Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

Baseball Roadtrip ’08, Day 1: Cardinals at Reds (8/15/08)

Last August, I did an entry summarzing The (First Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip.  The purpose of doing so was to give some background and context for the Second Annual Roadtrip that took me, Tim and my dad through Chicago, Minnesota and Milwaukee in August 2009.  Those entries were just a combination of emails I sent to family members while we were on our first roadtrip.  Now, its time to do actual game updates for those four games.

After I got off work on August 14, 2008, my dad (Jim), Tim and I packed into the car and drove to Washington, Pennsylvania where we spent the night at a KOA.   Over the next five days, we would visit Great American Ball Park in Cinncinati, the Louisville Slugger factory in Kentucky, Progessive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

We woke up on the morning of August 15, 2008, and packed up our stuff to head to Great American Ball Park…

1 - camping hacks.jpg…as my dad packed his stuff, Tim stomped around the campground exploring and hit some whiffle balls off of his Tee.

I’d been watching the Reds on TV since Griffey was traded to Cincinnati, so I knew exactly where we had to go for dinner before the game…


2 - skyline.jpg…Skyline Chili was right on the way as we walked from our hotel to the ball park.  If you like cheddar cheese, this is the place for you.

Downtown Cinncinati slopes down toward the Ohio River, the Ohio-Kentucky border…

3 - welcome to GrAm BP.jpg…and Great American Ball Park.

Now, in the grand scheme of all of the new stadiums, I had heard that Great American Ball Park was nothing special.  But, you know what, I really liked it.  Its no Camden Yards or Safeco Field, but it had a special feel of its own.  In fact, I almost felt like it was a Major Leauge size minor league ball park.  That’s not meant to be insulting.  What I mean is that it sort fo felt *quaint* — maybe it was because we sat in the RF bleachers with the big steam boat nearby in CF and the river behind us.  Anyway, I liked it a lot.

As we approached the main entrance of the ballpark, we found a statute of Ted Kluszewski and a big banner thanking Griffey for his 600th homerun…

4 - kluszewski and griff.jpgTim monkeyed around in the grass between Griff and Kluszewski…

5 - Kluszewski and Timski.jpg…and practiced his power stroke.

Sixteen days before this game, Griffey was traded to the Chicago White Sox.  We’d planned to sit right behind him in RF.

By the way, I didn’t write an entry about it because Tim wasn’t with me, but after missing seeing Griffey’s 600th homerun in Philadelphia, a buddy from high school and I saw Griff’s 601st homerun at Yankee Stadium during interleague play.

With no Griffey in sight, I was all about seeing Albert Pujols do something special in this game.  As we entered the park, Albert was standing right there behind home plate speaking with Edinson Volquez…

6 - pujols volquez.jpg

…a few minutes later, Volquez walked into the Reds dugout just below me and Tim.  All I had on me was a cheap plasticy ball we bought on our way to play catch with on the trip.  Anyway, Volquez and some other unidentified Red signed it.

We headed out to the seats in RF to watch some BP.  It was pretty packed out there.  Tim and I squeezed into the first row and my dad hung back a row or two behind.  We were having no luck.  Then, on what I think was the final pitch of BP, someone hit a ball off the wall right in front of us.  As it bounced off of the wall, all of the Cardinals started to run toward their dugout.  But reliever Chris Perez turned around to grab that ball.  He grabbed it and started running back toward the field.  Then everyone yelled at him.  He turned around.  The 20-something guy next to us and I both pointed at Tim.  Perez fired the ball over to us.

Yes!

It was the first ball Tim had got this season.

With Tim’s new baseball in hand, we headed to the concourse behind 1B and made our way over the Reds Hall of Fame:

7 - got a ball going to reds HOF.jpgAs Team Halls of Fame go, this one probably sets the standard.  It is excellent.

Along the far end of the Reds HOF (closest to the outfield and Ohio River), there is a wall of 4,256 baseballs representing Pete Rose’s record-setting career hit total.

8 - pete rose wall of balls.jpgThe balls cover the wall the entire way as you ascend three flights of stairs.  If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you will see that the balls are all game (or at least BP) used.  They are all dirty and scuffed with bat marks.  Its an excellent visual representation of Rose’s hit record.

The Reds HOF is packed with jerseys, bats, gloves, and shoes with little descriptions of the Reds Hall of Famers.

