Results tagged ‘ Brandon Morrow ’

Ice Cream Helmets & Blue Jays in Baltimore (4-10-10)

It was not a hoaxIce Cream Helmets have finally arrived at Camden Yards:

1 - orioles ice cream helmet at camden yards.jpgAnd on April 10, 2010, so did Tim and I.

From the back of the “backpack” line, this was our first view into this modern yet classic ballpark:

2 - eutaw street backpack line.jpgTim really matured last season to the point where I feel comfortable arriving early for batting practice.  So that is just what we did.  We arrived just as the gates opened.  But, like the other non-season ticket holders (or people who bought “season” tickets on the secondary market), we were stuck in the CF bleachers and the RF flag plaza until the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30.

Here is a (good of Tim and bad of me) self-portrait as we watch out over the Orioles portion of BP.

3 - first BP of 2010.jpgWe ran around a little on Eutaw Street, but mostly hung out in the CF bleachers before the rest of the stadium opened.  But Tim, still at only 4 years (not even 4.5 yet), is still too small for me to feel very comfortable in an active BP homerun zone.

At this point, we’re more of the watch-it-from-down-the-baseline type of guys.  So the second the main part of the stadium opened, we headed toward the 3B side.   I was hoping to run into newly traded former-Mariner Brandon Morrow, who I wanted to thank for his 3 years or service and wish him good luck in Toronto.  But he had pitched the night before and we never even saw him on the field at this game.

One of my goals for this season is to try to get more pictures with players.  I’m not a big autograph guy.  But I like to get in an autograph line by a dugout and ask for a picture when we get to the front.   A Brandon Morrow picture was top priority, but it didn’t work out.

As we circled around home plate, I saw Cito Gaston signing autographs at the home plate end of the Jays’ dugout.  We headed over there.  But he stopped just as we were about 20 feet away and he started walking toward the the batting cage.

I called out, “CITO!”

And when he spun and looked at us (Tim was up on my shoulders looking cute as a button, no doubt), I pointed to a baseball laying on the ground a couple feet from the Jays’ manager and I asked something to the effect of, “Anyway, my boy can get that ball?”   And here is how it played out…

4 - cito gaston diagram.jpgAs I called out “CITO!”, we were at the beginning of the red arrow and he was approaching the “O” in “Opening” painted on the grass.  The ball was on the ground where pictured.  As he approached the ball and it was obvious he was getting the baseball for us, we were standing at the red “X.”  One problem, there was a big screen in front of us.  So we walked down to the end of the screen and I leaned out and bent my glove arm around the screen in a basket for him to set the ball into.  After picking up the ball, he walked about 3 feet toward us and then threw it.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to catch it leaning over with Tim on my shoulders and my arm bent around the screen, but it all worked out perfectly.  And just like that, we were in business for 2010.  One baseball.

Thanks, Cito!

Often times, Tim wants to go explore after we get a baseball.  He likes to leave the rest for other people.  But today, he was so excited he yelled, “Let’s try to get another baseball!”

So we headed off toward the group of Jays pitchers down the 3B line in the outfield.  I was still looking for Brandon Morrow.  As we passed 3B, Edwin Encarnacion…

5 - edwin encarnacion.jpg…was fielding grounders — not fungo grounders, BP hitter grounders.  As we passed him, he sat back on his heals and butchered a hot grounder smoked off of the bat of one of his teammates.  I shouted out, “Edwin, that ball is no good.  We’ll take it!”  He threw the ball over toward the bucket and then turned and looked at us.  He gave the “hold on a minute” finger, which is always a good sign to get from a MLB player.

A few minutes later, he fielded a ball, turned and fired it to me, and we had our second baseball of the season, and last of BP.  It was time to explore.

Thanks, Edwin!

I have taken a lot of panoramas of Camden Yards — see here — but almost all of them (or better yet, all of them), are from various spots on the right side of the diamond – CF bleachers, 1B foul, behind home plate.  Nothing in LF or the 3B line.  So that is where we headed.

 Tim led the way through the seats in the sections above cross aisle that rings the field level seats at Camden Yards…

6 - exploring sections 77 and 87.jpg…our first stop was Section 77, Row 1, Seat 1:

7 - camden sec 77 row 1 seat 1 panorama.jpgNext, Tim walked the back row all the way out to section 87, the last section before the bullpens.  Then he came down to the first row, where I took this beauty at Section 87, Row 1, Seat 16:

8 - camden sec 87 row 1 seat 16 panorama.jpgBetween the field, the bullpens, the ivy on the batters eye and the Warehouse, this is one of my favorite panoramas that I’ve taken at any ballpark.

Next, it was time for a very, very special treat.  He headed out to the concourse and walked behind third base where a stadium attendant took this picture of a very happy father and son team:

9 - birds helmets spotted.jpgYes!  Orioles ice cream helmets at Camden Yards!  In case you are new here, read this and this to see why we were so excited.  I do not have confirmation that our grassroots campaign had anything to do with getting ice cream helmets at Camden Yards, but my guess is that it did.  A lot of really cool people helped me on the mission and I think it was hard for the Orioles to ignore the people.  Power to the people!

We enjoyed the spoils of victory from our ice cream seats along the 3B line, right about where Encarnacion tossed us a baseball about 1/2 an hour before.

