Results tagged ‘ Chicago Cubs ’

2012 Cook GFS Game 3 – Cubs vs. Cardinals (5/15/12)

On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, we were right back at it for another Cubs-Cardinals rivalry game, the third game of the 2012 GFS Roadtrip.

The game was an odd 12:45 start.  My dad and I debated what to do with regard to attending *BP* or just showing up for the game.  We both suspected there would be no BP.  In the end, my natural sense of “its-just-wrong-to-show-up-at-game-time” prevailed.  We decided to take our chances with there not being BP.

As we approached the stadium, I pointed out a bunch of statues to Tim and mentioned that we should go check them out after the game, since there would still be plenty of day light after the game.  Tim decided he couldn’t wait.  He wanted to check them out ASAP.

My Dad and I agreed that he and Tim would go check out the statues while Kellan and I went to check out *BP* — or, more likely, pitchers’ pre-game warm ups.

Tim got creative and my dad took some wonderful posing-with-statues pictures at Busch Stadium’s LF entrance:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I headed into the stadium to find, in addition to several Cubs pitchers warming up down the LF line, the batting cage was set up for BP!  We headed down the LF line.  When the first set of pitchers finished throwing…

…super tall, Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad tossed us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Chris!

Outside the stadium, Tim and my dad continued with some more serious statue poses:

Cut back to the field, there were still two sets of Cubs pitchers warming up along the LF line.  There were a couple autograph seekers camped out down the foul line, but no one else seemed all that serious about catching a baseball.  I figured our odds of getting another warm up ball were decent, provided that the pitchers didn’t notice that we got the ball from Volstad.  To avoid that scenario, we moved about 10 rows back and walked over to the next section further away from the pitchers.

When Casey Coleman finished throwing with his Rafael Dolis…

…(he is the Cubs pitcher on the left)…I called out, “Hey, Casey!?” and I gave him a solid glove-flap when he looked at me.

BOOM – he chucked us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Casey!

Back outside, Tim and Grandpa wrapped around the 3B side of the stadium and got a few more statue and other memorial pictures:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I (well, really, it was just my decision) decided to head out to RF where there was a tiny patch of shaded seats.

By the way, I ought to mention that I was fearful of the sun all day.  The sun is Tim and Kellan’s kryptonite.  Kellan seemed to like the relief from the sun:

This is what Busch Stadium looked like from our temporary spot out in section 127:

Before long, Tim and my dad met up with us in RF.  Not soon after that, Shawn Camp…

…made a long toss to us after fielding a ball in RCF.

Thanks, Shawn!

And he wasn’t done with us just yet.

The sun was still creeping in on us.  So we retreated to the back of section 130:

Eventually, my dad and Tim headed down to the first row in the RF corner.

Kellan and I (again, really it was my decision) decided to head out to CF.  Before I could even take a panorama, Tony Campana…

…tossed us a baseball.

Hey, thanks, Tony!

So, it was on to LF for us.  On our way, we ran into Fredbird:

Kellan and I landed in section 172:

But it was just too sunny.  We gave up pretty quick there.

Meanwhile, my dad and Tim were still in the RF corner…

…and so was Shawn Camp.

Tim remembered Camp’s name from ten minutes earlier when he’d thrown a ball to us.  So when a ball was hit into an opening in the RF wall and Camp (for some odd reason) went after it, Tim waited for him to return with the ball.  And then my precious, wee-little Tim called out, “Hey, Shawn, can you toss me the ball, please!?” (NOTE:  I was 300 feet away and have no clue of the actual words, so I’m paraphrasing here).  Camp responded in the affirmative.

And Tim gloved this baseball (and he and Grandpa went behind home plate so he could pose with it):

Thanks, again, Shawn!

And congratulations to my big boy, Tim, for getting this baseball 100% on  his own!

Meanwhile, out in brutally hot and sunny LF, our main activities consisted of me taking pictures of the visitors bullpen…

…Kellan trying to run up the stairs to the concourse.

I took Kellan’s hint – he wanted out of the sun.

We walked the concourse toward CF where there is a “Welcome to Busch Stadium” sign…

…past the concession stands and tables in the deep CF concourse…

…and into the nice, completely shaded little-kids’ play area:

Kellan was the ONLY kid in there for a while.  Eventually, Tim and Grandpa met us there and Tim and Kellan were the only kids in the play area, which was good for Tim.  But the second another little kid showed up, the attendant told Tim he was too big for the play area.

So, while I took a panorama from the field from the play area…

…Grandpa took Tim to the speed pitch:

His best throw was 26 m.p.h., which he beat last year.  But, hey, it is early in the season.  He’s still getting “stretched out.”

The previous day, my dad hadn’t explored the upper deck at all.  So we decided to explore up there as the game drew near.

We headed up the switch-back-ramp.  On the second deck, I popped into the stairway between two suites and sections 230-229 to get this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:

We then got a picture of Tim and my dad with a “Busch Stadium” sign, which is on the back of the scoreboard:

And a partial panorama from the upper deck concourse:

Kyle Lohse’s first pitch of the game to David DeJesus???

It was a ball.  His second pitch resulted in a line drive single to CF.

By default, we decided to watch the first inning unfold from the upper deck concourse in RF.  As Tony Campana strode to the plate…

…Kellan practiced hanging from a railing.

Lohse’s first and only to Campana also resulted in a single to CF:

While all of this unfolded, our view from the concourse behind section 428 looked like this:

Lohse threw four pitches to the next batter, Starlin Castro.  But Starlin turned that fourth pitch around for a third consecutive single to CF:

DeJesus scored on the play:

The Cubs followed Castro with a run-scoring double play (LaHair), double to CF (Alphonso Soriano), an RBI single to CF (Ian Stewart), and a fly out to RF.

Three outs and five hits to CF into the game, the Cubs led 3-0.

While the Cards muddled through the top of the first, I got a nice picture of Tim and Busch Stadium:

In their half of the first, the Cardinals scratched out three hits and plated two runs of their own.  But we didn’t really see any of it because, after the top of the first, we walked around the upper deck a little bit so my dad could check it out.

My dad took this shot of Tim…

…with another St. Louis arch.  This one was notable because it was the only “Pujols” I saw displayed in the ballpark.  I am sure there are others somewhere, but they did a pretty good job of removing his presence around the stadium.

The fans were not quite as good.  Many of them were still wearing Pujols jerseys and t-shirts, and at least a handful of those fans had used magic markers to put a big “X” through the “Pujols 5” on their backs.  It’s too bad.  The guy will undoubtedly go down as one of the best baseball players ever and he did incredible things for these guys while wearing a Cardinals jersey.

By my dad’s and my standards, it was a hot day, but no big deal.  By Tim’s standards, it was like we were walking on the surface of the sun.  Our seats were down on the field level in section 167.  They were really nice tickets that I never should have bought for this day game.  They were in the direct sunlight.  I knew Tim would be miserable if we went down there.  So we did just the opposite of what happens every day at MLB ballparks, we put our nice field level tickets away and we *snuck* up to the very last row of the upper deck down in section 440, which is down the 1B line.

This was our view:

It was actually really nice.  Great view AND completely shaded.

It was made even a bit cooler by some nicely timed ice cream helmets:

Since we had eaten a nice breakfast not too long before coming to the game, I told Tim we could do a “switcheroo” and get ice cream first and lunch second.  He was all for the switcheroo plan.  In fact, he has suggested it at some other games since this one.

While we were eating a group of about 15 college gals came to claim their seats in the last row.  So we had to move up to the second to last row.

The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the second to knot up the score at 3-3.

Eventually, I asked Tim who he wanted to win.  He was *crushed* the night before when he had picked the Cardinals and then they lost.  He had a new plan today.  He would wait to see the outcome of the game and THEN he would decide who he was supporting.  Ah, a fool-proof method.  He had to win!

While the boys chomped on their ice cream, I decided I should get some action shots.  Here is one of the most interesting action shots I have ever captured:

I was completely confused about what happened on the play.  So were the Cubs.  They argued.  The umpires deliberated:

But eventually they stuck with their initial call: Campana tried to pull back, but bunted the ball foul for strike three.  He was out of there!

With two down in the top of the third, I was all set to capture another LaHair homerun.  But after hitting a couple foul balls…

…he grounded out to Cardinals first basemen Matt Carpenter.

In the fifth inning with the score still tied at 3-3, we decided to grab some pizza for lunch and give our actual seats a try.  They were beautiful:

But Tim just could not hack it.  He was miserable.  He couldn’t even last a half inning in the sun.  I was fine leaving our seats mere minutes after sitting down in them because the lady directly behind me (who I will estimate was approximately 24 years old) literally dropped 2-3 f-bombs in every single sentence that came out of her mouth.  I’m not easily offended…and I guess I wasn’t really offended here either, but this lady was ridiculous.  In a ballpark full of kids and with two of them sitting literally 2 feet in front of you, an adult should know that they should note drop 100-200 f-bombs in a span of 10 minutes.  I’m not joking with that number.  Without any exaggeration, she dropped an f-bomb about every 5 words or so AND she talked constantly AND really loudly.

So, yeah, the seats were great, but I was fine getting my boys out of the pounding sun and profane atmosphere.

We needed shade, so we took refuge here…

…in the concourse just inside of Gate 4.  It was a nice time and place for to call home and chat with mommy a bit.

Oh, I should mention that Matt Holliday hit a tie-breaking solo homerun in the fifth to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.

After thwarting my efforts to capture his tenth homerun of the season a few innings earlier, Brian LaHair hit a blast in the top of the sixth that tied up the score, once again, at 4-4.

After eating and chatting with Colleen, we ended spending the rest of the game in the shady little kids’ play area in CF:

In Cardinals and Cubs swapped runs again in the seventh inning to make it 5-5.

While Kellan played, I was able to watch the action over the front wall of the play area enclosure.  I was standing there in the eighth when Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals ahead 6-5 with this homerun:

If you click on that picture, you can see the homerun ball on the very top edge of the picture, directly above the catcher’s glove.

All the while, Kellan kept playing, sometimes in a manner that made him look like he is made of plastic:

After Carpenter’s homerun, Tyler Greene hit a triple and then Carlos Beltran pinch hit for the pitcher and drew an intentional walk.

That set up another cool action shot.  Rafael Furcal followed with a hard hit grounder to 3B:

Greene got caught too far off the bag, there was a brief run down, and the Starlin Castro eventually tagged out Greene:

During some of the action, Grandpa took Tim to one of the big kid attractions – a cage where you could hit baseballs hanging from a metal arm.  Tim had a great time taking some hard whacks at the ball and making it spin around the arm over-and-over-and-over:

And Kellan, he just kept playing in the play area:

Leading off the top of the ninth, Alphonso Soriano stepped to the plate.  The announcer on the flat screen TV just above us commented that “Fonzie” can turn around a pitch pretty quick so Cardinals closer Jason Motte better pitch him carefully.

Well, he apparently did not, because “Fonzie” turned around the second pitch he saw for a deep, game-tying homerun to RF.

So it was 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth.

For a dad who wants to watch the game, but has two kids who cannot stand the scorching hot sun and want to play around, this covered play area really was idea.  I got tons of great action shots from my little spot on the play area wall.

But then some oblivious fan ruined my best one of the day:

It was a walk off double by Yadier Molina that scored Matt Holliday from second.  As you can see, I captured Yadier a fraction of a second before he made contact with the game winning hit and right at the same time as this lady walked into my shot.  (Queue the Debbie Downer sound effect).

Tim didn’t care about my photographic misfortune.  By the end of the game, he was again set on the Cardinals winning.

Moments after the game ended and the other kids started to clear out, Tim leapt to the top of the big baseball glove toy and claimed victory as his:

ALL HAIL KING TIM!

Before leaving the stadium, I took one last Busch Stadium panorama from section 505:

And a nice lady who ended up asking us about our Roadtrip and as quite happy we had the opportunity to see a Cardinals win in St. Louis took our picture:

On our way out, I snapped this picture of a little baseball field in the bricks way out behind CF:

I’m not sure if it serves a purpose or is just nice to look at.  It definitely is the latter, but it seemed like whenever we walked by it during these two games at Busch Stadium they had booths or some type events taking place on here – as opposed to having some kids playing whiffleball (which would have been better).

On our drive out of St. Louis we were heading West and would not pass through town again.  So I got a last photo of the Gateway Arch…

…and then we drove off into the sunset.

The next day we would hop in the car and drive to Kansas City for our one and only game at Kauffman Stadium.  More good times were definitely on tap, as we’ll see in our next entry.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

7/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3
33 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 2 – Cubs vs. Cardinals (5/14/12)

So, we had a great first day of the Roadtrip in Minneapolis.   But when we woke up May 13, 2012, it was time to start the “road” phase of the trip.  This trip featured less driving days than some past trips, but the drives were generally longer.  On May 13th, we drove all the way from Minneapolis to Saint Louis.  It was about 550 miles total, cutting across Iowa and into Missouri.

Here are a couple photo highlights from the big drive:

Top Left: We grabbed some free breakfast at the hotel and hopped in the car to eat on the road.

Top Right:  Somewhere in Iowa, we passed this statue-thingy of three fighter jets.  Pretty cool.

Bottom Left: My Dad logged more miles behind the wheel than I did, but I spelled him for a good chunk of driving during the middle of the drive, at which point he did some reading.

Bottom Right: There wasn’t much to see in Iowa.  This big fish in a gas station parking lot was one of the highlights.

There was a surprise waiting for us in the St. Louis area.  My dad had booked the “Kozy Kaboose” for us at the St. Louis West KOA campground:

That caboose behind Tim was our hotel room!  It had a queen sized bed and a couch with a pull-out bed (which looked incredibly uncomfortable, but it was actually just fine).  Tim absolutely loved the caboose surprise.

Good work, Pa!

So, all we did on May 13 was drive, play at the caboose and play area right behind it, and go out to dinner at the local Applebees.

But we had a REALLY BIG day lined up for us on May 14, 2012.

I decided this would be the perfect day for us to wear the Roadtrip t-shirts I had made for us.  They were plain white t-shirts with the following photo on the chest:

I made that picture from 13 different photos.  It includes elements representing each of the four stadiums we would visit on the trip:  Rocky Mountains (Colorado Rockies), the “twins” shaking hands over the river (Minnesota Twins), the St. Louis Gateway Arch with a humungous cardinal sitting on top (St. Louis Cardinals), and a lion (king of the jungle) wearing Sluggerrrrr the mascot’s crown (Kansas City Royals).  It also features a Mariners compass logo that I drew on my computer using a real baseball, and with a Cook & Son Baseball Bats logo overlaid on the Mariners logo.  Finally, it features a picture of me (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game in Seattle) holding Kellan (from the 5/12/11 Mariners game in Baltimore) standing with my Dad (from the 8/13/11 Marlins/Giants game at Sun Life Stadium), and Tim (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game).  Oh, yeah, and the Rocky Mountains are rising up behind the outfield wall at Safeco Field (from the Safeco tour we took in 2009).

I made the shirts just for fun and, if I do say so myself, they were a big hit on the trip.  People in St. Louis loved them and complimented us a lot throughout the day.  So, if you were otherwise going to wonder what was on our shirts in the following photos, there is your explanation.

We started off in the morning by grabbing some food in the car and driving into St. Louis to visit the famous Gateway Arch.  I had heard you could take an “elevator” to the top and I was very curious about how that works.

We parked in a cool little area of the city (if you are standing under the Arch and facing the city, we parked in the section just to the right of the arch)…

…and we walked over to hop a ride up the arch.  The middle and right picture above show us in our tiny little “pod.”  When you get inside the arch, it looks like there are 8 tiny elevator doors descending down some steps (with the high point toward the outside of the arch and the low point (elevator no. 8) toward the middle side of the arch).  The door opens and you climb into a tiny pod with five seats.  It is essentially like a ferris wheel car.  You can feel that you are dangling from a connection at the top of the pod.  Instead of going straight up, you start by going sideways toward the outside of the arch, then the 8 pods lift up like a dangling string of pearls.  The pods have a glass door so you can see the inside of the arch as you ascend toward the top.  And it is a crazy mess of stairways and sheet metal.  When the pods reaches the top, pod 1 is then at the highest point toward the middle of the arch and pod 8 is at the lowest point toward the outside of the arch.  We were in pod 7 on the way up.  Hopefully that all makes sense.

Here’s a photo that hopefully gives you a sense of things:

In that picture to the left, Kellan and I are climbing the stairs at the top of the arch – going up from pod 7 to the observation deck.  The picture to the right is a screen that is at the top of the stairs and shows the status of the pods on the two sides of the arch – we went up the “south tram” (which was the only tram in use while we were there).

I thought the observation deck would have a flat floor – nope.  It is an arch and there is nothing flat about it, as you can see in the top left photo below:

As shown in the top right and bottom left photos above, there are a bunch of tiny windows that you can look out of for some amazing views of the city.  Or, as shown in the bottom right, you can look straight down 630 feet!

The arch and the observation deck are triangular in shape.  To look out the windows, you have to lean out over (or lay down on) the slanted outer wall.  It is well worth it.  Check out this view:

When we had our fill of the observation deck, we hopped into pod no. 8 and made our way back down to earth.  We walked far enough away to get some fun pictures of the arch.  Like these:

And this great one of Tim holding up the arch:

Way to sell it, Tim!

With plenty of time (hours and hours) until gates opened for the evening’s game, it was time to head to another activity.  We had no other plans when we woke up, but on the drive to the arch, my wife texted me and said we should go to the “City Museum.”  I asked the lady in the Arch gift shop about it and she said we would LOVE it.

She was right!

The City Museum is a huge museum of stuff for kids.  It is a like a huge playground.  Everything in the museum was found in the city of St. Louis and it was all built into the museum by a group of artisans who created the museum.

It was too crazy and huge to even photograph properly, so I’ll just show you this photo of Kellan climbing some stairs several stories above the ground:

All that I can say is, if you’re in St. Louis and you have kids GO TO THE CITY MUSEUM!

Oh, what the heck, let’s show you some more City Museum pictures:

We got tired and sweaty at the City Museum.  Luckily, we still had time to go back to the caboose and nap a bit before the game.

Around 3:00 p.m., we drove back into the city (it was about a half hour drive for us) for the game.  We are some not all that beautiful city pictures as we approached the stadium:

We parked in a lot beyond CF and then jumped in line at the CF gate (Gate 5):

Right as the gates were supposed to open, a worker arrived inside the gate and told everyone in our line that Gate 5 wouldn’t open for another hour.  So we all had to find another gate. We picked Gate 4, which is in the LF corner.

That was probably better anyway, because I planned to head into foul territory anyway.

We were going to be sitting in section 168, which is right in the LF foul corner.  Gate 4 lets you into the stadium just around the corner from section 168.  So it was easy access to where we wanted to go.

Upon entering the stadium, Tim and my dad headed out to LF and Kellan and I went down the LF foul line, right to the corner spot.  Very soon after arriving there, a ball was hit foul, kicked off of the stands well in from us and came to rest in shallow LF.  There were no players even remotely near the ball.

And then something ridiculous happened.  I looked on my phone to find that number 48 on the Cubs was Rafael Dolis.  He was in LF pretty close to the warning track and a LONG way from that baseball.  Fully expecting nothing to come from it, I called out, “Hey, Rafael!”  Dolis looked at us and I turned and pointed to the ball in shallow LF and gave him a “hey, why not go grab that and toss it to us?” shrug.

That was the first ridiculous part.   The second ridiculous part was that it worked.

Dolis started a long slow, incredibly slow, walk toward the baseball:

That is Dolis both coming and going on the left side of that picture.  He walked all the way over to the ball and was immediately met by chorus calls from fans closer to the infield shouting for the baseball.  He turned to them and pointed at us, “Its for them!”  And then he tossed it to us.

Holy cow!  Thanks, Rafael!

I was truly shocked he walked all that way just to hook us up with that baseball.  It was very much appreciated.

With a Busch Stadium baseball in hand, Kellan and I retreated to the shady seats behind the Cubs (3B) dugout…

…while Tim and my dad stayed in sunny L (that is them in the first row at the bottom of the stairway).

Here was our view of Busch Stadium from behind the 3B dugout:

Tim and my dad headed out to CF.  Nothing was hit their way and eventually an usher decided that Tim deserved a baseball.

Eventually, we decided to brave the sun again and we headed to the RF foul corner.  Tim and my dad came and met up with us and we watched BP for a few more minutes.  But it was pretty hot and we were thinking of just heading back to the shade behind 3B.

Just before doing so, a Cubs lefty sliced (or would it be hooked?) a foul ball down the RF line.  We were on the wall in RF, which was probably 7 rows back in the seating configuration.  All of the people in the first row or two (by the corner spot) were totally oblivious to their surroundings.  I truly thought this ball was going to nail someone in the side of the head.

I screamed, “HEADS UP!”  Everyone looked around frantically and the ball smashed down on the warning track and bounced high over about 10-15 people.

I was holding Kellan and *we* immediately broke down the row of seats.  I made it just far enough to make a fully-extended backhanded catch of the one-hopper, all while Kellan clung to my body wrapped by my throwing arm.

Here is where we were when we caught it:

A female usher came down and congratulated me on catching the baseball and added, “Thank you for not dropping your son!”  “Hey, no problem, “ I responded.

Almost as soon as we reached the shade behind 3B, BP was finished.  We decided to walk further down the LF line until we found an usher who (loved our Roadtrip shirts and) was kind enough to take our picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – Busch Stadium bonus picture!

That tiny little “Busch Stadium” sign was the best we could find in the ballpark for the bonus shot.  It turns out it would get harder and harder to find a stadium sign inside the stadiums as this trip progressed.  Interestingly, there are “Busch Stadium” logos on all of the garbage cans and in the upper deck concourse, but this was the best we could do by the field.

After getting our picture, we visited our seats.  They were great!

But we didn’t stay long because there was a parade of kids going around the warning track and we wanted to get close because it was being led by…

…Fredbird!

That was as close-up we would get to him at this game.

Before the game, the four of us took a big lap around the entire field level concourse looking for a play area.

Along the way, we found cool looking hand operated (by apparently inaccurate) out-of-town scoreboards in the concourse down the 1B line:

The AL board said the Mariners were tied 3-3 with Oakland, but they were actually playing the Red Sox later that day, and they had just arrived in Boston from a series in New York.  So I have no clue when these scores were last updated.  That *old* Busch Stadium sign was attached to the NL out-of-town scoreboard.

We found a little kids play area (not for Tim) in CF, which was nice and shady.  But it was for little kids only so we kept walking.  Just behind the play area, we found this muscle car on a pitchers mound:

For some reason, Tim has been excited to point out muscle cars everywhere we go lately.  So he wanted a picture pitching with the muscle car…and Kellan likes to copy everything his big brother does.

Once we finished out loop around the field level, Tim decided he was starving and he declared he wanted pizza for a second game in a row!  We hadn’t even been paying attention to the food as we walked, so we started our second loop around and made it all the way to home plate before we found pizza.

We reported to our seats…

…and Tim artistically ate his pizza while Kellan slammed a tray of nachos (with my assistance):

The game was entertaining.  Jake Westbrook was on the hill for the Cardinals…

…and he hung zeros on the board through the first four innings (until the Cubs put up a 4-spot in the top of the fifth inning).  By the way, that is David DeJesus batting in the picture above to the right.

Tim decided he wanted the Cardinals to win.  Personally, I was hoping the Cardinals would get destroyed so all of the fans would go home early and the stadium wouldn’t be as crowded.  For the record, I hope that at all games except Mariners home games and Yankee road games.

For some reason, I don’t really care for Cardinals leftfielder (and big time slugger) Matt Holliday.  I just don’t like how he carries himself.  Maybe I’m completely wrong.  But he just seems a bit smug to me.

So, I was amused when he botched an incredibly easy fly ball to LF:

Hey, the guy can mash.  But his glove leaves much to be desired.

Each MLB stadium has its own policy regarding at what age (or height) a kid needs his own ticket.  I am all for no buying Kellan a ticket whenever possible.  Luckily, the Cardinals allow all kids THREE and under into the ballpark for free.  That’s great!

But the stadium is so packed, that you actually do have to keep the little ones on your lap – like this:

…or standing in front of you – like this:

But it worked out just fine for us at this packed rivalry game, as you can see from these pictures…

…of Kellan enjoying some fruit snacks…

…while Tim punches out an all-star ballot (not actually voting) and looks around his thirty-first Major League Baseball stadium.

The Cubs sent practical joker, Ryan Dempster, to the hill…

…and he hung zeros on the board for the first five innings (until the Cardinals put up a 4-spot of their own in the sixth inning to knot it at 4-4).  By the way, that is David Freese taking his cuts above to the right.

After eating, I needed to go tour the ballpark and take pictures.  Tim decided to join me while Kellan (apparently against his wishes) stayed behind with Grandpa.  Kellan loves spending time with his Grandpa, but his is a MAJOR daddy’s boy (and I love it!).  He always wants to be with me.  It’s really awesome. In fact, if I am walking down the street with him and a bunch of other people, he gets upset if anyone but me pushes his stroller.  What can I say, I have the magic touch with that boy.

Anyway, unbeknownst to me (because I didn’t noticed my dad calling my cellphone), after a few minutes of being fine, Kellan had a melt down and cried uncontrollably (he’s good at that) until he and grandpa met up with me and Tim again.

Sadly, that took a while because Tim and I were having a great time touring around.

First, we headed to the second deck where we found some baseball team-themed Saint Louis Arches and Tim did his “Yesssss! I just won”…

…and “jumping for joy” poses!

He did more jumping for joy…

…and more winning poses as we found more Arches and Cardinals wall art in this odd little concourse area tucked behind the fancy clubs on the second level.

As we walked by, we saw this World Series trophy through the window of one of those fancy clubs:

I couldn’t tell what year it was from.

In both LF and RF, the concourses jut out a bit past the last section of seats on each of the upper levels.  This provides a nice standing-room only opportunity for the fans.  We took this panorama from the concourse extension on the second deck in LF:

And then we turned and I got these pictures of Tim and the real Arch…

…and Tim and the outfield.

Then we headed up to the third deck and got another end-of-concourse panorama:

If you know Busch Stadium from TV, this is right next to the section with the “Big Mac Land” sign.

After taking the panorama, a fan asked if we wanted a picture.  Of course, we did:

And 30 seconds later, look who we found patrolling the concourse behind Big Mac Land:

Tim meekly told Ronald, “I went to McDonald’s today and ate a happy meal.”  Ronald thought that was just *great*!

From the third deck in LF, you can walk down to the third deck seats or up to the four deck seats.  We headed up to the very top of the upper deck in the LF corner for this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:

Then we continued on toward home plate.  As you get closer to 3B, there is an escalator up to a higher concourse – once you go up the escalator, you then can walk *down* into what LF left would be the third deck, but in the infield is the second deck (hopefully that makes sense – the point is that the *second* deck in LF does not extend into the infield seating – it is replaced by suites.

Anyway, once you get up the escalator, you have officially reached the *highest* concourse in the stadium.  Around 3B there is nothing above it, but once you get closer to the home plate, a *new* upper-deck rises above this *highest* concourse – this all seems very confusing.  Just click on and look at the full-sized versions of some of our panoramas and it will make sense.

Anyway, at the back of the concourse around 3B, you can pose with the giant “St. Louis Cardinals” sign that is facing out of the stadium…

…and you can look down on a statue and big autographed baseball of Stan Musial on the ground outside the stadium.

Here is a panorama as we neared 3B:

Then we took this panorama closer to home plate, where the upper-upper-upper deck begins:

[Recall, all this while, Kellan is crying and pitching a major fit for grandpa while Tim and I are having a lovely time getting to know the ins-and-outs of Busch Stadium – poor Grandpa and Kellan!]

Anyway, we headed up to the very top of the *upper-est* deck in the stadium (behind home plate) for this panorama:

Is that a great looking ballpark or what?  I love the arch in the background and the arch mowed into the outfield grass.

We continued walking around the stadium toward RF.  This is what the concourse looks like behind the upper-deck:

As we approached the RF corner, I pulled and my phone and noticed that my dad and called and texted.  His message was simple, “come help with Kellan.”  My response was probably too ambiguous, “We’re coming from RF upper deck.”  I meant, “Hold on!  We’ll be there ASAP, but we have a long way to walk.”

We snapped one more, sun obscured, panorama from RF before heading down the elevator:

We ended up meeting in the LF concourse.  Kellan was still letting loose with the water works, but he was instantly completely fine the second he saw me.  The second my Dad passed him over to me, he was happy and ready for some ice cream – we met up at the ice cream stand.  This was the real deal – Ben & Jerry’s.  We decided on some delicious mint chocolate chunk:

Tim decided he wanted some blue cotton candy instead of ice cream.  This was fine by me because it meant we could get this “blue tongued” shot for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

However, by the end of the game, I had officially declared:  NO MORE COTTON CANDY!

It made Tim way too hyper…something his father suffered from as a boy, too.

We got back to the seats in time to see the Cubs score their four runs in the top of the fifth innings, which was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Bryan LaHair:

LaHair is having himself quite the season so far.  This was his 9thhomer of the season.  Prior to this season, he only had 5 homeruns in his career.

Kellan was all chilled out now that I was back with him in the seats.  In fact, he was straight up lounging:

After a while, Kellan got restless.  So I took both boys back up to the upper deck by 3B.  The plan was to tire them out running up the switch-back ramp.  And it worked.  We got one more panorama up there:

Tim did some silly-sugar induced posing…

…and I got a shot of the upper deck rising above the upper-concourse.  And then we headed back to our seats to finish out the game with my dad.

As we approached our seats, I took a shot of Tim showing the little triangular area at the end of the field level cross-aisle that is right behind section 168:

It is nice for standing when you don’t want to sit.

While we were watching the rest of the game, Tim was quick to spot King Felix when we flashed on the scoreboard:

Kellan was primed and ready (with Grandpa’s glove) to catch a foul ball…

…but no one, not even David Freese…

…could find us in the stands

A think night panoramas look great, so I got another shot from section 168 late in the game.

After the Cardinals tied the score at 4-4 in the sixth, the Cubs came back with a run in the eighth on a single by Alphonso Soriano and an unearned run in the ninth on a throwing error by 2012 World Series hero David Freese.

After the game, we got another group shot…

…which would have turned out better had Tim not been so sad that the Cardinals (who he picked to win at the beginning of the game) had lost.  At the next game, he would devise a new strategy to avoid such post-game disappointment.

On the way out of the stadium, I took an almost-empty-stadium panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 167 (one section closer to home than section 168):

And finally, as my Dad ran all the way back to our seats to retrieve Kellan’s water sippy-cup (well, it is a little more advanced than a “sippy cup”), I took a final panorama of the night from the CF bleachers:

And that was all she wrote.  Forty-five minutes sitting through a horrific post-game traffic jam and we were on our way back to the caboose excited to come back within about 12 hours for more Cardinals-Cubs baseball.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

6/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
11/10 Teams – Tim –   Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue   Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles,   Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals
7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1,   Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 1
28 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets   8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4,   Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens   Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch   Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

In Philadelphia With The Folks (6/10/2011)

In mid-June, my folks came to Pennsylvania for a quick visit.  My mom had never been to Citizens Bank Park.  So on June 10, 2011, we headed down to Philadelphia to see the Cubs vs. the Phillies.

My folks love Philadelphia, so before going to the game, we took a quick walk around the Rittenhouse Square area:

Then it was down to the stadium for us.  On the way into the ballpark, Tim wanted to get his picture with this statute of Joe Brown…

…which he has been photographed multiple times in the past.  My dad’s picture of me taking Tim’s picture actually came out looking much better than the picture I took.

A little further down the sidewalk, I gathered my folks together with Tim for this photo outside of the LF gate:

When we entered the ballpark, the Phillies were taking BP and LF was still the only part of the stadium that was open to the public.  My dad hung out a few rows back in section 141 (the first section in homerun territory in left field), while Tim, my mom and I headed to the first row in section 140 (which is in foul territory and was in the shade).

A few minutes later, a ball was hit right down the line and it came to rest in foul territory.  Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick was in LF and he slowly walked over to grab the ball.  When he walked below us, he looked up at me and…

Kendrick:  “Hey, is that a Mariners hat!?”

Todd:  “Yeah!”

Kendrick:  “And that’s a Mariners shirt!?”

Todd:  “Yep.”

(FYI, it was a t-shirt with an intentionally sorta faded original Mariners logo.  Also, at some point during this exchange, Kendrick tossed us the baseball he had just grabbed off of the warning track.  Thanks, Kyle!)

Kendrick:  “Are you from Washington?”

Todd:  “I live there for about 22 years, but live here now.”

Mom:  “I live in Seattle!”

Kendrick:  “I’m from Mount Vernon!”

Todd:  “Cool.  I used to play a lot of baseball in there when I played American Legion ball.”

Todd:  “So, are you a Mariners fan!?”

Kendrick:  (makes a wishy-washing, non-confirming/non-denying gesture)

Todd:  “Well, were you a Mariners fan growing up?”

Kendrick:  “Oh, definitely!”

My, Oh, My!  Great to learn there is a Washingtonian and Mariners fan (I know he’s still a Mariners fan!) on the Phillies.  I now have a newfound appreciation for Mr. Kendrick.

Here is a combination of the Kendrick hanging out in LF and the baseball that he tossed up to us:

After chatting with Kendrick, I headed out to CF to look around.  My mom and Tim stayed put and my dad got this shot of Grandma reading to Tim the give-away book (Phillie Phanatic: The Philadelphia Story) that he received upon entry into the stadium:

On my way back to LF, I stopped in the front row just in front of my dad.  Right then, someone hit a homerun directly in line with me.  But it sailed over my head.  I turned around sure that my dad would catch it.  But he didn’t even see the ball coming and another guy caught the ball about one foot to my dad’s right.

I left the front row and met up with Tim and my mom again to watch the Cubs pitchers warm up along the LF line…

…and then my mom move over to section 141 and joined my dad in the front row.

Not much was going on, so Tim spent some quality time touching the foul pole:

When the Cubs pitchers’ finished throwing, a coach (who I think was Dave Keller)…

…tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Dave!

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed over to the “pizza slice” in RCF:

Kerry Wood (34) and Jeff “Fighting Irish” Samardzija (29) were both shagging balls in CF…

…I was thinking it would be nice if one of them tossed us a baseball, but James Russell (40) beat them to it.  Russell tossed us a baseball from about 100 feet out into the grass.  I was in the “pizza slice” where you cannot scoot back.  I grabbed the railing and reached up as high as I could and just barely got it before it sailed over me into the bullpen.

Thanks, James!

Meanwhile, my dad was down 2-3 sections toward CF:

A Cub launched a homerun a couple rows back and he scampered up a couple rows and snagged the ball off of the stairs.  My mom took this shot of my dad with is first baseball from Citizen Bank Park:

After BP, three generations of Cook boys tested their canons at the speed pitch…

…and there was no actual speed present.  Actually, it should be noted that Tim heated it up to “28 miles for hour,” an improvement of 2 miles since his last effort.

Next, it was time for a brief play stop in the kids’ play area.  Then, we headed up the ramp…

… for a little tour of the upper deck.

We entered the upper deck at section 312…

…and we thought it was a nice background for a group shot:

Next, Tim wanted to climb up to the very top row.  So we headed to the section right behind home plate and climbed to the top.  After taking in the scenery, we decided to go down a little lower to find an usher to take our picture.  But a fan overheard us and offered to take our picture.  Here is her camera handiwork:

And, what the heck, how about one more group shot from the bottom of the upper deck:

Tim decided to do a statue pose in that last shot.

It was game time.  We reported to our seats in section 138 right as Roy Halladay was delivering the first pitch of the game.

I didn’t take this until late in the game, but here is a panorama from section 138, row 10, seat 8:

The Philadelphia International Airport is southwest of Citizens Bank Park and there is always a steady diet of airplanes traveling from right field toward home plate on their descent toward the airport.  But all of a sudden at the beginning of this game, the airplanes all reversed course…

…Tim had a lot of fun watching airplanes traveling from home plate toward right field on their ascent from the airport.

We also had a lot of fun watching the Phanatic and his friends and family entertain people around the ballpark.  Here is the Phanatic hanging out in the crowd down the third base line:

Note:  it seems like the Phanatic always makes his first appearance during each game right around this same area down the 3B line.

We had never sat so close to a Phillies ballgirl.  Between innings, Tim headed down and got this picture with Maureen:

Before getting Maureen’s autograph and photo, Tim reported to me that every ballgirl whose autograph he’d gotten in the past had signed her name with a little heart.  He was sure that Maureen would adorn her baseball card with a heart too.  But Maureen switched it up and signed her name with a little drawing of a baseball.

Those “friends and family” of the Phanatic included “Lady PhaPha”…

…who did a little dance with the second base umpire, Alan Porter.

Of course, in addition to the non-baseball entertainment, there was a game being played too.  The Phillies took the lead early and led the whole way.

In the first inning, the Phillies scored a single run on a Ryan Howard groundout that scored Shane Victorino.   In the second inning, they added two more on a two run homerun by Dominic Brown.  I believe that this homerun makes Brown the first person whom Tim and I have seen hit a homerun in the minor and Major leagues.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, former-Mariner Raul Ibanez…

…hit a double down the right field line.  But he was stranded on base and the score remained 3-0 Phillies.

Halladay was, as they say, dealing:

Yep, its official, he’s good.

By the way, here was our view of Raul out in left field:

It was official, we were having a good time and the ballpark and Tim highly approved of it:

Although the lead seemed insurmountable given Halladay’s dominance, the Phillies played a little tack-on in the bottom of the seventh…and it is a good thing that they did.  After loading up the bases, Placido Polanco unloaded them with one swing:

Our new friend, James Russell, had to come in to finish off the seventh inning for starter Victor Zambrano:

And that put the Phillies up 7-0.

But then Uncle Charlie decided to that his relievers needed to get some work in.  So Halladay’s day was done with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.

The relief corps did not fare as well.  Between Jose Contreras (4 runs) and J.C. Romero (1 run), the Phillies gave back 5 runs in the top of the 8th, and all of a sudden we had a ball game again.  And the “boooooos” were raining down in Citizen Bank Park.

Late in the game, the Phanatic (1B dugout) enlisted the help of his mother (3B dugout) to get the crowd going again:

This has nothing to do with baseball, but I was quite happy with the zoom job my camera did on the moon:

At the end of the game, the Phanatic got some help from this guy in the green shirt and plaid shorts:

He was sitting just across the aisle from us and after a lot of hard work he got the wave going pretty good around the ballpark:

It must have worked because Michael Stutes got a hold and Antonio Bastardo got the save, which of course resulted in a win for both the Phillies and their ace, Roy Halladay.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
12/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)
13/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals and Cubs; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2))
38 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs)
5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

The Cubs at Citizens Bank Park (4/11/08)

Remember Tim’s First MLB Anniversary game on September 12, 2007, we went with our friends Tim and Gabe?  Well, on April 11, 2008, Tim and I met up with Tim and Gabe once again and headed down to Citizens Bank Park to see the Phillies take on the Chicago Cubs.

The boys were having a blast before we even reached the stadium:

1 - loads of laughs in the car.jpgSomeone had given me four sweet tickets in Section 111, Row 23…

2 - 4-11-08 tix.jpg…which is down the first base line at Citizens Bank Park.

The seats were awesome.  Here was the view…


3 - greg dobbs ends the third.jpg…as Greg Dobbs grounded out to end the third inning.

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead when Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back solo homeruns in the first inning.

We did lots of eating all night.  First, Tim started off with some hard pretzels we brought from home…

4 - baseball and pretzels.jpg…he even shared some with me!

Next, Tim moved on to some candy that Gabe had brought…

5 - candy.jpg…I can’t really remember what it was.  But that little guy loves candy!

Then, the funniest part of the night…

6 - dining on neighbors fries.jpg…Tim turned around, made friends with the 12’ish year old girl behind us, and then ate a bunch of her french fries.

While Tim was making friends with the french fry girl, I made friends with the guy sitting next to me.  I had to chat with him and get him to let me try on his glove…

7 - neighbor with dwight gooden spalding signature model glove.jpg…once I noticed he was sporting a near mint condition Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove.  The very same glove that I had from elementary school through high school.  It is the last non-Rawlings glove I’ve ever owned.  After I replaced it with a wonderful little black Rawlings, I surgically altered that Spalding glove.  I made it into a Trap-Eze (although it didn’t turn out nearly as good as my Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B-turned-Trap-Eze.  Unfortunately, I don’t have that mock-Trap-Eze anymore.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Phils were still losing 2-0 when Pat Burrell came to bat.  I looked over at Tim and proclaimed, “Tim, its Pat Burrell.  Maybe he’ll hit a homerun.  He always hits a homerun for you.”  Next pitch, two-run game tying homerun.  A guy behind us leans forward, “You should bring him to games more often!”

Pat “The Bat” would go 2-4 on the night with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.

Wait, there were more snacks…

8 - tim and gabe in section 111 row 23.jpg…popcorn.  I’ve always thought that is a hilarous picture of Tim.

It was still 2-2 when hard hitting pitcher Carlos Zambrano…

9 - carlos zambrano at the plate.jpg…grounded out to end the top of the fifth.  And then the Phils would take the lead.  In the bottom of the fifth, former Mariner Greg “The Dobbers” Dobbs hit a run scoring double to center field.

The Cubs tied it up again in the top of the sixth with a solo homerun by Alfonso Soriano.  The Phils took the lead again (for good) in the bottom of the sixth on a double by Pat Burrell and a single by Carlos Ruiz.  In fact, that would cap the scoring for the evening.

There was one other fun on-field event that I can’t remember when in the game it happened.  As a huge Mariners fan, I love Sweet Lou Piniella.  I was hoping that Lou would go crazy and get tossed out of this game so Tim could see the Master at work.  It almost happened.  Lou stormed the field at some point during the game, but, alas, cooler heads prevailed and he returned to the dugout before getting tossed.  Still, it was great to see Lou doing his thing.

At this point in his life, it was difficult for Tim to stay seated for an entire game.  (Well, actually, it still is today).  At almost 2.5 years of age, Tim was much better at staying in the seats when accompanied by another kid.  But still, he got antsy late in this game.  So we took to the concourse for some exploring:

10 - walking the concourse.jpgTim was excited to find an unattended John Deere truck in the concourse out by the right field corner of the concourse.

11 - john deere.jpgNo one was around to tell Tim not to pretend to drive the John Deere.  He had a great time.

But he was really starting to get tired so the four of us headed out a little bit early.  So, we missed Brad Lidge nailing down his second save of the season — back when Brad Lidge was unstoppable.

On the way out of the ballpark, Big Tim suggested that we stop by the LF foul corner and pick up some “Schmitters.”  At this point in my life, I had never even heard of The Schmitter…

12a - The Schmitter.jpg
Don’t know The Schmitter?  Here’s a little info I found about it online –

The Schmitter.jpgThe Schmitter:

Ingredients:
1 servings Kaiser Roll
1 servings Lean Sirloin Tip Beef Steaks
1 servings Genoa Salami
1/2 serving 1000 Island (2 Tbsp)
1 servings Fried Onions
2 servings American Cheese
1 servings Sliced Tomato

Instructions:
brown sandwich steaks and salami. Layer in kaiser roll, cheese, steak,dressing, fried onions, salami, tomato, then more cheese.

Ah, the Schmitter hit the spot.

By the way, Gabe took that picture of Tim and his Schmitter.  Moments later, the boys were out…

12 - sleepy in the car.jpg…yep, it was a good night at the ballpark.

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! (8-14-09)

August 14, 2009 – Let the road tripping begin!

On Thursday night, August 13th, Tim and I flew to Chicago to meet up with my dad for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009.  The Plan:  four days, four stadiums.  It all started with the Pirates vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  So let’s get to it.

1 - cubs sign from sheffield.jpg

We parked for free on Sheffield Street about one block passed the CF enterance.  This Cubs sign on the back of the CF Bleachers greeted us as we walked down Sheffield.  Coincidentally, Tim brought his teddy bear with him.  Teddy is a young bear, also known as a Cub.

This was essentially our first view of Wrigley once we entered the stadium (I say essentially because, obviously, we had to walk down to the front row before I took this…and I didn’t have my eyes closed during that walk):

2 - wrigley first view LF panaramic.jpg

I found it interesting that Sweet Lou Piniella (accompanied by first base coach Matt Sinatro) watched batting practice from LF:


3 - sweet lou and sinatro.jpg

Sinatro and Sweet Lou have been together, at least, since Lou was the Mariners manager and Sinatro was out back-up back-stop.  By the way, back in 1991, Sinatro gave me his broken bat at Mariners spring training.  I glued it back together and its as good as new.  Its a beautiful Louisville Slugger that is perfectly balanced and shows a lot of use.

Next, we headed behind home plate, where I took this:


5 - wrigley plate panaramic.jpg

The lady to the left is standing at the cross aisle.  They don’t let you below that cross aisle unless you have tickets down there.  I’m not a huge fan of that rule.

See those Pirates warming up to the right?  We went and stood in the cross aisle behind them.  Eventually, former Mariner Ronny Cedeno joined them.  I yelled out to Ronny and he gave me and Tim a wave.  He tried to take a ball from a coach with the supposed intention of throwing it to us, but the coach needed it for hitting fungo to the infielders…including to Cedeno.

Tim was too warm down by the dugout, so he asked if we could head up the rows to the shady seats.  Here is where we landed, section 226:


6 - section 226 lounging.jpg

And here is the view from section 226:


8 - wrigley sec. 226 panaramic.jpg

And here is what Tim did after watching a few minutes of BP (notice any differences between the two pictures?):


7 - coloring shade ball.jpg

In case you missed it, the difference is that Tim has a baseball in the second picture.  Here is how that happened:


9 - cedeno toss up.jpg

First, my dad met up with me and Tim at our section 226 coloring location.  My dad stayed with Tim and I went back down behind the Pirates.  By this time, Cedeno had taken a bunch of balls at short stop, gone into the clubhouse for a bit, and come back out ready to take some hacks.

In the top left picture, you can see there is a ball behind the cage about 10 feet to Cedeno’s left.  As Cedeno was hitting, I noticed that ball.  After he hit, he ran the bases once and returned to his spot behind the cage.  I yelled out his name again and he looked back to me.  I pointed to the ball.  He (i) looked over and noticed it, (ii) walked over and grabbed it and (iii) fired a perfect strike to my glove.

“Thanks, Ronny!”

A few minutes later, Ronny started signing autographs for those lucky fans with tickets below the cross aisle.  We wanted that ball signed!  Tim was with me at this point.  We saw one of the ushers leave her post so she could take a picture of some people behind the Cubs dugout.  This was my chance!  Tim and I bolted through her unguarded post.  We walked down 2-3 rows and then cut across the row so we wouldn’t walk by the photo-taking guard.  We then cut down the next aisle and found our way over to Ronny.

This was the result:


17 - wrigley sec. 235 auto panaramic.jpg

By the way, that picture is taken from our seats at Section 235, Row 11, Seats 4-6.  And, yes, I had absolutely no view of second base.  We were actually fine with it.  We could see the batters and the obstruction made double plays more interesting because we had to wait to see if and when the ball would come flying from behind the post on its way to first base.

I also got this picture of Tim and me after getting Cedeno’s autograph:


10 - dugout sneak in.jpg

By the way, the look on Tim’s face here is signaling the onset of massive tiredness.

After I took this picture, we left the section and walked by the guard we’d bypassed, as we passed she jokingly to me, “You snuck by me!”  I gave her the most sincere, “sorry!” I could muster.

And just like that, it was time to wander and take some stadium pictures, like this…


11 - wrigley upper home panaramic.jpg

…and this…


13 - wrigley upper LF panaramic.jpg

…and this…


12 - wrigley upper RF panaramic.jpg

…and this one featuring my road buddies…


14 - holding tim upper RF.jpg

…and these…


19 - concourses et al.jpgNext it was time to grab some food and take out seats:


16 - food time.JPG

I went for the traditional Chicago Dog (so did my dad) and Tim went with fries with *dip* (that’s what Tim calls ketchup).  Most of Tim’s dip would eventually find its way to his clothing, most notably his shorts.  He also managed to let some of his dip migrate to my shorts as well.

Before the game, a bunch of military parachuters jumped into Wrigley:


18 - skydivers and fighter jets.jpg

…then some jet fighters did a fly by after the national anthem.  They continued to do unannounced fly bys for the rest of the game, much to the delight of the Wrigley-crowd.

Finally, it was time for some baseball.  Fresh off of their trade line fire sale, the Pirates’ glorified minor league line-up couldn’t do much at the plate:


21 - action1.jpg

I can’t remember who that is at top, but he’s grounding out in that picture.  Below, Lastings Milledge is fouling a ball off.

The Cubs, on the other hand, didn’t have much trouble at the plate:

 


20 - action4.jpg

Okay, so I snuck Ronny Cedeno into that picture.  I have to give him his face time, since he hooked us up with the ball and autograph.   Next to him, Derek Lee makes contact with the ball (foul) before eventually walking.  And Jake Fox swings at a ball that would eventually turn into a two run double.  In the second inning, the Cubs hung a 10-spot on the Pirates:


22 - ten spot.JPG….

The inning was pretty crazy.  It went like this:

  • Hill tripled
  • Wells walked
  • Theriot singled (Hill scored)
  • Fuld singled
  • D. Lee walked (Wells scored)
  • Fox doubled (Theriot and Fuld scored)
  • Fukudome walked
  • Soriano singled (Lee scored)
  • Baker singled (Fox and Fukudome scored)
  • Hill struck out
  • Wells singled (Soriano scored)
  • Theriot popped out
  • Fuld hit-by-pitch
  • Lee doubled (Baker and Wells scored)
  • Fox struck out<br>
  •  

    All of the scoring was very entertaining for my dad, me, Tim and his new give-away Cubs Dora the Explorer stuffed doll:


    23 - dora.jpg

    As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really mind the beam obstructing our view of second base.  What I could have lived without, however, was a human obstruction that spent about 3 innings of the game standing directly in front of us:


    24 - jack salazar at bat.jpg

    This picture is actually of Pirates Jack Salazar at the plate.  Its a little hard to see him through our Old Style delivery man.  The lady in the Cubs jersey talking to him stood up a lot while ordering beers, so did the guy in the glasses and his buddy (back of the head guy).  It was as if these folks had never heard of sitting down and ordering.  Its not too tricky of a concept.  In the picture to the left, that guy stood right there selling beers to the beer lovers all around us for an entire half inning of Pirates batting.  It was ridiculous.  To the right, this is one of the 50,000 beers we passed down the aisle in exchange for the $247,000 we passed the other way.  (Notice, the beer recipient in the picture to the right is also standing (during the middle of the inning)).  Bottom line:  the sluggish economy isn’t hurting beer sales at Wrigley Field.

    We decided it was time for some ice cream helmets

    We went to the first line.  I couldn’t see any ice cream helmets.  Then a guy walked up and said to his buddy that he could go for some ice cream.  I asked him if they had ice cream helmets.  He said they did, and that he has got ice cream helmets at a couple stadiums.  I said we had too, and we compared ice cream helmet stats.  Not to be boastful, but he was a novice ice cream helmeter.

    When we got to the front of the line, I asked for two chocolote ice cream helmets and the lady replied, “Our ice cream isn’t ready yet.”  Huh?  Okay.  She pointed us to another stand.

    My line-mates and I relocated to that food stand.  While waiting in line, I noticed something…


    25 - ice cream line.jpgTim’s lights were out.  He was in a deep sleep.

    I ordered our ice cream helmets — I decided this time to get myself a twist.  When the lady handed it to me, she yelled to the crowd, “TWIST ISN’T FROZEN!”  Two seconds later, “CHOCOLATE ISN’T FROZEN!”  Another lady working there, “ICE CREAM ISN’T FROZEN!”

    So, I headed back to the seats with two soupy ice cream helmets in a tray in my left hand, a megahuge diet coke in my right hand, and a sleeping boy on my shoulders.  Two steps out of the line, a guy lunged at me, tapped my shoulder and yelled, “HE’S TOTALLY ASLEEEEEEEEP!!”  He thought I didn’t know and Tim was going to fall off.  But I’m a sleeping Tim on the shoulders pro.  I thanked him but said we were good to go.  It was the first of many comments on the walk back to section 235.

    And then grandpa and I enjoyed the ice cream soup as Tim slept..


    26 - sleeping ice cream helmets.jpg…and slept and…


    27 - grandpas shoulder.jpg

    …slept some more.  That’s what happens when Tim doesn’t nap before a game.

    He missed some of this action:


    29 - action3.jpg

    Due to all of the baseball the last few days and my lack of a connection with most of the Cubs and Pirates, I can’t really remember what happened on all of these at bats.  But I know that several action shots I took resulted in singles.  No doubles or home runs.  And several resulted in ground outs or fly ball outs.  I’m pretty sure the top picture here (which shows the actual contact of the bat and ball) resulted in a hit, but don’t hold me to that.  (NOTE:  Click to see pictures larger).

    He missed all of this too:


    28 - action2.jpgI believe that top picture is Mike Fontenot, it resulted in a long fly out to RF.

    In the bottom two pictures, the batters hit grounders.  In the middle picture, you can see the dirt flying up where the ball landed.  In the bottom picture, you can see the ball bouncing in the dirt.


    30 - tired but awake.JPG

    Look who woke up!  His first words, “I’m ready for my ice cream now.”

    So you’re probably seen on ESPN some celebrity leading the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at Wrigley, our celeb singer was Jeremy “The Piv” Piven — Chicago native.  He also threw out the first pitch:


    31 - the piv.jpg

    Interestingly, at the last game Tim and I went to with my dad, Mark Walberg threw out the first pitch — of course, both The Piv and Marky Mark are associated with the hit show, Entourage (a show I have never seen).

    Here is a panaramic from the bottom of section 235, where I took a picture of The Piv singing:


    32 - wrigley RF foul panaramic.jpg

    Guess who won?  The Cubs — 17-2!

    After the game, we got our official Road Trip game picture by the field:


    33 - 3 cooks at wrigley.jpg

    The usher who took this photo thanked us for visiting Wrigley and gave us directions on how to get out to the bleachers so we could take some pictures.  “Thanks, sir.”

    Hey, by the way, did you notice that all of the NL Division Standings flags in CF are gone and they are replaced by a single “W” flag.  That’s cool.  I like it.

    Bleacher photos, here we go:


    34 - CF bleachers.JPG

    And here is the view from the bleachers:


    34a - wrigley CF bleachers panaramic.jpg

    Below the CF bleachers, there is a spiral walkway to the sidewalk level.  Here is a photo from the bottom of the walkway:


    35 - wrigley CF concourse exit panaramic.jpg

    When we left, I realized we didn’t get a picture of the famous Wrigley Field sign, so we walked around the stadium to get a shot of it.  On the way, we passed a ton of people standing at the fence of the players parking lot:


    36 - wrigley outside LF panaramic.jpg

    Here is the photo with the sign:


    37 - wrigley sign.JPG

    Unfortunately, this is the best picture we could manage out by the sign.  The guy in the blue shirt behind us took a picture with all of us in it, and it didn’t turn out.  But just imagine my dad standing next to us!

    Finally, we hit the road.  It was time to start the long drive to Minnesota to see the Indians vs. Twins.

    We stopped by the McDonald’s next to Wrigley and got a McFlurry that I scooped into Tim’s Cubs ice cream helmet…

    38 - roadtrippin day 1.JPG

    Tim enjoyed his ice cream helmet in the car and then helped my dad navigate on the drive to Wisconsin Dells — the Water Park Capital of the World — where we camped out at a KOA for the night.

    Day 1 of the Road Trip:  a complete success!

     

    Season Fan Stats:

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

    Baseball & The Cubbies in D.C. (7-19-2009)

    On June 3, 2009, I knocked off work early and Tim and I trekked down to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C to witness a piece of history — Randy Johnson’s 300th career victory.  However, the rain put the kibosh on our plans.

    July 19th was our make-up game.  Instead of seeing Randy Johnson’s 300th win, we saw Kevin Hart’s third.  It was a fun game — but as the math would reveal, it was about 100 times less memorable than if we would have got to see Randy’s big win.

    The process of exchanging our rain out tickets for these tickets was made 50,000 times more difficult due to the inadequacies of the Washington Nationals telephone system.  I called them at about 4-5 different numbers I found on their website.  They all led to the same automated phone system.  No humans ever answered.  I was dumped into a “general” voicemail box and none of my calls were returned until I got creative.  Eventually the team store gave me the number 202-640-7000.  From that number, you can get a company phone directory.  I went through the front office directory on MLB.com and entered random Nationals employees into the phone directory.  The first 3-4 employees went straight to voicemail.  I was beginning to think that no one actually worked at Nationals Park.  Eventually, I reached someone.  She told me I could only make the exchange at the box office at the stadium and they wouldn’t hold tickets aside for me — just in case I didn’t show up.  So I was stuck driving 2.5 hours not knowing if they’d have any cheap seats to exchange for our cheapseats tickets.

    When we got there, they didn’t.  All the cheap seats were sold out.  So we had to get tickets about twice as expensive as our original tickets.  This was frustrating.  I pulled out my card to pay the extra money for the more expensive tickets.  The guy asked me if I was buying more tickets.  “No.”  “Then you don’t need your card.”

    It was the first good moment in the whole process:  they made a straight exchange for my cheap seats tickets.  This made me happy.  A small amount of redemption.  But the Nationals as an organization have a long way to go to get back in my good graces.  The handling of the rainout and then the unanswered phone messages and emails did a lot of damage.

    Anyway, there is a game to report.  Let’s get to it.

    To add to my already mounting frustration while heading down to the game, I missed the exit from I-95 to I-295.  So I had no clue how to get to the Park.  I saw an exit sign that said “To Naionals Park.”  So I took it.  Then I drove around totally clueless for about 15 minutes until I magically popped out of nowheresville and onto a bridge heading straight to Nationals Park.  This is what I saw:

    1 - road to nats park.jpgWe entered through this entrance by the 1B line.  We’d never been around this side of the stadium, so it was good to see what it looks like over there.

    We entered the stadium and there was a lot of hoopla going on — the Nats fans and employees were all jazzed up for the beginning of the game (FYI, we got there about 10 second before the Nats took the field):

    2 - festive nats park.JPG

    Often times, we walk into a game and Tim instantly informs me, “I want ice cream!”  Today to my surprise, he told me, “I want ice cream, after we eat lunch.”  He wanted chicken strips and fries, which interestingly is what we had at our only other game at Nationals Park.

    We bought the chicken and fries and sat in the handicap accessible seats behind 1B field level seats.  This was our view:

    3 - nats 1B chxfries seats panaramic.jpg

    At our first game here, the attendants were dictators.  They checked tickets everywhere.  I had to sweet talk a guy to let Tim and I sit in the LAST ROW of the upper deck to eat Tim’s ice cream helmet.  I was happy to find the stadium much more relaxed at this game.

    Here is Tim between french fries:

    4 - serious tim.JPG

    Tim was a little camera shy today.  He was all smiles and laughs all day except when the camera looked his way.  This is serious Tim.

    I am excited for this entry because I felt like I got a lot of good action shots at this game.  Here is the first:

    5 - johnsons on broadway.jpg

    Okay.  So there really isn’t much *action* going on here.  But I wanted to get a picture of Nick Johnson and give him big SeaTown props.  Both today and at our last game at Nationals Park, N-John came to the plate accompanied by the sweet sounds of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse On Broadway.

    Soon, the action picked up:  Alfonso Soriano hit a double:

    6 - soriano doubles.jpg

    Soriano seemed to be the only big name in the Cubs line-up.  I’m not up on the Cubs.  I’m not sure where everyone else was — no Aramis Ramirez and no Milton Bradley.  So my Cubs photos focused on Soriano.  He looks like he is going to hit a bomb on every swing he takes.

    While sitting here, I noticed that the out-of-town scoreboard was telling a happy story:

    7 - good news from cleveland.JPG

    After eating, Tim wanted to go check out the play area in CF:

    8 - mlb cheat sheet.JPG

    The play area is the red and blue thing to the far right of the picture.  To the left, there are some big signs with all of the 30 MLB team logos.  Usually each stadium has the team flags or logos in order of the current standings.  Nationals Park just has the logos.  Not sure why.

     When we arrived at the play area, they had just told everyone to clear out.  Some kid had spilled some bodily fluids (not sure what) out there and they brought the hazmat trucks in to clean up.

    So we stood in straight away CF and watched the game.  This was our view:

    9 - nats cf field panaramic.jpg

    It was a good thing we got booted out of the play area or we would have missed Soriano hitting a bomb in his second at bat:

    10 - soriano bomb.jpg

    In the interest of full disclosure, the top left picture is actually a foul ball right before the HR.  But the top right, is the actual HR swing.  A pretty sweet swing.  I thought we were in Chicago — the whole stadium went crazy!

    Did I mention that I love my new camera?  Check out these floating ball shots I took from straight away CF:

    11 - floating balls.jpg

    After we got these shots, it was time for the play area:

    12 - playarea.jpg

    The most frequently broken rule?  No. 8 — no food or drink in the play area.  The violators:  Moms and Dads.  Not this one.

    After a little while, play time was done and it was off to the RF seats for us.  Here is an interesting picture of Tim that I took through his seat:

    13 - thru seat.jpg

    Can you tell what Tim is doing in this picture?

    The Answer:

    14 - nats ice cream helmet.jpg

    In the picture to the left, Tim is holding out his spoon after telling me to take a picture of his ice cream.  By the way, for the first time ever, he went with Cookies’n’Creme — and he loved it.  In the picture to the right, Tim is all concerned that I missed getting a picture of the ice cream on his spoon.  He was very invested in that shot and was upset by the idea that I might have missed it.  As you can see, I nailed it!

    This was our view from our ice cream seats:

    15 - nats rf ice cream seasts panaramic.jpgAfter I cream, it was time to try to catch a home run:

    17 - hit it here.jpg

    Unfortunately, Adam Dunn couldn’t quite find the seats in this at bat:

    18 - dunn done.jpg

    [NOTE:  click on picture to enlarge.  You'll be able to see the ball in the top picture right at the bottom of the "T" in "Tickets."]

    Check out all of these empty seats:

    19 - empty seats.jpg

    See the yellow circle at the bottom right?  That’s where Tim and I sat for the ninth inning.

    So, all season, I’ve been trying to get a good action shot of an outfielder catching a fly ball.  Its harder than it sounds because you don’t know when a ball will be hit to any given outfielder.  Somehow, I got two decent shots at this game:

    20 - running catches.jpg

    In the top picture, the ball has just hit the leather of Soriano’s glove.  In the bottom picture, you can see the ball a couple feet above Adam Dunn.

    While we were sitting in these seats, we noticed the Nats bullpen catcher would sometimes throw his warm up ball into the stands after warming up Josh Willingham in RF.  Tim wanted to play catch.  So we decided to give it one shot at a ball before going to find a spot to play catch.  It worked like this:

    21 - nelson robledo to TJCs.jpg

    As far as I can tell, the Nats bullpen catcher is former career minor leaguer, Nelson Robledo.  We were sure to thank Mr. Robledo for his kindness.

    Then it was off to play catch by the batting cages in CF:

    22a - playing catch.jpg

    In the middle picture, Tim is showing his pitching leg kick.  He just learned his pitching motion in the last couple weeks.  I didn’t teach it to him.  He just copied what he saw me and other pitchers doing.  He does a full wind-up at time too.  These pictures are poor quality because we were in a dark hallway type-area.  Eventually, we were told not to play catch in there — “BOO, NATIONALS!  BOO!”  If we can play catch in a busy area of a bustling new Yankee Stadium without incident or reprimand, surely we should be able to play catch in an empty area of Nationals Park.

    Next, we headed up to the Red Porch to watch the game with the party people in the house.  People were having a good time up there.  This was our view:

    24 - nats red porch panaramic.jpg

    …and here is what it looks like up on the Red Porch:

    23 - red porch.jpg

    Next, we headed over to the seats behind the Cubs’ dugout.  Here is a panaramic from the top of the aisle:

    25 -nats cubs dugout panaramic.jpg

    When I took this picture, Tim was sitting on my shoulders.  I was sure this guy in the yellow shirt and Nats hat to the far right was going to kick us out of the section and tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders.   Last time we were here, that is certainly what would have happened.  However, he did just the opposite.  He told me, “You have your hands full, why don’t you grab a seat.”  Excellent idea.  Thanks.

    I grabbed some seats in the fourth row.

    They gave us an excellent view of Notre Dame football start Jeff Samardzija:

    26 - samardzija.jpg

    Hey, did I mention that future Mariners Hall of Famer, Sweet Lou Piniella was in the house?

    27a - Sweet Lou.JPGIt was game time for the Nats.  Despite sending their best hitter to the plate…

    27 - last hope.jpg

    …Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!

    28 - congrats cubs.jpg

    And it was time for Kids Run the Bases:

    29 - nats 1B side track.jpg

    The gal standing on the grass by first base in the Nats jersey is in the process of shouting, “MARINERS!!!”  I didn’t get her back story, but she said the Mariners are her favorite team.  Good to see we’ve infiltrated the Nationals!

    Here is Tim at first base:

    30 - run first base.jpg

    Tim ran about 10 feet passed first base and than stopped.  He turned around and he yelled that he wanted me to run with him.  He came back over to me and I explained that only kids can run the bases so I couldnt’ run with him.  In an odd twist, Tim decided he didn’t want to run without me on this day.  So we just walked around the track and looked at everything.

    I got this picture of the Nats doing some field touch-ups:

    31 - painting W.JPG

    And with that, we left Nationals Park for the final time this season.

    But before heading home, we decided to go see a few other attractions in the D.C. area — you might have heard of them:

    32 - capitol area.jpg

    Tim loved the fountains at the WWII memorial.

    Eventually, we had to hit the road to head home.  We had directional difficulties on the way down, so we decided to have some more on the way home.  This is an easy drive.  I’m not sure what the hecked I was thinking.  All I had to do was head up I-695 and connect to I-83 in Baltimore.

    Sadly, I missed the I-695 turn off from I-95.  No problem.  I figured I’d just head into Baltimore and connect to I-83 downtown…by this:


     


    33 - holy baltimore batman.JPG

    The Baltimoreans decided it would be an excellent idea to put a street festival on the street leading to the I-83 entrance.  Hey, no problem.   I was looking for an opportunity to detour all around downtown Baltimore.

    Oh, well.  Here are our goodies for the day:


    34 - nats goodies.JPG

    [Note:  Ball from Robledo, ice cream helmet, exchanged ticket showing $0.00, and Nationals give-away of insulated lunch bags].

    Season Fan Stats:

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

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