of the scoreboard):

I circled around that bar thingy and got this panorama from section 248:

Then I headed up to the 300 level (which I would naturally call the “second” level).  It seemed to be a suite and club type level, but it seemed that they let anyone walk through it.

I had a funny interaction in the suite level concourse.  I ran into a super-drunk Orioles fan who was also walking around the stadium taking pictures.  He saw me walking with my camera and thought it was hilarious.  We chatted a bit, and he had previously also lived in Pennsylvania.  He ended up taking a picture of the two of us.  I gave him a hugely over-exaggerated thumbs-up in the picture.  I imaged that the next day he probably scrolled through his pictures and scratched his head thinking, “Wow – I drank too much.  Who in the world is this guy!?”

Anyway, I got panoramas from section 321:

And another from the stairway between sections 315-316:

I noticed that this would have been the ideal spot to get our picture with the Kauffman Stadium sign:

Maybe next time!

By the way, although I never tried to walk into the Diamond Club, it seemed as if anyone could sit in any seat at Kauffman Stadium without an usher ever asking to see your ticket.

Next, I headed up to the upper deck and got a couple shots before my dad texted that Kellan was asking for me.  First, I got this panorama from section 419:

And this one from section 417:

After twirling my way down the spiral ramp, I noticed that there was a cool “Royals” sign on the exterior of the stadium:

When I got back to the seats, it was reaching twilight.  The scene in the outfield looked pretty cool with a pink water show going on in the RF fountains:

By the way, I should mention the game was 0-0 through four-and-a-half innings.  In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals finally found the plate, twice, on the strength of a Humberto Quintero single to CF.  That made it 2-0 Royals.

Soon, it was time for ice cream.  Tim, Kellan and I went in search of some ice cream helmets.  We finally found them behind 3B.  I was surprised to find that the Royals only offered vanilla soft serve.  I thought that was odd.  And it was outside of Tim’s chocolate wheelhouse.  But the Royals made up for it with a strong showing on the toppings front.  Tim got crushed Oreos and Tim got chocolate chip cookie dough topping.  And the toppings looked and tasted GREAT!

Here’s a pretty sight:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to share in much more than a single bite.  I used the ice cream time to finish my tour of the stadium.

I started by running up to the .390 Bar & Grille on the second deck.  It was a nice looking restaurant with a big sign “NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.”  Unfortunately, all but one of my pictures in their came out completely blurry. But the one that came out clear was the most important.  Here is clear was the most important.  Here is our view if you choose to dine at the .390 Bar & Grille:

Wait, I got one more good picture from the restaurant:

That’s my dad holding Kellan as he scarfs down some ice cream.  We had the first four seats in the row and Tim is off-camera eating his ice cream in seat number 4.

I left the restaurant and got this panorama from section 401:

I already had a panorama from the front of section 420, so I went for another from the back row:

As I circled behind the first base dugout, a Royal (I think it was Francouer, but I’m not certain) smoked a foul ball right to OUR seats.  I zoomed in to see if I could see if my dad got it…

…, which would have been really hard while holding Kellan.

He didn’t get it.  Actually, if you look right between the ballboy next to the “Firestone” sign and my dad and Kellan, you can see a guy (two rows in front of my dad) in a blue shirt and light colored shorts.  He is leaning forward with his hands over his head.  In his left hand, you can see him holding the foul ball.  That is darn close!

I kept moving and got this shot from the stairs between sections 425 and 427…

…this one from between sections 435 and 437…

…, and this one from the very last seat at the end of section 439:

My tour was essentially complete, but I got a couple more pictures as I made my way back to our seats.  I got this shot from section 230:

And this one admiring the big World Series trophy that is part of a sign for the Royals team store:

By this time, it was official, I was hardly spending any time at all in our seats.  And, frankly, it wasn’t going to spend much more time there.  It was very late in the game by this time.  Like the 7thor 8th inning.

Kellan had been in the seats most of the game and he was ready to move around.  Mere minutes after returning to the seats, Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle.  We ended up stopping in a huge tunnel behind section 118 (right behind 3B):

Kellan had a great time running around in this cross-aisle.  It was pretty clear that the Royals ushers didn’t care what fans did in this huge open area.  Kellan was sprinting back and forth across the big piece of cross-aisle/tunnel real estate, and all we got were “oh, that’s adorable” looks from the ushers.

After a while, Kellan decided it was time to continue his hanging from railings strength training:

The game was still tight.  In the top of the 8th, the Orioles finally got on the board on an RBI double by Nick Markakis.  That made it 2-1 Royals heading into the bottom of the 8th.

But the Royals got the run back pretty quickly.  After two quick outs, Billy Butler hit a single.  He was then replaced by pinch runner Mitch Maier.  Moments later, Maier motored around the bases and beat the tag…

…on a double by Alex Gordon.

That made it 3-1 going into the top of the ninth.

With three quick outs and the Royals could tuck the win into their back pocket.

We decided to get a closer look.  Garrett had texted and mentioned he was in the fourth row in section 118.  I noticed that the usher were not checking anyone’s tickets.  So as the teams made the offense-defense switch before the top of the ninth, Kellan headed down the stairs and met up with Garrett.

This was our view:

View nice.

Garrett was sitting with fellow myGameBalls.com member Leiming Tang.  Like the seats, Leiming was very nice too.

But you know what wasn’t nice?  The Royals’ decision to bring in Jonathan Broxton to close out the game.  Living in the Phillies’ television market, I know a thing or two about Broxton.  Well, really I only know one thing, I HAVE NEVER SEEN HIM CLOSE A GAME SUCCESSFULLY.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration, there is a chance that I have seen him do it.  But I seriously do not remember that ever happening.

Guess what?  It didn’t happen at this game.

You know, I said bringing in Broxton “wasn’t nice.”  I take that back.  I had wanted to see two games in Kansas City, but the length of the drive to Denver wouldn’t permit it.  And, frankly, I had missed a lot of this game because I was touring around the ballpark.

So I think the Royals were actually doing the nicest thing they could for me.  They extended the game, and almost let me see two games in one.

So, I guess you can tell by now, Broxton blew the save.  He blue it BIG TIME.

He coughed up the first run on a homerun by Wilson Betemit:

That made it 3-2 Royals.

He then gave up singles to Chris Davis, Xavier Avery, and J.J. Hardy.  Hardy’s single was of the RBI variety.

Tie ballgame, 3-3.  Extra innings on their way, and so was a huge dose of hitting futility (or pitching dominance).

In the top of the 10, we were happy to see 5’7” Royals pitcher Tim Collins.  Like Tim Cook, Tim Collins also sports number 55:

He sat the Orioles does in order.

After the 9th ended, Tim and my dad came down and met up with us in section 118.

Tim entertained Garrett with story after story after story.  Every fifth story, it seemed, was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.

Garrett was great.  He handled Tim’s shower of stories like a champ:

A friend of mine from New Orleans had told me a day or two before this game that a local guy named Johnny Giavutella had just been called up to the Major Leagues by the Royals.  Well, Giavutella pinch hit in the 10th inning:

He came up empty in the 10th inning, but eventually went 1-3 on the night.

We had lots of time to chat and take random photos, like these shots by my dad:

In the 13 inning, Nick Johnson hit a double for the Orioles.  For some reason, the ball was thrown out of play after the hit, and it was eventually tossed into the stands.  Johnson’s double­-ball now resides at my parents’ house!

Sluggerrr came and visited our section to keep the game entertaining (just in case the duel of the relievers wasn’t entertainment enough for some of the fans):

Heading into the 14 inning, Kellan was ready for more baseball!

In the top of the 15th inning, Adam Jones took matters into his own hands:

He hit a solo bomb to LF (way out of there) to break the 3-3 tie.

Kellan continued to clown around with Grandpa during the top of the 15th inning:

And then Tim, Kellan, and I moved into the first row with Leiming during the bottom of the 15th inning:

Actually, Tim had already been down there with Leiming and Garrett – and he had been having a blast hanging with the guys.  They were both awesome and really made Tim feel like one of the guys.

It just so happened that we were directly above the umpire’s tunnel.  Our friend (well, we don’t know him, but he’s been friendly to us in the past) Angel Hernandez was behind the plate.  We were in absolutely ideal post to get an umpire baseball.  Leiming, Tim, Kellan, and I all had our gloves ready when the final out was recorded.  (By the way, Garrett had moved to see if he could get the final out baseball – he was unsuccessful).

As we prepared for the final out, I told Tim he needed to be sure he squeezed that ball tightly if Hernandez tossed him a baseball because it would fall back down into the umpires’ tunnel if he missed it.

After the final out was recorded, Angel Hernandez walked right to us.  We all called out to him.  He then looked at me and Kellan and said, “Let’s let the little guys get one first!” and he flipped a ball to me.  He then flipped a second ball to Tim, and Tim caught it!  Success!

Finally, he tossed a third baseball to Leiming before ducking into the tunnel.

Thanks, Angel!

With these two baseballs, Angel Hernandez has now tossed us a baseball on each of the last three Cook GFS Roadtrips.

A few minutes later, we got a late night photo of four happy Cooks:

What a night!  Tim and I tied the longest game of Tim’s life, and Kellan set his new longest game record as well.

As we drove back to the hotel, I looked back, snapped this photo…

…and wished The K a good night.  It was a great one.

The next day would be a travel day.  A long one, we would be driving all the way to Denver.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

8/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
12/11 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2
42 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
6 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3
7/6 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Brian Roberts; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
4 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts

2012 Cook GFS Game 3 – Cubs vs. Cardinals (5/15/12)

On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, we were right back at it for another Cubs-Cardinals rivalry game, the third game of the 2012 GFS Roadtrip.

The game was an odd 12:45 start.  My dad and I debated what to do with regard to attending *BP* or just showing up for the game.  We both suspected there would be no BP.  In the end, my natural sense of “its-just-wrong-to-show-up-at-game-time” prevailed.  We decided to take our chances with there not being BP.

As we approached the stadium, I pointed out a bunch of statues to Tim and mentioned that we should go check them out after the game, since there would still be plenty of day light after the game.  Tim decided he couldn’t wait.  He wanted to check them out ASAP.

My Dad and I agreed that he and Tim would go check out the statues while Kellan and I went to check out *BP* — or, more likely, pitchers’ pre-game warm ups.

Tim got creative and my dad took some wonderful posing-with-statues pictures at Busch Stadium’s LF entrance:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I headed into the stadium to find, in addition to several Cubs pitchers warming up down the LF line, the batting cage was set up for BP!  We headed down the LF line.  When the first set of pitchers finished throwing…

…super tall, Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad tossed us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Chris!

Outside the stadium, Tim and my dad continued with some more serious statue poses:

Cut back to the field, there were still two sets of Cubs pitchers warming up along the LF line.  There were a couple autograph seekers camped out down the foul line, but no one else seemed all that serious about catching a baseball.  I figured our odds of getting another warm up ball were decent, provided that the pitchers didn’t notice that we got the ball from Volstad.  To avoid that scenario, we moved about 10 rows back and walked over to the next section further away from the pitchers.

When Casey Coleman finished throwing with his Rafael Dolis…

…(he is the Cubs pitcher on the left)…I called out, “Hey, Casey!?” and I gave him a solid glove-flap when he looked at me.

BOOM – he chucked us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Casey!

Back outside, Tim and Grandpa wrapped around the 3B side of the stadium and got a few more statue and other memorial pictures:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I (well, really, it was just my decision) decided to head out to RF where there was a tiny patch of shaded seats.

By the way, I ought to mention that I was fearful of the sun all day.  The sun is Tim and Kellan’s kryptonite.  Kellan seemed to like the relief from the sun:

This is what Busch Stadium looked like from our temporary spot out in section 127:

Before long, Tim and my dad met up with us in RF.  Not soon after that, Shawn Camp…

…made a long toss to us after fielding a ball in RCF.

Thanks, Shawn!

And he wasn’t done with us just yet.

The sun was still creeping in on us.  So we retreated to the back of section 130:

Eventually, my dad and Tim headed down to the first row in the RF corner.

Kellan and I (again, really it was my decision) decided to head out to CF.  Before I could even take a panorama, Tony Campana…

…tossed us a baseball.

Hey, thanks, Tony!

So, it was on to LF for us.  On our way, we ran into Fredbird:

Kellan and I landed in section 172:

But it was just too sunny.  We gave up pretty quick there.

Meanwhile, my dad and Tim were still in the RF corner…

…and so was Shawn Camp.

Tim remembered Camp’s name from ten minutes earlier when he’d thrown a ball to us.  So when a ball was hit into an opening in the RF wall and Camp (for some odd reason) went after it, Tim waited for him to return with the ball.  And then my precious, wee-little Tim called out, “Hey, Shawn, can you toss me the ball, please!?” (NOTE:  I was 300 feet away and have no clue of the actual words, so I’m paraphrasing here).  Camp responded in the affirmative.

And Tim gloved this baseball (and he and Grandpa went behind home plate so he could pose with it):

Thanks, again, Shawn!