Here’s an excited boy with his first ice cream helmet of the season and first ever at this ballpark:
10 - ice cream helmet at camden yards.jpgTim set his on the wall and savored it as we watched more batting practice…

11 - first orioles ice cream helmet at camden yards.jpg…it was  a great way to relax before the game.

I wanted to get a special picture to commemorate this special occassion…

12 - ice cream helmet collection.jpg…so I brought one helmet from each team at whose home stadium Tim and I have had the pleasure of enjoying an ice cream helmet.  I tried to do an ice cream helmet panorama, but it didn’t come out right.  So I cut the bottom row of helmets out of the two side pictures and put them along the bottom of what was supposed to be the middle picture in the panorama.  Still, I like how it came out

Its a good collection that I look forward to adding onto this season.

All sugared up, it was time for Tim to get some pre-game exercise.  Off to the play area…

13 - bouncyhouse bouncyhitter.jpgThe wood play fort the Orioles have had for (at least) the past several seasons was gone.  So was the pitching station.  But the bouncy house was still there and it was joined by a air blowing batting Tee that Tim loved.  We went back several times throughout the game for more bouncing and more hitting.

After our first round at the play area, we headed out to RCF and bought tickets for four more Orioles games — including two Mariners games, a Red Sox game, and a White Sox game.

Then it was up several excalators into the upper deck for more exploring and panorama picture taking.  Here is the view from the cross-aisle behind section 378:

14 - camden sec 378 cross aisle behind row 5.jpgAnd several sections over — the true “corner” where seat angles turn from infield to outfield seats, here is the view from the cross-aisle behind section 374:

15 - camden sec 374 and 372 cross aisle.jpgWe headed up the corner aisle and found ourselves on top of the world as the game finally started.  Tim (and Woody from Toy Story) cheered on the players and Tim proclaimed…

16 - 374 back row fan.jpg…”I can see the whole baseball game from up here!”

The upper deck seats at Camden Yards really go provide a great view — from anywhere in the park.

We continued to explore by walking around the top row of the stadium from the LF corner to a little passed first base.  And I took some action shots along the way.

Is it just me or does it look like Vernon Wells…

17 - Vernon Wells earning his keep.jpg…is wearing pajama pants?

By the way, we were around section 350 when we took those shots of Wells.  And a little closer to home plate when I captured this ugly swing by Lyle Overbay:

18 - Overbay takes an ugly hack.jpgSpeaking of section 350, here is the view from its back row:

19 - camden sec 350 back row panorama.jpgTim, whose nose and cheeks were a little red from (along with me) waging a battle with seasonal allergies all last week, gave our stadium tour a thumbs up…

20 - 2010 thumbs up.jpg…and with that, we decided to get hot dogs and march out to the RF foul seats to sit in the sun.

On the way, former Mariner Adam Jones hit this pitch to LCF for the second out in the bottom of the first:

21 - adam jones and miguel tejada.jpg…and while we enjoyed our hot dogs, Miguel Tejada (I think that’s Tejada, correct me if you think I’m wrong) grounded out to the start the bottom of the second inning.

Here was the view from our hot dog seats in Section 310:

22 - camden sec 310 panorama.jpgWhile up there, Tim showed off the baseballs we got during BP…

23 - first baseballs of 2010.jpg1) Cito Gaston and 2) Edwin Encarnacion.  Thanks again, guys.

We sat up here until the fourth and it was 0-0 at that point.  We then went to bounce and hit a little more.  While we were gone, the Blue Jays scored the first run of the game (and the winning run) on a bases loaded Hit by Pitch.  Interestingly, the O’s intentionally walked Travis Snider to load the bases so they could then serve up a bean-ball to Jose Molina.

After bouncing and hitting, we headed to the flag courtyard where we witnessed the ugliest scene we’ve ever witnessed (close up at least) at a ball game, and definitely the ugliest ever at Camden Yards:

24 - non-Camden Yardish behavior.jpgTwo groups of drunks got into a huge brawl.  There were knuckle-sandwiches handed out left and right, people thrown to the ground, and at least one lady who jumped in to try to break it up got pushed out of the way so more knuckle-sandwiches could be administered.

This fight was by far the lowlight, but all in all, this was the absolute worst crowd I have ever seen at Camden Yards.  I attribute it to the game being the first weekend night game of the season.  The hooligans in town who probably aren’t real O’s fans came out because of the novelty of baseball being back, and they were loud, rude, obnoxious and drunk.  Again, not just these guy.  These guys just took it the extra step, which hopefully landed them in the back of a paddywagon…I don’t know because I snapped a couple pictures and then got Tim the heck outta there.

Forced out of our beloved standing room area, we landed in the seats down the 1B line.  Excellent seats where we stayed maybe two innings.

Somehow, maybe during the fight or maybe during a bathroom break, the Jays scored again and we missed it again.  And, interesting, again it involved an intentional walk to Travis Snider to load the bases for Jose Molina.  This time Molina hit an RBI single.

In the seventh, I took this shot of Adam Lind…

25 - Adam Lind in the seventh.jpg…who grounded out harmlessly.

In the bottom of the 8th or top of the 9th, we landed here, in some of the best foul ball seats around…

27 - first game last seats.jpgNothing came our way, but the picture taking was excellent.  Here, Jose Bautista pops out to catcher:

26 - Jose Bautista pops out to Wieters.jpgAnd on this pitch, I said to Tim, “Do you think he will hit a home run?” (“he” being Adam Lind).  He didn’t.  But he did drive the pitch into the gap for an RBI double:

28 - Adam Linds 9th inning RBI double.jpg…that’s one of the best action shots I’ve ever got between the hit ball captured in the air, Wieters jumping up to try to snag the ball and throw out the would be base-stealer, the runner advancing, etc., etc.

Before the bottom of the 9th, we got our classic Camden Yards behind home plate photo — taken by a nice usher whose wife just bought my same camera and loves it:

29 - TJCs classic Camden Yards pose behind plate.jpg

30a - Joe West.jpgAll there was left to do was attempt to get a nice rubbed up baseball from the umpire after the final out, a trick we learned last season from the “The Baseball Collector” himself, Zack Hample.  We got 3 umpire balls in 2009 and it is a great way to end a great day at the ballpark.

The home plate umpire was 31-year umpiring veteran, Joe West.

Camden Yards is the most relaxed ballpark in the world.  The ushers typically don’t care about anything.   But the guy in the bright orange jacket two or three pictures up wouldn’t let us go down and take one of the many, many empty seats all around the umpire tunnel.  If he’s let us go down, it was almost a guaranteed umpire ball.  But it was a no go, so we decided to head out to RF to watch the bottom of the 9th from there before making our way to our car.  But on the way out there, we decided to hit the rest room.  And then we decided to fill-up Tim’s water bottle.  We were in the outer concourse behind 1B, but none of the water fountains were working.  So we kept walking to the next fountain. 

Once we finally found a working fountain, we filled up Tim’s water bottle and headed back into the stadium to walk to RF on the inner cross aisle.  But, little did we know, we were right back behind home plate again…but on the other side of the umpires tunnel.  The usher over there was letting tons of people stand in the aisle, so we stood with them.

Down to the O’s final out, Nolan Reimold hit a towering pop-fly to short stop.  That’s exactly the kind of final out you want, something (other than a strike out) that requires the umpire to stay at home plate.  We were off with the crack of the bat. 

We had to weave in and out of a few fans making their way up the stairs.  But we reached the tunnel at the same time as Joe West.  He gave baseballs to two little kids on the other side of the tunnel.  I asked him if he had one to spare for Tim.  He nodded and started to reach toward me.  I extended my glove.  Then he thought better of himself, denied my glove, reached high and gave it directly to Tim.   An excellent move by Mr. West.  That’s what 31-years experience will do for a guy.

Thank you, Joe West!

And thank you to the nice family whose daughter captured our post game celebration, complete with “Woody” from Toy Story:

30 - Thank You Joe West.jpg
On a final sad note, my normal “gamer” green cargo shorts are going to have to be retired.  As you can see in that last picture, they tore wide open exposing the inside of my right front pocket to the world.  This leave me in quite a bind as I have to decide upon a replacement pair by next weekend.  These shorts have been my main game shorts (and bowling shorts) since 2007.  They will be missed.

2010 Fan Stats:

1 Game

2 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays)

1 Ice Cream Helmet (Orioles)

3 Baseballs (2 Blue Jays, 1 Umpire)

1 Stadium (Camden Yards)

Tim’s First Mariners Road Game (8/9/07)

On August 9, 2007, Tim and I headed down to Baltimore for Tim’s first Mariners road game.  As best I can recall, I didn’t see the Mariners play in a road game until I was 23, also in Baltimore.  Tim bested me by about 20 years on that front.

This was Tim’s third game of his life and it was being played in his third MLB stadium of his life.  Not bad.

This would be a cool and memorable game too because (as strange as it sounds) it was Tim’s first game NOT in a luxury suite or, put another way, his first game in the seats.

And here he is checking out his first stadium seat of his life…


1 - so these are seats.jpg…well, actually we’ll see later that this isn’t Tim’s actual seat, but its in the same row.  He was checking out how these seat thingys work.

Not only was this Tim’s first game in the seats, it was our first game as a father-son team.  At his first game, we had 27 other family members and friends with us in the suite.  At his second game, we had 10-15 of my co-workers and their “significant others” with us in the suite.  At this game, it would be just me and Tim, and we would prove to be stellar MLB game partners.

This season (2009) is the first time I felt like Tim was old enough and had enough endurance to go to batting practice before a game.  Back in 2007 and 2008, we regularly arrived just before game time.  While we arrived at this game after BP ended, we did have some time to check out the stadium before the game started.

After checking out our seats in CF, we headed behind the 3B dugout to get a classic Camden Yards picture with the field and warehouse in the background:


2 - tim's first camden yards picture.jpgLook at how happy that boy is to be at the ballpark with his dad and his Mariners.  This is Cook & Son / Mariners baseball!

By the way, do you see that glove Tim is holding?  It is a Rawlings RBG36B (circa 1992).  I didn’t take that glove to a single game in 2009.  It is nothing fancy.  But it is my favorite glove.  It is the glove I used in the outfield in high school.  I formed it perfectly for my hand.  It fits my glovehand like an extra layer of skin.

Anyway, back to Camden Yards.

After walking around a bit, we found ourselves in my second favorite spot to get a posed picture at Camden Yards — down the 1B line right where the concourse takes a turn toward RF.

