AAA & MLB: Red Sox at Tigers Organization (6/23/2013)

The weekend of July 22-July 23, 2013, we had a big weekend planned with some old friends and the Tigers and Red Sox organizations.  My friend Heather and her kids live in Toledo, Ohio.  We used to work together.  She’d never yet met Kellan and I’d had yet to meet her son, Jasper.  We’d been talking about getting together for a Mud Hens game.  We decided to do it on July 22 because (1) Ryan Rowland-Smith and his Pawtucket Red Sox teammates would be visiting Toledo and (2) it was scout night at the ballpark and we could camp in the outfield after the game.  Leading up to the weekend, Heather ended up scoring four tickets to the Red Sox at Comerica Park for July 23.  So it was an official Red Sox-Tigers AAA-MLB weekend for the Cook boys.

The fun started on Friday, July 21st, with a four hour drive across Pennsylvania to a very nice hotel at the Pittsburgh airport.  Although it was after midnight when we reached the hotel, the boys were excited and ready to wrestle when we reached our room:

Have you ever seen the movie “Elizabethtown”?  If not, you should.  It’s really good.  A simple story with no special effects or crazy plot twists, but some great characters.  Two of the great characters are “Chuck & Cindy” a couple who (along with their huge wedding party) take over the hotel where the main character in the movie is staying while visiting Elizabethtown.  The hotel is always bustling with Chuck & Cindy (“Loving Life!”) mania throughout the movie.

That’s how our hotel was when we arrived just past midnight.  The lobby was loud and crowded.  And when we jumped in the elevator, the “Chuck & Cindy” of the night was waiting inside the elevator to take a right up to their wedding night suite.  The elevator wreaked of alcohol.  And “Chuck” was psyched to see Tim’s Ken Griffey, Jr. backpack.  Griffey was always one of “Chuck’s” very favorite players.  A special player.  We exchanged our well-wishes when we parted way.  Loving Life!

The following morning, Chuck & Cindy mania was still evident at the hotel.  We started out our morning with a little swim:

Around 8:05 a.m., an obvious wedding guest sauntered into the pool area for a refreshing morning swim.  Of course, he still (or already) had a cold bottle of beer in hand.  As we swam, he walked over to a lounge chair and promptly dropped and shattered his beer bottle on the hard tile floor.  When we left around 8:30, he was still cleaning up the mess.  Loving Life!

After swimming, we packed up and hit the road for Toledo.

Around 1:30, hours and hours before game time, we arrived at Fifth Third Field along “Gene Cook Way”:

Interestingly enough, my grandpa’s name was “Jean” Cook.  For some reason, my great-grandfolks spelled his name the traditional female spelling instead of “Gene”  Still, it was good to see “Gene Cook Way” up there on the street sign.

The park wasn’t set to open for hours.  We just stopped by to take a walk around the stadium.  The highlight of our walk-about was seeing these two kid-based statues in the outfield:

We stopped by the team store and got some Mud Hens memorabilia.  And then it was off to Packo’s…

…a restaurant right next to the ballpark that is famous for being mentioned repeatedly by Corporal Klinger in M*A*S*H.  Lemme tell you.  Packo’s was TASTY!  The boys both loved the chili.  If you stop by Toledo, definitely check it out.

While at Packo’s I exchanged a few DMs on Twitter with Ryan Rowland-Smith and told him I would be sporting my “Hyphen” shirt to show my support.  I was excited to see the Big Aussie in person.  The last time I saw him in person was in October 2010 in his last game with the Mariners.

After luck, we drove to the suburbs and stocked up on provisions at Target.  With tons of time to kill still, I punched in “parks” in my GPS and we were soon off to a nearby park to burn off some energy:

The park was great because it had tons of tree coverage so it was really shady.  While at the park, I connected with Heather and we decided to head over to her place to cool off a little bit before heading to the game.

Heather’s kids, Elena and Jasper, had been to some Mud Hens games, but they’d never met a player, got a ball or an autograph before.  I was hoping that they could meet RRS at this game.  And, it could have worked out, but didn’t.

We drove to the game separately from Heather’s house and we arrived first.  We headed into the stadium and I quickly spotted RRS out in RCF:

We headed out to RCF and he ended up coming back to the warning track and chatting with me and the boys for the rest of BP.  While we were chatting, he ended up tossing Tim a baseball and signing a few autographs for us.

Thanks, Ryan!

The unfortunate thing; however, is that Heather and her kids just went and sat in our seats.  So they didn’t meet RRS during BP.  At the end of BP, I told RRS that I was hoping Elena and Jasper could meet him.  He said he’d come out and say hi to us during the game – we were going to be sitting in the front row by the Paw Sox bullpen (oddly, no one sits in the bullpen, it is just for warming up).

After BP, we toured around the ballpark a bit and got some pictures…

…and bought some food.

As game time approached, the grounds crew pulled the tarp out onto the field.

During the rain delay, we hung out by the Mud Hens’ dugout and the kids waved and gave high fives to players and “Muddy” the Mud Hens’ main mascot:

Eventually, it was time for some ice cream:

And then it was time for a scouts parade on the warning track:

Check out our seats:

Pretty nice.

During pre-game throwing and stretching, I got Paw Sox right fielder Justin Henry to toss a baseball to Tim.  Tim passed the ball off to Elena.

And then right when the game started, the skies opened up and down came the rain.  And it rained and rained and rained and rained and rained.

We sat there in it for a long time.  Eventually, we took over in the concourse.  Heather and her kids, who are not big baseball fans like us, eventually called it quits around 9:30.  They’d absorbed enough rain and had to call it a night.  We walked them over to the exit down the LF line, and then we continued walking around the ballpark.  Here is what it looks like in LF:

Great standing room area for trying to catch a game homer.

Kellan ended up falling asleep on my shoulders for a bit, so he wasn’t available when Tim got his picture between Muddy and Muddonna:

The mascots were signing baseball cards.  We got two sets of signed cards so Kellan could have some too.

By this point, the crowd was tiny and it was all pulled back from the field with most people under cover.  We decided to head over to the Paw Sox dugout with the idea of trying to catch a third out ball.

When we walked down to the side of the dugout, we found RRS standing in the camera well looking around in the seats down the line.  He was looking for us and was going to come say hi to Elena and Jasper.

With Elena and Jasper gone, he decided to hang out in the camera well and chat with us for about 2.5 innings:

We chatted about all sorts of stuff.  It was great to catch up with Ryan.

While we were chatting with Ryan, the Paw Sox first baseman, indeed, threw a third out ball to us.  However, Kellan was on my shoulders and it was thrown above my head at a weird angle and it clanked off of my glove and right to the people in front of us.  It was a bummer, but what can you do.

Right after that, Ryan walked away and then came back holding a baseball.  He chatted with us a while more while holding the ball.  Eventually, Tim piped up and asked, “Hey, what are you doing with that baseball?”  Ryan responded, “It’s for you” and he handed it over.  It doesn’t look very funny written, but it was really funny how Tim phrased the question and the inflection in his voice.

Thanks, Ryan!

But, hands down, the funniest quote of our discussion with RRS was from Kellan, and it continued a tradition of my boys saying random, odd things about their birthdays to Ryan.  (Back in 2010 while we were chatting with Ryan in San Diego, Tim suddenly announced to Ryan, “I was born in the winter!”)

The back story here is that a couple days before this trip Colleen and mentioned to Kellan that he was going to be the next person in our family to have his birthday.  Anyway, while we were sitting in the seats chatting with RRS, Kellan all of us sudden called out, “Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!” When he got Ryan’s attention, Kellan announced, “Ryan, my birthday is next noon!”

Not quite accurate, but it was pretty hilarious.

By the way, during this whole conversation with RRS, it was raining constantly.  So he chose to hang out in the camera well in the rain and chat with us instead of sitting under cover in the dugout.  It was pretty cool.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me that we also talked about rain outs.  He couldn’t believe that the game had not been called due to rain.  He described how rainout decisions are made.  It was pretty interesting.  And I was sure the game would be called when the Mud Hens scored two runs to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.  But, thankfully, it was not.

Eventually, RRS had to get back to his teammates.  It was great catching up with him.

We took a little walk in the concourse.  Guess who we found in the concourse right behind home plate?  This guy:

It was Alfredo Aceves.  For some odd reason, he was acting like he was watching pitches and hitting baseballs with a fake bat.

We ended up sitting right behind the Paw Sox dugout for the end of the game…

…, which the Paw Sox came back to win in ten innings.

Unfortunately, due to the rain, post-game fireworks AND the camp out on the field were cancelled.  Fortunately for us, Heather and contemplated the possibility that our camp out would be rained out before she took off and she offered to house us for the night if it was cancelled.  We were grateful to have nice warm beds for the night.

We had an usher take our photo before heading out of the ballpark and back to Heather’s house:

In the morning, he headed north to Detroit.  The game was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. so we wanted to get there as soon as possible, and I wanted to grab some breakfast at the little diner at the ballpark too.

On our way into Detroit, we stopped to take a look at the site of the old Tiger Stadium:

I’m kicking myself now because I didn’t realize the field is still out there and that we could have tossed a ball around and hit some baseballs out on the Tiger Stadium field.  Oh, well, I guess we have to go back to Detroit again!

We had a tasty pancake and bacon breakfast…

…at Leo’s Coney Island Downtown.

After breakfast, we headed out to get in line for the ballpark to open about 10-15 minutes later.

We got what would have been a great picture with the big tiger…

…had Kellan not been doing that crazy squinty face.

Check out the huge line in front of us:

As I excepted, there was no BP before this day game.  For Tim and me, this was our fourth game at Comerica Park and third game with no BP.  There were no players on the field, but we could see a Red Sox pitcher throwing in the bullpen.  So we headed out there and watched Jon Lester…

…throw a bullpen session.  He was really working.  He had two coaches talking mechanics with him and he was dripping with sweat.

After Lester finished up, all of the Red Sox personnel in the bullpen headed back to the clubhouse.  There was nothing happening on the field and the sun was beating down on us already.  So we headed over to the 1B line.  We hung out in the shade for a long time and the boys played with their water squirters:

When the pitches came out to warm up about half hour before the game, we headed back over to the bullpens to watch:

I was thinking that we were in for a great pitchers’ dual with Buchholz for the Red Sox against Verlander for the Tigers.  I already that Verlander was going to pitch.  Because Detroit is about 9 hours from our house, I was really hoping that Verlander would throw a near perfect game and the game would fly by in less than 3 hours.  Adding Buchholz to the mix, I thought, had the possibility of helping the game go quickly.  But Buchholz was just getting in some throwing.  He was not the starter for the Red Sox, that job went to Felix Doubront.

Before Doubront started throwing in the bullpen, bullpen catcher Dana LeVangie did some work with Red Sox starting catcher Ryan Lavarnway…

…and then he gave one of the three baseballs he was using to Tim.

Thanks, Dana!

With game time fast approaching, we decided to get some ice cream over by the tiger-go-round.  On our way out of the LF seats, we got pictures of all of the statues in the LF concourse, including Ty Cobb…

…, Willie Horton…

…, Hank Greenberg…

…, Charlie Gehringer…

…, Hal Newhouser…

…, and Al Kaline:

Right as the game was starting, the boys were cooling off in the shade eating ice cream:

And then they went crazy on the tiger-go-round:

From the tiger-go-round, the boys wanted to go straight to the ferris wheel.  I decided we should take a detour through the field level cross aisle.  At the time, the bottom of the first had just ended.  The Tigers had a 2-0 lead after two walks, an RBI ground rule double by Miguel Cabrera, and an RBI ground out by Prince Fielder.

Verlander was on the hill…

…and was pitching to Mike Napoli while we walked by on our way to the ferris wheel.  As we passed behind home plate, Napoli lifted a soft liner into shallow LCF for the first Red Sox hit of the day.

As we rode the ferris wheel, Verlander was busy giving back the lead his offense had staked him to in the top of the inning.  Single (Napoli), flyout, walk, RBI single (Lavarnway), HBP (Iglesias), Sac Fly (Ellsbury), and ground out, and it was a 2-2 game after an inning and a half.

It was like no one wanted the lead.  In the bottom of the second, Doubront gave up three hits and then let a run score on a passed ball.

3-2 Tigers after two innings.

Our tickets came with access to the “Tiger Den,” which is a bar/lounge type place near the ferris wheel.  We figured we should check it out and stopped by for lunch:

It was neat to get to see it, but it is definitely nothing to write home about.  On the way out of the Tiger Den after lunch, I took a shot that shows the entrance of the Tiger Den from the inside:

After lunch, we reported to our assigned seats for several innings.  Here was our view of Comerica Park from Section 134, Row 14:

Kellan has been all about taking pictures lately.  He confiscated my camera and took a ton of picts, including these gems:

Each inning, Tim made a valiant effort to get a third out ball…

…, but (despite) absolutely ideal positioning, it was not in the cards at this game.

The heat wasn’t too bad so we were able to enjoy our great view…

…for a while.

I should mention that a few more runs were scored.  In the top of the third, the Red Sox tied it up at 3-3 on a Mike Napoli groundout.  In the top of the fourth, the Red Sox took a 1-run lead on an RBI ground out by Shane Victorino.

Kellan was just chillaxing and watching the game:

I caught a moment during the seventh inning stretch that I thought was pretty funny:

Check out how Paws is grabbing his tail and he stands at attention during the singing of “God Bless America.”

In the bottom of the seventh, the boys were checking out this baseball fountain…

…while the Red Sox were busy giving up their 1-run lead on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch.

We had had enough sun, so we headed over to the shady cross aisle:

In the top of the eighth inning, Daniel Nava pinch hit for Shane Victorino.  In the bottom of the eighth, with the score still tied 4-4, Nava took over in RF for the Red Sox. The first batter in the bottom of the eighth, Avisail Garcia hit a deep fly ball to the warning track in RF.  Nava went back on it and, to me at least, clearly caught the ball.  But the ball shot out of his glove and went behind him and to the fence on the play.  I thought it was clearly an out and “on the transfer” drop.  But 2B umpire Mike DiMuro called it a “no catch” and Garcia sailed safely into second base.  Here’s the video clip so you can be the judge.

Nava ran all the way into the infield to protest.  At the same time, Red Sox manager John Farrell ran out from the dugout to do the same:

The play stood.  Farrell was tossed.  And the Red Sox were in a bit of a jam.

The Red Sox didn’t do themselves any favors when they followed the Garcia at bat with E-1 on a sacrifice bunt.  After a sacrifice fly and a single, the Tigers pulled to a 7-4 lead after eight innings.

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, we relocated here:

In the top of the ninth, Joaquin Benoit gave up a 2-out RBI double to Jonny Gomes.  That brought Stephen Drew to the plate as the potential tying run.  But Benoit got Drew to line out to RF to end the game.

Tigers win 7-5.

On his way to the locker room, home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez gave a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim and then another to Kellan.

Double thanks, Alfonso!

Another fan was kind enough to take a picture of the three of us with the boys’ umpire baseballs:

And then we made our way over to the Red Sox dugout.  As the last folks made their way in from the bullpen, Red Sox bullpen catcher, Brian Abraham, tossed Tim a pearly white baseball.

Thanks, Brian!

Remember how I wanted this to be a quick game so we could get on the road?  Well, it was 3:47 minutes log!  Add in some time for post-game festivities (umpire balls and Abraham ball) and this parting shot of Tim outside the ballpark…

…and we did not get on the road until 5:20 p.m. (more than an hour after my goal departure time)!

We picked up some timbits…

…and other goods or the road and got on our way.  It was a long, long drive.  But the boys had an absolute blast.  We do a lot of driving during the season, but I think this was probably their best drive ever.  Tim and Kellan were constantly laughing, goofing off and getting along together from 5:20 until they both fell asleep many hours later.

Around 9:30 p.m., the moon popped up over the horizon.  It was huge and bright orange.  It was very odd and memorable.  We took some really crummy pictures that do not do it justice at all:

Later, I found out that June 23, 2013 was a “supermoon” and the closest the moon would be to the earth in all of 2013, and it wouldn’t be this close again until August of 2014 (check it out here).  That was pretty cool to see on our drive.

The boys conked out hard in the car and I just kept driving and driving and driving.  I talked to Colleen and my Dad for a long time during the drive.  Eventually, I decided to call it a night around 2:00.  We were just an hour from home, but enough was enough.  We got a hotel room for the “night.”

Even at 2:02 a.m., Kellan  was still acting goofy…

…, here, pretending to sleep.  Fortunately, they goofed around a bit but were easy to get back to bed.  We slept a few hours, woke up early and got home around 8 a.m.

Wooooooooooooh!   What a weekend of baseball with my boys!

Fun times!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

14 Games                                                     
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
26 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2
66 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 4,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6
9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field
32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan   Rowland-Smith*
9 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith* 2

* Normally, we don’t include minor league stuff in our “fan stats.”  But, heck, this is Cook & Son Hall of Famer, Ryan Rowland-Smith.  And by the end of the season, RRS is gonna be back in the Bigs!  (Or at least he should be!)

Ex-Mariners Factor Big In Great Day for Mariners Fans at Camden Yards (6/15/2013)

On June 15, 2013, we headed back to Baltimore for our second Camden Yards game of the season.  This one featured an A.L. East showdown between the Orioles and the Red Sox.

The boys had a silly face making contest on the drive south…

1-funny-face-contest

…, and they both came up with the crazy looks.  We come up with lots of games to make our baseball game drives part of the fun.

When we arrived at the CF gates, our friends Alex Kopp, Tim Anderson (and his girlfriend who Tim Cook asked if she was Tim A.’s wife), and Doug Hakey.   Avi was still en route with our tickets.

The boys passed the time playing catch with Alex:

2-catch-with-alex

This was a 4 o’clock game (which seems to be a big trend in MLB this season).  When the gates opened at 2:00 p.m. we headed to left field with the season ticket holders and scooted around the pole into foul territory.

Orioles BP was taking place, but it was decidedly odd:

3-random-employees-in-outfied

Instead of Orioles players shagging balls in the outfield, most of the outfield was filled with Orioles employees who appeared to be groundskeepers.

Probably within 2-3 minutes of reaching foul territory, an O’s batter launched a ball right down the line over our heads.  I’m not sure if it was fair or foul, but it ended up clanking around in the seats just above the foul pole.  With no one around, I scampered over there and grabbed it.  Yay!

We had a special BP plan for this game.  We wanted to get a picture with former-Mariner Mike Carp.  Carp was best friends with former-Mariner Greg Halman, who was killed by his brother several years ago.  Wanna see how cool a guy and great a best friend Carp is?  Then check out this article.

Halman was Dutch.  He died during the offseason (actually, on Ken Griffey, Jr.’s birthday).  The next spring, Carp designed some shirts in honor of his friend can gave them to all of the members of the team (click here for the story). The fans wanted the shirts too.  Eventually, they were redesigned a bit sold at the Mariners’ team store and I think the proceeds went to some sort of charity.  Here is what the shirts look like:

greatdane

We had crossed paths with Halman a few times while he played for the Mariners and he was super nice.  In our interactions he was very quiet and gentle and really seemed to love kids.  We became instant fans.  And when Carp’s shirts were made available to the public, I had to have one.  I meant to wear it when we visited Fenway Park in April, but I forgot to bring it.  So I wore it to this game with the hope that Carp would notice it and come say hi to us.  He did.

When the Red Sox came and out and started stretching…

4-red-sox-warming

…we spotted Carp from afar and started walking over toward the dugout.  In that last picture, if you start from the Orioles batter taking a hack in the cage, Carp is two guys over to the right.

As we walked toward the dugout area (but were still probably 150 feet from home plate), Carp saw my shirt and gave us a big wave.

We walked to the section just past the dugout (OF end of the dugout) and watched the Red Sox warm up.  While we watched, two Red Sox coaches played catch on the warning track.  The coach right in front of us was Arnie Beleyer.  When he finished playing catch, Beleyer flipped the ball to Tim.

Thanks, coach!

After the Red Sox finished stretching, Carp came over to chat with us.  We got this picture together:

5-mike-carp-and-us

He signed the ball that Beleyer had flipped to Tim and he signed my shirt:

halman-shirt-carp-auto

We chatted a little about Halman.  The first thing Carp said when he walked up “thank you for the support.”  Not sure if he meant supporting Halman or whatever the charity the proceeds went to, but Mike is certainly welcome.  We’re glad to do our part!

During our brief chat, I told Carp to hit a homerun today.  He smiled and chuckled, but didn’t promise anything.  I also told Carp that the Red Sox need to call up Ryan Rowland-Smith.  He’s pitching way too good this season to be stuck in AAA.

With BP in full swing, the boys decided it was time for ice cream.  We grabbed some helmets and grabbed our standard front row spot down the LF foul line:

6-bp-ice-cream

Jonny Gomes was the only Red Sox player hanging out in left field.  He was pretty playful…

7-playful-gomes

…with the folks in homerun territory.  In that picture, he’s pump faking the fans.  He also tossed balls straight up in front of them so they couldn’t catch it.  After faking out the fans, he tossed several balls into the crowd in LF.  Eventually, he tossed one to us in foul territory, too.

Thanks, Jonny!

Around 3:00, we decided to head out toward the bullpens in LCF.   We hung out by Cal Ripkin, Jr.’s orange seat.  There was a little patch of open seats to our right…

8-nava-perfect-random-toss

…and, at one point, Daniel Nava ran hard toward CF and snatched up a batted ball on at a full sprint.  Without breaking stride, he Kareem Abdul-Jabaar skyhooked it into the crowd.  It sailed right over everyone in the front row and, reaching out into that open patch of seats, it was an easy catch for me.

Thanks, Daniel!

We decided to head toward home plate.  It was pretty crowded around the dugout.  We stood about 8-10 rows back from the field.  Tim doused one side of his face with water while leaving the other side completely dry…

9-wet-dry-face-papi-carp

…and we watched Mike Carp and David “Big Papi” Ortiz take their hacks.

This was the last group of hitters.  The grounds crew started pulling up the tarp behind home plate while the group was still hitting.  There were about five baseballs on the tarp and the a guy on the grounds crew set them all in a little group after removing the tarp.  When BP ended, Big Papi grabbed all of those balls and tossed them to people right above the dugout.

As he tossed the five several balls, I called out “Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!”  Big Papi looked up and spotted us and tossed the last baseball to us over a big crowd of people.  It was very exciting!

Muchas Gracias, Papi!

With BP over, we headed back to LCF where we met up with Alex Kopp.  There are always a bunch of balls spread out in the bullpens after BP and Orioles pitching coach, Rick Adair, usually tosses them into the crowd when he gets to the bullpen.  Alex warned us, however, that Adair has really gotten to a point where he only tosses baseballs to fans wearing Orioles gear.

Adair and Taylor Teagarden arrived at the bullpen.  While getting ready to do some catching drills, Teagarden tossed a ball to Alex.  A minute or two later, Tim politely asked if Rick would toss a baseball to him.  Rick responded, “You’re wearing the wrong jersey!”  I quickly responded to Rick, who used to be the Mariners pitching coach, “It used to be the right jersey!”  That seemed to do the trick.  Rick flipped a baseball up to Tim.

Thanks, Rick!  Don’t ever lose the Mariners love!  Once a Mariner, always a Mariner! (Except A-Rod…he’s exclusively a Yankee).

Speaking of former-Mariners, I was totally psyched to find out that top-5 all-time winningest Mariners pitcher and beloved former-Mariner, Freddy Garcia…

10-adair-still-okay-with-mariners-fans

…was taking the bump for the Orioles.  I decided immediately that I was rooting for the Orioles to win this game…although, of course, I still wanted Carp to hit a homerun (preferably against a relief pitcher, not against Freddy).

We watched Freddy warm up:

11-great-to-see-freddy

As the game was about to start, we decided to head to the kids’ play area.  We were in the cross aisle in deep LF foul territory when Freddy delivered the first pitch of the game:

12-first-pitch-by-freddy

And we were between 3B and home plate when he induced Dustin Pedroia to fly out…

13-freddy-to-pedroia

…for the third out of the inning.  Good work, Freddy!

We passed a cool looking Orioles muscle car on the way to the play area:

14-orioles-muscle-car

The boys did lots of pitching…

15-pitching-and-hitting

…and hitting in the play area.  They also did some bouncing and climbing/sliding:

16-bouncy-time

While the boys were playing, the first five Orioles reached base in the bottom of the first.  The Orioles scored two runs in the inning, the first on a Manny Machado double and the second on a infield single by Adam Jones.

Good, good, good…Freddy had a lead!

We decided to get some food and eat it in our actual seats, which were in a shady section of the upper deck.  On our way to get food, we ran into Mr. Boh (he’s the logo of National Bohemian beer, which is based in Baltimore):

18-mr-naty-bo

We grabbed some hot dogs and reported to our seats, where this was our view of the game:

19-opacy-sec

Freddy was looking good:

20-freddy-with-lead

I loved our seats.  We had a great view of the game, we were in the shade, and we were in the last row…

21-hot-dogger-in-the-back-row

…, which meant that Kellan could sit on my shoulders and not block anyone’s view behind us.

Guess what happened with Mike Carp came to the plate in top of the fourth inning?  My former-Mariner loyalties came head to head.  In the grand scheme of things, Freddy is much higher on my list than Carp.  I’ve loved Freddy for years.  But I had told Carp to hit a homerun in this game.  What was he supposed to do?  Let us down?  Nah, that’s not how Carp operates.

So, yeah, he hit that homerun I requested:

22-carp-delivers-with-homer

Unfortunately, Pedroia was on first so the game was all knotted at 2-2.  Even more unfortunately, two more Red Sox collected hits in the inning so the Red Sox pulled ahead 3-2 after four innings.

And then they tacked on another run in the top of the fifth, making the score 4-2 Red Sox.

As Kellan was winding down for a nap, Tim was full of excitement:

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When we decided to leave the upper deck, another fan took our picture and Kellan was lights out up on my shoulders:

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He looked so cute and peaceful sleeping on my shoulders…

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as we walked down the switch-back ramps in RF foul territory:

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Kellan woke up on our way down.  As you can probably tell from that last picture, the kids play area is right at the bottom of the ramps.  So the boys played some more games.  And I finally captured Tim topping out at 37 m.p.h.:

37 is the fastest he’s ever pitched.  He’s hit 37 a bunch of times, but I’ve never been able to get a photo of it.  So, there you go.  37!

Alex and Tim Anderson were hanging out by the flag court so we headed over there to say hi.  On our walk, I got a photo of the best flag at Camden Yards:

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As we approached Alex and Tim, Alex was celebrating Nate McClouth reaching base on a Dustin Pedroia error:

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Check out this cool picture of three all-star baseball fans:

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Alex and Tim Anderson were playing for homers (and they’ve both had a bunch of luck already this season) and we didn’t want to get in their way too much.  So we headed back to the play area and played some more.

Neither of them caught Jonny Gomes’s sixth inning homerun that made the score 5-2 Red Sox.

Here’s a funny set of pictures.  Kellan is always standing around with this hands behind his back.  It always makes him look very polite.  Check it out:

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This picture of Kellan reminds me of “Batting Stance Guy”:

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And check out his less than ideal pitching mechanics as the day progressed:

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A little more bouncing and we called it a day for the play area.

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Toward the end of the game, we started thinking about going for an umpire ball.  But it still seemed like there was a good crowd on hand behind the plate.

We watched the top of the ninth from the cross-aisle down the 1B line:

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Heading into the bottom of the ninth, we moved closer to home plate.  We were one section over from the umpire’s tunnel when Matt Wieters hit a 1-out, 2-run homerun:

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Neither Alex nor Tim Anderson caught that one either.

J.J. Hardy followed up Wieters with a single.  Alexi Casilla was brought in to pinch run for Wieters.  He didn’t do a very good job of it.

We were still one section over from the stairway leading to the umpire’s tunnel when Ryan Flaherty came to the plate.  On the fourth pitch of the at bat, Flaherty hit a fly ball to RF.  It was a no doubt out.  However, for some reason, Casilla took off hard, rounded second and turned toward third.  With the fly ball still in the air, I yelled out to Tim to follow me because it was going to be a game ended double play.  And it was.  Shane Victorino made the easy catch and an easy throw to 1B to double off Casilla and end the game.  Red Sox win 5-4.

As all that was unfolding on the field, Tim and I ran a section over to our left (fyi, Kellan was on my shoulders) and down the stairs all the way to the bottom.  Because there was only one out in the inning on contact, most people had not realized that the game was going to end within a few seconds.

We had no trouble getting into perfect position for an umpire ball.  On his way out, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson gave us a nice, rubbed up game ball.

Thanks, Jeff!

We then headed over to the Orioles’ dugout before heading out to our car.  We saw something funny while at the dugout, check it out:

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The funny thing is that someone wrote “Baltimore Orioles” on the bat weight.  If they ever leave that behind at one of the parks where my softball team plays, I’ll be sure to mail it back to Camden Yards.

It was another great day of baseball for the three of us.  The only bad part of the day was that Tim somehow lost his only Mariners cap.  If forced to guess, I’d say it probably fell out of my bag while we were eating lunch in the upper deck.   Very sad.  But don’t worry, he didn’t go without a Mariners hat for long.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

13 Games
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals,   Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins,   Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies   (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2,   Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2
55 Baseballs – Mariners 6,   Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3,   Yankees 2, Brewers 2
9 Stadiums – Citizens   Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field
30 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel   Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom   Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel,   Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”   Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins
5 Autograph – Hisashi   Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Sneak Peak: Cincinnati

My life is suited to writing a maximum of one game entry blog per week.  When we go on a roadtrip with several games in a row, it creates a big backlog.  I’m currently four games behind, including Red Sox at Orioles, Red Sox at Tigers (with bonus PawSox at Mud Hens content), and Mariners at Reds (two games).

So, start getting excited now because in about a month you’re gonna see some awesome stuff from Cincinnati, like this new two tone ice cream helmet:

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And this beautiful view of the aptly named Great American Ball Park:

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And this guy, Rocco Sinisi, who was a great host to us during BP:

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And this guy, Avi Miller, our guest roadtripper for the weekend:

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It’ll be fun.  So stay tuned.

Photo Day at the Phillies (6/1/2013)

On June 1, 2013, we continued our quest to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live.  The Brewers were on the “must see” list and they were in Philadelphia, and so were we.

For some reason, we were running a bit late getting to the ballpark.  We arrived before the gates opened, but there was already a healthy-sized crowd there before we arrived:

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The reason for the big crowd:  it was Photo Day!

The Phillies’ website said fans could get photos of their favorite Phillies on field starting at 2:30.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant for the pregame schedule.  The stadium was going to open at 1:30.  Would there be an hour of BP before moving on to the Photo Day festivities?  No.

As we reached the seating bowl, the field was already set up for Photo Day.  I wish I would have taken a picture of it from the concourse, but I just wanted us to get down there onto the field.  Several gates to the field were open along the front row of the foul territory seats on both sides of the diamond.  Fans could walk around pretty much the whole field (with limited exceptions, like in front of the Phillies dugout).  In the outfield, there were two catwalk’esque runways put together on each side – two in LF and two in RF.  The runways ran about half way out into the outfield grass from the warning track and fans could stand out in the OF waiting for the Phils to arrive.

At the beginning, we hung out down the 3B line…

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…and in front of the Brewers dugout.

A bunch of Phillies ballgirls started circling the field…

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…signing autographs for the kids (or, I guess, adults, too).  Each ballgirl has her own baseball card and they personalize all of their autographs.  Two of the 7 ballgirls we met up with *loved* the name “Kellan.”

Interestingly, while the fans were blocked from going in front of the Phillies dugout, there were no similar restrictions in front of the Brewers dugout.  If a Brewer wanted to come out to the field to run, stretch or throw, he had to walk through the crowd.  It was pretty awesome.  (By the way, this was the exact same situation that they had at Photo Day at Fenway Park in April).

I bought Tim that cheesehead Kellan is wearing in the photo above while I was on a business trip to Milwaukee in 2012.  I figured it would be funny to wear at a Brewers game, and this was our first opportunity.  Guess what?  Everyone loves a fan wearing a cheesehead.  We could hear people commenting on it all around us while the boys were passing it back and forth.

The Brewers liked it too.  Like Tom Gorzelanny who stopped to get this photo with the boys on his way back to the dugout:

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By the way, we were hanging out right here because half of the warning track was blocked off for fans in wheelchairs, but there were none at the time so it was a totally unblocked view of the field.

Brewers coach, Lee Tunnell, liked the cheesehead too…

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…he tossed a baseball to us after playing catch with several Brewers.

We hung out by the dugout a bunch because it was fun watching what was going on in there.   Tim touched (and made me touch) this…

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…burning hot TV camera.  After touching it, I was surprised it hadn’t spontaneously combusted.  It was firey hot from the sun, which was beating down hard on us.

I wanted to find Yuniesky Betancourt.  I was hoping to get my picture with him because (1) he’s a ex-Mariner, (2) he’s always been very nice to us, and (3) I was wearing my Jose Lopez jersey (who was Yuni’s doubleplay partner and buddy while in Seattle).  But Yuni was nowhere to be found during pre-game festivities.

With no Yuni in sight, Tim posed for a photo by the bullpen with Michael Gonzalez getting interviewed in the background:

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When it seemed apparent that we wouldn’t find Yuni, we headed toward the outfield.  Kellan was content sitting on my shoulders and didn’t want to get down for any photos.  Tim got a photo in LF with the foul pole behind him:

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Check out his sweet shirt in that photo – “Cheesehead Cowpants.”  I got him that gem while on a different business trip to Milwaukee…actually, to Racine, Wisc.  Pairing the Cheesehead Cowpants shirt with Tim’s banana shorts is one of my favorite non-Mariners gameday outfits.  It’s pretty hilarious, no?

Here’s a random photo in LF:

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We headed  over to the RCF warning track below the pizza wedge…

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…so we could see the players-point-of-view when we’re usually looking down at them from the pizza wedge.

Check out how easy it would be to pick off a homer in CF:

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No jumping required.

While we were out in CF, several Brewers were in the upper (visitors’) bullpen.  The last two to leave were coaches, including Marcus Hanel.  As Hanel walked by…

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…we said hi to him and he handed us a spare baseball, he had two in his glove and he took the other back to the dugout with him.

Of course, we had to check in with the Mariners on the out of town scoreboard:

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Finally, Phillies players started making the rounds.  The “rule” was you weren’t supposed to get individual posed pictures with the players, you know, because they didn’t have time to pose for a picture with everyone.  I think that’s always the rule at all of the ballparks.  Anyway, some of the Phils just walked around saying hi and shaking hands.  Some walked a bit and then randomly stopped to take a photo with one or two fans (Chase Utley).  Others posed for photos with every single fan who wanted a picture.  That’s how it oughta be!

We ran all over from RCF to LF and out the LF catwalk trying to get a bunch of player photos and looking for certain guys.  We missed a lot of guys while looking for other player or because the guy didn’t want to stop for a photo.   Here’s who we met:

First up, right in CF, we met Joe Savery…

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…and Jonathan Pettibone.

Right after we got their photos, I saw Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz coming our way from LCF.  We missed some guys (like Antonio Bastardo) trying to make sure we didn’t miss Chooch.  And, happily, we did not miss chooch…

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…or Charlie Manuel.  If you ask me, both Charlie and Tim have hilarious faces in that picture, and eerily similar at that.  If you couldn’t tell, we were out on a walkway in LF when we ran into Charlie.  We stayed out there most of the time and we kept going back because it was less crowded than the warning track.

If you ever go to Photo Day on a blazing hot day, I highly recommend taking squirt bottles.  The players love squirt bottles, and so do other fans, for the most part.  When we asked Justin DeFratus for a picture, he took off his hat and said, “First, you have to squirt me in the face.”

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After DeFratus posed for a picture with Tim, he remarked at what a good deal he and Tim had made.  It was a pretty good deal too.  Tim’s a lucky boy.  Not many people can say they’ve squirted a uniformed major leaguer in the face with a squirt bottle!

While Cole Hamels passed by behind, Ryan Howard posed for a picture from afar as Tim squirted his bottle in the air…

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…and Ben Revere sported shiny glasses and one of the straightest bills in the league.

We had a nice Mariners-based chat with both Larry Anderson (a former Mariner)…

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…and Gary “Sarge” Mathews, Sr. (who likes to wear fancy hats like Mariners announcer Dave Sims).  L.A. was really very nice.  He chatted with us a minute or two about the Mariners and the beautiful Kingdome.  Sarge claimed that he was wearing hats before Dave Sims.  On twitter, Dave later told me he and Sarge both started wearing hats in 2007.

How about a couple Washingtonians?  Mount Vernon, WA’s Kyle Kendrick…

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…and Spokane, WA’s Ryne “HOF” Sandberg.  I asked Kendrick how his family was enjoying the detour around the collapsed bridge in his home town.  Not surprisingly, they were not big fans of it.

Several years ago, three future Major Leaguers playing for the AA Reading Phillies (now the Reading Fightin Phils or the “Fightins”) came to my Reading-Berk Business Softball League game against the R-Phils front office and they heckled us mercilessly. Those players were Kyle Drabek, Mike Zagursky, and current Phillies reliefer Michael Stutes…

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…who totally remembered it when I mentioned the softball game to him.  Next to Stutes and Tim, that’s Tim “Spray Man” Cook and 2007 N.L. MVP Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins was riding around on that utility truck behind him in the photo.  He would ride a little bit and then hop up for a few pictures.  We had to chase him all the way down one of the runways before filing meeting up with him on the warning track.  When he saw Tim, he said, “Come on, Spray Man!” and then he squirted Tim three times in the face while I took this photo.  Great memory!

After getting that pic with J-Roll, we wandered around trying to find the best N.L. bullpen catcher, Jesus Tiamo, but to no avail.  So, we headed off to grab some ice cream:

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Ice cream in the shady on a hot day is good stuff.

While we ate ice cream we watched the grounds crew take up the four white runways in the outfield.  Soon, it was time for the pitchers to warm up.  When Jesus Tiamo headed out to the bullpen, we wandered down into the pizza wedge and he promptly tossed a ball to Tim…

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…and another to Kellan.

Thanks, Jesus!

I asked Jesus if he was out on the field for the photo session, but he said he was not.  That’s too bad.  It would have been great to get a photo with him.

Before the game got started, we went to the play area…

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…and then we played some games:

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We were happy to see that Santa Claus…

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…was spending his vacation in Philadelphia, and apparently roots for the Phils.

We played enough games to get 20 stamps…

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…the exact number you need to win one of these Citizens Bank Park mini-bats.  When the guy realized I had two boys, he through in an extra bonus bat!

Thanks, guy!

The game had just started by this point.  We decided to head to the upper deck to grab some food and sit in the shade.  On our way across Ashburn Alley in CF, Tyler Cloyd induced Ryan Braun…

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…to fly out to Ben Revere in CF to end the top of the first with no score.

Within thirty seconds of taking that last photo, I found a $5 bill on the ground in Ashburn Alley:

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Hooray!

After circling around to the concourse in LF foul territory we spotted the Phillie Phanatic…

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…riding his ATV down the switch back ramp.  That was kind of amazing because we never see the Phanatic out and about in the stadium.  He’s usually just on the field or on top of the dugouts at the end of the game.

On the upper deck concourse, Tim and Kellan did some fake hitting and base running before we grabbed some food:

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Speaking of food, after buying our hot dogs, I found another $5 bill on the ground!  That raised the my found-money-at-a-ballpark grand total up to $30, all at Citizens Bank Park.

We sat here…

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…in section 421 while we ate our lunch:

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So, by the way, there was some scoring by this point that I haven’t mentioned.  In the top of the second inning, the Brewers scored two runs on a single to RF and a throwing error by Delmon Young.  That made it 2-0 Brewers.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies got on the board when Brewers’ second baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle a bases loaded knock by Kevin Frandsen.  The Brewers got out of the jam without giving up any more runs.  2-1 Brewers after four.

The Brewers got that run back pretty quick.  In the top of the fifth, Aoki hit a single followed by a triple by Jean Segura.  3-1 Brewers after five innings.

The Phils got one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Erik Kratz.  Back to a 1-run game, 3-2 Brewers after six.

We were just relaxing.  And having fun with squirt bottles:

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We were right up at the top of the upper deck seats.  Check out what we could see behind us:

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That’s the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot.  I’m not sure when they put in the covered parking.  I’d never noticed it before…but then again, we never park over there.

We decided to hit up the kids’ play area one more time before it closed.  One our walk down to the concourse, I got this shot…

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…of the stairs.  I love how there is one solitary row right about the tunnel.  That’s be a sweet place to sit someday.

Visiting the kids’ play area turned out not to be a great idea.  The kids’ play area is pretty big and parents can only see one side of it at a time from the area below.  The kids went up to play and I sat on the ground in front of the play area taking some notes in my notebook and putting baseballs in baggies.  Tim and Kellan came running by a couple times after going down the big twisty slide.

But then I didn’t see them for a while.  A couple times I heard some crazy kid screams from inside the play area.  They were spaced out over a minute or two.  I grew concerned that it was Kellan and he was stuck inside the play area up top somewhere.  I started walking around the play area and I found this scene on the back side:

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Actually, this wasn’t right when I got there.  There is a steering wheel type toy up there.  When Kellan tried to play with it, a kid a little shorter than Kellan with a mohawk started hitting Kellan and pushing him into the walls (I missed all of that).  He apparently also bit Kellan’s finger (I also missed that).

When I found Kellan, Tim was trying to push Kellan and the other kid apart.  Kellan was screaming and crying.  The mohawk kid ran off to the right.

I had no clue what was going on at this point.  I just knew that Kellan was going ballistic crying.  I asked a Phillies employee (the lady shown in the picture above) if I could go up and get him because he wouldn’t come down.  She said parents couldn’t go up after kids.  A minute later, I saw her up there.  I still had no clue what was happening – if Kellan and that kid were just fighting (i.e., both being bad) or what. Then I saw that lady up there.  My first thought was that she was going to kick Kellan out for fighting with that kid.  But she was up there to find the kid with the Mohawk.  The other kids told her where he went in the play area and she went and kicked him out of there.

She then came back to see if Kellan was okay.  While she was away, two moms came up to me and told me what happened with the kid with the mohawk.  They were both super mad and they mentioned that the mohawk kid’s dad was standing below laughing as he tussled with Kellan.  One said that she wanted to run up there and kick that kid out herself.

Anyway, I was calling up to Kellan and asking him to come down.  He was just standing up there crying and wouldn’t move.  That lady up there couldn’t really get him to move, but she point out to me that he could walk to the right and take the slide down.  I finally got him to walk over there and slide down to me.  He was still crying and screaming when he reached me.  I picked him up and popped him onto my shoulders and the three of us got out of there right away.

As we walked toward home plate through the concourse, Tim told me all about what happened up in the play area and Kellan instantly fell asleep (it was a tiring altercation with the little mohawk kid).

We had a goal of getting some mathematical photos for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, we headed to the RF foul corner, but we were too far away.  So we headed to the SRO area behind the Brewers dugout.

In the top of the eighth inning, Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo homerun that put the Brewers up 4-2.

I’m happy to report that we were able to get both math photos that we needed:

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And we got to see our Yuni Betancourt (unfortunately) not hit a homerun:

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When Kellan woke up, he started spraying his bottle and eventually hit this cameraman:

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I told Kellan not to do that, but the cameraman turned around and said, “no, please do!”

In the ninth inning, we ended up heading down into section 129:

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Freddy Galvis led off the ninth inning with a solo homerun:

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The crowd was excited for a Phillies comeback.  Kellan was most excited about how thoroughly he had doused his face with his spray bottle:

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Jimmy Rollins followed with a pinch hit single.  Interestingly, Kyle Kendrick pinch ran for Rollins.  Ben Revere sacrifice bunted Kendrick to second.  Cesar Hernandez followed Revere.  During his at bat, the Brewers picked Kendrick off second base for the second out of the inning.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Hernandez then hit a double off the RCF wall.  Had Kendrick not been picked off, Hernandez’s double would have tied the game.

With a one run lead still intact, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez intentionally walked Dominic Brown and then got Michael Martinez to ground out to end the game.

Brewers win 4-3.

Following the final out, it was super easy to get into the corner spot at the home plate end of the Brewers dugout. We got home plate umpire Tom Hallion’s attention and he bounce-passed a baseball to Tim off of the top of the dugout.

Tim hammed it up when someone took a shot of us…

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…before heading to the gates.

The game ended at just about 7:00 p.m. and we ended up playing catch…

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…in the parking lot for half an hour before hopping in the car or the ride home.

It was another great day at the ballpark!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

12 Games
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2
55 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2
9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field
30 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 4, Yankees at Mets (5/27/2013)

On May 27, 2013, my dad’s birthday, we woke up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, with a bonus Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip game on tap for later that night in Queens.
We had plenty of time to get to NY so we started the day with a nice leisurely free breakfast in our hotel dining area:

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We had nothing but good things to say about the brand-spanking new Fairfield Inn in DuBois. A very nice place to stay for the night.
We hit the road and had a nice drive across Pennsylvania. It was route I’d never taken before. The boys did a little snacking in the car, and did some jumping jacks to burn some energy at a rest stop…

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…, then it was in to New Jersey, and on to the big city.

When we reached Manhattan, we parked in the upper west side and then dined on some huge pizza slices…

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…at Rays on 82nd and Columbus.

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out where we should get on the subway in the upper west side. So I gave Zack Hample a call. He pointed us in the right direction. And, wouldn’t you know it, as we approached the subway…

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…we ran into Zack on the sidewalk. It had only been 3 days earlier that we were hanging out with Zack in Toronto. It was cool to bump into him again on the same roadtrip, although not at another game.

My boys love riding the subway:

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My dad had never been to Shea or Citi Field and he was happy to get to see the sights…

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…from the 7 Train.

You know we had to get this photo right after arriving at Citi Field:

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We played a little catch in the parking lot and then hopped in line. As I held our spot, my dad took the boys for a little walk so he could see the outside of Citi Field. On their way back…

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…, Tim was showing off his muscles.

Once we headed into the stadium, we all headed to foul territory down the RF foul line. After a few minutes, the boys and I headed to the corner spot in RCF by the bullpens. Here was out view (to the left)…

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…and my dad snapped that picture of us hanging out at the bottom of the steep RF steps. In that line up of player in RCF, the left one in from the left (closest to us) was Bobby Parnell. Eventually, a baseball was hit out to the warning track about half way between the players and us. Parnell ran over to grab it, and he was kind enough to toss it up to us.

Thanks, Bobby!

It was really bright in RCF and nice and shady in LF, so we decided to head over there. On our way, we met up with Mr. Met:

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This was our view in LCF:

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Nothing was doing out there. The most interesting part of our time out in LCF was getting to watch Mariano Rivera shagging fly balls.

Coming into this game, at least one player or coach from every MLB team had thrown us a baseball since Tim’s first game back in 2006, every team, that is, except the Yankees. I was hoping we could cross the Yankees off the toss-up list at this game.

I was really hoping we could get a toss-up from Ichiro, but before Ichiro made it out to RF, we ran into another former Mariner, Shawn Kelley. And, wouldn’t you know, the former-Mariner now in a Yankees uniform tossed us a baseball:

12-why-you-catch-that-daddy

IN that picture, Tim is looking at me in disbelief because I had the audacity to catch the baseball that Shawn tossed to him after it sailed two feet over Tim’s head. Had I not caught it, we never would have seen it again. But Tim was definitely bummed out that he didn’t get to make the catch. Anyway…

Thanks, Shawn!

Then Tim’s favorite player (who sadly now wears pinstriped pajamas as his home uniform) came out to field some balls in RF:

13-is-that-ichiro

Hey, I failed to mention that, while we were in LCF, my dad found his way over to the corner spot where we got the ball from Parnell. At the time, Ichiro was blistering balls all over RF and the RF seats. When he hit a laser out to RCF, an unidentified Yankee fielded the ball and tossed it to my dad; a pretty cool birthday present from the Yankees.

We headed over to RF to watch Ichiro. He tossed several balls into the seats in foul territory, but nothing anyway near us. Once he headed to the dugout, we decided it was a bit too crowded in the seats. So we called it a day for BP, headed off to get some ice cream and headed to the picnic tables under Shea Bridge so the boys could eat their ice cream in peace:

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Kellan is still only two years old and is only potty trained when he feels like it. So he wears pullups most of the time. As we pulled into Manhattan, I changed Kellan and realized that I only had one more pullup! We were far from my car when we stopped into a drug store to get a fresh pack of pullups. As the kids ate their ice cream, I counted that I had 17 pullups in my backpack — quite possibly a new Major League record. I think this meant that my dad had about 8 in his back pack too. By the way, it ended up that I did need to buy them. Oh, well…better safe than sorry.

As the boys ate their ice cream two interesting things happened:

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First, a usher came over and toss a ball over the fence to the boys. Tim was mid-ice cream and couldn’t get his glove on in time. After the Shawn Kelley toss-up, I knew Tim wanted to be the one to catch (or at least secure) this ball, so I literally let the ball just hit me in the chest and bounce back against the fence. Tim ran over and grabbed it with his glove still in his throwing hand (picture above to the right).

Second, the same usher came back over to us two minute later with another ball. He felt that both boys should get a ball. This time, Tim had time to get his glove on and he made a nice catch on the high toss over the fence (there he is with it in the photo above to the left). Meanwhile, Kellan was shoveling ice cream into his face.

Double thanks, Usher!

By the way, that is the usher walking away from us behind Tim in the photo above to the left.

My dad came and found us. And look who else found us once my dad arrived:

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From time-to-time, Kellan has a case of the terrible twos. And this game featured a couple of them, including right when the game was about to start. That’s okay though. He can sit on my shoulders and fuss it up while we walk around and have a nice time. My dad needed to see some more of the ballpark so we all headed up to the Pepsi Porch in RF. That’s where we were when the game started. Here’s the second pitch…

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…because it ended up being a better picture than my shot of the first pitch.

The pitching match up was Jon Neise vs. Phil Hughes. That second pitch picture features a match up of Neise against Brett Gardner. Neise won that match up by way of strikeout.
My dad got his first taste of New York ushering…

18-watching-robby

…while watching Robby Cano strike out for the final out of the top of the first. Neise k’d all three batters he faced. Anyway, see that little gate to my dad’s right in that picture above to the right? When we walked up to the standing room area, my dad walked up to that gate and rested his hands on top of the gate – a very natural thing to do in an SRO area. The usher told my dad that he couldn’t stand at the gate, he had to move over to the left…which was a pretty pointless rule.

On our way out of the Pepsi Porch, we got a picture of Tim posing in front of the 7 Train and muffler city (that’s my name for it. Whatever it’s called, it is an eye sore):

19-tim-muffler-city-seven-train

And then Tim and my dad got a (bonus) picture with the Citi Field sign and some baseballs for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

20-citi-field-bonus-shot

We were in the upper deck concourse down the 3B side in the top of the second when Ichiro came to the plate:

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Tim watched on with uneasy anticipation as his all-time favorite batter took the batters’ box wearing the wrong uniform. It was the first time we’d ever seen Ichiro bat in person wearing a non-Mariners uniform, and it was a bit unsettling.

We are never accustomed to wanting a Yankee to get a hit or do anything positive in a game. But all of us were happy when Ichiro laced a harmless single to CF:

22-still-hitting

It was Ichiro’s only hit on the day. He went 1-3 with a walk.

If I had it my way, Ichiro would rip off another 200 hit season this year, but his teammates would always squander the opportunities and leave him stranded on base.
While we watched Ichiro bat, my dad chatted with an usher who pointed out this:

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You see it? Row 6 and, right behind it, row 6. Oops!

In the top of the third, we grabbed some food and finally found our seats:

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Tim and my dad enjoyed their food and ended up sitting in our seats for a while. Kellan and I were I our seats for about five minutes tops. I ended up ripping off a big piece of Kellan’s soft pretzel and giving it to him to eat. I knew it was a mistake the second I did it. Kellan launched into another case of the terrible twos. Instead of letting his whining annoy our fellow fans, I decided to head back over to the bullpen area where Kellan could work the crankiness out of his system without bothering other fans. Somehow, we ended up staying there most of the game.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Brett Gardner led off the inning with a triple and scored on a Jayson Nix RBI single.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gardner helped keep the 1-0 Yankees lead intact. At the time, Kellan and I were in the field level concourse in LF. There were two outs when Daniel Murphy came to the plate. Murphy blasted the ball to deep LCF. It had just enough to get out of the ballpark…but it didn’t have quite enough to get out of Gardner’s reach. Garden jumped high against the wall and brought the homerun back into the park for the final out of the inning. Here is a video clip of the catch.

Tim and my dad ended up meeting up with us back by the bullpens around the sixth or seventh inning. We played a ton of catch back there:

25-catching-for-smiles

Above to the left, Kellan was throwing balls against the wall while my dad played back up. Above to the right, I was throwing long tosses (essentially the entire length of Shea Bridge to Tim. No one seemed to care that we were doing there, so that was pretty cool.

You know what wasn’t cool? The fans by the bullpens:

26-sweet-new-york-fans-way-to-go-guys

There were a bunch of Mets and Yankees fans and they were cursing up a storm at each other and putting down each other’s team. It was ridiculous. Eventually, an usher came over and threatened to kick out the guy above in the Mets shirt who is facing the camera. He felt this was a grave injustice and that it was the Yankees fans who should have been threatened to get kicked out.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, David Wright launched a game tying homerun to LF.

We had signed my dad up for a “First Game” certificate at the fan assistance booth in the upper deck early in the game. They told us to come back for the certificate in the seventh inning or later. We decided to head up to grab the certificate and get a picture of the four of us.

Turns out my dad’s certificate wasn’t ready so they ended up mailing it to him. During the eighth inning, an usher took this photo of us on our final stop on the GFS Roadtrip:

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Here was our view of the action from our SRO spot in the bottom of the eighth:

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Lucas Duda ended up striking out to end the eighth inning, but the Mets fans didn’t care because two batters earlier Daniel Murphy had come through with a go-ahead RBI single to CF. So the Mets were up 2-1 going into the top of the ninth.

As Bobby Parnell came in for the save attempt, we relocated to the SRO behind the field level seats behind 3B so we would be closer to the exits when the game ended.
Historically, I have found it difficult to get down to the umpire’s tunnel at the end of Mets home games at Citi Field. At first, I wasn’t even thinking we would try. But Kellan and I ended up walking down to the SRO area just behind the section immediately above the umpire tunnel.

The usher was not checking tickets. But we stayed in the concourse.

With one out, this was our view as Ichiro worked a walk:

29-ichiro-walks-in-ninth

In a 8-pitch at bat, Lyle Overbay ended up striking out for the second out of the top of the ninth inning. In this course of battling Parnell, Overbay ended up hitting a little foul nubber right in front of the plate. I watched as catcher John Buck retrieved the ball and gave it back to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Culbreth inspected the foul ball and then put it back in one of his baseball pouches.

Travis Hafner was the final batter of the game. As he batted, Kellan and I stood in the aisle right at the top of the stairs. Hafner ended up being retired on a moon shot, infield pop out to David Wright at 3B.

In terms of trying to get into position to get an umpire ball, pop fly outs are the best possible ending to a game. As everyone stood to watch the play, Kellan (on my shoulders) and I took off down the stairs and we had no problem reaching the umpire tunnel before Culbreth arrived. Culbreth ended up tossing a few baseballs to kids on the OF side of the tunnel. Then he turned and tossed his final baseball to us:

30a-umpire-ball-foul-ball

The baseball was all smudged and dirty. I have a strong feeling it was the foul nubber that Overbay hit before striking out for the second out of the game. Of course, there is no way to ever confirm that suspicion…but it’s fun to speculate.

Thanks, Fieldin!

Right after we got the ball from Culbreth, a teenage fan standing next to us looked at me and asked, “Todd and Tim!?” “Yeah…well, Todd and Kellan,” I responded. I didn’t recognize him at first because he has almost doubled in size since the last time we saw him, but I was pleased to be face-to-face once again with our former ballpark buddy and MyGameBalls.com member, Alex K.

We chatted for a minute or two in the seats and then I asked if he could head up to the concourse with us so he could say hi to Tim. I knew Tim would be psyched to see him. Here’s the thing about Tim, he loves people. Especially, kids, of all ages. In 2009, we met Alex in Chicago and then saw him several times in NY, along with his buddy Joe Faraguna. Back then, every time we went to a game, Tim asked, “Will Joe and Alex be at the game?”

Tim was definitely thrown off at first at how much older and taller Alex looks now. But once he realized it was Alex from “Joe and Alex,” he was excited to see his old buddy. Of course, almost right away, Tim asked, “Where’s Joe?”

Check out these now (2013) and then (2009) picts of Tim and Alex:

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They’ve both grown a lot!

After chatting with Alex a bit, we headed toward the gates. On the way out, I realized my dad had missed out on a Citi Field must see, the big Jackie Robinson “42”:

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On the way to the 7 Train, we saw a cool Mets car:

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We said good-bye to Citi Field from the 7 train…

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…, the local 7 Train, that is.

It was a long but fun commute back to our car on the 7 Train and the 1 Train:

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And it was an even longer commute out of NY and back to Pennsylvania. We arrived home around 2:30 a.m.

So there you go, another successful Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip in the books. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in Texas in 2014 because my dad has now seen every team play a home game except the Rangers (he saw the Astros at the Astrodome so he still needs to visit Minute Maid Park and he saw the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium so he still needs to go to Marlins Park). Can wait to help him check all of those stadiums off of his list!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

11 Games

16 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets.

20 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2.

50 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 3, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2.

9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field.

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

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

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 3, Twins at Tigers (5/26/2013)

On May 26, 2013, we woke up in Windsor, Ontario. We had one more baseball game scheduled for the 2013 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, and it was waiting across the river from us, back at Comerica Park.

The game was scheduled for a 1:08 p.m. start time. We decided to do breakfast back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. so we hopped in the car, motored through the Tunnel to U.S.A. and crossed the border for the final time on our trip:

1-welcome-to-michigan-usa

We had no clue what we would do for breakfast. We thought maybe we would pass a nice looking restaurant on our way to the stadium. I wasn’t sure how the morning would go if we didn’t get to eat anything until the ballpark opened around 11:30. But we were there before we knew it and didn’t find any breakfast. Oh, well…we’d figure something out…

We parked in the stadium lot directly across the street from the batters’ eye. Tim caught some pop flies…

2-comerica-parking-lot-pop-flies

…before we set out to see the ballpark.

Because we were running late the day before, we hadn’t gotten a chance for my dad to see the outside of the ballpark. We headed to the LF corner and circled around toward the 3B side. Here are some sights along the way:

3-scenes-around-comerica-park

From top right and moving in the shape of a “W”: (1) Tim and my dad are standing just outside of the LF gate with Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) behind them; (2) walking down the street from LF toward the home plate end of the ballpark, we walked by the ferris wheel; (3) circling around the corner just passed the ferris wheel, Tim and my dad in front of a fancy tiger door; (4) a little further down the side walk, Tim and Kellan posed with a fancy tile Tiger “D”; and (5) just passed the players’ entrance, Tim posed with a plaque for Ty Cobb the “Greatest Tiger of All, A Genius in Spikes.”

As we kept walking, we circled the next corner and found ourselves outside the coolest ballpark gate in all of Major League Baseball:

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This gate is so big and bold and awesome that it is pretty much impossible to get all of the awesomeness into one picture, so here are some more:

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Hey, guess what!? See those windows below the two tigers in the photo above to the right? Well, inside those windows is a diner…

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…where we were able to feast on pancakes and bacon! Hooray! Isn’t it great when things work out?

After breakfast, we headed to the coolest gate in all of baseball and set our stuff down first in line. And then we played catch a whole bunch. Eventually, I started throwing pop flies to Tim and this was the result:

In case that doesn’t make sense, I was throwing pop flies over the Comerica Park sign to Tim our by the big tiger. It was actually quite difficult to throw the ball straight up and over that sign and still make it land out where Tim was standing.

Once the crowd got too big for us to continue playing catch, we hung out by the gate. Tim passed time by climbing on these support bars…

7-fun-at-comerica-gates

…while Kellan sat with my dad and looked at pictures on his cellphone.

Upon entering the stadium, the boys both collected their give-away Tigers baseball cards sets, and then we headed down to the field. We were the first people entering the 1B foul territory seats. As we walked down the aisle, there were 4-5 Twins coaches sitting on the wall. I was sure they would walk away as they saw *the fans* approaching, but they stayed put. Tim, Kellan and I walked up behind them and I asked them collectively, “Any Twins coaches interested in getting a picture with some Mariners fans!?”
The closest coach to us was Rick Anderson:

8-rick-anderson-from-mariner-high-school

And he was, indeed, interested in meeting and getting a picture with some Mariners fans. We chatted for a minute or two. He grew up in Everett, Washington, just north of where I grew up and my folks live, and he went to Mariner High School and used to play sports against Edmonds High School and Woodway High School back in the day. My freshman year, Edmonds and Woodway combined to create the world famous Edmonds-Woodway High School!!!

Rick was a nice dude. And, as we parted ways, he handed us one of the two baseballs he was holding.

Thanks, Rick!

After we chatted with Rick, the other coaches started to disperse. One of the Twins’ bullpen catchers started to head toward the dugout. On his way, he tossed two baseballs into the crowd, one to us and one to my dad.

Thanks, unknown bullpen catcher guy!

The field was not set up for BP, which was no surprise. There were no Twins out playing catch. But several sets of Tigers were playing catch on the 3B side. So we headed over there.

Because Prince Fielder had spent all those years in Milwaukee, we brought Tim’s cheese head with us. Prince wasn’t out on the field, but Tim decided to put on the cheesehead when we headed to Tigers side.

As this picture shows…

9-stray-ball-at-comerica

…, a some Tigers were playing catch in LF and there was a random stray ball sitting in shallow LF.

As a Tigers coach, Mike Rojas, walked in from the bullpen toward the dugout holding his fungo bat, I called out to him and pointed at the ball in LF. He walked over to it, shouted “CHEESEHEAD!” and gave Tim perfect bounce pass.

Tim caught the ball and admired its *different* logo:

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Turns out it was a AAA International League baseball…

11-cheesehead-gets-an-international-league-baseball

…, the second minor league baseball we have snagged at a Major League ballpark.

Sundays at Comerica Park are kids days. That means kids run the bases after the game, and kids ride the rides for free. It was time for some rides. We headed over to the ferris wheel:

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We got there just in time. There was a short line, and two minutes later is what 3-4 times as long.

Here are some random view from the ferris wheel:

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Pretty cool how the “Tigers” sign pops over the upper deck from the top of the ferris wheel?

All of us Cook boys had fun on there:

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When we got off of the ferris wheel, we took a quick stroll through the “Beer Hall”…

16-comerica-beer-hall

…just to see what it looked like in there.  At the entrance way of the ferris wheel area there is a fountain with a big baseball on top of it. And Kellan loved it:

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Like the day before, we headed over to Twins bullpen to watch the pitchers warm up. While standing around of there, they kept showing this cool graphic on the big screen:

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Today’s Twins battery was Mike Pelfrey…

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…and Ryan Doumit.

Hey, check out the cool hat the police officer guarding the bullpen was wearing:

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And check out Ryan Doumit’s fancy finger nail stickers:

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(I think those are stickers).

By the way, I should mention that Pelfrey was going up against Max Scherzer and his perfect 6-0 record. So he had a tall task before him.

While we were over at the bullpen, Kellan fell asleep on my shoulders…

22-sleepy-kellan

…and he was sleeping hard.

The game was about to start. Tim wanted to get some ice cream so he and my dad headed over to the Big Cat food court. Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle so I could lean against the back wall while Kellan slept on my shoulders.

Kellan slept hard through the top of the first and the first out of the bottom of the first. But then the stadium exploded when Torii Hunter hit a solo homerun…

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…and Tim was rudely awakened.

Since Kellan was awake, we decided to go join Tim and my dad for the ice cream:

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And then it was time for Kellan’s first ride on the tiger-go-round:

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(Somehow, Kellan and Tim were nowhere near each other on the tiger-go-round and I was with Kellan, so I didn’t get any decent pictures of Tim on the tiger-go-round).

Our seats at this game were at the back of the bleachers in deep RCF, and we ended up sitting in those seats for a grant total of zero seconds. After ice cream, I asked my dad if he wanted to check out the SRO area in the cross-aisle where Kellan and I had spent a lot of time the day before, and he was interested. So this is where we spent a bunch of time during this game:

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Hey, check out the drink holder that guy had to tote around the ballpark? Talk about awkward to carry!

Here’s what our view of home plate looked like:

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By the way, the Tigers crowd booed Mauer like crazy every time he came to bat at both of our games in Detroit.

Tim is possibly the most skilled friend maker in the entire world. He is never shies away from talking to other kids of any age. So he had a great time chatting up this little guy standing next to us:

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He kid’s mom was thrilled that we came and stood next to them. Apparently, the boy wasn’t doing well standing there with his parents, but he started having a great time when Tim started chatting with him. They talked about their respective little league teams and, you know, other kid stuff.

Remember that ball the fan gave to Tim two games (and days) ago in Toronto? Remember we gave it to my dad? Well, my dad ended up giving it to this kid. And he was excited to have it.

We were standing in the cross aisle just above the perfect spot for trying to get a third out ball from the Twins. With two outs in the bottom of one inning, I mentioned to Tim that he should get in position to run down to the bottom when the inning ended to try to get a third out ball. He misunderstood what I was saying and just cruised down the steps. He settled in here:

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And he was essentially all alone in absolutely the best possible spot when Justin Morneau ended the inning at first base. But, sadly, Morneau walked right at Tim and then tossed the ball to a bunch of adults a little a few rows back and a couple seats over from Tim:

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Oh, well.

Tim only made that one attempt, and then we went off to explore the upper deck a bit. For some reason, my dad, Tim and Kellan walked the upper deck holding hands like this:

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We popped into the seating area just in time to watch Torii Hunter at bat:

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And then it was time for lunch. We headed back to the Big Cat court. Hot dogs were on the menu. Tim and Kellan feasted on standard hot dogs…

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…and I had an extremely tasty Chicago Dog.

After lunch, we headed back to the SRO in the cross-aisle:

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I took that panorama during the seventh inning streak, which means I have missed some scoring. By this point, the score as 6-1 Tigers, which ended up being the final score. The scoring high light came in the bottom of the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Avisail hit a bases loaded, 2-out, 3 run triple.
Here’s something I really like about Comerica Park’s new scoreboard:

35-high-tech-tigers-sign

The “Tigers” sign at the top of the scoreboard is an HD (well, I’m just guessing that it’s HD) screen so they can play video clips on the word “TIGERS.” That tiger above to the right isn’t new, I thought threw it in as an extra bonus.

I’m throwing this in as a bonus too:

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“Cowboy” Joe West! He’s not the most beloved figure in baseball, but (1) I find him entertaining, (2) he’s never done anything (that I can recall) to hurt the Mariners unfairly, and (3) he’s been really nice to us. So I like him.

While hanging out in the cross-aisle, I took the opportunity to take an extreme close-up of Tim:

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We ended the game behind the plate…

38-comerica-behind-home-plate

…but did not come away with an umpire ball.

The game ended in a somewhat frustrating fashion. Kellan, who is a super nice, lovable and usually easy going boy, is still in his “terrible twos.” Sometimes he can pitch a big old fit for no reason. And that’s just what he did at the end of the game. That’s no telling what started it, but he screamed and cried for a while, starting right before the game ended and it continued while we got in line for kids’ run the bases.

By the way, here is where we got in line…

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…and he had to walk all the way around the inside of the stadium to the LF, and then exit the stadium, so we could enter a tunnel under the RF bleachers before finally entering the field in the RF corner¸ very near where we started standing in line here.

While Kellan continued to cry and whine and carry on, Tim made friends with another local kid:

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They chatted all the way around the stadium.

The thing that finally calmed Kellan down was when I spoke to Colleen on the phone and she told me to tell him that she wanted him to run *really fast* around the bases. When he heard that, he settled down and was like “okay, I gotta get ready to run really fast for mommy!”

After entering the field down the RF line, I got a picture of the boys by this Comerica Park sign:

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And then I started filming with my camera. I planned to film Kellan running around the bases, but, incredibly, (not realizing I already had the video running) I turned *off* the video right when Kellan hit first base and I turned it back *on* right after he touched home plate.

Aye, aye, aye…

Luckily, my dad got a couple pictures as we neared home plate…

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…and I took one of the boys from behind on my cellphone as Kellan and Tim were approaching the plate.

After running the bases, we got a group picture…

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…and couple more photos:

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We had a long drive ahead of us. We would be driving back into Pennsylvania, but not all the way to our house. But we didn’t let that stop us from taking a quick side trip on the way out of town:

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When we were in Canada, I told Tim we would go to a Tim Horton’s, but we totally forgot to do so. Luckily, I remembered this just before we passed what ended up being the last Tim Horton’s I saw on our trip. Check out what we got:

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Timbits!

Tim was in Tim heaven!

And then we drove until around 11pm…

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…when we got to our hotel in DuBois, PA (a very nice, new Fairfield Inn) the boys both woke up and were wide awake again. As Tim looked at his new Tigers baseball cards (a very nice set), Kellan took a late night bath.

When it hit midnight, it was officially my dad’s birthday! We were still all wide awake, so I decided we should give my dad a birthday gift that we’d had packed away in our luggage all weekend:

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When he opened it, the gift appeared simply to be a commemorative 2013 All-Star Game ball, but he soon realized that there was a baseball ticket tucked into the display case with the ball.

The ticket was for the subway series (Mets vs. Yankees) at Citi Field, and game time was less than twenty hours away…so we had to head to bed!

Bonus birthday roadtrip baseball to come! (Oh, did I mention that, after crossing the Jays and Tigers off the list on this trip, the only teams my dad had never seen play a home game were the Mets and Rangers?)

2013 C&S Fan Stats

10 Games

15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers

18 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4

45 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1

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

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

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

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 2, Twins at Tigers (5/25/2013)

On the morning of May 25, 2013, the boys and I woke up early in London, Ontario and headed down to our hotel lobby to find some breakfast as my dad caught up on his sleep. Our hotel (the London Suites, or something like that) had a restaurant called “Smoke and Bones” built into the building and they can a nice breakfast buffet. We enjoyed a big, filling breakfast.

Our Tigers/Twins game in Detroit didn’t start until 4:05 in the afternoon,*we though* the ballpark wouldn’t open until 2:30, and we only had a two hour drive so we were not in a rush to get going in the morning. We probably dilly-dallied a bit too long. In fact, I know we did. But we finally got on the road around 11:00 a.m.

It was a nice flat and relatively straight drive…

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…down from London to Windsor, Ontario.

Windsor is directly across the river from Detroit. Before we realize our cellphones wouldn’t work in Canada, we decided to get a hotel room in Windsor for the night. When we pulled into the Riverside Inn around 1:15pm…

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…my dad ran inside to check in and I realized that my phone could hook up to the hotel’s wireless connection from the car so I took that photo above to the left of Tim and Kellan and sent it to Colleen, and then we chatted back and forth over instant message briefly before my dad returned to the car.

The lady at the front desk recommended that we take the “tunnel bus” to the ball game. So, after running our stuff up to our nice room, we headed to the bus station right behind the hotel:

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This proved to be a terrible idea. After my dad threw down a bunch of cash to buy round trip tickets to Detroit, we headed out to the sidewalk to wait for the bus. We’d just missed a bus. The next bus wasn’t until 2:00 p.m. It was supposed to drop us off about 6 blocks from the stadium. I figured there was a chance this would work out and we’d get there on time. But when a bus employee appeared and started asking him about it. When we realized that the entire bus (which was going to be packed) would have to pass through customs at the border before we could head to the ballpark, I suggested that we eat the bus tickets and hop in my car.

So that’s what we did. After a 4-5 block drive, we headed through the “Tunnel to the U.S.A.” and found ourselves at the border crossing at 2:10 p.m.:

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From the point I took that photo, it took about 10 minutes to get through customs, but then it was a very quick drive to Comerica Park. As we approached the stadium parking lots, it was still a few minutes before the standard 2:30 gate opening time. When we drove by and saw people inside the ballpark, I figured that they must have been season ticket holders that got in a few minutes early. But then we realized that the gates were already open. Oh, no! We were missing out on our stadium time!

We parked and hustled into the ballpark.

Turns out the gate timing issue was these guys’ fault:

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In case you can’t tell, those guys on the newly upgraded scoreboard are the 1968 World Champion Tigers. For some reason, the Tigers were celebrating the 45th Anniversary of their championship season and, as a result, they had unknown-to-us opened the gates at 2:00 p.m., half an hour early.

The stadium was already pretty packed (for BP standards). Tim Kellan and I immediately headed to RCF in hopes of finding an open corner spot. My dad, who had never been to Comerica before, hung out down the RF line and took some photos of his 30th MLB ballpark (or, possibly, his 31st if he’s been to old Yankee Stadium):

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By the way, I should not that, as of this game, the only current MLB ballparks that my dad had not yet visited were Citi Field, Marlins Park (but he’s been to SunLife Stadium), Minute Maid Park (but his first game ever was at the Astrodome), and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (guess what state we’re going to next season!).

My dad spotted us with his camera…

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…and we had successfully found an open corner spot…but it was pretty cramped quarters out there, at least in the first row.

Here is what it looked like from out spot:

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I could not recognize a single Twins player out there. Everyone was wearing pullovers over their BP jerseys. Luckily, one single ball was hit directly into the corner right below us, and that guy picture above to the right walking away from us on the warning track toss it up to us. I have no clue who it was. But…

Thanks, mystery Twin!

The nice thing about our little corner spot is that (provided that we hugged the brick wall behind us) we were in (or at least half in) the shade:

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Eventually, my dad came over and found us. And very soon after he arrived, the Twins fled the field. BP ended way early because there was an on field ceremony to honor the 1968 team, which was fairly pointless in light of the long and informative discussion they had with the 1968 team on the big screen. Really, compared to the discussion they had streaming on the scoreboard, the on field ceremony was pretty boring.

We headed up to the upper level in deep RCF and tried to get some lunch at The Jungle restaurant…

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…but it was completely full and it didn’t look like anyone was about to head out.

We decided to head over to the Big Cat food court (where the Tiger-Go-Round is located) to grab some lunch. On the way, the boys and I got pictures with an old-school looking Mickey Mouse…

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…and a Tiger pig.

We also saw the new’ish Ernie Harwell statue…

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…and posed with a fake statue liberty.

Finally, we grabbed some lunch and then walked back to the Pepsi Porch (second deck in RF) and grabbed a picnic table for lunch:

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While we were eating, Kellan debuted an awesome new dance move:

After finishing our late lunch, we headed down to the seats in RCF, just above the visitors’ bullpen, and watched Joe Mauer and P.J. Walters warm up for the game, first in the outfield grass…

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…and then in the bullpen:

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See that guy leaning against the CF wall two pictures above (and to the left)? That is the Twins’ bullpen catcher. He was stretching out/loosening his back muscles by leaning against a baseball and rolling it across his back against the wall.

In the last photo above (also to the left), Wilkin Ramirez is standing in the batters’ box giving Walters the feel of pitching to a live batter. A couple pitches into the “at bat,” I called down, “Swing away, Wilkin!”

It would have been pretty sweet to see him launch a fly ball out of the stadium over the 3B line upper deck!

As the stadium PA announcer introduced Jose Feliciano to play the national anthem…

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…, all of the players on the field turned toward us…

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…and I realized that we were standing right below the flag.

After the anthem, we headed to our seats in section 141, row 12:

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As the game was about to start, my dad took the opportunity to document some of the scenes around the ballpark:

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We were rooting for the Tigers at this game because they had former Mariner Doug Fister on the mound. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Joe Mauer to jump all over Fister. With one out in the top of the first, Mauer launched a deep drive to RF:

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And after gathering to take a look at it, Crew Chief Joe “Cowboy” West confirmed the homerun call.

Once again, Kellan wasn’t in a sitting mood at the beginning of the game. My dad and Tim stayed in our seats while Kellan and I took a little walk in the beautiful Comerica Park cross aisle. As we walked toward home plate, Fister fought a losing battle with Josh Willingham:

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Willingham drew 1-out walk. We grabbed a prime standing-room spot in the cross aisle behind home plate just in time to watch Fister’s tough first inning continue against Justin Morneau:

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Morneau hit an RBI double to make the score 2-0 Twins with only 1 out in the first.

By the way, Kellan was on my shoulders as we walked (and stood) in the cross aisle. Sometimes Kellan gets squirmy and is only satisfied if I continue walking around when he’s on my shoulders. But, to my surprise and delight, Kellan was happy as a clam sitting up there on my shoulders behind home plate. So I decided to just hang out there for a while. Here was our view:

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Two batters after Morneau, Chris Parmalee hit an RBI single (scoring Morneau) to cap off the scoring in the top of the first.

After the first inning, the score was 3-0 Twins. It was really too bad because Fister ended up pitching 7 innings and not giving up another run the rest of the day…but the Tigers (spoiler alert) only managed to score 2 runs all day. Tough luck for Mr. Fister.

