Results tagged ‘ Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Roadtrip ’
We record the baseballs we catch at MLB games on MyGameBalls.com, an excellent site created last year by Alan Schuster.
On March 29, 2010, Alan announced a contest for the 2010 season: The 2010 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt Contest.
Alan created a list of twenty photos participants should try to collect while inside MLB stadiums during the 2010 season:
On April 4, 2010, we published our 2010 Cook & Son Baseball Agenda and goals, including goal number 19: “Win MyGameBalls.com photo-scavenger hunt.“
So, we wrote down the list (actually, we mistakenly only wrote down 19 of the 20 photos) in the trusty notebook that we’d eventually carry with us to 29 games at 13 stadiums in 2010…
Actually, we got off to a slow start. Both Tim and I fist bumped players in April and May, but I could never get a picture of it. Finally, without realizing it, we got our first scavenger hunt photo in Baltimore on May 11, 2010, when we recreated a picture of the first time Tim and I met Zack Hample…
…who of course isn’t just in the Top 10, he is No. 1 on the MyGameBalls.com all-time list. An excellent night, we got our first scavenger hunt picture and watched our first Mariners win of the season.
In Pittsburgh, Tim and I bought a white headband and inscribed it with “MyGameBalls.com,” but we never got the picture. Instead, we kept the headband handy and finally got the picture when we were back in Baltimore on June 5, 2010…
We got our third scavenger hunt photo on the same night and like our first photo, we didn’t even realize we got it until a couple days after the fact. You see, we met a couple great guys (actually a whole great family), Todd and Tim Dixon a/k/a “Todd (HI)” and “Teemo” at this game. We “knew” Todd (HI) and Teemo from our blog comments and it was great to finally meet them in person. However, they arrived right at game time and totally missed BP. At the end of the game, Tim, Teemo and Teemo’s sister, Jessica, went for umpire baseballs. Victor Carapazza gave Tim a baseball, but the Dixon’s came up empty handed at their first and only game at Camden Yards. Tim got a baseball during BP, so we gave his umpire ball from Carapazza to Teemo so he would have a baseball from Camden Yards…
A few days later, we flew to California and met up with my Dad for the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. At our first game of the trip in Oakland on June 9, 2010, we secured our fourth picture when Tim met and high-fived Stomper:
We really tried to take advantage of the roadtrip. Our goal was to get a scavenger hunt picture at each game. On June 10, 2010, we were still in Oakland when we got this picture with Jered Weaver…
…this was an interesting picture because it wasn’t a scavenger hunt qualifying picture at the time it was taken. The 2010 All-Star team had not been set yet. However, with a little gaming of the system, a month later, Joe Girardi helped us secure the all-star picture when he named Weaver — who by rule could not pitch in the all-star game because he pitched the last game of the first half of the season — as a “replacement” for C.C. Sabbathia who also could not pitch for the same reason. Weaver was ultimately replaced on the active all-star roster by Andrew Bailey.
A few minutes later, we were able to get Tim’s picture with former Mariners pitcher, Joel Piniero…
On June 11, 2010 in Los Angeles (actual Los Angeles, not Anaheim), Joel pitched a gem to beat the Dodgers in the “freeway series,” and there were just enough Angels fans in attendance to help me mock-celebrate this homerun by Howie Kendrick…
On June 12, 2010, we were in San Diego and Tim was wearing his Mariners uniform (complete with baseball pants and stirrup-looking socks) when we got this picture in the bleacher-beach…
…I included the second picture (to the right above), which was taken a couple days later in San Francisco to show Tim’s stirrup-socks. This was actually a tough picture to pick which one I would submit. I actually took this picture where Tim is standing in the bleacher seats behind the beach for the competition, but you couldn’t actually tell his pants were baseball pants. So I went with the one in the beach section of the bleachers where it was more evident that they were baseball pants.
The following day, were were back at Petco Park when we got what I considered to be possibly the hardest picture in the contest…
…a picture with 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West. This picture came about in an odd way. Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez gave Tim the baseball he is holding in the picture after Felix Hernandez won an absolute gem of a game. West then snatched the baseball out of Tim’s hands and exited through the umpire tunnel. West then came back laughing and gave the ball back to Tim. I pounced on the opportunity to ask him for a picture. He was more than happy to oblige.
Back in Pennsylvania, we headed to Citizens Bank Park on June 20, 2010 (Phathers’ Day), and we came away with two more scavenger hunt pictures. The first was with a Phillies Ballgirl named Bridgette…
…originally, Tim was too shy to get his picture with Bridgette. But I told him it would help us win the contest and then he was all over it. After he saw Bridgette run on the field to catch a foul grounder, he ended up quite enjoying that he met a ballgirl. In fact, the next week, he asked if he could get his picture with another Phillies ballgirl, Brittany.
After the Phathers’ Day game, Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra tossed us a Target Field commemorative baseball…
On June 26, 2010, the Phillies were “on the road” in Philadelphia to face off against the home town Blue Jays and we made our way to the Great White North for the game. Due to the flip-flopping of the BP order (the home team Blue Jays hit first) and the unbridaled awesomeness of Jamie Moyer…
…we got my favorite picture of the entire competition: a picture with Jamie Moyer, age 47. FYI, Moyer is my favorite pitcher of all-time. In August in Baltimore, Tim got his picture with Omar Visquel, who is also a former-Mariner still playing in MLB over the age of 40.
On July 22, 2010, we were in Baltimore once again and we hooked up with Hall of Famer and, more importantly, baseball TV reporter/personality Jim Palmer…
…after getting a normal picture with Palmer, I asked if we could also get one shaking hands. We clapsed hands in a traditional hand shake, and then Palmer switched it up with the “cooler” hand shake featured in the picture. Palmer is one cool dude.
During this same game, we purchased the first funnel cake of Tim’s life and snagged this picture…
…after this picture, we’ll stick with ice cream helmets.
On August 8, 2010, we met the Sultan of Swat, George Herman “Babe” Ruth himself, in Baltimore…
On August 20, 2010, we were in New York and we were equipped with Tim’s cousin’s Kate’s pink backpack…
On September 6, 2010, Tim and I pulled an I-95 day/night doubleheader. We were in Washington, D.C. in the morning when we got this shot of Livan Hernandez…
On September 12, 2010 (game not yet written up), we celebrated Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary at Nationals Park. The Dallas Cowboys would take on the Washington Redskins later in the day and when we spotted this fan in the LF seats during pre-game warm-ups (no BP)…
And so we entered September 18, 2010 (game not yet written up), having checked off all but one of the photos in our little spiral notebook. Unfortunately, I realized I had failed to include one of the pictures in my notes — an usher cutting a ball retrieving device. The last two pictures would be difficult because we’ve never made or used a “device” and we’d been searching for a mulleted fan all month to no avail.
It was looking bleak, but then an odd twist of fate signaled that this night was *our* night. Just before the game started, I realized that I had a pair of craft scissors in my back pocket (I’d used them earlier in the day while helping my wife with a project). So, we had to get it done.
I kept my eyes wide open in hopes that a guy who was all business-in-front and party-in-back would cross our path. We were thrilled when this kind beer man came peddling his goods by our seats…
Earlier in the afternoon, Camden Yards regular and all-around good guy, Avi Miller, gave me a tip on who to approach regarding the “device” picture. First, we had a figure out how to rig a “device” for the staged photo…
Shortly after this last game, I notified Alan Schuster that we’d completed all of the photos.
On September 27, 2010, Alan announced the official results on MyGameBalls.com: “Cook & Son Crowned Scavenger Hunt Champions.”
On October 8, 2010, our prize (an MLB.com gift card) arrived in the mail. And we were happy to find that Alan had included some “hardware” suitable for framing:
He had a ton of fun trying to collect these pictures while at the ballpark in season. We are definitely looking forward to having fun trying to defend our Championship in 2011.
Early in the week as Tim and I were preparing for the third installment of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010, we got Chinese food from the new place in our grocery store. My fortune cookie was, indeed, prophetic:
Let’s get started.
The plan was to cover seven games in seven days (Wednesday, June 9th through Tuesday, June 15th) at all five MLB stadiums in California. My dad (a/k/a “Jim” or “Grandpa”) took off driving in his Prius from the Great State of Washington on Tuesday, June 8th. The next day, Tim and I hopped an airplane out of Philadelphia en route to San Jose, California:
Top Right: Once in the plane, Tim strapped his trusty pillow (named “Pillow”) into the seat belt with him so Pillow would be safe on the journey.
Bottom Left: During a stop-over in Dallas, Texas, Tim played in a light room as we waited for our second flight.
Bottom Right: Approaching San Jose, we saw a seahorse cloud out of our window.