And congratulations to my big boy, Tim, for getting this baseball 100% on  his own!

Meanwhile, out in brutally hot and sunny LF, our main activities consisted of me taking pictures of the visitors bullpen…

…Kellan trying to run up the stairs to the concourse.

I took Kellan’s hint – he wanted out of the sun.

We walked the concourse toward CF where there is a “Welcome to Busch Stadium” sign…

…past the concession stands and tables in the deep CF concourse…

…and into the nice, completely shaded little-kids’ play area:

Kellan was the ONLY kid in there for a while.  Eventually, Tim and Grandpa met us there and Tim and Kellan were the only kids in the play area, which was good for Tim.  But the second another little kid showed up, the attendant told Tim he was too big for the play area.

So, while I took a panorama from the field from the play area…

…Grandpa took Tim to the speed pitch:

His best throw was 26 m.p.h., which he beat last year.  But, hey, it is early in the season.  He’s still getting “stretched out.”

The previous day, my dad hadn’t explored the upper deck at all.  So we decided to explore up there as the game drew near.

We headed up the switch-back-ramp.  On the second deck, I popped into the stairway between two suites and sections 230-229 to get this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:

We then got a picture of Tim and my dad with a “Busch Stadium” sign, which is on the back of the scoreboard:

And a partial panorama from the upper deck concourse:

Kyle Lohse’s first pitch of the game to David DeJesus???

It was a ball.  His second pitch resulted in a line drive single to CF.

By default, we decided to watch the first inning unfold from the upper deck concourse in RF.  As Tony Campana strode to the plate…

…Kellan practiced hanging from a railing.

Lohse’s first and only to Campana also resulted in a single to CF:

While all of this unfolded, our view from the concourse behind section 428 looked like this:

Lohse threw four pitches to the next batter, Starlin Castro.  But Starlin turned that fourth pitch around for a third consecutive single to CF:

DeJesus scored on the play:

The Cubs followed Castro with a run-scoring double play (LaHair), double to CF (Alphonso Soriano), an RBI single to CF (Ian Stewart), and a fly out to RF.

Three outs and five hits to CF into the game, the Cubs led 3-0.

While the Cards muddled through the top of the first, I got a nice picture of Tim and Busch Stadium:

In their half of the first, the Cardinals scratched out three hits and plated two runs of their own.  But we didn’t really see any of it because, after the top of the first, we walked around the upper deck a little bit so my dad could check it out.

My dad took this shot of Tim…

…with another St. Louis arch.  This one was notable because it was the only “Pujols” I saw displayed in the ballpark.  I am sure there are others somewhere, but they did a pretty good job of removing his presence around the stadium.

The fans were not quite as good.  Many of them were still wearing Pujols jerseys and t-shirts, and at least a handful of those fans had used magic markers to put a big “X” through the “Pujols 5” on their backs.  It’s too bad.  The guy will undoubtedly go down as one of the best baseball players ever and he did incredible things for these guys while wearing a Cardinals jersey.

By my dad’s and my standards, it was a hot day, but no big deal.  By Tim’s standards, it was like we were walking on the surface of the sun.  Our seats were down on the field level in section 167.  They were really nice tickets that I never should have bought for this day game.  They were in the direct sunlight.  I knew Tim would be miserable if we went down there.  So we did just the opposite of what happens every day at MLB ballparks, we put our nice field level tickets away and we *snuck* up to the very last row of the upper deck down in section 440, which is down the 1B line.

This was our view:

It was actually really nice.  Great view AND completely shaded.

It was made even a bit cooler by some nicely timed ice cream helmets:

Since we had eaten a nice breakfast not too long before coming to the game, I told Tim we could do a “switcheroo” and get ice cream first and lunch second.  He was all for the switcheroo plan.  In fact, he has suggested it at some other games since this one.

While we were eating a group of about 15 college gals came to claim their seats in the last row.  So we had to move up to the second to last row.

The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the second to knot up the score at 3-3.

Eventually, I asked Tim who he wanted to win.  He was *crushed* the night before when he had picked the Cardinals and then they lost.  He had a new plan today.  He would wait to see the outcome of the game and THEN he would decide who he was supporting.  Ah, a fool-proof method.  He had to win!

While the boys chomped on their ice cream, I decided I should get some action shots.  Here is one of the most interesting action shots I have ever captured:

I was completely confused about what happened on the play.  So were the Cubs.  They argued.  The umpires deliberated:

But eventually they stuck with their initial call: Campana tried to pull back, but bunted the ball foul for strike three.  He was out of there!

With two down in the top of the third, I was all set to capture another LaHair homerun.  But after hitting a couple foul balls…

…he grounded out to Cardinals first basemen Matt Carpenter.

In the fifth inning with the score still tied at 3-3, we decided to grab some pizza for lunch and give our actual seats a try.  They were beautiful:

But Tim just could not hack it.  He was miserable.  He couldn’t even last a half inning in the sun.  I was fine leaving our seats mere minutes after sitting down in them because the lady directly behind me (who I will estimate was approximately 24 years old) literally dropped 2-3 f-bombs in every single sentence that came out of her mouth.  I’m not easily offended…and I guess I wasn’t really offended here either, but this lady was ridiculous.  In a ballpark full of kids and with two of them sitting literally 2 feet in front of you, an adult should know that they should note drop 100-200 f-bombs in a span of 10 minutes.  I’m not joking with that number.  Without any exaggeration, she dropped an f-bomb about every 5 words or so AND she talked constantly AND really loudly.

So, yeah, the seats were great, but I was fine getting my boys out of the pounding sun and profane atmosphere.

We needed shade, so we took refuge here…

…in the concourse just inside of Gate 4.  It was a nice time and place for to call home and chat with mommy a bit.

Oh, I should mention that Matt Holliday hit a tie-breaking solo homerun in the fifth to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.

After thwarting my efforts to capture his tenth homerun of the season a few innings earlier, Brian LaHair hit a blast in the top of the sixth that tied up the score, once again, at 4-4.

After eating and chatting with Colleen, we ended spending the rest of the game in the shady little kids’ play area in CF:

In Cardinals and Cubs swapped runs again in the seventh inning to make it 5-5.

While Kellan played, I was able to watch the action over the front wall of the play area enclosure.  I was standing there in the eighth when Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals ahead 6-5 with this homerun:

If you click on that picture, you can see the homerun ball on the very top edge of the picture, directly above the catcher’s glove.

All the while, Kellan kept playing, sometimes in a manner that made him look like he is made of plastic:

After Carpenter’s homerun, Tyler Greene hit a triple and then Carlos Beltran pinch hit for the pitcher and drew an intentional walk.

That set up another cool action shot.  Rafael Furcal followed with a hard hit grounder to 3B:

Greene got caught too far off the bag, there was a brief run down, and the Starlin Castro eventually tagged out Greene:

During some of the action, Grandpa took Tim to one of the big kid attractions – a cage where you could hit baseballs hanging from a metal arm.  Tim had a great time taking some hard whacks at the ball and making it spin around the arm over-and-over-and-over:

And Kellan, he just kept playing in the play area:

Leading off the top of the ninth, Alphonso Soriano stepped to the plate.  The announcer on the flat screen TV just above us commented that “Fonzie” can turn around a pitch pretty quick so Cardinals closer Jason Motte better pitch him carefully.

Well, he apparently did not, because “Fonzie” turned around the second pitch he saw for a deep, game-tying homerun to RF.

So it was 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth.

For a dad who wants to watch the game, but has two kids who cannot stand the scorching hot sun and want to play around, this covered play area really was idea.  I got tons of great action shots from my little spot on the play area wall.

But then some oblivious fan ruined my best one of the day:

It was a walk off double by Yadier Molina that scored Matt Holliday from second.  As you can see, I captured Yadier a fraction of a second before he made contact with the game winning hit and right at the same time as this lady walked into my shot.  (Queue the Debbie Downer sound effect).

Tim didn’t care about my photographic misfortune.  By the end of the game, he was again set on the Cardinals winning.

Moments after the game ended and the other kids started to clear out, Tim leapt to the top of the big baseball glove toy and claimed victory as his:

ALL HAIL KING TIM!

Before leaving the stadium, I took one last Busch Stadium panorama from section 505:

And a nice lady who ended up asking us about our Roadtrip and as quite happy we had the opportunity to see a Cardinals win in St. Louis took our picture:

On our way out, I snapped this picture of a little baseball field in the bricks way out behind CF:

I’m not sure if it serves a purpose or is just nice to look at.  It definitely is the latter, but it seemed like whenever we walked by it during these two games at Busch Stadium they had booths or some type events taking place on here – as opposed to having some kids playing whiffleball (which would have been better).

On our drive out of St. Louis we were heading West and would not pass through town again.  So I got a last photo of the Gateway Arch…

…and then we drove off into the sunset.

The next day we would hop in the car and drive to Kansas City for our one and only game at Kauffman Stadium.  More good times were definitely on tap, as we’ll see in our next entry.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

7/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3
33 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 2 – Cubs vs. Cardinals (5/14/12)

So, we had a great first day of the Roadtrip in Minneapolis.   But when we woke up May 13, 2012, it was time to start the “road” phase of the trip.  This trip featured less driving days than some past trips, but the drives were generally longer.  On May 13th, we drove all the way from Minneapolis to Saint Louis.  It was about 550 miles total, cutting across Iowa and into Missouri.

Here are a couple photo highlights from the big drive:

Top Left: We grabbed some free breakfast at the hotel and hopped in the car to eat on the road.

Top Right:  Somewhere in Iowa, we passed this statue-thingy of three fighter jets.  Pretty cool.

Bottom Left: My Dad logged more miles behind the wheel than I did, but I spelled him for a good chunk of driving during the middle of the drive, at which point he did some reading.

Bottom Right: There wasn’t much to see in Iowa.  This big fish in a gas station parking lot was one of the highlights.

There was a surprise waiting for us in the St. Louis area.  My dad had booked the “Kozy Kaboose” for us at the St. Louis West KOA campground:

That caboose behind Tim was our hotel room!  It had a queen sized bed and a couch with a pull-out bed (which looked incredibly uncomfortable, but it was actually just fine).  Tim absolutely loved the caboose surprise.

Good work, Pa!

So, all we did on May 13 was drive, play at the caboose and play area right behind it, and go out to dinner at the local Applebees.

But we had a REALLY BIG day lined up for us on May 14, 2012.

I decided this would be the perfect day for us to wear the Roadtrip t-shirts I had made for us.  They were plain white t-shirts with the following photo on the chest:

I made that picture from 13 different photos.  It includes elements representing each of the four stadiums we would visit on the trip:  Rocky Mountains (Colorado Rockies), the “twins” shaking hands over the river (Minnesota Twins), the St. Louis Gateway Arch with a humungous cardinal sitting on top (St. Louis Cardinals), and a lion (king of the jungle) wearing Sluggerrrrr the mascot’s crown (Kansas City Royals).  It also features a Mariners compass logo that I drew on my computer using a real baseball, and with a Cook & Son Baseball Bats logo overlaid on the Mariners logo.  Finally, it features a picture of me (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game in Seattle) holding Kellan (from the 5/12/11 Mariners game in Baltimore) standing with my Dad (from the 8/13/11 Marlins/Giants game at Sun Life Stadium), and Tim (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game).  Oh, yeah, and the Rocky Mountains are rising up behind the outfield wall at Safeco Field (from the Safeco tour we took in 2009).

I made the shirts just for fun and, if I do say so myself, they were a big hit on the trip.  People in St. Louis loved them and complimented us a lot throughout the day.  So, if you were otherwise going to wonder what was on our shirts in the following photos, there is your explanation.

We started off in the morning by grabbing some food in the car and driving into St. Louis to visit the famous Gateway Arch.  I had heard you could take an “elevator” to the top and I was very curious about how that works.

We parked in a cool little area of the city (if you are standing under the Arch and facing the city, we parked in the section just to the right of the arch)…

…and we walked over to hop a ride up the arch.  The middle and right picture above show us in our tiny little “pod.”  When you get inside the arch, it looks like there are 8 tiny elevator doors descending down some steps (with the high point toward the outside of the arch and the low point (elevator no. 8) toward the middle side of the arch).  The door opens and you climb into a tiny pod with five seats.  It is essentially like a ferris wheel car.  You can feel that you are dangling from a connection at the top of the pod.  Instead of going straight up, you start by going sideways toward the outside of the arch, then the 8 pods lift up like a dangling string of pearls.  The pods have a glass door so you can see the inside of the arch as you ascend toward the top.  And it is a crazy mess of stairways and sheet metal.  When the pods reaches the top, pod 1 is then at the highest point toward the middle of the arch and pod 8 is at the lowest point toward the outside of the arch.  We were in pod 7 on the way up.  Hopefully that all makes sense.

Here’s a photo that hopefully gives you a sense of things:

In that picture to the left, Kellan and I are climbing the stairs at the top of the arch – going up from pod 7 to the observation deck.  The picture to the right is a screen that is at the top of the stairs and shows the status of the pods on the two sides of the arch – we went up the “south tram” (which was the only tram in use while we were there).

