A Winning In-Person Mariners Season (8/17/2012)

August 17, 2012 was our final Mariners game of the season.  And it was a big one!  If the M’s could pull out a win, we would finish *our* Mariners season with a final record of 4-2.  With a loss, our M’s record would be 3-3.  Either way, it would be a vast improvement over last season’s 1-8 record.

So, before getting to the game, I should give a little background.  We were in Seattle the week of August 13-17.  We went to the Monday night loss to Rays and the Tuesday night win over the Rays.  Wednesday, was a day game and we always planned to skip it so we could do some other fun things that the NW has to offer.  We decided to head down to the Space Needle because Colleen, Tim and Kellan had never been up it.

It was August 15th.  The Mariners game started while we were in the car driving downtown to the Space Needle.  I checked my ESPN SportsCenter App on my phone in the car and announced to my family that “Felix is perfect through 1!”

As we waited in line at the Space Needle, I announced that Felix was perfect through 3.  At the top of the Needle, I announced that Felix was still perfect through six innings, and I joked about us running down to Safeco Field to be there in case Felix stayed perfect.  But it was never a serious thought.

From the top of the Space Needle, I took several pictures of Seattle…

…and of Safeco Field…

…while history was being made inside the stadium.

During the seventh inning, Tim rocked a wicked air guitar at the outdoor concert stage at the Seattle Center…

…while we were making our way into the food court for a bit of lunch.

I pretty much followed the eighth and ninth innings pitch-by-pitch on my phone and I involuntarily leapt to my feet when the final out was recorded.  Then I received tons of text messages from people asking, wishing and hoping we were at the game.

It is utterly amazing that Felix tossed the first Mariners perfect game while we were in town and just a couple miles from the stadium.  It would have been great to be there.  But I don’t feel at all like I missed out on an opportunity.  The simple fact is that I knew going into the week that we would attend only 3 of the five games the Mariners played while we were in town.  And, quite frankly, the Wednesday day game was the obvious choice.  I (instantly) eliminated it from contention months ago when we first set the dates for our trip.  So, I had to feelings of loss or personal disappointment, but just a huge feeling a joy and happiness for Felix’s amazing accomplishment.

Way to go, Felix!!!

So, wouldn’t you know, this was the Mariners first game following Felix’s perfect game and the perfecto buzz was still in the air.  People across the NW (and world) were…

…#FELIXING all over the world of social media.  It was a great, festive atmosphere for our final Mariners game of the season.

We took two cars to this game with the boys (me, Tim, Kellan and my Dad) heading down early for BP and the gals (Colleen, my mom, and my aunt Barb) following about 30-45 minutes behind (the still wanted to get there on the early side because it was fleece blanket give-away night).

The Ballpark still hadn’t opened when we arrived…

…which gave Tim time to pose with Ichiro before heading inside the stadium.

When we got inside, all four of us headed out to CF and Michael Saunders…

…quickly tossed us a baseball in the SRO area right next to the batters’ eye.

Thanks, Michael!

Tim wanted NOTHING to do with the sun out there.  So we headed back over to that little covered nook at the LF side of the visitors’ dugout:

Tim climbed all over the support beams for about 10 minutes before the rest of the stadium opened.

Once the whole stadium opened, we headed up the stairs to the LF seats.  He headed down to the first row and Stephen Pryor quickl

Tim climbed all over the support beams for about 10 minutes before the rest of the stadium opened.

Once the whole stadium opened, we headed up the stairs to the LF seats.  He headed down to the first row and Stephen Pryor quickly (within a minute of us being there) tossed us our second baseball of the day:

Thanks, Stephen!

I quickly realized something interesting.  Over the last year or two, we have had baseballs tossed to us by few players who had tossed a no hitter that same season.  I feel like there is one more, but the ones I can remember off the top of my head include Dallas Braden (who threw a perfect game in 2010), Johan Santana (who threw the Mets first ever no hitter earlier this season), and Felix Hernandez (who threw Tim a baseball about a week before tossing his perfect game).  Well, earlier this season, the Mariners threw a 6-pither combined no hitter.  After Pryor tossed us a baseball, we now have a baseball in 2012 from all 5 relief pitchers (Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, Stephen Pryor, Charlie Furbush, and Tom Wilhelmsen).  The only one we missed was started Kevin Millwood.

Next we headed into foul territory where there was next to no action.  But we had a nice lazy time watching some BP and pre-game pitcher warm-ups:

After a while, Tim and my dad split off and headed out to explore the stadium a bit.  Eventually, they ran into an usher named “Tim C.” who was working in CF bleachers.  Last season, we ran into Tim C. after our Tim had been hit in the hand by a BP foul ball.  That day, Tim C. gave both Tim and Kellan a big pack of about 50 baseballs each.  Tim and my dad ended up chatting with Tim C. a bit and he remembered meeting them and giving the boys the big packs of baseball cards the season before.  Tim C. then told Tim that he didn’t have any cards for him today, but how about a baseball!  And then he pulled a BP baseball out of his pocket and Mariners Usher handed that baseball over to Mariners Fan Tim C.

Thanks, Tim C.!

I didn’t know it at the time, but I actually saw all of this happening.  While Kellan and I were still in the field level, I saw Tim and my Dad chatting up an usher in the bottom RF-side corner of the CF bleachers.  Turns out that was the encounter with first class Mariners usher Tim C.