Grandpa picked us up in San Jose and we drove up to our hotel in Oakland to relax before our first game. We’d originally planned for our first game to be on June 10th. But that game was a 12:30 p.m. start so we had to fly in on the 9th, and the 9th featured $2 tickets at the Oakland-Aladema County Colesium, so we decided to add the June 9th game to our schedule as well.
Our hotel shuttled us to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stop about 300 yards from the Colesium and we walked the elevated walk-way over to the Colesium:
Now, I like to stay positive on this blog and I intend to do my best here. But the razor wire lining the fence immediately outside of the Colesium should have been our first clue as to the quality of the stadium.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the game report, I’ll just share with you my conclusion from our two games in Oakland: plain and simple, the A’s need a new stadium.
The field of play itself is beautiful. But everything else about the place is lacking. Seriously, at times I felt embarrassed for the A’s. Their team is playing some decent ball this season, but the fans in Oakland deserve better than ownership is giving them at the Colesium (on many different levels).
That being said, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed these two games with Tim and my dad — even though the games featured two of the Mariners A.L. West opponents (resulting in me wanting both teams to lose).
Here are some pictures of the outside of the stadium.
I don’t think those picture need much explanation. I’d just note that we walked around the outside looking for a spot to take a picture of “the stadium.” But everywhere we walked, all we saw was a bottom side of big cement steps. Seriously, there is nothing that says “MLB Stadium” about the outside of the Colesium.
One more comment about those pictures, see the kid in the bottom left picture wearing the full Angels uniform? We saw him both days in Oakland and the kid was decked out in a full, legit-as-they-come Big League Angels uniform. Undoubtly, a big Angels fan. Good to see, kid. I hope he enjoyed his time at the games.
Here is our first view of the inside of the stadium:
Straight away (by the “WELCOME” sign) is the field level concourse. This entry brings you in around the seats behind 1B.
We entered the stadium and headed over to the RF foul territory to watch some BP. This was our view:
…we saw former Mariner Joel Piniero hanging out in deep RCF. My dad decided to go up to the RF bleachers. In the picture above, my dad is standing under the top yellow arrow. Piniero was hanging out (off camera) by the tip of the lower yellow arrow.
This was my Dad’s view from the deep RCF portion of the bleachers:
By the way, on $2 ticket night (which did not include the bleachers), my dad had to talk his way into the bleachers during BP and promise that he would not stay there during the game. As you’ll see, he kept his promise.
Tim and I also hung out for a short while down the 1B foul line…
This was our view of the field just before a bunch of business people who would never have known they were at a baseball game filed into the party deck, gathered around the bar (to the far right by the yellow cone), and started to chat about everything but baseball:
The gates opened 1.5 hours before the game, so BP was already going on when we got into the field. As we were out in RF, not a single homerun reached the seats (I think in the whole stadium, not just RF).
But at least one did before we showed up, because a stadium worker came up and gave Tim a BP baseball. Now, we’re not real “ballhawks” so, you know what, we’re counting this stadium worker ball. We came to a game. Someone employed by a MLB team gave us a baseball that had been hit during BP by a MLB player. So, yep, that counts in our book.
Something funny happened out there in RF too. You know how all of the teams have photographers roaming their stadiums to tap you on the shoulder and ask, “Wanna take a picture for the [insert team name's] website?” Well, one of those guys approached us in RF. Although I’ve never purchased one of the pictures, as a general rule, I always say yes. So the guy sets us up facing the RF seats (back to the field), and prepares to take our picture. Then the following occurred:
PHOTO GUY: “Ready, 1-2-3″
It was absolutely hilarious. Everyone in the section (which was about 10 people) and the photographer all cracked up laughing at Tim.
He took another picture, and Tim yelled “Ichiro!!!” again.
Just for kicks, to see the (better) picture that the guy took as Tim yelled “Ichiro!!!” at him click here.
RF was dead so we decided to walk around a bit. Quickly, we started noticing some odd things about the Colesium. Here are two of them:
Right: As Tim walked through the seats approaching the 1B (visitors) dugout, we noticed that the springs on many of the seats are worn out. This results in two things: (1) the seats stay in the “sitting” position whether or not someone is sitting in the seat and (2) if you try to move quickly through the rows of seats, you will bash your legs on the seats and end up with lots of bruises.
Despite the many things I thought got in the way of a good fan experience at the Colesium, the field was beautiful (as I already mentioned) and it looked great in photos. Here is the view from behind home plate:
Next, we headed into the field level concourse to pick up some dinner. Generally, I thought the concourse was alright. I grew up in the Kingdome and I can appreciate a no frills concourse. There seemed to be a lot of different food options. So, not bad. Here is what it looked like:.
The stairs lead up to the 200 level, which I thought was kind of cool. People in the 200 level can access two different concourses. But see the open areas on either side of the stairs? They should be open concourses where fans could watch the game while buying a hot dog (or an ice cream helmet). But the A’s have put in what appear to be “after market” partitions that block the view of the game for people in the concourses. On the left, you can see the partition is simply a chain link fence with plastic slats weaved through the fence links. On the right, the partition is a solid wall that has been bolted into place.
I have no clue what the A’s were thinking when they put in these partitions. They are a terrible idea.
We grabbed some nachos and dollar hot dogs (Wednesday games are $2 tickets and $1 dogs) and headed up a ramp to the 200 level to eat dinner and watch the grounds crew prepare the field.
This is where the most ridiculous thing ever happened. This was our view as we sat in the first row of the 200 level (which is ostensibly the upper deck — most of the actual upper deck is “closed”):
We were in the shade and it was already getting cold, but we were enjoying ourselves. Then, an usher walked over to us from two sections to our right. What did he want, you ask? Well, to check our tickets of course! Yep, it was 6:27 p.m. (I know because I took a picture of the stadium clock right after this happened) and game time was 7:05 p.m., there were approximately zero fans sitting in the entire section (aside from us), and this guy felt the need to walk 150 feet over to check our tickets. It went like this:
USHER: “Can I see your tickets?”
TODD: ”Our seats are over there (pointing to sunny side of stadium). We’ve just stopped here to eat our dinner.”
USHER: “You have to eat in your own seats.”
TODD: “Are you serious, its like an hour before the game.” (I overestimated a bit, but hey, it was at least 35 minutes before the game and NO ONE was sitting in the whole section).
I seriously could not believe this. I’m pretty sure we were the last people to sit on those seats all night. Here is my theory, if you average a tiny little ittsy-bittsy crowd for each game, you should go out of your way to make sure those fans who do show up have a great time. And you shouldn’t go out of your way (like 150 feet) to act totally ridiculous to them.
Disgusted, I took this panorama as we took our forced walk to our own seats…
Anyway, we didn’t let this event spoil our nachos…
Here was our view from our seats in row 10 of section 202 of the Colesium:
After finishing our nachos, I left Tim and my Dad at our seats and I took a little tour of the Colesium.
Our seats were in the 200 level in RF, so I decided that I should head over to the bleachers in RF. Here is what I saw our my way to the bleachers:
Top Middle: the LF side of the same thing.
Top Right: more of the “LF side of the same thing” showing a weird little astroturf area behind the seats in LF. I guess they use that for something at Raiders games.
Bottom Left: A’s championship flags and the California state flag flying between the RF bleachers and the RF field seats. As far as I could tell, these (and similar ones in LF) are the only flags at the Colesium. I didn’t see division standings flags anywhere around the stadium.
Bottom Middle: A long concrete hallway that runs the length of the outfield structure.
Bottom Right: a nice looking bar area that was not in operation and served only as a walkway from the RF concourse to the OF bleachers. This bar and a huge congregating room at the back of the OF structure appear to be used only for Raiders games.
From CF, I took these pictures of Stomper the A’s elephant mascot…
Here is the view from the second deck in the OF over toward RF:
90% of the upper deck (300 level) of the Colesium is closed for A’s games, you can only get up there right behind home plate. Everywhere else, you see barricades like this on the stairs up to the 300 level:.
Having an entire closed down level of your stadium is not ideal. But at least some of the barricades (e.g., to the left) had nice A’s logos on them. However, as you can see, other barricades (right) just had green mesh and “no trespassing” signs.
Here is the view from the back of the section in the LF seats in foul territory:
Like all other stadiums, the Colesium has some luxury suites. Unlike other stadiums (I’m guessing), the suites (at least some of them) were empty with their doors propped open…so I took some pictures:
Then I came upon one of the coolest parts of the Colesium. A large section of the second deck behind home plate (between 1B and 3B) is enclosed (i.e., its not an open concourse like everywhere else) and it is called the “West Side Club.” There is a bar and a restaurant that anyone can go in and visit. Here is a picture of the bar:
Here is the view from the back of one of the seating areas in the West Side Club restaurant:
Now, here is the funny thing to think about You will be kicked out of the seats if you try to sit in the wrong seats to eat your dinner 35 minutes before the game when the stadium is essentially empty, but at any time with any ticket you can come and sit in this nice warm restaurant and eat your dinner with no questions asked.
We’d be back later.
Coming around the 1B side, I took this panorama from a handicapped seating area just inside of the entrance to the West Side Club down the 1B line:
As I wound back around to the RF seats in the second deck, I came upon one of my favorite parts of the Colesium, a bunch of paintings hanging in the open air concourse down the 1B line:
Really, my favorite thing was the painting of the peanut man. I have a soft spot in my heart for Mariners peanut man (“The Peanut Man”) Rick Kaminski. I think characters like The Peanut Man really enhance the fan experience and should be celebrated by the organization. Someday, I hope the Peanut Man is enshined in the Mariners Hall of Fame. At minimum, he deserves an awesome painting like this hanging at Safeco Field. I really hope this peanut man is a real A’s (or Raiders) peanut man — that woul be pretty awesome.
By the way, the picture of Dallas Braden in the middle is actually on the outfield wall in LF (I just cut and pasted it into that picture of the paintings).
By the time I got back to the seats, it was cold and windy (despite the sun shining bright on us). I was not prepared. It had been a hot day. In the northeast, when its a hot day, the nasty humidity makes it a hot night and you don’t need to bring jackets, etc. to the game. Not the case in California. It got cold and windy and I didn’t have a jacket or a sweatshirt for Tim. Luckily, my Dad had an adult-sized light jacket for him to wear:.
I was actually more into checking out the stadium than the game itself. Here is another weird thing that I discovered:
There is no direct passage from the dugouts to the clubhouses so the players have to walk through a pathway by the fancy seats behind home plate. The umpires also enter and exit through this little walkway on the 1B side.
With Tim warmed up, we were exited to see Stomper come visit the RF seats. We ran two sections over so Tim could get a picture with him:
Next, Tim and I were off to the kids play area.
Three words sum it up: weak, extremely weak.
Actually, Tim had a lot of fun in the play area, but compared to other stadiums (like Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.) this place just does not cut the mustard. First off, you had to pay for the little rides with tokens that I never even saw where to get them. And at least one of the rides was broken down. The actual playset looked like it should be in a fan’s backyard, not at a MLB stadium. To see what a real MLB quality playset should look like, click here.
Here is the worst part:
Stomper, as I just said, is a cool MLB mascot. He’s a legit Big League caliber mascot. But each game, he has to come sit on this disgusting trash-heap of a “throne” to sign autographs. Check out the (i) ripped seating area (not just to astrosturf seat, but the padding under it as well), (ii) the pealing striped poles, and (iii) the dirty and pealing baseballs at the top of the columns.
Worst yet, the whole “throne” shook like it was going to fall apart.
I was seriously embarrassed for Stomper that the A’s make him sit on this piece of garbage. He unquestionably deserves better than this.
After meeting up with my Dad again in our seats, we determined that it was officially freezing cold. We decided to go to the West Side Club.
We ended up getting a table one row back from the windows…
Here is our glorious jumbo ice cream helmet:
While we were in there, two people caught foul balls right outside of our window — within 30 feet from us. So we headed out there for the end of the game.
Here was our view from the seats in front of the West Side Club restaurant:
It was past 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and Tim and I had been awake since about 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time, so he promptly crashed out in a most awkward position in the seats as my Dad and I watched the end of the game:.
The Angels won 7-1 on the strength of a complete game by Joe Saunders and the hitting of Eric Aybar and Torii Hunter. The A’s did not score their sole run until the bottom of the 9th inning. The small crowd gave a hearty cheer as the A’s scored and avoided a shutout.
Since the Angels won, we’d be rooting for the A’s the next day so the teams would split the two games and have little to no effect on the Mariners large hole in the AL West standings.
With Tim out like a light, an usher took took our picture before we left the stadium:
Despite the Colesium’s and the ushers’ shortcomings, we had a very nice time at our first game on the GFS. We would be back for more within 12 hours with a new, refreshed and positive outlook on the Colesium.
2010 Fan Stats:
12 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
22 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, Orioles 1, Athletics 1)
6 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium)
7 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 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)