I was satisfied to just stay put in our SRO spot all day, but we had to get out of there quick when we saw this guy…

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…walking in the cross aisle behind the 3B dugout. That’s Paws the Tigers’ mascot. In the photo above to the left, I tried to take a *selfie* of the three of us with my cellphone, but I completely missed Kellan and missed most of myself. Paws saw how terrible my picture came out and he grabbed my phone and handed it to his escort, who took the photo above on the right. I like how Kellan is just chilling up there looking at Paws, which is much better than what he did last year (cried) every time he saw a mascot up close.

On a funny follow-up note, for the rest of the day Kellan kept asking about the “lion.” I told him over and over that Paws is a tiger, but he just kept calling him a lion.
Like the previous night, when we initially left Tim and my dad at our seats, Kellan and I promised to come back with ice cream. So Kellan and I set off to find some ice cream.
We headed to the concession stand in the LF concourse. But we couldn’t see any ice cream helmets (or ice cream) in the stand. So we walked the concourse toward home plate until we found a fan assistance office. The fan assistance staff explained that there were ice cream helmets out in the food court encircling the tiger-go-round (and while at the fan assistance office, I picked up “First Game at Comerica Park” certificates for Kellan and my dad).

The ice cream place was all the way around the other side of the stadium from our seats. I handed Kellan’s ice cream up to him and carried Tim’s ice cream back to our seats:

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Kellan ate his ice cream on the walk back. After I took him down so he could sit in his seat and eat his ice cream, a lady sitting behind me leaned forward and said, “I apologize, but I have to get this ice cream for you” and then she took a napkin and cleaned a huge piece of ice cream out of the back of my hair. Kellan and deposited the ice cream into my hair and somehow I had no clue it was there.
Anyway, while the boys ate their ice cream, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera…

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…did not hit a homerun.

Guess what Kellan and I did after he finished eating his ice cream (or, I mean, after I finished eating his ice cream)? We went right back to our same SRO spot behind the 1B side of home plate. It was the perfect spot to catch a foul ball (which we didn’t) and Kellan was into hanging out there (and not so into sitting in the seats) so I figured let’s go for it!

For most of the rest of the game, Kellan and I stood between two college-aged gals on our left (who kept giggling about how cute Kellan was sitting on my shoulders) and two 40-50 year old men on our right (one of whom thought we were the ideal example of why baseball is the best sport for fathers and sons). At one point, as Kellan was all relaxed and just lounging up on my shoulders, I could hear the guy next to me telling his friend who awesome it was that I had brought Kellan to the game and we were just hanging out watching the game together. Two seconds later, the guy asked if I had a camera and told me that I just couldn’t miss getting a photo of this…

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…moment. After he took the picture, he handed my phone back to me and said, “I may need a copy of that one myself!”

It is a pretty cute picture. And it great to capture these moments when my lil’ guy can rest up there on my shoulders. It’s so sad that Tim is too big to do that now. They grow up so fast!

By the way, here’s a picture of the general scene:

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The guy in the ChiSox jacket is the one who took our picture, the Cubs guy is his buddy who was standing right next to me and Kellan in that empty spot between him and the girl in the orange jacket. That girl is one of the “college-aged” girls I mentioned before (hmm…maybe not college, but young 20s nonetheless), I’m not sure where her friend was at this point.

While Kellan and I were standing there watching the game, Tim and my dad toured all over the ballpark. First they went up to the upper deck where my dad snapped a few photos out past the foul pole:

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By one of the “D” stores (team stores), my dad got this great shot of Tim “hitting” against Fister:

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They got some pictures with the ferris wheel in the background…

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…some pictures above/behind the big Tiger statues and the tiger-go-round…

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…and a shot of Tim by a big Tiger coin-collector…

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…, which was just inside the main gate by the Ernie Harwell statue.

The Tigers made the game interesting by scoring a pair of runs in the middle innings while Fister kept the Twins locked in at 3 runs. In the fifth inning, Andy Dirks singled with two outs and then scored on an RBI double by Torii Hunter.

In the sixth inning, Jhonny Peralta took a leisurely trot around the bases…

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…after hitting a solo homerun with two outs. But that was all the scoring the Tigers had in them. The score after 6 innings (and after 9) was 3-2 Twins.

In the ninth inning, Kellan and I started the slow process of getting into position to make an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball. Here was our view as we first started our trek down to the tunnel:

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We ended up doing some birding during the ninth inning. Here are my bird shots:

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And here are 4 of Kellan’s first birding attempts:

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Eventually, he successfully captured a bird on *film*:

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In the bottom of the ninth, this was our view:

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We were in a near perfect spot for an umpire ball, but that metal box is pretty poorly placed.

After the game, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher didn’t toss any baseballs into the crowd. When he walked by us, I could see two baseballs in his pouch, but they stayed there. On his walk out, he motioned to someone up higher in the stands behind home plate. I had a feeling he was going to come back to chat with someone so we stayed put. In a few minutes, he did come back. As he was standing right below us I asked if he could toss one of the baseballs in his pouch up to us, but he said (1) he only had a couple left, (2) was meeting up with a friend, and (3) had promised them to his friend’s kids. And that’s just what happened. He ended up chatting with a guy for a while and giving the two baseballs to the guy’s kids. Oh, well.

Kellan and I then met up with Tim and my dad out by our seats. It is super easy to meet up with your loved ones when you are in the U.S. and have working cellphones. Before heading to the exits, we got a great group picture:

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On our way out of the ballpark, we found a second Tigers Mickey Mouse:

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We exited via the CF gate so we had to walk all the way around the stadium to get to our car. On our way by the 3B gate, I got a couple photos of Tim and my dad:

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And then we headed back to Windsor, Canada for the night. We ended up playing catch for a while in the park across the street from our hotel…

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…before going out to a late dinner at “The Keg.” Note, in that picture above to the right, Tim is catching a pop fly and that is our hotel in the background. In that picture above to the left, that is Detroit in the background across the river. Detroit was incredibly loud all night because there was an electronic music festival going on over there, and it literally shook us over in Windsor.

All-in-all, the second day of the Roadtrip was a smashing success.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

9 Games

15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers

16 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 2

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

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

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

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

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

The Sixth Annual installment of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip on the evening of May 23, 2013, when my dad (Jim), Tim, Kellan and I…
1-2013-GFS-roadtrip-game-on
…hopped into our car and headed north to Syracuse, NY. All we did on May 23rd was to drive to our hotel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It was really misty out there:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luckily, it is super easy to get to Toronto:

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

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Check out the view from the main observation deck:

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

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

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

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

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…because, why not!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and then we hopped in line at Gate 6…

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…, which is down the RF line.

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

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

Thanks, mystery Oriole!

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

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

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

Zack came over and took this photo of us…

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jim (and Zack)!

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

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Thanks, Brian!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, usher gal!

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

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

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

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That’s Adam Jones getting all stretched out.

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

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

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We ran into the Blue Jay in the concourse:

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

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Here’s something interesting we found in the concourse:

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

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

44-rogers-sec243-panorama

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

45-rogers-behind-budweiser

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

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

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

We kept walking and got this panorama behind section 207:

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

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

49-rogers-zack-bonus1

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

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

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Ice cream time in Canada!

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

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

3-1 Orioles after one inning.

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

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

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

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…grounded out.

6-3 Orioles after two innings.

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

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

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

56-machado-foul-out
9-3 Orioles after three innings.

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

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

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

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

We got a shot from section 524…

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…and another from section 518:

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After Muni batted again…

61-muni-and-cf-upper-deck-concourse-hallway

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

62-rogers-switchbacks-down

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

63-cf-meeting

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

Thanks, Neal!

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

64-open-air-rogers-art

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

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

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

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More specifically, these seats:

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

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

68-joey-bats-singles-to-center

…but did not score.

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

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

69-concession-stand-toss-up

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

70-kellans-concession-stand-toss-up

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

Thanks, concession guy!

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

71-coloring-at-rogers-centre

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

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10-6 Orioles after seven innings.

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

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

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

It made no sense.

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

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

75-rogers-sec117-panorama

No Tim and Dad anywhere in that picture, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, well.

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

76-boys-konked-out-post-rogers-centre

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

Woah! What a day!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

8 Games

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

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

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

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

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

New Blue Jays Ice Cream Helmets

We just returned from the Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. We attended games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto (5/24/13), Comerica Park in Detroit (5/25-26/13), and Citi Field in New York (5/27/13). It will be a while before I have any of the blog entries up so I thought I’d share a little two photo teaser.

In 2009, we attended our first game ever at Rogers Centre and the ice cream helmets were decent, but nothing to write home about:

In 2013, the Blue Jays re-designed their uniforms with a retro Jays feel. Along with their fancy new duds came some great-looking new ice cream helmets:

Now there’s a helmet you can write home about. Heck, you can bring this helmet home to meet your parents!

Good job, Jays.

 

You can check out our entire MLB ice cream helmet collection at the Cook & Son Baseball Museum.

Felix Day in Pittsburgh (5/8/2013)

For months, we planned to go see our Mariners at PNC Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  But then something came up at work and Tim had a Little League game scheduled that evening so our plans were foiled.  This was only the second time the M’s had ever played in Pittsburgh, and the first time since Tim was born.  I really wanted the boys to get to see the M’s play at PNC Park.  And I just generally really wanted to see a Mariners game.  The only other game in the Pittsburgh series was Wednesday, May 8, 2013.  It was a *early* day game with a 12:35 start time.  We had to do it.

We live 4 hours from Pittsburgh.  The early game time meant we needed to leave the night before.  So at 8:47 p.m. on May 7th, after my business dinner and the rain out of Tim’s Little League game, the boys and I hopped in the car…

1-late-night-drive-to-pittsburgh

…for a late night drive across the Pennsylvania turnpike.  The boys fell asleep around Harrisburg, PA, and then I listened to some “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and chatted with my dad on the phone for about 2 hours.

We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. and had no trouble making it a complete mess by the *following* morning:

2-first-hotel-room-of-season

After a decent free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road and made it to PNC Park before 10:00 a.m.

It was #FelixDay and we predicted…

3-pnc-felixing

…complete Felix domination.

I knew there would be no BP so I didn’t feel compelled to go get in line at the CF gate.  So, instead, we walked around to the other side of the stadium and hung out by the autograph collectors where the players arrive for the game:

4-rauuuuuul-on-the-street

In that last photo, that’s Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez wearing a stylish suit (NOTE: baseball players shouldn’t wear suits) and listening to an mp3 player.

The first person we witnessed arrive at the players/employees entrance was our buddy Jason Phillips.  All of the autograph collectors were on the other side of the entrance from us.  Jason saw us as he exited his cab, signed one or two autographs, and then told the autograph collectors that he had to go chat with us.

Jason and I shook hands and chatted for a minute or so.  He confirmed there would be no BP.  He asked if we’d ever been to PNC Park.  He told us that he’d *opened* PNC Park with the Mets back in 2001.  And then he headed into the ballpark, after showing his official MLB credentials to the people guarding the entrance.

Jason Phillips is a cool guy.  It’s always good to get to chat with him, and it was nice to begin our 2013 in-person Mariners season with a  brief on-the-street chat with him.

After a while, I asked a guard if we could get around the stadium on the river side before the stadium opened.  He confirmed we could so we headed toward the river.  On our way, the boys posed with the new (in 2012) Bill Mazeroski statue:

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Then we walked along the river toward the CF gate:

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When we arrived at the CF gate, PNC Park regular Zac Weiss was already there.  After setting our bags down in line behind Zac’s bag, I took Tim’s photo with the Roberto Clemente statue (Kellan was avoiding the camera):

7-tim-kellan-roberto

Before the gates opened, Zac busted out a baseball and we all headed out to the Roberto Clemente Bridge to play catch:

8-catch-on-clemente-bridge-with-zac-weiss

I played catch with both Zac (real baseball) and Tim (soft, practice baseball) at the same time, alternating throws between them.  I almost threw Tim’s baseball into the River!

Zack Hample was in line next to our bags when we finished playing catch.  He was there with Neal Stewart from Bigs Seeds and the two of them were on another leg of Zack Hample’s BIGS Baseball Adventure.

The CF gates opened at 10:30, but that just let us into the Riverwalk.  Zac, Zack, Neal, Tim, Kellan and I all gathered at the inside gate behind the bullpens…but we were stuck.  Normally, season ticket holders, such as Zac, can get into the field before regular fans, and they can take guests with them.  But the Pirates don’t do the early access for day games.  So we were stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:00.

We passed the time by posing for some fist bump photos…

9-fist-bumpin-zack-at-pnc

…and trying hot sauce seed sample packs that Neal had in his seed satchel.  They were tasty.

Thanks, Neal!

I was excited when we saw our first uniformed Mariner of the season:

10-our-first-mariner-of-the-season

I think it was Hector Noesi.

Several Mariners joined Hector to play catch down the LF line.  Nothing was happening in CF. So the boys and I headed over to LF to see if there was a spot where we could watch the M’s playing catch.  There wasn’t.

So we headed to the kids play area instead:

11-pnc-play-area

When the rest of the gates finally opened, Oliver Perez and his partner (who I didn’t recognize at the time, but am pretty sure it was Yoervis Medina) had just finished playing catch and the only other pair of M’s out there at the time were Hisashi Iwakuma and Lucas Luetge:

12-kuma-luetge-our-baseball

Perez and Medina has been doing a little post-throwing running.  On their way back toward the dugout, Perez grabbed one of the several baseballs sitting on the ground and walked over and handed it to Tim.  I took the opportunity to ask him for a photo:

13a-oliver-perez-baseball-and-photo

Thanks, Oliver!

FYI, Kellan was still on my shoulders at the time and didn’t want to get down.

When Perez and Medina left, they were replaced along the baseline by Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps.

When Kuma and Luetge finished throwing, Lucas tossed his baseball to Tim and then he posed for pictures with both boys:

13b-lucas-luetge-and-the-boys

Thanks, Lucas!

Meanwhile, Kuma had started signing autographs a little further down the LF line.  We ran over there and he was happy to sign his and Lucas’s warm up ball in both English and Japanese

14-kuma-auto-photo

…and to pose for a picture with the boys.

、ミスター岩熊をありがとう! (Thank you, Mr. Iwawkuma!)

Some Mariners had run out to the bullpen, but the only action left in LF was Maurer and Capps playing catch:

15-maurer-capps

When they finished, Carter tossed the baseball to Tim, and then followed the ball so we could autograph it and pose for a picture with Tim:

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Thanks, Carter!

With nothing else going on down the LF line, we headed out to LCF near the bullpen.  On our we stopped to get a PNC Park bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Just as we approached the LF seats, a group of about 20 people ran through the seats from LF to LCF and filled almost the entire section right next to the bullpen.  That foiled our plan to get a close up look at the action in the bullpen.  So we hung back in the shady cross-aisle behind the LF seats and had a nice chat with an usher.  She took our only family photo of the day for us:

18a-cook-dudes-at-shady-pnc

Tim was spitting his BIGS seeds all over the place and we ended up talking about seeds for some reason.  She mentioned that her co-worker gave her some pickle flavored seeds.  When she pulled them out, she realized she didn’t have the pickle seeds today, she had BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds:

18b-nice-usher-with-seeds

We still had about 45 minutes until game time and nothing was happening on the field.  We ended up meeting up with Zack, Zac, Neal and PNC Park regular Robbie “Scoonz” Sacunas for lunch in the Hall of Fame Club:

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We’d never been in, or knew anything about, the Hall of Fame Club so it was great to experience it.  As our food was being prepared, Kellan and I walked around and took some pictures of the club:

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The Hall of Fame Club is right behind the LF upper bleachers.  There are big windows that look at over the field.  As Kellan and I walked around, we saw King Felix warming up out the windows:

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Zack, Neal and I all tried the new, off-menu novelty meal, the donut burger:

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The burger is a bacon cheese burger with a fried egg on a donut bug.  I find eggs to be incredibly disgusting so my burger was eggless.  I would recommend everyone try the donut burger so you can say you had one.  But it doesn’t rank near the top of my best burgers list…in fact, if I really had such a list, it would be way down on the list.  More than like eating a donut, the weird combination and texture of the burger made it seem like I was eating meat filled french toast.

The boys split a footlong hot dog.  Tim smothered his in ketchup and mustard, most of which seemed to find its way onto the front of his mostly white Mariners t-shirt.  Luckily, Kellan has no condiments on his half of the hot dog because he ate his dog while sitting on my shoulders.

Before leaving the club, I got this panorama out of the front windows:

23-pnc-hall-of-fame-panorama

When we got back down to the field, King Felix warming up in the bullpen.  We headed over there to watch.  The bullpen set up is pretty interesting at PNC Park.  It’s not very good watching a pitcher warm up from the bleachers.  Here’s what it looked like:

24-felix-warming-in-pnc-pen

Just before the game started, Felix headed toward the dugout…

25-felix-pen-prepare-for-game

…and the members of the Mariners bullpen gave each other a bunch of high fives.  See that baseball sitting on the garbage can in the last photo?  Jason Phillips ended up tossing it to us (after giving it a thorough rubbing).  It was thoroughly dirty and beautiful.

Thanks, Jason!

Here is where we were sitting for first pitch:

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Those were our real seats.  They were pretty awesome – section 31, row C, seats 1-3.  It was a three row section.  To our left was the aisle and then LF:

27a-tim-pnc-lf

The seats were pretty amazing.  They are regularly priced $36/ticket, but I found them on stubhub for $17/ticket.  Gotta love below face value tickets!

The tough thing about day games is that Kellan still takes a nap in the afternoon most days.  For a night game, I work his nap into the drive to the game.  But for a day game, there is no good nap time.  At this game, that actually played to our benefit.

When we reached our seats, Kellan was sitting, totally relaxed on my shoulders.  I tried to take him down, but he was very fussy.  Sometimes he refuses to get off of my shoulders, and this was one of those times.  I realized there was no one behind our third seat in.  In fact, there was no one behind that seat in the entire section.  So I figured there was no one whose view would be blocked if I sat there with Kellan on my shoulders.  That’s how we started that game.

It didn’t take long for an usher to stop by and tell me that Kellan needed to come down off of my shoulders.  “No problem,” I responded, “it’s just that it’s his nap time and he’s a little cranky and didn’t want to get off of my shoulders.”  When I took him down, he protested by crying, yelling and kicking.

Upon seeing the little tandrum in process, the usher came back and told Kellan that we could move to some other, even better seats in the third inning if Kellan behaved now.  Lucky for us, he did.

The M’s didn’t score in the first.  And then King Felix took the mound:

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With the dominating King Felix on the hill, I felt pretty safe leaving our seats to go get ice cream in the first inning.  My plan actually wasn’t too good.  The very first Pirates batter of the game, Starling Marte, hit a ground ball right past third base and down the LF line for a double.  That happened just as we started to walk up the stairway toward the concourse.

Felix struck out the next batter.  But Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single as we walked through the concourse toward the ice cream place.

After twos innings, the Pirates still led 1-0.  The boys were still eating their ice cream helmets when the last out of the second was recorded.  I immediately stood up and waved at the usher who had mentioned the seat upgrade in the third.  I pointed at the seats and he gave me a confirming thumbs up.  And then we moved here (essentially) for the rest of the game:

28a-check-out-these-sweet-seats

Is that beautiful or what?  Here is what our view looked like from the front row:

28b-pnc-3b-front-row-panorama

That picture above with Tim and Kellan sitting by the ballgirl is actually way out of order (it was just the best picture I got showing our seat location).  In the third inning, this…

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…is the ballgirl who was sitting right next to us.  She was quite nice.  While Kellan finished his ice cream…

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…I chatted her up a bit.  She is a former college softball player.  And guess what happened when King Felix induced Andrew McCutchen into hitting a foul ball to the ballgirl in the bottom of the third?   Here’s a hint:

30-foul-ball-from-felix-to-mccutchen-to-ballgirl-to-tim

Yep, she gave it to Tim!

Thanks, Felix, McCutchen and Ballgirl!

These seats were the absolute best seats possible for us.  Tim and Kellan do pretty good sitting in the seats when we have my dad or Colleen or some four person with us.  But when it’s just the three of us, for some reason, they really want to roam around and be on the move a lot.  But there was so much room to move in this seating section that we stayed put and I got to watch the entire (awesome) Mariners game!  Yes!

One of those in-seating-section activities included playing with the dirt and bugs:

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Into the fourth inning (aside from Michael Saunders who kept drawing walks), the Mariners batters, including Kendrys Morales…

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…, couldn’t find any success against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.

In addition to showing Tim spitting seeds onto the warning track, this picture sets the scene for what happened next:

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Let’s examine that photo closer.  Upper left corner, the small scoreboard shows the score is 1-0 Pirates in the top of the second with two outs (Morales, above, was the second out of the inning).    Also, notice that the Mariners have no hits on the day.   Next, Mariners centerfielder Michael Saunders is standing on 3B after drawing a leadoff walk, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch and to 3B on Morales’s groundout.  Finally, the ribbon board shows that Dustin Ackley is about to step to the plate (he hadn’t seen a pitch yet because the count is shown as 0-0).

Five pitches later, Saunders scored the tying run on a Burnett’s second wild pitch of the inning!  One pitch later, Ackley struck out to end the inning.

So, while being no hit by A.J. Burnett, the Mariners were all tied up 1-1 with the Pirates after 4 innings.

The Mariners finally broke through with their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning.  With Burnett pitching so well, it was a good thing we had King Felix on the hill…

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…throwing a dominating game of his own.  In fact, it was as if mother nature was behind Felix and the M’s during this game – she even set an all-natural crown worthy of a king right above Felix:

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Nothing could stop the Mariners fair and just King Felix.

Well, almost nothing, A.J. Burnett did a competent job of shutting down King Felix at the plate:

36-tim-kellan-king-felix-at-bat

But, obviously, hitting isn’t Felix’s thing.

The boys lost interest in the dirt and bugs and played a little grounders/bouncing balls catch behind our row of seats:

Despite numerous warnings from me only to *roll* the ball, the kids kept bouncing them…

37-playing-catch-in-accessible-area

…and, every once in a while, Kellan was throw the ball in the air to Tim.  This resulted in two different incidents, one good and one bad.

On the good front, Kellan tossed a ball to Tim that hit the railing behind our handicapped accessible section, rolled along the top of the railing, and then fell right into a cup holder handing from the back side of the railing.  When it happened, the entire section behind us erupted in applause for Kellan – they were all apparently watching the boys play catch rather than watching King Felix and A.J. Burnett playing catch with their catchers.

On the bad front, Kellan threw another ball that bounced off of the head of the lady in the black Pirates jersey:

38-reckless-game-of-catch

I didn’t actually see this happen.  However, given the facts that (1) the boys were using a cloth/foam-y-ish ball (that incidentally looks exactly like a ROMLB), (2) Kellan is only 2 and (3) the ball bounced before it hit her, I’ll go out on a limb here and say there is zero chance this incident actually hurt the lady.  But she was very mad about the situation.  I thought we were going to get kicked out of the section and sent back to our regular seats.  I immediately put the kids’ ball away and sincerely apologized to her and she just glared at me with complete and utter contempt.

We let this incident bother us for about 30 seconds and then we let it go.  We have better, fun things on which to focus.  Like the pierogies race:

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And the shirt cannon/slingshot/toss, which resulted in Kellan coming up with this prize:

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And, most importantly, Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer to RCF in the top of the seventh inning:

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2-1 Mariners after 7!

Kellan’s shirt was tied up with balloons, which the boys used to sling shot seeds on the warning track:

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Felix was dominating and he was getting solid defense behind him.  In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to CF that Michael Saunders grabbed with no problem:

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The next batter was pinch hitter Jose Tabata, and he hit a low liner to RF and Endy Chavez made a great play on it.  Starling Marte then singled, but was thrown out by Jesus Montero when he tried to swipe 2B.  Starling no swiping, Starling no swiping, STARLING NO SWIPING!

At the end of the 8th, we left our wonderful seats, took a bathroom break, walked through a small team store behind home plate, and then found ourselves here for the bottom of the ninth:

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FYI, Kellan refused to get off of my shoulders so I crouched on the ground in front of the seat so he wouldn’t be too tall for the fans behind us.

Although Felix Hernandez was out in the on deck circle at the end of the top of the ninth, Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen…

45-the-bartender-in-for-save-at-pnc

…came in for “closing time” in the bottom of the ninth.

Wilhelmsen got a quick ground out by Travis Snider for the first out.  He then has a 10 pitch battle with Andrew McCutchen, which included a foul ball that landed two rows in front of us, that ended with a  fly out to deep LCF.

Garrett Jones made things more interesting by hitting a 2-out single.  But Michael McKenry hit another deep fly ball for the final out of the game.

MARINERS WIN!!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

It was truly a beautiful thing.

During the post-game celebration…

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…, Aarong Harang tossed a pearly white baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Aaron!

As the celebration died down and the interviews with the heroes began…

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…, Robbie Thompson tossed a muddy (game-rubbed?) baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Robbie!

After the game ended and all the Mariners took off, we met up again with Zack, Robbie and a few other guys where Kellan was too tired and cranky to give another fist bump:

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We had noticed the Pirates pig statue earlier in the day and wanted to get a picture with it on our way out of the ballpark.  As you can see below on the left, an usher wouldn’t let us go over to the pig for a picture and then wouldn’t get out of our view when we tired to get a picture with the pig from a distance:

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Luckily, he didn’t follow us out to block our picture with the Willie Stargell statue.

When we hopped in the car, Kellan fell asleep almost instantly and slept for at least three hours.

All around, this was a near perfect baseball experience.  It was awesome seeing our Mariners.  It was fun to see them in a new park (for Tim and Kellan).  And it was even better to see King Felix bring home the win in a great pitchers’ duel.

GO MARINERS!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

7 Game
12 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates
12 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2
35 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1
6 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park
14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo
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