By this time, Kellan and I had headed toward home plate where I got this panorama…

…and then down the RF line during we hit the shade-sun border.  After a brief foray into the sun side, we retreated and hung out on the shade side.  While we were over there hanging out…

…my mom, Barb and Colleen met up with us.  And Kellan jumped all over the bag of kettle corn that they were carrying.

BP ended soon after mommy arrived, and we headed…

…out to the play area…

…to meet up with Tim and my dad.

This was the height of the #Felixing craze.  The Mariners were showing pictures on the TVs around the ballpark and on the big screen in CF of people #Felixing.  So we decided to get a nice picture of Tim #Felixing up in the LF bleachers, and he wore the perfect shirt for the occasion:

I wanted to go up to the upper deck to take a few pictures.  Colleen and Kellan joined me while Tim stayed with his grandfolks.  On our way over to the escalators up to the upper deck, we got a cool picture of Kellan joining in on the Mariners 1995 playoff celebration:

When we reached the top of the escalators leading to the upper deck we were greeted by an interesting sight, people sitting in extra stadium seats that were sitting in the concourse:

I liked that.  I also liked the birds, water and city views we observed from the upper deck concourse down the 3B line.

We walked to the LF foul corner, which is called the “Lookout Landing.”  From the front of the landing, I took this panorama as the pitchers and catchers warmed up in LF/CF:

Then I decided I should expand my view a bit:

That is Century Link Field (home of the Seahawks and Sounders) sitting between Safeco Field and the business district of downtown Seattle.

While I was snapping panoramas, Kellan and Colleen were just chilling in the Lookout Landing Bar area:

We walked around the upper deck a bit and I got two more panoramas from section 340…

…and section 332:

We have never watched a game from the upper deck at Safeco Field, but I’d like to someday.  You get some great views up there.

The other reason we were in the upper deck was that Colleen was looking for a vegetarian concession stand that she noticed on the Safeco Field food map.  She thought it was around 330 or so, but it wasn’t.  Luckily, I had taken a picture of the map, and realized it was actually in the field level, not the upper deck.

We took an elevator back down to the field level and found ourselves right by the vegetarian concession stand and the Mariners Hall of Fame.  And wouldn’t you know, the Root Sports in-game update desk was right over there as well:

When I walked over and snapped some pictures, the cameraman hopped out and offered to take that picture of us behind the desk.

Thanks, camera guy!

Colleen decided against getting food at the vegetarian food stand so we just moseyed through the Mariners Hall of Fame and I got pictures of the plaques for the new inductees, Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson:

I also took some other not-so-random, but kinda random shots:

Top Left: I took pictures of these Griffey/Ichiro lockers last season, but what I didn’t notice then was the lovely Kingdome picture on the window behind the lockers.  Beautiful!

Top Middle:  There are only six official members of the Mariners Hall of Fame (Alvin Davis, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson.  No, amazingly, Harold Reynolds is not (yet) a member, but we’ll see what we can do about that).  But the Mariners Hall of Fame celebrates more than just the actual MHOF members.  I took this picture because I liked seeing that the Mariners were celebrating the contributions of Mike Cameron and Omar Vizquel.  I think it is very cool that the Mariners respect their former-players enough to include guys in the MHOF area even while they are still playing for other teams.

Top Right:  This is the best of 3-4 pictures we got at the homerun wall.  Kellan just isn’t comfortable playing *above the wall* yet.  But he’ll get there.

It was getting close to game time.  We reported back to our seats in the second row of section 106 (designated as Row 26):

My folks, Barb and Tim were in our seats already when we arrived.  And guess what?  Another usher (named Adrian) was talking to them and had given Tim another baseball!

Thanks, Usher Adrian!

And as you can see in this picture…

…, Tim had also managed to wrangle a few more baseball cards from the ushers.

Before the first pitch, there was a video tribute and a quick ceremony celebrating King Felix’s Perfect Game.  I took a video of it and I’ll try to update this with the link to the video once I figure out where I saved the video.  It was simple, but pretty cool.

Then it was game time.  Hisashi Iwakuma was on the hill for the Mariners.  Here is his first pitch:

He picked up right where Felix left off two days before.   It was pretty crazy.  ‘Kuma started the game with four perfect innings of his own.

Meanwhile, John Jaso put the Mariners on the board with a 2-run homer (scoring Michael Saunders who had hit a 1-out single) to put the M’s up 2-0:

The Mariners added a third run in the bottom of the second on a lead-off homerun by Miguel Olivo.

Here is one of my favorite inanimate objects to photograph in all of MLB – the Safeco Field sign/clock:

It was weird (and a little sad) to see Iwakuma wearing our beloved Ryan Rowland-Smith’s No. 18, but he was representing the number well by dominating:

Fun times were definitely being had by all:

The Mariners didn’t score in the fourth, but I did get a nice shot of Miguel Olivo collecting his second base hit of the day – a single down the LF line:

We had never sat in section 106 before.  I liked it a lot.  Although it is right in the RCF gap, we felt really close to the action.  I took some random photos looking around from our seats:

Top Left:  The Dave Niehaus statue was behind us at the top of section 105.