I thought the observation deck would have a flat floor – nope.  It is an arch and there is nothing flat about it, as you can see in the top left photo below:

As shown in the top right and bottom left photos above, there are a bunch of tiny windows that you can look out of for some amazing views of the city.  Or, as shown in the bottom right, you can look straight down 630 feet!

The arch and the observation deck are triangular in shape.  To look out the windows, you have to lean out over (or lay down on) the slanted outer wall.  It is well worth it.  Check out this view:

When we had our fill of the observation deck, we hopped into pod no. 8 and made our way back down to earth.  We walked far enough away to get some fun pictures of the arch.  Like these:

And this great one of Tim holding up the arch:

Way to sell it, Tim!

With plenty of time (hours and hours) until gates opened for the evening’s game, it was time to head to another activity.  We had no other plans when we woke up, but on the drive to the arch, my wife texted me and said we should go to the “City Museum.”  I asked the lady in the Arch gift shop about it and she said we would LOVE it.

She was right!

The City Museum is a huge museum of stuff for kids.  It is a like a huge playground.  Everything in the museum was found in the city of St. Louis and it was all built into the museum by a group of artisans who created the museum.

It was too crazy and huge to even photograph properly, so I’ll just show you this photo of Kellan climbing some stairs several stories above the ground:

All that I can say is, if you’re in St. Louis and you have kids GO TO THE CITY MUSEUM!

Oh, what the heck, let’s show you some more City Museum pictures:

We got tired and sweaty at the City Museum.  Luckily, we still had time to go back to the caboose and nap a bit before the game.

Around 3:00 p.m., we drove back into the city (it was about a half hour drive for us) for the game.  We are some not all that beautiful city pictures as we approached the stadium:

We parked in a lot beyond CF and then jumped in line at the CF gate (Gate 5):

Right as the gates were supposed to open, a worker arrived inside the gate and told everyone in our line that Gate 5 wouldn’t open for another hour.  So we all had to find another gate. We picked Gate 4, which is in the LF corner.

That was probably better anyway, because I planned to head into foul territory anyway.

We were going to be sitting in section 168, which is right in the LF foul corner.  Gate 4 lets you into the stadium just around the corner from section 168.  So it was easy access to where we wanted to go.

Upon entering the stadium, Tim and my dad headed out to LF and Kellan and I went down the LF foul line, right to the corner spot.  Very soon after arriving there, a ball was hit foul, kicked off of the stands well in from us and came to rest in shallow LF.  There were no players even remotely near the ball.

And then something ridiculous happened.  I looked on my phone to find that number 48 on the Cubs was Rafael Dolis.  He was in LF pretty close to the warning track and a LONG way from that baseball.  Fully expecting nothing to come from it, I called out, “Hey, Rafael!”  Dolis looked at us and I turned and pointed to the ball in shallow LF and gave him a “hey, why not go grab that and toss it to us?” shrug.

That was the first ridiculous part.   The second ridiculous part was that it worked.

Dolis started a long slow, incredibly slow, walk toward the baseball:

That is Dolis both coming and going on the left side of that picture.  He walked all the way over to the ball and was immediately met by chorus calls from fans closer to the infield shouting for the baseball.  He turned to them and pointed at us, “Its for them!”  And then he tossed it to us.

Holy cow!  Thanks, Rafael!

I was truly shocked he walked all that way just to hook us up with that baseball.  It was very much appreciated.

With a Busch Stadium baseball in hand, Kellan and I retreated to the shady seats behind the Cubs (3B) dugout…

…while Tim and my dad stayed in sunny L (that is them in the first row at the bottom of the stairway).

Here was our view of Busch Stadium from behind the 3B dugout:

Tim and my dad headed out to CF.  Nothing was hit their way and eventually an usher decided that Tim deserved a baseball.

Eventually, we decided to brave the sun again and we headed to the RF foul corner.  Tim and my dad came and met up with us and we watched BP for a few more minutes.  But it was pretty hot and we were thinking of just heading back to the shade behind 3B.

Just before doing so, a Cubs lefty sliced (or would it be hooked?) a foul ball down the RF line.  We were on the wall in RF, which was probably 7 rows back in the seating configuration.  All of the people in the first row or two (by the corner spot) were totally oblivious to their surroundings.  I truly thought this ball was going to nail someone in the side of the head.

I screamed, “HEADS UP!”  Everyone looked around frantically and the ball smashed down on the warning track and bounced high over about 10-15 people.

I was holding Kellan and *we* immediately broke down the row of seats.  I made it just far enough to make a fully-extended backhanded catch of the one-hopper, all while Kellan clung to my body wrapped by my throwing arm.

Here is where we were when we caught it:

A female usher came down and congratulated me on catching the baseball and added, “Thank you for not dropping your son!”  “Hey, no problem, “ I responded.

Almost as soon as we reached the shade behind 3B, BP was finished.  We decided to walk further down the LF line until we found an usher who (loved our Roadtrip shirts and) was kind enough to take our picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – Busch Stadium bonus picture!

That tiny little “Busch Stadium” sign was the best we could find in the ballpark for the bonus shot.  It turns out it would get harder and harder to find a stadium sign inside the stadiums as this trip progressed.  Interestingly, there are “Busch Stadium” logos on all of the garbage cans and in the upper deck concourse, but this was the best we could do by the field.

After getting our picture, we visited our seats.  They were great!

But we didn’t stay long because there was a parade of kids going around the warning track and we wanted to get close because it was being led by…

…Fredbird!

That was as close-up we would get to him at this game.

Before the game, the four of us took a big lap around the entire field level concourse looking for a play area.

Along the way, we found cool looking hand operated (by apparently inaccurate) out-of-town scoreboards in the concourse down the 1B line:

The AL board said the Mariners were tied 3-3 with Oakland, but they were actually playing the Red Sox later that day, and they had just arrived in Boston from a series in New York.  So I have no clue when these scores were last updated.  That *old* Busch Stadium sign was attached to the NL out-of-town scoreboard.

We found a little kids play area (not for Tim) in CF, which was nice and shady.  But it was for little kids only so we kept walking.  Just behind the play area, we found this muscle car on a pitchers mound:

For some reason, Tim has been excited to point out muscle cars everywhere we go lately.  So he wanted a picture pitching with the muscle car…and Kellan likes to copy everything his big brother does.

Once we finished out loop around the field level, Tim decided he was starving and he declared he wanted pizza for a second game in a row!  We hadn’t even been paying attention to the food as we walked, so we started our second loop around and made it all the way to home plate before we found pizza.

We reported to our seats…

…and Tim artistically ate his pizza while Kellan slammed a tray of nachos (with my assistance):

The game was entertaining.  Jake Westbrook was on the hill for the Cardinals…

…and he hung zeros on the board through the first four innings (until the Cubs put up a 4-spot in the top of the fifth inning).  By the way, that is David DeJesus batting in the picture above to the right.

Tim decided he wanted the Cardinals to win.  Personally, I was hoping the Cardinals would get destroyed so all of the fans would go home early and the stadium wouldn’t be as crowded.  For the record, I hope that at all games except Mariners home games and Yankee road games.

For some reason, I don’t really care for Cardinals leftfielder (and big time slugger) Matt Holliday.  I just don’t like how he carries himself.  Maybe I’m completely wrong.  But he just seems a bit smug to me.

So, I was amused when he botched an incredibly easy fly ball to LF:

Hey, the guy can mash.  But his glove leaves much to be desired.

Each MLB stadium has its own policy regarding at what age (or height) a kid needs his own ticket.  I am all for no buying Kellan a ticket whenever possible.  Luckily, the Cardinals allow all kids THREE and under into the ballpark for free.  That’s great!

But the stadium is so packed, that you actually do have to keep the little ones on your lap – like this:

…or standing in front of you – like this:

But it worked out just fine for us at this packed rivalry game, as you can see from these pictures…

…of Kellan enjoying some fruit snacks…

…while Tim punches out an all-star ballot (not actually voting) and looks around his thirty-first Major League Baseball stadium.

The Cubs sent practical joker, Ryan Dempster, to the hill…

…and he hung zeros on the board for the first five innings (until the Cardinals put up a 4-spot of their own in the sixth inning to knot it at 4-4).  By the way, that is David Freese taking his cuts above to the right.

After eating, I needed to go tour the ballpark and take pictures.  Tim decided to join me while Kellan (apparently against his wishes) stayed behind with Grandpa.  Kellan loves spending time with his Grandpa, but his is a MAJOR daddy’s boy (and I love it!).  He always wants to be with me.  It’s really awesome. In fact, if I am walking down the street with him and a bunch of other people, he gets upset if anyone but me pushes his stroller.  What can I say, I have the magic touch with that boy.

Anyway, unbeknownst to me (because I didn’t noticed my dad calling my cellphone), after a few minutes of being fine, Kellan had a melt down and cried uncontrollably (he’s good at that) until he and grandpa met up with me and Tim again.

Sadly, that took a while because Tim and I were having a great time touring around.

First, we headed to the second deck where we found some baseball team-themed Saint Louis Arches and Tim did his “Yesssss! I just won”…

…and “jumping for joy” poses!

He did more jumping for joy…

…and more winning poses as we found more Arches and Cardinals wall art in this odd little concourse area tucked behind the fancy clubs on the second level.

As we walked by, we saw this World Series trophy through the window of one of those fancy clubs:

I couldn’t tell what year it was from.

In both LF and RF, the concourses jut out a bit past the last section of seats on each of the upper levels.  This provides a nice standing-room only opportunity for the fans.  We took this panorama from the concourse extension on the second deck in LF:

And then we turned and I got these pictures of Tim and the real Arch…

…and Tim and the outfield.

Then we headed up to the third deck and got another end-of-concourse panorama:

If you know Busch Stadium from TV, this is right next to the section with the “Big Mac Land” sign.

After taking the panorama, a fan asked if we wanted a picture.  Of course, we did:

And 30 seconds later, look who we found patrolling the concourse behind Big Mac Land:

Tim meekly told Ronald, “I went to McDonald’s today and ate a happy meal.”  Ronald thought that was just *great*!

From the third deck in LF, you can walk down to the third deck seats or up to the four deck seats.  We headed up to the very top of the upper deck in the LF corner for this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:

Then we continued on toward home plate.  As you get closer to 3B, there is an escalator up to a higher concourse – once you go up the escalator, you then can walk *down* into what LF left would be the third deck, but in the infield is the second deck (hopefully that makes sense – the point is that the *second* deck in LF does not extend into the infield seating – it is replaced by suites.

Anyway, once you get up the escalator, you have officially reached the *highest* concourse in the stadium.  Around 3B there is nothing above it, but once you get closer to the home plate, a *new* upper-deck rises above this *highest* concourse – this all seems very confusing.  Just click on and look at the full-sized versions of some of our panoramas and it will make sense.

Anyway, at the back of the concourse around 3B, you can pose with the giant “St. Louis Cardinals” sign that is facing out of the stadium…

…and you can look down on a statue and big autographed baseball of Stan Musial on the ground outside the stadium.

Here is a panorama as we neared 3B:

Then we took this panorama closer to home plate, where the upper-upper-upper deck begins:

[Recall, all this while, Kellan is crying and pitching a major fit for grandpa while Tim and I are having a lovely time getting to know the ins-and-outs of Busch Stadium – poor Grandpa and Kellan!]

Anyway, we headed up to the very top of the *upper-est* deck in the stadium (behind home plate) for this panorama:

Is that a great looking ballpark or what?  I love the arch in the background and the arch mowed into the outfield grass.

We continued walking around the stadium toward RF.  This is what the concourse looks like behind the upper-deck:

As we approached the RF corner, I pulled and my phone and noticed that my dad and called and texted.  His message was simple, “come help with Kellan.”  My response was probably too ambiguous, “We’re coming from RF upper deck.”  I meant, “Hold on!  We’ll be there ASAP, but we have a long way to walk.”

We snapped one more, sun obscured, panorama from RF before heading down the elevator:

We ended up meeting in the LF concourse.  Kellan was still letting loose with the water works, but he was instantly completely fine the second he saw me.  The second my Dad passed him over to me, he was happy and ready for some ice cream – we met up at the ice cream stand.  This was the real deal – Ben & Jerry’s.  We decided on some delicious mint chocolate chunk:

Tim decided he wanted some blue cotton candy instead of ice cream.  This was fine by me because it meant we could get this “blue tongued” shot for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

However, by the end of the game, I had officially declared:  NO MORE COTTON CANDY!

It made Tim way too hyper…something his father suffered from as a boy, too.

We got back to the seats in time to see the Cubs score their four runs in the top of the fifth innings, which was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Bryan LaHair:

LaHair is having himself quite the season so far.  This was his 9thhomer of the season.  Prior to this season, he only had 5 homeruns in his career.