9 - griffey bench seaver foster.jpgI was happy to see a Ken Griffey, Sr. jersey in there.  I’m a big proponent of team Halls of Fame.  I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should be reserved for the super-elite, best of the best of the best of the best.  Some peopel refer to “inner circle” Hall of Famers.  To me, the “inner circle” should be the entire Hall of Fame.  If a player is borderline, if an “argument” mut be made for a player’s candidacy to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I think that means that player is not a Hall of Famer.

But that doesn’t mean there is no place for such players.  If a player can’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame after years on the ballot.  No problem, those players can still be remembered forever by the people to whom they were most important in their respective team’s hall of fame.  Anyway, those are my two cents.

And anyone lucky enough to make it into the Reds HOF should be very pleased, indeed, this place is spectacular.

Check out this great picture they have on the wall of the members of the Reds HOF:

10 - Reds Hall of Famers.jpgDo you see Ken Griffey, Sr!  He’s almost right in the middle.  And he’s not just in the Reds HOF, we’ll see him again before the end of this entry.

Like a Safeco Field, they have a fake wall where you can pretend to pick-off homeruns.  Unlike Safeco Field, the Reds offer a variety of gloves from past and present.  Check out the sweet piece of leather I picked in the picture below:

11 - reds hof ooooold school glove picks hr.jpgHey, Ken Griffey, Jr. was represented in there as well…

12 - george k griffey jr.jpg…they had a little kids club house type area with little lockers with little jerseys they could wear and slides and things to climb.  In another area, they had a mock *man cave* full of stuff the ultimate Reds fan my have in his den.  Check out this picture of Ken Griffey, Jr.  Notice anything odd?

He signed it “George K. Griffey, Jr.”  I have never seen him do that before.

Soon, it was game time.  I took this panaramic view from our seats in RF.

13 - GrAm RF Panarama.jpgI bought these tickets literally the second they went on sale…in February or March or 2008…and the best they could give us in RF (where I was hoping Griffey might hit a homerun) was 3 rows from the top of the bleachers.


In to top of the first, Pujols popped out.  But the Cards scored two runs on a homerun by Rick Ankiel.

Then, in the bottom of the first, I got this picture just as Reds rookie Chris Dickerson hit his first career homerun.

15 - chris dickersons 1st career homerun.jpg

The ball landed in the Cardinals bullpen just below the glass partition to the left of the picture.

After Dickerson’s homerun, I tried to zoom in for a picture of Albert Pujols, but this is the best my old camera could do:

15a - Pujols.jpgNext, it was time to go get some ice cream helmets.  I headed out toward centerfield…

16 - top of second.jpg…but didn’t find any cream helmets until I made it all the way around to behind home plate.  So I ended up doing a full loop of the ballpark.  I’m sure the wait made Tim appreciate the ice cream even more:

17 - reds ice cream helmet.jpgI took this random shot of the LF seats and the scoreboard.

18 - LF stands and scoreboard.jpgThe scoreboard seems sort of short, doesn’t it?  Its really wide, but not very tall at all.

After we finished our ice cream, we headed back toward home plate because I saw some ballpark artwork I wanted to photograph while I had my hands full of ice cream helmets.  Here they are, two big mosaics of the .

19 - Champion Bat and Big Red Machine.jpgAbove is the 1869 Red Stockings, which according to Wikipedia were the first “openly professional” baseball team.  Below, is the Big Red Machine from the 1970s…including short-time Mariner and father of a future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey.

Back to the game, in the top of the third, Pujols hit a ground rule double.  The first of two doubles and three total hits on the evening.  By the end of the third, a bulk of the scoring for the game was done.  The Cardinals were winning 4-2.  Each team would score only one more run.

Late in the game, I ventured out in search of some pizza and took some more ballpark pictures.  Here is Great American Ball Park from foul territory in the LF corner.

20 - view from LF foul corner.jpgOur seats are all the way across in the top corner of the RF bleachers.

Here are two more pictures:

21 - visitors bullpen and 3B concourse.jpgTo the right, a view of the extra wide concourse in foul territory down the 3B line.  To the left, a picture of the Cardinals bullpen.  Directly across the field I have circled in yellow the big open concourse pictured to the right.

After taking that shot of the bullpen, I turned to the right at took two more pictures:

22 - RF foul standing area.jpgTo the right, my dad in our seats up above the cardinals bullpen.  To the left, I backed up a bit and got a shot showing a little more of the standing room area down the RF line.