Top Right:  The Roof was wide open, but we could see the edge of it sticking up above the RF upper deck.

Bottom Left:  There is a little platform in the CF gap where groundcrew people sit during the game.  Past the platform, the gap is protected by a little net.

Bottom Right:  We had an excellent view of the scoreboard and video screen behind us.  And, oh yeah, Usher Tim C. is up there in the CF bleachers.  Although I can’t really recognize him in the photo, I think that is him below the “E” in Wells and the “A” in Fargo.

In the top of the fifth inning, I left our seats to get some pizza for the boys.  I shouldn’t have done that.  I apparently upset the balance of the game and Iwakuma ended up losing his perfect game bid.  Sorry, Kuma!

But the boys did really enjoy the pizza.  While Tim concentrated on eating and enjoying it, Kellan tried to entertain me with his pizza eating abilities:

The top of the fifth inning took forever.  The Twins hit a double, a single and collected a walk en route to scoring their first run of the night.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Kellan and I headed over to section 124, where it looked like this:

The purpose of the trip was to visit my bestest buddy paul and his date:

Paul’s family has shared season tickets since the Mariners first season (1977).  At the kingdome, they were in the third row behind the first base (visitors) dugout.  At Safeco Field, they are in the seventh row behind the first base (Mariners) dugout.  They are some incredibly sweet seats.

While over with Paul, we got a close up look at John Jaso’s…

…and Justin Smoak’s…

…back-to-back fifth inning singles.  Unfortunately, they were both left stranded on base.  After five innings, the Mariners led  3-1.

On our way back to the seats, I grabbed some ice cream helmets for the boys:

And I took some more random family photos:

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Mariners extended their lead to 5-1 on back-to-back doubles by Travon Robinson and Eric Thames (scoring Robinson), a sac bunt by Brendon Ryan, and an RBI single by Dustin Ackley (scoring Thames).

The final bit of scoring in the game occurred in the top of the eighth inning.  Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham hit back-to-back homruns off of Stephen Pryor who was in his first inning of relief.  That made the score 5-3.

Mauer’s homerun went into the batters’ eye grass.   I headed over there to take a look into the batters’ eye (with no intentions of the ball still being there or someone tossing it to us).  The ball was already gone when we arrived.  I took a few batters’ eye pictures…

…before heading back to our seats.

Late in the game, the wave started and I got a hilarious picture of everyone doing it:

(Sorry, ma, but that picture is hilarious!)

In the ninth, it was “Closing Time” and the Mariners sent in Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen to shut the place down:

Wilhelmsen had not trouble closing it out 1-2-3 on 9 pitches.

MARINERS WIN!!

MARINERS WIN!!

MARINERS WIN!!!!!!!!!!

Yes!  Our season Mariners record was a beautiful 4-2.

Thanks, Mariners!

It was sad to have seen our last in-person Mariners baseball of the season, but it was a great night and we were riding high on the win.

Before leaving, we recorded the moment in a family picture:

And another:

“MY, OH, MY!!!…

…it’s great to be a Mariners fan!

Go Mariners!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

20/18 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
31 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
107 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
11/10 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;  Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park

8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird

7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Every MLB Stadium: Check!

I am way behind in writing our game entries — 4 games to be exact.  But, in the meantime, I wanted to share a photo compilation I completed today.  This past weekend, we attended two games at Marlins Park in Miami.  Tim and I have now been to every current MLB stadium, plus several closed stadiums.  Here is a photo six years in the making:

As of today, Tim has been to 139 MLB games, with Safeco Field, Camden Yards and Citizens Bank Park topping the “most games” list.  But here is a list of the first (or only) game Tim attended at each of his 34 MLB stadiums:

  1. Safeco Field (9/12/06)
  2. Citizens Bank Park (6/30/07)
  3. Camden Yards (8/9/07)
  4. Yankee Stadium (’23) (9/3/07)
  5. PNC Park (9/29/07)
  6. Great American Ball Park (8/15/08)
  7. Progressive Field (8/17/08)
  8. Shea Stadium (9/7/08)
  9. Chase Field (9/12/08)
  10. Citi Field (4/25/09)
  11. Nationals Park (5/17/09)
  12. Yankee Stadium (’09) (7/2/09)
  13. Fenway Park (7/3/09)
  14. Wrigley Field (8/14/09)
  15. H.H.H. Metrodome (8/15/09)
  16. Miller Park (8/16/09)
  17. U.S. Cellular Field (8/17/09)
  18. Rogers Centre (9/26/09)
  19. Oakland Coliseum (6/9/10)
  20. Dodger Stadium (6/11/10)
  21. Petco Park (6/12/10)
  22. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (6/14/10)
  23. AT&T Park (6/15/10)
  24. Minute Maid Park (5/27/11)
  25. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (5/28/11)
  26. Comerica Park (7/3/11)
  27. Sun Life Stadium (8/13/11)
  28. Turner Field (8/15/11)
  29. Tropicana Field (8/19/11)
  30. Target Field (5/12/12)
  31. Busch Stadium (5/14/12)
  32. Kauffman Stadium (5/16/12)
  33. Coors Field (5/18/12)
  34. Marlins Park (8/31/12)
 Since Tim’s milestone stadium was his 34th stadium overall, he celebrated before the game with a little #Felixing:
Time to do it all again!

Walk(off) this way: MARINERS WIN! (8/14/2012)

After a tough Mariners loss in our first game of the season at Safeco Field, we were back for more the next day on August 14, 2012.  Counting this game, we had two more Mariners games on our schedule for the season.  The Mariners had a 2-2 record in our previous four 2012 Mariners games.  A Mariners win at this game would ensure that we would not suffer a losing *in-person* Mariners season in 2012.

We wanted the win bad.  So we brought out our secret weapon:

This would be Colleen’s first Mariners game (or any baseball game for that matter) of the season.  The M’s would certainty want to win the game for this special occasion, right?

Well, let’s see.

We parked in the old Kingdome lot again.  This time, Kellan and I sped ahead as the rest of our crew walked lazily toward the “The Pen” entrance at Safeco Field.

Kellan and I hurried and grabbed a spot at the SRO counter behind the Mariners bullpen:

I had to stuff my giveaway Mariners shirt into my backpack so I set Kellan down on the counter.  As I was tussling with the backpack, Mariners supervisor-type-gal walked by and told me Kellan couldn’t sit on the counter.  I’m pretty sure she told me that last season too.  Oh, well, she gave Tim a baseball last season, too, so she’s okay in my book.

We’ve had amazing luck collecting a few baseballs at games this season.  It’s been a blast.  And entering this game we were sitting on a milestone.  Our next baseball would be our 100th of the season.  As a kid trying non-stop to catch a baseball at BP at the Kingdome with very, very, veeeerrry little luck, it is utterly amazing to me that we were about to hit 100 baseballs for the second season in a row.

But you know what?  It is a different time these days, and it is lots of fun.

Anyway, while at the SRO counter (in the spot pictured above), I noticed there were 3-4 Mariners in LF in front of the visitors’ bullpen.  It was hard to see them because they were behind the bullpen bench and its little canopy.

Kellan and I headed over there and stood in the little nook below the stairs up to the field level concourse.  It looked like this:

Shortly after we arrived, someone hit a ball right down the LF line.  Shawn Kelley ran over to field it and throw it back to the bucket.  But he walked back to his group of teammates before throwing it.  And, in doing so, he walked through that little break between the bullpen canopy and hand-operated scoreboard on the LF wall.  I called out his name and he promptly tossed us the baseball.

Big thanks, Shawn!

Soon, the rest of the stadium opened up.  Kellan and I headed out to the seats in RF.  I was thinking it would be cool if Kellan and I could catch a HR on the fly like we did last season.  No dice.

But right as Colleen and Tim showed up, Tom Wilhelmsen tossed us this baseball:

Thanks, Bartender!

It was way too sunny and warm out in RF.  Aye, aye, aye…it is so massively hot in Pennsylvania during the summer.  We’re a cold weather family and the last thing we want when we go to Seattle is hot weather.  But we just happened to visit during the hottest week of the summer.  It was in the 90s several days.  Anyway, we had to head for the shady seats in foul territory down the 3B line.

But, first, Tim had to stop by and get his picture with a bunch of military troops who were assembling in section 106:

As we relocated, the Mariners cleared the field.  When we reached foul territory, Kellan spent some quiet time watching the Rays pitchers playing catch:

Tim and I joined in the action with Kellan:

See that guy in the grass right in front of Kellan?  That is Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi.  Twenty-four hours earlier, Cursi had walked up to Kellan out of the blue and handed him a baseball.

Well, after finishing playing catch at this game, Cursi walked over to us and handed baseballs to both Tim and Kellan:

There really wasn’t anyone else over there but us.  He came over specifically to hand baseballs to both of the boys.  It was pretty awesome.

He engaged in a little baby’ish small talk with Kellan (FYI, Kellan is a big kid now!  He’s no baby!).

Then Cursi said to me in a questioning tone, “You were here yesterday?”  How weird is that?  He recognized us from the day before and he still walked over and gave both boys baseballs?  That is pretty darn cool.

Big huge thanks, Scott Cursi!

But he wasn’t done yet.  He then went on to warn us to be very careful over there in foul territory so we don’t get hit by any baseballs.  Tim responded by telling Cursi how one of the A’s hit him with a baseball last season.  Cursi reiterated that we had to be very careful!

I thanked him a bunch.

And then he posed for a picture with Tim:

That’s pretty sweet.

Thanks, again, Scott!

Tim developed a new obsession during this series that I am going to do my best to confine to just this series:  asking ushers for baseball cards.

Since Tim has been going to MLB games, ushers from time-to-time have given him baseball cards.  He likes them a lot and has a nice little collection, nothing fancy, but it’s fun for him.  Well, at this series, Tim realized he could be proactive and simply ask ushers for a card when he sees an usher.

So, after our interaction with Cursi, Tim decided he wanted to go over to the dugout and ask the usher over there for some baseball cards.  So we went marching off in that direction:

Behind the dugout, I noticed something funny:

That is Evan Longoria raking the dirt around 3B.  I think he started out trying to fix something he didn’t like with the dirt, but then he switched over and tried to get in his teammate’s way with the rake (as he is doing in that last picture).

The ushers at the dugout gave both boys several baseball cards.  And in the process, my mom showed up.  Then we headed back toward the LF foul corner, and we had someone take our picture along the way:

My mom and Tim then headed off to the kids’ play area, Colleen headed to the Mariners team store, and I hung out with my dad and Kellan down the foul line:

We were sitting back hoping someone would hit a foul ball to my dad…

…, but the Rays were not cooperating.

Eventually, Colleen returned and we all headed up the stairs…

…and over to the playarea:

A couple things to note that group of pictures.  Kellan climbed up to the top of the play set and then got scared and wouldn’t move.  I had to climb up to the top and coax him out of there.  While up there, I took the top two pictures above from inside the play set.

In that bottom left picture above, the arrow is pointing to my buddy from high school, Mark, who was attending that game with my best buddy, Paul.  I hadn’t seen Mark in a couple years so it was good to briefly catch up with him.

Our seats for all three games this week were in RF, right behind Ichi…oh..wait.  No.  There, sadly, was no Ichiro.  We were stationed behind Eric Thames instead.  Here was our view as Kevin Millwood delivered the first pitch of the game:

I should mention that, instead of joining us at our seats, Colleen headed back to the Mariners team store at the beginning of the game.  She was in search of some good deals.

Now, unfortunately, things didn’t start too well for Millwood and the Mariners.  Desmond Jennings led off with a single to LF.  BJ Upton followed with a triple, scoring Jennings.  And two batters later, Evan Longoria hit a sac fly to score Upton and make it 2-0 Rays.

So, things didn’t start too great.  And it didn’t looked too good because Matt Moore was on the hill for the Rays.

In the bottom of the first inning, I went to get some pizza and nachos:

Nothing was doing for the Mariners in the bottom of the first.  Luckily, Millwood locked things down after the first inning.

And then the Mariners got one run back in the bottom of the second inning on a back-to-back doubles by Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo.

After polishing off our own food, Kellan moved on to my mom’s food.  He *crushed* him some sweet potato fries:

Eventually, I realized that Colleen was still shopping!  I couldn’t believe it.  I “discussed” the situation with the Mariners over Twitter:

She finally arrived at our seats in the fourth inning!  That’s a lot of shopping.

In the fourth, Millwood was looking strong:

And I started taking some pictures, like this one:

And this one:

My dad and I noticed that B.J. Upton has some huge feet, or he wears clown shoes:

Here’s another set of cute shots of Colleen and Kellan:

Mid-game, Tim and my mom decided to go on an adventure.  They started out with Tim taking an artistic picture of the RF foul pole…

…and then an usher took a picture of my mom and Tim while she was telling them that section 110 (RF foul pole section) was closed for the game.

Then it was off to the Mariners pig…

…and a big pepsi sign by the play area.

Tim posed on the pick-off wall in the M’s Hall of Fame area:

And then they ran into the Mariners Moose:

They also collected a boat-load of baseball cards from the field level ushers.  As I mentioned, Tim was hooked on baseball card collecting.

When Tim and my mom returned from their adventure, I grabbed some ice cream helmets for the boys and Kellan and I took his ice cream to the bullpen for a change of scenery:

It was still 2-1 Rays.

Millwood was still pitching, but Lucas Luetge was warming in the pen:

Oh, yeah, and when Kellan was sitting on the SRO counter eating ice cream, that same supervisor lady from the beginning of BP came over and leaned in and said, “I know you know, so I’m not even going to say it.”

Oops!

So, we decided to head back our seats.

On our way back to the seats, we stopped and got this panorama of Safeco Field from the Dave Niehaus statue:

Colleen had bought some sweet potato fries on her town, and Kellan really enjoyed sharing them with her:

We had a pitchers’ duel on our hands.  Not much offensive activity to report.  Hey, Trayvon Robinson hit a foul ball:

And we started our own exclusive Cook family wave:

Millwood gave way to Lucas Luetge to start the top of the 8th inning.  Luetge retired the first batter on a fly ball and then turned the ball over to Stephen Pryor:

Pryor retired the next two batters and sent the game into the bottom of the 8th with the score still 2-1 in favor of the Rays.

Colleen, the boys and I take a ton of pictures as a family, but we tend not to get many pictures of all of us as a family.  Over the last several years, some of our best (and most of our) family photos have been taken at Safeco Field.  Late in the game, we added to our catalog of Safeco Field family photos.

Here’s one:

And another:

And as we moved to the bottom of the ninth inning and the white shirts started waving (these shirts were a giveaway at this game)…

…to spur on a Mariners rally, we took a few more family pictures like this one:

Now, it was getting down to game time.  Bottom of the 9th, the M’s were still down by 1.  I felt good.  Even though the Rays had Fernando Rodney and his sub-1.0 ERA and only 1 blown save on the mound, I was confident the M’s could walk off with the win.

You see, this was the fourth time we had seen the Rays this season, and 2 of those 3 games has resulted in walk-off loses for the Rays, including Rodney’s one and only blown save and loss of the season up to this date.

Kyle Seager led off the inning with a single to RF.  We were in business!

Chone Figgins followed with a sacrifice bunt gone awry for the Rays.  First baseman Carlos Pena fielded the ball and threw it past the bag and down the RF line.  Seager advanced to 3B and Figgins to 2B on the error.  We were really in business now!!

Justin Smoak followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Seager to tie up the game and sent Figgins to 3B, ninty feet from the win.  Yes!

