Results tagged ‘ Brandon League ’

2012 Cook GFS Game 6 – Mariners vs. Rockies (5/19/12)

On May 19, 2012, we headed back to Coors Field on a grey and drizzly morning for the sixth and final game of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

When we headed into the ballpark, it felt like only about 10 other fans joined us.  And there was no one on the field.  The tarp was out.  The batting cage was nowhere to be found.  There would be no BP to speak of.

Luckily, we did not have to wait too long for some on field entertainment.  Pretty quickly, the Mariners pitching corps popped out of the dugout and headed to the CF grass next to the visitors’ bullpen.

As the Mariners pitchers stretched and chatted amongst themselves…

…Kellan and I were the only fans in the front row section.  There were a couple fans above us in the bleachers.  The only other people in the front row were my dad, Tim, Dan and Emily, and they were chatting amongst themselves over in LF at Dan’s seats:

This was our view out in CF:

When the Mariners paired up and started playing catch, the closest Mariners to us were Hisashi Iwakuma (along the warning track in RCF) and Brandon League (in the CF grass):

While the M’s played catch on the field, Kellan pushed his stroller around, stomped in puddles, and just hung out and watched the action on the field:

Eventually, League short hopped Kuma with a hard throw.  The ball trickled past Kuma and was scooped up by his interpreter.  Kuma pulled a second baseball out of his pocket and he and League played catch for a few more minutes.

Once they finished playing catch, League tossed the ball they were using to a guy in the bleachers behind us.  League then motioned to Kuma’s interpreter for their original warm up ball.  He tossed that ball to us, and it was a Dodger Stadium commemorative ball!

Thanks, Brandon!

After getting the baseball from Brandon, Kellan and I stayed put for a few minutes.  But when I looked back over to LF, Dan gave a big *come over here* wave.  When Kellan and I reached Dan’s seats, he introduced me to a guy from mlb.com who said he wanted to interview me about our Roadtrip.  He ended up shooting a five minute video interview (during which I felt like I was continually looking off camera to check on Tim and Kellan who were running back-and-forth).  I’ve never seen that video turn up anywhere.  But later the same day of the game, the following blurb popped up on MLB.com’s Cut4 page:

When the interview wrapped up, the only Mariners still playing catch were Tom Wilhelmson and Charlie Furbush.  And they were playing extreme-long-toss – from the LF foul line to the RF warning track.

When they finished up and started to walk off…

…, one of them (I think Furbush) tossed the baseball to my dad…actually, he completely air mailed him, but it stayed in the front row where we were the only fans who could get to it.  It was also a Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball, my dad’s second!

Once Furbush and Wilhelmson wrapped up their long-toss show, there was absolutely nothing happening on the field.  So we just hung out for a bit and watched Felix and Brandon League…

…get in some work in the bullpen.

Eventually, Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Suzuki (Ichiro’s interpreter) started playing two person pepper along the LF line:

Tim, Kellan and I headed over there to watch since nothing else was happening.  After playing some pepper, Muni ran some sprints.  Check out those fancy shoes he is wearing.

When he wrapped up the running, Muni and Anthony started walking back to the dugout, and all of the fans hanging out down the line were completely silent…except us.

I called out a simple, “Hey, Muni!”  He looked over and then did an exaggerated backspin to crow-hop before gentling tossing one of the two baseballs he’d been using to us.

Thanks, Muni!

After he tossed the baseball to us, another fan got brave and asked for an autograph.  He ended up coming over and signing a bunch of autographs, including signing the baseball he’d just thrown to us:

I’ve thought for a while that it would be cool to get a Japan-born Major Leaguer to sign a baseball in Japanese (Iwakuma did this for my dad at spring training).  So, as Tim handed the baseball to Muni, I asked if he would sign in Japanese.  He responded (essentially), “No Japanese!  This is America!  Only English!”

No problem, an English Muni-autograph was just fine for us.

Thanks, again, Muni!

My dad was still out in LF and he took this picture of us as we walked back to LF:

Check out all of those fans!  Man, it was packed!

It was quiet and peaceful in the stadium.  The grounds crew was using the quiet time to tidy up the outfield grass:

We still had a long time until the game was scheduled to start.  So we headed over to the Blue Moon Brewery restaurant in the RF foul corner concourse.  I had a big, tasty BBQ sandwich…

…but Kellan wouldn’t let me simply sit and enjoy it.  Instead, while Tim and grandpa hung out at the table, I ate on foot while watching Kellan run up-and-down and up-and-down and up-and-down this ramp:

After lunch, we headed back out to the OF.  My took Tim to get some pizza (he didn’t want to eat in the Brewery), and Kellan and I checked out the tunnels under the OF bleachers:

We noticed a funny site as the Mariners relievers approached the bullpen before the start of the game:

They had to stop and wait for the band that played the national anthem to finish marching by before they could get to the bullpen.

As the band belted out the national anthem, the boys were ready to get to the baseball:

Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich’s (who is pictured in LF before Tim in the first game picture from our last entry) first pitch to Dustin Ackley was called a ball…

…and we were underway!

I am quite happy to report that this game was all Mariners.  And the scoring got underway when Kyle Seager belted a 2-run homerun in the top of the second inning:

With the 2-0 lead in hand, the Mariners never looked back.

Of all the games to which I have taken both boys together, this was by far the easiest because Kellan fell asleep while I was holding him in the first or second inning:

And he just kept on sleeping until THE SIXTH INNING!

For most of that time, Kellan and I sat with Don the Rockpile Ranter and his son, Hunter:

It was great chatting with these guys.

Sadly, I did not get a picture of the “Bring Back Helmer” sign that Hunter periodically held up for the TV cameras.  (It looked a whole lot like this).

I hardly took any pictures while sitting there holding Kellan.  But I did manage to get a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

And one of Ichiro drilling a line drive toward short stop:

If you click on that picture, you can see the ball just to the left of Ichiro and just barely above his head level.  Unfortunately, Tulowitzki made a diving catch on the ball.

But it didn’t matter.  The Mariners were already piling on the runs.  They scored 2 more in the third inning, 1 in the fourth (on a single by Jason Vargas!)…

…, and 4 more in the sixth.  That made the score 9-0 Mariners.

Don didn’t like the score so much, but I sure did.  And Kellan would have too if he was awake.

Eventually, I headed further out toward LCF to see my dad and Tim.

Kellan was still fast asleep, but it was ice cream time for Tim:

Want to see essentially those same exact two pictures again, but this time as one picture?  Okay, here you go:

Kellan woke up just in time for Don to catch a Rockies shirt in the T-shirt launch.  He ran up into the bleachers to make the grab and he handed the shirt to us on his way back down:

Kellan was mighty satisfied holding it all wrapped up in cellophane.  But he was still a little cranky from his nap.  When I unwrapped the shirt, Kellan gave me a piece of his mind.  Apparently, he wasn’t ready to see it unwrapped quite yet.

In the sixth inning, the Rockies brought Eric Young in to play CF as part of a double switch.  I took some pictures of the Rockies outfielders, but really I just wanted to show how tiny Eric Young seems to be:

My dad spent most of the game chatting with Rockies regular Robert Harman:

Before this trip, I knew about Robert from the Rockpile Rant and an article Zack Hample wrote about Barry Bonds’ final career homerun.  Robert was very nice and he and my dad got along swimmingly during the game.

Here are some pictures I took in the tunnel under the bleachers in LCF:

Top left:  There is some sort of security office under there, right around the corner from the women’s restroom.

Top middle: There was a brief rain shower late in the game.  The game wasn’t delayed at all, but we hid out for a few minutes in the tunnel where this was our view of the field.  We ended up putting our backpacks in the tunnel for the rest of the game to keep dry.  It is definitely convenient having your own personal tunnel like this for a game!

Top right: Tim, Emily and Emily’s friend played tag in the tunnel.  This was just one of the many things they did to entertain themselves in the tunnel.  Kellan tried to mix it up with the big kids a bit too.

About 5-10 minutes before the rain, the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The final two runs came on a homerun hit by Wilin Rosario that sailed right over our heads into about the sixth or seventh row of the bleachers behind us.  I was hoping it would ricochet back down to us (my Dad had caught a Miguel Olivo BP homer like this the day before and Robert got a Michael Cuddayer game homer like it earlier in the season), but the crowd swallowed it up, never to be seen again by us folks down in the first row.

It was too bad this homerun couldn’t have been hit in the eighth inning instead of the seventh, because almost no one was left in the bleachers after the rain…

…and the ball almost certainly would have bounced back down to us.

The Mariners got one run back in the eighth on a passed ball to Kyle Seager that scored Ichiro.  That made it 10-3 Mariners, which would hold up to become the final score of the game.

The previous day, I had noticed that Michael Saunders…

…tossed the CF-LF warm up baseball into the crowd in the ninth inning.  There were zero fans in the front row out in CF by the batters’ eye.  So I figured that Kellan and I ought to head over there in the ninth so Saunders would have a target.

It was a solid plan.  After finishing his ninth inning warm up tosses with Casper Wells, Saunders turned and threw a strike right to us.  Another Dodger Stadium commemorative!

Thanks, Michael!

Sean Kelley and Steve Delabar each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning of relief to cap off the game.  Another wonderful Mariners win!  That made them 2-0 for us on the season.

After saying our good-byes to Dan and Robert (Don had left during the rain because he feared for his super-nice camera’s safety), we got an usher to take our picture:

Then we walked around to home plate…

…and got an usher to retake the family photo the fan had botched the night before:

The key to that picture was that Tim had his foot up on the step above us.  He thought this made the picture look very, VERY cool.

Outside the stadium, I got a shot of my three Roadtrip mates outside Coors Field:

And then we headed over to the 15th Street Mall for some dinner.

On our walk back to the hotel, my dad and Tim were locked in battle in a fierce game of “yellow cab” (the objective being to spot as many yellow cabs as possible) when we walked by Coors Field for the final time:

“YELLOW CAB!” (in the foreground)  “YELLOW CAB!” (across the street)

The yellow cab battle continued as the fifth installment of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip slowly walked down Park Road to our hotel and into the sunset

It was an OUTSTANDING trip.