Kellan was all chilled out now that I was back with him in the seats.  In fact, he was straight up lounging:

After a while, Kellan got restless.  So I took both boys back up to the upper deck by 3B.  The plan was to tire them out running up the switch-back ramp.  And it worked.  We got one more panorama up there:

Tim did some silly-sugar induced posing…

…and I got a shot of the upper deck rising above the upper-concourse.  And then we headed back to our seats to finish out the game with my dad.

As we approached our seats, I took a shot of Tim showing the little triangular area at the end of the field level cross-aisle that is right behind section 168:

It is nice for standing when you don’t want to sit.

While we were watching the rest of the game, Tim was quick to spot King Felix when we flashed on the scoreboard:

Kellan was primed and ready (with Grandpa’s glove) to catch a foul ball…

…but no one, not even David Freese…

…could find us in the stands

A think night panoramas look great, so I got another shot from section 168 late in the game.

After the Cardinals tied the score at 4-4 in the sixth, the Cubs came back with a run in the eighth on a single by Alphonso Soriano and an unearned run in the ninth on a throwing error by 2012 World Series hero David Freese.

After the game, we got another group shot…

…which would have turned out better had Tim not been so sad that the Cardinals (who he picked to win at the beginning of the game) had lost.  At the next game, he would devise a new strategy to avoid such post-game disappointment.

On the way out of the stadium, I took an almost-empty-stadium panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 167 (one section closer to home than section 168):

And finally, as my Dad ran all the way back to our seats to retrieve Kellan’s water sippy-cup (well, it is a little more advanced than a “sippy cup”), I took a final panorama of the night from the CF bleachers:

And that was all she wrote.  Forty-five minutes sitting through a horrific post-game traffic jam and we were on our way back to the caboose excited to come back within about 12 hours for more Cardinals-Cubs baseball.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

6/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
11/10 Teams – Tim –   Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue   Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles,   Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals
7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1,   Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 1
28 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets   8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4,   Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens   Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch   Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 1 – Blue Jays vs. Twins (5/12/12)

The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons.  First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip.  Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.

I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game.  During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.

The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012.  We started in Minnesota.  It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips.  We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009.  And now we were back to check out Target Field.

But first, we had to get to Minnesota…

…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip.  He’s getting to be huge these days.  But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate.  His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.

After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:

We arrived before the gates opened.  The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already.  We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…

…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.

Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:

The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout.  Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch.  Luis Perez…

…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan.  He said he would after he played catch.  I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?”  He said yes and then headed off to play catch.

But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.

Thanks, Luis!

One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture.  We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base.  Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side.  Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:

In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss.  While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.

Thanks, Security Guard!

That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.

And we never got any closer to Davis.  He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.

Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…

…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun.  He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez.  So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.

Instead, we headed toward home plate.  We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP.  Here is a panorama from within the moat:

Next, we grabbed some water for the boys.  And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF.  On the way, he fell asleep:

Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:

Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium.  An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:

That picture was taken here:

Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed  about 100,000 times in six years.  Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan.  So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:

Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:

While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:

As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium.  Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:

Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:

Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up.  Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:

The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.

Then we found another all-star statue.  I think this one might be for this season:

After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry.  Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza.  We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it.  And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…

The NACHO HELMET!

For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other  nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet.  We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:

I really liked these seats.  They were great.

Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:

These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:

And this was it:

We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain.  On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:

All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:

For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game).  To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:

Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving.  We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:

After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF.  At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:

While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:

Then we took a look at the bullpens:

And deep LF:

And straight away LF:

Then it was time for another leg workout.  Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:

At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:

And then it was more running.  He ran a lot!

Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse.  I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:

They are tucked under the upper deck seats.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.

Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:

Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets.  I love ‘em.  These are our first two-tone helmets.

You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:

On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop.  They called it a homerun.  I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark.  They reviewed it.  And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.

In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:

With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun.  I was right.  After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:

The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield.  We decided to make it a four-man trip.  First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:

And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):

Then we walked around the upper deck:

There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too.  Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.

Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…

…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.

As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…

…and of my boys and dad:

As we walked, we saw an awesome play.   Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B.  The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:

Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:

And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:

As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive.  It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:

We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers.  So Tim and I headed over there.  On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:

All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen.  On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the  RF bleachers).

The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field.  I wish I had done a better job photographing it.  But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:

Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers.  It was like rock climbing, I would imagine.  At the top I got this panorama:

And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:

Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:

And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:

Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…

…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.

Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen.  I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:

It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:

The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim.  He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.

After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…

…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture.  Haha!!

On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):

So there you go.  One game down on the Roadtrip.  Another great night and another great stadium.  In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium.  It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins
6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2
25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

The Many D’s of Comerica Park

We still have FOUR game entries for 2011.  They will be forthcoming soon…hmm, well, soon’ish.  But, with the Tigers in the postseason, I decided to take a little time out to do something I meant to do back in July.  So here we go.

In 2009, Tim and I attended a Tigers/Orioles game in Baltimore.  We attended with a couple Tigers fans and, in the blog entry, I wrote about what I called “THE BIG TIGERS ‘D’ CONTROVERSY.”  Boiled to its essence, the story is that the “D” on the Tigers’ jerseys is completely different than the “D” on the Tigers’ hats.  For years, I have wanted to visit Comerica Park, and one of the reasons for wanting to visit the ballpark was so I could get a feel for how the Tigers use their two D’s.

Tim and I had an great time at Comerica Park.  It is an amazing ballpark.  We took hundreds of pictures, and a bunch of them focused on “THE BIG TIGERS ‘D’ CONTROVERSY.”  So this entry is dedicated to showing the various D’s at Comerica Park.  Before we get to it, let’s review the details behind the conversy.  Here is an excerpt from that entry:

#     #     #

So lets just get it out of the way — THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!  Do you know the controversy?  Interestingly, every single Tigers fan I’ve ever asked about THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY has been totally oblivious to its very existence.  Apparently, the Tigers’ fans are not very observant.

So what is the controvery you ask?  Here it is — the Old English script “D” on the Tigers hat is totally and completely different than the Old English script “D” their jerseys and no one seems to care or notice

Shocking!  Huh?

Here is indisputable photographic evidence:

Let’s take a closer look:

1. The upper right corner of the Hat “D” has little fancy points and a concave diagonal edge while the same part of the Jersey “D” is rounded with no pionts and no concave edge.

2. The traditionally straight edge of the capital “D” is replace in the Jersey “D” with three vertical lines.  The two inner lines are straight and the outide line is sort of shaped like a shark with two pointy fins on his back.  Meanwhile, the straight edge of the Hat “D” has only two vertical lines.  Neither are straight.  Instead, they both look sort of like tall thin S’s.  But congrats to the Tigers, the outside line on the Hat “D” also has the two shark like fins on it!

3. The Two S-like vertical lines on the Hat “D” have two little bars connecting them – one at the top and one at the bottom.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.  The Jersey “D”?  You got it, no connector bars at all between the roughly corresponding vertical lines.

4.  But there are more connector discrepancies.  The left and right side of the opening of the Hat “D” is connected with two little bars – the top bar is concave and the bottom bar is convex.  How about the Jersey “D” — just the opposite.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.

5.  Finally, the Hat “D” is cool and the Jersey “D” is not (this one is subjective).

So you say, “Come on, I never noticed this, but how can it be a controversy?  All Tigers fans must know about this?”  Nope.  You’re wrong.  In fact, Mark himself — a Michigander — was totally unaware of this last year before I asked him about it.  Recently, Mark surveyed a bunch of Tigers fans at Comerica Park.  None of them knew about this.

The big question:  why is it that Tigers have two different D’s on their uniforms?

The answer:  NO ONE KNOWS!!!

According to my limited internet research on this (limited because I don’t really care about it), the Tigers themselves have no clue why they have different D’s on their uniforms.

So there you have it:  THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!!!

#     #     #

Here we go.  No big analysis here.  Let’s just look at some pictures and keep a running tally.  These pictures are in order of when I took them as we walked around Comerica Park.

We parked outside the RF gate…

…, which is adorned with three different types of Tiger D’s — all of them are “jersey D’s.”  I’ll just count each of these types once.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 0, Jersey D’s 3

Walking around the outside of the stadium, we found the “Code of Conduct”… 

…, which featured a nice “Hat D.”

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 1, Jersey D’s 3

All of the street signs featured Hat D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 2, Jersey D’s 3

The walls outside the stadium (and the Tiger Club) had a design including lots of jersey D’s:

There are actually some more jersey D’s about the glass doors behind Tim in that last picture, but I missed them when I edited the picture.  Anyway, I’ll just count all of theseD’s worked into the wall design as 1 jersey D..

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 2, Jersey D’s 4

The 3B gate is awesome at Comerica Park, but these jersey D’s won’t count in the scorecard because they are the same as the RF gate:

The team store is called The D Shop” with a nice hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 3, Jersey D’s 4

On one of the walls outside the stadium, we found this tile jersey “D” with a tiger walking through it:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 4, Jersey D’s 4

For good measure, the Tigers through some historical D’s into the mix that are neither the current hat nor current jersey D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 4, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

When we were outside of the stadium, all of the ticket windows seemed to be closed…

…and they all featured a Hat D on the pull-down window cover.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 5, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

From the street behind the CF wall, we spotted a sign for the Champions Club…

…featuring yet another Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 6, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

The Will Call sandwich board sign was also sporting a Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 4, Other 1

Through the team store window, we spotted a bunch of souvenirs:

The baseballs and the foam hand both featured Jersey D’s.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 6, Other 1

From our spot at the front of one of the lines at the 3B gate, there was a plaque adorned with some Jersey D’s:.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 7, Other 1

I was a big fan of the scoreboard inside the ballpark.:

It featured a little analog clock with a Jersey D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 7, Jersey D’s 8, Other 1

If you’re milling about in the cross-aisles at Comerica Park, one of these signs…

…might tell you to sit down, and remind you that you’re at a Tigers game with this nice orange Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 8, Jersey D’s 8, Other 1

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a booth featuring “game used” products and a nice big Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 9, Jersey D’s 8, Other 1

Visually, there is a whole lot going on in the food court and Tiger-Go-Round area tucked behind the 3B concourse…

…, including at least banners with Hat D’s, flags with Hat D’s, a big baseball on top of the Tiger-Go-Round with a Hat D, and several Jersey D’s around the top ring of the Tiger-Go-Round.  Just for kicks, there is another “The D Shop” with another Hat D…but we won’t count that again.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 12, Jersey D’s 9, Other 1

This might be my favorite “D” of the day, a little Jersey D embossed into the drains on the walkway in RF:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 12, Jersey D’s 10, Other 1

While on the walkway, we stopped in at a fan assistance office and picked up a “first game at Comerica Park” certificate for Tim:

The certificate featuerd Jersey D’s, but the fan assistance sign featured a Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 13, Jersey D’s 11, Other 1

On top of the dugout?  A big Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 14, Jersey D’s 11, Other 1

On the back of the pitchers’ mound?  Yep, another Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 15, Jersey D’s 11, Other 1

We found a couple billboards in the concourse featuring Jersey D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 15, Jersey D’s 13, Other 1

The scoreboard features a black-and-white’ish scoreboard on the LF side and a full-color screen on the CF side:

The black-and-white’ish screen featured a Jersey D during much of pregame, while the full-color scoreboard had a Hat D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 16, Jersey D’s 14, Other 1

A directory that we found in the upper deck, featured a *sorta* extra thin Hat D in the extreme upper left corner and a normal Hat D in the “you are here” sign:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 18, Jersey D’s 14, Other 1

Here is an interest one.  In the concession stand where we bought our nachos, they had full-sized Tiger helmets that were souvenir popcorn recepiticals:

Although the Tigers actually (and logically) have Hat D’s on their batting helmets, this popcorn helmet featured a Jersey D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 18, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

I think this is a newspaper rack or something like that (albeit an empty one):

Whatever it is, it features tiger stripes and a Had D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 19, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

This could be the most important D in the stadium — the essential behind home plate logo D:

Score a big one for the Hat D’s column!

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 20, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

In the 1980s, they apparently used the same Hat D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 21, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

This concession stand was not being used at this game:

Still, it (and several others just like it) featured Hat D’s on a home plate sign.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 22, Jersey D’s 15, Other 1

Verizon had a booth in one of the concourses, and it featured a Jersey D:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 22, Jersey D’s 16, Other 1

I’m not sure what this “Extra Bases” booth was all about…

…but it featured several Jersey D’s.  This might be arbitrary, but I’m just going to count that as one D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 22, Jersey D’s 17, Other 1

Remember those popcorn D’s?  They were hats with Jersey D’s.  Well, the ice cream helmets were hats with Hat D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 23, Jersey D’s 17, Other 1

There are some seats in deep LF that I’ll describe as being on *risers*.  Anyway, those risers are wrapped in green fabric with Hat D’s on them:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 24, Jersey D’s 17, Other 1

This day was truly wonderful, and the game experience was capped with Kids Run the Bases, which allowed us to get close enough to determine that…

…the bases feature little Jersey D’s.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 24, Jersey D’s 18, Other 1

There are lots of Hat D’s in the Tigers dugout, most of which are found inside the slots where the Tigers keep their batting helmets:

We’ll count those 24 identifical Hat D’s as just one D.

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 25, Jersey D’s 18, Other 1

The wall behind the dugout bench features both Hat D’s and Jersey D’s:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 26, Jersey D’s 19, Other 1

On our way out of the ballpark, we found our last new “D” of the day.  It was on a “no autographs” sign in the Tiger’s bullpen in LF:

Scorecard:  Hat D’s 27, Jersey D’s 19, Other 1

So, there you go.  Take that for whatever its worth.  Personally, I find the whole BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY to be very interesting.  Head on over to Comerica Park and check it out for yourself.

A Pittsburgh Adventure (9/10/11)

On September 10, 2011, Tim and I headed off in our car for a weekend adventure to Pittsburgh.  The plan was for two games at PNC Park.  But the plan got cut short when our basement flooded in a storm and I was needed back on the home front.  But we still had a quality 28-hour
adventure.  Here is how it all went down.

He jumped on the PA Turnpike heading West toward Pittsburgh.  We ended up stopping off in Mechanicsburg, PA so Tim could see where his parents got married:

It’s a gazebo on the Liberty Forge golf course.  It had just opened when we got married back in 2003, and it was truly a beautiful sight for our wedding.  After a brief visit (which occurred during a bustling golf tournament), we grabbed an early lunch and hopped back in the car.

We arrived in Pittsburgh in the early afternoon and relaxed at our hotel before heading off to the park.  Our plan was to meet up PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Zac Weiss at the CF gate to see if we could get in early with the season ticket holders.  But the roads immediately around PNC Park confuse the heck out of me.  We ended up taking the wrong exit from the freeway, looping back around, and getting into a traffic-jam directly outside of PNC Park for 15 minutes.  By the time we parked and made it to the stadium, the gates had been open for
15-20 minutes and Zac was already in there.

We waited on the Riverwalk for a few minutes, and then heading into the LF seats…

…when the stadium opened for non-season ticket holders.  But the LF seats are small and they were relatively crowded.  We briefly bumped into PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Nick Pelescak.  After saying our hellos, I asked if the rest of the ballpark was open to everyone (there was almost no one in the park outside of the LF seats) and he confirmed that it was.  So Tim and I headed up the LF escalator and down into the LF foul seats.

The plan was to walk down to the cross-aisle toward the bottom of the section and then circle all the way around to the RF foul line where several Marlins were playing catch.  As we turned the corner into the cross-aisle, there were no other fans within 6-7 seating sections of us (except in LF, which is disconnected from the foul territory seats and not accessible without taking the elevator or spiral walkway).  Just then, a Pirates batter hit a foul ball right over our heads into section 132.  I quickly ran back up the stairway, cut into the seats and grabbed our first baseball of the day; with zero competition.

The very moment we made it to the RF foul line, former-Mariner Greg Dobbs was just finishing playing catch with monster-bomb-masher Mike Stanton.  We were right behind him as he left the foul line and started to walk toward CF.  I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and saw us, an
“oh, there you are” expression registered on his face, and then he tossed us our second baseball of the day; again, with zero competition.

We decided to go down the foul line to the handicap-accessible seating area.  For some reason, it was almost completely empty for the duration of BP:

There were a handful of fans out there…including the aforementioned Zac Weiss, who can be seen in the background of the last picture wearing his black Pirates shirt.

Mike “The Beast” Stanton and Mike “Cammy” Cameron were hanging out along the foul line running sprints from the foul line out into CF:

When we first arrived in this spot, there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in RF.  As Cameron walked around in foul territory catching his breath after running a sprint, I asked him if he would pose for a picture with Tim after he finished his warm-up routine.  He happily agreed.  Then I pointed out the baseball on the warning track and asked if he could toss it to Tim.  He agreed again.  Cammy is the man.

Thanks, Mike!

After running a few more sprints, Cammy wandered over to the little doorway at the end of the section and posed for this picture with Tim:

He also signed the baseball he’d already given to Tim:

And then he signed about 200 more autographs.  The second he walked over to get a picture with Tim, every autograph hound in the stadium bolted straight for us.  There was quickly a group of ten people.  And then twenty.  And then…who knows how many.

While we were getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we got to chat for just a few seconds.  I told him that my Dad caught one of his foul balls down in Miami on our Roadtrip.  I then told him it was cool that he was wearing number “24” now-a-days since he was previously traded to the Mariners for Ken Griffey, Jr.  He told me that he’d wore “24” when he was *young* – he did wear “24” when he broke into the Major Leagues with White Sox, but I got the feeling he meant he wore “24” when he was a kid, not just a young Major Leaguer.  Anyway, after mentioning Junior, I told Cameron that he did an amazing job coming in and filling Griff’s void after the trade.  He really did an outstanding job for the Mariners and us Mariners fans love him for it.

When Cameron finally started walking back to the dugout, a guy ran down the steps and called out, “One more, Mr. Cameron!?”  Mike responded something like, “Man, I just signed a ton!”  But he came back nonetheless and signed for this guy too.  He was so awesome.  I really couldn’t believe all the signing he did.  And many of the beneficiaries were the big-time autograph dudes who gave board with 5-6 of his cards, and he
signed every single one.  Mike is the man!

As he walked away, I asked Cameron if he got one of the Mariners 116 win, two-person McLemore and Cameron bobblehead.  He started to launch
into a longer explanation, and then stopped himself.  Bottom line, the answer was “yes.”  He got one.  So that’s cool.  When he said he has one, Tim yelled out, “I have one too!”  (Special thanks to Brian Powell for sending us his!).

After getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we relocated to the shallow RF section of the handicap-accessible seating area.  A Marlins lefty ripped a foul grounder right at us.  Tim put his glove over the short wall and tried to scoop it up, but it went under his glove…and right into mine.  Tim immediately turned around with a frustrated look:  “Hey, I was gonna catch that ball!”  “But you didn’t,” I explained, “it went right under your glove, so I had to catch it!”

Tim couldn’t argue with my logic, and he was happy to have the ball despite missing out on the grounder attempt.

He had fun leaning over the wall and practicing so he could catch the next ball hit down the line:

(Note: In the last picture, Cameron is still signing autographs in the background).

Tim also got a kick out of the fact that he could easily lean over the fence and rub his fingers through the warning track dirt:

So we had connected with two former-Mariner Marlins (Dobbs and Cameron), but the Marlins had still another former-Mariner – Jose Lopez.  But
this is as close as we would ever get to Jose:

We spent some time during BP chatting with Zac Weiss:

Just before that last photo, Tim and I were at the back park of the handicapped-accessible seating area and Zac at the front (where he is pictured in that last photo).  A grounder came down the line and snuck past Zac on an unfortunate (for him) bounce.  I leaned as far as I could over the fence and scooped the ball off of the warning track.

As the Marlins cleared off the field, Zac, Tim and I headed over to the Marlins dugout on the 3B side.  Alex Sanabia (who gave Tim the 99thbaseball of his life last season) was standing at the top of the dugout.  He had a baseball and wanted to get rid of it.  He looked at Zac and must have thought “too old.”  Next, his gaze turned to Tim and he though “just right.”  So Sanabia tossed us our sixth and final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Alex!

PNC Park is pretty amazing for BP.  95% of the fans attending BP were out in LF the whole time.  There was lots of competition out there.  Meanwhile, 1% of the fans were in the RF handicapped-accessible seats and we all got some easy, no-hassle baseballs.  Great!

Ah, I forgot to mention, I thought we were going to get another baseball before the Sanabia  ball.  Zac, Tim and I were handing out talking (where we they are pictured in the last phone), and No. 21 on the Marlins drilled a one or two hopper right at us.  I thought it was going to take a nice big (and easy) bounce right to me for an easy catch.  Instead, it took a crazy back-spinning, low, sliding, superfast bounce right at us.  It shot like a rocket right over our heads and went all the way over the seats and into an area where they store groundskeeper-stuff.

After hanging out by the dugout for a bit, we got our picture with Zac:

And then we all  headed to the Riverwalk and then walked out to LF.  Once we got out there, we split up with Zac because Tim wanted to walk up the spiral ramp.  On our way, we ran into Nick Pelescak again and he took a walk with us.  We headed up the ramp and got Tim’s PNC Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

We stopped at the top of the spiral ramp and chatted a while with Nick:

He’s a real nice guy and he’s hauled over 1,000 baseballs out of PNC Park and several other MLB ballparks over the course of the last couple years.

While in the upper deck, we took the occasion to check in with Tim’s first ever water fountain!  Back on September 29, 2007, Tim used this fountain for his first ever water-fountain drink of his life.  Since then, we check in on his first fountain whenever we’re in town.  On our 2010 trip, his water fountain reunion photo didn’t make the cut on the blog report.  So let’s check out both 2010 and 2011 now:

After heading back down the spiral ramp, Nick broke off to go find his wife and son and Tim and I went and bought some nachos.  Here is an ultra-serious looking Tim eating nachos in our seats for the game:

We got those seats in section 136, row C for just a couple bucks per ticket on stubhub.  That’s one of the perks of the end of the season – cheap tickets!

Here is a view of PNC Park from our seats:

Tim cut the serious act, and had some fun goofing around and eating nachos in the LF seats:

And then he did some random posing:

When the game started, it was all Marlins.  Actually, the Marlins did not muster much offense either.  But it did not matter because Anibal Sanchez was on fire.  He was making the Pirates look silly – like this hapless hack back Derrick Lee:

Meanwhile, Tim was licking left over cheese off of his index finger and pretending that it was exploding in his mouth – like this:

Facing off against Sanchez, the Pirates had Jeff Locke make his MLB debut.  Locke pitched five innings, gave up five hits, and three runs, and collected his first career loss.  I got this picture of Locke’s first career Major League swing:

With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Neil Walker hit double.  And that was all she wrote for the Pirates.  Anibal Sanchez threw a complete
game 1-hitter.

In the top of the third inning, we went to go get ice cream helmets.  Tim got mint chocolate chip and I got (the incredibly delicious and highly recommended) Pirates Buried Treasure.  Check out the cool view from the ice cream helmet line:

Ah, yes.  PNC Park is incredibly beautiful.

The Marlins scored three runs while we were in line for ice cream.  They were, ultimately, the only runs of the game.  And we had no clue they even occurred.  When we got back to our seats – after walking through this blue light area –

…there were runs on the board.  And that’s all we knew.  We saw Nick and Zac at the back of one of the sections in LF and I asked them if they caught any homeruns when we were off buying ice cream.  They didn’t.  And that is all I know about those three runs – they were three Marlins runs during which the crowd made absolutely no noise (so as to tip me off that anything was happening on the field) and they did not result in Nick or Zac catching any homeruns.

Just like last season, I enjoyed a “Pirates Buried Treasure” helmet and Tim had a mint chocolate chip helmet:

Here’s what it looked like from our seats after the sun went down:

After eating our ice cream, Tim wanted to roam around the ballpark and check out the river.  We headed out to the Riverwalk area and Tim got a run-by head patting from the Pirates Parrot:

He posed with a picture of a P-shaped bush behind the bullpens…

…and then we headed down toward the river.  This big barge arrived on the scene:

I am pretty sure it is the fireworks barge for the post-game fireworks.

We wandered through a little picnic area behind the batters’ eye:

And we checked out the view of the Roberto Clemente bridge:

Finally, we found a little nook in the picnic area that Tim thought resembled a bullpen.  So we took turns pitching to each other…

…using the drain as home plate.

While I was pitching to Tim, he missed a pitch and it rolled to the steps behind our home plate.  When he went to retrieve, an elderly Japanese couple were walking by.  The man noticed Tim’s Ichiro shirt as he passed by and called out to his wife an excited, “ICHIRO!” with a point at Tim.  He then
doubled back and walked a small loop around Tim to make sure he’d seen it correctly.  After confirming his initial belief, he walked back to his wife and pointed at Tim with increased excitement, “ICHIRO!”  And he looked over me with an approving smile.  It was pretty cute.

After our bullpen session, we headed back to the LF seats.  We hadn’t missed a thing – well, except a couple more Pirate strike outs – it was still 3-0 Marlins.

As I sipped a local brew with a snazzy pin-striped and Pirate-logoed can, an usher kindly took our photo standing in the concourse behind section 136:

It was time for more adventuring, and this was the last we would see of section 136 for the night.  So I took one more panorama from the concourse before we started walking:

Tim wanted to see the upper deck some more.  So we wanted around the big spiral walkway in LF:

There is a really small section of seating above the LF bleachers, just below the scoreboard, that I have never visited.  In the past, it has always been chained off for private parties.  I think it is called the “Pirates Deck.”  As luck would have it, it was open to the public during this game.  So we headed down the stairs at the back of the spiral walkway and entered the Pirates Deck.

The deck was almost empty.  We headed to the last section in deep LCF and got Tim’s picture:

And then I took a panorama of PNC Park from the front row of section 339:

On our way out of the deck area, we noticed a switch-back ramp leading up to two seats perched behind the back row of the seats.  It looked like an elevated perch for the King and Queen to sit and watch the competition down on the field.  Since it was empty, we walked up the ramp and Tim asked me to take the following series of photos:

After the King’s Perch, we headed to the seats behind home plate.  There was another little handicap-accessible seating area right behind home plate.  We claimed a spot and watched the game from there for a bit.  Standing was fine for a bit…

…but eventually Tim got the urge to climb on the railings…which I strongly discouraged.

After getting Tim off the railing, I got a panorama of PNC Park from section 316:

After exchanging a few texts, we met up with fellow MLBlogger Matt “PittPeas” Peaslee and his girlfriend Erin:

I suggested that pose in the classic Peas-pose (that you should no doubt recognize if you’re read his blog).  Upon review, it appears that I need some work on my Peas-pose.  My arms are way too high and straight.  Tim’s Peas-pose needs some work too; he’s just doing a “we are the champions”
celebration pose!  Matt is a great guy.  It was good to finally meet in person.

The game was sailing by quick.  After parting ways with Matt and Erin, Tim and I headed down the spiral walkway behind home plate.  We planned on making an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball.  It was the ninth inning, but for whatever reason, I thought it was still the eighth.  After I got this photo from the concourse of Andrew McCutchen striking out…

…I realized it was the ninth inning and there was only one out left in the game!  We scrambled to get into position, and post-game fireworks made it the easiest post-ninth-inning-third out trip ever from the concourse down to the umpire tunnel (because everyone stayed seated for the fireworks), but we arrived about 5 seconds too late.  Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had unloaded his entire baseball poach by the time we got into position.  Oh, well.

The silver lining is that we were in the perfect spot (and found a couple open seats) when the fireworks started about 5 minutes later:

The fireworks show was great, and no one enjoyed it more than Tim (and Shelly):

To my amazement, the Pirates did not clear out the RF seats for the fireworks show.  Check out how close it looked like the people in right field were to the fireworks:

After the fireworks show, an usher took a final father-son shot of us before we left the ballpark:

And then I noticed a cool “125th season” logo on top of the Pirates dugout:

I wonder why the Angels got a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball, but the Pirates did not get a 125th season baseball?  I’m guessing it is because they were not the “Pirates” the entire 125 seasons – since it says “Pittsburgh Baseball.”  Anyway, it is too bad. That would have been a cool commemorative baseball.

After the game, we spent the night in a Pittsburgh hotel, and then did one *touristy* thing before heading home.  We had heard of the Duquesne Incline from some friends.  So we decided to check it out.  While watching BP, I discussed the Duquesne Incline and discovered there are two inclines in town – the Duquesne and the Monongahela.  So we did ‘em both.

First, the Duquesne Incline:

Essentially, it is a two track train that runs up a really steep hill in Pittsburgh.

At the top, there is a look out spot with a phenomenal view of Pittsburgh:

Following the river from left-to-right and taking the left (upper) fork, PNC Park is on the left (upper) side of the river between the first and second (Roberto Clemente) bridges.

Here’s a good view of the crazy incline train cars:

The two cars are pulled up the incline on big steel cables.  They appear to be balanced against each other, when one is at the top, the other is at the bottom, and they always meet in the middle.

The Monongahela incline also provided a spectacular view of Pittsburgh (although with no view of PNC Park):

And there was a sign at the top pointing the way to ice cream:

After devouring some tasty cones, we rode the incline train back down to the bottom…

….and hopped into our car for the ride home.

Although we wanted to go to the Sunday game (featuring Kids Run The Bases), it was still a great little weekend father-son get-away.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
28/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
82 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
16/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
7 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

GFS 2011 Game 5 – Mariners at Rays (8/19/11)

On the morning of August 19, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Our game wasn’t until 7:00 p.m.  So we dined on some free breakfast at the hotel, and then relaxed and played at the pool for a while…

…before heading to the beach for some more relaxing and playing.

At 4-something o’clock in the afternoon, we headed to Tropicana Field.  One thing that I didn’t know about, but stands out prominently when you see Tropicana Field is that the dome is tilted.  Our first thought was that the high side of the roof was the outfield where homeruns and outfield fly balls would reach their apex.  On second thought, we contemplated that the
high side of the roof might be home plate where baseballs would be hit straight up from home plate.

Anyway, we would find out soon enough.  First, we had to pay $15 to park in the ballpark lot:

Wait, wait…turns out we were among the first 100 cars with four-or-more passengers and, therefore, we parked for free!  Cool.  None of us had ever experienced anything like that before at an MLB game!

Walking through the stadium parking lot toward the main entrance, we stopped for a photo in front of a big Rays *twinkle* — I don’t know what else to call that thing.  So I’ll call it a *twinkle*:

Oh, lookie there, its our Roadtrip guest:  my mom!

Tim was super-psyched to have his grandma join us for some baseball and other fun in the Tampa Bay area.  She is, hands down, one of Tim’s favorite people in the world.

We arrived before the doors (they were, in fact, doors, not gates) opened.  So we hung out below some palm trees outside of the CF entrance:

Upon entering Tropicana Field, Tim and I closed out the A.L. East stadiums.  We have now been to Camden Yards, old Yankee Stadium, new Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, and Tropicana Field.  This is our final new stadium of 2011.  To date, Tim and I have been to 29 stadiums together (I have also been to the Kingdome and Veterans Stadium) and
there are only three teams (the Cardinals, Royals and Rockies) that we have not seen play a home game.  We will finish those teams off in 2012 – although we will also have to back track to Minnesota (Target Field) and Miami (new Marlins ballpark) before we can say we have been to games at all current-MLB stadiums.

Back to this game, I was under the impression that fans would be confined to the outfield concourse during the first half hour after the doors opened.  So the first thing we did was head upstairs to a little lookout above the rays tank:

I had told him about it and Tim was super-excited about the rays tank.  And the excited did not fade through the weekend.  Here is a view of the field from the lookout above the rays tank:

I immediately noticed something:  there were fans in the outfield stands.  This was a Friday night game.  I guess they must not do the confined-to-the-concourse thing for weekend games.  Anyway, there was no reason to be at the lookout if the stands were open.  So we headed down to the RCF seats right next to the rays tank:

Check that out.  Rays are swimming by literally three feet away from those seats.  How awesome is that?  These are officially Tim’s favorite seats at any MLB ballpark.  (And, as I type this, he reminds me that he didn’t love them just for the rays, he loved the horseshoe crabs too!).

About seven minutes after gates opened (according to the time stamp on the following photo), Jake McGee…

…welcomed us to Tropicana Field with a toss-up.  FYI, David Price is the guy running to the left, McGee is the guy acting like he is about to make a backhanded catch.

About five minutes later, we all circled around the stadium to the Mariners dugout on the 3B side.  Ichiro was playing catch…

…with Chone Figgins along the 3B line.  My Dad was hanging out above the dugout (where Miguel Olivo tossed him his warm-up baseball).  My mom and Tim headed over to hang out with my Dad, and I relocated down the LF line where the Mariners pitchers were just starting to play catch:

Unless you have these super-fancy tickets along the foul line, fans cannot get down to the field by the bullpens.  Its not as bad as in Miami where normal fans cannot get to the field anywhere in fair territory.  At Tropicana Field, any fan can get down to the front row on the field between the dugouts and the bullpens, but then these big party areas set back the normal fans about 20-30 feet from the field.

As would become a recurring theme of this weekend, Tim wanted to go back out to the CF seats so he could watch the rays in the rays tank.  My mom took him out there and my Dad and I hung out by the Mariners bullpen.

I went to section 137…

…by the foul pole, and my Dad hung out in…oh, probably…section 133 or so by the bullpen mounds.  My Dad’s positioning paid huge dividends:  Michael Pineda tossed him a baseball.  Pineda has had a rougher go of it in the second half of the season, but I think he is going to develop into a dominating MLB pitcher.

A few minutes later, Dan Cortes (who is standing above and slightly to the left of the bald security guard in the last picture) finished playing catch with Josh Lueke.  When I called out his name, Cortes happily tossed me his unofficially rubbed up and dirty baseball.

Thanks, Dan!

I’ve chatted with Cortes a few times this season.  He seems really nice.  He’s at the stage that he’s excited to be in the big leagues and he is ready to spend a little time chatting to fans who recognize him.

When the pitchers finished playing catch, they disbursed across the outfield.  I spend a few minutes hanging out in LF, but it was somewhat crowded and I was alone.  I figured it would be more fun to go meet up with Tim and my mom in CF.  I started toward a tunnel to run out to the concourse, but then I figured I might as well walk to the LCF side of the batters’ eye in the seats.  I could then run down into the concourse and head over to the RCF seats.  The decision paid off.

In deep LCF, Tom Wilhelmsen was all by his lonesome shagging baseballs.  Wilhelmsen is in a similar place as Cortes – happy to be in the major leagues.  But add to the mix that fact that he was out of baseball for about 6 years.  Two years ago, he was a bartender in the Phoenix area.  Now, he is a Major League baseball player.  What wouldn’t he have to be happy about?

As I passed behind Wilhelmsen, a ball was driven into the deepest part of LCF.  I called out Tom’s name and flashed him my glove.  He then disappeared from sight for 3-4 seconds and returned ready to fire me a strike.

Thanks, Tom!

When I reached the rays tank, Tim was excitedly watching (and “oooh’ing” and aweing about) the rays and, to my surprise, he was holding a baseball.  Turns out that Justin Smoak spotted Tim and my mom in the seats watching the rays and tossed up a baseball.  It was the first baseball Tim’d ever gotten outside of my immediate presence!  Oh, my young boy is growing into a man.  *weep* *weep*

And then it was time for one of the most exciting BP moments or our season.  My Dad was in straight away right field.  I relocated to RF after Jason Vargas tossed him his warm up ball in LF.  We all decided to go hang out over there when we saw that Ichiro was shagging fly balls out there.

You can only go in the front row in the outfield during BP if you have front row tickets – my guess is that it is a safety issue.  The railings are ridiculously low.  Anyway, we couldn’t get into the front row.  So Tim and I were standing together in the second row directly behind Ichiro.  Oddly enough, Tim was actually standing directly in front of me – i.e., we were both standing in front of the same seat in the second row.

One of our lefties spanked a ball over Ichiro’s head.  It ended up on the warning track directly in front of us.  As Ichiro came back for it, Tim and I both called out to him and politely asked for him to toss the baseball to us.  As he grabbed the baseball, he looked up right at us.  He saw Tim decked out in Mariners gear.  Our eyes connected.  And he tossed the baseball right to us.

But there was a problem.  There were grown men on either side of me in the front row.  For us to get the baseball, one of two things would have to happened.  The first option was if, noticing that the baseball was plainly for a little kid (Mariners fan) who had asked for it, the two guys would just let it sail between them so we could catch it.  That option was a no go.  Both seemed intent on depriving Tim of the baseball that his baseball hero had decided to toss right to him.

The second option was for me, without the ability to enter the front row, to someone beat out two grown men standing closer to Ichiro and catch the ball before them.  And that’s what would have to happen.  As the ball sailed to me, the guys crashed in from both sides.  Luckily, neither guy reached out toward the field for it, they just moved laterally.  Their gloves came together like a curtain trying to shut us out.  But I leaned WAAAAY forward (Tim slid to the side so I didn’t smash him into the seat in front of me) and my pushed through the narrow opening between their gloves.  The two guys essentially caught my wrist, and on the other side, my glove caught the baseball.

I pulled my glove back really having no clue if I got it or not.  I opened my glove and we found the baseball inside.  We were ecstatic!  We yelled out a huge:

THANK YOU, ICHIRO!!!

And I held the ball up for my parents to see.  Two seconds later, handed the ball to Tim and he posed for a picture with Ichiro (and one of the would-be Ichiro-ball interceptors) in the background:

After our initial celebration, Tim ran up to his grandma and I headed to the back of the section where I got a second picture showing Tim, the Ichiro baseball, my mom and my dad (blue hat and green backpack):

This was already one of our best batting practices ever.  To cap it off, I caught a Kyle Seager (I am pretty sure it was Seager) homerun on the fly at the back of the section.  It was pretty exciting since I almost never catch balls on the fly (in fact, this was my first of the season).  The ball was hit about 10 feet to my left.  I ran over there and it was coming directly to two guys (probably 22’ish years old).  Neither had a glove, but both hopped up and made a quarter-hearted attempt at catching it.  But in the end, I think both were scared to try to catch it bare handed.  So they let it sail directly between them and straight into my glove.

It was pretty cool and my Mom gave a big cheer from the bottom of the section.  So that was cool.  Seager really got a hold of that one.  The ball ended up mildly lopsided from the force of the hit.

And that was it for BP.

Then, Tim had a great idea…

…“Let’s go see the rays tank!”

On the walk to the rays tank (or to the line for the rays tank), we passed under this interesting lamp:

That’s the arm of “Raymond,” the Rays’ mascot.  Although many people are down on domed-stadiums (not me, I love ‘em!), no one can credibly say that the Rays haven’t done a great job making their concourses interesting for fans (particularly kids).  There are tons of things to see and do in the various concourses that circle Tropicana Field.