The Rays got desperate and creative.  When Miguel Olivo came to the plate with one down, the Rays brought right fielder Ben Zobrist in to play behind 2B as a fifth infielder:

It was a cool strategic move to see from Joe Maddon.  I was hoping we could *beat* the move with a soft liner down the RF or LF line for the win.  But it didn’t happen.  Actually, Miguel Olivo rendered the move moot by striking out.

So we turned to new-Mariner Eric Thames.  And guess what?  Thames hit a soft liner just over the glove of second baseman Sean Rodriguez.

MARINERS WIN!!!

Thames got a big ol’ shaving cream pie to the face:

In fact, he ended up spitting out a bunch of shaving cream.

Great Mariners win!

It was only Kellan’s second Mariners home win, and we were psyched about it:

And the win ensured us that we would not have a *losing* in-person Mariners season.  Hooray!

Now, we were one Mariners win (on Thursday) from hopefully securing a *WINNING*in-person Mariners season.  Double-hooray!!!

We celebrated a bit more with a grandparents-included Cook family photo:

And then we headed to the door with smiles on our faces.  On the way out, I snapped a parting-shot panorama from the concourse behind section 106:

And we watched the seagulls swoop in for some post-game feeding in the stands:

The good times continued on our way down the street toward my folks’ car.  Tim got a Safeco Field fire hydrant photo…

…a silly cop pose (that he did completely on his own) in front of a Seattle Police car, and finally a picture with a big picture of a hawk on the outside of Century Link Field (the *Clink*).

MARINERS WIN!  MARINERS WIN!  MARINERS WIN!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

19/17 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
29 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 3, Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
103 Baseballs – Mariners 18, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
11/10 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

 BONUS PICTURE:  Here is a look at 99 of the baseball cards that Tim and Kellan (mostly Tim) collected at our three games in Seattle:

Hello, Safeco Field 2012! (8/13/2012)

SAAAAAAAAAAAAAFECO FIELD!  Yes!  On August 13, 2012, accompanied by my parents, Tim, Kellan and I finally made our way to Safeco Field.

We were in town to visit my folks and brother for the week and we would be taking in three Mariners games including two games against the Rays (but not Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, which occurred two days after this game while we were just across downtown Seattle at the Space Needle) and one game against the Twins.

Sadly, these would be our final Mariners games of the season.  Coming into this game, our Mariners season record was 2-1.  With one win this week, we would assure ourselves of at least a .500 Mariners record.  And with 2 or more wins, we would enjoy a *winning* Mariners season.  Whatever happened, our 2012 Mariners season would be better than our 1-8 2011 season record.  So let’s get to it!

Colleen sat this game out.  But the boys, my parents and I arrived right around 5:00 p.m., twenty minutes after the CF and “The Pen” gates opened and ten minutes before the whole stadium opened.

Tim and I hustled in from the *Kingdome* parking lot while my folks and Kellan took a more leisurely stroll to the stadium.  Tim and I headed into The Pen and grabbed a spot behind the M’s bullpen:

Oliver Perez (who is wearing No. 36 in the photo above to the left) quickly fielded a ball right in front of us and lobbed it over the bullpen right to us.  If the throw was a couple inches higher it would have hit the screen that protects the out-of-town scoreboard and fallen into the bullpen.  Luckily, it didn’t and I was able to make the easy grab.

Thanks, Oliver!

All three games at Safeco Field this season, The Pen area was way more crowded than I remember it being last season.

Shortly, we met up with my folks and Kellan and then the rest of the stadium opened.  We headed up the stairs behind the visitors’ bullpen and made our way down into the seats in foul territory.  Right when we arrived in foul territory, the Mariners hurried off the field.  It was sad.

Tim and my mom ran off to explore a bit.  Kellan and I stood…

…along the foul line waiting for the Rays to finish up their stretching and head out to the field to take BP.  My dad hung out with us too:

Eventually, James Shields and Matt Moore started playing catch down the LF line:

Kellan and I headed over to watch them.  On Shields’ first throw after we arrived, Matt Moore just flat out missed the ball.  He put his glove up and it just sailed right by it and into CF.  Although it was the simplest and straightest throw possible, I jokingly yelled to Shields, “That’s just nasty, James!”  He turned around and, with a smile and a shrug, made a little motion a little hand throwing motion to show he agrees that he just has filthy *stuff*

After Moore returned with the baseball, they each made about four more throws and then decided to relocate about 50 feet closer to the OF wall.  As Shields started to walk down the LF line, he looked back and saw we were still there.  He then bent down and grabbed that baseball that you can see sitting on the ground in the last picture and tossed it to us.

Thanks, James!

By the way, if you go see the Rays and attend BP, keep an eye on James Shields.  He’s a guy who knows how to have fun during BP.  Many teams have a *fun* pitcher like him and, in fact, the Rays have two (Shields and David Price).  Shields interacts with fans and runs around like crazy trying to make highlight reel catches.  Last season at Camden Yards, we saw Shields make a great catch to pick off a would-be BP homerun into the Orioles bullpen.

Anyway, Kellan and I headed back down the LF line toward the dugout just to see what was going on over there.  As we made it to the dugout, Desmond Jennings (shown here getting ready to take his hacks in the cage)…

…ran in from the field and tossed a baseball to us on his way toward the dugout.

