Results tagged ‘ Felix Hernandez ’
For months, we planned to go see our Mariners at PNC Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. But then something came up at work and Tim had a Little League game scheduled that evening so our plans were foiled. This was only the second time the M’s had ever played in Pittsburgh, and the first time since Tim was born. I really wanted the boys to get to see the M’s play at PNC Park. And I just generally really wanted to see a Mariners game. The only other game in the Pittsburgh series was Wednesday, May 8, 2013. It was a *early* day game with a 12:35 start time. We had to do it.
We live 4 hours from Pittsburgh. The early game time meant we needed to leave the night before. So at 8:47 p.m. on May 7th, after my business dinner and the rain out of Tim’s Little League game, the boys and I hopped in the car…
…for a late night drive across the Pennsylvania turnpike. The boys fell asleep around Harrisburg, PA, and then I listened to some “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and chatted with my dad on the phone for about 2 hours.
We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. and had no trouble making it a complete mess by the *following* morning:
After a decent free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road and made it to PNC Park before 10:00 a.m.
It was #FelixDay and we predicted…
…complete Felix domination.
I knew there would be no BP so I didn’t feel compelled to go get in line at the CF gate. So, instead, we walked around to the other side of the stadium and hung out by the autograph collectors where the players arrive for the game:
In that last photo, that’s Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez wearing a stylish suit (NOTE: baseball players shouldn’t wear suits) and listening to an mp3 player.
The first person we witnessed arrive at the players/employees entrance was our buddy Jason Phillips. All of the autograph collectors were on the other side of the entrance from us. Jason saw us as he exited his cab, signed one or two autographs, and then told the autograph collectors that he had to go chat with us.
Jason and I shook hands and chatted for a minute or so. He confirmed there would be no BP. He asked if we’d ever been to PNC Park. He told us that he’d *opened* PNC Park with the Mets back in 2001. And then he headed into the ballpark, after showing his official MLB credentials to the people guarding the entrance.
Jason Phillips is a cool guy. It’s always good to get to chat with him, and it was nice to begin our 2013 in-person Mariners season with a brief on-the-street chat with him.
After a while, I asked a guard if we could get around the stadium on the river side before the stadium opened. He confirmed we could so we headed toward the river. On our way, the boys posed with the new (in 2012) Bill Mazeroski statue:
Then we walked along the river toward the CF gate:
When we arrived at the CF gate, PNC Park regular Zac Weiss was already there. After setting our bags down in line behind Zac’s bag, I took Tim’s photo with the Roberto Clemente statue (Kellan was avoiding the camera):
Before the gates opened, Zac busted out a baseball and we all headed out to the Roberto Clemente Bridge to play catch:
I played catch with both Zac (real baseball) and Tim (soft, practice baseball) at the same time, alternating throws between them. I almost threw Tim’s baseball into the River!
Zack Hample was in line next to our bags when we finished playing catch. He was there with Neal Stewart from Bigs Seeds and the two of them were on another leg of Zack Hample’s BIGS Baseball Adventure.
The CF gates opened at 10:30, but that just let us into the Riverwalk. Zac, Zack, Neal, Tim, Kellan and I all gathered at the inside gate behind the bullpens…but we were stuck. Normally, season ticket holders, such as Zac, can get into the field before regular fans, and they can take guests with them. But the Pirates don’t do the early access for day games. So we were stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:00.
We passed the time by posing for some fist bump photos…
…and trying hot sauce seed sample packs that Neal had in his seed satchel. They were tasty.
I was excited when we saw our first uniformed Mariner of the season:
I think it was Hector Noesi.
Several Mariners joined Hector to play catch down the LF line. Nothing was happening in CF. So the boys and I headed over to LF to see if there was a spot where we could watch the M’s playing catch. There wasn’t.
So we headed to the kids play area instead:
When the rest of the gates finally opened, Oliver Perez and his partner (who I didn’t recognize at the time, but am pretty sure it was Yoervis Medina) had just finished playing catch and the only other pair of M’s out there at the time were Hisashi Iwakuma and Lucas Luetge:
Perez and Medina has been doing a little post-throwing running. On their way back toward the dugout, Perez grabbed one of the several baseballs sitting on the ground and walked over and handed it to Tim. I took the opportunity to ask him for a photo:
FYI, Kellan was still on my shoulders at the time and didn’t want to get down.
When Perez and Medina left, they were replaced along the baseline by Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps.
When Kuma and Luetge finished throwing, Lucas tossed his baseball to Tim and then he posed for pictures with both boys:
Meanwhile, Kuma had started signing autographs a little further down the LF line. We ran over there and he was happy to sign his and Lucas’s warm up ball in both English and Japanese…
…and to pose for a picture with the boys.
、ミスター岩熊をありがとう！ (Thank you, Mr. Iwawkuma!)
Some Mariners had run out to the bullpen, but the only action left in LF was Maurer and Capps playing catch:
When they finished, Carter tossed the baseball to Tim, and then followed the ball so we could autograph it and pose for a picture with Tim:
With nothing else going on down the LF line, we headed out to LCF near the bullpen. On our we stopped to get a PNC Park bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Just as we approached the LF seats, a group of about 20 people ran through the seats from LF to LCF and filled almost the entire section right next to the bullpen. That foiled our plan to get a close up look at the action in the bullpen. So we hung back in the shady cross-aisle behind the LF seats and had a nice chat with an usher. She took our only family photo of the day for us:
Tim was spitting his BIGS seeds all over the place and we ended up talking about seeds for some reason. She mentioned that her co-worker gave her some pickle flavored seeds. When she pulled them out, she realized she didn’t have the pickle seeds today, she had BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds:
We still had about 45 minutes until game time and nothing was happening on the field. We ended up meeting up with Zack, Zac, Neal and PNC Park regular Robbie “Scoonz” Sacunas for lunch in the Hall of Fame Club:
We’d never been in, or knew anything about, the Hall of Fame Club so it was great to experience it. As our food was being prepared, Kellan and I walked around and took some pictures of the club:
The Hall of Fame Club is right behind the LF upper bleachers. There are big windows that look at over the field. As Kellan and I walked around, we saw King Felix warming up out the windows:
Zack, Neal and I all tried the new, off-menu novelty meal, the donut burger:
The burger is a bacon cheese burger with a fried egg on a donut bug. I find eggs to be incredibly disgusting so my burger was eggless. I would recommend everyone try the donut burger so you can say you had one. But it doesn’t rank near the top of my best burgers list…in fact, if I really had such a list, it would be way down on the list. More than like eating a donut, the weird combination and texture of the burger made it seem like I was eating meat filled french toast.
The boys split a footlong hot dog. Tim smothered his in ketchup and mustard, most of which seemed to find its way onto the front of his mostly white Mariners t-shirt. Luckily, Kellan has no condiments on his half of the hot dog because he ate his dog while sitting on my shoulders.
Before leaving the club, I got this panorama out of the front windows:
When we got back down to the field, King Felix warming up in the bullpen. We headed over there to watch. The bullpen set up is pretty interesting at PNC Park. It’s not very good watching a pitcher warm up from the bleachers. Here’s what it looked like:
Just before the game started, Felix headed toward the dugout…
…and the members of the Mariners bullpen gave each other a bunch of high fives. See that baseball sitting on the garbage can in the last photo? Jason Phillips ended up tossing it to us (after giving it a thorough rubbing). It was thoroughly dirty and beautiful.
Here is where we were sitting for first pitch:
Those were our real seats. They were pretty awesome – section 31, row C, seats 1-3. It was a three row section. To our left was the aisle and then LF:
The seats were pretty amazing. They are regularly priced $36/ticket, but I found them on stubhub for $17/ticket. Gotta love below face value tickets!
The tough thing about day games is that Kellan still takes a nap in the afternoon most days. For a night game, I work his nap into the drive to the game. But for a day game, there is no good nap time. At this game, that actually played to our benefit.
When we reached our seats, Kellan was sitting, totally relaxed on my shoulders. I tried to take him down, but he was very fussy. Sometimes he refuses to get off of my shoulders, and this was one of those times. I realized there was no one behind our third seat in. In fact, there was no one behind that seat in the entire section. So I figured there was no one whose view would be blocked if I sat there with Kellan on my shoulders. That’s how we started that game.
It didn’t take long for an usher to stop by and tell me that Kellan needed to come down off of my shoulders. “No problem,” I responded, “it’s just that it’s his nap time and he’s a little cranky and didn’t want to get off of my shoulders.” When I took him down, he protested by crying, yelling and kicking.
Upon seeing the little tandrum in process, the usher came back and told Kellan that we could move to some other, even better seats in the third inning if Kellan behaved now. Lucky for us, he did.
The M’s didn’t score in the first. And then King Felix took the mound:
With the dominating King Felix on the hill, I felt pretty safe leaving our seats to go get ice cream in the first inning. My plan actually wasn’t too good. The very first Pirates batter of the game, Starling Marte, hit a ground ball right past third base and down the LF line for a double. That happened just as we started to walk up the stairway toward the concourse.
Felix struck out the next batter. But Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single as we walked through the concourse toward the ice cream place.
After twos innings, the Pirates still led 1-0. The boys were still eating their ice cream helmets when the last out of the second was recorded. I immediately stood up and waved at the usher who had mentioned the seat upgrade in the third. I pointed at the seats and he gave me a confirming thumbs up. And then we moved here (essentially) for the rest of the game:
Is that beautiful or what? Here is what our view looked like from the front row:
That picture above with Tim and Kellan sitting by the ballgirl is actually way out of order (it was just the best picture I got showing our seat location). In the third inning, this…
…is the ballgirl who was sitting right next to us. She was quite nice. While Kellan finished his ice cream…
…I chatted her up a bit. She is a former college softball player. And guess what happened when King Felix induced Andrew McCutchen into hitting a foul ball to the ballgirl in the bottom of the third? Here’s a hint:
Yep, she gave it to Tim!
Thanks, Felix, McCutchen and Ballgirl!
These seats were the absolute best seats possible for us. Tim and Kellan do pretty good sitting in the seats when we have my dad or Colleen or some four person with us. But when it’s just the three of us, for some reason, they really want to roam around and be on the move a lot. But there was so much room to move in this seating section that we stayed put and I got to watch the entire (awesome) Mariners game! Yes!
One of those in-seating-section activities included playing with the dirt and bugs:
Into the fourth inning (aside from Michael Saunders who kept drawing walks), the Mariners batters, including Kendrys Morales…
…, couldn’t find any success against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.
In addition to showing Tim spitting seeds onto the warning track, this picture sets the scene for what happened next:
Let’s examine that photo closer. Upper left corner, the small scoreboard shows the score is 1-0 Pirates in the top of the second with two outs (Morales, above, was the second out of the inning). Also, notice that the Mariners have no hits on the day. Next, Mariners centerfielder Michael Saunders is standing on 3B after drawing a leadoff walk, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch and to 3B on Morales’s groundout. Finally, the ribbon board shows that Dustin Ackley is about to step to the plate (he hadn’t seen a pitch yet because the count is shown as 0-0).
Five pitches later, Saunders scored the tying run on a Burnett’s second wild pitch of the inning! One pitch later, Ackley struck out to end the inning.
So, while being no hit by A.J. Burnett, the Mariners were all tied up 1-1 with the Pirates after 4 innings.
The Mariners finally broke through with their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning. With Burnett pitching so well, it was a good thing we had King Felix on the hill…
…throwing a dominating game of his own. In fact, it was as if mother nature was behind Felix and the M’s during this game – she even set an all-natural crown worthy of a king right above Felix:
Nothing could stop the Mariners fair and just King Felix.
Well, almost nothing, A.J. Burnett did a competent job of shutting down King Felix at the plate:
But, obviously, hitting isn’t Felix’s thing.
The boys lost interest in the dirt and bugs and played a little grounders/bouncing balls catch behind our row of seats:
Despite numerous warnings from me only to *roll* the ball, the kids kept bouncing them…
…and, every once in a while, Kellan was throw the ball in the air to Tim. This resulted in two different incidents, one good and one bad.
On the good front, Kellan tossed a ball to Tim that hit the railing behind our handicapped accessible section, rolled along the top of the railing, and then fell right into a cup holder handing from the back side of the railing. When it happened, the entire section behind us erupted in applause for Kellan – they were all apparently watching the boys play catch rather than watching King Felix and A.J. Burnett playing catch with their catchers.
On the bad front, Kellan threw another ball that bounced off of the head of the lady in the black Pirates jersey:
I didn’t actually see this happen. However, given the facts that (1) the boys were using a cloth/foam-y-ish ball (that incidentally looks exactly like a ROMLB), (2) Kellan is only 2 and (3) the ball bounced before it hit her, I’ll go out on a limb here and say there is zero chance this incident actually hurt the lady. But she was very mad about the situation. I thought we were going to get kicked out of the section and sent back to our regular seats. I immediately put the kids’ ball away and sincerely apologized to her and she just glared at me with complete and utter contempt.
We let this incident bother us for about 30 seconds and then we let it go. We have better, fun things on which to focus. Like the pierogies race:
And the shirt cannon/slingshot/toss, which resulted in Kellan coming up with this prize:
And, most importantly, Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer to RCF in the top of the seventh inning:
2-1 Mariners after 7!
Kellan’s shirt was tied up with balloons, which the boys used to sling shot seeds on the warning track:
Felix was dominating and he was getting solid defense behind him. In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to CF that Michael Saunders grabbed with no problem:
The next batter was pinch hitter Jose Tabata, and he hit a low liner to RF and Endy Chavez made a great play on it. Starling Marte then singled, but was thrown out by Jesus Montero when he tried to swipe 2B. Starling no swiping, Starling no swiping, STARLING NO SWIPING!
At the end of the 8th, we left our wonderful seats, took a bathroom break, walked through a small team store behind home plate, and then found ourselves here for the bottom of the ninth:
FYI, Kellan refused to get off of my shoulders so I crouched on the ground in front of the seat so he wouldn’t be too tall for the fans behind us.
Although Felix Hernandez was out in the on deck circle at the end of the top of the ninth, Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen…
…came in for “closing time” in the bottom of the ninth.
Wilhelmsen got a quick ground out by Travis Snider for the first out. He then has a 10 pitch battle with Andrew McCutchen, which included a foul ball that landed two rows in front of us, that ended with a fly out to deep LCF.
Garrett Jones made things more interesting by hitting a 2-out single. But Michael McKenry hit another deep fly ball for the final out of the game.
It was truly a beautiful thing.
During the post-game celebration…
…, Aarong Harang tossed a pearly white baseball to Tim.
As the celebration died down and the interviews with the heroes began…
…, Robbie Thompson tossed a muddy (game-rubbed?) baseball to Tim.
After the game ended and all the Mariners took off, we met up again with Zack, Robbie and a few other guys where Kellan was too tired and cranky to give another fist bump:
We had noticed the Pirates pig statue earlier in the day and wanted to get a picture with it on our way out of the ballpark. As you can see below on the left, an usher wouldn’t let us go over to the pig for a picture and then wouldn’t get out of our view when we tired to get a picture with the pig from a distance:
Luckily, he didn’t follow us out to block our picture with the Willie Stargell statue.
When we hopped in the car, Kellan fell asleep almost instantly and slept for at least three hours.
All around, this was a near perfect baseball experience. It was awesome seeing our Mariners. It was fun to see them in a new park (for Tim and Kellan). And it was even better to see King Felix bring home the win in a great pitchers’ duel.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|12 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates|
|12 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2|
|35 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1|
|6 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park|
|14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen|
|5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo|
The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.
As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:
I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.
That’s all for now. Go Mariners!
On the morning of August 19, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our game wasn’t until 7:00 p.m. So we dined on some free breakfast at the hotel, and then relaxed and played at the pool for a while…
…before heading to the beach for some more relaxing and playing.
At 4-something o’clock in the afternoon, we headed to Tropicana Field. One thing that I didn’t know about, but stands out prominently when you see Tropicana Field is that the dome is tilted. Our first thought was that the high side of the roof was the outfield where homeruns and outfield fly balls would reach their apex. On second thought, we contemplated that the
high side of the roof might be home plate where baseballs would be hit straight up from home plate.
Anyway, we would find out soon enough. First, we had to pay $15 to park in the ballpark lot:
Wait, wait…turns out we were among the first 100 cars with four-or-more passengers and, therefore, we parked for free! Cool. None of us had ever experienced anything like that before at an MLB game!
Walking through the stadium parking lot toward the main entrance, we stopped for a photo in front of a big Rays *twinkle* — I don’t know what else to call that thing. So I’ll call it a *twinkle*:
Oh, lookie there, its our Roadtrip guest: my mom!
Tim was super-psyched to have his grandma join us for some baseball and other fun in the Tampa Bay area. She is, hands down, one of Tim’s favorite people in the world.
We arrived before the doors (they were, in fact, doors, not gates) opened. So we hung out below some palm trees outside of the CF entrance:
Upon entering Tropicana Field, Tim and I closed out the A.L. East stadiums. We have now been to Camden Yards, old Yankee Stadium, new Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, and Tropicana Field. This is our final new stadium of 2011. To date, Tim and I have been to 29 stadiums together (I have also been to the Kingdome and Veterans Stadium) and
there are only three teams (the Cardinals, Royals and Rockies) that we have not seen play a home game. We will finish those teams off in 2012 – although we will also have to back track to Minnesota (Target Field) and Miami (new Marlins ballpark) before we can say we have been to games at all current-MLB stadiums.
Back to this game, I was under the impression that fans would be confined to the outfield concourse during the first half hour after the doors opened. So the first thing we did was head upstairs to a little lookout above the rays tank:
I had told him about it and Tim was super-excited about the rays tank. And the excited did not fade through the weekend. Here is a view of the field from the lookout above the rays tank:
I immediately noticed something: there were fans in the outfield stands. This was a Friday night game. I guess they must not do the confined-to-the-concourse thing for weekend games. Anyway, there was no reason to be at the lookout if the stands were open. So we headed down to the RCF seats right next to the rays tank:
Check that out. Rays are swimming by literally three feet away from those seats. How awesome is that? These are officially Tim’s favorite seats at any MLB ballpark. (And, as I type this, he reminds me that he didn’t love them just for the rays, he loved the horseshoe crabs too!).
About seven minutes after gates opened (according to the time stamp on the following photo), Jake McGee…
…welcomed us to Tropicana Field with a toss-up. FYI, David Price is the guy running to the left, McGee is the guy acting like he is about to make a backhanded catch.
About five minutes later, we all circled around the stadium to the Mariners dugout on the 3B side. Ichiro was playing catch…
…with Chone Figgins along the 3B line. My Dad was hanging out above the dugout (where Miguel Olivo tossed him his warm-up baseball). My mom and Tim headed over to hang out with my Dad, and I relocated down the LF line where the Mariners pitchers were just starting to play catch:
Unless you have these super-fancy tickets along the foul line, fans cannot get down to the field by the bullpens. Its not as bad as in Miami where normal fans cannot get to the field anywhere in fair territory. At Tropicana Field, any fan can get down to the front row on the field between the dugouts and the bullpens, but then these big party areas set back the normal fans about 20-30 feet from the field.
As would become a recurring theme of this weekend, Tim wanted to go back out to the CF seats so he could watch the rays in the rays tank. My mom took him out there and my Dad and I hung out by the Mariners bullpen.
I went to section 137…
…by the foul pole, and my Dad hung out in…oh, probably…section 133 or so by the bullpen mounds. My Dad’s positioning paid huge dividends: Michael Pineda tossed him a baseball. Pineda has had a rougher go of it in the second half of the season, but I think he is going to develop into a dominating MLB pitcher.
A few minutes later, Dan Cortes (who is standing above and slightly to the left of the bald security guard in the last picture) finished playing catch with Josh Lueke. When I called out his name, Cortes happily tossed me his unofficially rubbed up and dirty baseball.
I’ve chatted with Cortes a few times this season. He seems really nice. He’s at the stage that he’s excited to be in the big leagues and he is ready to spend a little time chatting to fans who recognize him.
When the pitchers finished playing catch, they disbursed across the outfield. I spend a few minutes hanging out in LF, but it was somewhat crowded and I was alone. I figured it would be more fun to go meet up with Tim and my mom in CF. I started toward a tunnel to run out to the concourse, but then I figured I might as well walk to the LCF side of the batters’ eye in the seats. I could then run down into the concourse and head over to the RCF seats. The decision paid off.
In deep LCF, Tom Wilhelmsen was all by his lonesome shagging baseballs. Wilhelmsen is in a similar place as Cortes – happy to be in the major leagues. But add to the mix that fact that he was out of baseball for about 6 years. Two years ago, he was a bartender in the Phoenix area. Now, he is a Major League baseball player. What wouldn’t he have to be happy about?
As I passed behind Wilhelmsen, a ball was driven into the deepest part of LCF. I called out Tom’s name and flashed him my glove. He then disappeared from sight for 3-4 seconds and returned ready to fire me a strike.
When I reached the rays tank, Tim was excitedly watching (and “oooh’ing” and aweing about) the rays and, to my surprise, he was holding a baseball. Turns out that Justin Smoak spotted Tim and my mom in the seats watching the rays and tossed up a baseball. It was the first baseball Tim’d ever gotten outside of my immediate presence! Oh, my young boy is growing into a man. *weep* *weep*
And then it was time for one of the most exciting BP moments or our season. My Dad was in straight away right field. I relocated to RF after Jason Vargas tossed him his warm up ball in LF. We all decided to go hang out over there when we saw that Ichiro was shagging fly balls out there.
You can only go in the front row in the outfield during BP if you have front row tickets – my guess is that it is a safety issue. The railings are ridiculously low. Anyway, we couldn’t get into the front row. So Tim and I were standing together in the second row directly behind Ichiro. Oddly enough, Tim was actually standing directly in front of me – i.e., we were both standing in front of the same seat in the second row.
One of our lefties spanked a ball over Ichiro’s head. It ended up on the warning track directly in front of us. As Ichiro came back for it, Tim and I both called out to him and politely asked for him to toss the baseball to us. As he grabbed the baseball, he looked up right at us. He saw Tim decked out in Mariners gear. Our eyes connected. And he tossed the baseball right to us.
But there was a problem. There were grown men on either side of me in the front row. For us to get the baseball, one of two things would have to happened. The first option was if, noticing that the baseball was plainly for a little kid (Mariners fan) who had asked for it, the two guys would just let it sail between them so we could catch it. That option was a no go. Both seemed intent on depriving Tim of the baseball that his baseball hero had decided to toss right to him.
The second option was for me, without the ability to enter the front row, to someone beat out two grown men standing closer to Ichiro and catch the ball before them. And that’s what would have to happen. As the ball sailed to me, the guys crashed in from both sides. Luckily, neither guy reached out toward the field for it, they just moved laterally. Their gloves came together like a curtain trying to shut us out. But I leaned WAAAAY forward (Tim slid to the side so I didn’t smash him into the seat in front of me) and my pushed through the narrow opening between their gloves. The two guys essentially caught my wrist, and on the other side, my glove caught the baseball.
I pulled my glove back really having no clue if I got it or not. I opened my glove and we found the baseball inside. We were ecstatic! We yelled out a huge:
“THANK YOU, ICHIRO!!!”
And I held the ball up for my parents to see. Two seconds later, handed the ball to Tim and he posed for a picture with Ichiro (and one of the would-be Ichiro-ball interceptors) in the background:
After our initial celebration, Tim ran up to his grandma and I headed to the back of the section where I got a second picture showing Tim, the Ichiro baseball, my mom and my dad (blue hat and green backpack):
This was already one of our best batting practices ever. To cap it off, I caught a Kyle Seager (I am pretty sure it was Seager) homerun on the fly at the back of the section. It was pretty exciting since I almost never catch balls on the fly (in fact, this was my first of the season). The ball was hit about 10 feet to my left. I ran over there and it was coming directly to two guys (probably 22’ish years old). Neither had a glove, but both hopped up and made a quarter-hearted attempt at catching it. But in the end, I think both were scared to try to catch it bare handed. So they let it sail directly between them and straight into my glove.
It was pretty cool and my Mom gave a big cheer from the bottom of the section. So that was cool. Seager really got a hold of that one. The ball ended up mildly lopsided from the force of the hit.
And that was it for BP.
Then, Tim had a great idea…
…“Let’s go see the rays tank!”
On the walk to the rays tank (or to the line for the rays tank), we passed under this interesting lamp:
That’s the arm of “Raymond,” the Rays’ mascot. Although many people are down on domed-stadiums (not me, I love ‘em!), no one can credibly say that the Rays haven’t done a great job making their concourses interesting for fans (particularly kids). There are tons of things to see and do in the various concourses that circle Tropicana Field.
It took awhile, but we finally made it to the front of the rays tank line:
Oops…we forgot about the upstairs waiting area. What is this, the Empire State Building line?
In the second floor waiting area, Tim posed (quite hilariously) with some rays painted onto a bench:
We were sure to obey all of the “Rays Tank rules”:
Anyone can go in and pet the rays for free. But for $5 (that goes to the local aquarium), you can feed the rays too! Tim preferred the “drop it and let them find it” method of feeing the rays:
Mostly, he just wanted to watch them from close up:
If you had food, the rays would flock to you and stick their faces and wings above the water. Meanwhile, the horseshoe crab and its baby walked around the bottom of the tank and didn’t bother anyone. Of course, I had to keep an eye on the field to see if my Mariners would reappear.
And they did. While we were in the rays tank area (you only get 8 minutes in there, something I did not yet know at this point), Felix Hernandez came out to warm up. I entrusted Tim to his grandparents’ care and headed off to watch Felix.
After the rays tank, but before meeting up with me down the LF line, my parents took Tim to play in the RF concourse:
And soon enough, this picture showed up on my phone (via text from my mom):
That is Raymond, the Rays’ mascot. But interestingly, it isn’t the normal Raymond. The normal Raymond is fuzzy, like most mascots. This Raymond was a big inflatable guy.
This was my view of Tropicana Field from section 127…
…as I watched Felix run through his pre-game routine. By the way, at Tropicana Field, odd numbered sections are on the 3B/LF side and even numbered sections are on the 1B/RF side.
During the singing of the National Anthem, Felix looked like a true all-star…
…complete with stars shaved into the side of his head.
In recent history, the Mariners bullpen has featured a rookie with a pink back pack. Well, for this series, I featured two pink back packs, another silly kids’ backpack (that will be shown later), and a tiny little pink lunch box…
…carried by Dan Cortes.
We sat in section 129 at this game. This was our view:
And this is what we looked like (or at least three of us) at the beginning of the game:
Although we sat in section 129, we were supposed to sit in section 131. But there was a problem. This big dude in the Hawaiian shirt (row K) was sitting in our seats:
Going into this game, the Mariners were 0-3 for me and Tim this season with two walk-off losses. We yearned for a Mariners win like nobody’s business. We were hoping that Ichiro…
…would start it off hot for the Mariners. Unfortunately, he popped out foul to the catcher.
We were in need of food. So between innings I headed out to the concourse. The field level concourse is interesting at Tropicana Field. It is split between an inner concourse – primarily just for walking from here to here – and an outer concourse that doubles as a food court of sorts. Here are two pictures of the food-concourse on the 3B side…
…where I found our nachos…
…and a all-you-can-drink diet coke (actually, it was probably diet pepsi). And I drank a whole lot of diet pepsi to make sure I got my money’s worth.
While we were eating our nachos, the Rays’ mascot, Raymond, made an appearance about two sections down from us. I asked Tim if he wanted to get his picture with Raymond and, of course, he did. So we put the nachos down and sprinted down to sections toward home plate and got this photo with Raymond:
Two minutes later, Raymond was standing two rows behind our seats taking pictures with fans. Oh, well. The chase was part of the fun.
One of the newest and most exciting young Mariners, Trayvon Robinson…
…, was playing LF and was standing directly out from our seats most of the game. After the Mariners failed to score in the top of the first. Robinson made a brilliant diving catch on a liner to LCF to retire the first Rays batter of the game in the bottom of the first.
The game was scoreless through the first and second innings. Robinson then led off the third with a double to RF. He took second on a groundout by Ichiro. Trayvon then scored the first run of the game when Franklin Gutierrez grounded to short stop Sean Rodriguez who threw the ball way (also allowing Gutierrez to take second).
It was time for Tim and I to go on a little adventure. He wanted to go see the rays tank and I wanted to go take Tim’s picture with his Ichiro baseball and the Tropicana Field sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.
On our way to the sign (or what I thought was the sign), we stopped off in section 144 to take this panorama:
I thought that the *Tropicana Field* sign was really cool looking, with a big orange and straw logo. Tim decided on a catching-the-Ichiro-baseball pose and I thought the picture turned out great:
At the time, it did not occur to me at all that the sign did not say “Tropicana Field.” No, not at all. Of course, it is plain as day, it is just a Tropicana juice sign! Aye, aye, aye…
As we continued on our way toward the rays tank, we took some pictures of the interest set up at Tropicana Field. First off, the RF seating section is really small. Tons of batters were hitting BP homers to the very back of the seats because there just are not many rows of seats in RF. One reason there aren’t many seats is because they have this cross-aisle behind some of the sections in RF (close to the foul pole):
I have no clue what the blue risers are behind the cross-aisle.
We stopped in the cross-aisle behind section 135 to get this panorama:
In foul territory down the 1B line there is a party area similar, but not identical, to the party area down the 3B line:
Once you get to the scoreboard and big screen in RF, the cross-aisle ends, and the blue risers turn into black risers:
But enough of that. There were rays to watch:
And Tim had blast watching them:
If you happen to have tickets in section 150 next to the rays tank, if you are able to look away from the rays, this is what your view of the field would look like:
As we were circling back around the cross-aisle toward home plate, it was the top of the fifth and King Felix had yet to give up a single hit to the Rays. With the Mariners still leading 1-0, Ichiro led off the fifth with a single:
With Ichiro still on first, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 116:
But then Franklin Gutierrez grounded into a double play. An Adam Kennedy strike out later, the top of the fifth inning was history.
We headed out to the concourse and bought some ice cream helmets. As we walked the inside concourse around home plate toward our seats, we got a shot of the weird tunnels into the seating area behind home plate:
Very odd, indeed.
Back in the seats with Grandma and Grandpa, the ice cream was quite tasty:
Unfortunately, the Rays tied it up 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth with a run manufactured by B.J. Upton. After singling on a weak grounder past Adam Kennedy at third, he stole second, stole third, and scored on a bunt by John Jaso. The worst part about it is that Upton should have been out at first. Adam Kennedy didn’t get in front of the ball. Instead he ole’d it right into a single. Unfortunately, this would not be Kennedy’s only botched play on the day…so stay tuned.
The Mariners reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh on a lead-off homerun to RF by Kyle Seager:
That *should have* been all the support that Felix needed for the win. He was, as usual, dominating:
In the eighth, Tim and my Mom headed back to the rays tank…
…and then things fell apart for the Mariners.
More precisely, things fell apart in the bottom of the eighth when Johnny Damon stepped to the plate with two down and a runner on first:
One more out and the Mariners would head to the ninth with the 2-1 lead intact. Felix pumped strike one and strike two over the plate. One more strike and the Mariners could stick a fork in the eighth.
But then Damon hit a grounder between third and short stop. Kennedy moved like a slug over to get it. He double or triple or…I don’t know…infinity-clutched the ball. I yelled, “AAAAAAHHHHHHH, GET RID OF IT!!!!!!” And then Johnny Damon crossed first base safe.
I could not believe it.
Any other day, Kennedy makes that play. Kyle Seager, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo, David Bell, Russ Davis, Mike Blowers, Edgar Martinez, Jim Presley, Jamie Allen, Manny Castillo, Dan Meyer, Ted Cox, Bill Stein, and anyone else who has ever played a single game at 3B for the Mariners would have made the play. In fact, they would have made the out at either 2B or 1B.
But this was this day, and it was Adam Kennedy (who had already cost Felix a run) was at third, and the play was not made.
As great as King Felix is, he does not always respond well to boneheaded misplays. And he did not respond well at this game. So Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist both followed with RBI singles. A few minutes later, game over. Mariners lose.
It was a tough, tough loss.
As the relievers headed back to the dugout, I got this picture featuring a pink backpack and the new R2D2 backpack:
As the ninth inning was playing out, I realized something – the Tropicana sign wasn’t the Tropicana Field sign. And Tim was way out there in CF by the rays tank. I texted and called
my Mom to ask her to come back to meet up with us. But her phone was in his bag and she didn’t hear it. So, just in case we didn’t get another baseball at Tropicana Field, my Dad took a Tropicana Field bonus picture of me…
…and when my Mom and Tim finally arrived (and the lights had been turned down), I got a bonus picture of Tim.
And then we got a group photo with the lights out:
Tim requested that it be a *thumbs up* photo.
See all of those people on the field? On Friday nights, the Rays turn off the main lights, turn on some disco lights and dance music, and let fans leave the game by walking across the field to an exit in CF.
We headed down to the field and got a picture of Tim on the warning track with the dugout behind him:
We got another picture of Tim standing on the LF foul line:
And then Tim started to dance like crazy. It was all I could do to get him to stop dancing long enough to take this picture behind second base (doing an 80s b-boy pose)…
…and this on-field Tropicana Field bonus picture (this is the official photo we submitted to the scavenger hunt):
Then, as Tim went back to throwing his hat in the air and dancing, I took a 360 degree panorama from behind 2B:
If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you can see Tim dancing on both sides of the panorama.
I took this same picture, but my Dad did a better job of it – a worm’s eye view of the center of Tropicana Field’s roof:
After Tim did a bit more dancing, including some break dancing on the big screen…
…we called it a night.
We’d be back again the next day (August 20, 2011) hoping for our first Mariners win of the season.
I have to say, despite the crushing Mariners loss, I really liked Tropicana Field. I grew up among rumors of the Mariners moving to St. Petersburg to play in this very building. Because of that, I’ve always had negative feelings about Tropicana Field. But I grew up going to and absolutely loving the Kingdome. And like the Metrodome in 2009, I felt right at home at Tropicana Field, a great little domed stadium.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|24/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (1)).|
|68 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|12/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]|
|13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
When the 2011 season scheduled was released, I was extremely excited to see that the Mariners would be making their first trip to Nationals Park. The downside was that the three game series was mid-week, with one game being a day game. I really wanted our whole family to attend one of the games so both Kellan and Tim could see the Mariners in only their second trip to D.C. But real life was not cooperating.
As the series approached, it was certain that we could not attend the second or third games the series because I would be on a brief business trip. The first game looked like it was effectively out too. But something happened during the day of the game that all of a sudden made the game possible. It was such a late call, however, that Colleen (and therefore Kellan too) wasn’t prepared to make the trip down. So around 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 2011, Tim and I hopped in the car hoping we could at least catch the tail end of BP.
And that is exactly what happened. We walked in and saw literally two minutes of BP before the Mariners cleared the field. In fact, it was so quick that we didn’t even get a single BP picture!
With the field empty, we headed into the infield to see if any Mariners were milling around over there. They weren’t.
So, we hung out down the 3B line and watched the field for a bit. After a while, the one and only Jason Phillips popped out of the dugout and headed out to the bullpen. We said our hellos and how-you-doings as he passed by on his way to the bullpen.
Once his colleagues joined Jason out by the bullpen, we snapped this picture of Doug Fister and Chris Gimenez stretching out:
Soon, Adam Kennedy made an appearance down the 3B line:
Kennedy gave Tim a friendly wave, which is always cool to get from a Mariner.
Soon some more Mariners joined Kennedy, including Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley. This was the first road game of Ackley’s career. And when a guy in a Mariners fan called out his name and asked for an autograph, he came over…
…and signed for a few minutes. We didn’t have a baseball yet so we didn’t ask for a signature. And for some bizarre reason, I didn’t even think of asking Ackley if he would pose for a picture with Tim. Man, I must have been off my game!
Anyway, before the game started, we headed out to the LF and sat behind the Mariners bullpen. Actually, before sitting down, we peered down into the bullpen. Bullpen coach Jaime
Navarro walked by just then, saw Tim, and motioned to us as if to say “hold on, stay right there.” He then disappeared and reappeared with…
…this lovely Rawlings Official MLB baseball, which he tossed up to Tim.
Okay. It was game time and we were primed for our first Mariners win of the season. This was only our second Mariners game of the year, and they lost the first game 2-1 to the Orioles in the 12th inning. It was part of Brandon League’s stretch of losing 4 consecutive games. Ouch. So, we needed a win in a big way.
Things started out beautifully. Tim’s favorite player, Ichiro spanked a single into LF:
Tim then told me to take a picture of Ichiro on first base. So I did:
Ichiro then took second on a weak ground out by Brendan Ryan. As Ichi stood on second, Tim told me to take a picture of Ichiro scoring. And a few seconds later, Adam Kennedy singled
to CF and Ichiro scored:
FYI, Ichiro is directly behind Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in that picture. His left leg is visible to the immediate right of Ramos.
Things were going great so far!
The Mariners scored a second run in the first inning when Dustin Ackley …
…singled to RF in this career debut road at-bat.
Doug Fister then came in and shut down the Nationals in the first. In the process of Fister shutting down the Nats, I got this picture of Ichiro playing RF.
After one inning, the Mariners led 2-0. We liked it.
We also liked this huge pile of chili nachos that we got before the top of the second inning:
Although it resulted in a nice action shot…
…Ichiro grounded out in the top of the second. But the Mariners tacked on a third run in the third inning on a Dustin Ackley RBI ground out. And this is what the scoreboard looked like after three innings:
Not only was the 3-0 score a happy sight, but it was nice to see “Seattle Washington” on the board as well.
Between innings, Screech rolled by on his lazy guy walking machine:
Between innings, we were also happy to find A.L. MVP candidate Larry Bernandez sitting nearby:
Larry Bernandez is an instant Mariners legend that hit the scene this scene. Great to see him in the OF at this game. Also, check out the cool 3D effect as Larry’s face matches up with his sign holder’s face!
During the bottom of the third inning, we needed to go on a water run. As we strolled through the 3B side concourse after filling a bottle with water, Ian Desmond hit a deep fly ball that
Franklin Gutierrez caught to end the third inning. We were in the concourse above the Mariners dugout, so we scurried down the stairs and nearly caught the ball after Guti flipped it about six rows deep into the crowd.
There were about 8 empty seats right where Guti flipped the ball, so we decided to sit down and give it one more shot at a third out ball. But before we knew it, we ended up spending five innings sitting in those empty seats.
On this pitch, Franklin led off the top of the fourth with a solid single into CF:
Franklin then stole second and Chris Gimenez…
…, shown here with all-round good guy Greg Halman, struck out swinging. That led to an 8-pitch at-bat by Mariners pitcher Doug Fister:
On the 8th pitch, Fister bounced a singled into RF and Gutierrez came around to score the fourth Mariners run of the game:
Ichiro and his classic pre-pitch pose…
…followed Fister, but grounded into an inning ending double play.
I don’t know what’s going on in this picture, but Tim looks hilarious:
See all the Mariners fans and people wearing baby blue behind us? More on them later.
Fister was pitching lights out all night. I was thinking he could pitch a complete game shut out:
In the top of the fourth inning, Adam Kennedy hit in yet another run. At that point, the Mariners lead 5-0. What a game! We were having a great time!
In the middle innings, I shot a bunch of pictures of Tim in our seats. Here are a couple of them:
And then I decided to take one with my cellphone to post on Twitter…
…and a couple minutes later the @Mariners replied: “What a handsome young man.”
The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ian Desmond crossed the plate following a Roger Bernadina single.
On this swing, Ichiro led off the top of the sixth with his second hit of the night:
But he was stranded on base after stealing second base.
Inning-after-inning Justin Smoak tossed third-out-baseball-after-third-out-baseball to the same people:
I’m not sure if he was tossing them to the older gentleman under the red arrow or the younger girl under the red arrow. Either way, it didn’t matter. The younger guy under the yellow arrow leapt high in the air and intercepted three of the baseballs (and his dad intercepted another when the yellow-arrow-guy was out of the seats).
Over the course of several innings, I struck up a little conversation with the guy right behind me. That whole row had super thick southern accents. I asked the guy behind me how all of those folks became Mariners fans with such thick southern accents. Turns out, they were Dustin Ackley’s friends and family visiting from North Carolina.
The three girls behind us looked like sisters and my understanding is that they are Ackley’s cousins. The guy also pointed out Ackley’s father sitting nearby. His mom and grandparents and a whole slew of other Ackley-people were sitting around us too. And the Mariners knew it because they were trying like crazy to get a third-out ball to these guys. One of the balls, in the bottom of the sixth inning, was a double-play ball started by Ackley. But the Ackley-people got robbed by the guy in front of them every time, and they went home empty handed.
Aside from watching their quest to get a third-out ball, the most interesting thing about sitting by these folks is that they all called Ackley “Dusty” the whole time. Here’s hoping that Dusty* has a long and stellar career as a Mariner.
Late in the game, Tim got a scrumptious ice cream helmet:
In the top of the ninth, Tim posed with Ichiro:
We were bursting with excitement for the Mariners win that was only three Nationals outs away in the bottom of the ninth.
As the Mariners were warming up for the bottom of the ninth, Tim and I slid into some seats right behind the 3B end of the Mariners dugout. When Justin Smoak tossed the infield warm up ball in toward the dugout, it bounced off of the netting and back into the middle of the warning track. But Michael Pineda hopped out of the dugout and grabbed the baseball. I called out “Hey, Pineda! Michael!” He looked up, saw Tim and me above the dugout, and flipped the extremely dirty infield warm up ball to us:
It was the ninth and the end of a long day, but Tim was still choke full of silly faces:
As things got started in the ninth, King Felix looked our way and gave us a little nod:
A few drops of rain started to fall, and Tim laid back in his seat to track the rain on its way down to earth:
As for the game, even though it was not a save situation and Fister had thrown only 99 pitches and given up 3 hits, Brandon League game came in to attempt to finish out the game. Jason Werth led off the inning and reached first on an error by Justin Smoak. Then League walked Roger Bernadina. Not a good way to start the ninth, but I felt okay with a four run lead.
Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a double play sending Werth to third with only one out to go in the game. I was feeling good at this point.
And then I had a stupid, stupid idea. League worked Jerry Hairston to a 2-strike count. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to take a picture of Hairston striking out to end the game for the Mariners win?” I snapped this picture:
Then I quickly started thinking that trying to take a picture of the final out of the game was a great way to jinx the Mariners. But it was too late. The jinx was on.
Harrison singled to center to score Werth (unearned run number 1 of the inning). 5-2 led Mariners.
Former Mariner Michael Morse then drilled a line drive off of Brandon League’s leg. League had to leave the game:
No one had been warming up at all. David Pauley had to jump up and head to the mound cold. Even though he would get unlimited warm up pitches, it seems like pitchers who come in following an injury to the previous pitcher always struggle. Pauley was no exception.
Danny Espinosa singled to RF scoring Harriston (unearned run number 2 of the inning).
Wilson Ramos (who??) crushed a walk-off home run deep into the RCF seats (unearned runs 3, 4, and 5 of the inning).
Mariners lose. We sat there stunned. It was painful. As I sat with my head hung in disbelief, the Mariners looked equally dumbfounded. Most of the team just stood there for a minute. Then Adam Kennedy slowly walked off of the field and his teammates started to follow him.
Such a great day of Mariners baseball turned so ugly at the end.
It had truly been a great evening at the ballpark with Tim…right up until the 26th out was recorded. Aye, aye, aye…
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|14/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))|
|43 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)|
|6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]|
|11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
After a brief detour through the Metrodome, its back to Spring Training. We still have a few more reports to go from the desert. This one has no real *story* per se, its just a bunch of pictures. It does, however, have a theme: practice. We took a bunch of nice pictures of Mariners doing the hard work of preparing for the 2011 season and its time to share them.
Each morning, the entire Mariners major league camp would report to practice field M3 for a big stretching routine:
The Mariners coaching staff hits hours of fungo to the Mariners infielders during Spring Training. Here, Justin Smoak gloves a grounder on the first day of full team workouts on M2:
This next picture is hilarious to me. This was the first day of full squad workouts and the coach (cannot remember which one) said, “First grounder of the season!” and then hit this ball to King Felix Hernandez a/k/a Larry Bernandez:
Erik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise this Spring. He is flat out pitching like a stud and finally looking like he might live up to the original hype. Here he is getting in his work in the mega-bullpen between M3 and M4:
What makes this next picture cool was unintentional and hard to decipher. However, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I captured two balls in the air — Figgy gunned a ball to Justin Smoak that appears in the upper lefthand corner of the photo and Brendan Ryan his underhanding a second baseball to 2B:
One day, the guys all came out to practice and the outfielders reported to M6. Ichiro was all set to play catch with Milton Bradley when he realized he’d forgot his glove in the clubhouse. Ichiro’s interpreter, Anthony Suzuki, bolted off to the clubhouse and came cruising back with Ichiro’s glove:
…Tim took the other three from close range.
So there you go, a look behind the scenes at Spring Training practice. For my money, practice is where the fun is at Spring Training.
A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team. We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria. So, let’s take a look at what we got.
At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3. There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields. That is where we got most of the following pictures.
First up, we ran into Adam Moore:
Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:
The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez. We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time. But its almost impossible. Felix, however, is another story. We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park. Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:
Before this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager. Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training. And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:
Note: In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom. This was a common problem during Spring Training. We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera. Oh, well.
Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon. Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:
It was actually quite funny. We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim. Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above. Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera. Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:
Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:
D.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip. However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power. At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:
I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:
Before this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person. Let me tell you, you cannot miss him. He is HUGE! If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge). Pineda also signed this baseball for us:
Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:
After signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim. He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks. Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP. Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:
For our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:
He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised. The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling. Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?” This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining. I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life. I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.” Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.
Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip. It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo. This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:
Note: In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.” Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.
As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…
The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy. Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry). It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture. And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.
First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:
Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:
This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:
We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:
We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:
Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures. I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.
That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us. Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:
Lower left: Justin Smoak 17
Lower right: Ryan Langerhans
At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:
It’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre. See that baseball Zaun is holding? The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it. The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB. It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it. It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it. Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs. Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.
Thanks again, Luke!
Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:
As you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners. We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training. Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas. But maybe we can track him down during the regular season. We will see.
We’re here in Peoria, AZ for Mariners Spring Training. We’ll see no games while here. Just practice. Frankly, I think that practice is the best part of Spring Training. We’ve had many memorable encounters and have tons of great pictures to share. But I haven’t had time to put an entry together yet. So I figured we’d share a couple videos from Spring Training before putting together a write up.
The first day of spring training was extremely windy with periodic spurts of rain. After the Mariners stretched on one field, the different position groups split off onto separate fields. This video shows the outfielders running over to the Mariners main practice field, and features Ichiro giving me a funny little look as he passes by me and Tim:
Many of the chain link fences on the Mariners Spring Training complex are wrapped in dark green fabric meant to cut down wind on the field. Its my least favorite part of the M’s Spring Training complex. Interestingly, the Padres complex (just on the other side of the Mariners and Padres shared stadium) doesn’t have any of these annoying wind barriers on the fences. In this video, Felix Hernandez is seen pitching in a jumbo-bullpen through a little flap in the wind barrier:
In this video, a group of Mariners pitchers are going through pitcher fielding practice (PFP) on one of the Mariners practice fields. At this point, the pitchers were fielding ground balls and then throwing to third base. You’ll notice that the few fans watching the Marines practice are almost completely silent. That’s the standard at Mariners Spring Training. Well, Tim isn’t the standard fan. He’s loud. After this video, Felix fielded a ball and threw to third base. Tim let out a loud, “Good job, Felix,” prompting Felix to spin, lung toward Tim and give him a double arm point and a loud “THANK YOU!!!” This prompted Nate Robertson (following Felix) to ask, “What about me?” Tim was silent, so I responded in a somewhat sarcastic tone, “Good job, Nate.” All of this drew a chuckle from the players and normally silent fans.
In the final video in this entry, Ichiro is shown taking BP on one of the Mariners practice fields. Pretty much every swing shown here resulted in a nice line drive into shallow right field:
With all of the photos we take at games, its both fun and helpful to make entries grouping different types of pictures. We recently finished recategorizing all of our panoramic pictures. So now, its time to compile all of our pictures with MLB players (in chronological order). Here we go:
ADAM MOORE. Tim’s first player picture was with Adam Moore…
…at the Mariners spring training in 2008. At the time, Adam was a prospect yet to make his regular season MLB debut. Turns out that in 2009, we were in attendance for Adam’s MLB debut.
Matt Capps. The first MLB player with whom Tim got his picture at a MLB park was then-Pirates reliever Matt Capps…
…at PNC Park. This picture was taken during the inaugural Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.
T.J. Beam. Shortly after the Matt Capps picture, we met T.J. Beam…
…another Pirates pitcher. Beam, Sean Burnett, and Tyler Yates signed that baseball I am holding in this picture (given to us by Denny Bautista).
Ryan Perry. We got this picture with Ryan Perry at Camden Yards in May 2009:
…taken on the sidewalk in Boston while walking back from Fenway to our hotel after an excellent Mariners win over the Red Sox.
“King” Felix Hernandez. We got a special treat on the Fourth of July in 2009, this picture with King Felix:
This was taken shortly after Felix finished playing catch with Erik Bedard. When Felix started signing autographs, Bedard tossed us their warm up baseball. Tim and I then met up with Felix for this photo and autograph. To cap it all off, the Mariners beat the Red Sox.
Jason Phillips. We met up with C&S Hall of Famer Jason Phillips…
…for this picture at Progressive Field in August 2009. Phillips has been extremely cool to us since we met him in ’09. Thanks, Jason!
Scott Olsen. We set a goal of getting a picture with a player from each team we saw in 2010. We fell short of reaching the goal, but had a lot of fun trying. Scott Olsen was our first player picture of the season…
Jeff Suppan. At that same Brewers-Nationals game, we got this picture with the incredibly nice Jeff Suppan:
Frank Catalanotto. May 1, 2010 was a big day. Kids Run the Bases at Citizens Bank Park and getting an important autograph and this outstanding picture with Tim’s “first batter” Frank Catalanotto:
Ryan Rowland-Smith. On May 11, 2010, we ran into RRS twice during pre-game festivities in Baltimore. During our second meeting, we got this picture:
Billy Wagner. On May 22, 2010, we met, got a baseball and two autographs from, and this picture with Billy Wagner at PNC Park:
Tommy Hanson. On May 23, 2010, we met and got this picture with up-and-coming Braves hurler Tommy Hanson:
Mike Cameron. One of our goals in 2010 (at least when we weren’t seeing the Mariners play) was to get pictures with former Mariners. On June 5, 2010, we went to a Red Sox/Orioles game in Baltimore with the goal of getting a picture with Adrian Beltre. I had forgotten that beloved former Mariner Mike Cameron also played for the Red Sox. We were very excited to come home with this shot with Cammy:
Jered Weaver. June 10, 2010 was the second game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010. We started off the day by getting a baseball tossed to us by Jered Weaver…
Joel Piniero. At that same game on June 10, 2010, we managed to get a wonderful picture with former Mariners pitcher, Joel Piniero…
…giving Tim a fist-bump for the 2010 Photo Scavenger Hunt on MyGameBalls.com.
Ryan Rowland-Smith. We met up with Ryan Rowland-Smith…
…again in San Diego on June 12, 2010 while on the GFS Roadtrip. After signing that autograph (that I gave to my dad), he chatted with us for a while and posed for this group shot:
Chad Cordero. On June 13, 2010, we met, got an autograph from and picture with Mariners reliever, Chad Cordero:
…taken on June 13, 2010 after King Felix pitched 8.2 dominating innings in an exciting Mariners win over the Padres. The backstory is that home plate umpire Angel Hernandez gave Tim a baseball on the way off the field, which third base umpire Joe West then stole from Tim before walking into the tunnel. West then came back chuckling at his prank and gave the baseball back to Tim. I jumped on the light hearted opportunity to ask the Cowboy to pose for this picture with Tim. He didn’t balk at my request.
Jamie Moyer. On June 26, 2010, the Blue Jays came to Philadelphia for a series of “home games” at Citizens Bank Park. The “visiting” Phillies took BP second so we had great access to the team. It all worked to our advantage because we were able to get this series of three pictures with Mariners legend (and my personal all-time favorite pitcher) Jamie Moyer:
Bert Blyleven. July 22, 2010 was our first game back in action after Kellan’s birth. The date will likely go down as the first time we’ve ever met two Hall of Famers (or eventual Hall of Famers) in one day. The first was the extremely nice Dutchman, Bert Blyleven:
The second picture of Palmer earned us some more points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.
Omar Vizquel. Talking about Hall of Famers or eventual Hall of Famers, Omar Vizquel should be enshrined some day. The guy is a flat out amazing fielder. On August 8, 2010, he gave us his “John Hancock” and posed for this picture with Tim:
Jay Buente. On September 12, 2010 (Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary), Tim and I got our 100th baseball from Marlins pitcher Jay Buente. Before hustling off, Mr. Buente posed for a picture with Tim:
Thanks, Jay! In an interesting note (and something that I just realized), with this picture with Jay Buente, Tim closed out his first MLB division — he got a picture with a member of each team in the N.L. East in 2010 (Scott Olson of the Nationals, Frank Catalanotto of the Mets, Billy Wagner and Tommy Hanson of the Braves, Jamie Moyer of the Phillies, and Jay Buente (and Brian Sanches) of the Marlins). Cool.
Brian Sanches. Shortly after crossing paths with Jay Buente, we ran into another Marlins pitcher, Brian Sanches. He was incredibly nice. He signed a baseball for us and posed for this picture with Tim:
David Pauley, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Garrett Olson and Chris Seddon. At Kellan’s MLB Debut on October 1, 2010, he was lucky enough to get his picture with four Mariners David Pauley (top left), Ryan Rowland-Smith (the first player to get his picture with both Tim and Kellan), Garrett Olson (who had the bright idea of having Kellan wear the ice cream helmet in the picture), and Chris Seddon (bottom right):
Jack Zduriencik. On October 3, 2010, we closed out the season at Safeco Field. We ran into Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik in the centerfield SRO area before the game and got this wonderful picture of Jack Z. kissing Kellan:
Cook & Son Trivia: Jack Zduriencik is the only baseball executive with whom Kellan, Tim or I have even gotten our picture. He is easily the most accessible G.M. the Mariners have ever had. My mom has gotten her picture with Jack about 4 times. He’s all over the place.
On August 21, 2010, the weekend after our Cleveland trip, we headed up to NYC to see our Mariners play in the Bronx:
We were planning on seeing the M’s play Saturday, spend the night in a hotel and then get right back at it on Sunday for a second game. Although they played the Sunday game (with a 1-hour mid-game delay), the rain washed out our Sunday plans. But that was okay, because we packed a ton of excitement into our Saturday in NYC.
When we entered the ballpark, the batting cage was set up and a couple players (including C.C. Sabbathia) were playing catch with their kids in shallow CF behind the “bucket.” We decided to head over to LF to see if anyone was in the Mariners bullpen.
As we walked into section 136, this was our view:
Then, as I watched the action in the Mariners bullpen, Tim played like crazy with a little give-away truck he’d received upon entering the stadium:
Here was the aforementioned “action” in the Mariners bullpen:
Pitching coach Carl Willis was throwing wild pitch-after-wild pitch at Adam Moore. Moore was bouncing and sliding all over the place trying his best to keep the pitches in front of him. One of the “pitches” bounced up, hit Moore in the mask and bounced over the wall behind him.
As the home team hit, the Mariners pitchers came out to play catch in LF. Tim and I headed around into foul territory to stand behind the pitchers on the foul line:
Two seconds after arriving there, I called out to Brian Sweeney. He spun around, found me, and lobbed a baseball in our direction. Unfortunately, it fell about 3 feet short and a fan of the other team reached up and bare handed it. Sweeney looked at me and shrugged a big, “uh, oh. sorry.” The guy who snatched the ball 10 inches in front of my glove looked up at and made eye contact with me. My first thought was that he saw Tim and realized he just stole a ball from a kid and was going to give it to him.
I said, “No problem, man. Its all good.”
He didn’t say a word. He just kept looking at me with this weird, somewhat ambiguous look. It wasn’t a look of happiness, or shame, or gloating. It was sort of like, “Yeah, I stole it. Deal with it.” Then, the second he broke his 3 second stare at me, he took off and was gone.
Soon, we were about to be gone too. An usher started walking through the section checking everyone’s tickets and telling people to leave if they didn’t have field level seats. Finally, he made his way to us.
I tried to sweet talk him, “can we just stay for a few more minutes? We came a long way, we just want to see the M’s warm up and then we’ll leave.”
“Sorry,” he respond with no real remorse in his voice, “you only get 40 minutes of batting practice.”
So we slowly made our way up the stairs. I could see an usher in every section enforcing the “you only get 40 minutes of batting practice” rule. All of them were in the first couple rows just off of the field. So, instead of heading into the concourse, we cut to the right around the 20th or 25th row…
We walked two and a half sections into the OF seats when I spotted an usher who was mid-section and heading toward CF. She’d already checked overyone to the right (closer to the LF foul pole) so we headed back down…you know, just for one more peak at the field.
We headed to the first row and did our best job of looking like people with $100 tickets (Note: we’re never the guys with the $100 tickets).
This was the view from the $100 OF seats…
We nestled into that open spot in front of little A-Rod with the luggage tag on his hat.
I just wanted to see if Brian Sweeney would give us another shot. Unfortunately, he was deep into CF now as he played catch with Jamey Wright. It wasn’t going to happen. So, I started to tell Tim that it was time to head out of there.
Just then, I heard the crack of the bat, and I look up to see a ball sailing our way. It was probably 10 feet to my left — around where the luggage-tagless Teixeira kid is standing. I extended my glove up to a sea of gloves (along with the blue chip guy and the guy next to Teixeira). I thought to myself, “I have no clue if I WILL, but I really MIGHT catch this!”
The ball slammed into my glove.
Wow…I caught a BP homer on the fly!
Tim had never seen me catch a hit baseball on the fly at a MLB ballpark. He was super excited. He told me (and later his mom and his grandparents on the phone) about the catch countless times over the rest of the day — “daddy jumped up super high speed right on the edge of the seats and caught the ball and the whole crowd went ‘WOAH!’ when he got it!”
It might have been his proudest moment ever of his dear old dad.
Anyway, it was time to explore the stadium a bit.
We passed through Bronx Central Station heading from the RF corner toward home plate. As we walked, we noticed that all of the big pictures of past baseball legends were in black and white…
Next, we headed up top to (I think) section 329, where this was the view as we watched Felix Hernandez play catch with Jason Phillips:
Tim requested a picture with his truck:
And then we headed down to LCF to watch some more “action” in and around the Mariners bullpen. As we hung out in the first row of section 238, Tim played with his truck on the cement wall, which made a perfect road for him:
As Tim played with his truck, I watched as some stadium workers removed the netting…
…protecting monument park, which seemed odd to me. Maybe the nets are there solely to protect the fans in monument park during BP. But I’d always figured they were also supposed to protect the monuments from getting clobbered by homerun balls.
We also watched the M’s get ready for the game. The first ones out there were Josh Bard and Jason Phillips:
I’m a big fan of Vargas. He’s been pitching superbly this season (with no run support). But I was a little concerned. He looked fine in the bullpen, but I could hear him making some comments that led me to believe he didn’t think his pitches were popping as much as he wanted them to.
I took the following picture just because I thought it looked cool that a bunch of his colleagues were standing around watching Jason warm up:
Finally, Vargas was ready and everyone showed him some pre-game love:
We started out at the yellow “X’ at the back of section 238 (the red “X” shows where we later ending up eating nachos). The obstructed view from out there (especially in section 239) is almost unconscionable — particularly when you realize they spent something like $1.5 BILLION dollars building this stadium. Nevertheless, we choose to sit here when we actually had better seats.
Here was our view in the first inning:
Not on this pitch…
…but Ichiro led off the game with a homerun to RCF. Us poor suckers at the back of section 238 had no clue what was happening. All we saw was a ball driven toward the RCF gap and out of our view. We waited. There was no audible signs from the crowd as to what might have happened (no cheers for an out or groans for a hit). But then Ichiro just kept running. He circled the bases for a homerun. Easily the oddest homerun I have ever witnessed. Not because of the hit iself, but because of our massively obstructed view of it.
Two batters later, the obstruction came into play again. This time, it was a little different. Russell “The Muscle” Branyan uncorked what I understand was the longest homerun hit so far at this new stadium in the Bronx (and the first to reach the upper deck). It was an absolute no-doubter homerun…
…unlike Ichiro’s blast two batters earlier, us folks behind the obstruction knew this was a homerun immediately upon contact. In fact, neither of the 2 outfielders in our view even moved a muscle. We knew it was a homerun, but we had no clue where the ball landed. In fact, I only learned that it was an upper deck shot when I saw a replay on a nearby TV screen.
So, bottom line is that at the end of the top of the first the Mariners had hit two homeruns, but we’d seen neither land in the seats.
It was time for Vargas to take the mound. Things didn’t go well from the start.
Lead off hitter, Derek Jeter, hit a weak grounder…
The home team would go on to score four runs in the bottom of the first on a 2-RBI single by Robinson Cano and a 2-run home run by Jorge Posada.
Fortunately, Vargas would settle down after the shaky first inning.
Tim and I were hungry so we went to the nacho stand. I asked for some nachos and the guy asked “with what on ‘em?” I said, “I don’t know. What do you got?” “Everything,” he replied.
Well, I don’t know if he really had everything, but he certainly put together some delicious nachos for us…
For another unknown reason, we decided to eat our nachos in the last row of section 239. It was like we were asking to not be able to see half of the game. Here was our ridiculously obstructed view:
Yep, on the second pitch in the top of the third inning (this pitch!)….
…Ichiro blasted a drive that quickly sored out of our view and, moments later, into the stands in RF. It was another Ichiro homerun, and once again we did not see it land in the seats. (FYI, in that picture, the ball is right below Ichiro’s neck).
On Ichiro’s second homerun of the game and an RBI single by Casey Kotchman, the Mariners tied up the score at 4-4 in the third inning. And it would stay that way until the 7th inning.
That was enough of LCF for us, we moved over to section 202 (RF’s mirror image of section 238), which was right next to the section of our actual seats (section 201 — the RF mirror image of section 239).
While there was still an obstruction our in LF, the view was much better from the back of section 202…and this ice cream helmet made it evern better:
…Ichiro, Gutierrez and Sauders did the obligatory OF huddle while Jamey Wright warmed up on the mound. Wright then promptly allowed both of Vargas’s runners to score. And just like that the M’s were trailing 7-4.
We decided to roam around a little bit. As Franklin Gutierrez batted in the top of the eighth, we found ourselves on top of the view obstructing batters’ eye sports bar:
Just then, I looked toward RF and I noticed something new…
The team in the white-striped pajamas scored two more runs in the bottoms of the 8th. All of a sudden, the game was out of hand. It was a real shame because it was a great game for the first 6-and-a-half innings.
In the top of the ninth, we were ready to leave a little early to go see a bit of the city, but we had to stick around to see Ichiro’s final at bat of the day.
Mariano Rivera was brought on in a non-save situation…
…and our future Hall of Famer won the battle. Ichiro hit this pitch to left field for his third hit of the day. We would be waiting for the subway across the street when Russel Branyan hit Ichiro in for the final run of the game.
Unfortunately, the M’s couldn’t rally and they lost 9-5.
Despite the loss, it was a fun day at the ballpark. Now, it was time to find more fun exploring Manhatten.
First, we headed downtown to our hotel. While waiting for the No. 1 train in the upper west side…
We stayed at the Club Quarters hotel. I knew it was downtown by the World Trade Center area, but I wasn’t sure exactly where it was located. As we tracked street addresses on the way to the hotel, we kept getting closer and closer to “ground zero.”
When we reached the hotel entrance, we could see cranes just behind the hotel. When we reached our room…
…and pulled back the shades, we were looking straight down into the ground zero construction site. Ground Zero literally came right up to the edge or our hotel. It was pretty crazy. I figured we’d never see Ground Zero like this again, so I took a little video clip:
After relaxing at our hotel a bit, we headed out into Manhatten. We rode the 1-Train up to 59th Street & Columbus Circle — which is right at the southwest corner of Central Park. We brought Tim’s bat and a couple foam baseballs and Tim did some hitting in one of the baseball fields in the park:
It was pretty cool. A couple times some random passersby stopped to watch Tim hit. After it got too dark to see my pitches, we packed up the baseball stuff and went on our way. While heading south to the edge of the Park, Tim posed for a picture on one of the HUGE rocks in the Park (bottom right photo above). He wanted to climb all over the rocks and in a play area that we passed through, but it was getting too dark to see.
We headed back into the concrete jungle of Manhatten. We walked down 7th Street toward Times Square until we found my favorite place to grab a bite to eat in Manhatten…
…Ray’s Pizza (at 49th & 7th)! Tim devoured a huge piece of cheese pizza…and so did I.
Then it was back into out to the street. We made our way a couple more blocks south toward Times Square. I took this picture as we approached Times Square:
In the middle of all the people, we found a guy painting an interesting picture of President Obama:
Just down the street, we found everyone staring up at the side of a building…
At the south end of Times Square, we saw “the ball” for 2010:
We took the 1-Train down just a little bit to Penn Station…Hmm…I think it was Penn Station. It was definitely 34th Street. We’d had a plan since the morning, go up to the top of that building where Buddy the Elf’s dad works.
About 12 hour later, we finally made it to the Empire State Building…
…after waiting in an incredibly long, and frustrating line on the 2nd and 80th floors for about an hour, and then walking up the final six flights of stairs with Tim on my shoulders, we finally made it to the top of the Empire State Building at around 11:00 p.m.
The view was pretty cool lookng north toward Central Park and Times Square. The lights of the city were pretty cool. The only problem was that the east, south, and west sides of the building were really windy. An extremely tired Tim was not a fan of the wind. So we weren’t up there all that long.
Still, it was cool. I got this picture of the tip of the building from the observation deck:
By the way, if you take a baseball bat to the Empire State Building, they’ll make you check it at a security desk on the second floor. After we retreived Tim’s bat, we headed back to the 1-Train. Tim fell asleep on my shoulders while waiting for the subway. Finally, I made it back to our hotel where our long and exciting day finally came to an end. That bed felt great after being on the go since about 7:00 a.m.
As I mentioned, we did not go to the Sunday game because it was raining (and this Stadium does not have a kids play area or really anything designed to entertain a kid during a long rain delay). It ended up being just fine that we missed the game because the Mariners got destroyed by a score of 10-0.
After a pizza “brunch”…
…at Ray’s Pizza at 82nd & Columbus, we hopped in our car and were home in time to watch part of the game on TV and spend a nice Sunday with Colleen and Kellan.
2010 Fan Stats:
19 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
18 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals, Indians, Yankees)
54 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees)
12 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)