And when we were over there, we ran into a local celebrity, Rosie Red…

23 - Mr and Mrs Redlegs.jpg…I tried to also find Mr. Redlegs for a photo-op, but he was nowhere to be found.  The pictures to him above to the left are from earlier in the game.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals brought in Chris Perez.  He gave up one hit, but struck out two to secure the win for the Cards and the save for himself.

After the game, they shooed us out of the OF seats.  He relocated into the infield seats, where I took a couple more random stadium shots…

24 - views from infield.jpg…we got a group shot of the roadtrippers…

25 - 3 Cooks at Great American Ball Park.jpg…and then we settled into the seats for Tim’s first firework show of his life…

26 - tims first fireworks.jpg…it was an amazing firework show.  And an outstanding first day of our first roadtrip.

Tim would fall asleep on my shoulders as we walked back to our hotel.

The Cardinals & A Milestone at PNC Park (9/29/07)

Heading into the final week of the 2007 season, I checked the Pittsburgh Pirates schedule and noticed that the Cardinals were coming to town for the final weekend of the season.  For reasons discussed further below, I was excited to see the Cardinals and their monster first baseman Albert Pujols.  So I told my wife to have a nice weekend at home because TIM AND I WERE ROADTRIPPING!!

We had lots of “firsts” on this trip — some “baseball firsts” and some “life firsts.”  First, it was our first baseball roadtrip “camping” in a KOA camping cabin.  Pittsburgh is about 4 or so hours away.  So I figured it was a little too far to drive back home after a night game.  I also figured staying at a KOA would be more fun for Tim than staying at a hotel.  So we booked a cabin at the Washington, PA KOA.

We left in the morning and arrived in Washington, PA in the early afternoon.  Tim loved roaming all around the camp ground:

1 - camping.jpgWith the assistance of our KOA hosts Rick and Sharon Leclair, our second “first” was a trip to West Virginia:

2 - all roads lead to west virginia.jpgI’d noticed that West Virginia was really close to Washington, PA on the map.  So I asked Sharon about it while checking in at the KOA.  She advised that there was a place in West Virginia just about 17 miles down the road that might interest Tim.  So, with lots of time to spare before the game, Tim and I hopped in the car, drove to West Virginia for the first time in either of our lives, and arrived a Cabela’s in Wheeling, WVa:

3 - cabelas.jpgSharon was right.  Tim loved it.  Mostly, he liked watching the fish swim around in the huge fish tanks.  So our 45 minute trip to West Virginia was a success.

It was time for Tim’s third “first” of the trip — Pittsburgh, PA.  We left West Virginia and headed into Pittsburgh for the game.  I’ve been to Pittsburgh several times and each tiem the sole purpose was to attend a baseball game at PNC Park.  I know next to nothing about the city other than PNC Park.  But I can tell you its a neat looking place.

As you can see on the map below…

pittsburgh map.jpg…downtown Pittsburgh is nestled between the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahea Rivers.  The red arrow points to PNC Park, which is across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh.  Downtown and the ballpark are connected by a bunch of yellow bridges including:

The Roberto Clemente Bridge:

4 - walking Roberto Clemente Bridge.jpgThe RCB is an automobile bridge most of the time, but before Pirates games (or at least this one) it is closed down and made into a pedestrian bridge.  Although the bridges look a little weathered up close, they look beautiful from PNC Park with Pittsburgh’s unique-looking skyscrapers behind them.

Here’s a view of PNC Park from the Roberto Clemente Bridge…

5 - PNC Park from Clemente Bridge.jpg…its a great location for a ballpark.

Finally, it was time for Tim’s fourth “first” of the day – PNC Park.  On our way into the park, we stopped so Tim could get his picture…


6 - Josh Gibson statue.jpg…with Hall of Famer Josh Gibson.

Soon, we were inside the stadium…

7 - TJCs and PNC Park Section 133.jpg…and it was looking pretty beautiful from the top of Section 133.

We were there in time to watch BP.  But Tim was still too young for us to go out into the bleachers and test our luck at catching a BP homerun.

Instead, we grabbed some food and watched the Red Birds take BP.  Going to games back then was a lot more difficult than going to games in 2009.  As you can see, we had Tim’s on-the-go stroller with us…


8 - A Dog and a Comfy Seat for BP.jpg…so, along with a back pack full of stuff, there was a lot to lug around to a ball game (and it made it a lot more difficult to take pictures too).  But it made for a convenient place for Tim to sit and enjoy eating his ballpark frank before the game.