We got a picture with home plate behind us…


3 - tim's third camden yards picture.jpg..and then pivoted 45 degrees and got one with the warehouse behind us:


4 - tim's second camden yards picture.jpgIt was game time.  We headed out to section 90 (straight away CF) and took our seats behind Ichiro (and whoever played CF for the O’s in 2007).  Here is Tim in his first ticketed seat (with a little booster seat helping him out):


5 - seats in section 90.jpgAfter a while, Tim had enough of the seats and wanted to walk a bit.  We made our way to the standing room flag pavillion in RF.  I had never really spent time in the flag pavillion before this game.  But starting with this game and continuing until today, the flag pavillion has proven to be Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards.

At this game, he was all about puddle stomping in the flag pavillion:


6 - welcome to the flag pavillion.jpgOf course, Tim was only a year and a half old at this point, so he couldn’t run around the whole game.  So from time-to-time, he’d take a break in his stroller…


7 - gooooo mariners.jpg…and as you can see above to the right, he was into the game and cheering for his Mariners.

The Mariners were leading the game early when Tim and I got some nice person to take our picture out on Eutaw Street:


10 - tim's first eutaw street picture.jpg

morrow 2009.jpg
The seats and the Mariners road game weren’t the only firsts of the day.  It was also Tim’s first rain delay!

We were out in CF where there is nowhere to take refuge from the rain.  So Tim and I ducked into the concourse behind the infield seats.  We did some walking around until the rain let up.

When the rain let up, I decided we should go check out the Mariners bullpen.  I didn’t realize at the time that there was covered seating for the players in the bullpen.  I was wondering whether the relief pitchers would be in there or not.  They were.

We headed over to the pen and looked down to see a couple Mariners pitchers milling about.  And the above-pictured then-rookie Brandon Morrow was chatting with a somewhat scary groupie-looking lady who was standing in the LCF seats.  Brandon somewhat looked “trapped” into talking to this lady.  When Morrow saw us standing there wearing our Mariners gear I could tell he started thinking, “here’s my out!”  He turned to us and asked if we were from Seattle.  Scary groupie-looking lady was out of the Morrow loop.

Morrow and I chatted for a minute or two.  Then I asked him if there was any chance Tim could get a baseball.  Brandon was more than happy to oblige.  He ran back over to the bullpen bench and grabbed a ball out of the baseball bag.  He ran back over to us and fired a strike into my glove.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

After the rain stopped, we headed back out to CF.  This is what the view looked like from out there:


8 - camden 2007 RCF panaramic.jpg

I think the rain delay was in the fifth inning with the score tied 5-5.  Four of the O’s runs came on a grand slam by Miguel Tejada.  The grand slam was Tejada’s 250th home run of his career.

After the rain delay, the Mariners piled on some runs and took a 10-5 lead.  Tim was excited to walk down every row in the CF seats and touch all of the dripping wet seats:


9 - bullpen ball from morrow spot.jpgIn the picture above, the red circle shows where we were standing when Brandon Morrow tossed us the baseball during the rain delay.


Right at the end of the game, Tim got really tired.  The Mariners were up 11-8 and we trusted them to get the job done in our absence, so we called it a night a bit early.

Tim was cuddling up with his baseball in the car when we found the game on the radio…


11 - tim and baseball drive home.jpg…as we made our way through the city to the freeway entrance, the Mariners scored two insurance runs.  That was plenty for future Orioles closer, George Sherrill to close the win out for the Mariners.

As the box score shows, it was a great game.  Ichiro was 3-6 to bring his average to .350 on the season.  He also had 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.  Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with 2 RBI.  Jose Guillen, then the Mariners right fielder, was 1-3 with a HR and 2 runs scored.

Horacio Ramirez got the win for the Mariners to take his record to 7-3.  Interestingly, before this game Ramirez was 6-0 at home and 0-3 on the road.  So we saw his first road victory of the season.  We also saw one inning by Mariners rookie Ryan Rowland-Smith who is the first player in MLB history with a hyphenated last name, and a darn nice guy.

Balls and Helmets

Tim and I have had all of our baseballs from 2009 laying around unorganized and our ice cream helmets in a similarly disheveled state.  So, I decided to get organized.

The four most important baseballs of the season are in Tim’s room on his dresser with his 30-MLB team milestone trophy, his Mariners Mr. Potatohead, and his miniature Ken Griffey, Jr. glove:

top 2009 baseballs.jpg

Those baseballs include:

  1. Willie Bloomquist/Royals ball (U.S. Cellular Field) – from Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game (8/17/09).
  2. Felix Hernandez/Erik Bedard (Fenway Park) warm up ball signed by Felix Hernandez (7/4/09).
  3. Jason Phillips autographed ball (Yankee Stadium) – trade for A-Rod photoball for M’s pink backpack (7/2/09).
  4. Ryan Rowland-Smith’s autographed warm-up ball (Rogers Centre) — Tim’s first ball he caught himself (9/26/09).

NOTE:  Honorable Mention Most Important Baseballs Awards go to the HHH Metrodome ball that we caught at the Metrodome (8/15/09) and the ball Jason Phillips threw to us on top of the Green Monster at Fenway (7/5/09).

The rest of our 2009 baseballs are now all in baseball cubes displayed on a bookshelf on which they fit perfectly:

balls and helmets displayed.jpgAs you can see, on the bottom shelf we have our ice cream helmet collection.  Most piles are all the same team (e.g., the big Mariners and Phillies piles).  But a couple teams are hidden beneath other teams (e.g., the Pirates and the other New York team).  Eventually, I’ll need to figure out a better way to display our helmets.

FYI, the balls on the helmet shelf are mostly from my youth.  I lost track of how many balls I caught growing up in the Kingdome.  Eventually, I ended up playing home run derby with most of them (something me and my friends played constantly during the summers) and lost them in the woods beyond the outfield fence at Madrona Elementary School (which is a great place to play home run derby).  Anyway, the end balls in the back row are from last season, the other nine are my only remaining Kingdome balls.  You can see on one of them I wrote “Julio Franco” in red in really poor, youthful handwriting.  It was back when he played for the Rangers, probably from 1989 or 1990.  The ball to the right of the Franco ball was from Kirby Puckett.

While I’m at it, I might as well share one more picture:

tim's shelf.jpg

These are balls from 2006-08.  On the top shelf:

1.  Tim’s first ball ever – from Davis Romero (Blue Jays) at his first game ever, and first game (obviously) at Safeco Field (9/12/06).

3.  Tim’s third ball ever - from Brandon Morrow at his third game ever, second Mariners game, and first game at Camden Yards (8/9/07)

4.  Tim’s fourth ball ever – from Glenallen Hill at Tim’s 1st MLB Anniversary, our only ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (9/12/07)

FYI, we gave Tim’s second baseball to my cousin’s daughter who shared her first game ever with Tim (as we will see in a forthcoming entry – ETA next week).

The rest of the baseballs are spring training balls from 2008.  The top left ball is autographed by Adam Moore and the top right ball is autographed by Jose Vidro – both during spring training 2008.

Interstingly, this post now shows every baseball Tim and I have ever caught together except one, which we got during our first baseball roadtrip in 2008 and got autographed by some Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers.  What the heck, lets show it too:


PNC Ball.jpg

This ball is autographed by T.J. Beam, Tyler Yates, and Sean Burnett of the 2008 Pirates.

So, there you go, our entire Major League baseball collection and Major League ice cream helmet collections in one blog entry.

Mariners in Toronto – Part I of II (9-26-09)


1 - first look at skydome.jpgOkay — get ready for a long (and hopefully fun-filled), picture-laden game report.

It took some coaxing, but about a month ago I finally got my lovely wife, Colleen, to agree to a late-season family trip to the Great White North.  It would be our first trip ever to Toronto, our first game outside of the United States, and our first game ever at Rogers Centre.

It would also be our final Mariners game of the season, and a re-match of Tim’s first game ever.

To the right is a picture of our first close-up view of Rogers Centre.  Behind the stadium, you can see the CN Tower, which I am told is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.

Let’s get to the game.

We drove north from Pennsylvania the night before and stayed about 88 miles from Toronto, right down the street from Niagara Falls.  I didn’t know when, if ever, we’d get back to Toronto, so I wanted to get there early for all of BP.

We arrived before the stadium opened, grabbed our tickets at will call, and chatted with some nice Canadians in line.  Much to our delight, the Canucks informed us that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!  YES!  I was psyched.

The stadium opened at 11:00 a.m.  I hustled in to see what I could see, and Colleen took this picture as she and Tim approached the field level seats:

2 - just ichiro and todd.jpgMe and Ichiro.  No BP.  No one else on the field.  Just Ichiro.  Aye, aye, aye…two hours to kill before the game.  By the way, that is a banner I made sticking out of my backpack.

Here is the view from the 1B field level seats — essentially our first view of the field upon entering the stadium:

3 - rogers 1B Field panaramic2.jpgWe wandered back-and-forth between Ichiro, the foul pole, and the Mariners dugout.

I took some random pictures: 

4 - random pre-game stuff.jpgTo the left, big cushy seats along the front row (and Tim standing at the far end of them). To the right, the M’s batting helmets, gloves and shin guards.  Check out the shag-carpet looking field turf.

We looked into the dugout to see if any Mariners were in there…

5 - father and son pre-game.jpgNope.  Not yet.  By the way, Colleen took this picture because she thought it was cute how Tim was looking up at me.

After a bit, Tim and Colleen went up to the 200 level to a kids area (that didn’t impress Colleen).  I decided to stay on the field level and explore a bit more.

Then, some Blue Jays came out to play catch — a bunch of them.  I decided to go over and see them.

First a little background.  Do you recall that I’ve had a bunch of interactions this season with Mariners bullpen catcher (and former big leaguer) Jason Phillips?  Jason has been extremely cool to me and Tim.  Well, the Blue Jays just called up Jason’s younger brother, Kyle, for his first action in the major leagues.

I was thinking it would be really cool to get a ball from a pair of brothers at the same game.  So I decided to see if Kyle Phillips was over there.  But I couldn’t find him.  I noticed that Jays pitcher Brian Tallet was about 2 feet from the first row playing catch down the LF line:

6 - no soup for brian tallet.jpgI went over and politely asked him if he knew where Kyle Phillips was.  He totally ignored me.  And, I never found Kyle.  Oh well.

I was now on the opposite side of the infield.  I decided to walk around the OF concourse and head over to the Mariners bullpen.

When I got there, this is what I saw:

7 - olson-moore bullpen.jpgTo the left, bullpen coach John Wetteland is at the top left about to exit the bullpen door.  I have been debating with myself over the identity of the stretching Mariner at the bottom and to the right.  At first, I thought it was Garrett Olson.  But then I saw Garrett Olson out in RF later and I didn’t think he was the same guy.  I decided the stretching guy was rookie catcher Adam Moore — a guy I’m following closely.  But after returning home and examining all of my numerous pictures, I again think it is Garrett Olson.

Whichever one it is, the guy was cool.  He was down there stretching and I was up above just standing around observing my surroundings.  He turned around and looked up and saw me wearing my Mariners jersey.  He yelled, “Hey, there!” up to me.  We chatted for a minute or two.  We discussed that the Jays were throwing a lefty and Ken Griffey, Jr. would not be in the line up — a familiar scenario for me this season.

After chatting for a couple minutes, he yelled “hold on a minute” and he ran over to the wall (up where Wetteland is pictured).  He opened the bullpen baseball bag and pulled out a ball and threw it up to me.

“Thanks, mystery Mariner!”  (probably Garrett Olson)

 After chatting with probably-Garrett-Olson, I headed back over to the seats along the 1B line and I watched some more stretching:

8 - pre-game stetching.jpgThat is David Aardsma to the left and Ichiro to the right.

Eventually, Chris Jakubauskas came out to the field behind 1B (below at left side)… 

9 - jak and morrow.jpg…I yelled down to him, “Hey, Chris, need someone to play catch?”  He laughed and kept stretching.  Eventually, Brandon Morrow (top middle) ran out to stretch and play catch with Jakubauskas.  In the bottom left picture, Morrow threw one by Jak and all the way to the LF wall.

After Jak returned with the ball, they played catch for a few more minutes and then Morrow tossed their warm-up ball to me.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:

10 - jason phillips.jpg

Jason walked out to the RF foul line to play catch with someone-or-other, I can’t remember who.  I was watching some other M’s play catch.  When I looked left, Jason was walking out from the dugout.  He looked my way and raised his hand in the air above his head as if to say, “You again, you’re everywhere!”

He immediately set down his bag (that big bag behind him in the picture) and walked over to chat.  He gave me a hand shake and we chatted for several minutes.  I asked him about his brother and he said Kyle would be catching that day and he was excited to watch his brother play.

I mentioned to Jason that I was at the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium when “some dude wearing glasses hit a home run against my Mariners.”  Jason responded, “Yep, that was me.  Hit it to center off of Ryan Franklin.  And Franklin was mad at me about it.”

I also gave Jason a card with our blog address on it.  Hey, in case you’re reading this, Jason, THANKS!  You’ve really made this seasona lot of fun and very memorable for me and Tim.  Looking forward to seeing you in 2010 if you stick with the M’s!

While all of this was going on, Colleen took a couple shots of Adam Moore stretching and running…

 
11 - more adam moore.jpg 
IMG_4456.jpg
  

 …as shown on the right, Adam Moore is the first ball player Tim ever met, and his first autograph.  It was at spring training in 2008.  I’ve been following him ever since and hoping he’d get called up to the big club.  Hopefully he’s here to stay.

Oh, yeah.  So I guess you could tell, Colleen and Tim met up with me again after the play area.  Tim was ready to catch his first ball ever… 

12 - how about a ball.jpgYeah, Tim has got a bunch of baseballs at games.  But they’ve all been either (i) thrown to me or (ii) handed to Tim.  Tim had been telling me at games recently that he wanted to catch a ball himself.  I was hoping it would happen.

By the way, in that last picture, do you see a baseball in the black glove sitting on the ground by the foul line to Tim’s left?  That ball is also shown here:

13 - RRS to GO.jpgThat is Ryan Rowland-Smith throwing the ball to Garrett Olson.  He was throwing some wicked junk balls that Garrett really had to work hard to catch.

Back to that ball in the glove.  That was Ryan Rowland-Smith’s glove.  After he and Olson finished tossing, Ryan headed over to the RF corner where someone who appeared to be a Rogers Centre regular had a whole bunch of glossy pictures set out on the wall.  Rowland-Smith headed over and autographed one for her.  Then he worked his way down the wall in our direction signing for everyone.

When he reached us, I asked if we could get our picture with him — “of course” was his response:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgAs we were getting ready for this picture, I asked, “After this picture, do you think you could throw that ball in your glove into my son’s glove?”  “Oh, definitely, no problem” was Ryan’s response.  It was funny.  He almost said it like it was a foregone conclusion.

After the picture, Ryan headed over to his glove and grabbed the ball.  I stood Tim up on the wall and Ryan tossed it to him…

15 - fun with RRS.jpgIn the top left, Ryan had just thrown the ball to Tim, but Tim missed it.  Ryan is chuckling and coming over to grab the ball off of the ground.  In the top right and bottom left corners, Ryan is autographing the ball for us.  He then handed it back to us and went on signing.

But the story isn’t over.  We were still standing right next to Ryan and he was still signing.  A couple seconds later, someone handed him a ball to sign, but didn’t have a pen.  Ryan asked, “Does anyone have a sharpie?”  At the same time, Tim said something to me about being sad that he missed the ball when Ryan threw it to him.

I handed a sharpie to Rowland-Smith and said, “I have one.  By the way, do you think you could re-throw that ball to my son so he can try to actually catch it.”  “Of course, no problem,” Ryan said with another chuckle.

Ryan then took the ball all the way across the warning track.  I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh.  How’s Tim gonna catch this from that far!”  In the bottom middle of the picture above, the red arrow shows the flight path of the ball as Tim squeezes it safely in his glove.

SUCCESS!!!

Tim (and I) was so excited about his big catch:

16 - woooh.jpg

By the way, today (9-29) I asked Tim who threw the baseball that he caught.  He thought about it for minute and first said, “Jason Phillips.”  Then he thought harder and he came up with a new answer, “Smith Roll.”  Hey, that’s not too far off.  “Ryan Rowland-Smith” is probably a hard name for a 3-year-old to remember.

An extra big, huge thank you to Ryan Rowland-Smith.  He was so extremely nice.  He really came off like he is one of the nicest guys around.  His demeanor just exuded niceness.

At this point of pre-game, I realized we had caught three baseballs — tying our single game record — and we hadn’t even got a ball from Jason Philips.  There was a great chance of breaking our record, despite no BP.

But for the time being, it was getting close to game time.  Most of the players had left the field.  So Tim and I decided to go on a stadium tour while Colleen went to find our seats.

I started with a panaramic from the RF corner where we’d celebrated Tim’s big catch:

17 - rogers rf foul corner field panaramic.jpgHere is a shot of the ailse that leads from the main concourse down to the RF corner:

18 - rogers field level back aisle.jpgBehind home plate: 

19 - rogers plate field panaramic.jpgNotice that big blue double railing down the middle?  I think that has something to do with helping handicapped patrons down the stairs, which is nice.  But it kept fustrating me because you can’t get passed it without walking up to the concourse.

Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:

20 - rogers LF foul field panaramic.jpgI thought this sign was pretty funny:

21 - low headroom.jpgThat “low headroom” sign is on that same support beam all the way around the stadium.  Behind home plate, it is a good sign because the headroom is very low.  But where it is pictured above, it is about 30 feet above the aisle below.

Here is a picture standing in front of the batters eye…

22 - rogers CF batters eye view panaramic.jpg…which is just a big black cloth laid over the field level seats in CF.

Then we headed up to the 500 level (we’ll have to come back to explore the 200-300-400 levels).  Here is a panaramic view from roughly behind home plate in the 500 level:

23 - rogers plate upper panaramic.jpgBy the way, the double set of lights at the top right isn’t real.  That’s an effect from me combining multiple pictures to make that panaramic view.  There is only a single set of lights up there.

Here is are a couple views of the seats and roof support beams in the 500 level:

24 - blurry 500 level.jpg…check out how they have railings between every row of seating.  They only have that in the 500 level (as far as I could tell).  I guess it is so people don’t fall down the incredibly steep steps.  It makes it hard to walk through the narrow rows quickly.

Here is a view from a little more than half way up the 500 level in RF foul territory…

25 - rogers RF foul upper below lights panaramic.jpg…not bad, but you are gonna miss any catches made right down the RF line.

 And, here is a panaramic view from the back row of the same section…

26 - rogers rf foul upper behind lights panaramic.jpg…notice anything?  Yep, that’s right.  The seats are ABOVE THE LIGHTS!!!  Not quite as good as the seats half way up the section.  Here you’re going to miss anything that happens at home plate or in RF or LF.  But, hey, its a unique view and you could chalk it up as an odd experience if you are ever forced to sit here.

Here is another view from further out in RF — in homerun territory.  It would be quite a blast if a home run ever made it up here:

27 - rogers rf foul line upper panaramic.jpgHere are a couple more random shots from up there:

28 - rogers centre stadium scenes1.jpgTop left, there appears to be a restaurant (or something) just below the big screen.

In the top right and bottom left, you can see a crane contraption that is holding up the foul pole.

Bottom right, its just a picture of the big screen — featuring Franklin Gutierrez.

And that was our tour.  We headed to our seats in RF for the game to start.  This was our view from the first row in section 104:

29 - rogers rf section 104 row 1 seat 107 panaramic.jpgAlmost immediately, I headed back out to the concourse to get Tim a treat:

30 - blue jays ice cream helmet.jpgSo, at the beginning of each game at Yankee Stadium, the entire RF bleachers section chants each Yankees players name until they wave at the RF bleachers.  At Rogers Centre, this guy is in charge of the roll call:

31 - roll call guy.jpgHe did it all himself.  But he successfully collected a bunch of Blue Jay waves.

Back to our seats.  Check out how awesome these are — the M’s bullpen bench was elevated above the OF wall just a coule feet from us:

32 - elevated M's bullpen.jpgAfter the roll call guy did his thing, the entire Mariners bullpen yelled, “VERNON WELLS!”  Vernon promptly gave the bullpen a big smile and a wave.

John Wetteland then yelled to Vernon:  “Can I have a baseball?”  Others followed with, “Can I have your bat?,” “Can I have your glove?,” and “Can I have your cleats?”

And that wasn’t all the fun they had.  The entire M’s bullpen then waged an all out every-man-for-himself pumpkin seed flicking war.  Seeds were flying everywhere for about 15 minutes.  David Aardsma and Jason Vargas both took seeds to the face.  Some of those guys could flick a seed 30 feet on a line.  It was pretty impressive, and hilarious.  Everyone in the crowd was watching them closely and getting a kick out of it, including this guy:

33 - tim is all smiles in toronto.jpgThen we were interrupted with some baseball.   I can’t remember who hit this ball, but a Mariner hit a ball to deep right CF.  I thought it was extra bases all the way.  But the Jays’ right fielder, Jose Bautista, tracked it down and made an amazing catch just below us before smashing into the hard plexiglass wall at full speed.  It seemed like he was down for a minute or two after the catch.

Here is a screen shot from the highlight on mlb.com.  This is just before he smashes into the wall — the red arrow is pointing to me, you can’t really see Tim in the seat next to me (the empty looking seat), and then Colleen is in the pink:

34 - bautista catch screen shot.jpgDuring the game, Tim tested out his new hobby (more on that later):

35 - cameraman tim.jpgThen it was time to take a walk.  We walked around the 100 level concourse.  We walked by a neat looking market before ending up in the team store:

36 - rogers team store.jpgTim didn’t want to leave the team store because it had a field on the ground.  Most of it was painted, but the bases and home plate were glass and you could see a real game-used home plate and bases under each piece of glass.

Tim took a lot of swings at fake balls and ran a lot of bases in the team store.  I was okay with it because I could see the game while I stood by the guard at the home plate pictured above to the right.

While I was standing there, Ichiro was kicked out of the game for the first time in his career and Adam Moore hit his first extra base hit (2B) and collected his first RBI of his career.  It was cool to be there for that.

Eventually, we left the team store and I walked all the way around the stadium while holding Tim in my arms…

37 - sweeney swings k-phillips catches.jpg…while doing so we saw Mike Sweeney at bat and Kyle Phillips playing catcher.

After Ichiro was booted for arguing balls and strikes, Bill Hall took his place in RF. 

38 - two RFers.jpgAs we walked around the concourse, Tim fell asleep.  I headed back to our seats and handed Tim off to Colleen.  Unfortunately, it was very difficult to sit next to Colleen while she held Tim like this because Tim’s legs were in the way:

39 - nap time.jpgSo I continued to walk around and take pictures.  And then I hung out above the Mariners bullpen in section 106.

I got some good action shots including these… 
40 - the kids are alright.jpgTop left, Adam Moore getting drilled by a pitch.  Top right, Josh Wilson getting a line hit up the middle moving Moore to second.

Bottom left, Moore on second thanks to Wilson’s hit.  Bottom right, Matt Tuiasosopo hitting, I believe, a sacrifice fly scoring Moore.

Hey, how have I not shown you the roof yet –here it is: 

41 - rogers roof.jpgTim slept until the end of the game — in the 10th inning.  I spent the last inning or two behind the bullpen taking pictures:

42 - rogers bullpen scenes.jpgTop left, Rob Johnson, Jason Phillips, Randy Messenger, David Aardsma, and Jason Vargas.  Top right, Chris Jakubauskas’s glove and pink backpack.

Bottom right, David Aarsdma half-heartedly warming up – he never entered the game.  Bottom left, the bullpen baseball bag.

I usually try to come away from each game with one baseball.  At many games, we get none.  But I generally don’t set any goals other than trying to get one ball.  Although we already had three at this game, I still wanted one more.  I needed a Jason Phillips ball.  You see, we’d now seen the Mariners play at six stadiums this season and Phillips had given us at least one ball at each stadium this season (in order, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (2), Fenway Park (2), Progressive Field, and Safeco Field).

But when the game ended, I still had not got one from Jason and I thought my window of opportunity had closed.  I saw him pack up his bag on the other side of he bullpen before handing it to Miguel Batista to carry to the dugout.  Meanwhile, David Aardsma zipped up the bullpen baseball bag and started walking to the dugout.

As Jason walked by below me, I called out, “Hey, Jason!”  He looked up and pointed at me as if to say, “OH, YEAH!”  He then jogged into the OF and caught up with Aardsma.  When he went for the baseball bag, Aardsma played keep away for a second.  Then Phillips pointed over toward me and said something to the D.A.  Aardsma relented and let him have the bag.  Jason opened it up, grabbed a ball, turned toward me and threw a long strike into my glove.

“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”

Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!

We got into a long line that snaked its way through the bowels of the Rogers Centre under the RF seats.  Here are a couple behind the scenes areas we saw:

43 - behind the scoreboard OF wall.jpgThe top pictures show wires coming out from under the seats, presumably to power the large screens on the OF wall.  The bottom pictures show the back of the OF wall from under the field level OF seats.  It looked like the video screen sections of the OF wall were on rollers and could be moved around (for example, to reconfigure the stadium for a Buffalo Bills game).

Here is another interesting shot, a hole in the wall looking into the Mariners bullpen:

hole in bullpen wall.jpgNext, we got our classic Kids Run the Bases RF wall distance picture (for the first time ever including meters as well as feet): 

44 - rogers RF wall 328ft-100mtr.jpgThen it was off to the races.  I *chaperoned* Tim:

45 - running the bases.jpgIn case you missed the video of Tim running from my last post — click here to view it.

Unlike the other teams where we have run the bases, the Blue Jays didn’t kick us off of the field immediately upon Tim finishing running the bases — so we were able to get a nice family picture….
46 - rogers and the cooks.jpg…and some other random shots hanging out on the field:

47 - more on field fun.jpg

Tim thought that silly face he is making in the picture by the dugout was hilarious.

Finally, we got one more picture from the main concourse before leaving the Rogers Centre:

48 - father-son-field.jpgThanks for an excellent season Mariners.  It was grand, indeed.

Season Fan Stats:

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


49 - outside rogers centre.jpg12 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)

26 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))
32 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
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, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
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)

50 - four balls.jpg

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