Let the planning begin for the 2012 GFS Roadtrip!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

10/9 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3
51 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
10 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4
8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

The Best Mariners Game of 2011 (9/26/2011)

For the second season in a row, we decided to end our season at Safeco Field with our Mariners taking on the Oakland Athletics.  The first game of the series as September 26, 2011.  The crew on hand would be Colleen, Tim, Kellan, my mom, my dad and me.  The night started earlier for my dad, Tim, Kellan and me.  We headed down early for BP, and Colleen and my mom joined us.

It is old news at Safeco Field, it was my and the boys’ first time checking out the *new* “The Pen” area at Safeco Field.  It is on the field level in straight away center field (below what would otherwise be called the *field level* concourse) and it opens 2.5 hours early.  The rest of the ballpark opens 2 hours early.  I think it is a great move by the Mariners because in years past, Mariners fans only got to see about 5 minutes of Mariners BP when the whole stadium opened only 2 hours early.

We entered the ballpark through the LF bullpen level entrance and made our way to the singles patio (SRO area) directly over the CF wall.  We parked Kellan’s little stroller at the back of the patio and my dad held him.  I don’t have any pictures or video to show it, but within moments the four of us were all smiling and waving for the TV camera as the Mariners pre-game show went to commercial.  And then we got our game faces on.  My Dad and Kellan went right on the wall to watch the Mariners hit.  Tim and I hung
out behind the TV camera well for a few minutes, but then we relocated behind the Mariners bullpen.

Almost immediately after we reached the Mariners bullpen, my dad and Kellan walked over to meet us and my dad pulled a baseball out of his glove to show me.  “I caught it on the fly!,”  he announced with a smile.  I was excited because on the drive to the ballpark we had discussed catching BP homers on the fly, and my dad said he’d never caught one at Safeco Field.  Very cool.

Then it dawned on me:  he caught a BP home on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!  WOW!  I wish I would have seen it.  It must have been incredibly awesome.  FYI, he explained that he was a ball that barely cleared the wall and required my Dad to reach down over the railing to grab it.

Like two seconds later, a Mariners employee walked by and handed Tim our first baseball of the day.  She explained that it was Shawn Kelley’s warm up ball.  That is pretty
cool.

Oh, by the way, we entered this game with 96 total baseballs on the season.  I truly never thought we would ever in our lives get 100 baseballs in a season.  But with 3 more (after the Shawn Kelley ball from the Mariners employee) we would reach the amazing milestone.

Anyway, my dad handed Kellan off to me right as the rest of the ballpark opened.  My dad headed to the seats in CF (just to the RF side of the batters’ eye) and Tim, Kellan and I headed to section 106 in RF.  Intentionally set up shop behind Michael Pineda (because he is awesome)…

…and before long, guess what happened?

I’ll give you a hint:  it looked sort of like this:

That’s right.  I caught a BP homer on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!!!

Kellan was having quite a day!

It felt awesome!  When I made the grab, I immediately held my glove high over my head in victory!  A couple fans cheer for the catch.  And best of all, Pineda gave me a celebratory fist pump!  With my glove still held aloft, I turned toward CF and *showed* the catch to my dad (who can be seen under the little yellow arrow two photos above).

The three of us should have stayed put, but instead we headed over toward RCF to chat with my dad.  When I looked back to the spot where I caught the homer, another guy caught another homerun standing in the exact same spot!  Ah, well.  One homer on the fly with Kellan was good enough for me.

Soon, the Mariners cleared the field and the A’s pitchers came out to play catch down the LF line.  We decided to walk all the way around the ballpark around the RF foul pole, toward home plate (where Tim got his picture with this big Ichiro baseball card)…

…and down the 3B/LF foul concourse.  Eventually, we cut through the seats and diagonaled through some sections trying to make our quickest route to the railing above the A’s pitchers.  As we cut through the last full section before reaching corner, an A’s batter hit a line drive that landed right in the middle of the section about four rows below us.  A bunch of fan scrabbled for it as Kellan, Tim and I continued on toward the railing.  But as we reached the last seat in the
section, I looked down and the baseball popped out at us.

And, holy cow, it was the elusive Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative baseball!

That was pretty crazy.  We had been trying to get one of these baseballs all season.  We had actually gotten 5 baseballs from the Angels this season, but all 5 were normal ROMLBs.

Even crazier, that was our 99th baseball of the season.  I could not believe it – one more and we would reach the 100 baseball plateau!

But No. 100 would not be all fun and games.  Things were about to get scary.

We made it to the railing right above the A’s pitchers.  I was holding Kellan in my left arm.  Tim was standing to my left with his hand on the railing.  Just then, I noticed a fellow-MLBlogger, Wayne Peck, about 10-15 rows below us.  I had never met Wayne before, but we had communicated through our blogs and twitter.  When I saw him, I called out his name and he came up to say hi to us.

And then I committed a cardinal sin of BP:  I took my eyes off the batter and turned to my right to shake Wayne’s hand as he approached.  Right as Wayne and I clasped hands, several of the A’s pitchers yelled, “HEAD’S UP!!!”

I turned back to the field (still holding Kellan in my left hand and with Tim was literally standing leaning against my left hip).  I scanned the area and surrounding area and I saw NOTHING!  And then…

DIIIIINNNNNNGGGG!

A liner buzzes in and clanks off of the railing.  I thought it got all railing at first.  But then Tim broke out crying.  The ball hit right where his pinky knuckle met the railing.  It pinched Tim’s hand really hard against the railing and bounced onto the field.  I knelt down to comfort him and look at his hand (still holding Kellan).  It was a little bit red and obviously hurt a lot.  I turned to start taking him out of there when this guy arrived on the scene:

I cannot remember his name…it was something unique.  By the way, those pictures are from the following day when we visited the scene of the accident.  Anyway, this guy came to our aid and led us to the First Aid office.  Now, get this, as we walk out of the section with the usher leading the way, an A’s pitcher (I have no clue who) called out to me and tossed me the baseball that had just smashed Tim’s hand.

The little meany was both our 100th baseball of the season and another Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative.

I truly couldn’t believe it.  Who gets a milestone baseball with this kind of crazy story behind it?  Just Tim, I guess!

Anyway, we were ushered off to the First Aid room.  With Tim still whimpering in pain, the walk to the First Aid room was like torture.  Kellan started feeling like he weighed 200 pounds and I couldn’t do much to comfort Tim while holding him.  I quickly called my dad and told him where to come meet us with Kellan’s stroller.

As they started checking out Tim’s hand…

…my dad and Wayne both arrived at the First Aid office to check on Tim.  I handed Kellan off to my dad so I could talk to the first aid people.  Tim’s hand puffy and red.  But I think we were pretty lucky.  I’m pretty sure it was more of a glancing blow getting some of the meat of Tim’s hand and a lot of the railing.

The first aid people were very nice.  They gave me some advice about what to do for Tim’s hand and they gave Tim an ice pack for now and one for later.  They told me that I might want to go get an x-ray the next day if it kept bothering Tim.

Then the First Aid guys did a little whispering and the bearded-usher left.  He reappeared a few minutes later with a you-just-got-drilled-with-a-BP-foul-ball prize pack for Tim.  It included a Felix Hernandez t-shirt, a funny M’s hat that Tim loved, a pennant for Tim to color with crayons, and, most notably, a baseball that the usher had run down and got from the Mariners dugout.  You know, it is an odd way to get a baseball at a game, but since Tim had to endure a lot of pain to get it, we counted it!  No. 101 for the season.

As the usher handed removed it from the bag and handed it to Tim, I said, “Don’t’ let this be an incentive to get hit by any more baseballs!”

So, yeah, it was a crazy and scary situation.  I hate thinking about what could have happened.  In the end, I made a big mistake in not waiting to watch the pitch before turning to shake Wayne’s hand.  It could have plunked any of us square in the head.  So we have to be thankful that it was just a minor injury.  Tim took it like a champ and handled the bad situation really well.

Big thanks to the usher and First Aid people.  And to Wayne for coming and checking on Tim, very cool.

Anyway, we eventually made our way back out to the field.  Tim had been hit right at the beginning of A’s BP so they were still hitting when we got back to the field.  Tim was
understandably scared and did not want to go down by the field.  So Tim, Kellan and I grabbed some seats toward the back of one of the sections on the 3B side…

…while my dad and Wayne went back to the LF corner.

As Tim iced his hand, we checked out more goodies in his goody bag.  There were baseball cards and some posters (one for Tim and one for Kellan) featuring Justin Smoak.  Tim was super excited that the posters were *autographed* (they were not real autographs, but part of the poster).

After a little while, we decided to go to the very back of the seats in CF…high enough up that we did not think any baseballs would be able to reach Tim.  One our way out there, we got a picture with the Mariners Moose…

…and with the new (and really cool) Dave Niehaus statue:

Here are my boys hanging out with their grandpa in row 34 out in CF:

We were, indeed, high enough up in the seats that nothing came even remotely near us.

Once BP ended, we headed off to the play area where both boys had a lot of fun:

Finally, just before game time, we headed back down to “The Pen” where we eventually met up…

…with Colleen and my mom.  Check out that cool seating area in The Pen!  I have never seen open flames in a public area of a MLB ballpark.  Very cool, Mariners.

While we were in The Pen, we stopped by and said hello (once again) and got a picture with Wayne (and his wicked awesome Big League Chew t-shirt!):

And then we grabbed some delicious nachos and reported to our seats in section 108:

Tim and Kellan cannot get enough of their grandma and grandpa.  They always have a blast hanging out with them at a Mariners game:

Here was our outstanding view from the second row of section 108:

We were hoping to witness Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life and Tim and I were trying to break a nasty 10‑game Mariners losing streak dating back to last season.  The game did not start out ideally.  With Jason Vargas on the hill, Jemile Weeks led off with a double, he advanced to 3B on a groundout by Coco Crisp, and then scored on a single by Hideki Matsui.

While the Marines batted in the first inning, I noticed a familiar face patrolling RF for the A’s:

It was Michael Taylor, who played AA-ball for the Reading Phillies a couple years ago.  We saw him play as an R-Phil and he could definitely put on a show with the bat.  He got heckled mercilessly during this game by a four fans about 2-3 rows directly behind us.  Thankfully they kept it clean while having a whole lot of fun at Taylor’s expense.

Of course, our view in the top of each inning was a bit better – we were right behind Ichiro:

In the second inning, we got a great picture of Tim with our Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs and the Safeco Field clock/sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

After helping me and his grandpa catch those BP homers before the game, Kellan was all set to catch a game homerun of his own:

The boys had lots of fun getting their mommy into the Mariners spirit too:

Early in the game, my cousin Nathan texted to let me know that my other cousin (and his sister) Annie was at the game in my parents’ normal seats on the 3B side.  My mom and Colleen headed off to the team store to do some shopping (or browsing at least) and Kellan and I headed off to see Annie.  On our way, Kellan and I stopped off at the Mariners bullpen to what was going on…and I got this cool picture of Kellan sitting on the SRO counter:

The last time we saw Kellan was just a few days after Kellan was born.  It was great seeing her again.  Happily, we successfully turned our backs to the field for this picture…

…without getting nailed in the backs of our heads with a foul ball.

There was, however, a pretty amazing foul ball when we were chatting with Annie.  A’s first basement Chris Carter became only the second (or maybe third) person ever to hit a foul ball over one of the structural arches in Safeco Field’s roof.  It looked a little like this:

Carter’s foul landed in the staircase at the OF side of the 3B dugout and bounced incredibly high off of the cement before a lucky fan won the jump ball for it.

After spending an inning or so with Annie and her friend, Kellan and I headed back toward our seats…but, once again, we stopped off at the Mariners bullpen.  This time, we ended up chatting briefly with Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips.  I had not seen Phillips during BP, but he mentioned that he saw me and Kellan catch our homerun during BP.  I thought that was pretty cool that he didn’t know we were going to be at the game, but recognized us as we caught the BP homerun.

When we returned to our seats, the score was still 1-0 A’s.  Kellan decided to pull out his Justin Smoak poster and take a bunch of hacks like he was at the plate:

And I think Kellan’s practice hacks helped warm up the Mariners bats.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Miguel Olivo bashed his 19th homerun of the season.  It was an impressive shot to LF, and it tied up the game 1-1.

With the game tied up, Tim watched the Mariners up close with grandma’s binoculars:

Jason Vargas was still on the mound for the Mariners and he was looking really strong.  And his offensive-minded teammates gave him some additional run support in the bottom of the sixth inning.  The inning started very unimpressively, with a swinging strike out by Ichiro and a pop out by Luis Rodriguez.  But Dustin Ackley followed Rodriguez with a single.  Mike Carp followed Ackley with another single.  Then big Justin Smoak stepped to the plate and unleashed a deep blast to RCF:

Party time!  With Smoak’s homerun, the Mariners pulled out to a 4-1 lead!

But the 3-run lead gave us little comfort.  Tim and I had seen the Mariners let leads slip away multiple times this season.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, I was trying to get another picture of Ichiro just standing around doing nothing in RF.  Right as I pressed the button to take the picture, Scott Sizemore hit a shallow fly ball to RF.  I captured Ichiro…

…right when he started to break in and to his left to run down the baseball.

There were a lot of empty seats around us.  Our actual seats were in the third row, but me and the boys jumped around a lot from the first to the fourth rows.  Late in the game, Kellan and I spent a lot of time in the first row where my little No. 51 watched closely the Mariners big No. 51:

Meanwhile, Tim was having tons of fun with his grandma:

And then it was business time…

…the ninth inning arrived.  Kellan has been just three sweet outs away from his first Mariners win before just to have it slip away.  In Baltimore earlier in the season, the Mariners took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 13th inning just to have Brandon League blow the win after Jason Vargas had pitched an incredible game.  I understand that I have no control over the Mariners on-field play.  But I have felt partially responsible for that loss.  It would have been Kellan’s first Mariners win, but Tim and I went to try for an umpire ball and left Kellan and Colleen alone in our seats.  I should have been holding Kellan at the very moment that he witnessed his first Mariners win.  I think the world knew that and intervened to make sure Kellan experienced his first Mariners win the right way.

Well, it was go time once again.  Vargas had once again pitched an absolute gem.  He threw eight innings, gave up 5 hits and struck out 10 Athletics.  Enter the ninth inning and Brandon League.  League has had a great season.  That blown save in Baltimore was smack dab in the middle of League’s roughest patch of the season, it was the third of four straight blown saves/losses for League.

Well, League brought the drama with him to the mound.  He gave up a lead-off single to Coco Crisp.  League then struck out Hideki Matsui, but Crisp stole second and third
in the process.  He scored the A’s second run of the game on a ground out by Josh Willingham.

So there we were, just one out away from Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life.  But then Scott Sizemore hit a double, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Kurt Suzuki.

Things were getting super-tense.

I was holding Kellan tight and hoping for the best.  And Suzuki answered our prayers.  He jumped on the first pitch and hit a weak grounder Luis Rodriguez at short stop.  Rodriguez fired the baseball across the diamond and Justin Smoak’s glove clamped down on the 27th out of the game.

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

Oh, yeah, MARINERS WIN!  M-A-R-I-N-E-R-S…

…WIN!  Yes!

MARINERS WIN!

Here are three happy Mariners fans basking in the glory of this historic MARINERS W-I-N:

And it was a historic game.  It was Kellan’s first win, it snapped a 10-game Mariners losing streak for me and Tim, my dad and I both caught BP homers on the fly while holding Kellan, and we caught (well, sorta) our 100th baseball of the season.  Historic!

We marked the occasion with a family picture:

And a picture with the Ichi-Meter (and Ichi-Meter lady):

By the way, the 183r of those Ichiro hits occurred in the seventh inning of this game.

On the way out of the ballpark, Tim got his picture with Ichiro (and Shelly):

Did I mention:  MARINERS WIN!?

2011 C&S Fan Stats
31/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
22/11 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins, Pirates, Athletics; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
101 Baseballs (19 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates, 3 Athletics)
14/6 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park, Safeco Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Safeco Field]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

***2011 All-Star

25 Mariners & 4 Cooks in Baltimore (5/12/2011)

The day was upon us:  Kellan’s first game of the season!  Our first Mariners game of the season!  Kellan’s first Mariners road game of his life!  Our first game of the season with Colleen a/k/a “mommy.”  Fun times were ahead, guaranteed!

We packed ourselves into Colleen’s more family friendly car…

…and headed off to Camden Yards

We met our friend and Baltimore ticket agent, Avi Miller, on Eutaw Street before the gates opened, got out tickets, and then hung out with the regulars at the front of the line.

As Kellan waited for his first “gate opening” of his life, I snapped this picture of my little crew:

Yeah, that’s a good crew.

When the gates opened, we headed over toward the Mariners dugout.  The Orioles were hitting and the Mariners were stretching.  When the M’s finished stretching, most of them headed to the outfield to play catch, while a select few stuck in front of the dugout and played catch there.

As Dan Cortes walked by, I called him over and asked for a picture:

Cortes was very nice.  He chatted with us for a few minutes, and he confirmed that it was indeed him that we saw at the airport the day after the following game of the season last year.

Thanks for being cool, Dan!

As we watched Ichiro and Michael Saunders play catch in front of the dugout, a pair of fellow Mariners fans standing nearby offered to take a family photo:

Kellan was so into the pre-game festivities, he couldn’t be bothered with looking at the camera.

As we watched the action, the people from ROOT Sports came over and chatted with us.  They ended up taking our names and they take some video of us watching Ichiro and Saunders playing catch.  The guys said he wanted to show us on TV during the game.  I have no clue if that actually happened or not.

Three minutes later, Ichiro and Saunders finished up.  Ichiro ran off and Saunders came over and gave us their warm up baseball.   I asked him if we could get a picture and Tim asked him if he’d sign the ball he just gave us.  His answer was “yes” to both questions.  I handed Kellan over and we got this picture:

Thanks, Michael!

Kellan was having a blast at his first road Mariners game…

… “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!”

As can be seen between me and Kellan in that last picture, the ROOT sports guy came running back to get video of us talking to Saunders, but he was too late.

We decided to head down the LF foul line to watch the Mariners pitchers warm up.  As bartender turned Major Leaguer Tom Wilhelmsen walked by on the edge of the foul warning track, I asked him if he could help us out.  He looked confused but willing when he asked, “What’s up?

I explained that we needed a picture of Tim throwing a baseball to a player on the field for a photo scavenger hunt (the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt).  Tom was happy to help out.  To make sure we got the shot, Tim tossed two baseballs to Wilhelmsen.  Here is Tim’s favorite of the two photos:

By the way, this is Tim’s favorite of the two pictures because you can see the blue logo on the ball in flight.

As we hung out in foul territory, we chatted briefly with Mariners bullpen catcher extraordinaire Jason Phillips as he passed by on his way to do some work in the outfield.  Very soon after Phillips passed by, David Pauley finished up playing catch along the foul line.  As he turned and prepared to toss the baseball into the baseball bag (that can be seen in the picture of Tim throwing to Wilhelmsen), I called out, “Hey, David!”  He turned and tossed the baseball to us rather than to the baseball bag.

Thanks, David!

Mere second later, Jason Phillips ran by again.  Without us saying a word (or even really noticing yet that he was there), Jason grabbed a nice rubbed up baseball out of the bag, called out to get my attention, and tossed the baseball to us.  Man, that guy is awesome!

Thanks, Jason!

Before continuing, I must digress for a second.  Tim and I have got the game day process down pat.  It’s a fun and easy day for us.  While it’s just as fun, I rediscovered that it’s a lot harder taking a baby to a game!  We had a little umbrella stroller that we ultimately had to lug around for Kellan.  We strolled him into the stadium and around toward the Mariners dugout, but then I took him out of it while we were down front by the Mariners dugout.

Back to our story, eventually we noticed that rookie star Michael Pineda was sitting on the brick wall in LF foul territory.  We all scooted over there to see him.  From 2-3 rows back, I asked him if we could get an autograph and a picture with him and the boys.  He said, “sure.”

Colleen had our camera.  As I we started making our way up to Pineda, Colleen noticed that we’d left Kellan’s stroller sitting in the staircase behind the Mariners bullpen.  She ran off to grab it.  I turned around to see how she was setting up for the picture and I saw her walking away from us three sections down toward 3B.  Pineda was obviously wondering what was going on.  He mentioned he had to get going.  I told him that my wife had just run off with our camera so we’d settle for just an autograph.

Luckily, that same pair of Mariners fans who took our picture by the dugout snapped this picture…

…as Pineda handed our autographed David Pauley baseball back to us.  I gave the guy my card and he emailed the picture.  Thanks, Ray!

Next, we packed up our mass of bags and equipment, and headed out to the bullpen area in deep LCF.  On our way out there, we ran into the luckiest fan in the ballpark, Zack Hample, and he would, indeed, be quite lucky on this day.  We’ve got a couple Zack-Tim fist bump pictures over the last couple season, and Zack and Tim were back at it at this game:

Zack tried to go for a sliding up the rail fist bump, but Tim turned it into a high intensity brute force fist bump.  Tim is all about intensity.

We made plans to catch up a bit after BP, and then Zack headed to the flag court while we headed to the bullpen.  Nothing was going on in the bullpen at the time, so Tim, Kellan and I hung out in the front row and watched the M’s take BP…

…while Colleen grabbed a seat and relaxed in back row by the bullpen.  At one point, Felix Hernandez tried to throw us a baseball, but it fell short.  Could have easily caught it, but with Kellan strapped to my chest I let it go and it bounced into a lady’s lap who wasn’t paying attention.  A nice little surprise for her.

After BP, Zack (and Jona) came back over to the bullpen area.  And Tim tried to break Zack’s hand with another ferocious fist bump (Note:  Tim doesn’t full understand the concept of fist bumping):

Avi stopped by to say hi and he gave Tim a Orioles activity book/magazine for Tim.  While Colleen fed Kellan a bottle by the bullpen, Tim looked through his book and shared the highlights with his mommy:

Zack changed back into his Mariners gear to get a picture with all of us.  First, Jona took a picture with our camera:

Then, she took one with her own, and Tim decided to ham it up for the camera by giving his brother a big kiss on the cheek:

While Tim truly loves his little brother, this kiss was 100% for the benefit of the camera.  Tim is a little showman at heart.

There were a couple baseballs in the Mariners’ bullpen and about 5 or so in the Orioles bullpen.  Zack asked if we were waiting to ask someone if they would toss one of the balls up from the Mariners bullpen.  I told him to go for it.

Soon, Jason Phillips entered the bullpen and Zack politely asked him to toss up one of the baseballs.  Phillips obliged.

After he tossed the baseball to Zack, I asked Phillips to come over to us.  When he arrived about 10 feet below us, I asked him if he would take a picture from the middle of the bullpen with my camera.  It’s a picture I have had in mind for about a year and had been planning to ask Jason to take for us.  Jason told me to drop my camera down to him.

I paused.  It was a scary dilemma.  My camera is about 2 months old and Phillips was standing on concrete.   I said something like, “make sure you catch it!”  Holding his hands open to me, he gave me a look like, “Do you seriously think I am going to drop it…I’m a professional catcher!”  I asked him to take two steps to his left so he would be standing on AstroTurf.  He did.  I tossed my camera down.  He caught it and headed out to the middle of the bullpen with it.

Zack thought quickly and asked Jona to take a picture of Phillips with my camera:

Thanks, Zack and Jona!

And here is the photo I’d wanted for so long, the Mariners relievers-eye-view of Camden Yards from the visitors bullpen:

Cool!  Thanks again, Jason!

A little while later, Brandon League was pacing around the bullpen rubbing a baseball in his hands.  He walked over to our end of the bullpen and I told Tim he should ask Brandon for the ball.  When Tim asked League if he could toss him the baseball, Brandon walked over to Jason Phillips equipment bag, pulled out a different baseball and toss it up to us.

Thanks, Brandon!

Moments later, the game started and we watched Ichiro’s first at bat from LCF.  As Figgins came to the plate (and was in the process of hitting two consecutive foul balls that Zack caught in the air), we started walking to the other side of the stadium toward the RF foul pole.

On the way, we stopped at the Orioles fan assistance office where the O’s issued some certificates of recognition to the boys:

I thought it was pretty cool that when I told the fan assistance lady that Tim had already been to many games at Camden Yards she decided to make him a certificate for “being an AWESOME big brother!”

As we walked through the concourse toward RF, I snapped a picture of these retired number banners…

…I’m not sure if they are new or not, but I’d never noticed them before.

Here is where we landed – Section 6:

So its official, Kellan loves going to baseball games!  He had a blast.  Here he is sharing some pizza with me and doing some yelling-for-joy:

This was a great place for us to sit because it was the closest we could be to Tim’s favorite player – Ichiro.  Here was our view of Ichi:

Of course, at this first trip to Camden Yards, I had to take a picture of Kellan with the warehouse in the background:

In that last picture, Tim is right behind us and my friend and co-worker Charlie is sitting behind Tim.  Charlie was in Baltimore for a conference and joined us for the game.  Right around this time, he got an important email on his blackberry and was feverishly typing a response while Tim was talking a mile-a-minute into his ear.  A few second later, Tim was relocated to the seat in front of me…

…so Charlie could finish his email without getting a big ear full of Tim’s jibber-jabbering.

I was really hoping that Ichiro could get a hit for Tim and Kellan:

But he kept grounding out for most of the game.  And the game was speeding on by us.  The pitching match-up was Jason “Viva Las” Vargas…

…and Zack Britton.  They were both dealing big time.  They both pitched 9 shutout innings.

As the game whizzed by, we got some family pictures.  Here are my peeps:

The game went so fast, in fact, that we never even got ice cream helmets!  But Tim enjoyed a little pistachio and sunflower seed platter:

At one point, a bunch of people in section 8 stood up, yelled at each other, and acted like they were going to fight:

No punches were thrown.  But the cops ended up pulling a couple of the young thugs outta there.  As the people yelled at each other, the fans in the section inexplicably chanted “USA! USA! USA!”  Very odd.

Tim spent a bunch of time sitting next to the railing spitting seeds onto the warning track.  I came over and snapped this picture of Tim with Ichiro in the background:

Eventually, I was assigned mid-game diaper duty and I had to take Kellan to the bathroom.  On our walk through the concourse, we ran into The Bird and Kellan got a picture:

The Bird is a good guy.  Thanks,Bird!

On way back to the seats, I walked Kellan through the flag court and took some flag court photos.  Like this one…

…and this one:

Kellan really put on a serious face in the flag court.  And when we got back to our seats, I took another picture that for no apparent reason I like

The first nine innings took less than two hours, and then we were into bonus baseball.  And that meant bonus fun for us.  Tim did some sitting on Colleen’s lap:

Colleen did some sitting on Tim’s lap:

Kellan did some sitting on my shoulders:

And…well, no.  I didn’t do any sitting on Kellan’s shoulders.  He’s too little.

Finally, in the twelfth inning, Ichiro got his first hit of the day.  He worked his way around to third base and then scored the first run of the game on an RBI single by Miguel Olivo:

It was the first Mariners lead of Kellan’s in-person baseball life.  I was so excited about the prospect of Kellan’s first Mariners win.  In retrospect, however, I think I jinxed it.  Tim, Charlie and I relocated to the second row behind home plate for an attempt at a post-game umpire baseball.   This would mean that, if the Mariners won, I would not be with Kellan for his first Mariners win.  In retrospect, it was an incredible error in judgment by me.

Forces of fate (i.e., it is fate that I should be with Kellan when he first witnesses the Mariners win in person) kicked in.  In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Brandon League gave up a hit to the first batter.  He beaned the second batter.  He drilled the third batter too.  So the bases were loaded with no outs.  The fourth batter blistered a line drive that should have been a hit, but Luis Rodriguez made an outstanding diving catch at short stop.  Finally, the fifth batter hit a single up the middle that I could see and hear tip off of Brandon League’s bare hand, the tying and winning runs scored.

And the Mariners moved to 0-3 for Kellan.

It was painful, but in the long run, Brandon League did us a favor.  I won’t make that mistake again.  Next time we see the Mariners play, I will be holding Kellan when Miguel Olivo (or whoever) squeezes the glove on Kellan’s first Mariners win.

Despite the loss, it was a great day.  Kellan had a great day at the ballpark.  Tim and I had a great time having Kellan and Colleen join us.  It was great to see our Mariners for the first time.  Lots of fun all around.

By the way, we didn’t get an umpire baseball.  In fact, no one did.  The umpire just buried his head and left.  I went over to say good-bye to Zack and Jona.  They were behind the 3B dugout where Jona was taking this picture of Zack and the THREE foul balls he caught at this game.  As Jona took the picture, I could see in the distance that two ushers were kicking Colleen and Kellan out of the seats!  I didn’t have time to say good-bye to Zack, Tim and I took off like a lightning bolt back to Colleen and Kellan.

On our way out of the ballpark, I held Kellan up real high and Colleen snapped this picture…

…of Kellan with the Ken Griffey, Jr. homerun marker on the warehouse wall.  We then had a fun walk…

…back to our car.

Our first full family-of-four baseball game was in the books.  I can’t wait for our next.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
8/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)
9/2 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, and Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies)
24 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 3 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves)
3/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – Camden Yards]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
3 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
*includes Spring Training

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

After a brief detour through the Metrodome, its back to Spring Training.  We still have a few more reports to go from the desert.  This one has no real *story* per se, its just a bunch of pictures.  It does, however, have a theme:  practice.  We took a bunch of nice pictures of Mariners doing the hard work of preparing for the 2011 season and its time to share them.

Each morning, the entire Mariners major league camp would report to practice field M3 for a big stretching routine:

1 - pitcher stretching.JPGYou can always expect to see the guys playing a lot of catch at Spring Training:

2 - Ichiro throwing.JPGAbove, Ichiro is playing catch with…hmm…probably Milton Bradley on practice field M1.

The Mariners coaching staff hits hours of fungo to the Mariners infielders during Spring Training.  Here, Justin Smoak gloves a grounder on the first day of full team workouts on M2:

3 - Justin Smoak grounder.JPGJosh Wilson got into the action right next to Smoak:

4 - Josh Wilson grounder.JPGAcross the diamond, Chone Figgins — back at his native third base — got hand cuffed by this grounder, but made the play:

5 - Chone Figgins handcuffed by grounder.JPGBetween fields M1 and M2, there is a little half field (infield only).  Here, Dustin Ackley practices taking grounders at second base on the short field:

6 - Dustin Ackley grounder.JPGThe pitchers spend a lot of time re-learning how to field their position during Spring Training.  Here, big Michael Pineda practices his pick off move as a bunch of his colleagues watch:

7 - Pineda drills.JPGThis next picture is hilarious to me.  This was the first day of full squad workouts and the coach (cannot remember which one) said, “First grounder of the season!” and then hit this ball to King Felix Hernandez a/k/a Larry Bernandez:

8 - Felix first grounder of 2011.JPGThe look on Felix’s face is priceless.  FYI, despite his surprised look, he did catch the ball.

Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips was working the fungo a bunch the week we were in Peoria.  Here is an action fungo shot of Jason on M4:

9 - Jason Phillips fungo.JPGErik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise this Spring.  He is flat out pitching like a stud and finally looking like he might live up to the original hype.  Here he is getting in his work in the mega-bullpen between M3 and M4:

10 - Erik Bedard bullpen.JPGThree or four mounds over from Bedard, King Felix was strutting his Cy Young-stuff:

11 - Felix Hernandez bullpen.JPGIn a little strip of random grass between M2 and M7 (the half field), Ichiro, Dustin Ackley and a couple other guys played a little pepper:

12 - Ichiro and Ackley pepper.JPGSomeone peppered a hot one Ichiro’s way and Ichi had to make an acrobatic catch at close range:

13 - catching pepper.JPGWhat makes this next picture cool was unintentional and hard to decipher.  However, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I captured two balls in the air — Figgy gunned a ball to Justin Smoak that appears in the upper lefthand corner of the photo and Brendan Ryan his underhanding a second baseball to 2B:

14 - smoak and two balls in air.JPGAs I said, lots of pitcher fielding practice.  Here, Jason Vargas, Luke French and Brandon League handle hot shots back up the box:

15 - vargas french league.JPGAnd here is another hilarious picture of King Felix fielding his position — he did not catch this one:

16 - Larry Bernandez.JPGBut Ichiro caught this one (during outfielder practice on M5):

17 - Ichiro catch.JPGYou can get so close to your favorite players during Spring Training that its almost ridiculous.  Here, Tim played in the warning track dirt just behind Ichiro waiting his turn at the plate:

18 - Ichiro stretch pre-batting.JPGOne day, the guys all came out to practice and the outfielders reported to M6.  Ichiro was all set to play catch with Milton Bradley when he realized he’d forgot his glove in the clubhouse.  Ichiro’s interpreter, Anthony Suzuki, bolted off to the clubhouse and came cruising back with Ichiro’s glove:

19 - Anthony Suzuki glove retriever.JPGMichael Saunders tracks this ball in the birght Arizona sun during outfielders practice on M6:

20 - Saunders ranging.JPGMore pitcher fielding practice — Erik Bedard doesn’t show the best form while snaring this grounder from the short stop position:

21 - Bedard grounders by short.JPGOne last group of photos, all of Ichiro.  I took the picture of Ichiro in the top left (below)…

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…Tim took the other three from close range.

So there you go, a look behind the scenes at Spring Training practice.   For my money, practice is where the fun is at Spring Training.

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 5: Mariners at Padres (6/13/10)

On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced.  Here it goes.

We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast.  Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:

1 - morning fun at KOA playset.JPGIt was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park.  I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego.  Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game.  I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.

Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium.  But we arrived about 45 minutes before him.  So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP.  After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today.  Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed.  There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.

Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.

Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…

2 - RRS getting a sweat on.JPG…and Ichiro was stretching and playing catch with his interpreter in shallow LF:

3 - Ichiro warms up.JPGSoon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch.  While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off.  I wasn’t sure where he had gone.  When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…

4 - figgy kotch and dads baseball.jpg…Kotchman walked back to the dugout.  As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt.  Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.

Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad.  The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere.  People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball.  At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:


5 - petco lawn care.JPGThe Padres helmets came with number stickers.  I put “18″ on the back of Tim’s helmet.  When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5″ on the bill of his helmet.  Then he told me to put a “1″ in front of the “5.”  I did…

5a - Ichiro 15.JPG…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!”  He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15″ — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.”  A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front.  Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51″ on it.

We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…

6 - rounding petco park.JPG…around to the main entrance by home plate.  Inside the main entrance, there is a big, cool, rock waterfall wall:

7 - petco waterfall wall.JPGMy Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate.  They were amazing seats.  A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.

We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch.   First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us.  At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…

8 - french vargas.jpg…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove.  I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in.  When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished.  He said, “Maybe.”  Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.

Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us.  The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…

9 - aardsma waves league stretches.JPG…which Tim thought was pretty cool.  After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line.  Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up.  As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch.  He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”

As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:

10 - tim and chad cordero.JPGTim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up.  League was still pitching to Aardsma.  Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up.  For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.

WHHHHHHHIZZZZZZ BAAAAAANGGGGGGGG!!!

The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma.  From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track.  As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall.   People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim.  Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side.   And it would have really hurt, I could tell.  An usher came to ask us if we were alright.  Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.

Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.

The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching.  Today, we watched first hand as…

11 - RRS working with Cliff Lee.JPG…RRS worked with (and learned from) Lee.

Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back.  This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished.  Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.

Thanks, Brandon!

Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen.  We decided to head over there as well.  Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there.  We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.

When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:

12 - CS HOFs RRS and Phillips with autos.jpgBetween pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi.  After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit.  It was nice to chat with him.  As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball.  So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan.  But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair.  When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips.  So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.

Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together.  But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame.  I guess I should ask him later this season.

After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?”  (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions).  We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.”  Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!”  That gave Jason a big smile.

Then we headed to our seats.  Check this out:

13 - Tim 51.jpgIn that picture, I am sitting in my seat (Section 101, Row 18, Seat 1) and Tim is standing next to the row in front of us (wearing his new helmet with Ichiro’s “51″ on the front and side).

Here was the view:

13a - petco section 101 row 18 seat 1.jpgSo you want to hear something crazy?  We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family.  Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting.  I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son.  He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know:  Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies.  (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).

The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were.  Here is a look at one of the rings:

14 - Tim the World Champion 51.JPGJason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years.  And these were some huge and legit looking rings.  Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.

By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity.  This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…

18 - a stranger among us.JPG…and it belonged to a Yankees scout (whose work failed to prevent the Mariners from soon taking 2 of 3 against the Yankees in the Bronx).

 You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field.  Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days.  There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…

15 - military day.JPG…and a whole bunch more sitting in the upper deck down the 1B line.

This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…

16 - padres camo jersey.JPG…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious.  That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.

Soon, the game was underway.  Ichiro led off with a walk…

17 - Ichiro walks in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…check out that view!  Unfortunately, as is happening way too much this season, Figgy erased Ichiro…

19 - Figgy GIDP in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…by grounding into a double play.

This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.

I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats.  It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:

20 - Felix baffles Eckstein in 1st 6-13-10.JPGBy the way, that is David Eckstein about to pop out to lead off the bottom of the first.  He would go 0-4 with 2 Ks against King Felix.

The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun.  No shade at all.  Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun.  But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…

21 - ice cream time 6-13-10.JPG…early in the game.  By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth.  He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips.  And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.

The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana.  Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…

22 - sacrificial felix.JPG…like this successful sacrifice in the top of the third.  Unfortuantely, this sacrifice ultimately did not produce any runs because Ichiro…

23 - Ichiro grounds out in 3rd 6-13-10.JPG…followed with a groundout for the final out of the top of the third inning.

 Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…

24 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 1.JPG…but the ball was low and must have knuckled.  I could see right off the bat that Guti was having trouble figuring out how far the ball would travel.  The ball was coming down quick…

25 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 2.JPG…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it.  But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall.  Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”

I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not.  After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns.  They’re fundamentally different than homeruns.  Pretty exicting.  I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.

 All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres.  We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…

26 - Milton Bradley post HR celebration.JPG…in the form of a traditional 2-run homerun in the top of the fourth.  The score was now tied 2-2, much better.

Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun.  So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before.  We headed up to the upper deck in RF… 

27 - exploring petco.JPG…where it looked like this:

27a - petco RF upper deck panorama.jpgThen we headed to the top of the upper deck in deep RCF:

28 - petco RCF upper deck back panorama.jpgFrom up there, we could look down on the Park in the Park…

28a - petco PITP from RF.JPG…the bleachers…

29 - petco bleachers from RF.JPG…and the Beach:

30 - petco beach from RF.JPGBy the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field.  Not a bright idea.  Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.

On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):

31 - TJCs petco RF ichiro.JPGWe noticed a weird little flag court area in the RF foul upper deck area where the Padres have flag depicting the league standings…

32 - petco hidden standings flags.JPG…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see.  In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.

Even from above, Felix looked dominant:

33 - felix from above 6-13-10.JPGWe decided to go up to the top of the RF foul seats behind the military guys.  Here was the view:

33a - petco RF foul upper military view panorama.jpg…and a very, very similar view (from just across the aisle and down a little bit from the last panorama:

33b - petco RF foul upper end military view panorama.jpgTim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:

34 - Tim and Zamora.JPGSometimes Tim is a little shy.  Just before these pictures, he walked down the stairs whispering “thank you” to the Marines.  I am positive that none of them heard him.

As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:

35 - petco architecture.JPGAt the very bottom in RF (it seemed like it was even lower than the field level), the concourse was full of military stuff.  Like this huge model aircraft carrier:

36 - petco aircraft carrier RF lower concourse.JPGBy the time we returned to our seats, Al had taken off.  So it was just the three of us roadtrippers when an ausher took this picture of us as Felix warms up in the background…

37 - 7th inning stretch at petco.JPG…with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

After our stadium tour, Tim did a much better job staying cooling in the seats.  He did some fake running poses…

39 - petco seat fun.JPG…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells.  See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture?  That old lady was unintentionally hilarious.  She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle.  At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence!  hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.

Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.

Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2.  The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.

Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins.  Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…

40 - jose lopez go ahead double in 8th 6-13-10.JPG…for a line drive double down the 3B line.  Chone touched home to grab a 3-2 lead for the Mariners.

Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…

41 - bradley works a HBP.JPG…the Padres weren’t too happy with the call, but Hernandez wasn’t persuaded to reconsider his call.

In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres.  Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson.  It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career.  Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.

Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.

That brought Ichiro to the plate.  Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead.  Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…

42 - ichiro foul bunt in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…next he watched a ball and foul tipped a stike…

43 - ichiro watches one 6-13-10.JPG…then with a count of 1-2, Ichiro got his pitch and played a little game of switcheroo with Johnson…

44 - ichiro insurance in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…Ichiro took Rob’s spot at second and Rob took Ichiro’s at home.  And just like that the Mariners had a 4-2 lead.

Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game.  But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried.  Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.

The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout.  In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel.  An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby.  He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.

I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel.  He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game?  Sure!”  And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:

45 - Felix goes 26 outs.JPGIn that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout.  He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez.  When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play.  But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.

Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game.  But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:

46 - happy totals from petco 6-13-10.JPGAfter the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire.  He was very nice.  But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.

Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…

47 - Cowboy Joe West and Tim.JPG…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball.  He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim.  He was very amused by his little prank.  And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.

I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt.  It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get.  The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games.  They take off quick.  So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.

Thank you, Joe West!  And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!

Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

The line started deep in the Park in the Park…

48 - like a parade.JPG…while waiting to get back into the stadium, the Marines marched by and the crowd gave them a long ovation as they filed by.  Tim was up on my shoulders and asked, “Is this a parade?”

We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:

49 - petco RTB approach.JPGThe line took a while to finally get into the field.  But finally we made it!  And it was awesome.  Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases.  Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400″ foot sign:

50 - TJCs and petco 400.JPGNormally during Kids Run The Bases, we have to ask other fans to take our pictures because the ushers just say, “Keep moving, keep moving.”

We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…

51 - Time the OF umpire.JPG…after I took those pictures, he told me he was standing like an umpire.

We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker.  This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…

52 - Tim makes the catch.JPG…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322″ like he was playing outfield.  Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball.  I absolutely love that jumping picture.  Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!

The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen.  Tim played a little catcher…

53 - Tim mans the bullpen plate.JPG…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate.  Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them.  But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen.  They missed out on some great photo opportunities!

Thanks, Padres!

Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…

54 - Tim and petco.JPG…and then I opened up this box and checked out the bullpen phone…

55 - Tim in petco bullpen.JPG…and Tim sat on the bullpen bench.

The Padres did a great job with the actual run too.  They spaced the kids out really well.  When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!”  So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing… 

56 - tim runs the bases petco.JPG…along the way, Tim gave the Friar a high speed high five.

My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:

After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed.  I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…

57 - TJCs and Petco 3B dugout.JPG…then an usher let my Dad hop down onto the field to get this picture with us…

58 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…and I transferred Tim over to my Dad’s shoulder to get this picture by the “336″ sign in LF:

59 - Tim and Grandpa 336.JPGBy the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence?  Those go into the Padres team store.  There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.

After that last picture, we headed out to our car…

60 - goodbye petco.JPG…and said our good-byes to Petco Park.  It was a great two game set in San Diego.

We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again.  After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…

62 - post game swim and mexican food.JPG…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall.  It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice.  So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.

2010 Fan Stats:

13 Games

14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)


61 - SD ICH and baseballs 6-13-10.JPG12 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)

11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)

Hello, 2010 Mariners! (5/11/10)

Since opening day, we’d been looking forward to May 11, 2010:  our first Mariners game of the season.  Like in 2007 and 2008 , our first Mariners game of the season would take place at Camden Yards.

I wanted to maximize our time with the Mariners so we headed down to Baltimore in time for batting practice.  Unfortunately, it started raining as we neared Baltimore.  As we entered the centerfield seats, we found the tarp covering the field.  No batting pratice.

It was about 5:20 at the time.  Because we did not have “season ticket” tickets, we were stuck in CF until 5:30.  So we couldn’t go over to the third base foul line where Ichiro was running sprints in the outfield and a couple of Mariners were playing catch.

After about 2 minutes in the seats, Jesus Colome came out to centerfield to grab two baseballs that were sitting out there in the grass.  There were a bunch of O’s fans in the first 2 rows of the seats and we were hanging back in about the 10th row.  Colome saw us and yelled to get our attention.  He then proceeded to throw one of the baseballs nowhere near us.  Seriously, while looking me straight in the eye, he managed to throw the ball about 30 feet to our left and about 7 rows below us.  One of the O’s fans grabbed it as it ricocheted off some seats.  Colome yelled, “Sorry!” and patted himself on the chest as if to say, “my bad.”

Oh, well.

About 2 minutes later, something incredibly cool happened.  I’m going to save the complete story for later, but here is the abbreviated version.

Ryan Rowland-Smith came walking through the outfield on his way to the bullpen…


1a - RRS intended route.jpg…in that picture, Tim and I were standing at the “T&T” (Tim was on my shoulders) and I noticed Rowland-Smith as he was walking at the “RRS.”  The yellow line shows the route he was intending to walk to the Mariners bullpen.

Background Fact No. 1:  Last season in Toronto, we met RRS and he threw a baseball to Tim (twice) so Tim could catch it himself in his glove.

Background Fact No. 2:  Over the off-season, I wrote a letter to RRS to (among other things) thank him for being so kind to us in Toronto, and I included with the letter the picture my wife snapped of us with RRS.

Background Fact No. 3:  I follow RRS on Twitter where it had recently been implied that he buzzed his hair.  Check him out @hyphen18.

So, as he approached the OF wall, I yelled out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”

He laughed and (without looking over) took off his hat to show me his buzz-cut.  Then, as he went through the door in the OF gate, he looked over at me and…

1b - RRS actual route.jpg…exclaimed, “Oh, hey, Man!” as he pointed at me.  He immediately changed courses (follow the new yellow line above) and came over to chat with us.

I was thinking, “Wow, RRS really likes seeing Mariners fans on the road!”  But as he approached, he said, “You wrote me that letter, right?”

To put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it!  I wrote him a letter months earlier about an interaction in Toronto and IMMEDIATELY upon seeing us in Baltimore (totally out of context), he recognized us and came right over to chat.

Here he is standing below us…

2 - hyphen18.JPG…and, to once again put it mildly, he came over to chat about something incredibly, amazingly, ridiculously awesome.  That’s what I’ll save for later.  For now, I will just note that we made plans to meet up later in the season about something I asked him in my letter.  Also, I must note that RRS is officially one of the most fan-friendly, coolest dudes ever to wear a major league baseball uniform…hands down.

After chatting with RRS, we waited five more minutes for the rest of the stadium to open (by which point Ichiro was gone), and then we headed over toward the Mariners dugout.  And guess who we ran into…

2 - tim and RRS 5-11-10.JPG…you got it:  Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.  Although Tim looks sorta “ho-hum’ish” in this picture, its not because he wasn’t happy to get his picture with RRS.  It was because he was standing on top of a wet brick wall and he was scared he was going to fall off.  RRS is holding him from behind to keep him steady.

We chatted for another minute or two with RRS.  And he noticed the T-Shirt I was wearing under my jersey.  It was a special shirt that Griffey made for his Mariners teammates during spring training.  You can read about it (and how my mom got her hands on one of them during spring training) in our entry Griffey the Prankster.  I told RRS that I had my mom send to shirt to me so I could wear it to this game to see if I could manage to get my picture with Griff.  However, due to the SleepGate scandal (that had just broken the day before), RRS didn’t think Griff would be out on the field at all before the game.

A few minutes later, I saw Ichiro pop out of the M’s dugout with a bat and walk over to the O’s dugout/clubhouse entrance.  So we headed over to the O’s dugout and confirmed with an usher that the M’s would be taking BP in cages back by the O’s clubhouse.

We said hi to most of the guys as they headed over to take BP…

3 - guity and lopez.jpg…Lopez said “Hi” to us, but Guti did not.   Speaking of Franklin, check out his pant legs before and after hitting.

Adam Moore said hi to us too:

5 - adam moore to cages.jpg

Here is Figgy and a coach, Sweeney and M’s PR guy Tim Hevly (they were talking about SleepGate!)…

4 - figgy tim hevly sweeney wak griff.jpg…Don Wakamatsu said hello to us, and Ken Griffey, Jr. did too.  Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I got of Griff.  As he approached, he saw my T-shirt and he said something to me that I couldn’t understand…something odd like, “Oh, so that’s what’s going on here.”  In response, I mentioned that he’d given the shirt to my mom at spring training and asked if we could get a picture.   He responded as if it was a possibility, but said he had to go hit first.  Of course, by the time he finished batting, there were 50 people standing by the dugout.  By that point, we decided there was no chance Griff would stop on his way back to the M’s clubhouse so we left to get something to eat.

There was a little raining falling at this point, so we retreated to Section 49…

6 - camden section 49 last row panorama.jpg…and dug into a big pile on nachos:

7 - nachos and movement star.jpgAs we enjoyed our nachos, Mike Sweeney started playing catch with his first basemens glove…

8 - sweeney with 1-bag glove.jpg…but he didn’t play first (or at all) in this game.

After our nachos, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Cliff Lee warm up.  Here he is on his walk to the bullpen:

9 - cliff lee to bullpen.jpgAnd here is the view from the seats right next to the bullpen in section 86:

10 - camden section 86 by visitors bullpen panorama.jpgAfter Cliff Lee left the bullpen, the relievers huddled together like they do before every game…

11 - wet bullpen.jpg…and when they broke apart David Aardsma pointed at me and said to his colleagues, “Look at that guys shirt!”  They all got a kick out of seeing a fan wearing one of Griffey’s prank shirts.

By the way, our buddy Jason Phillips is in that blurry picture and he is the guy seated closest to Tim in the picture to the right.  It was nice seeing him again.  We exchanged a few words several times throughout the day.  Its good to have him in the M’s bullpen again this season.

We continued sitting by the bullpen during the first inning, but then it started raining again.  We took refuge under cover over by where we’d eaten our nachos.  And I got some pictures of Griffey batting in the third inning…

12 - griff in third 5-11-10.jpg…he ultimately popped out to LF.

And I got some pictures of Ichiro, also batting in the third inning…

13 - ichi in third 5-11-10.jpg…he grounded out to the pitcher.

I took tons of pictures (using my wife’s camera with a sequence feature) of Cliff Lee:

14 - cliff lee motion and josh wilson grounder.jpgOn this pitch, the batter (I think Miguel Tejada) grounded out to Josh Wilson at short stop.

We got some random defensive shots: 

15 - random fielding.jpgAfter it stopped raining, we headed out to the standing room area in RF…

16 - seed boats.jpg…where Tim asked for sunflower seeds to make “seed sail boats” in a puddle.

I had to get Tim out of the standing room area pretty quick.  It was covered with huge puddles and Tim wanted to jump in every single one.  I was envisioning his little toes freezing later in the game inside wet socks.

So, we headed out to the concourse and got an ice cream helmet and a hot chocolate.  We grabbed some ice cream seats in section 10 down the 1B foul line:

17 - ICH hot choco and avi.jpgPictured at the back of the photo is a guy named Avi who we met before the game.  In addition to going to tons of O’s games, Avi reads our blog (and writes one of his own).  Thanks, Avi!  It was great meeting you.

Here is the view from our ice cream seats in section 10:

18 - camden section 10 panorama.jpgAt this point (the fifth inning), the score was 0-0 and Cliff Lee had given up only 3 hits.

Ryan Langerhans broke the scoreless tie with a lead off homerun in the fifth.  Later in the inning, the M’s scored again when Chone Figgins drew a bases loaded walk.

Here is a shot of Griff hitting in the sixth inning:

19 - griff in sixth 5-11-10.jpgGriff eventually drew a walk and came around to score.  After six innings, the Mariners led the Orioles 5-0.

From our ice cream seats, we had a great view of Ichiro in RF.  In these pictures, Ichi is playing catch between innings with Franklin Gutierrez.

20 - ichiro warms.jpgClick on that picture to see it full-sized.   In the picture to the left, the rotation of the seems on the ball look pretty cool.

Here is Tim after finishing off his ice cream and hot chocolate:

22 - ice cream seats and happy.jpgHe absolutely loved the hot chocolate.

As we sat in section 10, I noticed the same guy catch two foul balls straight behind home plate.  I decided he should go over there.  However, when we arrived behind home plate, we noticed that the ushers were essentially taking the night off.  Although there were ushers all around, they were letting people stand in the aisle and sit anywhere they wanted.  So, after an usher took our picture…

21 - classic camden yards cool tim.jpg…we headed down behind the M’s dugout to see if we could get a third out baseball.  We never did.  But we got some great up close views of our Mariners.  Here is Ichiro about to hit a double…


23 - Ichi 2B and to third.jpg…and about to be stranded on third base in the 7th inning.

And when we got home, I noticed that we’d been on TV while we were sitting in the third row behind Franklin Gutierrez:

24 - behind guity.JPGAfter Griff’s final at bat in the 8th inning…

25 - griff in the eighth 5-11-10.jpg… the crowd gave Griff a warm ovation on his way back to the dugout (it was a fly out to CF (or maybe a deep 2B or SS)).

We’d been sitting in the third row, but between innings Tim would stand in the first row above the dugout…so I snapped this picture of him:

26 - front row.JPG…and in the 8th or 9th inning, we decided to just take the seats up there in the first row.  It was crazy how empty the seats were.

Here was the view from the first row:

27 - camden section 52 row 1 panorama.jpgAfter giving up only one run and 8 hits in 7.1 innings…

28 - cliff lee exits in 8th 5-11-10.JPG…we cheered Cliff Lee as he left the game in the bottom of the 8th inning.  This was his first win as a Mariner.

Ichiro hit another single in the 9th inning…

29 - ichiro bats in the 9th 5-11-10.JPG…but once again he was stranded on base.

 It was raining very lightly, so Tim wore my glove has a mask/umbrella…

30 - shield on.jpg…which he thought was a great fun.

I mentioned already we didn’t get a third out ball.  Oddly, however, we did get a second out ball!  Here Tim is with his first ever game used ball (well, it is possible that one of the umpire balls he’s gotten has been game used, but we *know* this one was used in the game):

31 - 26th out bottom 9th 5-11-10.JPGWith one out in the bottom of the ninth and Brandon League pitching, Matt Wieters grounded out to Ryan Langerhans at first base.  Langerhans tagged Wieters for the 26th out of the game and then threw the ball around the horn.  Somehow, the around the horn attempt failed.  I’m not sure what happened.   I think that Figgins threw the ball in the dirt to Jose Lopez and it got wet or dirty.  For whatever reason, Lopez rolled the ball into foul territory.  It ultimately came to rest right in front of us.

We were the only people in the first row behind the Mariners dugout.  We were wearing all Mariners gear.  Tim’s a cute kid.  The ball was directly in front of us.  It seemed almost like we were guaranteed to get the ball.  And we did.  An unidentified Mariner reached over the railing/netting and grabbed the ball off of the warning track, turned around and flipped it right to me.

Maybe two minute later, the Mariners won the game by a final score of 5-1.  And Ichi victoriously ran off of the soggy field after high fiving his teammates:

32 - ichi and mariners win.JPGThe grounds crew immediately started to put the tarp back on the field:

33 - camden section 52 row 1 rain tarp panorama.jpgOur friend, MLBlogger, and Baseball Collector extraordinaire, Zack Hample, was at the game.  We’d spent some time with him during pre-game and then met up again after the game.  As the Mariners bullpen headed to the dugout, Jesus Colome flipped a ball to Zack and John Wetteland bestowed a second baseball on me and Tim.

Moments later, Zack’s buddy Brandon captured this photo of me, Tim, and Zack:

34 - fist bump reunion.JPGre-make of a picture we got moments after we met Zack in person for the first time last season — at the memorable Randy Johnson 300th win rainout “game.”  After this photo, Tim and I walked to our parking garage with Zack and Brandon (on their way to their hotel).

It was a great first Mariners game of the season that included (i) a much needed Mariners win, (ii) Cliff Lee’s first win as a Mariner (and his first since the 2009 World Series), (iii) two memorable meetings with Ryan Rowland-Smith, (iv) fun interactions with several players about the Griffey prank shirt, (v) meeting up with some cool MLBloggers, and (vi) Tim’s first game-used baseball.

I already cannot wait to see the Mariners again…next month in San Diego on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010!  See you there, Mariners! 

2010 Fan Stats:


35 - two baseballs 5-11-10.JPG5 Games

8 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

5 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)

15 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)

4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

4 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

Camden Yards B.Y.O.I.C.H. (10-4-09)

Now, I realize that the title of this entry looks a little risque.  But I assure you it it not.  Read on and eventually you’ll see what its all about. 

On October 4 – the final day of the regular season (for everyone except the Twins and Tigers), Tim and I headed down to Camden Yards for our final game of what has been an outstanding 2009 season.

It was sad to think it was all coming to an end, already.  As we drove south, there was evidence of the end of baseball.  The “This Is Birdland” billboard off of Route 83 in York, PA — gone.  It has been there all season.  Worse yet, the Birdland billboards in Baltimore itself were also gone.  Finally, all season every street in downtown Baltimore had been adorned with numerous Orioles lamp-top signs.  All gone.  Sad.

So, here we were in Baltimore, closing out our in-person baseball season on the final Sunday of the season in the same place we had opened our in-person baseball season back in April on the first Sunday of the 2009 season.

Tim and I have seen a lot of great things and created a lot of great memories this season.  I was ready for one more day of it, but wishing there would be more.

Our first peak down Eutaw Street revealed some stadium attendants readying this beautiful baseball venue for one more hoorah before the off-season:


1 - readying for final game of 2009.jpgWe arrived early for batting practice.  But when we arrived I figured out that I had mistakenly thought it was a 1:05 start.  In fact, it was a 1:35 start and the stadium wasn’t even open yet.  So we had some time to kill before the gates opened at 11:35.

No problem.  Every time we’d visited Baltimore this season, I’d wanted to get a picture of Tim with the Babe Ruth statue.  Now, we finally  had some free time to do so:


2 - bambino and tim.jpgNext, Tim raced around a lot before deciding to pose with some of the retired Orioles numbers:


3 - o's numbers and tim trophy.jpgNotice how there is no “8″ in the bottom right picture?  About a month or two ago, four teenagers decided it would be a great idea to steal Ripken’s “8.”  It was all caught on camera and they were caught red-handed a short time after taking the “8.”  I was surprised it still had not beeen restored to its normal spot.

In my pictures this season, I’ve shown a lot of views of the warehouse from the field area.  It looks like a long brick building from there.  But you can’t tell how deep of a building it is.  So, I took this picture from outside the CF gate that shows the warehouse isn’t very wide:


4 - end of warehouse.jpgWhen they finally let us into the stadium, we found there was no BP.  I guess it wasn’t a huge shock.   It was a Sunday day game and the last game of the season and both teams were long since eliminated.  But, still, I thought they might hit just because it would make the fans happy.  No dice.

Despite no BP, they still had the stadium closed off except for season ticket holders who were free to go into the stadium to not watch BP:


5 - season ticket holders no BP entrance.jpgSo, we headed to our seats in section 90, straight away CF.  On the way, I took a panaramic view from a couple sections over from our seats:


6 - camden CF section 94 panaramica.jpgAnd I took this view from our seats.  Section 90, Row A, Seats 1-2 — very nice:


7 - camden CF section 90 row A seat 1 panaramic.jpgFinally, they opened the rest of the stadium. Tim hopped up on my shoulders and we walked the main field level aisle to take in the scenes of Camden Yards.  Here is our view as we approached home plate:


8 - camden plate 1B foul field panaramic.jpgAnd just for kicks, another view from about 50 feet away from the last view:


9 - camden plate 1B foul field pre-game panarama.jpgSome Blue Jays pitchers congregated down the 3B line to play catch…


10 - league accardo.jpg…the guy closest to us in the picture above to the left is Brandon Leauge.  Tim and I walked up to the railing and Tim yelled, “HI, ICHIRO!  Can I have that baseball?”  I explained that League wasn’t Ichiro.  Tim asked where Ichiro was.  Not here, unfortunately.

A few minutes later, Jeremy Accardo (pictured above to the right) walked by on his way to the dugout.  He walked up to us and pulled a ball out of his back pocket and handed it to Tim.

“Thanks, Jeremy!”

Then he proceeded down the baseline and started signing autographs by the end of the Jays’ bullpen.  With ball still in hand, Tim followed Accardo all the way down the line.  I followed along and grabbed a sharpie out of my backpack.  I told Tim to get up to the front of the group and ask Accardo to sign the ball he’d just given Tim.  Tim got up to the front and set the ball and sharpie on the top of the fence and then he uttered one of his funniest lines of the season:

“Excuse me, can you scribble on my ball?”

Accardo and the entire group of autograph seekers broke into laugher.  Accardo scribbled on Tim’s ball.

Then we headed to the kids’ play area.  First, Tim heated up the gun on the kids’ speed pitch:


11 - give em the heater rickey.jpgNext, he hit the bouncy house…


12 - final bouncy housing of 2009.jpg…usually the bouncy house is packed.  But it was only Tim and that little girl for a while. No one was in line so they got to bounce for a long time.  Eventually, the girl grabbed onto Tim’s leg and took him down like a freestyle wrestler.  Tim fell to the ground and complained to his tormentor:

“Don’t play with me.  I’m not a toy!”

As game time approached, we headed back to the field and watched the grounds crew chalk the batters box:


13 - readying the field.jpgThen we headed out to the team store.  On the way out there, I took this picture:


14 - smile for the team store.jpgFinally, it was game time and we headed to our seats.  We were right on the railing by the batters eye.  Check out all of the grass they’ve transplanted from the batters eye area to fix grass on the field:


15 - field patch grass.jpgTo took the picture below to the left showing the field and the railing separating the crowd from the batters eye…


16 - camden vines.jpg…Tim took a close up of the ivy vines on the railing.

Wow — somehow I put this picture totally out of place.  But check out how wide open and empty the concourse was behind 3B…


17 - big open and empty 3B concourse.jpg…the only bad thing about Camden Yards is that you cannot see the field from the concourse.

Back to our seats in CF, I took this action shot of Ricky Romero striking out (I think) Brian Roberts:


18 - romero to roberts.jpg…see the red arrow?  It is pointing to the seat I’d be sitting in to end our in-person baseball season.  See the guy in the seat in front of the red arrowed-seat?  After each pitch, he presses a button that flashes up on a little screen a description of the pitch (i.e., 92 M.P.H. fastball).

For the second weekend in a row, we were sitting behind Vernon Wells… 


19 - vernon wells.jpg…this game was much more relaxing for Vernon because no one was yelling at him that he hasn’t earned his multi-million dollar contract.

If you’ve been following this blog this season, you know that Camden Yards is the only stadium we’ve ever visited that doesn’t have ice cream helmets.  Since early June I’d had an idea and I finally implimented it at this game…


20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg…Camden Yards:  Bring Your Own Ice Cream Helmet.

I wanted to do this in late June when we saw the Nationals in Baltimore, but I forgot the helmet at home somehow.

It was pretty cool to be scraffing down a Seattle Mariners ice cream helmet in Baltimore.  And, I’m pretty sure that Tim is the only person to have an ice cream helmet in Baltimore this season.  That’s pretty cool to say.  But, I hope that thousands of people get the joy of eating an ice cream helmet at this classic ballpark next season.

By the way, this was an excellent ice cream helmet.  Real strawberry ice cream with chunks of strawberries and sprinkles.  Delicious.

After his ice cream helmet, Tim asked to go to his favorite spot, the flag pavillion.  On the way, he posed for this picture at the top of section 90:


21 - catching the game from CF.jpg…please excuse the strawberry ice cream reminants on Tim’s Ichiro shirt.

Tim loves the flag pavillion…


22 - tim in flags.jpg…it is great for running around and playing fake baseball games.

This was our view from over the RF wall…


23 - camden RF flag panarama.jpg…we were out toward the CF side because the wall is lower on that side.  Down by the RF foul pole, the fence is about a foot taller, it seems, and you have to stand right at the fence to see over it.  In CF, you can stand back a little bit and still see the action.

Tim decided that the big diamond shaped pattern on the ground was a baseball field, and the dark corners were bases…


24 - fake game in flag pavillion.jpg…we played a lot of fake baseball there.

In the picture to the top left, Tim is sitting in the “dugout.”  After a few seconds, he yelled “Now batting, Roehner” (fyi, Roehner is Tim’s imaginary pro-baseball player friend).   Then he jumped up (top right) and ran toward the home plate corner of the pattern and said, “Yay, I’m up.”  It was pretty cute.

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this awesome park, but I realized I’d never taken a panaramic view of the Eutaw Street warehouse.  Well, here you go:


25 - camden warehouse panaramic.jpgAnd here is a view from Eutaw Street looking into the flag pavillion:


26 - camden flag pavillion panarama.jpgWhile out on Eutaw Street, we looked for all of the Mariners home run markers.  There were only two:


27 - griffey bomb.jpgOh, yeah, my man Ken Griffey, Jr. can hit some BOMBS!  The one on the left is the only ball to ever hit the warehouse on the fly.  (Yes, I’ve included a picture of this before, but who cares, its worth a second, third, or fifteenth picture, so don’t count on this being the last).

Late in the game, we headed behind home plate and hung out in prime foul ball territory — above the main cross aisle.  This was our view:


28 - camden plate above aisle big shadow panarama.jpgAs I sat in the back row watching the game, Tim took about 100 pictures.

In this picture, Tim is looking down into the main aisle taking rapid fire pictures of people walking by:


29 - rapid fire fan cam.jpg…it was pretty cool to watch a slide show of Tim’s cross aisle pictures (but I won’t bore you with them).

Here are a few of my favorite shots Tim took toward the end of the game:


30 - tims picts.jpgTop left, Tim’s view from his perch on my shoulders (you can see he is looking over my shoulders).  Top right, Tim took a shot of some writers in the press box.  Bottom right, this cute little fan waved up to Tim as he was taking his rapid fire fan shots (it was hilarious when this picture came up in the sequence of his fan shots).  Bottom left, I’m filling up Tim’s travel water cup (actually a baby’s sippy cup) at the water fountain out beyond RF.

Back to our foul ball spot behind the plate, here is a panaramic view:


31 - good shot by tim.jpgAnd here is a shot Tim took of me sitting in the back row (see how the press box is right behind me):


32 - daddy watching on.jpgThen Tim and I took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other:


33 - picture-in-picture.jpg…Tim’s camera is my old camera.  It has problems in bright light (it gets blury), but its perfect for Tim.  He loves it.

As the ninth inning approached, I asked Tim if he wanted to go down behind home plate and see if the umpire would give us a ball at the end of the game.  Of course, he did.  So, we found some great seats in the 8th row off of the umpires’ tunnel.  Here was the view:


34 - camden plate 8th row panaramic.jpgOur season was almost over, so I was getting picture happy, and I took one of us fooling around in the seats:


34a - another picture why not.jpgAnd I took a picture of the Blue Jays dugout:


35 - jays dugout.jpgAnd, as the game went into extra innings (free bonus baseball!), I took some action shots of pitches approaching home plate:


36 - action behind plate.jpgAnd I got one of Luke Scott hitting a ground ball…


37 - lukes not hit.jpg…and getting thrown out at 1B.

The game went into the bottom of the 11th inning still tied 3-3.  The Blue Jays brought in Brandon League to try to shut down the O’s for one more inning.  Big mistake.  The first batter got a solid base hit.  The second batter laid down a nice sacrifice bunt.  League fielded it near 1B and *shot put* over the head of the first basemen for an E-1.  With runners on first and second and no one out, the third batter laid down another sacrifice bunt.  Again, League fielded it.  Again, League threw it away.  This time he spiked it into the dirt in front of 1B.  It went by whoever was covering 1B and squibbed into shallow RF.  The lead off batter scored easily from 2B.  And that was it.  Season over for the O’s and Jays.

And it was “go time” as far as trying to get our final umpire ball (and final ball period) of the 2009 season.  One piece of background here.  During the 9th or 10th inning, Tim yelled “Umpire can I have a ball?” during a break between half-innings.  The umpire looked up at Tim, but had no expression on his face.  Still, I thought he had heard Tim.

Now, back to the end of the game.  We were in the 8th row on the 1B side of the umpire tunnel.  We couldn’t get any lower because there were people in every other row — mostly adults, but a few kids at the very bottom.  But right when the third out was recorded about 10,000 kids flooded the first row.  I figured there was no chance for us to get an umpire ball in the 8th row.

Triple-A call-up umpire Todd Tichenor walked through the gate and emptied his baseball bags into his umpire’s mask.  He had about 6 balls, it seemed.  He stopped in the first row and gave them all out to screaming little kids.  I figured the deal was done.  No umpire ball.

Then Tichenor started walking into the tunnel.  He walked directly below us.  Tim and I were peering over the brick wall and I said, “Hey, do you have one more ball for my son?”  Without looking up, Tichenor stopped directly in front of us.  His right hand reached into the bag attached to his right hip and pulled out *the final umpire ball of Camden Yards 2009 season* and lofted it directly up to us.

“THANK YOU, BLUE!”

 Tim got all excited when he looked at the baseball and saw the MLB batter logo on the ball.  “Daddy, there is a Mariner on my ball!”  A few minutes later he would add, “When I was a baby, I didn’t realize there were Mariners on the baseballs.”  That gave me a chuckle.

Sadly, we started to make out way out of the stadium for the final time in 2009.  Just then, we saw the Oriole’s Bird signing autographs down the 1B line.  We made our way to the front of the line and got a high five and a very serious looking picture with the Bird:


38 - tim and bird.jpgThen Tim posed with his 37th and final ball of the season…


39 - final game final ball of 2009.jpg…and we made out way out to Eutaw Street to walk to our car.

As we approached CF, we looked back toward the field.  The gates to the OF seats were locked up, and we could see the Bird heading into the umpire’s tunnel for the final time of the 2009 season…

 


the bird is out of here.jpg…the end of the season had officially arrived in Baltimore.

We took one last picture on our way out of Camden Yards:


40 - final picture - goodbye 2009.jpgAnd then it was over.

But wait, when we arrived home, I watched the Mariners beat the Rangers for finish with 85 wins and a grand celebration on the field after the game.  It was an awesome end to the Mariners season.

Bring on 2010!

Season Fan Stats:

 

32 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
27 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
37 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 3 Umpire, 3 Astros, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1, 1 Blue Jays)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Hill, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry, Jeremy Accardo) 
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

 

Up Next:  Cook & Son’s 2009 Season-In-Review Wrap Up

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers