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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Oh, yeah.  We were rolling in style!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thanks, Robert!

And very, very quickly after that, Mike Baxter…

…tossed another baseball to Tim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love Kellan’s casual little pose there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…that was tossed to us by Jon Rauch.

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

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

Thanks and Thanks, Jon Rauch!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the back of the homerun statue:

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

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

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

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

…and Tim made a nice catch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I got a panorama from section 12…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giancarlo Stanton was right in front of us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here are some more photos from section 40:

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

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

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

Reyes would end up striking out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…while I took pictures, including this panorama:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…but instead he struck out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Arrow:  Our seats in section 40.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we did find this cool little emergency response truck:

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

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

…but no fries at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jeremy!

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

I still wanted to see Stanton go yard…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.

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

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

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

Tim loves hanging out with older kids and he always has a blast hanging out with Harrison.  While waiting in line, Tim whipped out his camera and took a picture of himself and Harrison:

When the gates opened, Tim and I ran over to the LF seats and Kellan enjoyed the ride on my shoulders.  We’ve only ever got one “hit” baseball at Citizens Bank Park, a BP homerun at Kellan’s first Phillies game that bounced around in the seats before I grabbed it.

But almost right off the bat this happened:

Kellan and I were standing at the green dot (he was still on my shoulders).  Tim was standing just to my right, closer to the foul pole.  A Phillies batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  I turned around watched it hit off the first seat in about row 10 or so.  It ricocheted on a single bounce right to me.  I casually lifted my glove and caught it right in front of my head and Kellan watched on from above.

That was the first hit baseball that I have ever caught with Kellan on my shoulders.  I thought it was pretty cool, but Seth really thought it was great.  He was all smiles and quickly let me know that he thought it was awesome how casually I caught the ball with Kellan up there.

Before going on, I should point out the guy in the last picture who is standing closest to the camera wearing a dark Phillies shirt and his son in the front row (left of the green dot) wearing a Phillies jersey.  About 10 minutes after I took that picture, the guy approached me and asked if I had a blog.  He didn’t seem to know us by name, but he had read our blog and recognized us from our Mariners gear.  He was a nice guy.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name.  He introduced us to his son and several other family members.  I think he said that he has been to about 17 MLB stadiums.  The best thing about the interaction was how he asked who we were.  He asked me something like, “Are you the guy who takes his son all over to different MLB stadiums and takes tons of pictures of everything?”  While I don’t know if I am “the” guy, I definitely am “a guy” who does that.

The clouds started to sprinkle the tiniest little bit of rain.  So we headed over to the back of the one foul territory section that is open during the first hour of BP and took cover under the second deck seats.

Shortly after arriving there, a security guard came over and asked if it was the boys’ first Phillies game.  I pointed at Tim and said, “He’s been to lots of Phillies games,” and then pointing to Kellan, “and this is his second Phillies game.”

I didn’t see it yet.  But I had the strong feeling that the guy had a baseball and wanted to give it to a kid experiencing his first game.  We certainly do not meet that criteria and I didn’t want to pretend we did.  When he did, in fact, pull out a baseball, I practically tried to talk him out of giving it to us.  But he also didn’t seem like he wanted to make the effort to find another little kid who might be at his/her first game.  So he gave the baseball to Kellan:

(By the way, that is the same baseball in both pictures).  It was our 109 baseball of the season, setting a new Cook family single-season record.

Even though he didn’t get to make a true baseball rookie’s day like he had originally planned, I’m pretty sure he was happy with his decision to give the baseball to Kellan because Kellan gave him the cutest 2-year-old “Thaaaaaank you!” which gave the guy a chuckle and a huge smile.

Thanks, security guard guy!

Just before the security guard found us, I had opened a bag of cheesy rice cakes, which we refer to as “pirates.”  When the guy handed the baseball to Kellan, his fingers were already a cheesy mess.

Tim and Kellan kept throwing back the pirates like they were going out of style:

Normally, we head out to the pizza wedge when the rest of the stadium opens.  But we decided to head down the LF line to watch the Nationals pitchers warm up because we had heard recently that they were using old commemorative baseballs (Shea Stadium and Nationals Park) from 2008.

Just before the rest of the stadium opened, three of the Nats coaches were hanging out down the LF line, with one of them sitting in the seats:

When we got down there, Tim and Kellan got the most hilarious picture ever with Steve McCatty, the only one coach who was still down there.

We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…

…and it appeared that none of them were using commemorative baseballs.

The highlight (or maybe lowlight?) of our time over on the foul line was that someone hit a foul ball in our direction.  It was going to land several rows below us.  The Tishlers were right there, but they were focused on the Nats pitchers.


It didn’t help.

The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.

Once the Nats pitchers began to disburse, the boys and I relocated to the pizza wedge.  Two Nats were hanging out in RCF.  One of them fielded a baseball near us and tossed it up to us…

…before walking back to our spot.  It was Tom Gorzelanny (T.G. in the picture above).

Thanks, Tom!

Now, the baseballs the pitchers were using along the LF line were from the pitchers baseball bag.  The baseball that Gorzelanny tossed to us was a batted ball from the BP bucket, and we were very happy to find it was 2008 Shea Stadium final season baseball!

Double thanks, Tom!

I was very happy for us to get one of the 2008 Shea Stadium baseballs because Tim and I went to a Phillies-Mets game during the final month of baseball at Shea Stadium.

I soon overheard someone mention that they had caught a 2008 Nationals Park inaugural season baseball.

Now remember “S.B.” in that picture above?  That’s Sean Burnett.  I had no clue who it was at the time.  But at one point, a nearby fan started chatting with him a little bit and I overheard the fan call him “Sean.”  The second he finished chatting with the fan and turned around to walk back to Gorzelanny, I called out, “Hey, Sean!”  When he turned around, I made a bold move, I asked Burnett if he came across a Nationals Park commemorative baseball during BP if he would toss it up to us.  Without hesitation, Burnett said, “Sure!”

A few minutes later, he caught a fly ball right by us and tossed up to us a beautiful 2008 Nationals Park commemorative baseball!

Thanks, Sean!

Look at these two beauties:

Before long, the Tishlers arrived on the scene.  I got a picture of Tim and Harrison in the tip of the pizza wedge, but Kellan wanted nothing to do with being in the picture:

Harrison had snagged a baseball or two, but no commemoratives.  He really wanted to get one of each of the 2008 commemoratives.  Before too long, someone tossed a Nats Park baseball to Harrison.

As BP progressed, a couple No. 1 overall picks made their way out to CF.  Bryce Harper was only out there for a short time…

…until he had to go take his hacks in the cage.

But Stephen Strasburg spent a bunch of time out there shagging fly balls:

When one of his teammates hit a baseball to the CF warning track, Strasburg ran over, fielded the ball and tossed it up to us.  It was another Nationals Park commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Stephen!

Now, I don’t really remember the timing of this hit.  But at some point during BP, one of the Nationals hit a homerun over the pizza wedge:

It hit the back wall of the Phillies’ bullpen, and rolled out in the grass between the bullpen mound and bullpen plates.  While still focusing on the field in hopes of getting a Shea Stadium baseball, Harrison also set his sights on the homerun baseball waiting in the bullpen.

Toward the end of BP, a Nationals batter hit a homerun directly to us.  We were in the first row of the pizza wedge (section 101).  Kellan was standing in front of me leaning on the railing and Tim was to my right.  The baseball sailed right over Kellan and into my waiting glove.

I turned it over to find that it was another Shea Stadium commemorative.  Tim immediately instructed me to, “Give it to Harrison!  He needs a Shea ball.”

But Harrison said he wanted to get one on his own.  I must admit, I was a bit relieved that Harrison didn’t want that baseball because it was the first BP homer I had ever caught on the fly at Citizens Bank Park.

So we turned our focus back to watching Harrison and hoping he would be able to snag a Shea Stadium baseball of his own.  While we watched, Tim demolished some more cheesy pirates:

Well, some of them, as you can see above, escaped Tim’s mouth and found their way onto the warning track.

Eventually, the Phils cleared the field and, a bit later, Roy Halladay and the bullpen coaching crew headed out to the bullpen:

As Phils bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo (an all-round nice guy by all accounts) walked across RF and approached the warning track by the bullpens, Harrison told Tiamo that there was a left-over BP ball in the bullpen and asked if Tiamo would toss it up to him.  In the picture above to the right, Tiamo is the guy in the middle (wearing No. 81).  He happily obliged Harrison’s request and that baseball ended up being the Shea Stadium commemorative that had evaded Harrison during BP.

I wanted to snap some pictures of Roy Halladay warming up before the boys and I departed the pizza wedge for the play area.   But he took his sweet time getting ready to throw.  After visiting the bullpen mound to grab a baseball from the bag, (shown above), Halladay headed out into CF where he and Erik Kratz (who I had never heard of before at the time) did some stretching while lying on the ground:

Although we are a Rawlings family, I liked the look of Halladay’s Nike glove.  But doesn’t that just seem weird?  A Nike glove?  I am all about Nike shoes, but I am going to keep my Nikes on my feet and continue to let Rawlings outfit my glove hand (and Tim’s and Kellan’s too).

Roy then slowly made his way to the little boys room in the bullpen (and the following shot also includes a better shot of Tiamo):

And then he did a bunch of stretching against the CF wall…

…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:

We decided it was time for a little gaming.  Last season, the Phils had a speed pitch, a trivia game, and a running the bases (in place) game.  This season, Chickie’s and Pete’s has taken over the speed pitch area and only the trivia and base running games are left.  But Tim has fun with both of them:

The trivia game asks all Phillies trivia.  Tim knows none of the answers and I know very few.  But sometimes we get lucky on them.  The base running game is pretty funny to watch.  Each time we did it, Kellan would run about 5-10 steps and then just stop to watch Tim run.

From there, we headed on to the nacho stand and then the kids play area.  Kellan hadn’t had any real lunch (just snacks) following his nap so I hoped he would eat nachos with me while Tim played in the play area.  That was silly.  He ate 2-3 cheesy chips, but all he wanted to do was play.

I released him first into the little kids portion of the play area:

But he really wanted to go into the big kids play area.  I thought it was too big for him.  But Tim did some excellent big brothering.  He took Kellan up into big playarea and showed him all around.  It was really cute.  I could see Tim showing and explaining stuff to Kellan up there.  They posed for a picture together in one of the spheres:

And they even climbed all the way to the very top so they could ride the big spiraling slide all the way to the bottom:

Kellan had a blast with his brother and the other big kids.  I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with Kellan going up there alone yet, but he did great with Tim.

The game started while we were walking to the playarea.  Halladay retired the Nationals in order in the top of the first and then Phillies scored two runs on RBI singles by Chase Utley and John Mayberry.

Finally, I decided it was time to head to the seats.  But one our way, we swung by the ice cream spot in the concourse behind 3B.  I always ask for a tray with our ice cream, but for some reason I failed to do so this time.  With an ice cream  helmet in each hand and Kellan on my shoulders, Tim and I began the long walk from the 3B side, around the scoreboard in LF, behind the batters’ eye, and to our seats in section 104 (RF).  It wasn’t overly hot at this game.  In fact, it was somewhat pleasant.  But that didn’t prevent both helmets from melting down and dropping all over my shoes on the walk.  It was pretty crazy, after the game, you could clearly tell that I had held Tim’s chocolate-vanilla twist in my right hand and Kellan’s vanilla helmet in my left hand.

I dropped the boys and the ice cream in our seats in row 14 and then quickly ran 20 feet over to the nearest concession stand to get trays for the boys to use to hold their helmets.  Finally, we were ready to eat ice cream…

…and watch some baseball:

That last picture is from the top of the fifth inning.  In that picture, Roy Halladay is pitching to Kurt Suzuki and Danny Espinosa is leading off first base.  Espinosa and Roger Bernadina had already both hit singles in the inning.

While Suzuki was hitting, Bernadina was over at second behind held closed by Chase Utley:

Suzuki singled to load the bases.  Gio Gonzalez failed to help his own cause.  He put the ball in play, but Bernadina was forced out at home plate.

But rookie Steve Lombardozzi came through for Gonzalez.  He hit a single to CF that scored Espinosa and Suzuki to tie the score at 2-2.  Bryce Harper grounded out to end the inning, but the damage was done.  Halladay’s lead was gone and we had a new ball game.

Just like old times in Philadelphia, look who was patrolling RF:

We didn’t stick around too long in our seats.  The boys needed some real food.  So we got out of there.  At our last Phils game, Tim and I got pizza and sat in the upper deck.  We decided to do that again.  But first we stopped by the RF councourse and played a few more games:

You get 1 or more stamps in a little book depending on how well you do in each game.  The more stamps you collect the better prize you can get when you cash in your stamps.  Tim collected 10 stamps which were good enough for a Citizens Bank Park pencil and this weird “water bottle”:

It was much more “bag” than it was “bottle” but Tim loves it.  We filled it up and headed up to the upper deck in search of pizza.

We got a picture of the boys and the Liberty Pig:

Finally, we grabbed some pizza…

…and found some seats in section 424:

The Phils regained the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning when John Mayberry, Jr. hit a solo homerun to LF.  They tacked on an insurance run in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly, also hit by Mayberry.

During the late innings, the Phillie Phanatic pumped up the crowd from the top of the Phils’ first base dugout…

…and Kellan was super-excited about it:

As it got to the 8 inning, we decided to walk down to the field level concourse.  We were considering making an attempt at an umpire ball, which is always difficult at Citizens Bank Park, but we weren’t certain.  We figured we’d just go down and check out the situation first.

On our way out of section 424, we had an usher take our picture:

And then we started a long walk down the concourse to the RF corner and then back-and-forth down the switch-back ramps to the field level:

When we finally got down to the field level where the red line turns into a green line, I realized something.  When we sat down in section 424, I had set Tim’s new water bottle down on the ground behind our seats.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I had left it there.  We stopped and checked my backpack.  Nothing.

So we followed the green line (which is a magic line that shows through the seats) up a set up stairs and all the way back to section 424.

This whole walking process took so long that it was already the bottom of the ninth when we retrieved the water bottle.  We grabbed a standing room spot behind the 300-level seats to watch the final three outs of the game.  While Jonathan Papelbon warmed up for the Phils, Tim posed with his new missing tooth hole:

And then Paps got to work.  He struck out Jayson Werth and induced a fly ball out from Roger Bernadina.

The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:

But on this pitch  (the third pitch of the at bat)…

…, Papelbon struck out Espinosa to record the “W” for the Phillies.

Everyone celebrated:

It was a little weird seeing the final out from the upper deck.  That doesn’t happen too often for us.  Before we headed out of there, we had an usher take one more picture of the three of us…

…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.

Then we slowly made our way to our car.

All around, the whole day was a lot of fun.  I like the slightly less packed Citizens Bank Park of 2012.  Two thumbs up!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

21/19 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
33 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
113 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
11/11 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens   Bank Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

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!!!!!!!!!!

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.”


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.


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*).


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’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 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 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!


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