It took awhile, but we finally made it to the front of the rays tank line:

Oops…we forgot about the upstairs waiting area.  What is this, the Empire State Building line?

In the second floor waiting area, Tim posed (quite hilariously) with some rays painted onto a bench:

We were sure to obey all of the “Rays Tank rules”:

Anyone can go in and pet the rays for free.  But for $5 (that goes to the local aquarium), you can feed the rays too!  Tim preferred the “drop it and let them find it” method of feeing the rays:

Mostly, he just wanted to watch them from close up:

If you had food, the rays would flock to you and stick their faces and wings above the water.  Meanwhile, the horseshoe crab and its baby walked around the bottom of the tank and didn’t bother anyone.  Of course, I had to keep an eye on the field to see if my Mariners would reappear.

And they did.  While we were in the rays tank area (you only get 8 minutes in there, something I did not yet know at this point), Felix Hernandez came out to warm up.  I entrusted Tim to his grandparents’ care and headed off to watch Felix.

After the rays tank, but before meeting up with me down the LF line, my parents took Tim to play in the RF concourse:

And soon enough, this picture showed up on my phone (via text from my mom):

That is Raymond, the Rays’ mascot.  But interestingly, it isn’t the normal Raymond.  The normal Raymond is fuzzy, like most mascots.  This Raymond was a big inflatable guy.

This was my view of Tropicana Field from section 127…

…as I watched Felix run through his pre-game routine.  By the way, at Tropicana Field, odd numbered sections are on the 3B/LF side and even numbered sections are on the 1B/RF side.

During the singing of the National Anthem, Felix looked like a true all-star…

…complete with stars shaved into the side of his head.

In recent history, the Mariners bullpen has featured a rookie with a pink back pack.  Well, for this series, I featured two pink back packs, another silly kids’ backpack (that will be shown later), and a tiny little pink lunch box…

…carried by Dan Cortes.

We sat in section 129 at this game.  This was our view:

And this is what we looked like (or at least three of us) at the beginning of the game:

Although we sat in section 129, we were supposed to sit in section 131.  But there was a problem.  This big dude in the Hawaiian shirt (row K) was sitting in our seats:

Going into this game, the Mariners were 0-3 for me and Tim this season with two walk-off losses.  We yearned for a Mariners win like nobody’s business.  We were hoping that Ichiro…

…would start it off hot for the Mariners.  Unfortunately, he popped out foul to the catcher.

We were in need of food.  So between innings I headed out to the concourse.  The field level concourse is interesting at Tropicana Field.  It is split between an inner concourse – primarily just for walking from here to here – and an outer concourse that doubles as a food court of sorts.  Here are two pictures of the food-concourse on the 3B side…

…where I found our nachos…

…and a all-you-can-drink diet coke (actually, it was probably diet pepsi).  And I drank a whole lot of diet pepsi to make sure I got my money’s worth.

While we were eating our nachos, the Rays’ mascot, Raymond, made an appearance about two sections down from us.  I asked Tim if he wanted to get his picture with Raymond and, of course, he did.  So we put the nachos down and sprinted down to sections toward home plate and got this photo with Raymond:

Two minutes later, Raymond was standing two rows behind our seats taking pictures with fans.  Oh, well.  The chase was part of the fun.

One of the newest and most exciting young Mariners, Trayvon Robinson…

…, was playing LF and was standing directly out from our seats most of the game.  After the Mariners failed to score in the top of the first.  Robinson made a brilliant diving catch on a liner to LCF to retire the first Rays batter of the game in the bottom of the first.

The game was scoreless through the first and second innings.  Robinson then led off the third with a double to RF.  He took second on a groundout by Ichiro.  Trayvon then scored the first run of the game when Franklin Gutierrez grounded to short stop Sean Rodriguez who threw the ball way (also allowing Gutierrez to take second).

It was time for Tim and I to go on a little adventure.  He wanted to go see the rays tank and I wanted to go take Tim’s picture with his Ichiro baseball and the Tropicana Field sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

On our way to the sign (or what I thought was the sign), we stopped off in section 144 to take this panorama:

I thought that the *Tropicana Field* sign was really cool looking, with a big orange and straw logo.  Tim decided on a catching-the-Ichiro-baseball pose and I thought the picture turned out great:

At the time, it did not occur to me at all that the sign did not say “Tropicana Field.”  No, not at all.  Of course, it is plain as day, it is just a Tropicana juice sign!  Aye, aye, aye…

As we continued on our way toward the rays tank, we took some pictures of the interest set up at Tropicana Field.  First off, the RF seating section is really small.  Tons of batters were hitting BP homers to the very back of the seats because there just are not many rows of seats in RF.  One reason there aren’t many seats is because they have this cross-aisle behind some of the sections in RF (close to the foul pole):

I have no clue what the blue risers are behind the cross-aisle.

We stopped in the cross-aisle behind section 135 to get this panorama:

In foul territory down the 1B line there is a party area similar, but not identical, to the party area down the 3B line:

Once you get to the scoreboard and big screen in RF, the cross-aisle ends, and the blue risers turn into black risers:

But enough of that.  There were rays to watch:

And Tim had blast watching them:

If you happen to have tickets in section 150 next to the rays tank, if you are able to look away from the rays, this is what your view of the field would look like:

As we were circling back around the cross-aisle toward home plate, it was the top of the fifth and King Felix had yet to give up a single hit to the Rays.  With the Mariners still leading 1-0, Ichiro led off the fifth with a single:

With Ichiro still on first, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 116:

But then Franklin Gutierrez grounded into a double play.  An Adam Kennedy strike out later, the top of the fifth inning was history.

We headed out to the concourse and bought some ice cream helmets.  As we walked the inside concourse around home plate toward our seats, we got a shot of the weird tunnels into the seating area behind home plate:

Very odd, indeed.

Back in the seats with Grandma and Grandpa, the ice cream was quite tasty:

Unfortunately, the Rays tied it up 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth with a run manufactured by B.J. Upton.  After singling on a weak grounder past Adam Kennedy at third, he stole second, stole third, and scored on a bunt by John Jaso.  The worst part about it is that Upton should have been out at first.  Adam Kennedy didn’t get in front of the ball.  Instead he ole’d it right into a single.  Unfortunately, this would not be Kennedy’s only botched play on the day…so stay tuned.

The Mariners reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh on a lead-off homerun to RF by Kyle Seager:

That *should have* been all the support that Felix needed for the win.  He was, as usual, dominating:

In the eighth, Tim and my Mom headed back to the rays tank…

…and then things fell apart for the Mariners.

More precisely, things fell apart in the bottom of the eighth when Johnny Damon stepped to the plate with two down and a runner on first:

One more out and the Mariners would head to the ninth with the 2-1 lead intact.  Felix pumped strike one and strike two over the plate.  One more strike and the Mariners could stick a fork in the eighth.

But then Damon hit a grounder between third and short stop.  Kennedy moved like a slug over to get it.  He double or triple or…I don’t know…infinity-clutched the ball.  I yelled, “AAAAAAHHHHHHH, GET RID OF IT!!!!!!”  And then Johnny Damon crossed first base safe.

I could not believe it.

Any other day, Kennedy makes that play.  Kyle Seager, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo, David Bell, Russ Davis, Mike Blowers, Edgar Martinez, Jim Presley, Jamie Allen, Manny Castillo, Dan Meyer, Ted Cox, Bill Stein, and anyone else who has ever played a single game at 3B for the Mariners would have made the play.  In fact, they would have made the out at either 2B or 1B.

But this was this day, and it was Adam Kennedy (who had already cost Felix a run) was at third, and the play was not made.

As great as King Felix is, he does not always respond well to boneheaded misplays.  And he did not respond well at this game.  So Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist both followed with RBI singles.  A few minutes later, game over.  Mariners lose.

It was a tough, tough loss.

As the relievers headed back to the dugout, I got this picture featuring a pink backpack and the new R2D2 backpack:

As the ninth inning was playing out, I realized something – the Tropicana sign wasn’t the Tropicana Field sign.  And Tim was way out there in CF by the rays tank.  I texted and called
my Mom to ask her to come back to meet up with us.  But her phone was in his bag and she didn’t  hear it.  So, just in case we didn’t get another baseball at Tropicana Field, my Dad took a Tropicana Field bonus picture of me…

…and when my Mom and Tim finally arrived (and the lights had been turned down), I got a bonus picture of Tim.

And then we got a group photo with the lights out:

Tim requested that it be a *thumbs up* photo.

See all of those people on the field?  On Friday nights, the Rays turn off the main lights, turn on some disco lights and dance music, and let fans leave the game by walking across the field to an exit in CF.

We headed down to the field and got a picture of Tim on the warning track with the dugout behind him:

We got another picture of Tim standing on the LF foul line:

And then Tim started to dance like crazy.  It was all I could do to get him to stop dancing long enough to take this picture behind second base (doing an 80s b-boy pose)…

…and this on-field Tropicana Field bonus picture (this is the official photo we submitted to the scavenger hunt):

Then, as Tim went back to throwing his hat in the air and dancing, I took a 360 degree panorama from behind 2B:

If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you can see Tim dancing on both sides of the panorama.

I took this same picture, but my Dad did a better job of it – a worm’s eye view of the center of Tropicana Field’s roof:

After Tim did a bit more dancing, including some break dancing on the big screen…

…we called it a night.

We’d be back again the next day (August 20, 2011) hoping for our first Mariners win of the season.

I have to say, despite the crushing Mariners loss, I really liked Tropicana Field.  I grew up among rumors of the Mariners moving to St. Petersburg to play in this very building.  Because of that, I’ve always had negative feelings about Tropicana Field.  But I grew up going to and absolutely loving the Kingdome.  And like the Metrodome in 2009, I felt right at home at Tropicana Field, a great little domed stadium.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
24/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (1)).
68 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
12/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

GFS 2011 Game 4 – Giants at Braves (8/17/11)

On August 16th, we woke up and headed north to Dahlonega, Georgia to spend some time with my Dad’s aunt Eris.   I haven’t seen Eris since my wedding in 2003 and, of course, Tim had never met her before.

Over the previous couple days, my Dad had mentioned numerous times to Tim that we would go panning for gold when we visited Eris.  Dahlonega is home to the Consolidated Gold Mines.  I didn’t know what to expect, it was totally awesome.

We started out panning for go:

We each found tiny bits of gold in our pans of sand.  But a tiny bit of gold is all it took — Tim officially got gold fever!  GOLD!!!

Panning was fun.  But the real deal was the gold mine tour.  If you are ever anywhere near Dahlonega, stop in at the Consolidated Gold Mines and “Sleepy John” will take you one an
amazing tour deep below the surface of the earth.

We went down, down, down…

…into huge rock-walled caverns.

This was like old-timey movies.  Little train tracks through dark and muddy tunnels:

Sleepy John was a fountain of gold mine knowledge.  This mine has tons of cool stories.  It was sealed off and filled with water for approximately 80 years.  It has old-fashion drills poking out of the walls where the metal drills fused permanently inside the rock walls.  There is a turn-of-the-century motorized driller that was in place under water all of those long 80 years and still works – when they fire it up at 20% power it rattles the ears like crazy.

But the drills were nothing.  The real noise came from the dynamite blasts exploding in all of those holes the miners were drilling.  In the picture below to the right…

…Tim and I are hiding in a side tunnel off of the main tunnel where the miners would hide to avoid the shock waves from the dynamite explosions.

After the gold mine tour, we relaxed, went for a swim, and then had dinner out with Eris and my Dad’s cousin Karen and her husband Mike.  The next morning (August 17, 2011),
we had breakfast, went for another swim, did some laundry, said our good-byes to Eris, and drove back down to Atlanta.

In the afternoon, we were back at Turner Field for another battle between the Giants and  Braves.  On our way to the gates, we stopped to get Tim’s pitcher with Phil Niekro…

…and Warren Spahn.

Upon the ballpark, we headed to the section 143 in RCF right next to the Braves bullpen.  The Braves were just beginning to hit, some position players and pitchers were playing catch down the RF line.  We were in the first row right next to the bullpen when I noticed the pounding the bullpen roof has taken over the years:

This roof covers the entrance way to the bullpen.  The bullpen bench is elevated behind this roof, and the actual bullpen is behind the bench.  A few minutes later, a Braves lefty launched a homerun into the Braves bullpen.  It hit hard off of the fence directly behind the bench, and then it bounced back toward the field, and landed on that roof.  It must have had tons of top spin because it hit the roof and spun back toward the bench.  It was bouncing on a diagonal toward us.  I reached over the railing as far as I could, but it was just a couple inches out of my reach.

The ball bounced into the bullpen bench area where I bullpen attendant guy grabbed it, denied another guy’s request for the ball and pointed out Tim:  “Gotta give it to the kid!”

Here is Tim showing off the baseball (with a mouth full of water):

Thanks, bullpen guy!

The seats in RF aren’t open for the first half hour.  But we wanted to get over there because Tim Hudson was over there.  We have a goal of getting a ball from a “Tim.”

I looked at my cellphone and saw it was about 5 minutes until the rest of the stadium would open.  We headed into the concourse so we could be the first ones to run into RF.  But the guy watching the gate that blocks the RF concourse couldn’t let  us go until his supervisor radioed and gave him the “all clear.”  Turns out the supervisor forgot about RF and we ended up waiting about 10 minutes before they let us (and about 20 other people) into the rest of the stadium.

We headed over to the RF side of the bullpen toward the back of the section.  Bullpen coach Eddie Perez and bullpen catcher Alan Butts were walking around in the bullpen.  Perez walked over to the RCF side of the bullpen and pointed out a ittle girl standing up above with her family.  After he got her attention, he tossed her an unsolicited baseball.  He then walked around a bit more – I have no clue what he was doing walking back and forth in there, maybe he couldn’t make  up his mind what he was going to do next.  I pulled out the booklet they gave us upon entering the stadium and confirmed that his first name was Eddie.  Then when he walked by below us, I asked him if he could toss a baseball to Tim.  I knew he didn’t have one on him…but he just seemed like he might hook us up given the unsolicited toss up to the little girl.

Eddie held up his empty hands and said, “Sorry, don’t have one.  Wait, later!”  He then walked down into the bench and stairway area at the front of the bullpen. I figured that was that.  But five seconds later, Perez yelled to get our attention and then held this baseball…

…above his head.

Then he headed out to the field and hung out with Roger McDowell:

Thanks, Eddie!

I was pretty sure that Tim Hudson and all of the guys standing out there had seen Tim get the baseball from the bullpen attendant and/or from Perez so I didn’t think we had any
chance at getting a toss-up from Hudson.  So we decided to head around toward foul territory.

As we approached the RF foul pole, I got this panoramic view of Turner Field from the first row of section 135:

We planned to walk all the way around to LF foul territory in the front row of the infield seats.

I took this panorama from section 117…

…which is one section past the 1B bullpen.

Then they stopped us and made us head up to the cross-aisle when we reached the dugout.  Apparently, you can only go down in the seats between the dugouts if you have a ticket down there.  Several stadiums have that rule, and I think it is silly.

Anyway, the usher who made us head up to the cross-aisle was from Washington (and I was wearing my University of Washington shirt – in a final attempt to entice Tim Lincecum to
toss Tim a baseball).  The usher was a big fan of my shirt.  In fact, he was a U-Dub alum.  So we chatted for a few minutes before continuing on our way toward LF.  He was a very nice guy, as are all of the people who work at Turner Field.

As we were circling around toward the 3B side, the Giants were just starting to stir by their dugout.  Shortly, Tim Lincecum popped out of the dugout and started to play catch in shallow left field.  We found a nice front row spot right behind him:

When he finished playing catch, he partner tossed the baseball back to the bucket and we decided to head out toward CF.  Then something funny happened, as I exited the first row, I looked back to watch Tim follow me and I spotted something…

…(that is a little rawing of my eye) sitting under the seats right we had been standing.  It was a baseball!  It was tucked under the seat up against the
concrete step that raises the second row above the first.  How odd. But we’ll take it!

On our walk through the LF concourse on our way to CF, Tim posed with the Braves Statue of Liberty and a big Braves baseball:

Centerfield was rather uneventful.  Tim Lincecum, unlike the rest of his teammates, actually had fun again.  He saw my Huskies t-shirt and gave us a wave.  But that was it.  He tossed a few baseballs into the crowd, including a two somewhat near us, but they were random tosses with no specifically intended recipient on the other end.

Actually, CF wasn’t completely uneventful.  Tim and I set a personal record when we both separately failed to snag the same baseball.  Some unknown Giants batter hit a ball to the
warning track that bounced up directly to me.  It went out of view for a split second as it bounced and then hopped low over the fence.  It was right to me.  I mean RIGHT to me.  But it handcuffed me, clanked off of the heel of my glove and fell down into the gap.  I felt completely ridiculous for botching the catch.

Two minutes later, a Braves employee walked through the gap, grabbed the ball and called up to Tim.  Tim was wearing his glove, but made absolutely no effort to catch it.  Inexplicably,
he just watched the ball sail right by his face.  It bounced next to Tim and a 20-something guy grabbed it.  The usher yelled at him to give it to Tim, but he didn’t hear him.  That was cool though.  The guy was super excited to get the baseball and he was already showing it off to his girlfriend.  It was all for the best.  While I would have liked to catch the ball off the bat, I didn’t really want to get a ball tossed to us right in front of Lincecum.

A few minutes later, a 40-something guy scrambled for a homerun ball and then came over and gave it to Tim.  It was very nice of him.  But we don’t count balls from fans.  I knew someone else would appreciate the ball more than us.  So, when we visited the CN kids play area…

…I kept my eyes open.

While Tim was playing, a little kid who was probably 2-3 walked by with his mom and dad.  He was wearing a cool little glove.  I asked his dad if he’d been able to get his son a baseball during BP.  And when he said no, I unloaded the fan ball on him.  Of course, I explained that it was a BP homer by one of the Giants (which, indeed, it was).  The kid was
super-excited to have it, and I was happy to unload it.  It was win-win!

I have no clue what you call this thing:

But Tim loved it.  It was a room with black lights and all of these doors projected on the walls.  The different doors would open randomly and the kids would chase the characters
that would pop out of the doors.

Tim spent most of the time running around the cartoony-inside play area attractions, but he took a few minutes to wait through a relatively long line and take a quality hack on
the whiffleball diamond:

Before the game started, I headed up to the bar/patio above the seats in RCF and got this  panorama:

We then got some nachos…

…and reported to our seats in section 151, where this was our view:

Our seats were right on the aisle along the RCF side of the batters’ eye.   One of the closest players to our seats was 2010 post-season surprise standout Cody Ross:

Due to a combination of distance from home plate and lighting, I really didn’t get anything good in the way of action shots.  Both teams scored one run in the first inning.  The Giants
scored on a double by Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval.  And then future Hall of Famer, Larry “Chipper” Jones delivered…

…and RBI walk.

The Giants took the lead in the a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of singles by Orlando Cabrera and Eli Whiteside and a pair of sac-flies by Matt Cain and Cody Ross.  The score would remain 5-1 until the ninth inning.

It was time for ice cream.  Tim and I wandered around looking for ice cream helmets.  On our way out of the CF seating area, we got Tim’s picture in front of the play area…

…and above the Braves bullpen:

We made an interesting discovery in the concourse behind the RF foul seats:  if Tim got dippin’ dots instead of ice cream, he could get an extra cool blue and red Braves ice cream helmet.  He’d never had dippin’ dots before (well, maybe once at a fair or something, but never at a game) but he was game for trying them.  They had a nice selection of flavors.  Tim picked chocolate mint…

…and he loved them.

As we walked down the aisle with toward our seats with Tim’s dippin’ dot helmet, we saw something very bizarre.  A guy was sitting on the backside of the outfield wall in the batters’ eye area while a girl laid in the grass…

…a few minutes later, she started doing her make-up.  Soon enough, another girl joined them.  I have no clue what the guy’s role was, but during the next inning break, the girls ran out onto the warning track with checkered flags…

…and acted as the finish line for a race of some big tools.  My guess is that the guy was there to open and shut the door through the outfield wall.

Anyway, Tim was rooting hard for the power drill to win, but the hammer took the checkered flag.

The girls and the tools then walked through the batters’ eye grass (and sand where the grass had been removed to be transplanted to the field) and through a secret door below our
section of seats…

…, but before ducking into the tunnel the hammer did a big lunging dive and his hammer custom flew off his body and landed on the ground.  The guy then grabbed the custom and left.  It was an interesting little behind the scenes that you only get if you sit right on the batters’ eye wall.

Here’s a random picture that I’m including just for the heck of it:

I don’t know when my Dad took it during the game, or why Tim is making that “I’m an extreme cool guy” face.  The real reason I am including this picture is to point out my bracelet.
Reviewing all of our game pictures, I have worn that “cause” bracelet since approximately May 2008, and to almost 100 MLB baseball games.

It’s a “Free the West Memphis Three” bracelet.  It’s a terrible, terrible story all around.  It if you don’t know about it, check out the WM3 website and watch the incredibly disturbing (on many, many levels) documentary “Paradise Lost.”

Anyway, while I would eventually wear the bracelet for the rest of the Roadtrip and until we returned home, this was actually the last baseball game we would attend before the WM3
were, in fact, freed.  The news came out the next day, and they were actually released from prison after 18 years on August 19th before our first game at Tropicana Field.  So my wrist is now bare and looking for a new cause to support.

Back to the game.

The Braves have a guy who runs a lot of trivia games and other entertainment segments on the big screen between innings.  Late in around the sixth or seventh inning of this game, the Braves posed the following question to a contestant named Holly:

All signs are that Holly Brown said “yes”!

In the seventh inning, this beer vendor wandered by and stood in front of us for a few seconds peddling his wares:

I don’t remember his exact words, but he seemed so southern and gentlemanly as he made his “last call” announcement that he could have been straight out of a movie – hmm…if the made movies about southern gentleman beer vendors that is.

Since I wasn’t getting any good action shots, I figured I better at least get a picture of Chipper playing third:

Late in the game, my Dad took Tim for a walk.  They then returned requesting a penny.  Tim likes to put pennies through those penny-smashing-souvenir machines.  My Dad had one penny on him, but they accidentally pressed the wrong design on it!  They did the Braves logo penny, but Tim wanted the Turner Field penny.  Luckily, I had some loose change and, as a result, Tim ended up with two souvenir Braves pennies:

When they were out on their penny run, my Dad got a dippin’ dots helmet of his own.  After he finished his helmet, Tim and my Dad posed for some mini-helmet pictures:

And then Tim decided he needed some pictures of his water bottle wearing a helmet too:

Between innings, we asked the guy behind us to take a picture of the three of us.  We’d asked someone to take out picture after our first Braves game on the trip, but he ended up taking a picture of my Dad’s foot!  So we needed a good picture of the three of us at Turner Field.

The guy was too intimidated by technology to use my digital camera, so he passed the buck to his teenage son.  And the son delivered a nice shot:

The Braves were trying hard to mount a rally and get back into the game.  Whenever the Braves need a rally, they break out the Tomahawk Chop.  And you can’t do the Tomahawk Chop without some drum beating.  So where does the drum beating soundtrack come from?  Canned drum beating, you ask?  Nah.  The Braves wouldn’t do that.  Instead, they have the biggest drum I have ever seen out in LCF:

In the ninth inning, Tim and I decided to head over to the Braves bullpen.   As the Giants came to bat still leading 5-1, this was our view from the back of section 143:

And this was our view of Jason Heyward:

Just below us to our left, the Braves relievers were passing time on the bench…

…while Eddie Perez chatted up someone in the stands.

When he wasn’t chatting with fans, Perez was sitting on the far right side of the bench and was filling out pitching charts and other paperwork (it can be seen sitting on the green
platform thing in front of the bench in that last picture).

We decided to relocate closer to the field so we could get a better view of the non-action in the bullpen.  Tim got his picture with the relievers hanging out behind him:

When we were down there, we saw that Perez had a big, fancy line-up card like the one we’d gotten in Texas earlier in the season.  We were all set to ask him for it after the game, but we discovered that he’d pre-arranged to give to a lady over on the other side of the bullpen.

As for the ninth inning, it was very exciting.  The Giants scored two runs on sacrifice flies by Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff in the top of the inning to make it a 7-1 game, a blow out in the making.  But the Braves came out fighting in the bottom of the ninth and they made it interesting.  They scored four runs all with two outs.  Freddy Freeman led off with a single.  He then took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout.  Freeman scored the Braves second run of the game on a two-out single by Jason Heyward.  Michael Bourn then hit a weak pop up to short stop that should have ended the game.  Instead, Orlando Cabrera recorded his second error of the game and Julio Lugo scored the Braves third run.  Martin Pradio then followed with a 2-unearned run (zero RBI) double scoring Heyward and Bourn.

It was looking like it was going to be another amazing comeback like our last game.  Tim and I were pulling for it to happen.  But then Brian McCann struck out to end the
game.

Final score, Giants 7 over Braves 5:

On our way out of the ballpark, we grabbed a stack of (unfolded) Braves pocket schedules, Tim got his picture with Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s retired 44 outside the CF gate…

…, and I took a shot of the bright Turner Field sign that is on the outside of the stadium on the opposite side of the LF upper deck seats:

I would have preferred another comeback Braves win.  But all-in-all, it was a great night at a great ballpark.

The next day, we had a long drive back down to Tampa, followed by a nice dinner out at Tijuana Flats, and a relaxing swim in the hotel pool before heading to the airport to pick-up
a Roadtrip guest who would be joining us for three Mariners games at Tropicana Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
23/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
18 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2)).
62 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training** divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.
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