Results tagged ‘ Cook & Son Baseball Bats ’

Ice Cream Helmets, anyone?

So, Tim likes to eat chocolate ice cream at every park we visit, and he prefers it in a little baseball helmet.  So far, we have collected at least one helmet from every stadium Tim has visited except for Camden Yards (where they do not offer ice cream helmets) and old Yankee Stadium (where we simply never even looked for one).  Here are some pictures of our ice cream helmet collection:

M's Safeco '08 helmet.jpg

Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field

($7.00 – real ice cream, five flavor selections including chocolate chip cookie dough, strawberry cheesecake, mint chocolate chip, double fudge brownie…and one other).

 

Reds GABP '08 helmet.jpg 
Phils CBP '09 helmet.jpg

Cincinnati Reds – Great American Ball Park    Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park

  •  $5.00 – chocolate, vanilla or twist                    
  • Soft serve, not real ice cream                          
  • sprinkle toppings available                               
  • Buy behind 3B where they give HUGE servings!

 

citi-shea helmet.jpg 
Mets Shea '08 helmet.jpg

New York Mets – Citi Field (2009)                       New York Mets – Shea Stadium (2008)

 ($6.50 – soft serve ice cream – chocolate, vanilla or twist – sprinkles and chocolate fudge toppings available)

Indians Progressive '08 helmet.jpg 
Dbacks Chase '08 helmet.jpg

Cleveland Indians – Progressive Field                     Arizona Diamondbacks – Chase Field

- several flavors of real ice cream

 

Pirates PNC '08 helmet.jpg  
nats helmet.jpg 

Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park (2008)               Washington Nationals – Nationals Park (2009)

                                                                      ($5.00 soft serve or real ice cream)

red sox ice cream helmet.JPG 
yankees ice cream helmet.JPG

Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park (2009)         New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium (2009)

-$5.50 – soft serve – oreo toppings in RF         -$6.50 – soft serve – sprinkles in bleachers

cubs ice cream helmet.JPG 
white sox ice cream helmet.JPG

Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field (2009)            Chicago White Sox – U.S. Cellular Field (2009)

 

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twins ice cream helmet.JPG 
blue jays ice cream helmet.jpg

Minnesota Twins – HHH Metrodome (2009)          Blue Jays – Rogers Centre (2009)

- $4.50 (I think…cheapest I’ve seen)                    - $6.00 (Can. or U.S.)

- Soft serve ice cream                                       - Soft serve ice cream

- sprinkles and chocolate sauce toppings           - sprinkles or topping sauces

 

brewers ice cream helmet.JPG                                  Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park (2009)

                                 - Big Helmet: Cheese Fries ($6.50)

                - Ice cream helmet – soft serve – hot fudge, strawberry, etc. toppings.

 

From the time we first tried to buy one in 2007 and continuing through 2009, the Orioles have not had ice cream helmets.  Was was pretty frustrating because it was the only helmet we couldn’t get out of the 18 stadiums Tim and I visited during those years.  Getting the O’s to offer ice cream helmets became a goal of mine.  So I started a grass roots campaign in March 2010 and mere hours before the O’s 2010 home opener word came in from the O’s and the rest of the Project Baltimore team, the O’s had listened and would offer ice cream helmets in 2010.

orioles ice cream helmet.jpg.

 

R-Phils '08 helmets.jpgThese last ones are from the Reading Phillies, the” Doube A” affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

We plan to get several more ice cream helmets this season — provided the stadiums have them.  I will update this entry as more helmets are acquired.

We plan to seek out the following helmets in 2010:  Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Atheletics, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, California Angels of Anaheim.

In the meantime, why doesn’t everyone write to the Orioles and urge them to start offering ice cream helmets.  Camden Yards is the only stadium we have ever visited that does not offer ice cream helmets.  In fact, in October 2009, we had to take matters into our own hands and “Bring Your Own Ice Cream Helmet” for the final game of the 2009 season:

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

Weekend Project: TheTrap-Eze-ification of a Non-Trap-Eze Glove

Tim and I went to D.C. on Wednesday and, although we did not actually see a game, that was our game for the week.  No game this weekend.  So I needed a weekend project.

As can be seen in my entry from Wednesday, I have a black Rawlings Randy Johnson signature RBG10B glove.  (You can see me holding it in this picture).  I love Rawlings gloves.  They are one of the very few things in my life to which I am brand loyal.  But it hasn’t always been that way.  For a couple years in middle school and high school, I had a Spalding Dwight Gooden signature glove.  That was right at the beginning of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career.  And with Griff’s help, I fell in love with the Rawlings Trap-Eze.

During my sophomore or junior year of high school — after a beautiful black Rawlings became my primary glove — I performed surgery on that Spalding.  I made it into a Trap-Eze.

This weekend, I decided to perform a similar glove surgery.  I decided to turn my Randy Johnson into a throw-back Mariners Trap-Eze.  Yes, I did hesitate in doing this because it is a Randy Johnson signature glove and he’s a future hall of famer.  But I figured who cares.  I want to maximize my enjoyment of the glove, and to do that, it needed to become a throw-back Mariners Trap-Eze.

Here we are at the beginning of the process:

RBG10B project.jpg

The top picture shows the glove intact.  Its a fine looking glove.  But its no Trap-Eze.  When I made my old Spalding into a Trap-Eze in high school, I just cut certain portions of the webbing out and laced the remaining portions together in a Trap-Ezesque fashion.  But I wanted to do this one in a more authentic manner.

I made a glove by hand a couple years ago and (as shown in the top picture) I still have a big roll of black leather.  I used the black leather to fashion a sixth finger for the webbing.  I eye-balled it and tried to get it the right size and shape.  I then punched holes in it for lacing.

As shown in the top picture, I used royal blue lacings like some of the Mariners did back in the day (or some (like Griff) had royal blue gloves).

In the bottom picture, you can see that I removed the original webbing.  I kept it incase I was to change the glove back to its normal state some day.  But I don’t foresee that.  I like it too much.

I use this for all of my glove lacing needs:

vein clamp.jpg

That is actually a vein clamp.  My mom was a nurse and over the years, she got me several vein clamps — yes, used in surgery to clamp veins — to use for stringing gloves.  As a result, I was sorta the go-to guy for my baseball team when anyone needed a glove re-strung.   The vein clamp works great because it locks in place once clamped down.

The stringing of all gloves can be tricky if you’re not used to it.  The Trap-Eze is probably more confusing than any other glove because it has a lot more going on.  Lots of lacing all over the place.  But, the project turned out great.  I think the sixth finger turned out just right — or as close as I should expect to be able get it by hand and eye-ball.

Here are some before and after shots.  First, inside:

pre-post-inside.jpg

And the outside:

pre-post-outside.jpg

Finally, here is a shot showing some comparisons with a real Trap-Eze:

trapcomps.jpg

No too shabby, eh?  Much better than my original Trap-Eze surgery, in my humble opinion.

By the way, while at the Rawlings outlet to get the blue lacings, I picked up a face mask for Tim’s batting helmet.  He’s recently managed to foul a ball or two off of his face (how does that work?), so I figured a mask would help him avoid injuries.

Here is a look at this helmet/mask in action from this afternoon:

hitting.jpg

That is it for this weekend.  The Mariners are in Baltimore Tuesday through Thursday.  Tim and I will be there either Wednesday or Thursday.  Getting excited to see our M’s!

By the way, the M’s won today on Griff’s RBI double in the 8th — scoring Ichiro who had 3 hits on the day.  Excellent.

Tigers at Orioles (5/31/09)

Tim and I headed down to Baltimore for the second time this season to close out the month of May with a game between the Tigers and Orioles.  It was Tim’s first time seeing the Tigers.  We were joined on the trip by friends Mark and Brady Kelly.  Several months ago when I planned out the 2009 season, I asked Mark if he and Brady would like to join us for this game because Mark is from Detroit and he and Brady are Tigers fans.

We drove down separately and we arrived a bit before Mark and Brady.  It was by far the warmest and sunniest game we’d been to this year so far.  We arrived around 12:00 for a 1:35 start.  I was hoping we’d catch the end of batting practice.  However, the teams didn’t take BP before this day game.  Instead of BP, we were greeted by a parade of little leaguers marching around the warning track.  You can see them ringing the stadium behind us in this picture:

camden cool guy glasses.jpg

We headed down the 3B line to watch the Tigers pitchers play long toss and do sprints.  I was hoping that some Tiger would take pitty on us and throw us a ball because we were a father-son combo not included in the 13,000 kids who got to march around the field.  But no such luck.  However, we did get our first autograph and player picture of the season:

ryan perry.jpg

Ryan Perry is a rookie reliever for the Tigers.  His stats make it seem like he’s having a nice first couple months of his career.  He would not pitch in this game.  Tim doesn’t look too excited to be in this picture.  I’m guessing he was dissappointed the basebal player wasn’t Ichiro or Griffey.

After watching the Tigers pitchers warm up, he were blazing hot.  The sun was beating down like nobody’s business.  So we headed up to the last row of the upper deck to take some pictures for a panoramic — and stand in the shade:

cam home panoramic.jpg

Tim’s an Irishman.  So the sun isn’t his best friend.  After standing in the sun for half an hour watching the pitchers play catch, he was drained.  Here he is on the verge of konking out on my shoulders once we made it to the shady and breezy upper deck:

hot and tired tim.jpg

We stayed up in the upper deck for a while so we could beat the heat.  Tim was confused when we were up there because there were no bases on the field.  They were still watering down and chalking the field.  I took a series of photos of the crew chalking the field:

frame to outline for chalking.jpg

IMG_0424.jpg 

 

They traced that metal frame and then chalked over the tracing.

IMG_0425.jpg  
IMG_0426.jpg
IMG_0429.jpg   
IMG_0432.jpg

IMG_0433.jpg

And that’s how you chalk home plate, folks.

While we were up hiding in the upper deck shade, we got a call from Mark.  He and Brady had arrived and were out by our seats.  We decided to meet up over by the bouncy house.  So we started walking toward the RF corner.  From the concourse behind the 1B foul territory, I took this interesting picture looking down toward the ground level:

down from 300 level concourse.jpg

I think this picture is pretty interesting.  To the far right, is a long meandering walkway from the ground level up to the 300 leve.  Next to it are two long escalators:  one goes up to the suite level and one goes up to the 300 level.  Straight ahead is the warehouse along Eutaw street.  At the bottom is a sign that says “Home of the Orioles,” which hangs over a walk way through the bottom of the wearhouse.  If you’re walking outside the stadium from the CF gate on the far side of Eutaw Street, this cut out is the first break in the long warehouse wall and it cuts through to the B Gate and a small ticket office.  By the way, when the ticket line at the CF side of Eutaw Street is reaaaallly long, this one will most likely be about 2 people long.  Finally, right in the middle of the picture is the bouncy house.

Before heading down to the bouncy house, we ducked back into the seats and took this picture looking down a bustling Eutaw Street from Section 306:

busy eutaw street.jpg

After bouncing in the bouncy house . . .

timmers bouncing.jpg . . . we didn’t find Mark and Brady.  So we headed over to the seats to see if they were over there.  They weren’t.  So, Tim posed with the orange seat in right center field:

murray 500 seat.jpg

This is Section 96, Row D, Seat 23.  Apparently, on September 6, 1996, Eddie Murray’s 500th career home run landed in this seat.