Thanks, Desmond!

Next, something bizarre happened:

Tim and my mom were sitting about 30 rows up just past third base.  Kellan and I stopped by to chat and see what they’d been up to and then we started walking back out to the LF corner to meet up with my dad.  As we were cutting across a row of seats, a Mariners maintenance guy was walking up one of the aisle holding a seatback that he’d just removed from one of the seats right off the field.

As the guy passed by, I jokingly asked if we could get a souvenir Safeco Field seat back.  He stopped, looked at the seatback with a quizzical look, and then looked at me, “Well, I was just going to throw it away.  You really want it?”  Of course, I did!  He explained that he had to take it somewhere to find a match to replace it.  He said he would be back in a few minutes and would give it to me.

And there you go, our first ever souvenir seatback.

I have a HUGE backpack that I got while in school so I could carry a dangerously heavy and large compilation of text books.  I figured this seat back would fit in it.  And it almost did.  But, no, it didn’t.  Luckily, my backpack has straps that wrap around the back and clip on the opposite side.  I was able to use these straps to strap the seatback onto my backpack.

If you want to get some strange looks, walk around a MLB ballpark with a seatback (that is obviously from that stadium) strapped to your back.

After my mom took that last picture, she and Tim headed off to the kids play area.  On their way, they ran into the loveable Mariners Moose:

Last season, my folks and Tim determined that he wouldn’t be able to play in the play area this season because he would be too tall.  There is a little sign that says you must be under a certain height to play in the play area.  Anyway, he was taller than the max height now, but they didn’t question it.  He played until his heart was content.

Meanwhile, Kellan and I hung out with my dad down the LF line.  When we met up with him, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi out-of-the-blue walked up and handed Kellan this baseball:

That is Cursi pictured just above this baseball.  This was our third time seeing the Rays play this season and our third baseball from Cursi – one per game.

Thanks, Scott!

That was all of the action down the LF line.  We hung out and I took some cute pictures like this:

I kept hoping someone would hit a foul ball into the stands that my dad could catch, but no one hit a single ball into the stands while we were over there.

Eventually, my dad decided to head out to the play area to see Tim and my mom.  A few minutes later Kellan and I followed him over there.  But before heading into the play area, we checked out the action in CF and I got an awesome picture of Kellan just chilling:

Then it was off to the play area for some playing:

After a whole bunch of playing, we left the play area and the boys tossed some coins into the little fountain:

And then I spotted the Mariners pig:

I’m not sure why the boys look so darn serious in this picture.

We all headed down to The Pen area to watch Blake Beavan…

…warm up for the game.

Eventually, the rest of the relievers made their way out to the Mariners bullpen:

Recently, Shawn Kelley and Lucas Luetge have been joking with each other a lot on Twitter.  A day or two before this game a new Twitter account had popped up called “@Luetgeshair” that was providing tweets directly from Lucas Luetge’s hair.  I had a feeling that Kelley was the mastermind behind @Luetgeshair.

So when Kelley (as well as Stephen Pryor and Josh Kinney) signed the Scott Cursi baseball for Tim…

…, I mentioned @Luetgeshair to Kelley.  I asked him if he knew who was behind @Luetgeshair and suggested that I assume it was him.  He chuckled and gave a *whaaat…who….meeee?* response that pretty sealed the deal…yep, I’m pretty darn certain that Kelley is @Luetgeshair.

I told Kelley that I was going to send a picture to @Luetgeshair.  He was all for it.  And here it is:

…and here it is, here.

Beavan doesn’t have a great record, but I see good things coming from him.  He’s had a good bunch of solid outings.  We watched him warm up a bit more once he moved to the bullpen:

And then it was both game and dinner time:

Kellan did have his own seat and it was actually pretty packed in RF, at least down in the lower seats, so Kellan spent a lot of the game on my lap.  So I spent a lot of time taking picture of him, like this one featuring a cheesy mess on his face:

But Kellan was a bit restless, so I also spent a decent amount of time following him around exploring the concourses:

Here’s hands down cutest picture from Kellan’s time sitting on my lap during this game:

As for the game itself, everything went smoothly for Beavan in the first two innings.  But then came the third inning.  The Rays exploded for five hits and four runs and the half inning seemed to last forever.  The major damage was done on a 2-run LF upper deck jack by B.J. Upton.  The other two runs were scored on a single by Desmond Jennings and a double by Ben Zobrist.

Other than the tough fourth inning, Beavan settled down and pitched sixth other solid innings.  The big problem is that the Mariners were doing nothing at the plate.

Anyway, we were in section 109, row 32, seats 1-4.  I was holding Kellan in seat 1 and there just wasn’t enough room.  So at one point, I moved back about five rows and sat in the first seat directly across the aisle.  This resulted in Kellan walking-and-down the step…

…over and over again to see me for two seconds and then see grandma and grandpa for two seconds.  Eventually both boys spent some time up there with me.  And I got this shot of Tim showing off his new autographed baseball:

But Kellan still wanted to roam so we headed over to the Dave Niehaus statue for a picture:

We miss you, Dave!

Next, we headed over to the CF SRO by the end of the Mariners bullpen.  Right when we walked up an usher gave Kellan a Mike Jackson baseball card…

…and a minute later another usher gave Tim a Mariners Moose card.  Getting cards at the ballpark is always fun.

We grabbed the only open spot on the SRO counter behind the bullpens:

The spot was open because the barrier between the Mariners’ and visitors’ bullpens completely blocks the view of the infield.

Soon the end spot opened up at the other end of the Mariners bullpen.  It was the bottom of the fifth inning and this was our view as Trayvon Robinson led off the inning with a triple:

Eric Thames followed Robinson with a RBI single.  Hooray!  The Mariners were on the board!  The score was 4-1 in favor of the Rays.

Mariners rookie reliever Carter Capps started warming up.  Here’s a comparative view of my view from above the counter…

…and Kellan’s from below the counter.

At one point, Kellan noticed a big “Classic Mariners” picture of Norm Charlton and he ran over to pose with it:

Jamie Moyer was right next to Norm and, you know, he is the winningest Mariners pitcher of all-time and an all-around great guy, so I had Kellan post with his “Classic Mariners” picture too.

It was already getting late in the game and the boys hadn’t had any ice cream!  So we headed back to our seats to meet up with Tim and my folks.  There is an ice cream place in the concourse right by section 109 so we got ice cream on our way back.

I knew that Tim would want chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  And I knew that the lady would give scoop a HUGE helmet full of ice cream so I decided to just get one for the boys to share.  It worked out just fine with Tim did eating most of it:

Late in the game, I took the following panorama from our seats in section 109, row 32:

And then all of us headed over toward the 3B dugout.  We’ve only ever got one umpire baseball at Safeco Field.  There seemed to be some open seats around the umpires’ tunnel so we decided to give it a go.

We watched Shawn Kelley give up a single and then strike out the side in the top of the ninth:

Before the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim, Kellan and I headed down to section 136, row 18:

For some reason, my folks stayed in some seats by the concourse.  Kyle Seager led off the bottom of the ninth with a single.  With Seager waiting on first base, we had a great view of John Jaso as he and the rest of the Mariners tried to mount a ninth-inning comeback:

This was the third time we’d seen the Rays play in 2012 and they had lost the both of the previous games on walk-off homeruns by the hometeam (Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the Red Sox and Jim Thome for the Phillies) so I had high hopes in the bottom of the ninth.

But it wasn’t meant to be.  Jaso struck out, Jesus Montero grounded out, and then Trayvon Robins stuck out to end the game.

Getting an umpire ball also was not meant to be.

But, hey, a great post game family photo was mean to be:

And then we headed toward the gates:

On our walk to the car, we discussed how hilarious it was that during the whole game not a single Mariners employee stopped to ask me why I had a Safeco Field seatback strapped to my backpack.

Well, despite the loss, it was a great night and great to be back at Safeco Field sharing some quality time with family and the Mariners.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

18/16 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
27 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 1, Phillies   2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
99 Baseballs – Mariners 16, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 8, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
11/10 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park7/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose, Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and then go through their stretching routine.

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

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

Thanks, Jason!

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

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

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

Thanks, Felix!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The whole thing was a ton of fun to watch.

Felix and Perez finished with some shorter harder throwing:

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

Thanks, Oliver!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double thanks, Shawn!  Keep up the good work!

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and then Tim did some pitching:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We followed ice cream with a tasty pizza dinner:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, usher.  If you insist!

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

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

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

Mike Carp grounded out sending Seager to 2B:

Casper Wells hit a weak grounder for an infield single:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

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

A’s at O’s – Round 2 (7/28/2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Chris!

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

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

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

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

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

I was like, “What!?  Whose your son?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Zach!

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

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

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

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

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

Here is one of those baseballs…

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

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

Thanks, Evan!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim took a few hacks in one of the cages:

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

And then it was time to do some bouncing…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was our view from up there:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was Evan Scribner.

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Oriole-guy!

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and Kellan made that hilarious face.

Tim looked around and was all like…

…, “Where’s Mateo?”

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Tom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, ever better, they were free!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He didn’t:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…

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

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

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

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

And that’s exactly what happened.

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

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

…and only Tim succeeded.

I got Harper grounding weakly again:

He reached first one a throwing error.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…

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

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

Thanks, Tommy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

 

Thank You, Ichiro / Tim’s Ichiro Stats

Ichiro Suzuki has always been Tim’s favorite player.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Ichiro-san!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nope.

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jeremy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and we could do some in-stadium birding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On our way, we met Terrance…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and waited for Greg.

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

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

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

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

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

Yes!

Thanks, Rex!

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

…and texted it to Mateo.

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

Let me tell you, those nachos were delicious:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Drew!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jim!

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

He pitched a very solid game.

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

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

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

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

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

And we just kept having fun…

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

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

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

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

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

After Tim and Greg got a picture behind home plate…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Zimmerman followed Harper with an RBI single:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

 

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

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

So that is what we did.

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

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

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

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

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

Big thanks, Dan!

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

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

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

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

…and Tim gloved it with no problems.

Thanks, Joe!

It was time to find some shade.

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

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

And, sure enough, it did:

Thanks, Bernie!

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

Not too shabby.

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.

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

I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Roger!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jesus!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.

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

After the play area, we headed up the escalator…

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

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

…the High & Inside Pub.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and this one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Scott!

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

So, thanks again, Scott!

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers