Archive for the ‘ Tim ’ Category

A Fun Day But Tough Mariners Loss in Baltimore (8/6/2012)

August 6, 2012 marked our only Mariners game at Camden Yards of the season.  So we had to make the most of it.  We arrived in plenty of time, got out tickets, and waited for those gates to open up and let us at our Mariners:

When we made our way into the stadium, the Orioles were hitting and our Mariners were stretching in front of their dugout.  So that’s where we headed.  As we approached the dugout, Stephen Pryor was walking down the line a bit to throw his glove in the grass outside of the *stretch zone* — I asked and he happily agreed to pose for this picture with the boys:

I think Kellan’s face in that picture is hilarious.  He simply refused to smile at the time.  He does that at times.

We were safely out of foul ball zone so I could let down my *don’t hit my boys* guard.  But moments after that picture with Pryor, an Orioles batter ripped a foul ball off of a protective net and it bounced over to the warning track and rolled to a stop just below us.  I reached over and grabbed it.

Thank you, very much, Orioles batter and lucky ricochet!

Then we headed above the dugout and watched our guys chat with each other…

…and then go through their stretching routine.

As the stretching began to wind down, I decided we should head down the LF line so we could claim a nice spot (among the 10 fans over there in foul territory) to watch the M’s play catch.  As we started walking down the line, I saw that Jason Phillips was standing on the foul warning track chatting with some guy (a non-uniformed Mariners employee).  As we were walking, Phillips looked up and saw us and he walked over to the bag of baseballs and grabbed one.

Phillips was deep in conversation when we reached Phillips, but he walked over and set the baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Jason!

Since he was deep in conversation, we didn’t wait around to chat with Phillips.  We just continued down the line.  We stopped about one section in from the foul pole and an Oriole immediately hit a baseball foul right behind us.  It trickled down the stairs right to us.

With Ichiro no longer on the team, King Felix is by far Tim’s new favorite Mariner.  At this game, he was sporting his white “Hernandez” t-shirt jersey that the Mariners gave my folks when they were invited to a game in the owners’ suite earlier in the season.  As all of the players made their way down the line, they stopped about 2-3 sections down from us and gathered around Phillips.

I pointed out Felix to Tim and Tim screamed, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, FEEEEELIX!”  Felix turned around and said “hi” and waved at Tim.  He then looked back-and-forth like he was searching for something.  He was.  It was the baseball bag.  He went over, grabbed a ball, and launched a arching pop fly in Tim’s direction.  Tim tried to navigate the seats in the first row, but the ball fell one seat short.  No catch, but Tim easily picked up the commemorative Orioles Park baseball from the folded seat.

Thanks, Felix!!!

Moments later, Felix started signing autographs.  We scooted over to the small gathering of people around Felix.  I was holding Kellan but another fan helped guide time right into the thick of the group…

…(you can see his hat just under the arms of the guy in the royal blue shirt) and King Felix stepped back from the group to get an extra good hold on the ball as he put a beautiful signature right on the sweet spot of the baseball he had just tossed to Tim.

Thanks, again, Felix! (And congrats again on the Perfecto!)

On our drive home, Tim was looking at the Felix autograph while chatting on the phone with his mommy and explaining the autograph.  He said something hilarious:  “Felix’s autograph is so cool.  It’s part signature and part letters!  You know how most autographs are just scribbles like a signature?  Well, this is both signature and letters!!!”  (That’s a paraphrase, by the way).

Once the Mariners started playing catch, we stationed ourselves between Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley:

Perez was playing catch with King Felix while Kelley played catch with Lucas Luetge.

This was some of the coolest *catch watching* in which we have ever participated.  Perez, who apparently has a crazy-strong arm, and Felix were playing long toss and Felix just kept scooting back-and-back-and-back.  Eventually, Perez threw a homerun over the CF fence and into the batters’ eye.  The grass in the batters’ eye is elevated so Felix was able to see Perez when he went up to retrieve the ball.  So Perez and Felix ended up playing catch from the batters’ eye to the LF warning track for a minute or two.  It was mighty impressive!

When Felix came back into CF it got even more interesting.  Felix nearly threw a ball into the seats.  Perez had to drift all the way back to the wall and reach up to get the ball.  Then, Felix threw a ball about one full section to our right.  It was definitely going into the stands.  I raced over there and there was zero doubt in my mind that I was going to catch it.  The throw was so offline and high that it didn’t seem like Perez was even going for it.  But then, as I reached up to make the easy catch at head level, Perez came flying in and made a running/jumping catch about one foot in front of my glove!

The whole thing was a ton of fun to watch.

Felix and Perez finished with some shorter harder throwing:

And then Felix came over to the wall and started signing autographs again.  Tim really wanted to get his picture with Felix, but there were too many people at this point gathered around trying to get an autograph.   So we backed away from the scene…and got rewarded for it.  As Felix signed autographs, Perez slowly walked toward the dugout.  Tim was just goofing off minding his own business in the front row when Perez walked up behind him and handed over the highly entertaining Perez-King Felix warm up baseball.  Awesome!

Thanks, Oliver!

While all of this was going on with Felix and Perez, I had also been communicating a bit with Shawn Kelley.  Kelley seems to be a super cool guy, a great dad and a big fan of kids.  And if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see he’s pretty funny too.

Well, my goal was to get a picture of him with the boys.  At times while players warm up, you can make eye contact or get in a word or two without disturbing their process.  I used these little breaks in the action to ask Kelley if the boys could get a picture with him after he was done warming up.

It was funny because he kept motioning like, “You want my autograph?”  And I would respond, “That would be cool too, but I really want a picture with you.”

Then, wouldn’t you know it, Kellan fell down and scraped his knee a bit (he does this all the time) right as Kelley wrapped up his throwing.  Kelley still thought we were asking for an autograph.  But all of our baseballs were put away and I didn’t feel like pulling one out.  I really just wanted a picture of him and the boys.  Because of the sniffling due to the scraped knee, the picture ended up being just Tim and Shawn:

Probably also due to the sniffling from the scraped knees, before leaving Shawn reached out and handed his warm up baseball to Kellan.  And it actually did the trick perfectly!  Kellan loves when he gets a baseball.  His eyes lit up and he yelled, “Baseball!”

And, hey, it was an Orioles Park commemorative (as was the Perez-Felix warm up baseball!)

Double thanks, Shawn!  Keep up the good work!

Once all of the pitchers were finished playing catch, we decided to head out to LCF by the bullpens.  Blake Beavan was out there and he decided to toss us this:

While out by the bullpen, Kellan and I were hanging out in one row and Tim was sitting right in front of me.  We spend most of our BP time in foul territory so we catch very few homerun balls.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I caught a BP homerun on the fly at Camden Yards was in 2004 before Tim was born.  Well, it is time to reset that clock.  Now, it has been since August 6, 2012.

A Mariner took a mighty hack and hit a screaming liner right to me.  Here is a reenactment of where I caught it, right above Tim’s head:

Yeah, he was busy eating a Nature Valley bar at the time.

That was it for BP.  Time to hit the kids’ play area.  We cut through the cross aisle around home plate and had an usher take our picture on the way:

After a vigorous bouncy house session, Tim and Kellan played on the too high and dangerous play fort…

…and then Tim did some pitching:

As Tim was unleashing his fastball fury, a fan walked by and yelled something like, “Looking good, King Felix!!!”

After the boys did some playing, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Jason Vargas warm up for the game:

He was looking pretty good.  And he had just been named A.L. Pitcher of the Month for July.  So I was hoping for good things from him in this game.

Once again (this is becoming the norm this season), Tim requested to do the old switcheroo – ice cream first, dinner second.  So we did.  We grabbed some ice cream helmets and found some seats in (approximately) section 62:

But something was amiss.  Kellan wanted nothing to do with his ice cream.  Instead, he just wanted to get out of those seats ASAP:

In that picture, he is trying to squeeze by me into the aisle.  He screamed throughout the national anthem.  I knew we couldn’t stay there.  Oddly enough, he calmed down the second we left this section.

We moved to some nearby handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle…

…and, instantly, Kellan’s screaming turned to smiles:

But he still didn’t want his ice cream.  So, as Dustin Ackley led off the game for the Mariners…

…, I took one for the team and ate Kellan’s ice cream.

The Mariners failed to score in the first.  Then it was Vargas’s turn:

Although he gave up two hits (including a double), he also got through the first inning unscathed.

Unfortunately, Chris Tillman kept retiring Mariners batters while Vargas gave up three runs in the bottom of the second.  They were the only runs Vargas would give up over eight otherwise strong innings of work.  But the Mariners just weren’t hitting.

We followed ice cream with a tasty pizza dinner:

I can’t remember who the batter was, but one piece of excitement was when one of the Orioles hit a single into LF and his bat traveled almost as far as the baseball.  Here is Kyle Seager retrieving the barrel of the bat from shallow LF:

While we were still eating our pizza, the Oriole Bird wandered by on his way to deliver some birthday wishes to several fans.  He stopped to pose for a picture with Tim (and his pizza crust):

Kellan kept a watchful eye on the big, scary Bird:

When the Bird wandered by again, after delivering a gift bag to a second birthday celebrating fan, Tim went over to say hi again and the Bird swiped the hat right off of Tim’s head…

…and proceeded to munch on it in his big beaked mouth.  Tim got a great kick out of the Bird’s antics.

In the fifth inning, Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl stopped by to say hi.  He also asked me, “is it too early to mention the no hitter?”  Indeed, Chris Tillman was throwing a no-no at the time.  I quickly responded, “No, Tillman is throwing a no hitter!!!”

That did the trick:  Mike Carp came up moments later and rapped the first Mariners hit of the night into LF.

Matt also mentioned that a guy who he described as “Alex from Seattle” was looking for me.  I had no clue who that was.  But we were soon pleasantly surprised when Alex “Not from Seattle but wearing a Mariners t-shirt” Kopp approached.

We last saw Alex at PNC Park on June 9th (for MyGameBalls.com’s Ballhawkfest 2012).  Since then, Alex has started his first job out of college.  It was great to catch up with Alex for an inning or two…during which Alex had a great (but unsuccessful) chance at catching his first ever game foul ball.  Don’t worry, the next day he would catch a Nick Markakis game homerun on the fly in the flag court).

Around the sixth inning, we witnessed one of the worst scenes we’ve ever witnessed at a ball park.  It looked sort of like this:

Here’s what happened.  We ran over to the moon bounce for a second round of bouncing.  Some kids were in the bounce so we had to stand in line.  I was holding Kellan and getting him ready (taking his shoes off) when they started letting the next group of kids into the moon bounce.  Tim ran up and jumped into the moon bounce.  Right as I started to approach with Kellan, a 45-ish year old dad with a 4-ish year old son walked up and asked the moon bounce attendants to call for help.  The sat down on the corner of the moon bounce mat, about 2 feet in front of us, and the kid’s head was bleeding like crazy.  You can see the dad in the blue shirt and orange hat on the right side of the photo above, with blood all around them on the ground.

My mom was an ICU nurse and she tells me that head wounds bleed a lot.  But, man, I’ve never seen anything like this.  The kid was drenched in blood.  My first instinct was to shield Kellan from seeing what was going on.  Another Mariners fan was standing right there (in the hot and sweaty evening air) and he freaked out (in a good way).  He ripped off his (no doubt sweaty) shirt and tried to give it to the dad to wipe up the kids’ blood.  The dad was very thankful but declined because he had something of his own to clean up the kid.

I have no clue what happened to the kid.  My first thought was that he fell off of the terribly dangerous looking and tall play set, but I didn’t see any blood on the ground over there.

All sorts of cops and security people ran over.  The dad did a great job comforting his boy and calling for more help.

Meanwhile, Tim was bouncing in the moon bounce and I circled around the side so Kellan wouldn’t see too much of what was going on.  All of a sudden, a 30-ish year old lady took a backwards dive right onto the cement.  Someone yelled that she was having a seizure, but she was not moving at all.  My guess is that she passed out from watching the kid with the bloody head.  Whatever happened, she wasn’t moving at all.  She no doubt bashed her head hard of the cement when she fell.  Her daughter (shown on the far left sitting on the ground wearing pink) started to totally freak out.

The lady seemed to be with some other people who started to tend to her.  They all called for more help and scream out for another ambulance (the dad had already asked for one for the boy).

Just then, they let the kids out of the moon bounce.  The bloody kid was practically sitting on Tim’s shoes so he had to go right up to the dad and kid to get them.  Actually, you can see Tim’s hat directly above the dad’s orange hat as he is grabbing his shoes.  Once he ran over to me and put on his shoes, I got my boys out of there as fast as humanly possible.

There was bad mojo in the air and I wanted none of it.  I have no clue why that cop appears to be smiling/laughing for my camera.  It was a very serious and unpleasant scene.  It might just be a bad picture and he wasn’t really smiling.  Who knows.

We got out of there and headed back to the cross-aisle:

Soon, we headed behind home plate.  The Mariners were still losing 3-0.  They did eventually score one run in the 8th inning and they definitely had opportunities to score a second and third run, but they just couldn’t do it.

We headed  behind the dugout in the cross-aisle to watch the 8th and 9th innings.  Interestingly enough, the usher at the top wouldn’t let us stand in the cross aisle (that’s a new one on me at Camden Yards), instead she *made us* sit in the fancy seats behind the home plate end of the dugout:

Okay, usher.  If you insist!

I took a bunch of unimpressive action shots as the Mariners tried unsuccessfully to tie up the score.

Seager hit a 1-out single in the top of the ninth:

At this point, a homerun would have tied up the score.

Mike Carp grounded out sending Seager to 2B:

Casper Wells hit a weak grounder for an infield single:

Now, with two outs, a homerun would have put the Mariners ahead and a gapped would have probably at tied it.