Anyway, Mark and Brady weren’t over here either.

We headed back to the kids area and Tim played on the play fort – its fairly unimpressive, so I won’t show you a picture.  After a few minutes, we headed back to the seats once again.  On the way, we stopped to get some chicken strips and french fries.  While looking for napkins, we ran into Mark and Brady.

As I mentioned, Mark and Brady are Tigers fans.  And they were decked out in Tigers gear.  So lets just get it out of the way — THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!  Do you know the controversy?  Interestingly, every single Tigers fan I’ve ever asked about THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY has been totally oblivious to its very existence.  Apparently, the Tigers’ fans are not very observant.

So what is the controvery you ask?  Here it is — the Old English script “D” on the Tigers hat is totally and completely different than the Old English script “D” their jerseys and no one seems to care or notice

Shocking!  Huh?

Here is indisputable photographic evidence:

tigers two Ds.jpg

Let’s take a closer look:

1. The upper right corner of the Hat “D” has little fancy points and a concave diagonal edge while the same part of the Jersey “D” is rounded with no pionts and no concave edge.

2. The traditionally straight edge of the capital “D” is replace in the Jersey “D” with three vertical lines.  The two inner lines are straight and the outide line is sort of shaped like a shark with two pointy fins on his back.  Meanwhile, the straight edge of the Hat “D” has only two vertical lines.  Neither are straight.  Instead, they both look sort of like tall thin S’s.  But congrats to the Tigers, the outside line on the Hat “D” also has the two shark like fins on it!

3. The Two S-like vertical lines on the Hat “D” have two little bars connecting them – one at the top and one at the bottom.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.  The Jersey “D”?  You got it, no connector bars at all between the roughly corresponding vertical lines.

4.  But there are more connector discrepancies.  The left and right side of the opening of the Hat “D” is connected with two little bars – the top bar is concave and the bottom bar is convex.  How about the Jersey “D” — just the opposite.  The top bar is convex and the bottom bar is concave.

5.  Finally, the Hat “D” is cool and the Jersey “D” is not (this one is subjective).

So you say, “Come on, I never noticed this, but how can it be a controversy?  All Tigers fans must know about this?”  Nope.  You’re wrong.  In fact, Mark himself — a Michigander — was totally unaware of this last year before I asked him about it.  Recently, Mark surveyed a bunch of Tigers fans at Comerica Park.  None of them knew about this.

The big question:  why is it that Tigers have two different D’s on their uniforms?

The answer:  NO ONE KNOWS!!!

According to my limited internet research on this (limited because I don’t really care about it), the Tigers themselves have no clue why they have different D’s on their uniforms.

So there you have it:  THE BIG TIGERS “D” CONTROVERSY!!!

 Anyway, I ignored the crazy mix-matched D’s on Mark and Brady’s shirts and hats and went about our day.  We headed over to our seats.  We watched about one inning there.  It was too hot and sunny for our pale little boys.  I noticed that Section 306 (from the picture above) was essentially empty and totally shady.  So we headed up there (after playing in the RF standing room flag area for a bit).

Here was our view up there:

cam RF foul panoramic.jpg

That picture makes the seats seem higher than they really were.  Actually, I really liked sitting up there.  But before we get to that, here is a look back at the flag area and our seats in Section 96:

camden flags and our seats.jpg

If you go straight up from the White Sox flag in the middle row and then look a little off-center to the right, you’ll see a guy wearing a neon yellow shirt with four empty seats behind him.  Those are our empty seats.

We had a great time in the shade.  Tim had chocoloate ice cream WITHOUT an ice cream helmet:

messy ice cream no helmet.jpg

Can you believe the Baltimore Orioles STILL don’t offer ice cream helmets?  Come on, Orioles?  It is 2009!  Get with the program!  The fans demand ice cream helmets!

Look at the terrible mess caused because Tim had to eat his ice cream out of of an inferior little bowl.  It was a chocolate covered disaster area by the end of this.

After Tim changed from his Griffey shirt into his Moose shirt, Tim pointed out the batter:

theres the batter.jpg

Next, it was time to try to catch a foul ball:

snaggin fouls.jpg

Of course, it would have taken a mammoth Ruthian foul ball blast to get a ball up to the little guys.  So Tim and Brady discarded the gloves and did some dancing:

dancing.jpg

Despite these sweet moves, the Orioles managed to not put Tim and Brady on the jumbo screen.  Can you believe it?

You know, there was also a game.  It was a pitchers dual.  Edwin Jackson pitched for the Tigers and had a no hitter into the 5th (I think).  Curtis Granderson hit a home run.  Here is he not hitting that home run:

granderson.jpg

Is it just me or is Granderson wearing clown shoes?  His front foot looks disproportionately huge to me.

How about a bonus picture of former Mariner Adam Jones?

adam jones.jpgFor the most part, the Tigers scored whenever Mark turned his back to the field.  So, I guess he turned three times.  With the Tigers up 3-0, Fernando Rodney entered the game in the bottom of the ninth: 

big screen fernando rodney.jpgAnd he slammed the door on the Orioles.  Mark and Brady were happy.

Before heading to the car, Mark took our picture:

upper deck shoulders.jpg

As we left the seats, Tim asked if we could go run around the flags.  I told him we couldn’t because we had to go home so we could play baseball.  Tim agreed.

As we walked onto Eutaw Street, I looked toward the field and notice something wonderful on the jumbo screen – a notice that the Mariners will be in town starting June 9th!

M's Griff.jpg

Tim and I will be back for one of those three games.  And Griff will likely hit a monster bomb — like the one marked on the Warehouse wall as shown above.  Well, he might not hit it that far.  That’s the only ball in the history of Camden Yards to make it to the Warehouse in the air.

So with that, we walked to the cars.  Mark and I tentatively planned to catch a Marlins vs. Phillies game at Citizen Bank Park in August.  It will be Brady’s first Phillies game.

Tim slept for 1 hour and 50 minutes of the two hour drive home.  As we pulled into our garage, Tim (still groggy from his nap) asked, “Can we play baseball now?”  Well, I did promise we could instead of going to the flags again.  So we played baseball in the yard for about an hour and a half before it started getting dark.

Another fine day of baseball in the books.

Season Fan Stats:

12 Games
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
3,607 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))

A Weekend With No Baseball?

A strange thing happened this Memorial Day Weekend.  It was a weekend.  It was the baseball season.  But for the first time this season, Tim and I did not go to a MLB game this weekend.

So the question, what do you do with a whole weekend without a baseball game?  And a three day weekend at that?

Baseball Anyone?

That’s right.  Baseball exists independent of Major League Baseball.  In fact, I would venture to guess that its that good, old fashion, home grown non-MLB baseball that makes many of us such big fans of MLB.

So, this is what baseball looks like in the Cooks’ backyard — its a beautiful thing:

broken wood.jpg

That’s Tim hitting with a wood Rawlings Tee Ball bat.  At not quite three-and-a-half, Tim no longer uses a tee.  And for the past week or two, he’s cast aside the foam bat in favor of the “heavy” bat.

Well, this weekend, he broke this bat hitting balls.  I congratulated him on his first broken bat.  When our neighor walked by with his dog, Tim ran up to the fence and yelled, “I broke my first bat on my life!”  That’s no typo, he said “on” his life.

Luckily, that same neighbor — who is one of Tim’s biggest “fans” (he watches Tim hit a lot while walking his dog) — recently gave Tim his son’s old tee ball bat.

Here is Tim ready to hit:

ready.JPG

Tim crushed some balls with his power stroke:

crushed.jpg

He went with some pitches hitting them to the opposite field:

oppo.jpg

It was great fun.  However, several times on Saturday, Tim would hit himself on the back of his head with his back swing.  So, I figured we should go to the best store ever — the Rawlings Outlet at the Vanity Fair Outlets in Reading, PA — and get Tim a batting helmet (if they had a size that fits a three year old).  The problem was that I had to get Tim to agree to stop playing baseball to go to the store.  We had the following conversation (background – Tim LOVES frosties from Wendy’s and there is a Wendy’s down the road from the Rawlings outlet, and Tim LOVES wearing all of the helmets at the Rawlings store):

TODD:  Tim, do you want to go to the baseball store to get a helmet?

TIM:  But first, let’s play baseball!

TODD:  But, why don’t we go to the baseball store and get you a helmet and then we can come back and play more baseball?

TIM:  But first, let’s play baseball!

TODD:  Okay.  How about this?  We could play more baseball OR we could go to the baseball store and get you a helmet, and then stop by Wendy’s and get you a frosty, and then come back home and play more baseball?

TIM:  (Leaning close to me and whispering in a firm voice) I CHOOSE BASEBALL!

He then ran back out in the yard and grabbed his bat.

Anyway, Sunday morning, we went and got a helmet before starting to play any baseball.  And guess what?  They had a helmet that fit Tim!  And it was even Mariners colors!

So, to make a long story short, we played many more hours of baseball over the course of the three day weekend — as seen here:

Tim 5-tools cook.jpg

Yes, it was a little sad not to get to a big league ball park this weekend.  But, all in all, it was a great weekend.  Hundreds of balls thrown, caught and hit.  Lots of base running and staged run downs.  Lots of high fives.  And not a single blown save (like the Mariners are suffering as I type).

I highly recommend it.

Next weekend:  Saturday, baseball in the back yard; Sunday, Tigers vs. Orioles in Baltimore.

 

Phillies at Nationals Park (5/17/09)

This entry was supposed to be titled “Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take 2.”  Unfortunately, our bid to see Jamie Moyer win the 250th game of his career failed before we even left for the game.  I learned on Saturday night that Chan Ho Park would be pitching Sunday, May 17th in Washington, D.C. rather than Jamie Moyer.  Moyer is a great pitcher.  But its tough, even for a great pitcher, to get a win in a game you don’t pitch.

So Tim and I would have to focus on our other two main goals of the day – (i) checking out Nationals Park for the first time and (ii) participating in Kids Run the Bases after the game.  Our pursuit of those goals met with great success, as explained in detail below.

Nationals Park can be both incredibly expensive and quite affordable, depending on how you want to “do” the stadium.  For example, parking in the garage connected to the stadium is FORTY BUCKS!!!  That’s ridiculous.  On the other hand, the parking route we took was both an adventure and totally FREE!  You see, the Nationals have arranged for their fans to park for FREE at RFK Stadium and then take a FREE shuttle bus to a point about 2 blocks from Nationals Park.  Here is what it looked like:

rfk bus.jpg

Here is our first view of the Park walking from the bus:

1st stadium view.jpg

Here is our first view of the field as we entered the Park from the LCF entrance:

1st field view LF panoramic.jpgAs you might know, I am a Mariners fan.  But alas, I did live in Philadelphia for three years and I have no NL allegiance, so i bought a Phillies BP jersey back in 1999 or so.  I doubt I’ve worn it since 2000.  But this was only my second Phils road game, so I thought I’d give it a try wearing the Phillies jersey and my Reading Phillies hat to see if some nice Phillies player would reward me and Tim for coming to see them on the road.  Now, wearing the visitors’ jersey/hat even if you hate the team is a classic “ballhawk” technique.  I am not a ballhawk, but generally I have no problem with the ballhawks doing it.  But, personally, I felt dirty as heck wearing Phillies stuff, even though I was there rooting for the Phillies.  It just hurt me right down to my Mariners core (in fact, I couldn’t do it without wearing a M’s shirt under the Phils jersey).  Anyway, more on that later. 

So, as we entered the stadium, we saw a bunch of Phils stretching behind 3B.  So we headed over there where this was our view:

DC 3B paroramic view.jpg

We headed down to the field level where they have a little trough (for lack of a better term) where there are just a couple seats in a big aisle).  We watched the guys warm up amongst a sea of Phillies fans:

running anthem.jpg

Yep, to the left, that is team leading (pick an offensive category) Raul Ibanez warming up his legs.  To the right, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins stand in front for the national anthem while Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and a trainer stand behind them.

 After the anthem, the guys started playing catch and running (sorta) sprints:

jimmy and ryan.jpg

In the photo to the left, you can see Jimmy Rollins playing catch with Chase Utley (off camera) and Ryan Howard playing catch with Shane Victorino.  After a few mintues, Jimmy and Shane set their gloves down on the foul line with the balls sitting on the grass next to them.  Then they started running sprints.

To the right, you can see that, after finishing playing catch with Victorino, Ryan Howard came over to the stands and started signing autographs for 5-10 minutes.  As you can see, almost everyone down in the trough bunched up next to Howard in hopes of getting his autograph.  We didn’t have a pen or anything worth getting the former NL M.V.P. to sign, so we stood our ground.  The difference was, after Ryan started signing, we were pretty much standing all alone, no more sea of Phillies fans surrounding us.

Tim was on my shoulders (where his Mariners shirt was hidden behind my head).  I was wearing my Phils jersey and R-Phils hat.  We looked like a nice father-son Phillies fan combo.  Jimmy Rollins took note.  When he was finished running, he grabbed his glove and ball and took a couple steps toward the dugout.  He then stopped, turned back toward us and fired his baseball directly into my glove.  Nice – our first ball EVER from a Phillies player:

jimmy ball.jpg

A few minutes later, the game started.  The baseball we got from J-Roll looked the same, but I looked different:

M's Jimmy Ball.jpg

J-Roll shouldn’t feel as if he got duped.  We still rooted for the Phils.  I just had to show my true colors during the game.  Also, I did put my R-Phils hat back on after Tim got chocolate ice cream on his fingers and I thought he would get the white portion of my M’s hat chocolately.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Like usual, we had some cheap tickets.  Not SRO, this time we were apparently high in the rafters of the RF foul territory stands.  We never went to our section.  Instead, we started walking around getting to know the stadium.  Let me tell you something, unlike the team that plays there, Nationals Park is beautiful.  Despite a couple negatives, it instantly ranks right up among my favorite ball parks.

Why don’t we take a look around?  This is reverse order as we walked, but how about we start behind the plate in the third deck:

DC Home Plate 3d Deck Panoramic View.jpgThe second deck from the concourse behind first base:

DC 1st Base 2d Deck Panoramic view.jpgThe second deck RF corner (foul):

DC 2d Deck RF foul panoramic view.jpgThe second deck CF:

DC 2d Deck CF panoramic view.jpgAs you can tell, its a beautiful park.  In addition to checking out this great park, Tim and I also had a goal of testing out our new digital camera.  It has a great zoom – both optical and digital.  Here are a couple pictures taken from various locations in the Park:

jimmyx2 ryan and chase.jpgOn the left (upper and lower) is Jimmy Rollins.  I took these pictures on back-to-back pitches from the spot where I took that last panoramic in center field.

At top right, Ryan Howard is seen batting in the first inning.  I took that picture from just behind the RL foul pole.

Below Howard, is Chase Utley also hitting in the first inning.  I took this from the field level concourse behind all of the seats a little bit down the line from first base.

How about another panoramic?  Here is CF from the field level concourse:

DC Field Level RCF Panoramic View.jpgOkay, now, I took all of these panoramic views while walking around in the concourses circling the stadium.  Although fans in their seats usually aren’t paying a lot of attention to the concourses, they are an important part of any stadium.  Bad concourses make a stadium feel cramped.  Open concourses from which you can see the field make the stadium feel bigger and they let fans maximize their time at the ball park (ex:  they can still watch the game while standing in line for some food).  Nationals Park has GREAT concourses.  HUGE.  Mostly all open.  Not crowded.  Excellent.  Here are a couple examples:

DC spacious concourses.jpg

Walk these great concourses and eventually you’ll find yourself in biggest open area I’ve ever seen inside a ball park:

CF area.jpg

The Field Level CF panoramic a couple pictures ago was taken on the opposite side of that escalator.  The Second Deck CF panoramic and the pictures of Jimmy Rollins batting a couple more pictures above were taken from the second deck just to the left of the big “DC” sign and under the picture of the Nationals celebrating (they must have won a game?).

The black strip at the top center (where it says “GET YOUR”) is the “Red Porch.”  I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the red porch.

The building to the right is a massively expensive parking garagle.  The openings on the ground level are various fan attractions.  The one with the yellow sign is a “stuff a bear” type place where you can make your own Nationals mascot.  The “Strike Zone” at the far right of the picture has a batting cage where the ball shoots out of a video screen.  When we watched it, Randy Johnson was pitching and the ball would shoot through the screen through his hand.  Pretty cool.  In the back, there was a similar game with pitching.  I watched a guy pitch to Larry “Chipper” Jones.

And right behind me as I took this picture?  The play area:

playset in CF.jpgTim loved this play set.  From a father’s perspective, it seemed better than the playset at Safeco Field, but a not quite as good as the playset at Citizens Bank Park.  The worst part about it is that it is massively far away from the field and there is no TV to watch the game.  It would be perfect if the Nats would follow the Mets lead and put a BIG SCREEN on the back of the scoreboard for all of the parents watching their kids play in the CF play area.

Anyway, back to the tour.  Here is a post-game picture from the deck of the aforementioned Red Porch:

DC Red Porch Panoramic View.jpg

And here is a picture looking at the Red Porch from the 1B field level seats:

Scrolling Bar on Red Porch.jpg

Well, look at that…I stand corrected.  The “Red Porch” is really called the “Red Loft.”  Hmm…I’m wondering if that is the upstairs and the downstairs is called the Red Porch.  I definitely heard someone call it the Red Porch during the game.  Anyway, in the last panoramic, Tim and I took the pictures standing under the “Red” in the “Red Loft” sign in the last picture.

The only bad part of the concoures at Nationals Park is that the Red Porch/Loft cuts off all view of field as you walk from CF to LF (or vice versa).  Same thing with the field level concourse behind home plate.  Its just like Citi Field.  They have field level suites and a restaurant that cut off all view of the game for *commoners* walking behind home plate.  But I like the way the Nationals did it more than the Mets.  The Mets concourse is like a dark cave that feels like it is 100 yards away from the game.  The Nats concourse is bright and airy and it has a team store entrance and big pictures on the wall telling about the history of baseball in Washington, D.C…check it out:

DC Behind Home Plate Field Level Suites.jpg

But, back to the outfield.  Here are some interesting statues on the back side of the Red Porch/Loft:

statutes in motion.jpg

Well, look at that.  I am right. The field level is called the “Red Porch” (as shown in the middle picture behind Frank Howard (who by the way shouldn’t have swung at that pitch, he’s reaching too far!)).

Note, PNC Park in Pittsburgh also has a Josh Gibson statue.

Back to the panoramic views, here is the RF corner from the third deck:

DC 3d Deck LF Foul Panoramic View.jpgThis picture leads to the final negative point about Nationals Park:  the ushers guard the seats like they are made of gold.  I had to sweet talk an usher to persuade him to let me and Tim sit in the BACK ROW of the LAST SECTION in the UPPER DECK!  There is a fourth deck starting a little closer to home plate.  But where I took this picture, we were literally sitting in the back row of the highest section at the greatest distance from home plate down the 3B line.  Is that ridiculous or what?

So how did we get to sit in these coveted seat?  I told the usher Tim’s ice cream was melting, we were all the way across the stadium from our seats, and I was looking desparately for a standing room spot with a standing counter where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream…but there are none in the third deck down the 3B line.  So in the face of melting ice cream, the usher relented and let us take the empty seats in the empty row in the highest and most distant seats from home plate.

Here is Tim and his ice cream and, in the distance, the Washington Monument:

ice cream helmet and WA monument.jpg

There is a big walking ramp down from the third deck to the field level in the LF corner.  As I stood on that ramp, I took the picture of the Washington Monument to the right above.  I said to Tim (sitting on my shoulders), “That’s the Washington Monument, Tim.”  Two seconds later, some random 50′ish year old white-male-American walks up to me, “Are you serious?  That’s the Washington Monument?  Cool!”  He was dead serious.  It was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I posted this panoramic tour in reverse order of how Tim and I actually walked.  We really came from CF to RF to home plate, to an ice cream stand in the third deck behind 3B and then out to the LF corner.  On our walk from the ice cream stand to the LF corner, I spotted the Capitol Building from the concourse:

The picture to the right above is also taken from the ramp down to field level.  But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before heading down the ramp, I tested my camera out a bit more.  Here are some more action shots:

Jimmy Hits Foul.jpg

Here we see J-Roll take a pitch and then hit another foul.

raulx3 shane.jpg

The top right picture of Raul Ibanez was also taken from the third deck in the LF corner.  The others were taken elsewhere…as should be evident.  In the bottom right, I’ve snuck a picture of Shane Victorino in with three Ibanez pictures.

Pretty much every swing I took a picture of at this game resulted in a foul ball, a foul pop out, or an infield pop out.  No hits or homeruns to speak of.

Okay, so it was time to head down that ramp.  From the ramp, I took this cool picture of the concourse going from the LF corner out to CF:

LF Concourse Area.jpg

Note the vegetation growing on the roof of the concession stand.  This prompted Tim to tell me that there are no plants growing on our roof because, “Our roof isn’t flat.  Our roof is a triangle.”

Once we got down the ramp, we stood for a little bit behind the LF seats where we saw the Presidents race:

Presidents Race.jpg

After the race, the Presidents headed out to CF and took pictures with fans.  They were mobbed by people.  I really wanted a picture with Teddy Roosevelt, who looked hilarious, but it wasn’t in the cards.  The Presidents were a big hit at the game.  They have George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt…and someone…I have no clue who the fourth President is.  Anyway, the Nats also have a silly looking eagle named “Screech” (I think).  But he is a pretty weak mascot.  The Presidents were far superior.

After the race, we headed down into the LF seats and got a picture of the visitors’ bullpen (shown here with an inside-shot of the Nats bullpen):

Grass Turf Bullpens.jpg

This Phillies fan in the middle looked somewhat protective of the Phils’ bullpen.  Note, the visitors’ bullpen (to the right) is grass, but the Nats’ bullpen (left) is turf.  I’m not sure why this is, but my guess is that there is access through the Nats’ bullpen to a big tunnel system under the stadium.  Possibly they drive vehicles through the Nats’ bullpen from time-to-time and put in turf so the grass wouldn’t get torn up.  Just a guess.

We then headed back to the second deck in RF where we got one of the stadium fanfoto gals to take a picture of us with my camera:

TJCs in DC.jpg

Finally, we settled into some seats for the last 2-3 innings of the game.  The ushers had apparently lost some of their motivation.  He easily slipped into some really nice seats down the 1B line.  Here was our view:

DC 1B Field Level Panoramic View.jpg

See that light stand all the way across the stadium in the LF corner?  See that last section of seats on the third deck that hide the left side of the light tower?  That is the section where I had to persuade an usher to let us sit for a couple innings (and to be clear, in case I wasn’t earlier, at first, he in fact told me that he “couldn’t do it” when I asked him if we could temporarily sit in the back row).

Anyway, there was no one else in our row in this section down the 3B line.  However, there was a group of maybe 8 young 20s’ish year old Nats fans sitting two rows behind us.  Tim flirted it up like crazy with two young gals.  At the time, the Nats were winning 6-5 and the gals (and their whole group) were all smiles and giggles.  Here is Tim cheesing it up for the ladies:

 
Tim in DC 1B Field Seats.jpg

Tim’s new friends’ mood changed abruptly in the top of the eighth.  With runners on first and second and no outs, Pedro Feliz laid down a nice bunt toward third.  Zimmerman and Jesus Colome converged on the ball.  Either could have grabbed it.  Colome did and he made what seemed to be a perfect throw to first where second baseman, Anderson Hernandez, was covering first.  By my first hand account, the throw was perfect and Feliz should have been out at first.  Instead, Hernandez jumped out of the way of the ball and let it sail into foul territory down the 1B line.  Both runs scored and Feliz made it to third.  Anderson said he could not see the ball because of the crowd.   I guess he isn’t used to having more than 10,000 fans scattered throughout the stadium.  Amazingly, they gave the error to Colome for making a perfect throw that Hernandez simply failed to catch.

When this happened, the stadium exploded with Phillies cheers.  But the people sitting behind us never uttered another word.  Their win was gone

We actually missed the ninth inning and the Phillies win because we were lined up outside the RF side of the stadium — it was time for Kids Run the Bases!  We were toward the front of the long, long, long line of kids.  As we waited in line, an usher told me to take Tim off my shoulders, “you know, for safety.”  Okay, whatever.

We started our run the bases experience with our standard picture by the RF wall footage sign:

DC 335 RF Sign.jpg

Tim then stretched his legs with some pre-bases sprints down the RF foul warning track:

DC RF Foul Warning Track run.jpg

I took a shot of the Nats’ dug out (shown to the left, with the visitors’ dug out on the right):

DC Dugouts.jpg

Then Tim was off to the races:

tjc at 1B in DC.jpg

The Nats seemed to have 100 people out there on the field working.  It was impossible to navigate the warning track and get even a half-way decent picture of Tim rounding second, which was HIGHLY dissapointing.

But I got a great shot of Tim rounding third:

tjc rounding third in DC.jpg

Then it was impossible to get a good shot of Tim scoring at home plate — that is more standard, I’ve never got a good picture of Tim at home plate yet in the three run-the-bases Tim has done so far.

We took a couple more shots as we left the field of play:

DC Field picts.jpg

So, that was it.  Our game experience was essentially over. 

Sad.

Very sad.

Particularly because the next weekend would be our first weekend not to go to a game this season.

In fact, we wouldn’t have another game until May 31st.

Sad.

We walked around the LF seats a bit more.

We looked at the visitors’ bullpen close up outside of the watchful eye of that concerned Phillies fan.

We went up to the Red Loft where we took the pictures for that panoramic up above.

Then we sadly headed toward the CF exit, the same one we’d passed through just 45 minutes before to line up to run the bases.

At the bottom of the exit stairs, we turned right and we started walking down the street.

We spotted the end of the run-the-bases line.  Only 30 yards long now.  Those lucky kids still with all of that fun ahead of them.

We walked sorta close to the wall as we passed down the wide sidewalk.

Tim was on my shoulders again.  That same usher who told me to take Tim down “you know, for safety” was still standing by the line.

She had to recognize us.  We’d just spoken with each other 45 minutes ago.  Everyone at the game was wearing bright red Phillies and Nats gear, and we were wearing dark blue Mariners gear.

But then she uttered seven magical words that let me know she most certainly did not recognize us, “Does he want to run the bases?”

I respond, pointing, “Oh, is this the line?” (as if we’d been looking for it for the past hour).

“Yeah!  Have fun!”

“Sweet!”

Tim was officially (I certified it OFFICIAL), the last kid to round the bases and touch home plate and I got a great shot of it:

Tim Last to Touch Home in DC.jpg

It was pretty awesome.  All of the Presidents, Screech and a boat load of Nats employees were on the field (again preventing a good picture at 2B), and because he was the last kid, they all followed Tim to home plate.  As you can see, as he stood at home, he was surrounded by employees and mascots all cheering for him.  Very satisfying.

Plus, because we were last, we were able to right a past wrong — we got that coveted picture with Teddy Roosevelt — and it is a keeper:

TJCs and Teddy R.jpg

A great day!  We give Nationals Park two thumbs up.

One more game note:  we saw Sergio Escalona make his major league debut and earn the first win of his career pitching the 7th inning for the Phillies.  The day before the game, Escalona was assigned to the Reading Phillies.  Good job, Sergio.

Season Fan Stats:

11 Games (double digits!)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,   
Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))

Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take I (5/13/09)

I was out on a six mile run Tuesday night and I was doing some serious thinking.  Hands down, Ken Griffey, Jr. is my all-time favorite baseball player.  I can pretty much guarantee that fact will never change.  Behind Griff, the past 8 years, Ichiro has been my second favorite.  Edgar Martinez ranks right with Ichiro in my hierarchy.  And I have loved Jamie Moyer for years.  But I’d never officially put a ranking on him in my mental player archive.  However, it only took me until my turn onto Papermill Road — a mere 1.7 miles into my run — on Tuesday night to make a big decision:  Jaime Moyer IS my all-time favorite pitcher.  That’s all there is to say about it.  The guy is awesome.

So, you could imagine how excited I was to know that less than 24 hours later, on Wednesday, May 13th, Tim, Colleen and I would travel to Citizens Bank Park to hopefully witness Moyer win his 250th game of his career.  I was also excited because it was my lovely wife’s first time to join us at a game since the first weekend of the 2008 season.  Finally, I was excited because Colleen just got a new digital camera with an awesome zoom and she is an excellent novice photographer.  So lets get to it.

Pre-game, we got a family picture for which Tim has a odd and ambiguous look on his face:

 

nervous tim pre-game.JPG

Of course, we also got a shot of the always loveable Phillie Phanatic:

 

pre-game phanatic.JPGFinally, it was game time.  We started out in our familiar beginning of the game starting post — standing room behind section 130.  We usually always start out here because its almost straight in (and a little to the right toward home plate) from the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park.

Colleen immediately tried out her new camera and its sequence feature.  She took tons of awesome pitchers of Moyer frustrating the Dodgers in the top of the first.  I put a bunch of them together to make this cool picture of Moyer getting an infield pop up:

 
moyermotion.jpg

Moyer started the game strong.  Here he is getting Rafael Furcal to swing and miss (in another sweet picture by my sweet wife!):

Whiffeal Furcal.JPG

griff tuck.jpgYou know what I find interesting about this excellent picture?  Furcal’s pant legs.  They are pulled down and cover his shoes.  I notice that more and more these days.  I think its funny.  When I was playing ball in high school (during the early-mid days of Griff’s first tour of duty with the Mariners), the trend was to wear high top spikes with your pant legs tucked into the top of your spikes.  (As Griff displays in this classic picture).  Now-a-days, its as if people are ashamed of their shoes and want to hide them.  We’ll come back to this fashion trend in later pictures in this entry.

After the first inning, we went and got Tim (and me) some extremely tasty french fries and Colleen a pretzel with cheese and shifted over to the standing room area directly behind section 124 (slightly off-center behind home plate toward the 1B side).  I took this picture of tim eating a french fry with our *old* camera:

 


Thumbnail image for tim fry guy.jpgA funny story.  As we bought the french fries, I asked the lady where I could find nachos.  She pointed down the 1B line and said, “About four mobile stands down that way.”  You see, Colleen wanted nachos, not a pretzel.  As we started walking down the 1B side, I spotted a prime SRO opening behind section 124, so I asked Colleen if it was okay if Tim and I camped out there while she ran ahead to get her nachos.  She said okay.  Then she was gone for what seemed like forever.  Seriously, I was wondering if she had been abducted or something.  Finally, she came back with her pretzel.  She said she walked all the way into RF and couldn’t find a nacho stand.  I asked her she was looking at the mobile stands on the field side of the concourse rather than the permanent food stands on the back side.  She said she was looking at the back side stands, but then looked at the mobile stands on the way back.  So, we had to deal with a pretzel with cheese instead of the desired nachos.  Still a little later, we headed over to the play area.  As we started walking over there,  I noticed that there was a nacho stand literally about 30 feet from where we had been standing.  Oops!

Anyway, Colleen enjoyed the pretzel and cheese and we got some more great pictures behind home plate.  Like this one of Raul hitting a foul ball:

fouuuuul.JPG

And this one of Moyer watching a called strike:

50attheplate.JPG

And this one of Moyer again pitching strong in the top of the second:

moyer in control.JPG
The beginning of June will mark my 10-year anniverary of my move to Pennsylvania.  The ten years has done nothing to my love for the Mariners.  If anything, its only made me a more tired person because I have to stay up so late to watch the M’s on TV.  Anyway, I’ve never really cared all that much about the Phillies.  Sure, I cheer for them when I am at their games.  On any given day, I have no clue what the Phils’ record is or what place they are in (except for when I discuss these things with my numerous Phillies loving colleagues at work).  But deep down, I just can’t bring myself to actually care about any team but the Mariners.

The last couple years, however, it has been more fun for me to watch the Phils than it had been in previous years because Pat Gillick has brought a slew of ex-Mariners through Philadelphia:  Moyer, Raul, Greg Dobbs, Freddy Garica (didn’t work out so well), Ryan Franklin, etc.  I like to cheer on former Mariners (provided they aren’t playing for the Yankees or another team in the AL West).  So the Gillick-era has made Phillies baseball much more enjoyable for me to watch. 

That’s not to say the other guys aren’t good guys.  The current Phillies squad it really chalked full of great guys who are excellent ball players — Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth to name a few. 

Obviously the squad is full of good ball players — they won the World Series and all - but Gillick really deserves some credit for putting together a group of quality guys.   The 1993 Phillies were good too, but I could not stand most of their team, particuarly Curt Shilling and Lenny Dykstra, two of my least favorite players ever.

Anyway, lets get back to the game.  After Moyer put together three solid innings and we polished off our first round of ball park treats, we took Tim over to the play area.

playset mastered.JPG

When we left the play area last week during the Braves/Phillies game, Tim declared he wanted to try to get to the top of the “Castle Play area” where the Phanatic is sitting “on his car.”  Well, tonight was the night.  If you click on that picture to get the jumbo version of it, you might be able to tell that its somewhat confusing how to get up to the top.  There are a couple tubes right next to each other and the kids have to pass the first option and go to the second to find the enterance to the tube up to the top.  Tim finally figured it out and ended up going up there 4-5 times.  I could see it was just packed with kids up in that tubing at the very top that leads to a big spiraling slide down.  He loved it.

Another funny note, do you see a guy in a blue shirt sitting in the window in the top red square?   That is a Phillies employee who sits in there and makes sure the kids go down the slide *somewhat* one at a time.

[NOTE:  As I type, Ichiro just hit a bomb off of Jon Lester.  Excellent.  Let's come back M's!)

Anyway, that guy sitting up in the red square is ushering the kids down the white slide and, between kids, he's madly texting all of his friends.  Ah, *kids* these days.

We were in the play area a good long while.  Its a little annoying because you can't see the field from the play area (bad planning, they should have put it in CF where dads could watch the game as their kids play).  Additionally, the TV in the play area is over in the corner and it isn't big enough.  But worst of all, as we were away from the playing field, Moyer started struggling mighily.  I snuck back into the field on the 200 level as Colleen watched Tim play.  Here is a look from the RF corner:

 


200 level RF foul panoramic.jpg

(Also taken with our old camera)

Moyer gave up 5 runs in the 4th inning.  So I had to cut Tim's play time short so we could get back out to the field  area and support Moyer.  I always use "ice cream helmet time" as a way of getting him out of there.   It worked.

We got Tim's helmet over by the play area (which is next to the 1B stadium entrance) and then we walked all the way through the outfield and over to the LF corner to eat his ice cream in the same spot as he ate it for the Braves game last week.  It was highly annoying going through the OF because it was jam-packed.  I like a sparsely populated MLB park where people don't get in my way.  My biggest complaint about Citizens Bank Park is all the darn people!  (My second biggest complaint is all of the wind in the concoures and my third biggest complaint is the TERRIBLE name (I prefer to call it, "New Vet Stadium")).  Anyway, on the walk, Colleen snapped this great picture of the Liberty Bell and the Directv Blimp (Tim loved watching that blimp):

 

liberty blimp.JPGShe also got this picture of me and Tim with Richie Ashburn's statue in Ashburn Alley:

TJCs and Ashburn.JPG

When we got over to the LF corner, we founds a perfect SRO counter spot.  I went and got some nachos for me and Colleen and some nice Philadelphian snapped this family picture:

Pa Cooks in LF.JPG

[NOTE:  ICHIRO JUST HIT HIS SECOND BOMB OF THE GAME!!! 392 FEET!  MARINERS TAKE THE LEAD 5-4!]

During our second round of ball park snacks, Colleen took some more ex-Mariners picts to test out her new camera:

Raumie.JPG

You know, I’ve never notice until seeing this picture of Moyer that *New Vet Stadium* has two rows of benches in the dugout.  Interesting.

If you know my boy, you might know he is awesome.  Likewise, you might know that he is a high energy kid.  Well, after his ice cream with sprinkles he kicked the high energy into super-ridiculous-high-energy mode.  The Phils were losing 7-1 and Tim was whining up a storm so Colleen was ready to head out in the 7th.  I was going to concede.  But with the lopsided score, the seats behind the Phils dugout were starting to clear out, and when the Phanatic went down to rally the crowd on top of the dugout, we followed him down and snagged some premium seats.  Tim really enjoyed sitting behind the dugout so close to the Phanatic:

tjc amazed.JPG

Between the innings, we tried to get Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to throw us a ball.  But it didn’t work.  We also tried to get closer to the Phanatic in hopes of getting a personal picture with him.  But this place is just so packed (as I mentioned) and its really hard to get to the Phanatic.  Here is the best we could do:

phanatic background.JPG

Tim was sad he didn’t get a ball and didn’t get to hug the Phanatic, so he gave another funny look in yet another shoulder-top-photo:

perlexed shoulder tim.JPG

In the bottom 7th/top 8th, we sat about 15 rows back.  In the bottom 8th/top 9th, we sat about 4 rows behind the dugout.  It was great for seeing the Phils up close and personal and taking some more action shots.  And lo-and-behold, another ex-Mariner made an appearance — Greg Dobbs:

dobbers grounds.JPG

She took this picture of Clay Condrey and Pedro Feliz that, despite being blurry, I think is really cool:

happy condrey.JPG

At my request, Colleen took this picture of Joe Torre who, since the game was in hand, I like to think was pondering the Manny Ramirez situation:

stoic torre.JPG

By the way, there was a guy sitting right by us in the second row behind the Phils’ dugout who had a sign that said something like “PEDS:  Clemens, A-ROD, Manny.  Who’s Next, Joe Torre?”  I got a chuckle out of it.

Next, Colleen just went off taking pictures of everyone (note she took 160 pictures at this game…well, I took a few of them):

some players.JPG

Top left:  Casey Blake whiffs at this pitch.  A few seconds later, he’d deposit that same ball into the LF seats to make the score 9-1.

Top right:  Ryan “R-Ho” Howard — check the pants over the shoes look?

Bottom left:  Orlanda Hudson watches a pitch.  Simultaneous with this picture, a highly annoying, most likely higly intoxicated 20-something gall was yelling “You suck Hudson.  You suck Hudson” and then a number of things that shouldn’t be uttered in a family setting.  Between obnoxious rants, she’s turn to Tim and say, “Don’t listen to me.  Don’t listen to me.  What I’m saying is no good.  Listen to you’re parents.  Oh, you’re so cute.  You’re sooooo cute.  Oh, boy, you’re cute.  Don’t listen to me!!!”  By the way, check Hudson’s pant legs.

Bottom right, Shane Victorino takes an awkward looking hack and hit the ball against the netting on the Dodgers’ dugout.

So, that’s it for the pictures.  I hope you enjoyed.  A couple closing remarks.  For the third game in a row, we closed out a division with this game.  The Dodgers were the final N.L. West team that Tim had not seen live.  He has now seen every team in the AL and NL West and the NL East.

We ended up leaving after the top of the ninth (when Tim didn’t get the third out ball).  At the time, Raul was batting 0-fer on the day.  Of course, he’s a stud, so he hit a bomb once we left.  Dang, we missed it!

[NOTE:  Ichiro just intentionally walked in the 8th.  Yes, R-E-S-P-E-C-T!]

Finally, with the loss, Moyer (obviously) did not get his 250th career win.  But don’t fret.  Tim and I will be in D.C. on Sunday to watch Moyer try to beat the Nationals for his 250th.  Let’s hope he gets it done!

[NOTE:  MARINERS WIN!!!]

Season Fan Stats:

10 Games (double digits!)
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,   
Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
8 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3) and Mets)
4 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2) and The Bird (O’s))

 

Rangers vs. Mariners (5/4/2009)

When I was a kid, my family would arrive at the Kingdome for a night game at 4;30, before the gates even opened.  We’d try (with low to moderate success) to catch balls during BP.  After the game, we’d watch the players walk to their cars.  It made for a long day at the ballpark.  Tim can’t hack such a long day, so he’s attended very little batting practice in his life so far.  However, on May 4th, my folks agreed to bring Tim to the game at game-time and let me go early for BP.  It was great fun.

I started out by parking over by the Seattle center, grabbing a bite to eat at Dick’s on Queen Ann, and walking to Safeco Field.  I arrived at Safeco Field before the gates opened and decided to enter through the Center Field Gate.  Waiting to get in, I took these two pictures, which show (i) the closed roof from Occidental & Royal Brougham and (ii) the play area in CF sticking out over the street and toward the train tracks: 

safeco outside roof and play area.jpg

Tim loves that play area!

Going to BP was great.  I can’t wait until Tim has the endurance to do BP for weekend games.  I knew the Kingdome like the back of my hand.  But I moved to the east coast a month and a half before Safeco Field opened.  I’d only sat in two different seating areas and I’d never had a good opportunity to just explore it.  Today was the day.  But first, BP.

In CF, you get your ticket scanned and enter the park before they check your backpack.  My ticket taker took my ticket early and I went in to get my backpack checked.  They told me I’d have to wait until a horn sounded to signify that people can enter the stadium.  Everyone else was still outside of the gate, so I had a 20-30 foot head start on everyone.  When the horn sounded, I ran inside to see if I could find any “easter eggs” in the RF seats.  I was the first person into the stadium but others came quick.  There was one ball already in the stands but it was all the way on the other end of the RF seats and some other guy got to it first.  So I picked up spot and watched some BP.  About 30 second later, the first HR was hit of BP and I literally had to move only 1 foot to catch it on the fly.  Here is the ball:

HR ball.jpg

This is a camera phone picture I sent to my wife.  Its taken exactly where I caught the ball.  The ball was hit by a right handed Mariner in the final cycle of Mariners BP.  M’s BP was finished a few minutes later.  After catching the ball and taking this picture, I turned around to see this:

mr. mariner fix it.jpg

He was fixing the seat.  I then went around to the 3B line because the Rangers had taken the field and were playing catch by their dugout and in LF.

safeco rangers catch.jpg

In the top left, Omar Visquel is playing catch in front of the visitors dugout.  I’m hoping little O makes the Hall of Fame.  The guy is a stud at SS.  In the bottom left, the pitchers are playing catch. To the right, the pitchers are doing some running.  Frank “Throw Me a Chair” Francisco (isn’t he the chair thrower?) kept telling “Every day” Eddie Guardado to say “go” to start the pitcher race and a couple other pitchers kept starting when Eddie said “ready, set” and it seemed to upset Francisco much to the delight of all of the other pitchers.  In the top right, you can see the head start one of the pitchers took.

As I stood there, I realized that the CF seats are totally separated from the RF seats and the competition for BP HR balls would be really low.  So I headed out there.  I didn’t catch any more HRs on a fly, but I got one more ball as a 20-something kid over ran a ball, tipped it backwards and it rolled toward me as I scurried over to the deep-center side of the CF seats (in aisle 3).  Here is a picture of both of my balls and where I got them:

safeco BP balls.jpg

In the bottom right, the ball stamped “practice” is the Rangers BP HR ball.  The top right picture shows where I snagged it off the ground — all the way down the aisle on the other side of the step.  The guy standing behind the pointing girl is the kid who got a glove on it but couldn’t make the play.  After I got it, he came and gave me a high five and was disappointed in himself for over running it.  The top left shows the view to the plate from where I caught the Mariners BP HR.  The bottom left shows the stupid railings in the middle of the aisle. Trying to move down to the bottom row for a ball that didn”t make it into the stands, my left foot got jammed into the space between the railing and the next step and I almost broke my wrist bracing for the fall.

While watching BP, I was entertained by a attendant giving balls to little kids:

 

space yo guy.jpgSee the space between the outfield wall and the stands?  Tons of balls landed down there.  Each time, another attendant went between the walls and grabbed the ball and then gave it to the guy in the pictures above.  Each time he got a ball, he stood around looking for just the right kid.  Once he found him or her, he tossed the ball to the kid.  And without fail, the kid did not say thank you.  Each time, the attendant said, “Yo!?  What do you say?”  Without fail, NO ONE said thank you until he had “Yo’d” them at least 2-3 times.  Ah, kids!

Next, it was time to explore.  I went all around the field and took tons of pictures for panoramic views.  Here is the view from Section 190, Row 12, Seats 11-12 (our alleged seats for this game):

safeco cf panoramic.jpg

Here is the view from the last seat in the back row of the deepest-center part of the CF upper deck seats:

safeco CF upper panoramic.jpg

Here is the view looking straight down from the upper deck down to section 108 in RF (where we sat the previous day):

300 level down to 108.jpg

Pretty scary!  Here is the view from the 300 level behind the RF foul pole:

safeco rf hr panoramic.jpg

Then I turned around and took some banner shots:

mariners banners.jpg

Next, RF foul territory:

safeco rf foul panoramic.jpg

Next, I took a picture in the concourse and one back in the stadium:

mojo meal.jpg   
qwest-to-safeco safecto-to-qwest.jpg

To the left, its the ad for the “Mojo Meal” – a major dog, chips and a soft drink for $5.00 (1/2 price).  Its a special for family 1/2 price days.  To the top right, is a picture as I approached the stadium.  Its shows Qwest Field in the foreground and Safeco Field in the background.  Below it is a picture looking through Safeco Field toward Qwest Field.

Next, I headed to the last row of the upper deck straight behind home plate:

safeco home upper panoramic.jpg

Then another on the 3B side:

safeco home-3d panoramic.jpg

Then, I went to the last seat in the last row of the upper deck in LF foul territory:

safeco lf foul panoramic.jpg

When I was up there, I noticed that Felix was warming up in the M’s bullpen.  So I headed down to the bullpen standing room area:

king felix with flu.jpg

I also found the Moose and got a picture with him:

moose and todd.jpg

Finally, it was about time for the game to start.  Tim and my folks showed up and met me by the little boy fountain that Tim loves so much:

Edgar Martinez Street in the rain.jpg  
safeco fountain.jpg

Tim and I had tickets in the CF bleachers (cheap!!), but there was hardly anyone at the game.  So we ended up sitting with my folks and their friends Lynn and Steve in Section 118.  Here was our view:

safeco section 118 panoramic.jpg

During the game, we had the Mojo Meal and the world’s largest ice cream helmet — chocolate fudge brownie and strawberry cheese cake:

nacho chip hider.jpg

On the way to get the ice cream, I took a photo of some license plate art on the wall of the concourse behind 1B:

Mariners license plate art.jpg

And the Safeco Field Code of Conduct:

safeco code of conduct.jpg

Then I took some action shots of Yuni Betancourt popping out and Franklin Gutierrez taking a pitch (the ball is circled in red in both pictures):

yuni pop out.jpg

gutierrez takes one.jpgFinally, since I was using this game to really get to know Safeco Field, I figured I’d try for a picture of a Safeco Field fixture.  In the picture to the left below, you can see a guy holding a big piece of cardboard.  That is “Beltre Guy” as I call him, he probably has an actual name, but I don’t know it.  He stands up every time Beltre comes to the plate with a huge cardboard cut out of Beltre’s head.  Once I attended a game with Paul where Beltre Guy had a 3 foot tall Beltre bobblehead sitting in the seat next to him.  Beltre ended up giving Beltre Guy his bat during that game.  Anyway, Tim and I approached him during the 7th inning stretch.  As he stood with his arm around Mrs. Beltre Guy, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Hey, Beltre Guy.  We live in Pennsylvania and see you on TV all the time.  Could we get our picture with you?”

I think we might have been the first people to ever ask him this.  His face was priceless.  He looked stunned and super-excited.  Anyway, as you can see to the right below, Beltre Guy delivers big time in this photograph:

beltre guy.jpg

As for the game.  It was another good one, but another 1-run Mariners loss.  Felix wasn’t as effective as normal, but he wasn’t terrible.  After falling behind 4-0, we tied it up.  But a two run homer put the bad guys up 6-4.  The M’s tried their best, but ended up falling just a bit short when Ichiro popped out with the tying run on base to end the game in the bottom of the ninth.

One other important note, with this game Tim has now seen every team in the AL West live.  It is the most important division in baseball (clearly!) and it is Tim’s first to see every team.

Once again, no Ken Griffey, Jr. in the line-up.  :-(   He was ill for a couple days.

Season Fan Stats:

7 Games
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
9 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Padres)
6 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies and Mets)
3 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 1 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose and The Bird (O’s))

Mariners Win! (5/1/2009)

Friday night was our first Mariners game of the season!  Tim and I, joined by my parents, got all fancied up in our M’s gear and headed down to Safeco Field.  It was actually our second time to Safeco Field that day.  Earlier in the day, we toured Safeco Field — and it was a blast…I’ll write about it later.  Anyway, I’ve really only ever sat in two places at Safeco Field — my parents’ seats about 30 rows up from the 3B dugout (visitors) or my buddy Paul’s seats about 5 rows up from the Mariners dugout.  So I was excited for this trip because we planned to get seats all around Safeco Field.  This night, we had second row seats in the left field bleachers (Section 184, Row 2, Seats 5-8).  Here was our view:

section 184.jpg

And here is a panoramic view from one section over toward CF:

safeco LF bleachers.jpg

Silva v. Eveland.jpgThey really are awesome seats.  And at $15/ticket, they are a great deal.  Here is the view looking over the railing, which I must admit was a bit scary with an active three year old.

Last season, Tim only attended two Mariners games – one in Baltimore that J.J. Putz blew the win in the 9th after Felix Hernandez pitched 8 scoreless innings and one in Seattle where the Indians just beat up on the M’s.  Additionally, Tim has only seen the M’s win once in Seattle.  It was his first game ever on 9/12/06.  So we were looking for the M’s to get Tim back into the win column in a big way tonight.

In the top of the picture, Carlos Silva is warming up to start the game.  To put it mildly, Silva has been a huge dissapointment so far.  In his last start, he won his first game since June 2008.  In between those wins, he had about 14-17 losses…not good.  However, we remained hopeful that he would start a winning streak by notching his second win of the season against the A’s.  Our optimism proved unwarranted, Silva gave up 6 runs in the third inning.  So, we were happy when he earned a no decision.

This was Tim’s first time seeing the A’s.  After we see the Rangers in a couple days, he will have seen the entire AL West.  It will be the first complete division he has seen live.  I’m quite happy about that since, after all, it is the most important division in MLB.  By August 17, 2009, Tim will complete all six divisions in MLB.

Anyway, below Silva is A’s starter Dana Eveland.  Eveland also would leave the game with a no decision after giving up 7 runs in 4.2 innings.

Anyway, back to the pictures.  The left field bleachers are a good spot to get some interesting shots.

Here is a really cool shot looking up at the clock:

SF clock.jpg

Here is the “concourse” under the left field bleachers:

leftbleachers walkway.jpg       
batters eye.jpg

Here are some shots of the “umbrella” (as you’ll see in my forthcoming entry about the May 2nd game, Safeco Field is an open air stadium even when the “roof” is “closed” so it is more properly called an umbrella):

    umbrella1.jpg
  
umbrella2.jpg

 

Here are the glorious AL West standings flags showing the the M’s are in first place:

M's 1st place flag.jpg

huddle and pink backpack.jpgAs you can see, it was a beautiful Friday night in Seattle.  Here is an interesting picture from pre-game in the bullpen.  I don’t know if the bullpen guys are praying or hyping themselves up or what…but its interesting…particularly because you can see a pink back pack on the ground behind the huddle.  For those who don’t know, the M’s have a tradition of making their rookies carry stuff around in pink back packs.  I’m not sure whose backpack is shown here.

Whatever they were doing, you gotta hand it to these guys.  They came through be in this game (as did the Mariners bats) and saved Carlos Silva’s bacon…oh, wait…I’m not sure if the new slimmed-down Carlos can eat bacon any more.  We’ll say the bullpen saved Silva’s outmeal instead.

Anyway, here is another cool picture you can only get from the left field bleachers.  It is a look into the hand-run scoreboard where you can see the scoreboard operator catching a glimpse of the game:

hand operator.jpg

ice cream finder.jpgNext, it was time for me to go on the move.  Grandma was keeping Tim entertained in the seats, but he was ready for an ice cream helmet.  So I headed to the Ben & Jerry’s shop at the bottom of the stairs at the left field entrance.  Much to my surprise, I discovered B&J’s is gone and the space is empty.  So I headed to the fan assistance office behind home plate.  There, I told my story to the extremely nice and helpful people at the fan assistance office.  Some of them were unaware that B&J’s was gone.  So, one of them decided to walk with me to find ice cream helmets.  She declared as any good fan assistance person would, “I’ll come with you.  I need to know where you can get the helmets.”   Here was my guide.   I was upset I didn’t get her name because I would have emailed the M’s with my compliments and told them to give her a bonus.  We found the helmets tucked away in a corner by the Mariners Hall of Fame.  As I was buying Tim’s helmet (chocolate chip cookie dough…real ice cream, not soft serve!), I over heard my guide telling other M’s employees how Tim and I get an ice cream helmet at every stadium we visit.  I turned around an reiterated, “Except Baltimore!  The Orioles don’t have them.  Feel free to call them and tell them at the Mariners suggest that they get ice cream helmets!”  I think they are going to take my suggestion under advisement.

edgar HOF.jpgAnyway, so I got the ice cream and walked through the Mariners Hall of Fame on my way back to the seats.  I’ll have more on the M’s Hall of Fame in a later entry, I have some ideas of some people who belong in the Hall (for a hint:  watch the MLB network). As I strolled through the M’s Hall of Fame, a random M’s employee walks up to me and taps me on the shoulder and says, “Be sure to bring your son over here to get a picture picking off a home run!  Lots of fun!”  Apparently, this guy had heard of my ice cream helmet quest because Tim was still in the seats with Gma and Gpa and I wasn’t wearing a sign or anything proclaiming that I had a son at the game.  I thought it was a thoughtful suggestion.  Good going again Mariners employees!

One more word on the M’s HOF, its a nice little display area.  However, it is in its infancy.  The only members are Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Dave Neishaus.  Eventually, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson and Ichiro will certainly all be members (I hope A-Rod is never inducted, the people of Seattle would BOO him like crazy at the induction ceremony).  We visited the Reds HOF and the Indians HOF last years.  The Reds HOF is the Gold Standard of team HOFs…I’m going out on a limb saying that because I haven’t visited all 30 teams.  It is really an amazing display of the team’s history.  I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I made it back to the seats where Tim and my folks were having a good time.  But Tim had an even better time once his ice cream helmet arrived:

cookie dough ice cream helmet.jpg

After ice cream, we started walking around a bit to find some new perspectives on the game.  We headed out to CF where Tim threw some coins into the little-batting-boy fountain and we got this nice picture:

TJCs at Safeco 5-1-09.jpg

Then we ran into the Moose!

moose.jpg

We then landed in the RF corner (Section 110) where this was our view:

safeco RF corner.jpg

My folks stayed in Section 110 for the rest of the game.  But Tim and I headed over to section 124 to try to find my buddy Paul (and our friend Mark Dewar).  Here is a view from the concourse as we scanned the crowd for Paul and Mark:

M's pitching.jpg

We ended upon going down the wrong aisle (should have gone down 123) to find Paul.  But we found these excellent open seats:

nice seats.JPG

We stood up between innings and watched the players in the M’s dugout.  The biggest disappointment of the day was that Griff did not play.  But we got this picture of him hanging out in the dugout…and I combined it with this picture of Ichiro walking back into the dugout:

ichigriff.jpg

Every time Griff would look over, Tim and I would wave at him.  But he never waved back.  I told Tim to yell “Hi, Griffey” when we waved.  And it was hilarious, Griff would look our way and Tim would whisper so I could hardly hear him *hi, griffey*.  Then he looked at me and asked, “Baseball players don’t know how to wave?”  I told him there are so many people its hard for them to see each little boy to wave at them.  But some day, we’ll get Griff to wave it him!

While we were standing behind the dugout, I saw Jarrod Washburn standing in the dugout (just to the left o Ichiro above).  He was wearing a big Mariners jacket and I could see him spinning a ball around in the palm of his hand.  Tim was on my shoulders.  I made eye contact with Washburn and flashed him my glove as I yelled, “Hey, Jarrod how about that ball in your pocket?”  He looked up at me like he really wanted to give it to Tim but for some reason just couldn’t do it.  He said something to me, but I couldn’t understand him.  But it was essentially, something like, “sorry, I can’t.”  I said, “Ah, come on, Jarrod.  You can do it.  Its for a little boy!”  He said sorry again.  I turned around and sat down and a whole bunch of people looked at me and they all looked disappointed.  One of them asked me what happened.  I jokingly said, “Everyone should Boo Jarrod for denying this little boy a baseball!”  No one booed, but there was sort a collectivey, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh” that came from the section.  I turned around to sit down and the “Ahhhhhhhhhh” had broken Jarrod’s otherwise iron-will.  The ball came sailing up to me and I gloved it.  I yelled “Thank you” to Washburn.  And we sat down and I gave Tim the ball.  He immediately tried to throw it back to Washburn.  I think he thought we were playing catch.  I started to take a camera phone picture of us with the ball to send to my wife back home and a lady in front of me offered to take it.  Here is the picture.  Its pretty hilarious because Tim is starting to cry because he couldn’t throw the ball back to Jarrod (also, we had just flown from Pennsylvania the night before and it was essentially 2:00 a.m. for me and Tim at the time….which is well passed his bed time.  Anyway, the picture:

sad boy with a ball.JPG

Anyway, the ball was mighty happy to be coming home with us.  And he’s a big Mariners fan so he’ll fit in just great at our house.  Here he is giving us a big Mariners smile:

ballhatman.jpg

After catching the ball, we headed back to Section 110 and watched the rest of the game with my folks.  The game was great.  It was a tie game in the bottom of the ninth.  The M’s loaded up the bases and one of my favorite young M’s, Jose Lopez, strode to the plate.  He had an epic 15-pitch at bat.  After the count went to 2-2, the pitcher didn’t throw another ball.  Lopez fouled off 10 pitches in a row.  Here he is in a blurry far-away picture:

lopez pre-celebration.jpg

On the 15th pitch, Lopez ended the game with a sharp line drive to left center.  MARINERS WIN!!!

tired celebration.jpg

Awesome game!  Awesome seats!  Awesome family times!  Tim climbed onto Grandpa’s shoulders and we headed to the car.  More to come…

leaving.jpgSeason Fan Stats:

4 Games

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

8 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Padres)

3 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners, Phillies and Mets)

1 Baseball (Thank you, Jarrod Washburn!!)

2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose and The Bird (O’s))

3 Awesome Days of Baseball

1 Awesome Night of Baseball

Game 3: Nationals vs. Mets at Citi Field (4/25/2009)

On Sunday, April 25th, Tim and I took to the road at 9am for another baseball adventure:  our first trip to the Mets’ new home, Citi Field.  We live about two hours from Manhattan.  Tim is a huge fan of trains so we drove to the upper west side and parked at 84 & Amsterdam, where my friend, Davlynn, used to live.  From there, we walked over to Central Park West and down three blocks where we caught the A Train at to Times Square where we walked a bit underground and eventually caught the 7 Train to Shea…I mean, Citi Field.

 

Ahh, there is no finer way to see Queens than by elevated coach:

queens.jpg

The view was decidedly better when we arrived at Willets Point and followed the well-marked route toward “Mets Baseball” (all three of these pictures are taken from the subway platform):

citi subway platform.jpg

Without even asking, a nice guy offered to take our photo in front of the new stadium:


TJCs Citi Front.jpg

Next, we headed to an automated kiosk where our online purchased tickets were printed up and spit out at us.  It was time to enter the stadium.  So we headed to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

JR Rotunda.jpg

I have mixed thoughts on the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.  It is a nice looking, and quite grand, entrance.  There are interesting photos and nice quotes of Jackie Robinson on the walls.  And, he certainly is a man worth honoring.  It just seems a little odd to me that the Mets made the rotunda such a focal point of their new stadium when Jackie Robinson was neither a Met nor did he play for a team located in Queens.

Anyway, the Rotunda is nice and it gave us the opportunity for Tim to stand in Jackie’s bronzed footprints in the shadow of his retired number:

tjc citi 42.jpg So it was time to check out the field.  Here is our first view of the field:

citi2.jpg

Shea Stadium, like most of the old stadiums, didn’t have a lot of unique features (or, well, at least intentionally unique features).  What it did have, however, was the famous home run apple, which reminds the spectators that they are in the big apple each time a Met player hit a home run (Note: in the 5-7 games I saw at Shea, I do not believe a Met ever hit a home run).   So, I wanted to check out the classic apple and its updated replacement.  The old apple is now resting in a somewhat unceremonious corner of a picnic-ish area behind the bullpen and under the main concourse (pictured below on the right).  The new apple is much larger and is in CF.  Interestingly, they ditched the top hat for the new apple:

Big Apples.jpg

Going to games with Tim, two things are very important to me:  (i) the snacks available at the park and the (ii) quality of the standing room areas.  In these two important areas, I give Citi Field a thumbs up and a thumbs down, respectively.  Check out this picture and then I will explain my thinking:

citi snacks.jpg

I will take them in reverse order.  My thumbs down for the standing room factor is really more a thumbs at a downward 45 degree angle.  Its not terrible.  In fact, there is a lot of standing room available.  However, I rank from the perspective of a father and 3-year-old son watching a game.  At Safeco Field and Citizens Bank Park (and I would assume others), there are standing room areas with counters looping the field.  They are great for Tim to sit on while he eats his ice cream helmet and I watch the game, and because there are no dividers people cram in and lot of people can have front row standing areas (for example, see my pictures from last weekend during the 8th and 9th innings of the Phillies come-from-behind win against the Padres).

 

At Citi Field, instead of counters they just have railings with drink holders spaced about 3 feet apart.  In the picture of Tim with his lollipop above, you can see a drink holder next to the lady-in-red’s hip.  Not kid friendly.  Also, Tim bashed his head on one of the rails while goofing around toward the end of the game.  Now, instead of counters throughout the stadium, some of the standing room area in RF has tall, wobbly green metal tables.  There aren’t many of them and they are set back behind the railing.  So, you are (at least) in the second row of standing room.  Plus, the wobbling is never good when you have a 3-year-old eating chocolate ice cream with sprinkles out of a helmet sitting on top of the structure.  Finally, because of the spacing of the cup holders, only one person stands every three feet and tons of prime front-row-standing room is squandered.  Poor design choice in my somewhat experienced Standing Room Only opinion.  This is all made even worse by the fact that security seeks out any kids sitting on their father’s shoulders (where Tim spends tons of time at every game) and makes the kids get down.  Therefore, at the standing room areas, there is virtually no way (other than on the few tall wobbly tables) for a 3 year old to see the game from most standing room areas.  Again, poor planning.

 

As for the food, prices were pretty much in line with other stadiums, unlike what I have heard about new Yankee Stadium.  I also found it interesting that the menu boards have the price and calories for all food items.  We had Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, which were good.  Tim had his usual ice cream helmet, and a lollipop from a little “Market” that is set back in the RF corner.  With respect to the helmet, the Mets should be commended for providing this classic ball park treat, with sprinkles and hot fudge no less (we passed on the hot fudge).  However, I was disappointed (and at the same time somewhat amused) that the Mets logo on Tim’s helmet was added on top of the “Shea Stadium 1964-2008″ logo.   Obviously, they are using left over helmets from last season with an amateur cosmetic f”ix”:

citi-shea helmet.jpg

I’ll blame this on the Wilpon family losing money in the Madoff ponzi scheme and I’ll forgive them for it.  Again, it was somewhat amusing, so not all bad.

 

A couple more notes about the food picture above.  I understand from Zack Hample’s blog that the skyline above the CF food stands is from the top of the old scoreboard at Shea…I’ve just checked my own picts from last season, by golly, Zack is right (I’m not posting a picture, you’ll have to trust me…or Zack…on this one).

 

Speaking of the old scoreboard, here is the new scoreboard from front and back.  The “front” picture is taken from a bridge in the RCF area.  I’m not sure what the point of the bridge is.  It was crowded with standing room only people the whole game.  One feature that I really liked about the back of the scoreboard is that is had a smaller big screen in it.  So, when your kid(s) are playing back behind the scoreboard (where they have videos, two batting cages and a full whiffle-ball stadium complete with jumbo-tron screen), you can still see the game on the back-of-the-scoreboard screen (in this picture you can see that Omir Santos was batting in the bottom of the first):

citiboard.jpg

As we usually do, we circled all around the inside of the stadium.  Here is a panoramic view from the third-base side:

citi1.jpg

We even decided to head up to our actual seats (for the first time in 3 games this season).  Here is the view from Section 526, Row 9, Seats 14-15, where we sat for one inning and ate our hot dogs:

citi3.jpg

See how the second level juts out straight up from the Mets on-deck circle?  It juts out like that on the 3B side as well.  All of the lower level seats between the “just” are sectioned off with rails.  I imagine that security is tight to get in there.  Plus, those people are the only people who can ever get a view from behind the plate at field level.  The concourse behind home plate is a tunnel set back from the stands.  Its dark and offers no view of the field whatsoever.  This was a terrible idea.  If during the game you want to walk from the 1B side of the stadium to the 3B side on the main level concourse, you’re gonna miss a minute or two of action while you walk the long  closed off concourse to the other side.

 

With the bad, of course, comes the good.  Note that in this picture you can see a large airplane coming in to land at LaGuardia, the airport is really close to the stadium.  At Shea, you could hear 747s flying over head all game long.  At Citi Field, I saw tons of airplanes coming in to land, but I didn’t hear a single one.  I’m not sure why that is.

 

Another plus about the stadium (from our perspective) was that you can see the 7 Train going back-and-forth from the 500 level (probably from below as well).  Tim loved that.  In fact, he is pointing to the 7 Train in the hot dog picture above.  Here is what he was pointing at:

citi porch and 7 train.jpg

While in our assigned seats, I took this picture of Jose Reyes taking a pitch (a strike I believe) – the ball is right next to his front leg in this picture:

Jose Reyes Takes One.jpg

We then went down below and took a couple more pictures of batters while we circled the stadium again.  Here is Omir Santos about to pop this pitch up to 2B (the ball is circled in red):

Omir Santos P4.jpg

Here is former Mariner Jeremy Reed flying out to LF.  He has already hit the ball, which I have again circled in red:

jeremy reed F7.jpg

That concludes my game pictures.  Not that I cared really, but the Mets won 8-2.  Then, the real fun began.  It was kids run the bases day!  After waiting through a HUGE line outside the stadium, we snaked in by the bullpen:

bullpen.jpg

We were led onto the warning track in RF/CF:

TJCs Citi OF grass.jpg

We duplicated our Progressive Field picture from last year down the RF foul line:

TJCs Citi 330 marker.jpg

(Note, extremely low wall, perfect for robbing home runs).  Tim then sprinted toward the infield:


citi RF foul track.jpg

Then he stepped on first and bolted for second:

tjc citi 1B-2B.jpg

tjc citi 2B.jpg

Touching second safely, he made the turn for third and then home.  He then decided he wanted to do it again (not allowed) and he dashed down the first base line and into the infield grass (not allowed) before this lady caught him:

tjc citi IF.jpg

She escorted him to home plate, where he wanted to stay for a while:

tjc Citi Plate.jpg

Eventually, I ran out and grabbed Tim (and touched home myself).  I then snapped this picture of us at the visitors’ dugout:

TJCs Citi Dug.jpg

…and this additional picture showing the unique layout of the dugout.  Then he walked through underbelly of the stadium and headed outside down the leftfield line where I took one last picture of the exterior of the stadium because I wanted to capture this image of Darryl Strawberry in the Mets collage:

 

Citi Visitors Dugout.jpg
citi LF entrance.jpg

And then, another fine day of baseball and another fine stadium under our belts, we began the long, slow process of commuting home…and stopping for Ray’s pizza in Manhattan.

 

Season Fan Stats:

3 Games

3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)

6 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres, Mets, Nationals)

2 Ice Cream helmet

0 Baseballs

3 Awesome Days of Baseball

Game No. 1 – Rays @ Orioles (4/12/09)

Well, I’m new to this blogging thing, and I somehow managed to do this write up and delete half of it.  So, with mild frustration, I’ll give it another go. (Click Picture for Bigger Version).
Safeco Field is my baseball home.  However, on Sunday, Tim and I trekked down to Baltimore to visit our baseball home-away-from-home:

 

welcome.jpg
We visit Camden Yards every season to see the Mariners.  However, this trip was to see the Rays — one of the final 10 teams we need to see this season so Tim can say he’s seen ‘em all.  Seeing the Rays vs. O’s also gave us a chance to catch up with two former Phils, Pat “The Bat” Burrell and Adam Eaton.pat the bat.jpg

Here is a shot of Burrell fouling off a pitch against Eaton.  We bought tickets in the cheap seats ($9/upper deck left field), but never sat in our seats.  At the beginning of the game, we grabbed some snacks (nachos for me, fries for Tim) and found some nice seats behind the left field foul pole.  As we munched on our ball park fare, we witnessed a very un-Camden Yards event, unruly patrons being threatened with ejection from the park.

Apparently, three 20′something guys, brews in hand, had been the recipients of several profanity complaints.  They did not react well to the news that further cursing would result in the boot.  As the guards were leaving, the lead hooligan said to his accusers, “Thanks a lot for the warm welcome to Camden Yards.  Happy Easter!”  Tim got all excited and started yelling really loudly, “Happy Easter!  Happy Easter!  HAAAAAAPPPPY EASTERRRRR!”

eaton of snohomish.jpg
Meanwhile, the Pride of the Snohomish Panthers got Pat the Bat to pop out to right.  As you may know, Adam Eaton is from Snohomish, Washington where his high school was a conference rival with my Edmonds-Woodway Warriors.  I figure he grew up a Mariners fan and, like me, a huge fan of Ken Griffey, Jr.  So, I found it interesting to see Eaton was sporting the sacred “24″ on his back.  One of my co-workers, a die-hard Phillies fan, told me it wasn’t a very good way for Eaton to pay his respects to Griff (a reference to Eaton’s poor performance while playing for the Phillies). 
1st ballpark snack.jpg
After we finished our food, we headed to the upper deck to check out the view from the general vicinity of our actual seats.  Not too bad:

upperleft.jpg

bush leaguer.jpg

We also saw this bush made into a batter up there.

Next, we headed to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards — the standing room area above the rightfield wall.  It has an official name, honoring some former Oriole I can’t remember, but I like to just call it the flag pole courtyard.  We we arrived at the flagpole courtyard, we were happy to see a beautiful flag announcing to the world the Mariners early-season dominance over the AL West:
Mariners in 1st.jpgTim became so emotional after seeing this, he had to hug the Mariners first place pole
:

 

Tim loves running around all of the poles.  And he always finds a puddle in need of some stomping.  But this day, around the 5th or 6th inning, we received a surprise visitor out at the flag pole courtyard:

Post Dance Battle.jpg

Right before this picture, Tim and The Bird had a full-on battle, a dancing battle.  At the outset, it looked like the Bird was creeping up to Tim to give him a high five.  But as the Bird approached, Tim busted out some crazy up-down arms/in-out legs dance moves.  And the Dance Battle had begun.  After Tim busted his moves, the Bird mirrored the moves.  A small crowd gathered to watch and laugh.  Tim then shimmied backwards, laid out backwards on the ground and rolled over a couple times.  The Bird followed with the same.  The crowd laughed more.  Then, it was Tim’s turn.  He popped to his feet and ran hard to the right looking back at the Bird over his shoulder and – BOOM! – he ran straight into the AL East first place flag pole (Blue Jays) and hit the deck.  He thought it was hilarious.  The Bird then started hobbling around like he was drunk. 

The Bird.jpg

Here is another picture of us with the Bird.  This is actually pre-Battle, when Tim was sizing up his competition.  A couple innings later (I believe in the 8th), Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena hit back-to-back jacks for the Rays.  Pena’s HR ball landed just about where we are standing in this picture.  It easily landed on the cement within 10 feet of us.  I was blinded by the sun (as was everyone else) and totally lost the ball.  The ball crashed hard to the pavement and bounced dirctly into a guys cheek bone and, from his face, back onto the field.  A few minutes later, an Orioles attendant ran out with a bag of ice and a bottle of water for the guy.

Here is a good view of the flag courtyard:

tims playground.jpg

The Pena homerun landed a couple feet closer to the camera from the closest pole direclty in the middle of the picture (the Rays flag pole).  The Dance Battle with the Bird went down between the two furtherest poles in the middle and left side of the picture.  Hey, while we’re standing right here, how about a picture of the original foul pole from Memorial Stadium?

original foul pole.jpg

 And, how about a panaramic view from this corner of the stadium?  Yeah, why not?
cypana2.jpg

And, while we’re at it, how about another from behind home plate?
cypana.jpg

Nice, huh?  Its a great park.  Really, the only bad thing about it is that the concourses are closed off from the field.
no view concourse.jpg  Here is an example from behind home plate, slightly towards 1B.

Unless you’re in the tunnel, you cannot see the field from the concourse.  However, there is plenty of standing room inside the stadium.

So, after hanging out for a long, long, long time in the flag pole courtyard and taking some picts for the panaramics above, it was time for a Cook tradition – ice cream in a home team helmet!  Wait, the Orioles are one of the few teams out there who don’t have ice cream helmets.  NOOOOOO!!!!  I put in an official request (well, I told the lady in the fan assistance office that it was “official”) that they get ice cream helmets in the near future.

Tim didn’t seem to mind not having a helmet.  And soon it was time for some jumping in the bouncy house!

1st ice cream no helmet.jpg

bouncing.jpg

Unfortunately, when it was time for Tim’s group of kids to clear out of the bouncy house, Tim (predictably) did not want to leave so this guy had to go get him (check out that sad face!):

times up.jpg

Here is picture from the kids’ area looking toward the concourse.
kids corner.jpg  From where I am standing with the camera, it is a hard right to get to right field and Eutaw Street. After taking this picture, we headed back to the courtyard for the Pena homerun.  We then headed toward home plate to watch the rest of the game from the fancy seats.  One great thing about Camden Yards (great for fans, not for the Orioles ownership) is that it is pretty empty a lot of the time.  Lots of great seats to sit in.  Here is a picture of us between the courtyard and home plate.  An attendant actually took this right as we got to the field before the game.
1st base line.jpg

And here are some view from the seats you can sit in after paying $9/ticket for the upper-deck:

dugout view.jpg

We only sat in these seats for 1 inning.  Tim was starting to get tired and grouchy from having no nap.  After an inning, we went up directly behind home plate to see if anyone would foul a ball straight back.  If they did, I figured I’d get it easily because no one was up there – maybe three people besides us.  Well, I was wrong.third base line.jpg  A ball did get fouled straight back, but it hit the seats and richoted straight up.  It landed on a little fence/ledge below the TV / radio booths.  It then rolled toward the first base side for about 20 feet.  Tim was on my shoulders and I trailed below the ball waiting for it to fall down.  Unfortunately, it fell down about 5 feet in front of me and bounced once before falling down the stairway and directly to a teenage boy running up the stairs for the ball.  Had the ball come down a foot or two in either direction, it would have missed the stairs and we would have gotten it easily.  Bummer!

Anyway, here is a nice picture of the reverse view of the Pat Burrell photo above.  When I took the Burrell photo, we were sitting almost directly where the attendant in the ridiculously bright orange jacket is standing in this photo…and the hooligans I mentioned earlier were sitting to the left in the first row above the aisle (the raised seats) and directly against the tunnel out to the concourse.  Anyway, that, in a nutshell, was our first game of the season.  As for the actual game, the Rays won 11-3.  The Orioles scored all 3 of their runs in the bottom of the 9th.  James Sheilds got the win, Adam Eaton the loss.  Homeruns by Longoria, Pena, Zobrist, and Barlett.  A 3 RBI triple by Carl Crawford.  It was an action-packed game, and an extremely fun game, particularly for a game without the Mariners  I’ll leave you with some season fan stats and a couple more pictures fo me and the little guy taken by the very accomodating stadium attendants:
visitors dugout.jpg

“Cheese!”

cheesin.jpg

Season Fan Stats:

1 Game

1 Stadium (Camden Yards)

2 Teams (Orioles, Rays)

0 Ice Cream helmets (Booo Orioles!)

0 Baseballs

1 Awesome Day of Baseball

Next Up:  Padres vs. Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, April 19, 2009

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