Anyway, at this game, our seats were in the lower section of the upper deck behind 3B.  After BP ended, we went to our seats.  They provided an outstanding view of the field, river, bridges and city.  It was like a postcard…of course, I didn’t take a picture of it.  Sorry.

We were out of our seats before the game even started, and we never returned to them.  Instead, we spent most of our time during the game standing (or in Tim’s case running around in circles) on the big spiral walk way from the LF field concourse up to the upper deck concourse.  Here is a shot of Tim standing at the top watching the grounds crew readying the field:

9 - perched above the field.jpgDo you see that braclet on Tim’s right wrist?  At some point, a Pirates employee gave it to me.  Its like a luggage tag, but its for lost kids.  You put your name, seat number, cellphone number on it.  Don’t worry, I wouldn’t lose Tim at this (or any other) game.

While up on the upper deck concourse, Tim had his fifth “first” of the day — his first time drinking from a water fountain.  Tim thought the drinking fountain was great.  He went back to it literally about 25 times throughout the game.  And, he still loves drinking fountains today.

During the game, I took a fairly odd self-portrait of the two of us at the top of the spiral walkway:

10 - TJCs self portrait.jpgThe game was a good one.  My main goal was to see Albert Pujols hit a home run.  While that did not happen, he had a strong day at the plate going 3-5 with a double, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.  I was also interested in seeing Rick Ankiel because his pitching troubles were still fresh in my mind.  I wanted to see how he’d do as an outfielder and batter.  He too had a strong performance.  He went 3-4 with a homerun, 3 RBI, and 1 run scored.  Generally, the story of the game was the Cardinals hitting and the Pirates not.

In the 4th or 5th inning, Tim and I relocated to a standing room area in RF…

11 - PNC Park from infield concourse.jpg…see that red arrow above?  Well, maybe you should click on that picture to see it larger.  If you do, you’ll see a chain link fence above the out-of-town scoreboard and below the RF bleachers.  The chain link fence is part of the RF wall.  Behind the chain link fence is a tunnel beneath the RF bleachers.  There is a single row of seating along the front of the tunnel in groups of 2-3 seats at a time.  I think the purpose of those seats is to have room for wheelchair seating.  In 2008, I tried to buy tickets in that row of seating, but couldn’t figure out if or how I could do that.

Anyway, its a great place from which to watch a game with a young active son.  I could watch the game while Tim ran circles around me without really bothering any of the other fans.  There is also a “family restroom” in that tunnel, which is also handy when you have a young active child with you.

For some reason, I thought Ankiel was playing RF so I took this picture…

12 - Ryan Ludwick the Cardinal.jpg…of “him,” but “he” ended up actually being Ryan Ludwick.

In the 6th inning, So Taguchi hit a seeing-eye single up the middle.  It looked like either future Mariner Jack Wilson would snare the grounder from short stop or Matt Kata would get it from the second base position.  Instead, the ball snuck by them both and Wilson and Kata ran into each other.  In the process, Wilson took a direct shot to the side of the head from Kata’s knee.  He went down hard and stayed down a long time.  Eventually, they put him on a little flatbed type golf cart and motored him out of the stadium through a tunnel right below us in the RF foul corner.

The day had been really long for young Tim.  He crashed hard by the 7th or 8th inning.  That was fine with me, I’d achieved what I’d come to achive.  So we left.  By the time we got to the south of the Robert Clemente Bridge, Tim was fast asleep…

…see, its handy to have a stroller when attending games with a 1.5 year old boy.

We drove back to the KOA and spent the night.  The next day, we heaeded home to tell Colleen all about our adventures.

Our 2007 season was complete.

Now, there was one more “first” I haven’t mentioned yet, the most important first of the day.  Amazingly, at the age of 31, this was my first time EVER seeing the Cardinals play live, and with the game I finally completed my 30-MLB Milestone.  Compared to Tim seeing all 30 teams at 3.5, I guess doing it in 31 years is pretty unimpressive.  But, I have a good explanation.

I grew in Seattle, which at the time was 812 miles from the nearest National League Park, Candlestick Park.  Plus, there was no inter-league play until 1997.   In 1997 and 1998, I went to at least one of the interleague games featuring each NL team that visited Seattle.  But, that was just the NL West.  I didn’t see most of the other NL teams until I moved to Philadelphia in 1999.

It was 2000 or 2001, when I first sat down and tried to figure out if I’d seen every team play at least once live.  I had seen every American League team (including the Brewers) multiple times at the Kingdome.  But I wasn’t sure if I had completed the NL.  At that point, I could pinpoint at least one specific game in which I had seen every team play except the Montreal Expos. Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.

I checked the Expos and Astros off the list in relatively short order.  But for years, I could never get to a Cardinals games.  It seemed like they would visit Philadelphia for only one series per season and I could never get to that series.   So, it came to late 2007 and I saw this game as my first and best chance of actually getting to a Cardinals game.  I planned the trip without hesitation.  So, there you have it, at age 31, I finally could say that I had seen all 30 MLB teams play live.  (Notably, Tim and I have now seen the Cardinals play in Pittsburgh, Cinncinati and Philadelphia.)

I didn’t keep a Baseball Log growing up, so I couldn’t put together a full game list for myself like I did for Tim’s 30-MLB Team Milestone.  But I wanted to do something to illustrate my milestone.  So, I tried to compile a list of at least one specific game when I saw each MLB team.  By way of reviewing old ticket stubs (which I used to keep for years in the inside flap of my baseball caps), reviewing calendars, doing lots of research on Baseball-Reference.com, and exchanging emails with friends with whom I attended games throughout my life, I was able to pinpoint at least one specific game for every team except the Astros and Dodgers.  Here you go (with brief comments for notable games):

A.L. West

Mariners – May 6, 1982Gaylord Perry’s 300th win.

Athletics – June 24, 1997 – Randy Johnson K’s 19 & Mark McGwire hits epic homerun.

Rangers – June 3, 1989 – Nolan Ryan 1-hits the M’s.  Harold’s lead off hit is M’s only hit.

Angels – June 18, 1999 – My first game at Yankee Stadium.

 

A.L. Central

Indians – October 10, 1995 - Game 1 of ALCS.  Mariners win!

Royals – August 31, 1990 – The first game with Ken Griffey Jr. & Sr. playing together.

Twins – May 15, 2000

Tigers – August 30, 1990 – My first foul ball caught during an actual MLB game.

White Sox – April 5, 1999 - Final opening day at the Kingdome.

 

A.L. East

Red Sox – April 25, 1994 – Randy Johson (CG) beats Roger Clemens & Griffey hits HR.

Orioles – May 26, 1994 - Ken Griffey, Jr. hits a homerun and breaks arm making catch.

Rays – May 20, 2000

Blue Jays – September 12, 2006 – Tim’s First Game.

Yankees – August 25, 1995 – Griffey’s walk-off HR starts M’s charge to AL West title.

 

N.L. West

Giants – June 19, 2004 – Barry Bonds hits his 689th homerun in Philadelphia.

Dodgers – I saw them at Dodger Stadium in June 1994 and in Seattle in 1997-98.

Padres – June 1, 1999 - My first game at Wrigley Field on “moving to Philadelphia” drive.

Rockies – September 12, 2007 -  Tim’s First MLB Anniversary.

Diamondbacks – August 8, 1999

 

N.L. Central

Cubs – June 1, 1999 - Same as above (First game at Wrigley)

Cardinals – September 29, 2007 - This game!  Finally!

Pirates – June 19, 2004 - Mariners beat Pirates and Eddie Guardado throws me a ball.

Astros - Two games in Philadelphia between 2000-05, but I can’t pinpoint the games.

Reds – September 4, 1999

Brewers – September 2, 1993 – Brewers playing in the AL (where they belong).

 

N.L. East

Phillies – April 12, 1999 – 1999 Home Opener and my first game at the Vet.

Mets – June 8, 2003 – Mariners sweep double-header at Shea behind Moyer and Garcia.

Expos – September 4, 2002 - My only “Expos” game.

Nationals – June 10, 2005 – My first “Nationals” game.

Marlins – September 9, 2007 - Tim’s first game seeing Jamie Moyer pitch in person.

Braves – April 12, 1999 – same as above (Phillies Home Opener)

Pujols and Piniero in Philadelphia (7-24-09)

1 - citz bank park.JPGIt had been a couple months, but Friday afternoon, Tim and I hopped into the car and headed down the PA Turnpike bound for Citizens Bank Park.

There was one reason, and one reason alone, that I decided we should go to this game — Albert Pujols.  The guy is a monster.  I wanted to get our third peak of this future hall of famer.  And I was hoping he would go yard for us.

We tend to go to more day games than night games.  Many of them have no batting practice.  So I decided we’d head down a little early for this game so we could watch some BP and maybe see Pujols put on a display of his skills before the game got started.  I was also hoping we’d see Jamie Moyer.  I’ve seen him hanging out signing autographs before games with his own sharpie.  I was hoping he’d be out so we could try to get a picture with him.

However, none of it was in the cards.  Little did I know that thousands of 7-year-old Jonas Brothers fans would be out in force.  The Brothers Jonas were playing next door to Citizens Bank Park.  They managed to make our 72 mile drive take over 2-and-a-half hours.  We completely missed BP.  It wasn’t the most pleasant driving experience.

Interestingly, we have NEVER made it to BP at Citizens Bank Park.  Never.

Anyway, we were at the park early enough that we didn’t have to hurry to get into the stadium once we parked.   The Phils fans have a good time before games.  Tailgating is rampant.  So we decided to play a little catch in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot…

2 - catch at the linc.jpg…then we grabbed our tickets from will call and Tim watched some bees in the flowers outside the home plate entrance:

3 - bees at Citz Bank.JPGAnd, there were lots of bees.  If you go sit there, be careful that you don’t get stung!


4 - citz directory.JPG After we headed into the park, Tim really wanted to look at the “map.”  Just in case you are interested, here it is.

I wasn’t too excited to spend a lot of time looking at the directory because I didn’t know what time it was and if we were risking missing Pujols’s first at bat.  Tim on the other hand wanted to take a nice, slow, thorough look at this thing.  Luckily, it all worked out.  We didn’t miss anything.

When we made our way into the field seats by the third base dugout, we found players stretching down the base lines, the Philly Phanatic warming up the crowd, grounds crew people were doing the final prep work on the field, and the announcer was reading the starting line-ups.

 

Here is what the scene looked like:

5 - pre-game festivities.JPG And, before long, it was game time.  We sorta have a standard game plan at Citizens Bank Park, and it usually starts with watching the first couple innings from the SRO areas behind home plate.  At this game, we decided to move a little to the right for the beginning of the game so we could get a good view of Albert.  Unfortunately, no first inning fireworks — here is his swing resulting in a ground out to first base:

6 - pujols grounder.JPG

At the far right, you can see the ball (a blurr) just entering the picture.  Sadly, there would be no Pujols HR on this day (although he did get one hit)…and this is the best I could do as far as action shots of Pujols goes.  But here are some less interesting “batting stance” shots:

7 - pujols at bat.JPG

In the bottom of the inning, I was happy to get a chance to see my old buddy, Joel Piniero, on the mound…

8 - utley-piniero.JPG

…here he is shown with a picture of Chase Utley about to fly out to Ryan Ludwick in CF.

But back to Piniero.  Joel was a Mariner from 2000-2006.  Joel started out great with the M’s.  It seemed he was poised to be a terrific starter for years to come for the Mariners.  However, he cooled off.  He ended his time as a Mariners with a career record of 58-55.

Anyway, it was great to see Joel in action once again — and he got the win for the Cardinals.

In the top of the second, the Cardinals took the lead 1-0 and Tim asked to go to the play area.  I figured it was a good time to go because Pujols had just been up in the first inning and we probably had a while before he was up again.  So, as requested, it was play area time:

9 - playarea time.JPG

Tim loves this little marble maze in the picture to the right.  Actually, he generally just loves the Phillies play area.  By far, it is his favorite of any park we’ve visited.

After playing in the play area for a few minutes, it started to rain a bit.  Although it didn’t seem like much, they closed the play area.  I told Tim we could go get his ice cream and check out the what is going on in the game.

Before we got ice cream, this is what we found on the field:

10 - citz rf rain delay panaramic.jpg

No play area.   No game.  Yep, its time for ice cream.

We headed up to the second deck because I had a brilliant idea that it would be less crowded.  In my defense, I had some decent logic here.  90 percent or more of the field level seats are out in the open (in the rain) while much more of the second deck is under cover.  So I figured the field level concourse would be packed.

Well, it might have been.  But I’m not sure it would be possible to be any more “packed” than the second deck concourse.  We got stuck walking through it and it took a while to get out — without ice cream.  Check out what it looked like (taken from the third deck):

11 - rain hiding.JPG

Now that I see that picture again, I guess that not many of the seats up there are covered.  Oh, well.

We finally made it through the third deck to a food stand that *appeared* to have ice cream.  By this time, Tim was begging and praying for some ice cream:

12 - ice cream pleeeeeease.JPG

Well, they only had ice cream in pint cartons.  That’s unacceptable.  But they pointed us to “Seasons Pizza” where we could find ice cream helmets.  (Referring back to the directory above, we usually get Tim’s ice cream helmet at “Old City Creamery” behind section 137 on the 3B line).

So on we marched on our ice cream buying-and-eating trek that would eventually have us see almost the entire ball park…or so it seemed.

Indeed, Seasons Pizza had ice cream helmets with chocolate sprinkles ($5.00).  We bought Tim’s helmet and went up into the stands so he could sit down and enjoy his helmet.  We went toward the top of the upper deck so we’d be under cover.  There were tons of open seats because everyone was packed into the concourses below. 

Here is Tim at the first stop on our ice cream eating tour:

13 - 1st ice cream spot.JPG

The rain stopped.  They started to uncover the field.  Here is what it looked like from our first ice cream seats of the day:

14 - citz upper  3B-home tarp panaramic.jpg

Soon, people came for our seats.  Tim decided he wanted to go down to the field level.  I thought that seemed like a good idea.  There are a lot of standing room counters on which tim usually sits to eat his ice cream while I stand and watch the game.

We headed down numerous flights of stairs until we found ourself in the field level concourse.  Or, I should say, the still extremely over crowded field level concourse.  Number of counter spots available:  zero.

So we heaed up to the second deck down the LF line.  Not gonna work.

So we headed back to the third deck where there are also lots of standing room counters.  Unfortunately, they are out in the open and, consequently, they were soaked.  But we eventually found one that was under cover.

The melted ice cream eating resumed:

15 - 2d ice cream spot.JPG

It looked really cool up there with the sun coming through the rain clouds.  The bad part was that they were about to start playing the game again, and we couldn’t see the field.

Instead, this was our view:

16 - citz upper LF concourse city panaramic.jpg

So it was on to our third set of ice cream seats — actually another counter, not seats.

17 - 3d ice cream spot.JPG

This counter was wet too.  But luckily I bring lots of extra clothes for Tim — in case he destroys his clothes with chocolate ice cream — so I could wipe down a spot for Tim to sit.

Here was our view from our third and final ice cream spot:

18 - citz upper LF panaramic.JPG

It was a long road to this final ice cream eating spot — but we were happy with our journey and destination.  We recorded the moment with a self portrait:

19 - self portrait.JPG

Hey, look at that, the Ryan Howard shift!

20 - defensing howard.JPG

Next, we decided to go spend some time in the outfield and by the bullpens.  We’ve never really hung out by the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park before.  So I thought it would be a nice plan.

On the way down the long ramps in the LF corner, I took some pictures of the front and back of the big scoreboard/video screen in LF…

21 - citz scoreboard back-n-front.jpg

…then it was time to head to Ashburn Alley in CF…

22 - ashburn alley.JPG

In the picture to the right, the green walls going down into a big pit are the walls of the bullpens.

Tim loved the statue of Richie Ashburn out there:

23 - Ashburn Trophy.JPG

Tim kept calling the statue a “Trophy.”  He loves trophies!  In this picture, he is swinging a fake bat and then running to the base on which Richie is standing.  He did that over-and-over-and-over-again.

Here is the view of Ashburn Alley from the Ashburn “Trophy”:

24 - citz ashburn alley panaramic.jpg

Next, we headed over to the area by the bullpens where we found a steel beam with a two foot high concrete base…

25 - SRO beam.JPG

Tim had fun standing inside the groove in the beam, and the concrete base was great for boosting me above all of these fans (top right) standing around “watching” the game.  We also had a good view of the bullpens if we scooted a few feet closer to CF:

26 - andrew carpenter no. 48.JPG

In the picture to the right, the Phillies’ Andrew Carpenter is warming up (the ball looks like a blur in the middle of the picture) and the Cardinals relievers are milling about up top.  Carpenter came in and gave up a HR to Julio Lugo.

I took the picture to the left because I thought it was an interesting view of the outfield wall.  You can see the corner of the Phillies’ bullpen in the bottom right of that picture.

In the RF corner of the field level concourse, there are a couple big baseball games and a BBQ stand.  I’ve never taken Tim over there because I haven’t wanted to test his patience standing in line for the games.  However, at this game, I decided he was ready — and he did great standing in line watching the other kids play the game.  Here is the game we played:

27 - Ballpark Pinball.JPG

The kid in the Utley shirt is standing at the control box.  There are two big buttons.  One says “pitch” and one says “swing”  When you press the pitch button, a door opens up on the pitcher’s hand and a volleyball sized baseball rolls down the board.  Then you press swing and try to hit the ball into one of the slots at the top.  You get three outs.

Most of the kids got three outs without getting any hits.  The first kid we watched who got a hit was a pro at it.  He ended up scoring four runs.  Tim and I played together and we ended up with two triples and one run scored.

Here is the view of the RF-RCF seats and concourse from the Ballpark Pinball game:

28 - RF corner concourse.JPG

These pictures are the same, but taken on different settings of my camera.  The red arrow is pointing toward the top of our standing room beam.

And here is a picture taken from our beam toward the concourse leading to the RF foul pole and the 1B infield concourse:

29 - RF concourse.JPG

You can’t tell from this shot, but the concourses at Citizens Bank Park provide a ton of room for standing room viewing of the game.  My only complaint is that the concourses are often windy.  However, it was nice at this game.  Really no noticable wind in the RCF concourse area.

Next, Tim wanted to go up onto an elevated walkway all the way out in deep CF.  They call it the “rooftop” for some reason.  They have cheap bleachers out there.  We took a couple panaramics up there, here is the first which is closer to the small section of bleachers (the bleachers are toward the RF side of the rooftop — and are shown in the first picture in this entry, below the liberty bell):

30 - citz CF rooftop panaramic.jpg

The rooftop seems like a nice place to hang out and have some drinks and food with friends.  There are a bunch of picnic tables with umbrellas for shade up there.  But the big brick wall blocks out your view of a huge portion of the outfield.  The wall is the backside of the batters eye.

As you’ll see in the next picture, during the game, they fence off the bottom section of the historical time-line and wall of fame area to the left end of the brick wall.  My guess is they do that so people don’t stand on the fence and bug the people in the bullpen, which is just below that area.

Here is another picture from the rooftop where you can see the red and blue fence blocking the area above the bullpen.  Also, this is taken from deeper CF, toward left a bit, and it provides a much clearer view of the field:

31 - citz CF rooftop panaramic2.jpg

We took this funny picture of ourselves before heading down from the rooftop:

32 - excited self portrait.JPG

Finally, we headed down to the fancy seats behind the Phillies dugout for the ninth inning.  The Cardinals were blowing out the Phils so there were plenty of empty seats and no one checked out tickets when we went down between innings.

This was our view of the Phils hitting in the ninth:

33 - phils last chance.jpg

Above, on that swing, Pedro Feliz grounded out.  Below, two seconds later, Carlos Ruiz got nailed in the side of the leg.  Matt Stairs followed with a fielder’s choice / error by Albert Pujols.  Finally, J-Roll and Victorino grounded out to end the game.

At the beginning of the game, they announced that Adrian Johnson was the home plate umpire.  They don’t have a separate umpire tunnel at Citizens Bank Park.  I wasn’t sure if they would exit through the Phillies dugout or the Cardinals.  I figured we’d try the Phillies side.  But I figured wrong.

After the final out was recorded, Johnson started walking toward the Cardinals dugout.  I yellowed, “Hey, Mr. Johnson, Adrian Johnson!”  He stopped and turned around and looked my way for maybe five seconds.  He couldn’t figure out who called his name.  So he turned around again and left.  No umpire ball for Team Cook.  Thus, we snapped our family record 7 game streak of getting a ball.  Oh, well.  It wasn’t a surprise, we’ve got a grand total of 1 ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (from Rockies 1B coach and former Mariner Glenallen Hill) and 1 total ball ever from the Phillies (J-Roll in D.C. in May).

All in all, we had a great time at the ball park — highlighted by our tour of the park looking for a spot for Tim to eat his ice cream.

And, the Jonas Brothers must have let out early.  It only took about an hour and a half to get home.

 

Season Fan Stats:

20 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
16 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
Braves, Padres, Dodgers and Cardinals– and sort of the Giants)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (4), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

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