But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t to be.  Eric Thames (not on this pitch) grounded into a game ending fielder’s choice:

That sent out Mariners in-person season record to 2-1.  Alas, no undefeated Mariners season for us in 2012.

After the game, an usher took our picture behind the Mariners dugout:

And one our way out of the stadium, I took this panorama from right next to the batters’ eye:

Thankfully, our next three games would feature the Mariners at Safeco Field.  Hooray!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

17/15 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
26 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
95 Baseballs – Mariners 15, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park6/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez

 Bonus Picture: Tim likes to pose with the many Orioles signs all over the place at Camden Yards:

A’s at O’s – Round 2 (7/28/2012)

We usually go to 5-6 games each season at Camden Yards.  It is usually the one stadium we visit the most during the course of any season.  Yet, in 2012, we somehow made it to the last weekend of July before going back for only our second game of the season at Camden Yards.  It took several plans to fall through for this to happen.  But on July 28, 2012, we finally made it back!

Just like our first Camden Yards game of 2012, this game featured a showdown between the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.  It also featured the possibility of reaching two personal milestones. We have had 49 Camden Yards baseballs on our resume for the last several months.  Our next baseball at Camden Yards would be our 50th!  And, if we could manage to get two baseballs, our second would be our 300 baseball since Tim’s first game!  We had hit the 100 mark on 9/12/10 at Nationals Park and the 200 mark on 9/12/11 at Camden Yards.  So if we did it, it would be the first time we’d hit a hundred mark on a date other than September 12th!

So let’s get to the action.  Tim collects pictures with fire hydrants and he’d never got one at Camden Yards.  On our way to the CF gate, we found two fire hydrants about 20 feet apart…

…just across from the ballpark.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two fire hydrants so close together before.  It is Tim’s first 2-hydrant picture!

Before the gates opened, we met up with Avi, homerun catching machine Tim Anderson, and A’s superfan Rick Gold.  After chatting a few minutes, the gates opened and we all made out way to LF.  While the rest of the guys stayed in LF, Tim, Kellan and I swung around to the shady seats in foul territory.

I’ve never really noticed it before (and somehow didn’t get a picture of it), but the front row by the LF foul pole is perfect if you want to watch BP with a little kid.  The last seat at the end of the front row is pivoted toward home plate and rests up against the brick wall.  The result is that there are 5-6 seats in the front row that open from the aisle and then dead-end into the last seat so we were able to trap Kellan in there  He could walk back and forth between a couple seats, but Tim blocked the way to the aisle and the end seat blocked the other way.  It was, indeed, perfect.

When we arrived down the LF line, the O’s were hitting and a single Athletic was pitching to a catcher along the LF foul line.  There were almost no fans in foul territory other than 4-5 people standing behind the A’s catcher.

When the A’s pitcher wrapped up, he tossed his baseball to one of the people standing behind the catcher.  Then he grabbed another ball and threw it to another one of the people standing behind the catcher.  Then he walked over there, I assume to sign autographs.

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Chris Tillman sauntered over to grab a ball hit down the line.  Avi swooped in to advice, “That’s Chris Tillman!”  Thanks to Avi’s advice, we were able properly to ask  Tillman for…

…our life-time (Tim’s lifetime, not mine) baseball at Camden Yards!

Thanks, Chris!

Tillman tossed the ball to Tim, but threw it a bit too high.  So it went over his head and Tim had to grab it on the bounce/roll.

Kellan was all set to make a play of his own:

With one milestone in the books, we turned our sights toward our 300th lifetime (again, Tim’s lifetime, not mine) baseball.  It didn’t take too long.  An Orioles batter laced a liner down the line.  It took one hop on the bouncy warning track, I reached high over Tim’s head and gloved the ball easily:

In that last picture, can you see the fan sitting closest to us behind my glove.  He’s wearing shorts, a grey shirt and a green hat.  See him?  At one point, he wandered over and started chatting with me.  He came over seemingly to verify that we were really Mariners fans and ask why a family of Mariners fans was at an Orioles/Athletics game.

Figuring he was a lifelong A’s fan, I mentioned something about the Oakland Coliseum, and he surprised me by mentioning that he had “not been there yet.”  Turns out he wasn’t a lifelong A’s fan.  He was a lifelong Yankees fan, “but my son Evan pitches for the A’s.”

I was like, “What!?  Whose your son?”

Then he pointed over to that group fans that had been standing behind the A’s catcher.  And there was a Major Leaguer sitting in the front row chatting with his family!  Actually, if you look in most of the pictures above, you will find A’s pitcher Evan Scribner sitting in the seats.

I asked Evan’s dad if Tim could get his picture with Evan because “he’s never had his picture with a Major Leaguer in the stands!”  Mr. Scribner was all, “Oh, sure!  No problem.”  We walked over and Mr. Scribner made some introductions and then Tim cozied up with Evan for this outstanding picture:

That’s Evan’s brother sitting next to him in the red hat.  I believe they said he’s pitching in high school still…although, maybe they said college.  But the best part of it in my opinion (well, aside from the simple fact that it is a picture with a Major Leaguer sitting where the fans are supposed to sit) is the big smile beaming from Evan’s grandma’s face.  She looks so thrilled to see some random kid wanting to get his picture with her grandson.  Pretty awesome, in my book.

I mentioned to Evan that I was sorry to intrude but we really wanted a picture with a player sitting in the stands.  He explained that the on-field usher yelled at him for sitting on the short brick wall and told him he had to sit in the stands if he wanted to sit down.  That’s pretty hilarious.  Evan possibly met up with the strictest usher at Camden Yards, where people are generally allowed to sitting anywhere they want to sit.

Whenever we’re at Camden Yards during BP, Tim eventually notices that Avi is in the outfield and decides that he wants to go out there too.  I like to stay in foul territory as much as possible where it is less likely that one of the boys will get beaned by a BP hit.  But we decided to move just a section or two around the foul pole into fair territory to hang out with Avi.

Turns out it was a good decision.  Someone hit a baseball down the line that rolled to a stop below us.  Avi let us know that the guy coming to retrieve the baseball was Zach Britton, and Avi’s advice turned into this:

Britton flipped the ball up to Tim and he made a great snow cone catch.  The picture on the right is Tim’s actual reaction as he is turning around to show me that he snow coned it.  The picture above to the left shows Britton walking back to his group of BP mates as Tim reenacts his catch.

The way Tim caught the baseball, Avi and I could both see the Camden Yards commemorative logo hanging out of the top of Tim’s glove.  It was a really clean and nice commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Zach!

Then we quickly had an excuse to head back to foul territory:  Yoenis Cespedes was signing autographs along the foul line.

We scurried over there with a baseball and pen in Tim’s hands ready for a signature, but it wasn’t in the cards.  Tim was trailing right behind Yoenis as he made his way toward home plate.  It’s a bad place to be and it resulted in no Cespedes signature.  But, I did get a cool Cespedes-based picture:

After Cespedes stopped signing he grabbed his glove (while I was still in the process of taking close-ups of it) and ran out to LF to work on his fielding.  We headed back to our little dead-end front row…

…and watched Cespedes make a circus catch behind his back:

Cespedes had stopped signing autographers essentially at the same time that the teams switched spots on the field.  Now the A’s were taking BP.  All the A’s were running around doing there BP-thing, except for Evan Scribner.  Scribner literally spent the entire O’s and entire A’s BP chatting with his family.  Except there was one difference, during O’s BP the O’s relievers were shagging the balls hit down into the LF corner.  During A’s BP, the A’s didn’t put anyone in LF.  So Scribner jumped out of the crowd and ran over and shagged every single baseball that was hit down the LF line, and he tossed EVERY SINGLE BASEBALL into the crowd.  It was pretty amazing.

Here is one of those baseballs…

…and Scribner signing it about 5 minutes after tossing it to Tim.

Sribner tossed this baseball to Tim from probably 30-40 feet away and Tim made a great lunging catch on it.  A few minutes later, Scribner ran into the LF corner to retrieve a baseball that hit the foul pole and came to a rest just below it on the LF grass.   After he tossed that baseball into the OF seats, he walked back to his family.  On his way by, I asked him if he would sign the baseball that he tossed to Tim.  He agreed and then a hilarious little conversation occurred wherein Tim enthusiastically told Scribner that he had caught the baseball he was getting signed, and Scribner replied, “I know!  I saw it!” and I added in, “He threw it to you, Tim!”  And Tim was like, “oh.”  Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Thanks, Evan!

Soon, we decided to move back 15-20 rows and away from the field so Tim we could take some pictures of the ballpark (and the local birds):

While we were hanging out there, a guy named Mike stopped by and said he recognized us from our blog.  It’s always cool to meet someone how has enjoyed reading about our baseball adventures.

I asked Tim to try to take a nice picture of me and Kellan and this was the (very frustrating to Tim) result:

He was all set to click his shutter when someone launched a deep homerun over us.  I reacted by flinching and following the flight of the ball, and Kellan did whatever that is he is doing there.  The whole thing was very dissatisfying to Tim, the aspiring photographer.

When BP wrapped up, we did some wandering.  We wandered over to the picnic area behind the bullpens and checked out the new statues:

Then we watched some warm-up action in the bullpens:

And Orioles coach Bill Conrad came over and tossed a ball to me for Kellan:

Kellan was on my shoulders at the time.  After I caught it, I put him on the ground and handed him the ball.  He walked over to bullpen fence while Conrad did the same.  As you can see above, Kellan was holding the baseball in his left hand.  Conrad asked if he’s left handed.  When I said, “no.”  Conrad told me that I ought to teach him to be left handed.

Next, we decided to head to the play area.  But on our way, we took a detour up to the new bar area above the batters’ eye.  We’d never checked it out up there yet.  It is pretty cool:

As you can see in the bottom right picture above, there are two rows of stool seating at the front of the batters’ eye bar.  I took this panorama from the SRO area directly behind the second row:

After we headed down the stairs from the batters’ eye bar, we ducked into the CF seats to watch the first pitch:

And then we walked through the revamped flag court on our way to the play area:

I wanted to get a good action shot from the flag court, but the best I could do was this pitch out to Seth Smith while Jemile Weeks did not try to swipe 2B:

And, finally, much to Tim’s relief, we made it to the kids’ play area.  First up, a picture with the very cool looking Orioles pig:

Tim took a few hacks in one of the cages:

Kellan inspected one of the big Oriole bobbleheads while Tim argued with the bird like he was an umpire:

And then it was time to do some bouncing…

…and playing on the way-too-tall-and-dangerous play fort before heading off to get some ice cream.

A nice usher let us sit in some great handicap accessible seats right behind home plate while the boys ate their ice cream:

This was the view as Bartolo Colon set down the Orioles in order in the bottom of the second inning:

After the boys polished off their ice cream, we headed out to LF for a while.  This was our view as we looked at the field:

And this was our view when we looked away from the field:

Of course, those fellas are Baltimore’s own Avi Miller and Tim Anderson.  Tim told me on the drive down to Baltimore that he was going to take a self-portrait of himself and Avi.  Mission accomplished.

The A’s started the scoring for the night in the top of the fourth inning on a 2-run blast by Yoenis Cespedes…

…who was stationed just to our right during the bottom half of the innings we spent out in LF.

By Tim’s request, we pulled the “old switcheroo” – desert first followed by a late dinner.  Ice cream was a success.  Now it was time for dinner.  We decided on pizza.  Avi gave us directions to the closest pizza stand.  Once we grabbed our slices, we headed to the back row of the upper deck to eat:

This was our view from up there:

I got a great picture of Cespedes hitting a ball and breaking his bat:

At the time, the score was 3-0 A’s.  The very next batter was Chris Carter, and he blasted a homerun to LF.  We could clearly see Avi and Tim Anderson from up top, and I could tell that Tim gave chase to the homerun and ended up lunging over some seats to make an attempt at it.  I couldn’t tell if he had gotten the ball or not.  He didn’t.

Carter’s homerun made the score 5-0 A’s.

Before leaving the upper deck, I took some funny self-portraits of the three of us:

While we were up in the upper deck (and the A’s led 3-0), Chris Carter blasted a homerun to LF.  We could clearly see Avi and Tim Anderson from up top, and I could tell that Tim gave chase to the homerun and ended up lunging over some seats to make an attempt at it.  I couldn’t tell if he had gotten the ball or not.  He didn’t.

Carter’s homerun made the score 5-0 A’s.

We decided to head back to the play area before it closed down in the 7th inning.  I noticed something cool on the way down the stairs in the RF foul corner:

When we got back to the play area, the boys did a little bit more bouncing in the moon bounce and got a picture with another Orioles bobblehead:

Then we headed back behind home plate and ran into the Oriole Bird:

I tried to get Kellan to pose with the Bird too, but he was too scared of the big smiley Bird.

We were going to hang out in the cross aisle behind home plate for a while.  But an usher didn’t want us standing there, so she made us sit down in the fancy seats behind home plate.

Okay, I guess so, if you say we must!

The boys had lots of fun clowning around in the seats:

We repositioned again in the 9th inning.  And look who was pitching for the A’s:

It was Evan Scribner.

He pitched well, except for giving up a homerun to Nick Markakis:

The A’s ended up winning the game 6-1.

At the end of the game, we got in perfect position for an umpire baseball attempt.  But the ump turn the other way and gave out all of his baseballs to kids on the other side of the tunnel before heading out of the field area.

We decided to head over to the Orioles dugout and one of the Orioles relievers ended up tossing an commemorative baseball to us.  Don’t know who it was, but

Thanks, Oriole-guy!

Once all of the action on the field was finished, an usher took a picture of me and the boys before we headed out of the ballpark:

It’s always great to spend an afternoon and evening at Camden Yards.  Luckily, we’d be back soon.  The very next week our Mariners would be stopped through Camden Yards for three games, and we planned to attend one of them.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

16/14 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
24 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 3, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
87 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 11, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
14 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 6, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium,  Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park5/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird;   Kellan – Fredbird
4/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner

 

Family Vacation Baseball Sideshow in DC (7/22/12)

In mid-July, we took a family vacation to the Outer Bank in North Carolina.  Lo-and-behold, as we drove home on July 22, 2012, Nationals Park was right on our way and the Nats were playing a day game against the Braves.  The original plan was for the whole family to go to the game, but then Colleen decided to go shopping (for hours-and-hours-and-hours) instead of coming to the game with us.

So, under mildly threatening skies, Colleen dropped me and the boys off at Nationals Park right as the gates opened.  As we walked to the CF gates, Tim added a Nationals Park picture to his fire hydrant photos collection…

…and then posed for a photo with a Marine who (I think) was participating in a toys for tots collection effort.  That photo scored us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

We headed into the ballpark and down into the LF seats above the visitors bullpen and discovered that the field was not set up for BP…

…and some birds were relaxing in the seats waiting for the game.

A couple Nats were playing catch in RF.  See that red arrow in the picture above?  We decided to head up there because it was completely empty up in the 200-level (compared to maybe 20-30 people hanging out in the field level in RF).

When we arrived, I took this picture of the boys…

…and Kellan made that hilarious face.

Tim looked around and was all like…

…, “Where’s Mateo?”

As you may recall, our last game was also at Nationals Park and we met up with MyGameBalls.com member and MLBlogger, Mateo Fischer, at that game.  So Tim just figured we’d always see Mateo at Nationals games from now on.  But Mateo was nowhere to be found.

But Tom Grozelanny (who was wearing Lance Nix’s old glove) was there:

I had no clue that this guy was Gorzelanny at the time (actually, Mateo identified him for me after the game).  When Gorzelanny and his partner walked out to RF to play catch, we waved at them from our seats in the second row and Gorzelanny gave us a big wave of his own.

When Gorzelanny finished playing catch, he got the ball back from his partner and attempted to throw it to us.  But he completely missed the upper deck.  He then went back to the bag of baseballs and grabbed a second ball.  On his second attempt, he intentionally tossed the ball five rows over our heads.  Since no one else was nearby, we had no problem finding the ball as it trickled back down toward the front row.

Interestingly, Tim, Kellan and I got a ball in exactly the same, two-attempts, second attempt launched over our heads method last September in just about this exact same location.  And guess who the two attempt making player was that time?  The one and the same, Tom Gorzelanny!

Thanks, Tom!

After getting the ball from Gorzelanny, he headed over to LF.  Tommy Hanson was playing long toss at the time…

…and we headed over to the first row by the LF foul pole.  In that picture above, an usher yell  is about to yell at Tim from the field for leaning over the railing to touch the foul pole.  Booo!

The Braves were on an odd schedule on this day.  The pitchers never came out as a big group to warm up along the LF line.  Instead, one pitcher would come out at a time and play catch in LF, about half way between 3B and the outfield wall.  Until 12:05, we couldn’t get into the infield so there was no action anywhere near us.

When they finally opened the rest of the stadium, he headed in and watched Johnny Venters warm up with Alan Butts:

As you can see, they had a bunch of baseballs sitting in the outfield for the pitchers to use to warm up, and several of them were Dodger Stadium commemorative baseballs!

But the weird, one-guy at a time method worked against all fans hoping to get a toss up.  We only watched two sets up pitchers warm up before we left the 3B line.  But every single Braves pitcher dropped his warm up baseball back in the pile *for the next guy* before heading back into the dugout.  I looked back about 10 minutes before the game started and that same group of baseballs was still sitting there.  Not of one of them was missing.

Anyway, while we wanted to get one of those Dodger baseballs, we decided to leave the field level after Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch (they had followed Venters).  We headed off in search of pizza.  Amazing, we walked all the way around the stadium and somehow missed the pizza place, which was right at the beginning of our walk.  So we ended up getting our standard (and delicious) Nationals Park nachos:

We ate the nachos in the shady seats by the RF foul pole.  In that picture of Tim, he is questioning why he would put the cap back on his bottle of water after drinking some water.  He just couldn’t fathom why a cap should be reapplied to the top of a water bottle once opened. Sometimes (well, often times), Tim likes to inject fictitious drama into otherwise mundane of situations.

After eating, it was getting close to game time.  But we headed back toward CF to check out the kids play area.  Unfortunately, there was a line at the play area.  We’d have to wait to get in.  So we decided to come back later.  Instead, he headed over to the MASN booth and got some funny pictures:

The MASN booth was also handing out free posters, which doubled nicely as bats.  We took the bats to a little shady nook behind the Red Porch and the boys took a whole bunch of practice hacks with their posters:

We had great seats for the game in section 135, row P (seats 1-2):

And, ever better, they were free!

Even with the great seats, we didn’t stay put too long.  Tim had dippin’ dots (in a cup, no helmet option!) and Kellan had a twist soft serve ice cream helmet.

While they ate their ice cold refreshments, I watched the Nats push four runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning:

The biggest blow of the first inning was a 2-run homerun by Ryan Zimmerman.  The first also featured singles by Steve Lombardozzi, Mike Morse, and Roger Bernadina, and a double by Danny Espinosa.

Last Nats game we attended, rookie phenom Bryce Harper played CF.  At this game, he shifted over to RF:

You may notice something cool if you enlarge that last picture.  In that picture, you can tell that Harper jams two fingers into her glove’s pinky hole and doesn’t use the index finger hole.  He’s certainly not unique in that, but it is a cool little nuance of the game that I’ve never captured on “film” before.

In the bottom of the first I tried to get a picture of Chipper Jones getting a hit.  He got the hit.  But a fan below us stood up and blocked my view right when Chipper made contact.  So I had to settled for this much less historic and satisfying picture of Brian McCann not getting a hit:

And then it was time to check the situation at the kids’ play area.  This time, it was all clear.  Tim got right in and went to the playing.  Kellan is only two and isn’t allowed (by the Nationals) to go up into the play area yet.  So he had to settle for throwing one of our cloth baseballs…

…off the walls of the net room below the big slide.

After our round of playing ended, we headed back to that little shady nook where the boys ended up playing catch against the wall for a bit:

Tim was doing some great catching.  His catching has improved about 450% over the past six months.  I credit it to going through his first season of T-ball where he finally got to see how much fun it is to play defense.  Before T-ball, all Tim ever wanted to do was hit and hit and hit and hit, and hit some more.  Now he loves to play catch.  I love it.

As we headed back toward the RF foul pole, we were met by an alarming scene.  I couldn’t get my camera out in time to get a head on look, but…

…as we approached the escalator and stairs up to the second deck, a big group of about 20 cops, stadium security, and medics were walking down the stairs and the medics were carrying a fan strapped to a board.  I have no clue what happened.  But it was pretty crazy to see.

We ended up walking all the way around to the team store behind home plate.  But we had to leave the team store quickly because I Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat.  It was the bottom of the fourth inning.  And, oh by the way, Zimmerman had hit his second homerun of the day an inning earlier to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead.  I didn’t want to miss it Zimmerman blasted his third homerun of the day.

He didn’t:

Nope.  He lined out to Jason Heyward to end the fourth inning.

I just ran over to the standing room area in the concourse behind the 3B field level seats to watch Zimmerman.  When Zimmerman lined out, we turned around to head back to the team store and guess what we noticed?  The pizza place we had walked right by without noticing it earlier in the day.

So we grabbed a couple slices of pepperoni and headed back to our new favorite “nook” at Nationals Park to eat our pizza in the shade.  But turns out the Presidents had just raced and they were posing for pictures in our precious nook!  So we wandered a bit further toward RF and enjoyed our pizza at one of the picnic tables in the concourse:

After eating our pizza, we headed over to the RF foul pole.  Kellan has only been to a few Nationals games, but at every one so far Jim Lett has tossed us a warm up baseball between innings at the RF Nationals’ bullpen.  We’d stopped by the bullpen earlier in the game with no luck.  I figured we would give it another shot.

We hung out a bit in the SRO area just behind the field level seats.  Shortly after arriving, Bryce Harper hit a weak grounder up the middle for his only hit of the day…

…and Zimmerman again failed to hit his third homerun of the game.

We ended up hanging out by the foul pole for about 2.5 innings.  The first inning, Jim Lett tossed both warm up balls into the seats in foul territory.

We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…

…and Jason Heyward from our standing room spot behind the Nationals bullpen.

We were only going to make one more attempt before heading back to the play area.  The second time we headed down, Jim Lett passed along his warm-up position to one of the Nats relievers.  He threw one warm up ball into foul territory and kept the other.

But it wasn’t a fruitless attempt.  While the reliever was warming up Harper, I noticed that a stray baseball was sitting on the ground right below me and the boys.  I also noticed Nelson Robledo hanging out down in the bullpen.  I called out, “Hey, Nelson.”  When he turned around, I pointed at the baseball and gave him a “could you toss it up to us, please” look.  He pointed at the reliever (who I really think was Drew Storen) and gave me a “he’ll toss you one of the warm up balls” look.

When Storen (we’ll call him Storen, I really think it was) pocketed the second warm up ball, I called out to Nelson again and pointed at that stray ball again with a “how about now” look.  And he gave me a “hmm…yeah, I got you, man, but not until next inning” look.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Oh, I forgot to mention, shortly before this inter-action with Robledo, Kellan fell fast asleep in my arms.  It was well past his normal nap time.

We hung out for one more inning in the SRO area.  Tim did some birding with the camera on my phone.  We both tried to get a picture of Harper catching this fly ball…

…and only Tim succeeded.

I got Harper grounding weakly again:

He reached first one a throwing error.

Before the start of the next inning, which must have been the eighth inning, Nelson looked for us and then…

…tossed us a baseball from the back of the bullpen.  Kellan was still asleep at the time.  I’m not sure why, but the second I squeeze that baseball in my glove, Kellan’s eyes popped open and he was wide awake.

I shouted out a, “Thanks, Nelson!” (hmm…maybe that is what woke him up…), and Kellan immediately reached out and grabbed the baseball out of my glove while calling out, “Baseball!”

I think it was a nice way for him to wake up from his nap.

We headed back again to our nook to play catch a little more:

A line was already forming in the CF-LF concourse for post-game Kids Run The Bases.

By the way, the Nationals were pounding the Braves 9-2.

Rather than wasting time standing in that line while the game was still on.  No, instead of getting in line, after playing a little catch, we headed here:

We wanted to make a post-game umpire ball attempt and we found some great seats just about 10-11 rows behind the Braves dugout.

We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…

…then watched home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez unload all of his baseballs to kids in the diamond club seats behind home plate.

No problem there.  Tommy Hanson gave Tim some post game love in the form of this uniquely mis-stamped baseball:

Thanks, Tommy!

Finally, it was time to hop into the still long kids run the bases line:

As we walked toward the field through the Nationals bullpen, we got a behind the scenes look at the view Robledo had when he tossed us that baseball and hour earlier:

Tim and Kellan locked hands and then headed down the warning track…

…towards Kellan’s first kids run the bases experience.

When we reached the track behind first base, the boys were off to the races:

I thought Tim was going to run with Kellan, but the thrill of Major League base paths got to Tim and he turned on his afterburners.  By the time Kellan was 10-15 feet out onto the field…

…Tim was already to second base (behind Teddy and all of those Nats employees).

When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…

…, Kellan slammed on the breaks and stopped half way between first and second.

I followed Tim with my camera and caught him giving Abe Lincoln a high speed high five as he approached home plate:

I then looked back to the right side of the infield and Kellan was still standing in the same spot.  One of the gals working the infield for the Nats scooped up Kellan and ran him around the bases:

It was pretty funny.  She set him down a bit before home plate and tried to coax him into running the rest of the way.  But he was having none of it.  I think he was enjoying the ride.  So she scooped him up again and they crossed home plate together.

When she set him down at home plate, he ran off toward the warning track at full speed with a big huge smile across his face.  So, despite getting a little overwhelming getting out on that big field all alone, he seemed to enjoy his first kids-get-carried-around-the-bases experience.

Before heading out, I took several odd pictures of the boys, and this was the best one:

As we left the field, there were some Nats employees handing out freeze pops.  The boys loved them:

Moments after leaving the stadium, Colleen scooped us up in our car and we finished our trip home from vacation.  Tim nailed it while we were walking in the concourse and he told me, “This is a great way to end a vacation!”

2012 C&S Fan Stats

15/13 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
81 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Thank You, Ichiro / Tim’s Ichiro Stats

Ichiro Suzuki has always been Tim’s favorite player.

And a couple of time, Ichiro gave back a little love (in the form of baseballs) to Tim:

(It’s hard to tell, but that is Ichiro in the background between me and Tim in the picture to the left.)

We are very sad to see him leave the Mariners.  But we have shared a ton of great times together watching Ichiro work his magic…

… in a Mariners uniform.  (By the way, that was Ichiro’s 184th hit of the 2009 season).

Last night while I half watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics, I compiled *Tim’s* Ichiro stats.

Not too shabby, at all.  Of those 42 games and 57 hits, the single hit that stands out as my favorite was Ichiro’s homerun off of Rogers Clemens at old Yankee Stadium on September 3, 2007.  Part of a 3-5 day, that homerun marked Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the seventh season in a row.  (And that day King Felix and the Mariners handed Clemens the final regular-season loss of his career).

Thank you, Ichiro-san!

A Scorcher In The Nation’s Capital (7/7/2012)

After much internal debate about where to go and what to do, we eventually decided to head to Nationals Park on July 7, 2012, to see the Rockies take on the Nationals.   I had originally planned to take the boys to Cleveland with my buddy Greg.  But it ended up looking like that plan couldn’t happen.  Then Garrett Meyer gave a tip about how to get some free tickets to a Nationals game, so I picked this game so we could see Jamie Moyer.   Unfortunately, the Rockies designated Moyer for assignment long before this game happened and he is now toiling away in the Minor Leagues for the Blue Jays.

But, anyway, we had free tickets to the Rockies vs. Nationals.  And since he had originally planned to join us this weekend in Cleveland, our buddy Greg decided to join us in DC.

I was confused about what would be happening before this game.  It was listed as “photo day” on the Nationals’ promotional schedule.  It explained that the stadium would open 3.5 hours early (12:30 p.m.) and fans could go on the warning track in the outfield to get pictures with the Nationals between 1:30 and 2:45.  The game wasn’t scheduled to start until 4:05 so I was confused if BP was going to take place during the photo day festivities.  I asked Jeremy Guthrie about it on twitter, and he mentioned that BP was scheduled to take place on the field but he wasn’t sure how it would really play out.

When we arrived at the ballpark at 1:00 p.m., there were already some fans on the field.  The field was not set up for BP and I was thinking, “Wow, 2:45 to 4:05 is a long time between the end of photo day and beginning of the game if there is no BP!”

Wouldn’t you know, Jeremy Guthrie was standing in shallow LF right where we entered the field.  I called out to him and asked if they were going to take BP.

Nope.

Oh, well.  What can you do?  Make the best if it!

Guthrie was standing there with a baseball waiting for his partner to come play catch.  I told him that I’d play catch with him since he didn’t have a partner.

“Sure, I’ll play catch with you was his response.”  Greg snapped this picture…

…on his phone while Guthrie and I played catch until his partner arrived on the scene.  It didn’t last very long.  But it was my first time playing catch with a Major Leaguer and it was pretty darn cool.

Thanks, Jeremy!

By the way, Jeremy’s last throw to me was a pretty decent knuckleball.  I told him the best I could do was a pretty weak split-finger gripped knuckleball.  I let it fly and Guthrie got a good chuckle at my attempted knuckler.

After playing catch with Guthrie, I got a picture of Greg and the boys on the warning track:

I was hoping that Guthrie would toss us the baseball we played catch with after he finished throwing with his partner.  But he ended up playing catch with two different kids at the same time (using two different baseballs) and gave both baseballs to the kids.  But we did get a nice consolation prize, a picture with Guthrie:

I think that picture turned out to be pretty hilarious for a couple reasons.  First, Kellan has his back to the camera and Greg is starting to walk into the picture to get Kellan to turn around.  I take so many pictures that I don’t strive for perfection.  Kellan often times doesn’t look at the camera and I don’t really like to waste a Major Leaguer’s time trying to get Kellan to turn around if he doesn’t do it on his own.  Second, Tim is looking off camera at a girl who tried to get into our picture.  It was pretty funny.  Guthrie was clearly trying to get a picture with us, but this gal walked right up and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Guthrie.  When she turned and looked at a guy holding a camera, Guthrie politely explained that he would get a picture with her after he posed for our picture.  So she walked away, but Tim was still looking at her when I snapped the picture.  So sometimes a less perfect picture tells a better story and helps us remember exactly what was happening when we took the picture.

I should mention that Mateo Fischer met up with us when we were watching Guthrie warm up.

After getting the picture with Guthrie, we all decided to head out into the outfield.  We stopped at the LF foul pole and got a picture of Tim and Greg with the “336” signs:

Greg took a picture of me and the boys in front of the visitors’ bullpen in LF:

For good measure, I got a picture of Greg leaning against the wall by the “377” sign as Kellan wandered off toward CF:

We all caught up to Kellan and I got this picture of our little group:

Have you noticed in all of these pictures that Tim is holding a bright yellow squirt bottle?  He’s holding the squirt bottle because it was supposed to be (and was) 100+ degrees at this game.  I generally do not acknowledge or pay any attention to the weather, at least to future weather.  So when my wife kept mentioning during the week that it was supposed to be really hot at this game, I didn’t pay it much mind.  But the night before the game, we went to the store and bought Tim a squirt bottle to help us all keep cool.

We weren’t the only ones prepared with a water squirter.  As we walked by the opening in the CF wall where they store the batting cage and other stuff, an usher-type-guy told us there was a cooling station back there through the opening in the wall.

We were all for exploring this uncharted territory at Nationals Park.  So we headed into the store area…

…and found a some spare grass for replacing damaged grass on the field, a big pile of extra warning track dirt, a garage full of various types of equipment, and a couple fans blowing water on us fans:

Oh, yeah.  We also found a random brick behind the LF wall that the “Carolina Green Corp” built Nationals Park in 2007.

We ended up spending a lot of time in this shady area.  We kept coming back again-and-again to hide in the shade and take advantage of the mist-blowing fans.

But after our first visit to the cooling station, we continued on our way toward the RF foul pole.  The RF wall at Nationals Park features a large out of town scoreboard that we got to check out up-close-and-personal:

The Mariners’ position in the A.L. West cellar meant they were low enough on the wall that we could get our picture with our team:

I’ve noticed if I take two consecutive pictures, often times, Tim will look at the camera in one and Kellan will look at the camera in the other.  Here is a great example of the this phenomenon by the Nationals’ bullpen:

After we made it to the RF foul line, we headed up into the seats.  We found a shady spot in the second-to-last row where Tim could unload his water squirter in Greg’s face…

…and we could do some in-stadium birding.

When we made it up into the stands, the Nationals really started circling the ballpark in earnest.  Two players would come out at a time and begin a big lap around.  Mateo ran back down to the field before the rest of us.  We watched on from above as love-him-or-hate-him rookie, Bryce Harper…

…made his way down the RF foul line sporting a clown shirt.  Oh, by the way, now-a-days everyone who is originally elected to the all-star game bags out on it on some feigned injury or whatnot and is then replaced by a far less deserving player.  On this date, Bryce Harper (and his 62-games of MLB experience) was named to the NL All-Star team.

After cooling off in the shady seats for a while, we headed back down to the field.  We all headed out to CF and split time between the cooling station and the warning track.

Tim shook hands with and even got to spray several big leaguers in the face.  Here he is with Craig Stammen, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler:

BTW, credit for identifying all of these Nationals (none of whom looked the slightest bit familiar to me) goes to Mateo.  Thanks!

Here is a guy I did recognize, Mr. Too-Cool-For-School (And-The-Fans), Jayson Werth:

Notice the large padding he kept of empty grass between himself and the fans.  In that picture to the left, he was saying something to Tim along the lines of, “Oh, no thanks, spray yourself!”

A few Nats were standoffish like Werth, but most were very cool.  Here are a couple more of the cool variety – Henry Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel and Adam LaRoche:

Ankiel was one of the few I recognized and the only one with whom I shook hands.  LaRoche received a multiple-squirt facial attack from Tim.  I should note that Tim only squirted the players who specifically asked to be squirted.  I think there were four such players in total.

After a while I pointed out the indoor restaurant at the Red Porch to Greg and said, “Do you want to go in there and see if they have air conditioning going?  He pounced at the suggestion so we started heading over to the LF line to exit the field.

On our way, we met Terrance…

…who I personally believe is the No. 1 hype-guy in all of MLB.  I’ve seen Terrance working at Nationals games for years and the dude goes all full-force in and all-out attempt to rally the troops.

After this picture, he turned to Tim and asked, “IS YOUR NATITUDE IGNITED!”

Tim, showing an utter lack of Natitude, was like, “Whaaaat?”

And then Terrance noted that Tim most be too full of Marinertude to ignite any Natittude.  It was a keen observation.

Once we reached the concourse I noticed something that was just calling out for a picture:

Tim is acting like the Nats pig is a sweaty Nats player and his cooling him off with a blast of water to the eyes.

On our way to the Red Porch, Greg stopped to buy some food.  Mateo, the boys and I went ahead and found that the Red Porch restaurant was packed to the rafters.  There was no chance to get inside.  But there were a bunch of couches behind the restaurant that were all in the shade.  So we grabbed one…

…and waited for Greg.

Once Greg arrived, I put him in charge of the boys (including, to Tim’s great delight, Mateo), and headed off to grab some nachos.  But a funny thing happened on the way to get our food.  All of the fans were off the field by this point, and I noticed that a couple Rockies pitchers were coming out to warm up down the LF line.

We had been inside the ballpark for about two hours and had zero baseballs to show for it.  Kellan has NEVER been to a game without getting at least one baseball and I really wanted to keep that streak alive for him (btw, this was his 22nd game of his life). Instead of going to get the food, I headed back to the Red Porch and without saying a word to anyone (wink, wink…Mateo), I grabbed my backpack and Kellan and headed back to the LF line.

Three groups of Rockies pictures were playing catch and Drew Pomeranz was signing autographs at the corner spot.  Kellan and I walked down by Pomeranz but stayed about 10 feet from the group of autograph seekers.

When he finished signing and started walking off, I called out, “Hey, Drew.”  He hadn’t even started to warm up yet and he clearly thought I was going to ask for one more autograph.  Instead I asked him, “Hey, when you finish warming up, is there any chance you could toss your warm up ball over for this little guy?”  Pomeranz responded with a non-committal but encouraging-toned, “Possibly.”  He then ran over to the bullpen and started doing arm exercises with some stretchy bands.

Meanwhile, the first group of Rockies pitchers finished playing catch.  Rex Brothers was on the CF side of the pair and he ended up holding the ball.  He spotted us in the first row behind his partner (Josh Roenicke) and tossed the ball right to us.

Yes!

Thanks, Rex!

Kellan and I immediately bolted of the there and headed for the nacho stand.  On the way, I snapped this picture…

…and texted it to Mateo.

When Kellan and I reached the couches at the Red Porch, I was not surprised at all to find that Mateo was long gone.  Greg reported that he high-tailed it out of there the second he received my text.

Let me tell you, those nachos were delicious:

We had a great time eating, high fiving and squirting water all around in the shade.

But when we finished our nachos, we were all running low on water.  We had 3-4 20 ounce water bottles and we must have filled each of them up 10-15 times throughout the day.  We were constantly drinking water or having me pour it all over the boys’ heads.  Anyway, with our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.

Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains.  I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.

Wouldn’t you know, Mateo was down there watching the onlwith our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.

Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains.  I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.

Mateo was down there watching the only remaining Rockies pitcher playing catch.  And wouldn’t you know, it was Drew Pomeranz and he was just about to finish his warm-ups.  Like Brothers, Pomeranz was on the CF side of his partner.  When he finished playing catch, he looked up, spotted  us, and tossed us the baseball.  Thereby turning his prior “possibly” into a “sure thing!”  It all looked sort of like this:

Thanks, Drew!

Kellan and I again immediately took off for the concourse.  Greg, who has never got a baseball at a game before (but hopefully will by the time this season is over!), was amazed when we showed up at the water fountain with a second baseball in hand.

As we finished topping off our water bottles, we spotted some Presidential looking fellas in the concourse.  We headed over there and Tim and Greg got pictures with George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt:

After 45 seconds in the sun with the Presidents, we headed back to the shade:

Eventually, Tim ran down to the front row to hang out with Mateo:

See the guy in the red Nationals jersey out in CF in that last picture.  That was Nationals coach Jim Lett.  I pointed him out to Greg and told him that Lett would most likely throw us a baseball by the time this game concluded.

Once the final Rockies pitcher left, we decided it was time to visit the air conditioned team store…

…it felt like pure heaven in there.  We came back later for more.

It was game time.  We had some great seats in section 135 down the 1B line. But it was way to sunny and hot in the seats.  So we headed over to section 137 and hung out in the shady seats toward the back of the section.  This was our view for the first several innings:

Immediately before the first inning started, Kellan and I walked over to the railing looking down into the Nationals bullpen.  There was only one player in there and he grabbed some stuff…

…and headed out the big door way that you can see in the bottom right corner of that last picture.  I think all of the Nats relieves were hiding out back there.  Who knows.  Maybe they were in the dugout and only planned to come out to the bullpen if needed in the game.

Anyway, there was only one guy left and it was the aforementioned Jim Lett.  He was out in RF playing catch with right fielder (and former Mariner) Mike Morse.  When he and Morse finished, Lett collected the LF-CF warm up ball (used by Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore), and then he tossed us one of those baseballs (not sure which warm up ball it was) as we stood right behind the RF foul pole.

Thanks, Jim!

The Nationals had 2012 All-Star Gio Gonzalez on the hill:

He pitched a very solid game.

My cellphone told me that it was mighty hot and was gonna stay that way all night:

Even though the boys really aren’t fans of the heat, they did great and had a lot of fun in the shade with the water squirter:

When Bryce Harper came to the plate in the bottom of the first, my camera and I were all set to see what all of the hype is about.  Instead, the young phenom strike out looking on a pitch he clearly thought was a ball, hang there hanging his head for a good 5 seconds without moving, and then do a world class pouty, slouchy walk…

…back to the dugout.  So, yeah, in our first Bryce Harper at bat, Harper demonstrated his youth much more than his All-Star caliber skills.

The first scoring of the game came in the bottom of the second inning when Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to RF.

And we just kept having fun…

…playing and squirting water every which-a-way in the shady seats.  In those last pictures, Kellan is smiling at laughing at Greg who was making faces and what-not to entertain Kellan.

Harper’s second at bat came in the bottom of the third inning and resulted in a groundout:

Greg bought a big all-you-can-eat popcorn.  Tim requested a picture posing with “the smallest piece of popcorn” of all time:

Eventually, we decided to relocate to the 3B line, which was completely shaded.  On our way, we stopped off once again at the air conditioned team store:

When we left the team store, we decided to head to the upper deck instead of going to the 3B side.  Greg had been to Nationals Park once before, but had never visited the upper deck.  I old him it featured a nice view of the Capitol building.  And I wasn’t lying:

After Tim and Greg got a picture behind home plate…

…, we grabbed some ice cream and reported to the seats at the top of section 408:

On our walk up the section 408 stairs, I almost had an ugly spill.  I was holding Kellan in my left arm, and his ice cream helmet in my right hand.  As I ascended the stairs, I kicked the stair and tripped.  Kellan’s ice cream helmet went flying.  I started to fall and drop Kellan, but then I caught myself and Kellan on the way down.  It wasn’t pretty and probably scared the pants off of Kellan.  Luckily, the little guy escaped the incident unscathed.

Hopefully that is my last time I ever trip while holding one of my boys!

Anyway, I should mention that the Rockies scored a run in the top of the fourth inning to tie up the game at 1-1.

While Kellan enjoyed his ice cream helmet, Tim enjoyed his very first ICE CREAM GLOVE!

Check that thing out!  I’ve never seen one of those before.  It is a little left handed catcher’s glove designed to receive a generous portion of your favorite frozen refreshment.   The only knock of I on the ice cream glove is that didn’t have a Nationals logo or anything to show that we got it at Nationals Park.

Despite the single run for the Rockies in the fourth, Gio Gonzalez was still pitching quite effectively:

Kellan had a whole lot of chocolate left on him after he finished his ice cream:

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Nats took control of the game thanks to some horrendous play by the Rockies.  Danny Espinosa led off the inning with a double.  Harper followed with a single on this swing:

Harper demonstrated some terrible baserunning.  He tried to take second and should have been thrown out.  Instead, he headed back to first.  The Rockies should have thrown him out, but no one covered first.  Although no error was given on the play, we’ll call that a mental error by the Rockies because they failed to take advantage of Harper’s bad baserunning.

Ryan Zimmerman followed Harper with an RBI single:

With Harper on first, new Rockies pitcher Josh Roenicke threw a pitch in the dirt.  Zimmerman advanced to second on the play.  He was going to make second easily.  There was absolutely no way he was going to be thrown out.  But when Zimmerman was about ten feet from second base, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario made a horrible decision to throw to second.  Rushing the throw, he air mailed the ball into CF allowing Harper to trot home for the second Nats run of the inning.

While all of this was happening, we were sitting maybe four rows from the top of the stadium.  I told Greg that he would be able to see the Washington Monument if he went up to the top row.  He headed up there and reported he couldn’t see it.  I was like, “What?  Are you blind?  Its right over there…”

Oops…that’s a new building over there and it completely blocks what used to be a view of the Washington Monument.  Too bad.

A few minute later, Ian Desmond grounded into a fielder’s choice:

With two outs and runners on 1B and 3B, Roenicke tried to pick Ian Desmond off of 1B.  Instead, he tossed the ball into the 1B dugout.  Zimmerman trotted home on the play with the third run of the inning.

That made the score 4-1 Nationals.  That score would hold up for the rest of the game.

After the lengthy bottom of the sixth inning, we relocated to some shady seats down the 3B line, all the way out by the LF foul pole.  Here was our view from the back of section 108:

We could see Terrance doing his thing in the first row:

The highlight of the rest of the game was this Bryce Harper ground out:

Or, wait…no, the highlight was hanging out with my boys (and Greg)…

…and continuing to douse them with bottle after bottle of water from the trusty water fountain.

In the top of the ninth, the “Giambino” (one of my least favorite baseball nicknames) strikeout:

The Rockies just couldn’t get anything going.  One batter later, the game was over…

…and Screech the Eagle was climbing up on his perch to wave the “W” flag as the Nats ignited the crowd’s Natitude (but nore ours).

On our way out of the stadium, a nice guy took our picture in the LF concourse:

For his payment for taking that picture, Tim was required to squirt him in the face with his water squirter.

And there you go.  Another fun day at the ballpark.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

14/12 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 1
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
78 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 2, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Todd & Tim in Philadelphia: Reprise of a 2-Man Team (6/23/12)

Our plans for Saturday, June 23, 2012 changed several times leading up to the day of the game.  After several years of just me and Tim going to games together, Kellan had been to the last 11 in a row with us.  I was thinking it would be good for Tim to get some one-on-one time and do an old school Tim-and-Dad game.  We were going to go to see the Rockies and Phillies mid-week and then bring Kellan with us again to this weekend game.  Then Tim got sick.  The mid-week game was out and I thought I would just take Kellan to the weekend game.  Then Tim gave his germs to Kellan and started feeling better, although he still had the remnants of a rash that went along with his sickness.  So the final plan was to just take Tim to the weekend game while Kellan stayed home with mommy and rested up and recovered.

So that is what we did.

It was interleague play and the Phillies were hosting the Rays in an afternoon game set to start at 4:05 p.m.  We headed down in time for the gates to open.

We were probably 15-20 people back in one of three lines at the LF gate, but somehow when we stepped down into the LF seats, we were literally the first fans in the OF.  It was pretty strange.  Probably 45 people beat us into the stadium, but I had no clue where they’d all gone.

We ran down to the first row and did two things.  First, I asked Juan Pierre if he could toss a baseball to Tim when he eventually got one.  He said yes.  And he tossed the very next ball he got to us…although, for some reason, he threw it to me instead of Tim.

Second, we got Tim’s picture wearing a Justin Bieber shirt during BP:

He is doing a little “heart” shape with his hands.  Apparently, Justin Bieber does that.  Although, I should note that I only know that from watching Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious parody of Bieber.  Big thanks to Dan Sauvageau in Denver.  He got Tim this shirt for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt while we were in Denver.  But there was no BP the day he gave it to Tim so we didn’t get the picture.  I have carried this shirt to every game since that day and always forgotten to get the picture.  To stop that trend, Tim put the Bieber shirt on at home before leaving for this game so we wouldn’t forget again.  We covered up that shirt within minutes of getting the picture.

Big thanks, Dan!

No knock on Kellan, I love going to games with that little guy.  But, wow, it is so much easier to do BP (and the entire game) with just me and Tim.  For starters, I don’t have to carry Tim at all.

After getting the baseball from Juan Pierre and getting the Bieber picture, we headed out to RCF.  I wanted to see if Michael Stutes was around – frankly, I don’t even know if he is still on the Phils rosters.  I didn’t see him.  Most of the Phils pitchers were still running in RF.

Eventually, Joe Blanton broke off from the pack and walked along the warning track retrieving baseballs that had been hit out there while no one was there to shag them.  There were 2-3 baseballs on the track directly below us.

Blanton grabbed the first and tossed it to a Phillies fan to our right.  Then he grabbed the second ball and threw it in to the bucket.  But the third ball?  He tossed that one up to Tim…

…and Tim gloved it with no problems.

Thanks, Joe!

It was time to find some shade.

We headed to the back of section 140 where some shade was reaching the seats.

At our last game at Citizens Bank Park, we headed over to section 140 and an usher (who I am told is named Bernie) gave Tim a baseball.  Well, as we were a full section away from section 140, I could already tell that the exact same thing was going to happen at this game.

And, sure enough, it did:

Thanks, Bernie!

So, I just got a new camera because my last camera was *almost* destroyed on the GFS Baseball Roadtrip.  Our new camera has a “sweeping” panorama feature.  Here is my first use of the new panorama feature:

Not too shabby.

So we had three baseballs already and tons of time left during BP.  Tim wanted to stay in the shade and I didn’t have Kellan to hold or try to keep him safe.  So I decided to put on Tim’s 10 inch glove…

…and try to catch a homerun on the fly (something I have never done at Citizens Bank Park) while Tim sat in the shade at the back of the section taking pictures:

Tim LOVES taking pictures.  I gave him my old camera to use since I had the new one.  And he snap, snap, snapped pictures…until he finished the job of sending that camera to the junk heap.

I stood in the aisle next to Tim (sitting in the second seat) and ran around trying to catch a homerun.  But nothing came anywhere near us.

When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, we headed over to the pizza wedge:

Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.

While not much was going on, Tim noticed this camera:

I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.

I noticed something interesting when the Phils cleared the field, three of the Phillies pitchers walked into the tunnel in the RF foul corner instead of walking to the dugout:

The transition from Phillies BP to Rays BP was odd.  The Rays were still stretching by the dugout when the Phils headed to the clubhouse.  They just kept stretching and stretching.  There was a lot of dead time before the Rays really started hitting.

Before the Rays started hitting in earnest, a sole batter started hitting.  It was Rays starting pitcher, James Shields…

…and one of his hits rolled to a stop directly below Tim (and directly below the “399” sign on the wall).  There were zero people in the OF shagging baseballs.  I had a feeling that we would end up getting that baseball once the Rays took to the field.

And we did.  Eventually, Hideki Matsui’s interpreter, Roger Kahlon (thanks to Josh Leuke identifying Kahlon for me on Twitter), walked out into RF and tossed a few baseballs back to the bucket.  He didn’t see the baseball all the way out by the dugout.  But I waved at him and pointed and the baseball and Tim.  That did the trick.  He turned and walked toward us…

…and tossed the baseball up to Tim.  Again, Tim made a nice catch.

Thanks, Roger!

After getting that baseball from Kahlon, we decided to resume the picture taking and homerun-catch-attempting.  We moved over to section 103.  Tim sat in the shade toward the back of the section and I stood in the aisle a couple seats down from Tim.

I had one near perfect chance to catch a homerun.  It landed about 15 feet from where I was standing when it was hit.  All I had to do was move down the stairs about 5 rows.  It was hit right to the aisle.  But…

…this guy with no glove standing in the aisle completely boxed me out as I tried to walk past him.  He didn’t realize he was doing it.  The ball was hit to the RF side of the aisle.  He moved to that side right as I was trying to pass him.  He literally pushed me right into the row and made it so I couldn’t pass.  He made no effort to walk down a few rows to make the catch.  While I was trapped in the row, another fan ran over and caught the ball on the fly.

That was my chance.  I didn’t come anyway near another homerun.

Toward the end of BP, we went over to the bullpen again.  Tim and I both noticed this plaque on the wall in the Phillies bullpen:

I’ve never notice that before.  Right after BP ended, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo grabbed a baseball out of his equipment bag and tossed it up to Tim.  But he tossed it too high and I had to catch it, in Kellan’s tiny glove.  This is what the scene looked like:

As you can see, we also did a little sub-amateur birding in the bullpen.

Thanks, Jesus!

After Tim took a few more pictures, we headed for the upper deck to do some stadium exploring.  The first thing we noticed, right upon exiting the field level seats, is that the speed pitch from past seasons…

…is gone and a Chickie’s and Pete’s is no in the location of the old speed pitch area.  Chickie’s and Pete’s used to be in the concourse above the RF end of the bullpens.  This Chickie’s and Pete’s was not here at the first game we went to this season (neither was the speed pitch).  It’s too bad.  That speed pitch was pretty cool.

Our original post-BP plan involved getting some pizza and heading to the upper deck above the “pizza wedge.”  But then Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo – one of his favorite moves of the season – where we get ice cream first and dinner second.  So, we just walked around for the time being.

We headed up to the second deck and got two panoramas from section 206.  The first was using my camera’s sweep panorama function…

…and the second was an old-fashioned stitched panorama:

I like them both, but I prefer the old-fashioned method.

We ended up taking a long, round-about path to our favorite ice cream spot.  We traversed the upper-deck from the RF foul pole to third base.  Along the way, we ran into the Liberty Pig:

We found the other Phanatic pig (shown out of sequence) down by the kids’ play area during the game.

We ended up taking a flight of stairs down to the field level to find Tim’s ice cream.  At the top of the stairway, we stopped to get this panoramic photo of (what I have always considered to be) the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

While heading down the stairs, we stopped off at the Hall of Fame suite level.  The guys guarding the door let us pop inside to get Tim’s picture with the wall of baseballs:

That wall of baseball runs almost all the way from foul pole to foul pole on the Hall of Fame suite level.  It is a whole lot of baseballs!!!

When we reached the field level, we grabbed Tim’s ice cream helmet, exchanged some tickets to a future game, and then walked to our seats for the start of the game.

Along the way, we stopped to get Tim’s picture with a card board cut out of the Phillie Phanatic:

The top of the first was just about ending when we got to our seats in section 104.  When the Rays took the field in the bottom of the first, Hideki Matsui was stationed almost directly in front of us:

Unfortunately, our seats were in direct sunlight.  I was fine with it, but Tim was not a fan.  He crouched down on the floor beneath our seats to eat his ice cream helmet:

While I watched Hunter Pence at the plate and Juan Pierre swiping second…

…, I knew we had to find somewhere else to sit.  Our seats were awesome.  But they just wouldn’t work for Tim.

I quickly spotted some seats that would work in the upper deck:

After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.

On our way to the upper deck, we stopped by the kids’ play area.  While we were there, the Rays scored 3 runs on a Ben Zobrist single, Jose Lobaton walk, Jeff Keppinger 2RBI double, Elliot Johnson walk, and James Shields RBI groundout.

After the play area, we headed up the escalator…

…stood in front of some mist-blowing fans in the second deck, and then headed up to the upper deck.

While walking over to section 427, I noticed that the pub in the upper deck has an incredibly apt pun-laden name…

…the High & Inside Pub.

While we were en route to our new seats, Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-run homerun to bring the score to 3-2 Rays.  We couldn’t see the homerun from where we were walking, but we could hear the crowd going crazy for J-Roll.

We ended up sitting in the back row of section 427, right under one of the light stands:

If we moved over a bit to see around the light stand, it looked sort of like this:

Directly behind us, there was a chain linked fence that looks out over the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

It was pretty nice and relaxing up there in the shady upper-deck.  We kicked back and ate our pizza dinner.  Here was my beverage-eyes view of the game during our dinner:

The upper deck is often times a good spot for action shots.  In the bottom of the fourth, I captured Jimmy Rollins hitting a single to RF and then taking second on the throw to 3B:

Juan Pierre followed J-Roll and I captured him hitting the 17th homerun of his 13-year career:

It was a 3-run jobber that gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.

We were having a great time in the upper deck.  I took a couple self-portraits to capture the moment, but they didn’t turn out too good.  Here is the best of them:

And here is a random shot of BJ Upton at bat:

Tim was using my old camera to take a bunch of ballpark photos.  At one point, he turned around and started shooting photos outside the stadium…

…we saw a cute father-son scene going down out front by the Michael Jack Schmidt statue.  Pretty cool scene.  The funniest part was that this father-son combo were leaving the game in the fourth inning!  But they were obviously have a great time together, so it was pretty cool to spy on their good time for a few seconds.

I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:

So we were having a great time in the upper deck.  The shady seats were really great.  But we couldn’t stay put for too long.  At one point, I noticed that the shadow of the upper-deck was reaching across the field from LF all the way behind home plate.

We stood up and tried to see if we could find ourselves in the shadows on the field.  But we couldn’t.

Then I realized how we could find ourselves in the shadows.  We had to go to the far end of the upper deck out by the LF foul pole.

As we approached the last section, we could already see our shadows out in LF:

Then we got one of my favorite pictures we have ever got at a MLB stadium:

Check out Tim’s shadow on the LF foul pole.  My shadow is in the LF grass just to the right of the shadow of the foul pole.

The view down by the foul pole is pretty good too.  Here is what it looked like while J-Roll grounded out to end the sixth inning:

Before heading back down to the field level, I snapped a picture of Tim with Center City Philadelphia in the background:

And then we headed down the switch-back ramp to the field level.  From the ramp, we stopped and took two panoramas using my new cameras *sweep* function, this one…

…and this one:

After running down the first two parts of the ramp, we stopped on the 200-level and took the big escalator back down to the field level:

We hung out and watched the action from the SRO area for a bit.  We saw Matsui fly out to LF to end the top of the 7th:

The kids’ play area closes at the end of the 7th inning.  So quickly headed over there so Tim could play for about 5 minutes.  And then headed back to the SRO area behind the 3B side.  We wanted to make an attempt at getting an umpire baseball.  It was going to be near impossible because the seats were still packed behind the 3B dugout and, of course, we weren’t even down there.

In the top of the ninth, we ended up finding some nice seats in about the 7th row.  It looked sort of like this as Jonathan Papelbon pitched to BJ Upton:

After retiring Upton, Papelbon gave up a single to Matsui:

Papelbon had not blown a single save opportunity this season…until this game that is.  Starting with a 2-run lead, Papelbon twice had the Rays down to their final strike.  The crowd was on their collective feet.  We were inching down toward the third row where there was a decently clear path to the umpires’ tunnel.  And twice Papelbon gave up RBI singles instead of recording the final out of the game.

The save was blown.  And we were heading to the bottom of the ninth.

The bottom of the ninth did not last long.  Jim Thome…

…pinch hit to lead off the inning.  And he hit a walk off homerun to end it.

I hate when closers blow a save and are then awarded the win minutes later when his team picks him up.  Well, that’s what happened with Papelbon.  He vulture the win from his teammate, Raul Valdez.

I should note that Thome’s homerun was a historic blast.  It was his 609th homerun, bringing him into a tie with Sammy Sosa at seventh on the all-time career homerun list.  Let’s hope Thome passes Sosa, but doesn’t climb any higher on the list (next would be the undisputedly better than Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr.).

But that’s not the sum total of the historic value of the Thome blast.  It was also his 13 career walk-off homerun, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle and making Thome the undisputed all-time career leader in walk-off homeruns. (Note: Like Griff, Mickey Mantle was also undisputedly better than Jim Thome).

Anyway, we got into pretty decent position for an umpire baseball, decent for a non-Diamond Club attendee at Citizens Bank Park.  But Jim Joyce tossed all of his extra baseballs into the Diamond Club.

But we didn’t leave empty handed.  As the Rays relieves and bullpen staff made their way into the dugout, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi tossed Tim our final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Scott!

By the way, in an interesting side note: we have been to two Rays games this season.  The Rays lost both of them on walk-off homeruns in the bottom of the 9th.  And Scott Cursi tossed us a ball as he entered the dugout both times.

So, thanks again, Scott!

Before we headed out, we had two different ushers take pictures of us:

It was a great reprise our 2-man team for this game.  Kellan will be back with us for our next game.  But I think I’ll definitely do at least one more *just Tim and Dad* game this season.  We’re a great 2-man team!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 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

 

MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2012 (6/9/12)

June 9, 2012 was a fun day.  My folks were visiting from Washington and we all headed out to Pittsburgh for Ballhawkfest 2012 featuring an interleague battle between the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates or, as it would turn out to be, the Kansas City Monarchs against the Homestead Grays.

We had a full day on the 9th so we drove out to Pittsburgh the night before the game and stayed in a hotel.  The first order of the day was to play a little homerun derby.  PNC Park regular and mygameballs.com member Rick Sporcic had booked us an incredibly interesting ballpark called Officer Paul J. Sciullo III Memorial Field.  As you can see from this panorama:

There is a bridge directly behind/above the tall chain-linked centerfield fence.  And it was definitely in play.

The derby crew was small, but all the guys were cool.  In addition to me, Tim and my dad (my mom and Kellan played around in the shade in deep CF/RF), there was Rick Sporcic, his buddy Hunter Stokes, Ballhawkfest veteran Garrett Meyer, Ballhawkfest veteran Alex Kopp, and Alex’s dad Mark Kopp.

I was in the outfield most of the time and didn’t have my camera.  So I only got a few pictures, mostly taken by Tim and Garrett.

Here is Garrett taking some hacks against Rick:

I didn’t get any pictures of Rick hitting, but he was definitely the batting champ of the day.  In his second round, he hit approximately 800 homeruns.

Garrett got some cool pictures of Alex pitching to me:

I hit about 5-6 homeruns onto the bridge.  Several went to CF where the bridge wasn’t very far from home plate.  My best hit went to LF and I was surprised when it carried all the way to the bridge.  In the following photo, I’ve laid our derby park on top of PNC Park so I could see how far my longest homerun went:

I was shocked by how small the derby park was when I put it on top of PNC Park.  But, you know, any time you’re hitting a baseball over an outfield fence it is fun.

Here is another picture that Garrett took that shows one of my homers sailing onto the bridge:

One of the best parts of the derby (which I completely failed to capture on film) was watching my dad hit.  He was lacing some hard line drives all over the park and eventually hit one bomb to leftfield.

Good job, pa!

After two rounds of homerun derby, we finished up with Garrett pitching to Tim:

Tim put on a good show.  He even took some successful lefty hacks.

After lunch, we all headed over to a local restaurant.  Two noteworthy things happened at the restaurant.  First, the service was horrible.  We had to wait for our food…

…for close to an hour.  This ultimately resulted in our bill getting cut in half by the manager.  Second, Milwaukee’s Best, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, and his wife April showed up.  They missed the derby because they had a morning flight in from the dairy lands of Wisconsin.

After lunch, even with the long delay, we had a good chunk of time before the gates would open at PNC Park.  My folks, the boys and I passed the time with a visit to the Duquesne Incline:

Eventually, it was time to head to PNC Park.  PNC was Kellan’s 12th MLB stadium.  This was also my mom’s first game at PNC Park.  I’m not sure of her stadium total, but let’s see if I can figure it out.  I’ve been to games with my mom at: Safeco Field, the Kingdome, The Big A (as a kid), Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Tropicana Field.  Okay, so my mom might be tied with Kellan at 12…but, then again, she might have been to the Astrodome with my dad before I was born.  Hmmm…not sure.

Anyway, as we approached PNC Park for my mom’s and Kellan’s first time, my mom and Tim got their picture with the Willie Stargell statue:

And then we met up with the Ballhawkfest crew, which now also included Rocco Sinisi from Cincinnati and Zac Weiss from Pittsburgh.  We joined in with the rest playing catch on Clemente Bridge:

When the ballpark opened, Rick took over and ended up getting all of us non-season ticket holders into the stadium with the season ticket holders.

Thanks, Rick!

While almost everyone else huddled up in LF, we got Tim’s picture with the Pirate Pig…

…and then headed over to RF foul territory:

RF foul territory is a pretty good spot to hang out in during BP at PNC Park.  A lot of the time over there, it was just us Cooks or us and Zac Weiss.

When we arrived Jeff Francouer was playing catch with a football in front of the 1B dugout.  He was a little past 1B and his partner was close to home plate.  His partner tossed a few balls past him and I kept yelling, “Hit me, Frenchie!  Hey, I got a tight spiral!”  He thought it was pretty hilarious, but didn’t let me get in on the football tossing action.

Charlie Morton tossed us a baseball pretty quickly after we arrived:

Thanks, Charlie!

About thirty seconds later, a Pirates batter hit a foul down the line.  I caught it on one big hop.

Shortly thereafter, Juan Cruz tossed a baseball to Tim…

…and Tim made a nice catch on it.

Right after throwing the ball Tim, Cruz grabbed another baseball and tossed it to my mom.  So everyone had a baseball already:

Double thanks, Juan!

I gave my glove to my mom so she could patrol the line with my dad and the boys:

My mom didn’t get any other baseballs, but my dad could 4-5 on the day.

It was a great time down the line.  In addition to a bunch of baseballs, we pictures with three players.  First, Tim (and sort of Kellan) got a pitcher with hard throwing Kelvin Hererra:

I didn’t know it before this game, but Jose Mijares is super nice and really likes kids.  He saw Kellan standing along the wall with his glove and walked over and put a baseball into Kellan’s glove.  Then he handed out some high fives to both boys:

Thanks, Jose!

I really wanted to try to get a picture with Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Johnny Giavotella (to whom one of my friends from New Orleans had asked me to pass along a message that New Orleans is rooting hard for his success).  They ended up taking some grounders together:

And then Giavotella came over and posed for a picture with Tim:

And I passed on the news that his home town is rooting for his success (which I imagine wasn’t too much of a shock to him).  He seemed like a real nice kid.

While the Royals pitchers were running sprints in the outfield, Greg Holland…

…fielded a batted ball and tossed it over to me and Kellan.

Thanks, Greg!

Then righty-former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt went on a tear hitting foul balls down the RF line.  I caught one of Yuni’s one-hoppers.

My dad got one of his that was sliced into the seats just behind the handicapped seating area.   And then Tim snagged one that Yuni sliced into the seats right where my dad had already got one from Yuni.  It was the first *hit* baseball that Tim had ever snagged on his own:

And he loved that it had a nice scuff mark from hitting the concrete.

Tim’s baseball from Yuni was our last baseball of the day.  Tim and Grandpa both wanted to see if they could get Yuni to sign their baseballs (they never got near him) so they headed over to the wall just past the dugout:

While Yuni never stopped by, Humberto Quintero did, and he posed for this picture with Tim:

Toward the end of BP, my folks went off to tour the stadium a bit…

…while the boys and I hung out with Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak¸ who we know through Matt’s Pittpeas MLBlog and met in person for the first time last year:

Matt and Erin are good people, and huge Pirates fans.  Follow Matt on Twitter and you will always know when the Pirates win a ballgame (NOTE: Matt just tweeted that linked tweet exactly when I typed this part of this blog entry!).

After parting ways with Matt and Erin, we grabbed some ice cream helmets and headed out to LF for a group shot with most of the Ballhawkfest guys:

Everyone had success and BP.  All told, I think we combined to snag over 50 baseballs as a group.  Not too shabby.

After the group photo, we headed to the picnic tables by the Alleghany River to eat our ice cream…

…do some ballpark birding…

…, and play some catch.

And then it was game time.  We had some lovely seats in the four row of section 137:

When the teams took the field, we realized it was Negro Leagues throw-back day.  The Pirates were sporting Homestead Grays uniforms and the Royals were representing the Kansas City Monarchs:

I thought both uniforms really looked great, with a slight edge to the Monarchs uniforms.  I really liked the look of the red and grey Monarchs uniforms paired with the Royals royal-blue spikes (shown below).

We had the first five seats on the aisle…

…, which worked out great for Kellan (as we’ll see below).

Yuniesky Betancourt kicked off the scoring in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homerun to LF:

I also enjoy seeingYuni do well.  A lot of Mariners fans like to rag on Yuni, but I’ve always liked the guy.  I liked him as our short stop.  And I like him for being an incredibly nice member of the brotherhood of former-Mariners players.

Good job, Yuni!

I was all set to catch a game homer…

…or to help Kellan catch a between-inning warm up baseball.  But neither came to fruition.

Section 137 is only about 6 rows deep and Kellan spent almost the entire game walking up and down the stairs between rows A-F.  A lot of the time, he hung out right at the fence:

While Kellan was playing in the aisle, Tim and a blast (as he always does) with this grandparents:

I thought this was one of the funniest pictures of the night:

Kellan was working a strong game with the ladies sitting out in LF too:

By the way, did you see the Elivs Presley guy sitting in row C?  That was his gimmick because we were sitting behind Pirates leftfielder Alex Presley.

By the way, I should mention that the Royals scored their third (and final) run of the night in the top of the fourth inning to go up 3-0.

But then the Pirates came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

That put the Pirates up 5-3, and that score would stick.

There was an odd play late in the game.  I can’t remember who the batter was.  But he hit a single to CF that Andrew McCutchen totally booted:

The ball rolled to the CF wall giving the batter second base for free.  But the batter came flying around 1B and bit the dust  — face first into the infield dirt.  He had a retreat to first base and, because he didn’t take second, McCutchen didn’t get charged with an error.

Here is a look at the “Monarchs” with their royal blue shoes:

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Around the 6th or 7th inning, we headed to the pizzeria behind the left bleachers.  This big pepperoni pizza…

…was only $21.  That would normally be expensive for a pepperoni pizza, but for ballpark pizza, that seemed incredibly reasonable.  I was thinking a whole pizza would cost $45 or something like that!

After eating, we took a little tour around the upper deck.  We stopped in at section 318:

Where we finally got a good look at the front of the “Grays” jerseys:

My camera has quickly been turning into a piece of junk this season.  It completed the metamorphosis at this game.  Here is a great family picture that my camera completely ruined:

Tim grabbed onto his grandfolks…

…and we headed out to section 301 down the RF line:

This is what it looked like from the cross-aisle in section 301:

We then hustled back to our seats and watched the rest of the game from our seats.  The Pirates held on and the Parrot came out to *Raise The Jolly Roger*:

But our day wasn’t finished just yet.  After the game, the boys saw their first concert:

A washed up and reduced to 3-members, Boyz II Men.

All-in-all, it was a great day!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

12/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
69 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 4, Pirates 3
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens   Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park

1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird

5/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Hererra, Humberto Quintero; Kellan – Willie Bloomquis
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Celebrating The Fentennial (5/26/12)

On April 26, 1901, a new American League franchise known as the Boston Americans played its first game at the good old Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds.  In 1908, the team changed its name to the Red Sox, and kept showing up at Huntington Ave. to play some ball.

On April 20, 1912, the Red Sox moved into some new digs over on Lansdowne Street, just over by the Back Bay Fens.  The owner called it Fenway Park.

The Red Sox celebrated Fenway’s opening day by beating the visiting New York Highlanders 7-6.  At the time, Babe Ruth was a 17-year-old high school student in Baltimore, and it would be a little more than two years before he would make his Major League debut at Fenway Park on July 11, 1914.  On a personal note, it would be seven years before the birth of my first-born grandparent, Leonard Flathers, in April 1919.

Fast forward 100 years to 2012, Babe Ruth is one of the most iconic baseball figures of all time and has been dead for 64 years, my grandpa is still going strong at age 93, and the Red Sox are still playing ball at a beautiful little treasure called Fenway Park.

I’m dubbing Fenway’s 100thAnniversary the “Fentennial” – and I declared long ago that there was no way that my boys and I would miss out on joining in the Fentennial Celebration.

So, on May 26, 2012 – the 100 year anniversary of a Red Sox off-day in the middle of a 21 game homestand – Tim, Kellan, Colleen and I rolled into Boston for the baseball portion of a fun little Memorial Day weekend.

It would be just me and the boys at the game.  Colleen had shopping and a movie on her agenda, but was primarily looking forward to a Sunday in Mystic, CT and at the beach.  We arrived in downtown Boston around 3:00 p.m.  The gates wouldn’t open for normal BP for several hours.  But I wanted to get in a little earlier than “normal.”  I knew there was a way to do it, but I didn’t know quite how it worked.

While Colleen took Tim to play in the fountain at Copley Square, Kellan and I headed to Fenway Park…

…to ask how we could join the “Red Sox Nation” and get into BP early.  The lady in the box office and a guy at Gate C both told us just to come back to Gate C at about 4:45 and there would be a lady with a clip board who would sign us up, and then we could scoot on into BP half an hour before the regular folks.  So that was the plan.

Before heading back toward the Prudential Center area, Kellan got his first look inside Fenway Park through a big screen at the Bleacher Bar in CF:

Then we walked back down Ipswich and Boylston Streets where we met up with Colleen and a fountain-drenched Tim.  We ate a delicious late lunch at McGreevy’s Irish Pub (http://www.mcgreevysboston.com/)…

…and then the boys and I headed back down Boylston (stopping along the way to get a picture with some Boston firemen) and Ipswich and arrived at Fenway Park…

…around 4:30.  I signed up for Red Sox Nation (at a cost of $15, which also got me some cool Fenway Park 100 Years keepsakes), and then Tim acted a fool standing against the outside wall of Fenway Park until our group of RSN members started to file into the park around 4:45.

Other than just enjoying ourselves and taking in the Fentennial Celebration, my goal of the day was to try to get one of the beautiful “Fenway 100 Years” commemorative baseballs.  That’s why I wanted to get into early BP, so the Red Sox would still be on the field and hopefully would be using the special baseballs.

The Red Sox pitch the early BP experience as an opportunity to go up onto the Green Monster, which I really wanted to do.  But I could tell the Monster was already getting crowded (we were toward the end of the RSN line) and I didn’t think Kellan would be able to see anything from up there.  As we approached the stairs to the Green Monster, I asked the usher-guy if we could just go into RF.  He said “sure thing.”  So that’s what we did.

There were only about 20 fans in the CF/RF bleachers.  We stashed Kellan’s stoller behind the Red Sox bullpen, and then found ourselves a spot along the visitors’ bullpen:

In a matter of about 2 minutes, Alfredo Aceves (who was playing 2-person pepper with another Red Sox player across the RF grass) tossed us his extra baseball…

…and then Franklin Morales tossed us a baseball he shagged off the bat of one of his teammates.  Neither of the baseballs were “Fenway 100” balls, but they were both much appreciated by the three of us.

Thanks, Alfredo and Franklin!

Now there was one thing standing in the way of our quest to get a Fenway 100 baseball.  The sun.  It was blazing down on us and there was no shade to be found in RF.  We were in trouble.  Tim wanted some shade and wanted it bad.

I looked around and there wasn’t anyone official looking who might stop us from heading into the shade at the back of the grandstand in the RF foul corner.  So we headed over there.

So we found some shade.  But we might as well have been in our hotel room.  We were a long way from the field and there was zero chance one of those Fenway 100 baseballs would come find us up there.

And then I noticed something:  the whole 3B/LF side of the ballpark was shaded.  There was no one over there and I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be able to go there, but there were no ushers around to tell us otherwise.

So we started walking toward home plate through the aisle at the back of the grandstand:

Look at all of that glorious shade over there, and all of that lack of people!

Well, no one stopped us.  So we headed down to the Red Sox dugout:

There were a bunch of fans on the warning track behind home plate and a few people in the stands around the dugout.  But it seemed like everyone sitting in the stands (which was very few people) were wearing Red Sox / Fenway Park employee polo shirts.  It seemed that these people were just hanging out watching some Sox BP until their shifts started.

We continued toward the LF foul corner and ended up here:

Eventually, an usher slowly made his way over to us.  He approached and asked –

Usher – “Do you have some sort of ID or something?  Are you supposed to be here?”

Todd – “We’re part of Red Sox Nation here for early BP.”

Usher (looking around at absence of any other fans) – “Are you supposed to be over here?”

Todd – “I don’t know.  It’s our first time doing this early BP…but we were over in RF and the sun was killing my boys so we walked over here to hide away in the shade.”

Usher (looking around with a “hmmmph” expression) – “Okay.  Have fun.”

Did I mention that people at Fenway Park are, almost as an absolute rule, awesome!?  They are.  I’ve been to a number of games at Fenway dating back to 2000.  Both with my boys (in 2009 and 2012) and with my wife before we had boy (2000, 2003, and 2005’ish), the people at Fenway have always been amazingly cool to us.  We’ve seen the Mariners beat up the Red Sox a bit while I was all decked out in Mariners gear and everyone has always been completely cool to me.  This usher fit the mold – another cool Bostonian at Fenway Park.

Not much was happening when we first got down the line.  There was one guy (who seemed like a coach) shagging balls in LF.  Tim and I were looking at the beautiful Green Monster just a short distance to our left when Tim pointed at the Monster and said, “I bet if Big D was still playing he’d hit it way over the green monster!”  That gave me a chuckle.

“Big D,” of course, is a star Red Sox hitter in a book Tim and I read a few months ago called “The Fenway Foul-Up,” which is the first installment of David A. Kelly’s “Ballpark Mysteries” series.  Interestingly, shortly after this game, I had a chance email exchange with David and he recently sent us autographed copies of the first four Ballpark Mysteries books:

The fifth Ballpark Mystery book (set at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City) just came out and we’re looking forward to reading it soon.  The first four books have all been fun to read with Tim.  So if you have kids and like reading about baseball, head over to Amazon.com and check them out.

Anyway, back to the game.  A couple years ago, I made an incredibly ugly and uncomfortable baseball glove.  For some reason, Kellan had grabbed it off of my shelf and was walking around with it a couple days before this game so I decided to bring it with us.  And when that Red Sox coach in LF fielded a baseball, I used my “Learned Glove” (my fake baseball glove company name) to catch our third baseball of the day:

It was also not a “Fenway 100” baseball.  But, again, it was much appreciated.

Thanks, (probably) Coach!

Eventually, I asked this guy if he had seen any of the Fenway 100 baseballs, and I mentioned we were hoping to get one.  After that, I saw him check the logos on most of the balls he fielded, but none of them were commemorative.  When the Red Sox cleared the field and the gates opened to the rest of the fans, it seemed very certain that we would not get a Fenway baseball.

The Rays pitchers ended up warming up right below us.  And it was pretty awesome when Matt Moore tossed us his (and Alex Cobb’s) warm up baseball:

Thanks, Matt!

It was starting to get crowded down the LF line, and we were completely out of water.  We decided to go fill up Kellan’s list water bottle in the concourse.  With a full load of water, we headed over to the visitors’ dugout to see what we could see:

We saw Ken Rosenthal reporting for Fox Sports (this was the Saturday game of the day for Fox).  Even better than seeing Rosenthal, we saw this cool plaque on the back of the dugout:

Click that to make it bigger and you can read the history of the Fenway Park visitors’ dugout and club house.

While it was cool to see the historical info on the plaque, the dugout wasn’t the place for us to be.  I spotted our next destination from across the ballpark:

SHADE IN THE OUTFIELD!

We walked the awesomely cramped and cave-like Fenway Park concourse…

…on our way to the back row against the wall in section 35:

I’m not exaggerating.  He hung out against the wall…

…the nice and shady wall.

I didn’t think we would get a Fenway baseball from the Rays and we already had four baseballs on the day, so we really made no effort to get another.  But the Rays would have none of that!  A Rays righty-batter hit a homerun that landed about 2-3 rows in front of us…

…bounced off the wall (I’m not sure if I can call it the “Monster” out there above the bleahers, but its definitely at least “Monster-Adjacent” or, like, the Monster’s twin brother) and then it bounced over me into a folded up chair.  No one else had a real chance at it.  It was an easy grab for our fifth baseball of the day – also not a Fenway baseball.

Hey, do you see that guy in the light blue sleeves in the left part of that last two-part picture above?  That is Alex Cobb.  Before this homerun, he had fielded a baseball and I saw that he tucked it into his glove, which he was holding in his arms (not wearing on his hand).

Anyway, while Kellan and I just relaxed and watched the world go by, Tim took about 20-30 pictures with my camera, including this one:

And the picture below on the left:

My guess is that those big metal discs are used to tie down the batters’ eye tarp, which was removed for this game.

Tim took this picture too (I think) of Alex Cobb and his two buddies:

Around this time, Cobb turned around and looked at the bleachers.  He gave absolutely no indication that he had any plans.  He was just looking at the bleachers.  But I knew he still had that baseball in his glove.  Without standing up or making a sound, I simply raised my glove in a “here’s your target” motion.  And Cobb pulled out the baseball and (essentially, I had to get out of my seat to catch it) hit the target.

Thanks, Alex!

Wow – it was our SIXTH baseball of the day, and also not commemorative.   We seemed like we had exceeded our quota.  How could we get any more to get one of those commemoratives?  It’s not like we get an unlimited number of baseballs, you know?

Anyway, BP wrapped up.  We decided to head all the way back over to the LF foul corner so the boys could give a thorough inspection of a really big and cool lego Fenway Park on display in the concourse.  On our way, an usher took these to pictures of us (as an attempt at a MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Fenway Park bonus picture):

I like both pictures, but the Fenway sign is a bit too far away and small.  We would have to try again.

Kellan’s little umbrella stroller was still hanging from the railing behind the Red Sox bullpen.  When we went to grab it, a guy who appeared to be the Red Sox bullpen catcher was walking around in the bullpen:

He walked toward the bullpen bench and out of sight below us, and then he flipped a baseball over the bullpen that seemed to come flying out of nowhere.  It came right to me and I caught it with my bare left hand as I held Kellan in my right arm.

Thanks, guy!

Wow – SEVEN baseballs, and no Fenway 100 Years commemoratives.  It seemed like it just wasn’t meant to be for us to get one.

We meandered slowly on our way over to that lego Fenway Park.  We headed up the stairs in the RF foul concourse and got Tim’s picture with a “Go Red Sox” sign painted on the wall:

We walked the aisle behind the grandstand seats again, and then headed down toward the bullpen like we had done early in BP.  This time, we stopped and had a fan take our Fenway Park bonus picture:

And finally we made our way to the lego Fenway:

Pretty cool!

Next, it was back to the water fountain where Tim filled his hat up with water about 5 times and doused his head with cold water, and I poured some water on Kellan’s head to cool him down too.

I’ve never been in the “upper deck” at Fenway, ever.  It’s pretty crazy and very unlike me.  But it’s just so small and it has always seemed like you needed tickets up there to get there, so I have never even really made an effort to get up there.  So we decided to go check it out.

But our attempt was cut short when we saw Big League Brian from the grandstand and had to go say hello:

Big League Brian hangs out on Yawkey Way “outside” Fenway Park.  I put the “outside” in parentheses because it is literally outside of the stadium, but it is “inside” the gates and is considered to be “inside” the ballpark.  You can go freely in-and-out to Yawkey Way throughout the game.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, our Big League Brian side trip to Yawkey Way made it so we never made it up to the upper deck.  Instead, we headed back to RCF for the start of the game.

I like to snap a picture of the first pitch of a game.  As you can see below (top left), the match up was Josh Beckett vs. Carlos Pena…

…but just as the first pitch was delivered and I squeezed down on my picture button (top right), a fan walked in front of me.  And then another fan, and another fan, and another fan.  It was not until the fourth pitch of the game (bottom left) that I got a clear view of home plate, and that pitch sent Pena back to the dugout (bottom right) as Beckett’s first strike out victim of the night.

We pulled the old switcheroo at the game.  We’d eaten a late lunch at McGreevy’s so we started our ballpark eating activities with an early dessert…

…, which came in commemorative Fenway 100 Years ice cream hemlets!

From a fan perspective, the beginning of this game was pretty ridiculous.  We were about 3-4 rows from the back wall of the stadium, and almost as far as you could get from home plate, but no one seemed to be in her or her assigned seat in our section (well, we were in ours).

A group of six brides maids and a soon-to-be bride showed up to claim their seven seats in the row behind us.  But the entire row was full.  A guy sitting in the middle of their seats announced that his seat was in the middle of our row, but someone was in his seats.  Everyone looked everywhere.  No one knew what to do.

Eventually, one of the brides maids got the Fenway seat police involved:

The guy in the red shirt delivered the message, “Hey, work it out guys.  Yeah, you’re in the wrong row.  Move.”  And the brides maids finally sat down and stopped blocking our view.

Speaking of our view, here is what Fenway Park looks like from section 39, row 47, seat 1:

We had seats 1-2 in our row.  Kellan was a non-paying, seatless customer.  Miraculously, in a packed house, seats 3-5 in our row were empty pretty much all night.

But early on Kellan wasn’t interest in seats 3-5.  He wanted to hang out on the steps and chat up the girl in red just across the aisle from us:

He was working a pretty solid game of *I’m a cute little kid* and she was watching him much more than she was paying attention to the game or her man-friend.  As you can see (above to right), he also spent some quality *hanging on daddy’s leg* time.

Before too long, it was time for the second half of the old switheroo – pizza for dinner.  On our way to find it, we cozied up with a fake Wally statue…

…and we added a 2007 World Series Champs smashed penny to Tim’s smashed penny collection.:

When I asked Tim which of the four smashed pennies he wanted, his response was swift and certain: “Hall of Fame.”

Tim often thinks that pictures of trophies (like the WS trophy featured on this smashed penny) are a sign of the Hall of Fame.  I’ve never corrected him because it’s cute.

We also hit up the RF team store, which featured a heavenly blast of air conditioning toward the back center of the store.  It was incredibly hot (possibly hotter for me since I was lugging Kellan around a fair amount) and our several stops in the team store throughout the night offered a much needed bit of heat relief.

Anyway, pizza was a hit:

By the time the boys (and I) finished their pizza, half of our row seated to have cleared out giving Kellan lots of room to play…

…and access to three new female fans to sweet talk.  He was a big hit with the ladies inhabiting the Fenway Park bleachers.

Maybe it was his wicked mullet…

…that endeared him to the fans, or maybe a combination of the mullet and a cute little personality.

One of the fans out there offered to take a photo of us:

In the photo, Tim decided to lift his knee to his waist and hang from my arms.  The picture turned out great.  Easily our best of the day.  It will be a great reminder of our participation in the Fentennial Celebration!

By the way, as far as taking pictures of groups of people goes at Fenway, I think you really have to wait until it is dark out.  Every time I have visited Fenway, the sun just floods the ballpark from above the grandstand behind home plate.  The air gets visibly thick and heavy, and it really works a number on pictures.  For example, in our first and second Fenway Park bonus shot above you can hardly see the Fenway Park sign because of the sun.

Not too long after finishing our pizza, we decided to do some more exploring.  We would never return to our seats again during the game.

We walked the concourse from RF to behind 3B.  Here is a picture of how cave’ish it is around 1B:

Along the wall, they have pictures of the historical Red Sox logos.  Tim had to pose with the batting *red sock* (above middle) and had fun acting like he was lifting the 1909-11 “Boston” and the 1912-30 “Red Sox” (above right).  That last picture is one of my favorite of the day.  Tim’s got a great sense of humor.

We headed up the stairs on the 3B side up to the aisle behind the field level grandstand seats.  We then walked right behind home plate…

…and back toward 1B.

By the way, as far as I know, the score was still 0-0 at this point.  Actually, although we watched a lot of the game, we missed almost all of the scoring.

To summarize, the Red Sox scored a single run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Will Middlebrooks that scored David “Big Papi” Ortiz.  But the Rays came back with two runs in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist and a single by Luke Scott.

Both starting pitchers (Beckett and David Price) were “dealing,” as they say.

They boys were in *explore* mode and I was in *follow the boys* mode.   Right where the back of the grandstand opens up (to a hotdog stand, etc.) on the 1B side, Tim and Kellan found a ramp that I’d never noticed before.  And they started climbing:

When we got to the very top (a place I’d never been before at Fenway) there was an usher standing by some doors.  I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be up there or not.  I started to tell the boys to head back down, but then I figured, “what the heck, let’s keep going.”  The boys turned left and walked down a walkway (above in the bottom right) behind, well behind whatever we were behind.

We had turned a corner to the right so I could tell we were now walking toward LF.  And then we popped out behind section 2 of the pavilion:

Beautiful!

I’d been to Fenway Park probably a dozen times and everything we saw over the next several innings was completely new to me.  I love it.

There is a bunch of standing room behind the pavilion seats.  And it is a GREAT view of Fenway Park and the ballgame.

Midway down the walkway, another fan offered to take this crazy picture of me and the boys:

Tim is throwing a curveball in that shot!

Here is the view from the SRO behind section 6 of the pavilion seats:

This was the first time I had ever looked down on the Green Monster seats.  It looked like this:

And David Price looked like this…

…and he pitched to some dude on the Red Sox.

This must have been the bottom of the seventh inning, because I remember that the Red Sox were losing.  That means that batter is Kelly Shoppach.  He fouled that ball down the RF line before hitting a double to CF.

We could walk down to section 10 before this upper section turned into suites and we could go no further.  Here is the view from section 10 (right next to the first suite):

And here is Mike Aviles flying out to CF…

…and Dustin “Lasers” Pedroia taking a pitch before hitting a single to LF.

After Pedroia’s at bat, we backtracked toward the ramp and then went the other way, toward RF.  We popped out here, behind section 1 of the pavilion:

Tim did some staged cheering…

…and we had a great view of Big Papi’s inning ending at bat.

We watched the top of the eighth inning from the SRO area behind section 8, where it looked like this:

Kellan was chilling out on my shoulders the whole half-inning and a group of 20-something fans thought it was absolutely great to see a father and two sons in Mariners gear having a great time watching the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park.  They were giving out high fives to Kellan and then offered to take this picture:

After a rousing sing-along of “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of 8th inning, we headed back down to the field level.  To scout out the lay of the land and plan for a post-game umpire baseball attempt.  We watched the top of the ninth inning from the SRO area behind 1B.  Well, I half watched it and half scouted out the umpire tunnel situation (visually on the field and electronically by searching Zack Hample’s blog on google).  Basically, all I could tell was that it was at the 3B dugout.  But I wasn’t sure which end of it – both ends seemed to have a tunnel, at least from where I was standing.

As I scouted out the umpire tunnel, Tim and Kellan hid inside Fenway’s steal framework…

…and generally monkeyed around.

As the top of the ninth ended (with the Rays still winning 2-1), we made our way to the concourse under the field level seats.  We walked all the way around to the last tunnel on the 3B side (which is between home plate and 3B).

The goal was to get have home plate umpire Ed Rapuano toss us a beautiful, game rubbed-up “Fenway 100 Years” baseball that had spent time in his baseball pouch on the field during a regulation Fentenntial season game.  The whole set up was confusing and did not instill any confidence that we could succeed in our task.

First off, the tunnel into the field level seats is a ramp.  Unless you are at the top, you can’t really see much of anything inside the stadium.

Second, I couldn’t tell how far down the 3B dugout was from us, or which aisle we should go down assuming we could even get to the dugout area after the game.  I was envisioning a Red Sox loss and having to swim upstream through a river of exiting Red Sox fans.

Third, there were three ushers at the top of the ramp.  They probably would have let us walk right by and find an empty seat, but I didn’t want to risk them stopping us.

So we just stopped at the top of the ramp along with the ushers.  Kellan was still on my shoulders, at the ready with his glove on his hand (not that he can actually catch anything with it).  Tim was at my side, also ready and also with glove on hand.

Francisco Rodney came in to nail down the win for David Price and the Rays.  Eight pitches later, he walked the leadoff batter and potential tying run, Daniel Nava.

Nick Punto pinch hit for Kelly Shoppach and successfully bunted Nava over to 2B.  He was in scoring position with one out and the double play was out of the mix.  I didn’t want the game to get tied up and head into extra innings.  Frankly, I was looking for a game-ending double play.  But now that wasn’t going to happen.

Up came Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  On the 0-1 pitch, Salty blasted a ball to RF.  I turned to Tim, “WALK OFF!  Come on, let’s go!”

It was amazingly perfect.  A home team loss can kill an umpire baseball opportunity.  A walk off homerun, however?  Pure umpire ball magic!

There was not a single person in the cross aisle as we scurried over to the dugout.  Nor was there a single person in the aisle as we cut down the steps of section 63 toward the home plate end of the dugout.

Saltalamacchia was still rounding the bases.  The crowd was going WILD!  It was pure Fentennial pandemonium.  And all the while, Ed Rapuano was camped at home plate waiting for Salty to score the winning run for the Sox.

Meanwhile, the other three umpires all gathered right in front of us.  BINGO!  We’d picked the right end of the dugout!

As Rapuano strode to the umpire tunnel after calling Salty “safe” on the homerun, we seemed destined to finally get a Fenway 100 Years baseball of our own.

But Rapuano completely ignored the crowd as I shouted out, “Mr. Hickock!”

OMG!  Where did that come from?  I had my Umpire Ed’s mixed up.

Just at Rapuano started to disappear as he descended the stairs into the tunnel, I finally spit out the right name, “MR. RAPUANO!!!!”

His head half disappeared, and then it quickly rose again.  His face was still half under the cover of the dugout roof when he flipped us the most beautiful baseball we have seen all year:

BOOM!  SUCCESS!  Ed Rapuano made our day!

Thanks, Mr. Rapuano!

After another fan took our picture (above to left), the boys celebrated with high fives and dancing:

The historical significance of a centennial celebration – the first US sporting stadium to ever celebrate a centennial – made this easily the most exciting commemorative baseball that we have ever got at a game.

Thanks, again, and again, Ed Rapuano!

YES!

As we continued to celebrate and just drink in the moment (the first and so-far-only Red Sox Fentennial walk off win!) something funny happened.  The Rays relieves and bullpen staff filed into the dugout, and outta nowhere one of the catchers (not sure if it was a player or the bullpen catcher) tossed us another baseball!

Thanks, guy!

That baseball miraculously tied the most baseballs we have ever got at a MLB game (excluding one game in Cleveland where we found SEVEN easter eggs).

Wow – for a game not involving a win by our beloved Mariners, could this night get any better?  Seriously, could it!?

After the celebrated died down a bit and people started filing out of the ballpark, I realized that we had to go all the way back to our seats at the top of the RCF bleachers – a LONG way away from the 3B dugout – because we had left Kellan’s stroller at our seats.

It was a festive atmosphere as we made our way through the concourse-cave against the current of fans:

In fact, it was so festive that that lady in the grey tank-top waved at us while I took a finally photograph of the cavecourse.

People at Fenway Park truly are great.

When we made it back to RF there were a couple people in straight away RF taking picture with the red Ted Williams homerun seat.  But that was it.  When Tim went up to get Kellan’s stroller (he is in the following picture can you spot him?)…

…there wasn’t another soul up there with him.

As Tim retrieved Kellan’s stroller I witnessed something funny.  An usher went over to the Red Sox bullpen where some grounds crew guys were working on the mound.  The grounds crew guy gave the usher a baseball and then the usher stuffed it in his pocket and left.

Hey, the home team bullpen is a great place to find a commemorative baseball and (by this point) we were literally the only people left in the bleachers.  So when Tim returned with Kellan’s stroller, we walked by the bullpen on our way out.

I saw a grounds crew guy and asked, “Got any spares down there?”  He looked over to the other grounds crew guy (the one who had given the usher a baseball) and asked him the same question.

That grounds crew guy popped his head over the bullpen roof and looked at us.  Without hesitation, he held up two fingers and asked, “You need two right?”

“Sure,” I responded.

We walked town to the CF end of the bullpen to meet him by the fence.  He handed one baseball up to Kellan and another (along with a fist bump) to Tim.  And then he explained, “You know, I don’t want them fighting over one ball at home!”  Good plan!

And, double thanks, grounds crew guy!

Again, neither were commemorative, but both were very much apperiated.

As Shaggy would say on Scooby-doo, “Zoinks!”  We were walking out of Fenway Park with ELEVEN baseballs, a new personal record (and according to MyGameBalls.com we tied Zack Hample for the most baseballs ever in a single game at Fenway Park – history made at the Fentennial!)

As the boys slept soundly in their hotel beds, I took this picture of our spoils from our one day joining in the Fentennial Celebration:

I wish we could come back again this year, but it doesn’t look like it.

But, hey, Fenway Park’s 100th Anniversary, you ask?  Yeah, we were there!  And we had more fun than anyone else in the ballpark!

Next up, Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary in 2014!  Sign us up now!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

11/10 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/15 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays
16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2
62 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2, Red Sox   6, Rays 4
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
9/8 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch   Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park1/1 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 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

 

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