Results tagged ‘ braves ’

David Wright Ruins Our No-Hit Bid (4/18/2014)

Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…

…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.

Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:

We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:

Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.

Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…

… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.

The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…

…and running around between the growing lines of fans:

Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:

And Kellan declared it to be banana time:

He destroyed that banana!

Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:

Thanks, Mets guy!

We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.

So…

We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:

At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:

As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.

Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.

Thanks, usher-type-guy!

We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.

Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:

First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.

Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.

Thanks, Ervin!

Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.

Thanks, again, Ervin!

Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):

We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…

…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.

On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:

Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:

And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…

…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”

Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:

We headed to Shea Bridge…

…where it looked a lot like this:

The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…

…struck out swinging.

We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:

Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:

For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:

Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….

…and section 531:

It was windy and freezing up there!

Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!

If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:

Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:

It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…

That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:

Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:

When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.

So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.

I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:

Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.

Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.

Booo!!!!!

(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).

For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:

Check out these silly guys:

The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…

…hit a sacrifice fly.

Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.

Boooo!

After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:

After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.

We had a great day packed with fun and…

…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.

2014 Fan Stats
4 Games
5 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)
3 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
27 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff
5 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)
1 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)
 

 

Gill and Kate’s Citizens Bank Park Debut and Some Crazy BP (9/22/2012)

On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park.  And it was a special one because we weren’t alone.  We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.

Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons.  So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.

Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia.  There was an interesting parade going on…

…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.

We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…

…before the gates opened.  After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…

…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan.  And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF.  That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.

As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day.  I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.

Things started off normal enough.  We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened.  Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan.  Kellan was wearing his glove.  When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it.  “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.”  And that’s just what happened:

Thanks, Steven!

Things were quite in LF.  Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened.  But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.

Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:

Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.”   In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track.  A great catch by Tim!

Thanks, Rod and Antonio!

There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.

Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen.  I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield.  Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield.  Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:

Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench.  He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!

Thanks and thanks, Eddie!

So, there you go.  The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs.  We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.

While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate.  In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games.  So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.

And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened.  Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…

…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance.  We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge.  Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.”  And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims:  Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson.  Bot had eluded us.  But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim!  How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim.  As  the green “7” above suggests, it worked!

We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.

Thanks, Tim!

But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate.  Oh, no!

There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.

So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!

But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…

…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.”  Tim replied, “No!  Not this one!”  He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.

“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”

But how many more opportunities would we even have!?

Well, luckily, we had at least two more:

Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me.  And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us.  Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?”  And Maholm obliged.

Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!

So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.

And the day wasn’t over yet.  In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!

Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…

…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.

Okay.  Things were officially ridiculous at this point.  So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits.  We  headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…

…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…

…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:

So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start.  We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission.  When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes.  The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet.  We wanted it bad.

So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…

…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.

At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:

I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench.  He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was.  I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.

As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?

He tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Jesus!  You were truly awesome to us this season!

While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.

And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:

It took  right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!

Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived.  After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:

And then it was game time.  We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:

(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).

Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:

We were in the first row of section 427.  I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game.  (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).

We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed.  The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.

Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp.  He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game.  Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF.  Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward.  Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF.  This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.

Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:

That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.

I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures.  Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:

In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line.  Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.

The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.

The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second.   Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann.  After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado.  That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.

And Heyward to this loaded up…

…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…

…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play.  Heyward ended up at second.  Hey wouldn’t stay there long.

Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:

Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…

…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).

After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.

We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:

We also did some birding.  Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:

(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird.  Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).

Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:

This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies.  Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:

(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)

At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI.  Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit.  But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.

By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.

After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves.  And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …

…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…

…circle around home plate…

…, and pose with a pig…

…on our way to the kids’ play area:

Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:

I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed.  It was pandemonium in there!  And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:

Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing.  That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.

We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.

Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…

…up the ramps to the upper deck.  We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:

Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:

If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States.  The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years.  Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.

We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:

Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:

In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single.  Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…

…at bat that we will ever witness.  It looked like this:

It ended with fielder’s choice to SS.  And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:

In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy.  He needed to take a walk.  On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:

With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd.  Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…

…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:

Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:

I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…

…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:

After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball.  Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.

When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:

Here’s what happened.  We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130.  There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club).  As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row.  I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight.  I figured he must have stayed with Colleen.  As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name:  “Jerry!”  He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.

Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below.  He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us.  He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion.  And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).

Double thanks, Jerry Meals!

By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate.  If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14).  Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.

After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration.  Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing.  As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row.  They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left.  I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them.  But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path.  It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.

Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove.  It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture.  He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper.  It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way.  It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us.  All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene.  The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field.  I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again.  But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.

We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:

Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:

Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.

From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark.  Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

26/24 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners  Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (3); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and Kellan made that hilarious face.

Tim looked around and was all like…

…, “Where’s Mateo?”

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Tom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, ever better, they were free!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He didn’t:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…

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

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

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

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

And that’s exactly what happened.

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

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

…and only Tim succeeded.

I got Harper grounding weakly again:

He reached first one a throwing error.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…

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

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

Thanks, Tommy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

 

Kellan Visits CBP (9/5/2011)

Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our house.  But it is also sold out every single game.  Its crowded.  It’s expensive.  It’s not nearly as easy as, say, going to a game in Baltimore or DC.  That’s why it has taken me so long to get Kellan to a Phillies game.  But on September 5, 2011, Labor Day, it finally happened.

Actually, that has been the plan all season.  I bought tickets for this game months ago…before they were sold out, so I got them from the Phillies, instead of paying double in the “secondary market.”

All week, Colleen warned that the weather would be terrible.  But I’m a big believer in ignoring weather reports and assuming things will work out for the best.  When we arrived at the ballpark…

…the weather was perfect.  Warm, but not too hot.  Couldy, but try.  Perfect.

Once the gates opened, we headed to our standard beginning-of-BP-in-Philadelphia spot – the LF corner in foul territory:

At the beginning of BP, only LF and Ashburn Alley are open to fans.  In that last picture, you can see a yellow, plastic chain behind us, blocking us from entering the infield seats.  Section 140 extends from foul to fair territory.  It is the only foul territory open at the beginning of BP, and it is separated (because it is elevated) from the rest of LF.  So it’s the perfect spot for us to hang out.

When we got to this spot, Tommy Hunter was playing catch on the warning track with Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts.  Hunter was out in LF and Butts was standing right below us with a guy in a khaki shorts and a polo standing with him.  My thought is that the guy in shorts was spotting Butts – i.e., making sure a batted ball didn’t hit Butts.

A month ago, I had no clue who Butts was.  But, as luck would have it, we were just in Atlanta on the GFS Roadtrip, so I knew his first name was Alan.  As one of his throws sailed toward Hanson, I called out, “Hey, Alan!?”  He looked up and said hi.  I asked if we could get the baseball when he and Hanson finished playing catch, and he said “sure thing.”

As we waited for Tommy and Alan to finish playing catch, Alan’s khaki’d spotter walked up the foul line to grab a baseball that had rolled to a stop on the edge of the warning
track:

As he came back to Butts, he wasn’t paying any attention to the batter.  Just then, a Phillies righty launched a ball down the foul line.  Usually, I am all over calling out “HEEEEAAAAADS!” when someone is an jeopardy of getting hit, but I was focused in on the ball.  I didn’t think it would reach me, but I thought we had a good chance at a ground rule double.  We’ll never know if it would have been a ground rule double or not, because it bounced hard off of the warning track and absolutely nailed Alan Butts’s spotter in the back of the head.  He went down hard and was down for a couple minutes.  It was ugly, and I felt bad that I hadn’t realized the situation and warned the guy.

I don’t think Colleen even noticed the situation; she was busy taking pictures of our cute little boys.  Like this one of Kellan (whose hair was going crazy):

Shortly after the spotter got nailed (or maybe just before…I’m not 100% sure of the timing), a BP homer (actually, it must have been just foul) was driller right over us on a
line.  None of the 10 or so fans sitting behind us was paying any attention to BP, I screamed “HEEEEEEEEAAAAADDDSSS UP!!!!!!!”

No one noticed, and it clanked off of one of the seats, bounced into foul territory and started rolling down the steps toward us.  But there was a guy behind us in the seats and I could tell he’d get the ball before it got to us.  Just then, I saw another ball dive into the seats in section 139 (in the LF foul corner).  It ended up coming to a stop right next to
the fence along the field.  I was the only person who saw it.  I pointed it out to an usher and asked if we could go grab it – it was on the other side of the yellow chain, but probably only 10 feet from us.

Instead of letting us go get it, the usher went to retrieve it himself.  Just then, Tim tapped on my back and shoved a baseball in my face:  “Look what that guy gave to me!”  It was the ball that had been hit over us.  The fan behind us grabbed it and gave it to Tim.  Tim handed it to me right as the usher was turning around with the other baseball
in his grasp.

I panicked for a second.  The usher probably wouldn’t give us the baseball if he knew we just got the other baseball (and we didn’t want the other baseball from the fan).  So I
hid the fan ball in my glove and accepted the other ball from the usher.  I’m pretty sure that ball was hit by one of the Phillies, but with all of the confusion with the other ball being hit over us, I’m not certain.  I guess it could have been Tommy Hanson over throw into the crowd, but that doesn’t seem very likely.  For one thing, it wouldn’t make
sense that an overthrow would roll back to the fence along the foul line.

Anyway, I got the ball from the usher and then I turned around and thanked the fan for giving Tim the other baseball.  But then I handed it back to him and asked him to give it to another kid.  He ended up giving it to an older lady that was standing with him…maybe his mom.  And he seemed happy to have it.

Luckily, Alan Butts didn’t see any of this.  When he and Hanson finished playing catch, Tommy started to run off with the baseball.  Alan called to him to toss it back.  When he got it, he tossed it up to us as promised:

Thanks, Alan!

I’m not an NL guy.  But I like Tommy Hanson.  So it is cool to get one of his warm up baseballs.

My wife doesn’t get to Citizens Bank Park much, so I asked her if she wanted to head out to Ashburn Alley to see what there was to see.  She agreed.  But on our way out of section 140, we ran into Harry Kalas!

Out in CF, we checked out the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  Then we did the speed pitch and Tim set a new personal best:  32 miles per hour!

We then went around the BBQ area and played the other games:

We were waiting for the rest of the stadium to open so we could head over to the pizza wedge.  We had a lot of time to kill because RF wouldn’t open until 5:35, and it was only 5:00 p.m.  So we decided to dine on dollar hot dogs while sitting among a throng of fans beneath the Richie Ashburn statue:

Tim and I finished our hot dogs while Kellan was still munching on his.  I asked Colleen if it would be okay for me and Tim to run down into the seats in LCF while Kellan finished his food.  She approved.   Tim and I ran across Ashburn Alley and as we took our first step into the seats I saw a homerun ball flying at the seats about ten feet below us and about 10 feet in from the aisle.  We kept running down the stairs as the ball deflected off the seats and bounced right in front of me.  I made the catch right in stride.  And then a guy down below yelled, “You’re right on time!!!”  It was pretty cool.

Moments later, I took a picture of Tim holding the ball…

…and Tim Hudson standing in LCF down below the section.  When I made the catch on that ball, I was standing in the aisle up by the lady in the white shirt and pink hat.
The ball essentially bounced over, around or through all of the fans sitting right there.  We’d come down there because I knew Tim Hudson was there and we wanted to see if we could get a toss-up from him.  But the whole entire section saw me catch that ball, so I felt a little funny about the idea of getting it and then going down and asking Hudson for a ball.  So we just headed back to Colleen and Kellan.

Soon enough, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed toward the pizza wedge.  We didn’t get the corner spot at the tip of the wedge because another father/son beat us there.  Tim and I hung out in the front row and Colleen and Kellan sat directly behind us:

While we were in the pizza wedge, Dan Uggla put on an extreme homerun hitting clinic.  First, he hit a homerun completely over the batters’ eye and into the Phillies Hall of Fame.  I’ve never see that happen before.  Next, he hit a bomb just to the leftfield side of the batters’ eye that landed on Ashburn Alley.  That was just plain ridiculous.

Eventually, a Braves batter hit a homerun that landed in the last row of the pizza wedge (2 rows above and slightly to the right of Colleen as pictured in the last photo).  It bounced down toward us, bounced into the back of Colleen’s seat (between her back and the seat back as she was ducking), and then bounced through the seat next to her (seat number 7 pictured above) where I grabbed it off of the ground.

That was good enough for us.  We skipped out on the rest of BP and headed over to McFadden’s…

…for dinner.

Colleen had never been to the McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park before.  The bar area was insanely loud and probably would have given Kellan a monster headache.  But around the corner, they have a big dining room that was very mellow and essentially quiet.

We had a nice dinner before heading back out to the field:

The game was already starting when we headed out to the field, but we didn’t go to our seats.  Instead, Tim had requested a visit to the Kids Play Area:

Both boys had a lot of fun in the play area.  While it took a lot of coaxing, Kellan finally did go down the little kids’ slide.  The pitching match-up was Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee.  While we were in the play area, Michael Bourn made Lowe the loser when he smacked a grounder down the 3B line for a 2-RBI single.  That was all Cliff Lee would need, but not all he would get, on this night.

We had seats in the upper deck.  So when we left the play area, we walked up the winding ramp.  We stopped on the 200 level for a picture…

…and then we continued racing up the ramp.  Tim always makes me race him up the ramps.  And when he gets tired, he announces that the race is over.  When we reached the bottom of the last leg of the ramp, I got a picture of the boys with the Citizens Bank Park sign behind them:

And then we went and found our seats.  I bought tickets to this game through the Phillies website at the beginning of the season.  I knew they were in the upper deck, but had
no clue where.  Turns out, they were in the very back row of section 424.  It was actually a very nice view of the game:

From up top in section 424, we had a great view of the spots where “His Name Is” Dan Uggla hit his monster BP bombs…

…and we had walked right into the ricocheted BP homer.

And of the pizza wedge where the homer had sailed over us and then bounced back to us:

We don’t sit in the upper deck much, but we were having a great time and the tippy-top of Citizens Bank Park:

See how there is a chain linked fence directly behind our seats?  This is what was on the other side of the fence…

…a massive drop off!

We also had a great view of home plate, as shown here when Ryan Howard drilled a single right back up the box in the bottom of the third inning:

Whenever she joins us at a game, Colleen takes lots of pictures of her three boys – most of which feature Tim making some kooky faces:

At one point in the game, we got some unexpected comic relief.  The Phillies were listing off birthdays and anniversaries on the big screen and then they showed a lady standing in the crowd.  She immediately saw herself on the screen and started doing some fairly provocative and hilarious dancing for the cameras.  Meanwhile, he boyfriend was
kneeling next to her holding a box with a diamond engagement ring.  She was completely oblivious and into her dancing.  He must have said something because she stopped dancing and turned and looked at him.  But she looked at his face, and somehow completely missed that he was holding out the engagement ring.  He essentially lifted it up into her face so she couldn’t miss it…

…and then began the water works.  She started crying like a little baby.  Then she started hugging and kissing him.  So, I think it is safe to conclude that she said, “Yes.”

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was pitching a masterful game:

And, at least on one play, he received some stellar defensive help by Ryan Howard:

He ran with his back to home plate all the way to the wall and made a very impressive sliding-sliding-away-from-the-field catch.

Derek Lowe wasn’t having as much luck as Lee:

He gave up the third and fourth runs of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning on an 2-RBI single by Shane Victorino.

After Chase Utley hit a triple with one out in the bottom of the fifth…

…Lowe eventually gave up three more runs.  First, Hunter Pence hit a double to score Utley.  Then, Carlos Ruiz hit a score Howard and Pence.  That made the score 7-0 Phillies.
And that was all she wrote for Derek Lowe.

Here is a nice picture I took of Tim, just for the heck of it:

When it was ice cream time, I was holding Kellan.  So Mommy was on ice cream duty.   Colleen sometimes wonders why I get so many ice cream helmets.  She got her answers after she bought Tim this delicious, but incredibly messy, ice cream cone:

Ice cream helmets make a great souvenir AND they catch all of the melting ice cream.  Cones are a delicious ice cream receptacle, but all of the melting ice cream runs down your hands and only your clothes.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Scott Linebrink replaced Derek Lowe and promptly gave up a solo homerun to Ryan Howard…

…; the first and only batter he would face.  That made the score 8-0 Phillies.

The Phillies tacked on a ninth and final run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.

We tried to beat the traffic, so we started making our way toward the exit as the game wrapped up.  As we were walking through the upper deck concourse on our way to the ramp, Tim kept asking, “Why are we leaving?  The game is still going!  Why are we leaving!?”  That’s my boy.  I love that attitude.  Bud, unfortunately, we needed to get home
sooner-rather-than later because Tim had just started kindergarten and he needed to rest up for school the next day.  So we sacrificed the last three outs of Cliff Lee’s 9-0 complete game shut out win.

On the way toward the ramp, we got a parting shot of the boys with the scoreboard:

And that’s the story of Kellan’s first Phillies game.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
27/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).
76 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 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, 1 Marlins)
12/4 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; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
15/9 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; 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]
6 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, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)
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

GFS 2011 Game 4 – Giants at Braves (8/17/11)

On August 16th, we woke up and headed north to Dahlonega, Georgia to spend some time with my Dad’s aunt Eris.   I haven’t seen Eris since my wedding in 2003 and, of course, Tim had never met her before.

Over the previous couple days, my Dad had mentioned numerous times to Tim that we would go panning for gold when we visited Eris.  Dahlonega is home to the Consolidated Gold Mines.  I didn’t know what to expect, it was totally awesome.

We started out panning for go:

We each found tiny bits of gold in our pans of sand.  But a tiny bit of gold is all it took — Tim officially got gold fever!  GOLD!!!

Panning was fun.  But the real deal was the gold mine tour.  If you are ever anywhere near Dahlonega, stop in at the Consolidated Gold Mines and “Sleepy John” will take you one an
amazing tour deep below the surface of the earth.

We went down, down, down…

…into huge rock-walled caverns.

This was like old-timey movies.  Little train tracks through dark and muddy tunnels:

Sleepy John was a fountain of gold mine knowledge.  This mine has tons of cool stories.  It was sealed off and filled with water for approximately 80 years.  It has old-fashion drills poking out of the walls where the metal drills fused permanently inside the rock walls.  There is a turn-of-the-century motorized driller that was in place under water all of those long 80 years and still works – when they fire it up at 20% power it rattles the ears like crazy.

But the drills were nothing.  The real noise came from the dynamite blasts exploding in all of those holes the miners were drilling.  In the picture below to the right…

…Tim and I are hiding in a side tunnel off of the main tunnel where the miners would hide to avoid the shock waves from the dynamite explosions.

After the gold mine tour, we relaxed, went for a swim, and then had dinner out with Eris and my Dad’s cousin Karen and her husband Mike.  The next morning (August 17, 2011),
we had breakfast, went for another swim, did some laundry, said our good-byes to Eris, and drove back down to Atlanta.

In the afternoon, we were back at Turner Field for another battle between the Giants and  Braves.  On our way to the gates, we stopped to get Tim’s pitcher with Phil Niekro…

…and Warren Spahn.

Upon the ballpark, we headed to the section 143 in RCF right next to the Braves bullpen.  The Braves were just beginning to hit, some position players and pitchers were playing catch down the RF line.  We were in the first row right next to the bullpen when I noticed the pounding the bullpen roof has taken over the years:

This roof covers the entrance way to the bullpen.  The bullpen bench is elevated behind this roof, and the actual bullpen is behind the bench.  A few minutes later, a Braves lefty launched a homerun into the Braves bullpen.  It hit hard off of the fence directly behind the bench, and then it bounced back toward the field, and landed on that roof.  It must have had tons of top spin because it hit the roof and spun back toward the bench.  It was bouncing on a diagonal toward us.  I reached over the railing as far as I could, but it was just a couple inches out of my reach.

The ball bounced into the bullpen bench area where I bullpen attendant guy grabbed it, denied another guy’s request for the ball and pointed out Tim:  “Gotta give it to the kid!”

Here is Tim showing off the baseball (with a mouth full of water):

Thanks, bullpen guy!

The seats in RF aren’t open for the first half hour.  But we wanted to get over there because Tim Hudson was over there.  We have a goal of getting a ball from a “Tim.”

I looked at my cellphone and saw it was about 5 minutes until the rest of the stadium would open.  We headed into the concourse so we could be the first ones to run into RF.  But the guy watching the gate that blocks the RF concourse couldn’t let  us go until his supervisor radioed and gave him the “all clear.”  Turns out the supervisor forgot about RF and we ended up waiting about 10 minutes before they let us (and about 20 other people) into the rest of the stadium.

We headed over to the RF side of the bullpen toward the back of the section.  Bullpen coach Eddie Perez and bullpen catcher Alan Butts were walking around in the bullpen.  Perez walked over to the RCF side of the bullpen and pointed out a ittle girl standing up above with her family.  After he got her attention, he tossed her an unsolicited baseball.  He then walked around a bit more – I have no clue what he was doing walking back and forth in there, maybe he couldn’t make  up his mind what he was going to do next.  I pulled out the booklet they gave us upon entering the stadium and confirmed that his first name was Eddie.  Then when he walked by below us, I asked him if he could toss a baseball to Tim.  I knew he didn’t have one on him…but he just seemed like he might hook us up given the unsolicited toss up to the little girl.

Eddie held up his empty hands and said, “Sorry, don’t have one.  Wait, later!”  He then walked down into the bench and stairway area at the front of the bullpen. I figured that was that.  But five seconds later, Perez yelled to get our attention and then held this baseball…

…above his head.

Then he headed out to the field and hung out with Roger McDowell:

Thanks, Eddie!

I was pretty sure that Tim Hudson and all of the guys standing out there had seen Tim get the baseball from the bullpen attendant and/or from Perez so I didn’t think we had any
chance at getting a toss-up from Hudson.  So we decided to head around toward foul territory.

As we approached the RF foul pole, I got this panoramic view of Turner Field from the first row of section 135:

We planned to walk all the way around to LF foul territory in the front row of the infield seats.

I took this panorama from section 117…

…which is one section past the 1B bullpen.

Then they stopped us and made us head up to the cross-aisle when we reached the dugout.  Apparently, you can only go down in the seats between the dugouts if you have a ticket down there.  Several stadiums have that rule, and I think it is silly.

Anyway, the usher who made us head up to the cross-aisle was from Washington (and I was wearing my University of Washington shirt – in a final attempt to entice Tim Lincecum to
toss Tim a baseball).  The usher was a big fan of my shirt.  In fact, he was a U-Dub alum.  So we chatted for a few minutes before continuing on our way toward LF.  He was a very nice guy, as are all of the people who work at Turner Field.

As we were circling around toward the 3B side, the Giants were just starting to stir by their dugout.  Shortly, Tim Lincecum popped out of the dugout and started to play catch in shallow left field.  We found a nice front row spot right behind him:

When he finished playing catch, he partner tossed the baseball back to the bucket and we decided to head out toward CF.  Then something funny happened, as I exited the first row, I looked back to watch Tim follow me and I spotted something…

…(that is a little rawing of my eye) sitting under the seats right we had been standing.  It was a baseball!  It was tucked under the seat up against the
concrete step that raises the second row above the first.  How odd. But we’ll take it!

On our walk through the LF concourse on our way to CF, Tim posed with the Braves Statue of Liberty and a big Braves baseball:

Centerfield was rather uneventful.  Tim Lincecum, unlike the rest of his teammates, actually had fun again.  He saw my Huskies t-shirt and gave us a wave.  But that was it.  He tossed a few baseballs into the crowd, including a two somewhat near us, but they were random tosses with no specifically intended recipient on the other end.

Actually, CF wasn’t completely uneventful.  Tim and I set a personal record when we both separately failed to snag the same baseball.  Some unknown Giants batter hit a ball to the
warning track that bounced up directly to me.  It went out of view for a split second as it bounced and then hopped low over the fence.  It was right to me.  I mean RIGHT to me.  But it handcuffed me, clanked off of the heel of my glove and fell down into the gap.  I felt completely ridiculous for botching the catch.

Two minutes later, a Braves employee walked through the gap, grabbed the ball and called up to Tim.  Tim was wearing his glove, but made absolutely no effort to catch it.  Inexplicably,
he just watched the ball sail right by his face.  It bounced next to Tim and a 20-something guy grabbed it.  The usher yelled at him to give it to Tim, but he didn’t hear him.  That was cool though.  The guy was super excited to get the baseball and he was already showing it off to his girlfriend.  It was all for the best.  While I would have liked to catch the ball off the bat, I didn’t really want to get a ball tossed to us right in front of Lincecum.

A few minutes later, a 40-something guy scrambled for a homerun ball and then came over and gave it to Tim.  It was very nice of him.  But we don’t count balls from fans.  I knew someone else would appreciate the ball more than us.  So, when we visited the CN kids play area…

…I kept my eyes open.

While Tim was playing, a little kid who was probably 2-3 walked by with his mom and dad.  He was wearing a cool little glove.  I asked his dad if he’d been able to get his son a baseball during BP.  And when he said no, I unloaded the fan ball on him.  Of course, I explained that it was a BP homer by one of the Giants (which, indeed, it was).  The kid was
super-excited to have it, and I was happy to unload it.  It was win-win!

I have no clue what you call this thing:

But Tim loved it.  It was a room with black lights and all of these doors projected on the walls.  The different doors would open randomly and the kids would chase the characters
that would pop out of the doors.

Tim spent most of the time running around the cartoony-inside play area attractions, but he took a few minutes to wait through a relatively long line and take a quality hack on
the whiffleball diamond:

Before the game started, I headed up to the bar/patio above the seats in RCF and got this  panorama:

We then got some nachos…

…and reported to our seats in section 151, where this was our view:

Our seats were right on the aisle along the RCF side of the batters’ eye.   One of the closest players to our seats was 2010 post-season surprise standout Cody Ross:

Due to a combination of distance from home plate and lighting, I really didn’t get anything good in the way of action shots.  Both teams scored one run in the first inning.  The Giants
scored on a double by Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval.  And then future Hall of Famer, Larry “Chipper” Jones delivered…

…and RBI walk.

The Giants took the lead in the a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of singles by Orlando Cabrera and Eli Whiteside and a pair of sac-flies by Matt Cain and Cody Ross.  The score would remain 5-1 until the ninth inning.

It was time for ice cream.  Tim and I wandered around looking for ice cream helmets.  On our way out of the CF seating area, we got Tim’s picture in front of the play area…

…and above the Braves bullpen:

We made an interesting discovery in the concourse behind the RF foul seats:  if Tim got dippin’ dots instead of ice cream, he could get an extra cool blue and red Braves ice cream helmet.  He’d never had dippin’ dots before (well, maybe once at a fair or something, but never at a game) but he was game for trying them.  They had a nice selection of flavors.  Tim picked chocolate mint…

…and he loved them.

As we walked down the aisle with toward our seats with Tim’s dippin’ dot helmet, we saw something very bizarre.  A guy was sitting on the backside of the outfield wall in the batters’ eye area while a girl laid in the grass…

…a few minutes later, she started doing her make-up.  Soon enough, another girl joined them.  I have no clue what the guy’s role was, but during the next inning break, the girls ran out onto the warning track with checkered flags…

…and acted as the finish line for a race of some big tools.  My guess is that the guy was there to open and shut the door through the outfield wall.

Anyway, Tim was rooting hard for the power drill to win, but the hammer took the checkered flag.

The girls and the tools then walked through the batters’ eye grass (and sand where the grass had been removed to be transplanted to the field) and through a secret door below our
section of seats…

…, but before ducking into the tunnel the hammer did a big lunging dive and his hammer custom flew off his body and landed on the ground.  The guy then grabbed the custom and left.  It was an interesting little behind the scenes that you only get if you sit right on the batters’ eye wall.

Here’s a random picture that I’m including just for the heck of it:

I don’t know when my Dad took it during the game, or why Tim is making that “I’m an extreme cool guy” face.  The real reason I am including this picture is to point out my bracelet.
Reviewing all of our game pictures, I have worn that “cause” bracelet since approximately May 2008, and to almost 100 MLB baseball games.

It’s a “Free the West Memphis Three” bracelet.  It’s a terrible, terrible story all around.  It if you don’t know about it, check out the WM3 website and watch the incredibly disturbing (on many, many levels) documentary “Paradise Lost.”

Anyway, while I would eventually wear the bracelet for the rest of the Roadtrip and until we returned home, this was actually the last baseball game we would attend before the WM3
were, in fact, freed.  The news came out the next day, and they were actually released from prison after 18 years on August 19th before our first game at Tropicana Field.  So my wrist is now bare and looking for a new cause to support.

Back to the game.

The Braves have a guy who runs a lot of trivia games and other entertainment segments on the big screen between innings.  Late in around the sixth or seventh inning of this game, the Braves posed the following question to a contestant named Holly:

All signs are that Holly Brown said “yes”!

In the seventh inning, this beer vendor wandered by and stood in front of us for a few seconds peddling his wares:

I don’t remember his exact words, but he seemed so southern and gentlemanly as he made his “last call” announcement that he could have been straight out of a movie – hmm…if the made movies about southern gentleman beer vendors that is.

Since I wasn’t getting any good action shots, I figured I better at least get a picture of Chipper playing third:

Late in the game, my Dad took Tim for a walk.  They then returned requesting a penny.  Tim likes to put pennies through those penny-smashing-souvenir machines.  My Dad had one penny on him, but they accidentally pressed the wrong design on it!  They did the Braves logo penny, but Tim wanted the Turner Field penny.  Luckily, I had some loose change and, as a result, Tim ended up with two souvenir Braves pennies:

When they were out on their penny run, my Dad got a dippin’ dots helmet of his own.  After he finished his helmet, Tim and my Dad posed for some mini-helmet pictures:

And then Tim decided he needed some pictures of his water bottle wearing a helmet too:

Between innings, we asked the guy behind us to take a picture of the three of us.  We’d asked someone to take out picture after our first Braves game on the trip, but he ended up taking a picture of my Dad’s foot!  So we needed a good picture of the three of us at Turner Field.

The guy was too intimidated by technology to use my digital camera, so he passed the buck to his teenage son.  And the son delivered a nice shot:

The Braves were trying hard to mount a rally and get back into the game.  Whenever the Braves need a rally, they break out the Tomahawk Chop.  And you can’t do the Tomahawk Chop without some drum beating.  So where does the drum beating soundtrack come from?  Canned drum beating, you ask?  Nah.  The Braves wouldn’t do that.  Instead, they have the biggest drum I have ever seen out in LCF:

In the ninth inning, Tim and I decided to head over to the Braves bullpen.   As the Giants came to bat still leading 5-1, this was our view from the back of section 143:

And this was our view of Jason Heyward:

Just below us to our left, the Braves relievers were passing time on the bench…

…while Eddie Perez chatted up someone in the stands.

When he wasn’t chatting with fans, Perez was sitting on the far right side of the bench and was filling out pitching charts and other paperwork (it can be seen sitting on the green
platform thing in front of the bench in that last picture).

We decided to relocate closer to the field so we could get a better view of the non-action in the bullpen.  Tim got his picture with the relievers hanging out behind him:

When we were down there, we saw that Perez had a big, fancy line-up card like the one we’d gotten in Texas earlier in the season.  We were all set to ask him for it after the game, but we discovered that he’d pre-arranged to give to a lady over on the other side of the bullpen.

As for the ninth inning, it was very exciting.  The Giants scored two runs on sacrifice flies by Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff in the top of the inning to make it a 7-1 game, a blow out in the making.  But the Braves came out fighting in the bottom of the ninth and they made it interesting.  They scored four runs all with two outs.  Freddy Freeman led off with a single.  He then took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout.  Freeman scored the Braves second run of the game on a two-out single by Jason Heyward.  Michael Bourn then hit a weak pop up to short stop that should have ended the game.  Instead, Orlando Cabrera recorded his second error of the game and Julio Lugo scored the Braves third run.  Martin Pradio then followed with a 2-unearned run (zero RBI) double scoring Heyward and Bourn.

It was looking like it was going to be another amazing comeback like our last game.  Tim and I were pulling for it to happen.  But then Brian McCann struck out to end the
game.

Final score, Giants 7 over Braves 5:

On our way out of the ballpark, we grabbed a stack of (unfolded) Braves pocket schedules, Tim got his picture with Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s retired 44 outside the CF gate…

…, and I took a shot of the bright Turner Field sign that is on the outside of the stadium on the opposite side of the LF upper deck seats:

I would have preferred another comeback Braves win.  But all-in-all, it was a great night at a great ballpark.

The next day, we had a long drive back down to Tampa, followed by a nice dinner out at Tijuana Flats, and a relaxing swim in the hotel pool before heading to the airport to pick-up
a Roadtrip guest who would be joining us for three Mariners games at Tropicana Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
23/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
18 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2)).
62 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 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; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 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; 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]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 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); 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.

GFS 2011 Game 3 – Giants at Braves (8/15/11)

After our last game in Miami, we drove through driving rain, thunder and lightning storms to a hotel in Jacksonville, Florida.  On Monday morning, August 15, 2011, we had a much more peaceful drive into Georgia…

…and to our hotel in Atlanta.

After lunch and a little bit of relaxing, we headed to Turner Field for our first of two games between the Giants and Braves.  With this game, Tim and I closed out the N.L. East – we have now been to games at Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium and Turner Field.  Following the A.L. West earlier in the season, the N.L. East is the second of the sixth MLB divisions that Tim and I have closed out.

We were a few minutes  late to the stadium because we misjudged traffic a bit so we hustled to get into the ballpark.  We did, however, take time to get Tim’s picture with two statues of all-time great and living legend, Henry “Hank” Aaron…

…and non-Brave but Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb:

Upon entering the ballpark, my Dad went off to look at hats in the team store and Tim and I reported to section 150 in CF:

Two funny things happened right when we arrived in CF.  First, the normally chained off TV camera area in the batters’ eye area was open (but Tim refused to walk out on it for a picture)…

…the Braves were using a pitching machine for the first round of BP.  I’ve never seen that before on a big league field.

Only the outfield is open for the fans during the first half hour of batting practice.  There was no shade and Tim wasn’t a big fan of it out in CF.  So right when the rest of the stadium opened, we hit the concourse, got this picture with Braves Mickey…

…and relocated to a shady spot down the LF foul line:

As we watched the Braves take BP, I spotted my Dad all the way across the field by the RF foul pole:

In that picture, he had just caught a baseball from Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca and he is looking up Tosca’s name in a little line-up card booklet that the ushers gave us when we entered the ballpark.

Meanwhile, we were having no luck in LF.  A Brave named “Vizcaino”…

…was shagging baseballs in LF but we had no clue about his first name.  Then I remembered that little booklet that as resting in my back pocket.  I had not even looked at it and I got the notion that I should check it out in case it could provide any assistance.  I pulled it out and found  the line-ups of both teams (with pictures of all of the Braves) and discovered that Vizcaino’s first name is “Adroys.”

Literally on the next baseball hit to him, Tim and I both called out, “Adroys!”  He looked over and tossed us the baseball.

Thanks, Adroys!

As we hung out in foul territory, Tim went crazy with the spray bottle (this picture was taken before he unloaded the spray bottle all over himself):

We watched Tim Lincecum warm up down the LF line…

…and a bunch of Giants BP from this same spot.  But the Giants are not a very fan friendly bunch – or at least they haven’t been during this Roadtrip.  So we were having no luck down the LF line.  Toward the end of BP, I noticed that Tim Lincecum was actually having some fun during BP out in CF.  So we headed over there.  Lincecum was the first Giant we witnessed actually interacting with fans and tossing baseballs into the crowd.  It would have been great to be on the receiving
end of one of those baseballs, but it didn’t happen.

So BP ended with one baseball in our backpack and one baseball in my Dad’s backpack.

Before heading off to check out Turner Field, Tim jumped into a funny little nook in the LCF and did his best statue pose:

Tim was super-excited to check out the kids’ play area that we passed by on our way into the stadium.  But on our way, we ran into the Braves mascot, Homer:

Homer was hanging out in a little courtyard’ish area directly behind the scoreboard.  You can see that area behind Tim and Homer in that last picture.  And on the right side of this double picture…

…you can see what the back of the scoreboard looks like.  The back-of-the-scoreboard scoreboard is a clutch move.  The only other place I’ve seen it done is at
Citi Field.  Well done, Braves (and Mets).  To the left if that last picture, Tim is standing in front of the Cartoon Network (CN) play area.  I am assuming that this means that Ted Turner owns CN.  Anyway, it was very different any other play area we have seen at a MLB ballpark, but the CN play area was a ton of fun for Tim.

He particularly liked this little station where he could throw balls at moving skeletons (that he happened to always refer to as Pirates):

Among other things (that we’ll save for our next entry), the CN play area also features a tree/boat to climb in and slide down (left)…

…weird electrical thingys (middle), and two whiffle ball fields.

After a while, I had to rip Tim out of the play area or we might have missed the entire game.  It was time to explore.  We headed from the play area to section 151:

And then we continued on the section 139 in the RF side of the Braves bullpen:

Behind the concourse in the RF corner, there is a switch back ramp all the way up to the upper deck.  Tim loves long switch back ramps.  So we had a long way up to the top of the stadium.  On our way up, we noticed that the players parking lot was below the ramp:

And it appeared that several guys were washing some of the players’ cars.

The ramp dumped us out in the concourse behind section 431:

We were at the RF foul pole, but the upper deck seats continue part way into RF so before heading toward home plate, we moseyed out to the last upper deck section in RF, section 437:

Looking down from section 437, we had an excellent view of Tim Hudson warming up in the Braves bullpen:

While doubling back toward the foul pole in the concourse, we noticed something very interesting – an Evacuation Route sign:

These signs are all over the place at Turner Field.  Anyway, back to our walking tour.  We swung around home plate and out to left field stopping along the way to take panoramic views of Turner Field from section 421…

…and section 405:

We stopped behind the plate to get this picture of Tim and Turner Field:

And then Tim scooted out of frame and we got this panorama from section 402:

Heading down the 3B line, we got this panorama from section 416:

And then we tried (but pretty much failed at) something new – a myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt bonus picture looking down at the “Turner Field” sign painted on the top of the 3B dugout:

Well, it sort of worked, but the sign was too blurry for my liking.

Continuing on our walk out to LF, we ran across some Coca-Cola cannons:

My Dad and I had been discussing whether they would have Coke or Pepsi at Turner Field.  It seems like most stadiums have Pepsi products.  When given the choice, we’re a Coke family.  I figured the Braves would have Coke products because Coke is based in Atlanta, and I have previously had Coke vs. Pepsi discussions with some Georgians and they would not even consider holding a Pepsi product let along drinking one.  Anyway, the Coke cannons tipped us off to our answer:  Turner Field is Coca-Cola territory.

From the concourse area by the Coke cannons, we had a great view of the Braves retired numbers hanging from the upper deck area in LF:

Let’s see, 6 is for Bobby Cox, 47 is for Tom Glavine, 31 is for Greg Maddux, 3 is for Dale Murphy, 35 is for Phil Niekro, 44 is for Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, 41 is for Eddie Mathews, 21 is for Warren Spahn, and 42 is for Jackie Robinson.

We continued on our way, and took this panorama from the concourse area above section 324:

Looking down from above section 324 (or thereabouts), we had a nice view of the interesting set up at the front of the visitors bullpen:

The relievers sit on top of the bullpen roof!

Finally, we made it all the way out to the end of the concourse in LF and we got this panorama from above section 336:

The 400-level extends all the way out to where I took that last picture, but there are no seats.  Instead, there is a random fake dugout, home plate, first base line, first base, and pitcher’s mound that kids can sit in, run on and fake-pitch from.  Here is a four part picture of Tim having some fake-field fun up there:

Behind all of this stuff, there is a nice lookout over downtown Atlanta, and some oversized Coke bottle chairs from which you can take in the view:

It was getting close to game time, so we started heading toward our seats.  But before leaving the upper deck, we headed up to the tippy-top of section 422 for one more upper deck panorama:

I was confused about the location of our seats.  They were in the “200 level,” which I thought might be the club level just up the field level seats.  But as we walked the main field level concourse (I say “main” because there is a lower tunnel concourse that is also a “field level” concourse), I noticed there were signs for sections in the 200s.  Here is a panorama from the concourse behind section 208:

It turns out that what we would traditionally call the “field level” is split into two parts – below the cross aisle and above the cross aisle.  The 100 level seats are below the cross aisle, the 200 level seats are above the cross aisle and the 300 level is that club level that I was thinking might be where we were sitting for this game.

We were still making our way to our seats when the game started.  We arrived at our seats in section 207 just in time to see Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval foul a ball off of his ankle and hit the deck writhing in pain:

Of course, we were late to our seats because we had stopped to get nachos on our way through the concourse:

Tasty nachos in Atlanta.  And the food service people (in fact every employee at Turner Field) are incredibly nice.  Everyone greets you with “Welcome to Braves
Country!”  And I mean EVERYONE!  You run into an usher in the ninth inning and you’re going to be welcomed to Braves Country.  But in additional to all of the “welcoming,” everyone was just incredibly nice and very much concerned about making sure you are having a good experience at Turner Field.  High marks for
everyone at Turner Field!

Despite a hit and an error, Tim Hudson escaped the first inning unscathed.  We were officially hoping to witness our second “Tim” pitching victory of the Roadtrip at this game.

Between the top and bottom of the first, we got this panorama from our seats in section 207:

In the bottom of the first, Brian McCann helped out the get-Tim-a-victory cause by hitting a solo homerun.  I missed the swing, but got a nice “trotting” shot of McCann:

This was the first game after Dan Uggla broke his (I think) 33-game hitting streak.  Uggla was looking to start a new streak when he followed McCann’s homer, but instead he struck out in an ugly, and I mean UGLY, fashion:

Half a second after I took that picture, Uggla was sitting on the dirt facing the umpire.  That pitch twisted him up like nobody’s business.

Leading 1-0 in the top of the second, Tim Hudson…

…gave up a leadoff single to the well-traveled Orlando Cabrera.

Between Cabrera and Eli Whiteside, I got this picture of the Braves very impressive group of Division, League and World Series Championship pennants:

NTS!

On this pitch…

Timmy H. (as I hope he was referred to in pre-school) coaxed Whiteside to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

For the second day in a row, I had good luck with getting some action shots.  Here, Jason Heyward hits a towering pop up…

…and Brandon Belt waits under the baseball (circled in red) ready to make the catch).  My action shots aside, the highlight of the second inning was that the Braves extended their lead to 2-0 when Jose Constanza hit a single to LF scoring Freddie Freeman.

We were in the last row of section 207 (almost right below a big TV camera).  After he went to get some dinner of his own, I got this shot of my Dad…

…waiting in the concourse while the current hitter finished his at bat so he could head down the stairs (all one or two steps that it takes to get to the back row) and
rejoin us.

I have no clue who hit this ball, but here is Constanza camped under a pop fly…

…ready to make a put out.  Easily, my best action shot of the game.  Pop flies are hard to capture, because you never know when they will happen.

The Giants (much to my dismay) mounted a comeback in the top of the fourth.  It all started on a bizarre play.  Leadoff batter Aubrey Huff hit a line drive
right at Braves center fielder Michael Bourn.  The flight of the ball fooled Bourn and he jumped at the last second.  The ball ricocheted off of Bourn’s glove and then off of his face before falling to the ground.  Miraculously, Bourn was able to keep Huff at first.  But the error eventually lead to two unearned runs on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Cabrera and Whiteside.

In the middle innings, Grandpa volunteered to take Tim back to the play area for a bit.  All that playing built up Tim’s ice cream appetite so we invested in a pair of ice cream helmets:

The Giants took at 3-2 lead with a leadoff homerun by Nate Schierholtz in the top of the sixth.  And they extended it to a 4-2 lead with a leadoff homer by Mike Fontenot in the top of the eighth.

Tim and I decided to head down to the cross-aisle and take another shot at the Turner Field bonus picture:

That one worked better.  While we were at it, we got a picture of Tim and the field from the cross aisle:

And then, back in our seats, we got a picture of Tim, his trusty side-kick and stuffed turtle, Shelly, and the field:

In the ninth, we decided to head back down to the cross aisle in an attempt to make a go for a post-game umpire baseball.  On our walk over to the 3B side, we got panoramas from the cross aisle behind section 101…

…and section 108:

The Giants were still winning 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth.  It was impossible to get into section 108 to try to get into position at the umpires’ tunnel.  So we continued to hang out in the cross aisle.

Brian Wilson and his extremely played out and over-exposed beard came in to shut the door on the Braves.  But the fans weren’t going to let it happen
without a fight.  They went into full Tomahawk Chop mode:

The place was loud as could be.

Constanza led off with a single.  The Tomahawk Chopping grew louder.

Eric Hinske followed with a walk.  Louder still.

Julio Lugo came in to run for Hinski.

Constanza and Lugo advanced to 3B and 2B on a bunt by Michael Bourn.

The crowd when crazy some more when Martin Prado singled to LF scoring Constanza – Giants 4-3 with the tying run on 3B.

I was all set for Brian McCann…

…to win the game with an extra base hit.  But instead Wilson walked McCann.

Dan Uggla couldn’t get it done.  He struck out swinging…but he did manage to stay on his feet this time.

Finally, it was rookie Freddy Freeman’s turn at bat.  Down by one, two outs, two on, and with a full count: it was “go” time!

I was holding Tim so we could bolt down the stairs toward the umpire’s tunnel upon the final swing of the game.  The stadium was going absolutely crazy.  Screaming, hooping, hollering, and Tomahawk Chopping galore.  And at the climactic moment, Tim laid down his head on my shoulder and
the lights were completely out as Freeman connected on a slow grounder up the middle (as photographed by my Dad)…

…Lugo and Martin Prado hurried around 3B scoring the tying and winning runs.  Braves win! (But sadly not a Tim Hudson win).

I could tell Freeman’s hit was gonna do the trick.  It was a perfect slow developing play.  By the time the winning run was crossing the plate, we were five rows from the umpire tunnel.  We would have been right there ready to ask “Cowboy” Joe West for a post-game umpire baseball.  But every row was still totally packed.  It was absolutely impossible to get within even ten feet of the tunnel.  And Cowboy Joe sailed by without distributing a single baseball.

So, no umpire baseball for us.  But we did get a great view of the post-game celebration.  And we go this panorama from the front of section 108:

A few minutes later, Giants reporter Pedro Gomez walked by and started to pack up his stuff:

Before meeting up with my Dad to walk to the car, I got someone to take this hilarious picture of us (and Tim managed to half open his eyes):

All-in-all, it was a great day at a great ballpark.

The next day, we would have a day off from baseball, an awesome tour of an amazing old mine in Dahlonega, GA, and a very nice visit with my Dad’s aunt.

And then we’d be right back here at Turner Field on August 17th.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
22/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
17 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (1)).
59 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 3 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 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; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 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; 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]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 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); 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.

I-95 Doubleheader: Baltimore-to-Philadelphia (5/7/2011)

On September 6, 2010, Tim and I managed a first:  a multi-city doubleheader with a day game at Nationals Park and a night game at Citizens Bank Park.  It was great fun.  Our only regret was that we were able to get one baseball during BP in D.C., but we did not get a baseball at the night cap.

So turning to the 2011, I wanted to do a couple more multi-city doubleheaders.  I originally had three of them on our schedule, but my wife (not wanting Tim to get too exhausted) asked me to scale it back to just one.  So I picked May 7, 2011:  Rays vs. Orioles at 1:05 p.m. followed by Braves vs. Phillies at 7:05 p.m.

We woke up just knowing it was going to be a great day.

We were in the car by 8:30 a.m. and, after drawing a bunch of pictures, Tim ended up napping most of the drive down to Baltimore:

In addition to going to the games, we had an extra task to accomplish in Baltimore.  I had made a bat for a guy named Mike Jasser who reads our blog.  Mike and I had arranged to meet up before the game so we could deliver the bat.

In the parking garage before meeting Mike, I had Tim pose for a picture with Mike’s bat:

Although we had exchanged emails from time-to-time over the past year, I had never met Mike before.  Turns out he’s a cool guy.  We ended up hanging out together (along with several of the Camden Yards regulars) during most of the game and it was a lot of fun.

When we entered the ballpark at 11:00 a.m., the field was set up for BP, but there was practically nothing happening on the field.  A couple Orioles pitchers were warming up down the 1B line so Tim and I grabbed some seats in the first row to watch them.

And Tim busted open a pack of peanut butter crackers.  Tim could easily eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and crackers and live a happy life.

There were only 4 Orioles playing catch and another Orioles pitcher (Josh Rupe) was running in the outfield.  When Rupe finished running, he walked over to us, reached out and set a baseball in Tim’s hand.

Thanks, Josh!

Before he could walk away, I declared that I needed to ask Rupe a funny question.  He agreed to listen.

Todd:  We’re in a photo scavenger hunt and I was wondering if you could take a picture of yourself with my camera?

Rupe:  A picture of myself?

Todd:  Yeah.

Rupe:  With your camera?

Todd:  Yeah…

Todd:  In fair territory.

Rupe:  In fair territory?  Sure!

Rupe backed up into fair territory, looked around like he was thinking about something, and then explained, “I’ll face this way so you can see the foul pole and tell that I’m in fair territory!”

Here is Rupe’s handiwork:

As Rupe handed the camera back to me, he said, “If anyone else asks me to do this, I’ll say ‘no’ so you win the scavenger hunt!”

Thanks, again, Josh!

Still, not much was going on.  The day’s starting pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, was stretching on the warning track in the RF foul corner:

We headed over there to chat with Guthrie.

Todd: “Hey, Jeremy!  I can’t believe that Zack didn’t write about you in his book!”

Guthrie:  “Its disgraceful!  Man, I gave him a baseball on the last day of Yankee Stadium.  And I play catch with him all the time!”

Todd:  “That’s inexcusable!”

A few minutes later, someone hit a ball in the corner right by Guthrie.

Todd:  “Hey, Jeremy.  If you toss that baseball up here to us, I promise I’ll write about you in my book…not that I actually have any plans to write a book or anything.”

Guthrie chuckles, but didn’t toss us the baseball.  Hey, it was worth a shot.

After a bit, Tim and I headed over to LF to say hi to Matt, Avi, Zevi and Mike.  They were all doing their best to catch BP homeruns.  But I’m not a big fan of hanging out too long in homerun territory with Tim during BP – too many hard hit baseballs flying around.  So we headed around the LF foul pole into foul territory where a couple Rays pitchers were playing catch.

As we passed behind the foul pole, Vlad Guerrero launched a homerun about 20 rows over our heads.  Here is a graphical reenactment:

The baseball took a huge bounce down about 10-15 rows.  Then it took a second smaller bounce that found its way into the pocket of my glove.  Hey, a Vlad Guerrero homer is a pretty darn cool baseball to get.  We’ll take it.

Thanks, Vlad (even if you didn’t specifically intend to hit that ball to us)!

Finally, we found our way into foul territory and watch two Rays who we did not recognize play catch.  They warmed up their arms, then played long toss, then one of them pitched to the other, then they switched places and the other guy pitched.  When they finished up¸ the second “catcher,” who ended up being…

…Juan Cruz, tossed us their warm up baseball.

Thanks, Juan!

Three baseballs in hand and the sunny beating down on us, we decided to hit up the kids’ play area.  First, Tim did some pitching:

He actually went to this pitching station a couple times.  His second time on “the mound” he pumped three consecutive strikes into the little strike zone box on the wall.  So he left the cage and gave me a big thumbs up.

Next, he posed with the big yellow bobblehead:

Followed by some bouncing in the bouncy house and some running, climbing and sliding on the fort-thingy:

Finally, he did a little hitting off of the air tee:

The Orioles really have a first class kids’ play area now-a-days.  Good job, O’s!

When we headed back out to the field, the grounds crew was finally ripping down the BP cage and nets.  We walked around the inner-walkway toward LF and found some seats in the shade.  Vlad Guerrero came out to stretch so I figured I should get a picture of him since we caught his BP homer:

Right when the game started, Tim wanted to go back to the kids’ play area.  So we retraced our steps on the inner-walkway.  On the walk, I got this shot of Evan Longoria…

…taking a big hack, which I believe produced a foul ball.

When we reached the play area, Tim got a picture with another big bobblehead…

…and took some hacks in the big kids’ batting cage:

…Tim is a good hitter, but the bats they use in these cages (like the one at Citi Field) are often times too heavy for him to swing.  But he did okay swinging the lightest bat the Orioles provided.

After the kids play area, we met up with Mike Jasser in the RF flag court.  Tim LOVES the flag court.  Here he is hugging a flag pole:

Then he asked where the Mariners flag pole was (in the A.L. West last place position…for now) and, after making a game out of running to the wrong flag over and over, he finally found his way to the Mariners flag and posed for this picture:

While Tim was hugging and bouncing off of flag poles, I saw the Orioles Bird walking by in Eutaw Street.  We ran out and got this picture:

After the picture with the Bird, we were standing around chatting in the flag court when Evan Longoria launched a homerun into the left field seats.  We could see that either Matt or Avi caught the ball.  It looked to me like Matt caught it.

I asked Mike if he wanted to go over and meet Avi, Zevi and Matt.  He did so the three of us started walking to LF around the picnic area in CF.  On the way, I texted Avi and asked if Matt caught the homerun.  As we circled around the picnic area, Avi texted back that HE had caught the ball.  Big congrats to Avi!

Before heading into the seats, we went and bought some nachos.  As we were walking through the concourse, Mike said the funniest line of the day:  “Man, I feel like I’m walking around in one of the blogs that I read.”  And, hey, I guess he was doing just that.

When we got into the seats, I snapped this picture of Avi and his homerun baseball, flanked by Matt (and his glove) and Zevi:

Around this time, B.J. Upton hit a ground rule double into the seats in RCF.  The fan who caught it launched it back onto the field, which prompted several fans sitting about 10 rows behind us to start mentioning loudly that whoever caught the Upton ball was a “real fan” because they tossed it back.  Avi ignored these silly statements and instead took some shots of Tim playing with his mustard dog:

We had a very relaxing time out there in LF.  Most of the scoring in the game was behind us.  So we just relaxed and chatted:

This was the Fox Saturday game and Avi noticed that Fox had put up a green screen behind home plate…

…so Fox could show their own advertisements during the game.

We were sitting right behind breakout star outfielder of the season, Sam Fuld:

During this game, he had a nice diving catch and picked off a homerun that Mike would have been all over had Fuld not made the catch.

Of course, Tim enjoyed a chocolate ice cream helmet while we lounged in LF.  While we were off buying the ice cream, I got this panoramic view of the new and improved Camden Yards concourse:

After finishing his ice cream, Tim asked if we could go get a picture with the Orioles ballgirl down the 3B line.  On our way, we got this panoramic view of Camden Yards from (I think) section 62:

The ballgirl was happy to pose for a picture with Tim:

But Tim was let down when the ballgirl didn’t have an autographed ballgirl card for him (like the Phillies ballgirls).

Before we headed back to LF, a fan asked if we wanted him to take our picture.  Sure, we did:

Right at the end of the game, Avi, Zevi and Matt headed over to the Rays dugout and Mike decided to hit the road a little early.  Before parting ways, we got a picture with Mike…

…in which Tim is posing like he’s too cool for school.

The Rays were winning by a score of 8-1 and it was already past 4:00.  I was hoping to be on the road by 4:00 so we could hopefully catch a little bit of BP in Philadelphia.  We wanted to stay for the entire game, but to make our exit process more efficient, we decided to watch the bottom of the ninth from the tunnel in straight away CF.

Here is what it looked like as we hoped (unsuccessfully) that Vlad Guerrero would make the final out of the game:

After the Orioles scored one last run, Felix Pie made the final out (for an 8-2 Rays win), and Tim and I high tailed it for our car.  Tim played with his little baseball action figures for a bit…

…but then fell asleep for a majority of our drive up I-95, through Wilmington, Delaware, and into Philadelphia.

We made great time until we reached the outskirts of Philadelphia.  Ultimately, we missed batting practice.  If we were going to get a baseball at two stadiums in one day, it would have to be during or after the game.  A tall task for Citizens Bank Park.

Luckily, we had amazing seats.  Here was our view of Citizens Bank Park from Section 131, row 3, seats 17-18:

FYI, seat 18 is on the aisle of the section 132 staircase.

Aside from getting food twice, we stayed in our seats this entire game.  It was a great spot for taking pictures of the action at home plate.  Here are some shots of Jason Heyward…

…and Chipper Jones…

…neither of whom got a hit in their first inning at bats.

Braves pitcher Julio Teheran made his MLB debut at this game.  The first batter he faced in his Major League career was Jimmy Rollins…

…who laced a single down the RF line.

Ryan Howard came looking to drive J-Roll in:

The Braves put on an interest shift:

Instead of shifting the SS to the other side of 2B, they brought chipper Jones all the way from 3B to the 2B position.   But the Braves didn’t need the shift because Howard grounded out to 1B.

Although Howard couldn’t push a run across in the first, the Phils took a 1-0 lead in the second when Pete Orr hit an RBI ground out.

It was time for some dinner.  Tim and I had a thorough discussion our day’s meal plan.  Should we go hot dogs for lunch in Baltimore with nachos for dinner in Philadelphia?  Nachos in Baltimore and hot dogs in Philadelphia?  We for nachos in Baltimore.  So…dinner…what would it be….

…NACHOS!

And after being ridiculed by Avi in Baltimore for wasting some excess cheese, we were sure to finish all of our dinner nacho cheese  with the help of some crackers we brought with us from home.

In the fourth inning, Ryan Howard beat the shift be going way, way over it.  He blasted a homerun over section 101 and into the Phillies bullpen.  Here he is about to score the second Phillies run of the night:

 

Although it may not look like it in this picture…

…the place was rocking, and so was the Liberty Bell.  The bell tolls back-and-forth and lights up all red, white and blue when a Phillie hits a homerun.

So the fifth inning rolled around and it was looking like our attempt to get a baseball at two stadiums in the same day were fading.  Our best opportunity would be to go for an umpire baseball, which is really difficult at Citizens Bank Park.

But with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the fifth inning, Alex Gonzalez strode to the plate.  On the first pitch from Kyle Kendrick, Gonzalez hit a soft foul grounder right to the Braves 3B coach Brian Snitker:

Snitker gave us a baseball last season at PNC Park and that was the only reason that I knew his first name.  It came in handy.  I bounced to my feet, jumped down into the first row, and right as Snitker fielded the foul ball I called out, “Hey, Brian!!!” and I flashed him my glove.

A soft underhand toss later…

…and Tim’s first foul ball of his life (albeit via toss up)…

…made Citizens Bank Park the second stadium at which we’d caught a ball on May 7, 2011.  Mission accomplished.  I was incredibly excited.  As shown in the last picture, Tim was equally excited by the fact that he had just found a quarter on the ground (I didn’t tell him that it was actually our quarter that simply fell out of my pocket) that was facing heads up (backstory:  Colleen told Tim its good luck if you find a penny laying heads up on the ground, and Tim has decided that the rule applies to any and all coins).

We celebrated with a gargantuan Phillies ice cream helmet.  Our special ice cream helmet lady made it so big that when I scooped the top portion and put it in our Orioles helmet from earlier in the day, we both had full ice cream helmets:

Note:  when given the choice, Tim chose to eat his share of the ice cream from the Orioles helmet at this Phillies game.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Phillies brought in reliever Michael Stutes:

 

A couple years ago when my company softball team was playing a game against the “AA” Reading Phillies front office softball team, Stutes and Mike Zagursky heckled my team mercilessly.   This was the first time I’d seen Stutes pitch in the majors.  Now, I can say that I’ve been heckled by two (future) Major Leaguers.

Stutes gave up a hit, but got out of the inning without giving up any runs.  At this point, the score was 3-0 (Victorino had an RBI triple in the fifth to score the third Phillies run) and that ended up being the final score.

In the eighth, I got another picture each of Jason Heyward…

…and Chipper Jones:

Both popped out.  Tim thought the name “Chipper” was hilarious and, following his first at bat, he joked about it for much of this game.

This was a really fun game.  Among other things, Tim and I chatted a lot with two Braves friends from California who sat right behind us.

I asked the guy if Braves fans had gotten over Brooks Conrad’s 2010 post-season errors.  In a tone implying he did not care what other Braves fans thought about it, he answered with a matter of fact:  “I’m not.”

Our seat neighbors were thrilled for Tim when we got the Gonzalez foul ball.  The lady kept saying she wanted to “rent” Tim so they could get a ball too.  But in the end, they didn’t need to rent Tim.  When Ben Francisco grounded out to end the bottom of the eighth, none other than replacement first basemen Brooks Conrad fired the third out ball to the happy Braves fan.  I think it was the first baseball he’d ever got at a game, and he and his girlfriend were quite happy about it.

I turned to the guy, “He must have heard you say that you weren’t over his errors!”

In the ninth inning, the Braves fans were nice enough to take this shot of me and Tim:

[Note: the possessed-looking little girl sitting in front of us and oddly looking back at the camera in this picture stared at Tim for like half of the game.  It was bizarre.  The Braves fans’ theory was that she was jealous of Tim’s stuffed Mustard Hot Dog toy that he was holding for much of the game.]

So, the Phillies own.  We were totally content with the Gonzalez foul ball so we didn’t even make an effort to get an umpire baseball.  However, we did end up getting one more baseball after the game.  We were just standing above the dugout when Brooks Conrad poked his head out of the dugout.  All of the other players were gone.  When I say Conrad, I said, “Hey, Brooksy” like we were buddies.  Brooks nodded, pulled  a baseball out of his pocket, tossed it to me, and then pointed to Tim on my shoulders like “hey, that’s for your boy up there.”

Thanks, Brooks!

Before heading out, I took this picture of us with Tim holding his Gonzalez foul ball and his coveted Mustard Hot Dog:

Another fan saw our self-portrait and offered to take our picture for us.  Here was his effort:

On our slow walk up the stairs, an usher gave Tim a little Phillies Phanatic figurine.  At the top of the stairs, Tim had us stop so I could take some pictures of his Phanatic and each of the four baseball players he brought with us to the game:

It was time to head out.  On our walk to the car, Tim got his picture with a statute of “Mr. Baseball” Connie Mack:

 

And, another picture by our car with the stadium in the background

Two games, two stadiums and over 13 hours after leaving home that morning, we were on our way home once again.  Tim actually started awake chatting with me in the car for about half an hour.   But eventually, he crashed:

It was yet again another awesome day.  You gotta love baseball!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
7/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
8/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, and Braves; Kellan – none]
4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies)
20 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training

MLB Pocket Schedules

Tim and I are now three weeks into our 2011 schedule and just had our first “off weekend” of the early season.  Kellan is still waiting for his first game action of the season.  Plenty of baseball left on the Cook & Son schedule for 2011.  Seems like a good enough reason to share our baseball pocket schedule collection.

Each year, I try to grab a few pocket schedules at every ballpark we visit.  We have a baseball card album full of them.  Let’s take a look — and lets do it in the order Tim first saw each of these teams play a home game.

First, our Mariners pocket schedules:

                     
2001 Mariners.JPG    
2003 Mariners.JPG

                    
2004 Mariners.JPG    
2005 Mariners.JPG

                      
2006 Mariners.JPG    
2007 Mariners (Felix).JPG

                      
2007 Mariners (Ibanez).JPG    

2008 Mariners.JPG  

                      
2009 Mariners (Felix).JPG    
2009 Mariners (Griff).JPG  

                     
2010 Mariners (Figgins).JPG    
2010 Mariners (Lee).JPG  

                     
 
2010 Mariners (Wakamatsu).JPG
     
2011 Mariner (Wedge).JPG

2011 Mariners (King Felix).JPG

Second, our Phillies pocket schedules:                       
2007 Phillies (Hamels).JPG    
2007 Phillies (Howard).JPG

                        2008 Phillies (Burrell).JPG    
2008 Phillies.JPG

2009 Phillies.JPG

Third, our Orioles pocket schedules:



2007 Orioles.JPG
2008 Orioles.JPG
2009 Orioles.JPG
2010 Orioles.JPG

Fourth, our Yankees pocket schedules:

                        2007 Yankees.JPG    
2008 Yankees.JPG

2009 Yankees.JPG

Fifth, our Pirates pocket schedules:

2007 Pirates.JPG
2008 Pirates.JPG
2010 Pirates.JPG

Sixth, our Reds pocket schedule (featuring Ken Griffey, Jr.! #3):

2008 Reds.JPG

Seventh, our Indians pocket schedules:

                        2008 Indians.JPG    
2010 Indians.JPG

Eighth, our Mets pocket schedules:

                         2008 Mets.JPG    
2009 Mets.JPG

2010 Mets.JPG

Ninth, our Diamondbacks pocket schedule:

2011 Diamondbacks.JPG

Tenth, our Nationals pocket schedules:

                          2009 Nationals.JPG    
2010 Nationals.JPG

Eleventh, our Red Sox pocket schedules:

2008 Red Sox.JPG
2009 Red Sox.JPG

Twelfth, our Cubs pocket schedule:

2009 Cubs.JPG

Thirteenth, our Twins pocket schedules:


                         
2009 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2009 Twins espanol.JPG

2009 Twins.JPG

                        
2011 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2011 Twins.JPG.

Fourteenth, our Brewers pocket schedule:

2009 Brewers.JPG

Fifteenth, our White Sox pocket schedules:

2009 White Sox.JPG

(This is one of my favorite schedules.  The picture of Ramirez’s homerun celebration couples just perfectly with the fireworks.  Good job, White Sox!)

2010 White Sox (AP).JPG

Sixteenth, our Blue Jays pocket schedule:

2009 Blue Jays.JPG

Seventeenth, our Athletics pocket schedule:

2010 Athletics.JPG

Eigthteenth, our Dodgers pocket schedule:


2010 Dodgers.JPGNinteenth, our Padres pocket schedule:

2010 Padres.JPG

Twentieth, our Angels pocket schedule:

2010 Angels.JPG

Twenty-first, our Giants pocket schedule:

2010 Giants.JPG

Twenty-second, our Spring Training pocket schedules:

2008 Cactus League.JPGOne more to come here…still need to photograph the 2011 Spring Training Schedule.  By the way, these include all Cactus League games for all of the teams in the Cactus League.

Bonus, our Reading Phillies pocket schedules (MiLB):

                         2008 R-Phils.JPG    
2009 R-Phils.JPG .

There you go, that is it for our MLB pocket schedules collection.  We plan to add plenty to this list in 2011.  In fact, by the end of the season, I hope to be able to add new schedules for the 2011 Mariners (actually already added), Orioles, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates, Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Reds, Rangers, Astros, Marlins, Braves and Nationals.

Sun-Baked PNC Park (5/23/2010)

It was a day game following a rain-delayed, extra late night game, and we were in the starting line-up.  Actually, you couldn’t keep us away from the Braves vs. Pirates game on Sunday, May 23, 2010.  This game was the whole reason for the weekend trip — our first ever Kids Run The Bases day at:

1 - PNC Parks Front Door.JPGThere was more rain in the forecast, but the rain was a no show.  Maybe it was exhausted from the long night at PNC Park the night before.  Sunday was a beautiful sunny day.

And it wasn’t just Kids “Run The Bases” day, it was an all-around “Kids Day.”  We arrived at the stadium about two hours before game time, and it was in full kids festival mode…

2 - PNC kids day pirates smiley cookie.jpg…but we didn’t hang around outside too long because we could see that the Braves were taking BP.  We headed into the ball park after Tim got a big, free Pirate smiley face cookie.

The BP situation was a little confusing.  Well, just the beginning of it.  We entered the park through the River walk enterance in LCF.   On weekends, the River walk opens 2.5 hours before the game and season ticket holders can enter the entire stadium at that time.  But non-season ticket holders (like us) have to wait in the River walk for the first half hour.  We know this because that is what happened on Saturday.

But on Sunday, we entered the River walk and no one stopped us at the CF/bullpen enterance into the main stadium.  So I figured it must have been less than 2 hours until game time and the entire stadium was open to everyone.  But as we circled the inner concourse, we could see people at all of the other entrances still locked outside the stadium.  We were in there with what appeared to be a bunch of the BP regulars, but no one was following us.  It was almost empty in there.

This would prove to work to our advantage.

The give-away for the day was a pair of wind-up pierogies.  Still in the box, I stuffed them into our backpack right after the guy gave them to Tim.  We were going to head over to the RF foul line to watch BP.  But as we passed behind the Pirates dugout, Tim asked for the pierogies.  So we stopped at the dugout so I could fish them out of our backpack.

After I gave Tim the pierogies, which he absolutely loved, I noticed that there was a baseball sitting in foul territory in front of the dugout.  It looked like this:

3 - Melky Snitker.JPGThere was absolutely no one else in the seats within 100 feet of the dugout.  When Melky Cabrera walked around the batting cage to our side, I called out, “Hey, Melky.”  He looked up and I pointed at the ball and then at Tim.  Two seconds later, Melky tossed the ball our way.

Thanks, Melky!

I turned my back to the field and gave the ball to Tim.  He showed me the pierogies.  We generally weren’t paying any attention to the field until I heard a loud “Hey!” from behind me.  Out of the blue, Braves third base coach Brian Snitker (who was in the process of hitting fungos to infielders) tossed us a second baseball.

Thanks, Coach! 

After the unexpected second baseball, we decided to head over to RF.  As we passed the Braves dugout, Tommy Hanson popped out and started signing autographs.  Tim grabbed the Snitker baseball and a pen and walked up to Hanson and said, “Will you autograph my baseball?”  I always think its cute when he asks for an autograph because it seems like most people just hold out a ball/card/ticket and a pen and the player grabs it and signs the item without any words being exchanged.  But Tim always speaks up and gets the player to verbally commit to the autograph while he’s still signing for other people.

Better than the autograph, Hanson also posed for a picture with Tim:
4 - Tim Cook & Tommy Hanson.JPGAfter parting ways with Hanson, we headed a little further down the RF line.  I watched BP while Tim played non-stop with his pierogies.  He was having a blast with those things.

I decided to take a panorama through the little chain link fence on the foul territory warning track:

4a - PNC 1B foul3.jpgTim kept playing and playing and playing with those pierogies.  He put them in all sorts of make believe situations, many involving the threat of falling off of the wall or a step or a chair while Tim or I had to save them from falling to the ground below.  Are are some random scenes:

5 - PNC RF line 5-23-2010.jpgSee the bottom right picture?  Someone hit a ball right down the line.  There was an open gate to the field.  I could tell the ball was going to hit the wall and then hit that gate and probably bounce into the handicapped seating area.  By the way, the rest of the stadium was apparently still not open.  There was literally no one else around us.  I could have walked the fifty or so feet down to the gate and still got the baseball.  But I didn’t.  I ran down there, reached over the wall and scooped the ball off of the warning track right after it clanked off of the gate.

Here are the three baseballs we got at this game:

60-tommyhanson-62.JPGBefore BP ended, we headed around to the LF line to watch the Pirates pitchers warm up…

6 - pirates throwing chipper waiting.jpg…and I got a shot of Larry “Chipper” Jones on the way.

After both teams finished warming up and returned to their clubhouses, Tim and I decided to grab some nachos and check out our seats.

On our way to our seats, we watched the Pirates’ cool scoreboard game intro video:

(Click 720 HD for the best quality)

I missed the beginning of the video so I am not sure, but my best guess is that the first statue (the one that steals second base) is Honus Wagner.  The second statue is Roberto Clemente.  And the third is apparently Bill Mazeroski.  The Pirates always have cool intro videos at the ballpark.

After the intro video, we made our way to our seats with a big pile of nachos.  Thanks to reading about a ticket sale on the Pitt Peas blog (Thanks, Matt!), these seats cost us $7/ticket for this game:

8 - PNC section 105 row V seat 10 panorama.jpgThose seats are Section 105, Row V, Seats 9-10.

As always, the nachos were excellent, but Tim had a hard time putting down his pierogies while eating and eventually he had cheesy pierogies that needed a major napkin scrub down…

9 - nachos and ice cream helmet.jpg…immediately upon finishing our nachos, Tim was ready for some ice cream.  We swung around to the 3B concourse to grab some ice cream helmets.

On our way back over to section 105, the game started.  As we passed behind the 3B dugout, I got this shot of Nate McLouth…

7a - mclouth foul bomb in 1st.jpg…he launched a monster foul bomb that just snuck over the last row of the RF bleachers.

We don’t like to be cramped in our seats and Section 105 was packed.  But Section 101 in the RF corner was almost empty, so we grabbed some ice cream seats there:

10 - PNC section 101 panorama.jpgAn usher was walking around kicking everyone out who didn’t have Section 101 tickets.  When he approached us he asked if we had Section 101 tickets.  I said, “Section 105, but we’re hiding out here in the shade so he can eat his ice cream.”   The usher said we could stay there because  Section 101 was a downgrade from our real tickets.  He then turned to Tim and said, “You can sit here, but you have to promise me that you’ll keep your dad under control.”  I gave him a courtesy laugh, but Tim was too lost in ice-cream-helmet-deliciousness to really respond.

Here was our view of the plate (zoomed in) from Section 101…

10 - milledge drilled in 2nd.jpg…in the second inning, Lastings Milledge got drilled by a fastball and it took him a few minutes to recooperate before he made his way down to 1B.

Once again, I was pulling for former Mariner Ronny Cedeno to have a big day…


11 - cedeno watching ball.jpg…he would ground out in this second inning at bat and go 1-4 on the day.

On Saturday, Tim was excited each time he saw the Pirate parrot.  He would point him out and say either “There is the Phanatic!” or “There is a big green chicken!”

By Sunday, he’d figured out it was a parrot.  And when Tim spotted the parrot coming up the stairs between Sections 103 and 105 early in the game, he yelled out, “Let’s get our picture with the parrot!” and he was off to the races.

We tracked down the parrot and got this shot:

12 - Tim and the Parrot.JPGTim and I are usually on the go a lot during games.  But Tim was very happy in our shady spot in Section 101.  We stayed there without leaving the section until the 9th inning.  This gave us plenty of time to get more action shots.  Like this one of Andrew McCutchen — who was just a bit early on this pitch in the 4th.

13 - mccutchwhiffen on this pitch in the 4th.jpgI got lots of good and funny shots of Tim who was having a blast playing with his pierogies or just generally being a kid…

14 - head banded dude.jpg…I love the head band shots.  We saw the head band at Target in the morning before the game and Tim just had to have it.  He didn’t wear it much, but it was hilarious when he did.

We wanted to see ejection-legend Bobby Cox get tossed from a game this weekend.  But he stayed calm.  The best we could do was to get these shots of Cox pulling starting pitcher Kris Medlen from the game in the 6th:

15 - cox pulled medlin in 6th.JPGWe had possibly the best view in the stadium of the photo finish in the pierogie race:

16 - pierogie home stretch.jpgThe results are in:  Section 101 at PNC Park is an excellent place to watch a game:

17 - watching some baseball.jpgAs for the game itself, it was an excellent one.  It was a pitchers’ dual between Kris Medlen and Zach Duke.

The Braves took the early lead in the second when Melky Cabrera scored an unearned run on a David Ross single.

The Pirates tied it up 1-1 in the sixth when McCutchen hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly.  Moments later, the Pirates took the lead when Garrett Jones scored on a single by Ryan Doumit.

Speaking of Doumit, I’ve never known much about him other than his name.  But after this game, I won’t soon forget him because, among other things discussed below, he impressed me by coming to bat accompanied by the sweet sounds of Danzig’s “Mother”:

(Click 720 HD for the best quality)

Excellent call, Mr. Doumit.

Back to the game, the Braves knotted the score at 2-2 with a lead-off HR by Eric Hinske in the 8th inning.

Later in the inning, Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones pinch-hit for Omar Infante and bounced out to 1B (you can see the ball at the right of the of picture):

18 - hipper jones grounds out to first in 8th.jpgHey, how about a random cute picture of Tim and a pierogie?  Sure, here you go:


19 - Tim and pierogie.JPGIn the ninth inning, we headed over to the concourse behind Section 113…

20 - PNC section 113 panorama.jpg…to see if we could figure out where the umpires would leave the field so we could go for a post-game umpire baseball.  We couldn’t figure it out.

But we did get this awesome picture of Andrew McCutchen hitting a single to CF in the bottom of the ninth…

21 - mccutchen singles in 9th.jpg…if you click to enlarge that picture you can see that the handle of his bat broke when he hit that ball.  After I took that picture, a guy next to me in the concourse tapped my shoulder and asked me what kind of camera I was using.  He saw the picture on the preview screen and was impressed.  By the way, it is a Canon PowerShot SX200is.

When the Braves came to bat in the tenth, we headed out to RF in case someone would hit a homerun there.  On the way, I got this shot of the field from Section 125…

22 - PNC section 125 concourse panorama.jpg…and these shots of pinch hitter Jason Heyward — he walked:

23 - heyward in 10th.jpgHere was the nice sunny view from Section 137 in LF:

24 - PNC section 137 standing room panorama.jpgWe didn’t stay long in LF because we’d spent a lot of time there on Saturday.  We decided to check out the RF bleachers.  We walked around to Section 144, headed up the stairs into the seats, and grabbed two seats just above the tunnel.

Here  was the view:

25 - PNC section 144 panorama.jpgWe made the wrong call.  We should have gone one more section over toward the RF foul pole.  Because about 5 minutes after sitting down, Ryan Doumit stepped to the plate.  I said to Tim, “This guy likes Danzig so he might hit a home run.”  He did.  It was a screaming bullet of a line-drive and it landed exactly where we would have been had we decided to grab the same seats, but one more section over toward the RF pole.  The guy who got the ball was sitting probably 20 seats over from us and one row behind us.

With the walk off HR, it was TIME TO RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER!!!

26 - raise the jolly roger.jpgTime to go home?  Heck, no.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

We got in line on the River walk and Tim hung out on my shoulders and watched the boats on the river:

27 - River walk river-watching.jpgWe snaked our way across the River walk, out to the street behind the 1B line, and through a tunnel that dumped us out at the field right below Section 101.  By the way, inside the tunnel we saw that there is valet parking under the River walk.  I’m guessing that is for VIPs.

Someone was nice enough to take our standard RF foul line picture…

28 - RF warning track.JPG…Unfortunately, the distance sign is at the very top of the wall so we couldn’t get it in the picture with us.

Another standard picture, approaching the infield on the 1B warning track…

29 - approaching PNC infield.JPG…the foul territory is very narrow down the RF line so we got to actually walk in fair territory part of the way.

Then the Pirates switched things up on us!  Before this game, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field, Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park and Miller Park and at every one of those stadiums, the kids started their trip around the bases at first base.

But at PNC Park, they had the kids start from home plate…

30 - PNC Kids Run The Bases.jpg….note that in the top right picture Tim cut first base in order to pass about bunch of kids.  Hopefully the umpire wasn’t looking!

Another great thing about PNC Park is that they didn’t have people rushing us off of the field the second Tim touched home plate.  So we had plenty of time to get some more pictures.  I love this one featuring Tim and the “P” behind home plate…

31 - Tim and the Pitts P.JPG…and this panorama from behind home plate…

32 - PNC home plate field panorama.jpg

…and a father-son picture behind home plate:

34 - TJCs on PNC 3B warning track.JPG

Now check this out, I snapped a picture of the Pirates’ dugout…

33 - pirates dugout scouting report.jpg…and I saw a piece of paper sitting on the ledge behind the bench (yellow arrow to the left).  I took a zoomed in picture of the paper.  Above to the right, you see it is a picture of Omar Infante hitting a double off of Zach Duke.  At the bottom it says “DUKE vs. O. INFANTE  Inn. 6  Out 0  Runners none  Count 3-2  Fly Ball Double.”  I checked the game log, and this isn’t advanced scouting.  This is “in game” scouting.  Infante hit this double off of Duke in the sixth inning of THIS GAME!  That’s pretty cool.

How about another picture as we made our way down the 3B line?  Why not:

35 - Tim on PNC 3B warning track.JPGWhat a beautiful day and a beautiful setting.  Can you blame me for taking so many pictures of this great scene?

As we made our way to the far exit at the LF “corner spot, Tim inspected the dirt on the warning track:

36 - Tim PNC dirt inspector.jpgOn our way out of the seating bowl, we snapped this panorama from the cross aisle behind Section 129:

37 - PNC section 129 cross aisle panorama.jpgAnd this one from the concourse behind Section 132:

38 - PNC section 132 concourse panorama.jpgThen we said good-bye to PNC Park.  It was a great weekend at the ballpark.

But the fun didn’t end quite yet.  We still had four hours in the car ahead of us.  Here are just a couple of the sights from our drive home:

39 - heading home.jpgThe mural at the top left is about 2 blocks from PNC Park, across the street from the Andy Warhol Museum.  I thought it was cool that the mural had the windmills in it because there are a bunch of them in Western PA — as shown in the top right picture.

In the bottom left picture, that is a giant piece of art in Pittsburgh.  I think it was just across the river in downtown.  In case you can’t tell, the Robot man is made out of Pittsburgh’s yellow bridges.  Very cool.

In the bottom right corner, Tim is using his “binoculars” to see the sights.  He took a 20 minute nap in the car, but then was awake the rest of the drive home.  Highlights of the drive included Tim telling me about 50 knock-knock jokes in a row, most concluding with a chicken doing something or other.  Also, after discussing what championship the band Queen had won, we sang “We Are The Champions” about 4 times in a row at the top of our lungs.   Good times on the road.

When we arrived home (about 2.5 hours after Tim’s bed time) Tim was still wide awake.  He proceeded to tell mommy all of the great things we’d done and seen over the weekend.

The weekend was a complete success.  Thanks, Pittsburgh.

2010 Fan Stats:

7 Games

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

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

19 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves)

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

6 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

5 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

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

Rain-Soaked PNC Park (5/22/2010)

At about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and started making our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  This would be our first over-night road trip of the season.

I was really looking forward to this trip.  We’d been to PNC Park before.  In fact, in September 2007, it was our first ever father-son over-night roadtrip (and Tim’s first night ever away from home without mommy).  But we’d never really explored the place.  So that was part of the plan.

We had a blast chatting with each other and playing “I spy” and other driving games as we crossed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania… 

1 - driving to PNC.jpgA couple notes about those pictures:

  1. I always enjoy the drive across PA because there are several long tunnels through “mountains”  (if you were on the west coast you’d call these “hills”…mountains have snow at the top).
  2. The rest stop in the bottom left had special parking spots for “low emitting fuel efficient vehicles” like my Prius.  But when we returned to our car, we found a Hummer H3 parked next to us in the “green” parking spots.  Weak, Hummer driver.  Weak!
  3. Tim LOVED our hotel room, which we got for a great price on hotwire.com…our first time ever using it.

It rained a lot during the day.  But we headed to the park early in hopes of seeing BP.  On our way over to the “River walk” entrance in LCF field, we snapped some pictures of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente…

2 - clemente stargell.jpg…and the Roberto Clemente Bridge just behind the Clemente statue.  I love all of the gold bridges crossing the river from downtown Pittsburgh to the North Shore.

When we arrived, the River walk was open…

3 - PNC Park Riverwalk.JPG…but the rest of the stadium was only open to season ticket holders.  From the River walk, I could see the tarp covering the field.  No BP.  We killed time watching boats in the river and birds flying all around the River walk.

Half an hour later, we were behind home plate taking in this soggy afternoon view:

4 - PNC section 18-17 panorama.jpgThere were three Braves playing catch down the 1B line.  Nothing else was going on in the stadium, so we headed over to watch them.  One of the three Braves was Takashi Saito…

5 - Takashi Saito.jpg…with whom we would soon have a nice interaction.  We’ll get to that soon.  First, Saito finished up playing catch and returned to the dugout.

Soon, Billy Wagner came out of the dugout and started signing autographs right by the OF end of the dugout.  We were about 40-50 feet further toward RF.

At the time, Billy was sitting on 389 career saves, one behind Dennis Eckersley and number 6 on the all-time career saves leaderboard.  After signing some autographs, he headed to RF to play catch.  On his way by, I got him to take a picture with Tim…

6 - Billy Wagner.jpg…as you can tell by his big smile, Billy was really nice.  He was very happy to meet Tim and pose for a picture.  And he got a kick out of our Mariners shirts and hats.  Tim was proud to announce that “We like the Mariners!”

After signing one of our tickets…

billy wagner ticket autograph.JPG…Billy headed to RF to play catch.

Then, Takashi Saito came back out to RF to play catch again.  Thanks to another MLBlogger (thanks, Nao), I know a few Japanese words, one of which is a polite way to say “excuse me.”  As Saito approached us, I told Tim to say “excuse me” in Japanese and, if Saito looked our way, to ask him for a baseball.

As Saito passed, Tim called out, “Sumimasen!”  Saito quickly looked over with a surprised smile and Tim asked him for a baseball.  As he continued to RF, Saito showed us the fronts and backs of both of his hands as to say “Sorry, I don’t have one.”  No problem.  It was pretty cool just having him react positively to Tim’s tidbit of Japanese.

Saito then played catch with Kenshin Kawakami in RF as his interpreter watched them.  When Saito and Kawakami finished playing catch, Saito headed back toward the dugout.  On his way, he looked our way and then headed over to a teammate (Cristhian Martinez) who was stretching nearby and asked him for the baseball resting nearby in his glove.

When I saw this, I told Tim, “He’s getting you a baseball!”  It was awesome.  Tim’s request was going to work!  Saito got the baseball and started walking over to us.

Then The Weirdest Thing Happened!

Out of nowhere, we hear someone on the field yell “HEY, SEATTLE!”  I looked out to RF and saw that it was Billy Wagner.  Billy held up a baseball and then fired a perfect strike to my chest right as Saito was approaching us with the other baseball!

I caught Wagner’s baseball as Saito watched on.  I yelled “Thanks!” to Billy and then showed the baseball to Saito.  We smiled at each other and gave each other a mutual “wow, that was weird” expression and I thanked Saito for the gesture.  He then headed back to the dugout with the baseball he’d grabbed from Martinez.

A few minutes later, Wagner headed back to the dugout and I asked if he would sign the baseball he’d given to Tim.  He grabbed the ball and pen and knelt down next to Tim again and said, “I’ll sign this baseball for you if you give me a big “GO BRAVES!””  Tim complied with a big “Go Braves!”  Wagner laughed at Tim and declared, “You’re too easy!”

He then explained to me how he was going to sign the ball (as in, where on the ball).   I said, “do it however you want!”, which was funny because 2 second later another guy handed him a baseball and said, “Can you sign it on the sweet spot?” (we’re not very demanding with our autograph requests).

Anyway, here is a picture of Tim a few seconds after getting the ball from Wagner…

7 - wagner ball autograph.JPG…and the final signed baseball (in the cube in which it now resides on Tim’s dresser).

Hey, it was time to play some catch outselves!

8 - PNC catch.JPGNone of the ushers said a word to us as we played catch in the field level seats.  Cool.

Then, it was time to explore.  I had an idea I’d been planning to do for a long time.  Now was the time.  It required us to walk to the LF upper deck.   On the way there, I took this gloomy panorama over the visitors’ dugout:

9 - PNC section 13-12 panorama.jpgNote how the Pirates put a Braves logo on the visitors’ dugout.  Very thoughtful of the Pirates.

The plan was to take pictures (hundreds of pictures) while we circled the stadium and then to make a 360 degree stadium video from them.  You can see the finished product in our last entry.

By the way, the time stamp on our first 360 degree picture was 5:27 p.m. and the last picure was taken at 6:30 p.m.  So, subtracting the 15 minute telephone call I had with my wife right as we made it into the field level behind the 3B dugout, it took approximately 45 minutes to take the 700 photos used in the PNC360 video.

Here is a panorama from the spot where I took the first of the PNC360 photos:

9a - PNC section 333 row 1 panorama.jpgMy original plan was to go all the way around the upper deck.  But I was aiming my camera at the (tarp covered) pitchers mound, which made it so the Pittsburgh skyline was cut out of the pictures.  So I cut diagonal down through the LF foul upper deck seats.  However, do to this, I needed to get into the Pittsburgh Baseball Club seats at the lower portion of the upper deck.  This is a special club for which you need special tickets — we didn’t have them.

Luckily, I did have a supercute kid.  I tried to sweet talk our way into the club so we could go take pictures cutting diagonal through the seats.  The lady working the door explained, “I wouldn’t let you do this, but he is just so cute.”  So Tim’s cuteness got us in.  I took a couple pictures in there but it is so dark they didn’t come out well.  This is the best shot I got inside the club:

10 - Pittsburgh Baseball Club.JPGAfter passing through the club, we headed to the field level and took a hard-induced break.  While I chatted with the wife on the phone, I took Tim’s Garrett Jones give-away action figure out of its box and gave it to Tim.

To put it mildly, he loves that action figure…

11 - garrett jones figure.jpg…he named his Jones action figure “Ichiro.”  Ah, Tim is a good Mariners fan.  Tim was still playing with “Ichiro” when we made it all the way around to the LF foul pole to finish up our PNC360 tour.

More rain…

Hour an a half rain delay…

Check out the concourse as we went to get nachos…

12 - busy rain delay concourse.JPG

Everyone was hiding from the rain.

After nachos, it was time for ice cream helmets:

13 - pirates ice cream and cartoon.JPGTim couldn’t look at me and smile for that picture because they were showing a bugs bunny baseball cartoon on the jumbo screen.  By the way, the price and choices of real ice cream (or soft serve) at PNC Park were outstanding.  The “Pirates Buried Treasure” ice cream was ridiculously good…and Tim loved his mint chocolate chip.

As we sat in our pre-game ice cream seats (section 119), I took this panorama:

14 - PNC section 119 panorama.jpgAnd this one, which is simply zoomed in more:

15 - PNC section 119 panorama 2.jpgAfter ice cream, it was time for some more exploring.

Here is the view from the concourse in LCF behind section 138:

16 - PNC section 138 concourse panorama.jpgHey, look, its Tim in section 339…

17 - Tim at PNC section 339.JPG….and here is a panorama from roughly the same spot in section 339:

18 - PNC section 339 back row panorama.jpgBy the way, these are the general admission seats in LF.  There are a couple rows of “reserved” outfield seats in front of these seats.  How about another panorama?  This one is from between sections 337(left) and 336 (right):

19 - PNC sections 337-336 panorama.jpgHere is a panorama from the concourse behind section 137 as the grounds crew is in the process of removing the tarp:

19a - PNC section 137 panorama.jpgIt was still pre-game.  Due to the rain delay, the game was going to start at 8:35 p.m. (twelve hours after we left home).  Eventually, we asked an ushed to take our picture in the LF concourse:

20 - TJCs in PNC LF.JPGWhen we spotted Jason Heyward warming up in RF, we headed over there:

21 - watching warmups.JPGAnd Tim held up this home made sign that Heyward never saw:

22 - stretching heyward.jpgEventually, the game started and Heyward hit a single in the first inning:

23 - heyward about to INF single.JPGSoon we headed over to LF and got this random picture on the walk over there:

24 - 406 wall.JPGWe watched most of the game from the standing area behind the LF reserve seating:

25 - staking out his ground.JPGThe ushers let Tim have free reign in the handicapped seating area behind section 137:

26 - running laps.JPGThis was our view of the Pitts M&M’s…

27 - McCutchen Milledge.JPG…and former short-time Mariner, Ronny Cedeno:

28 - cedeno the pirate.JPGThe Braves took the early lead in the second on a lead-off HR by Melky Cabera and an RBI ground out by Chipper Jones.  Then they tacked on another run in the third on a homerun by Eric Hinske.

The Pirates came back with two of their own in the fourth on an RBI triple by Lastings Milledge and a sacrifice bunt by Cedeno.

We left the LF standing room area in about the 5th inning because a drunk Pirates fan was being excessively loud (in non-family friendly language) in his pointless taunting of a Braves fan (I’m not sure the Pirates have done enough to give their fans license to taunt…anyone).

Anyway, Tim wanted to explore the spiral ramp in LF and the upper deck.  So we were off.

First, we checked out legacy square where Tim posed with some stars of the old Negro League:

29 - legacy square statues.jpgGoing clockwise from the upper right:  “Judy” Johnson, “Cool Papa” Bell, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, “Buck” Leonard, and…oh, no, Judy Johnson again!  Oops.

Anyway, if you are at PNC Park check out Legacy Square.  Can see little grey terminals next to each statue?  Those are little TV screens where you can run a program that will tell you about each of these men.  Very cool, Pirates.  Good job.

Then we were off to the upper deck.  Here is a panorama from the spiral ramp:

31 - PNC RF ramp panorama.jpg

Here’s a random shot of the batters’ eye and bullpen from the spiral ramp:

32 - bullpens at PNC.JPG

I like this shot from the top of the ramp because it shows various levels of the ballpark…

30 -PNC levels.JPG…the spiral ramp, the infield seats, and the left field reserve seating.

Here is a panorama from section 317 behind home plate..

33 - PNC section 317 panorama.jpg…I wish I got that shot on a sunny day.  Its a majestic view of the ballpark and city from this vantage point.

Here is a random view of the upperdeck showing the pennants for the Pirates World Series Championships… 

34a - PNC upperdeck.JPG…none of those titles came during the current 17-year losing season streak…obviously.

Its a nice view from up in the upperdeck.  Tim was taking it all in:

34 - high above PNC.JPGThe Braves were throwing Derek Lowe…

35 - loweverrated.JPG…who I personally rank as one of the most overrated players in the game.  He was given a No. 1 starter contract by the Braves, but his career record is only 147-121 (with 85 career saves).  Don’t get me wrong, I’d personally take a 147-121 big league career.  But he’s no Randy Johnson or _________ (insert the name of any other true No. 1 pitcher).

Tim was getting super-tired by around the 6th inning, which was making him more and more excited.  Eventually, he ran into a handrail (bumped his head) and that was enough upper deck for him.

On our way back to the LF spiral ramp, Tim had to show me the most “adorable baby spider” out in the concourse.  Then we ducked back into the seating area to take this panorama from section 235:

36 - PNC section 325 panorama.jpgAbout  two minutes later, the Pierogies were racing!

36a - perogy race.jpgTim loves (to eat) pierogies so he was happy to see the Pierogies race.

After the race, I snapped this picture of thie “PIRATES” plants in the CF batters eye:

37 - Pirates batters eye bushes.JPGAs we wound back toward LF, we stopped to watch Nate “Former Pirate” McLouth…

37 - Nate McWhiff.JPG….whiff big time at this pitch for strike three in the sixth inning.

Very briefly we headed back to the standing room area in LF.  That’s where we were when Jason Jaramillo grounded weakly to future hall of famer, Chipper Jones:

38 - grounder to chipper jones.jpgBy the seventh inning, it was 10:30 (or later), and Tim was teetering on the brink of falling asleep after a big exciting day.

We decided to go to RF to watch Heyward play the field.  Tim was on my shoulders as we took the pictures for this panorama:

38a - PNC CF ramp behind bullpen panorama.jpgBy the time we made it over to Heyward…

39 - heyward in RF.JPG…Tim was out like a light.

40 - TJC crashes late in game.JPGWith sleeping Tim on my shoulders and a backpack full of rain gear, sweat shirts, long sleave shirts, extra t-shirts, two huge Garret Jones action figure pictures and who knows what else, my back was about to break under the extreme weigh.

So we took off early.

We missed Billy Wagner coming into the game and tying Dennis Eckersley in the all-time list with his 390th career save.

We walked to the car and I changed Tim into some night time sleeping cloths.   He was still out.  Then as we drove to the freeway, Tim woke up and asked “Is the game over?”  He was a little upset that we left early, but he explained “I ran out of my energy.”

So we drove back to our hotel for the night.  It was a good first day and game of the weekend roadtrip.  We’d be back at PNC Park the next day for another game and we were already looking forward to it (and hoping the forecasted rain would stay away).

2010 Fan Stats:

6 Games

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

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

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

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

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

4 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

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

 

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