Results tagged ‘ Ice Cream Helmets ’

New Blue Jays Ice Cream Helmets

We just returned from the Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. We attended games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto (5/24/13), Comerica Park in Detroit (5/25-26/13), and Citi Field in New York (5/27/13). It will be a while before I have any of the blog entries up so I thought I’d share a little two photo teaser.

In 2009, we attended our first game ever at Rogers Centre and the ice cream helmets were decent, but nothing to write home about:

In 2013, the Blue Jays re-designed their uniforms with a retro Jays feel. Along with their fancy new duds came some great-looking new ice cream helmets:

Now there’s a helmet you can write home about. Heck, you can bring this helmet home to meet your parents!

Good job, Jays.

 

You can check out our entire MLB ice cream helmet collection at the Cook & Son Baseball Museum.

Two Nights At A Ballpark In Philadelphia (9/8 & 9/9/12)

This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia.  Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.

The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks.  But the boys and I had Phillies tickets.  The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.

We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m.  Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.

We made it to the LF gate…

…in plenty of time.  In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35.  We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.

Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports.  But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule.  They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game.  But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.

The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining.  Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.

The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…

…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast).  Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.

Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too.  That concerned the Phillies too.

When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:

No BP.  Sad.

But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch.  There was only a small gathering of fans out there.  I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd.  There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.

See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?

Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys.  We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP.  To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium.  Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain.  But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.

Thanks, Carlos!  And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!

Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend.  I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening.  So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…

…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt?  Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear.  She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).

Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:

And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:

I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear.  But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Edgmer!

Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone.  One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:

Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout.  There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us.  And that means that Harrison got snubbed.  Sorry, Harrison!

Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:

I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too.  They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.

Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…

…toward the RF seats.

The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens.  That’s where we met up again with Harrison:

I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen.  In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence.  When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.

But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…

…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen.  It was right behind the home plates .  It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.

Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.

Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had  thrown?  Well, it was still there.  There was no one on the field.  We just sat around chatting awhile.

Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track.  When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball.  The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:

It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison.  I was happy for him.

But then Harrison started walking closer to RF.  “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.

See the girl in the red shirt above?  That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF.  Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball.  I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.

But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row.  And guess who got it in the scramble?

Not Harrison.  Darn.

So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen.  Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan.  Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:

That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food.  It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined.  Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.

It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF.  The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102.  It was raining.  We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…

…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation.  This is what was happening on the field:

It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.

When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:

We just kept sitting and chatting.  The stadium started filling up a lot more.  Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…

…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing.  Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.

We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:

I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her.  It was pretty hilarious.  Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.

At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:

They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp.   I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast.  Kellan was ready for some Major League action:

When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen.  It was like a chess match with the young girl.  It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:

It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it.  A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.

The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field.  The Phillies never made any announcements.  Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.

Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night.  They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night.  Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:

When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store.  On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…

… and a panorama from the back of the section:

The boys had fun playing around in the team store:

I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff.  And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:

It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time.  We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours.  Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain.  It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.

The boys and I started to head toward the exits.  As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen.  I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night.  But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most.  By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:

I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway.  As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed.  We hung out for a minute.  And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:

We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more.  After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked?  That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.

We waved him down and…

…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.

Holy cow.  I couldn’t believe it.

The ball was SOAK and HEAVY.  Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:

And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below.  I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy.  He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.

Wow.

Thanks, guy!

By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.

And with that, we called it a night.  On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.”  Tim was all for it.  We didn’t have any other plans.

So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.

There was a 1 o’clock game.  Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.

We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work.  But it was completely different with Phillies.  I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats.  I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield.  They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office.  So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.

Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking.  When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits.  Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:

It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.

We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103.  I was pretty excited about that.  We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.

We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened.  Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.

We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:

They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:

But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.

When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:

Check out all of the activity on the field:

So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:

Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!

Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…

…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.

When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim.  Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…

…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands.  Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.

Double thanks, Jesus!

We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…

…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.

Then we played a few games…

…and collected a few game stamps.

We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:

Check out our AWESOME front for seats:

The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own.  So we were packed in like sardines down there.

But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:

Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet.  I very seldom agree, but I did at this game.  And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:

Those pictures don’t do it justice.  Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream.  While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.

The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd.  Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs.  I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:

I did, however, get an action show of Tim:

Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:

The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning.  The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:

Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double.  Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.

Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:

There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…

…and be right on top of the action.

While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence.  This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:

Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back.  Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles.  The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF.  Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…

…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies.  Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom

Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place.  We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks.  But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game.  So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:

Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.

After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:

If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize.  Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right.  And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.

Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…

and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:

The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty.  We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats.  It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.

Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.  That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.

Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them.  You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge).  Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.

Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:

Row 6 is only four seats across.  I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).

The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge.  The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…

…screaming through the megaphone.

A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:

It was pretty hilarious.  From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field.  The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.

The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead.  Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh.  The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B.  However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored.  He hopped to his feet and shouted:

TIM:  “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

TODD:  “No, they didn’t.  Ruiz stopped at third.”

TIM:  “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”

It was pretty hilarious.  And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case.  It was really amazing.  I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times.  AT LEAST!

At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.

And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball.  And that resulted in another cool moment.  Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob.  I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him.  But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch.  It was pretty awesome!

Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:

Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!

Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:

During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:

Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader.  So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day.  Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.

Phillies win 7-4:

As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!”  Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.

Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:

Fun times.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Hello, Safeco Field 2012! (8/13/2012)

SAAAAAAAAAAAAAFECO FIELD!  Yes!  On August 13, 2012, accompanied by my parents, Tim, Kellan and I finally made our way to Safeco Field.

We were in town to visit my folks and brother for the week and we would be taking in three Mariners games including two games against the Rays (but not Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, which occurred two days after this game while we were just across downtown Seattle at the Space Needle) and one game against the Twins.

Sadly, these would be our final Mariners games of the season.  Coming into this game, our Mariners season record was 2-1.  With one win this week, we would assure ourselves of at least a .500 Mariners record.  And with 2 or more wins, we would enjoy a *winning* Mariners season.  Whatever happened, our 2012 Mariners season would be better than our 1-8 2011 season record.  So let’s get to it!

Colleen sat this game out.  But the boys, my parents and I arrived right around 5:00 p.m., twenty minutes after the CF and “The Pen” gates opened and ten minutes before the whole stadium opened.

Tim and I hustled in from the *Kingdome* parking lot while my folks and Kellan took a more leisurely stroll to the stadium.  Tim and I headed into The Pen and grabbed a spot behind the M’s bullpen:

Oliver Perez (who is wearing No. 36 in the photo above to the left) quickly fielded a ball right in front of us and lobbed it over the bullpen right to us.  If the throw was a couple inches higher it would have hit the screen that protects the out-of-town scoreboard and fallen into the bullpen.  Luckily, it didn’t and I was able to make the easy grab.

Thanks, Oliver!

All three games at Safeco Field this season, The Pen area was way more crowded than I remember it being last season.

Shortly, we met up with my folks and Kellan and then the rest of the stadium opened.  We headed up the stairs behind the visitors’ bullpen and made our way down into the seats in foul territory.  Right when we arrived in foul territory, the Mariners hurried off the field.  It was sad.

Tim and my mom ran off to explore a bit.  Kellan and I stood…

…along the foul line waiting for the Rays to finish up their stretching and head out to the field to take BP.  My dad hung out with us too:

Eventually, James Shields and Matt Moore started playing catch down the LF line:

Kellan and I headed over to watch them.  On Shields’ first throw after we arrived, Matt Moore just flat out missed the ball.  He put his glove up and it just sailed right by it and into CF.  Although it was the simplest and straightest throw possible, I jokingly yelled to Shields, “That’s just nasty, James!”  He turned around and, with a smile and a shrug, made a little motion a little hand throwing motion to show he agrees that he just has filthy *stuff*

After Moore returned with the baseball, they each made about four more throws and then decided to relocate about 50 feet closer to the OF wall.  As Shields started to walk down the LF line, he looked back and saw we were still there.  He then bent down and grabbed that baseball that you can see sitting on the ground in the last picture and tossed it to us.

Thanks, James!

By the way, if you go see the Rays and attend BP, keep an eye on James Shields.  He’s a guy who knows how to have fun during BP.  Many teams have a *fun* pitcher like him and, in fact, the Rays have two (Shields and David Price).  Shields interacts with fans and runs around like crazy trying to make highlight reel catches.  Last season at Camden Yards, we saw Shields make a great catch to pick off a would-be BP homerun into the Orioles bullpen.

Anyway, Kellan and I headed back down the LF line toward the dugout just to see what was going on over there.  As we made it to the dugout, Desmond Jennings (shown here getting ready to take his hacks in the cage)…

…ran in from the field and tossed a baseball to us on his way toward the dugout.

Thanks, Desmond!

Next, something bizarre happened:

Tim and my mom were sitting about 30 rows up just past third base.  Kellan and I stopped by to chat and see what they’d been up to and then we started walking back out to the LF corner to meet up with my dad.  As we were cutting across a row of seats, a Mariners maintenance guy was walking up one of the aisle holding a seatback that he’d just removed from one of the seats right off the field.

As the guy passed by, I jokingly asked if we could get a souvenir Safeco Field seat back.  He stopped, looked at the seatback with a quizzical look, and then looked at me, “Well, I was just going to throw it away.  You really want it?”  Of course, I did!  He explained that he had to take it somewhere to find a match to replace it.  He said he would be back in a few minutes and would give it to me.

And there you go, our first ever souvenir seatback.

I have a HUGE backpack that I got while in school so I could carry a dangerously heavy and large compilation of text books.  I figured this seat back would fit in it.  And it almost did.  But, no, it didn’t.  Luckily, my backpack has straps that wrap around the back and clip on the opposite side.  I was able to use these straps to strap the seatback onto my backpack.

If you want to get some strange looks, walk around a MLB ballpark with a seatback (that is obviously from that stadium) strapped to your back.

After my mom took that last picture, she and Tim headed off to the kids play area.  On their way, they ran into the loveable Mariners Moose:

Last season, my folks and Tim determined that he wouldn’t be able to play in the play area this season because he would be too tall.  There is a little sign that says you must be under a certain height to play in the play area.  Anyway, he was taller than the max height now, but they didn’t question it.  He played until his heart was content.

Meanwhile, Kellan and I hung out with my dad down the LF line.  When we met up with him, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi out-of-the-blue walked up and handed Kellan this baseball:

That is Cursi pictured just above this baseball.  This was our third time seeing the Rays play this season and our third baseball from Cursi – one per game.

Thanks, Scott!

That was all of the action down the LF line.  We hung out and I took some cute pictures like this:

I kept hoping someone would hit a foul ball into the stands that my dad could catch, but no one hit a single ball into the stands while we were over there.

Eventually, my dad decided to head out to the play area to see Tim and my mom.  A few minutes later Kellan and I followed him over there.  But before heading into the play area, we checked out the action in CF and I got an awesome picture of Kellan just chilling:

Then it was off to the play area for some playing:

After a whole bunch of playing, we left the play area and the boys tossed some coins into the little fountain:

And then I spotted the Mariners pig:

I’m not sure why the boys look so darn serious in this picture.

We all headed down to The Pen area to watch Blake Beavan…

…warm up for the game.

Eventually, the rest of the relievers made their way out to the Mariners bullpen:

Recently, Shawn Kelley and Lucas Luetge have been joking with each other a lot on Twitter.  A day or two before this game a new Twitter account had popped up called “@Luetgeshair” that was providing tweets directly from Lucas Luetge’s hair.  I had a feeling that Kelley was the mastermind behind @Luetgeshair.

So when Kelley (as well as Stephen Pryor and Josh Kinney) signed the Scott Cursi baseball for Tim…

…, I mentioned @Luetgeshair to Kelley.  I asked him if he knew who was behind @Luetgeshair and suggested that I assume it was him.  He chuckled and gave a *whaaat…who….meeee?* response that pretty sealed the deal…yep, I’m pretty darn certain that Kelley is @Luetgeshair.

I told Kelley that I was going to send a picture to @Luetgeshair.  He was all for it.  And here it is:

…and here it is, here.

Beavan doesn’t have a great record, but I see good things coming from him.  He’s had a good bunch of solid outings.  We watched him warm up a bit more once he moved to the bullpen:

And then it was both game and dinner time:

Kellan did have his own seat and it was actually pretty packed in RF, at least down in the lower seats, so Kellan spent a lot of the game on my lap.  So I spent a lot of time taking picture of him, like this one featuring a cheesy mess on his face:

But Kellan was a bit restless, so I also spent a decent amount of time following him around exploring the concourses:

Here’s hands down cutest picture from Kellan’s time sitting on my lap during this game:

As for the game itself, everything went smoothly for Beavan in the first two innings.  But then came the third inning.  The Rays exploded for five hits and four runs and the half inning seemed to last forever.  The major damage was done on a 2-run LF upper deck jack by B.J. Upton.  The other two runs were scored on a single by Desmond Jennings and a double by Ben Zobrist.

Other than the tough fourth inning, Beavan settled down and pitched sixth other solid innings.  The big problem is that the Mariners were doing nothing at the plate.

Anyway, we were in section 109, row 32, seats 1-4.  I was holding Kellan in seat 1 and there just wasn’t enough room.  So at one point, I moved back about five rows and sat in the first seat directly across the aisle.  This resulted in Kellan walking-and-down the step…

…over and over again to see me for two seconds and then see grandma and grandpa for two seconds.  Eventually both boys spent some time up there with me.  And I got this shot of Tim showing off his new autographed baseball:

But Kellan still wanted to roam so we headed over to the Dave Niehaus statue for a picture:

We miss you, Dave!

Next, we headed over to the CF SRO by the end of the Mariners bullpen.  Right when we walked up an usher gave Kellan a Mike Jackson baseball card…

…and a minute later another usher gave Tim a Mariners Moose card.  Getting cards at the ballpark is always fun.

We grabbed the only open spot on the SRO counter behind the bullpens:

The spot was open because the barrier between the Mariners’ and visitors’ bullpens completely blocks the view of the infield.

Soon the end spot opened up at the other end of the Mariners bullpen.  It was the bottom of the fifth inning and this was our view as Trayvon Robinson led off the inning with a triple:

Eric Thames followed Robinson with a RBI single.  Hooray!  The Mariners were on the board!  The score was 4-1 in favor of the Rays.

Mariners rookie reliever Carter Capps started warming up.  Here’s a comparative view of my view from above the counter…

…and Kellan’s from below the counter.

At one point, Kellan noticed a big “Classic Mariners” picture of Norm Charlton and he ran over to pose with it:

Jamie Moyer was right next to Norm and, you know, he is the winningest Mariners pitcher of all-time and an all-around great guy, so I had Kellan post with his “Classic Mariners” picture too.

It was already getting late in the game and the boys hadn’t had any ice cream!  So we headed back to our seats to meet up with Tim and my folks.  There is an ice cream place in the concourse right by section 109 so we got ice cream on our way back.

I knew that Tim would want chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  And I knew that the lady would give scoop a HUGE helmet full of ice cream so I decided to just get one for the boys to share.  It worked out just fine with Tim did eating most of it:

Late in the game, I took the following panorama from our seats in section 109, row 32:

And then all of us headed over toward the 3B dugout.  We’ve only ever got one umpire baseball at Safeco Field.  There seemed to be some open seats around the umpires’ tunnel so we decided to give it a go.

We watched Shawn Kelley give up a single and then strike out the side in the top of the ninth:

Before the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim, Kellan and I headed down to section 136, row 18:

For some reason, my folks stayed in some seats by the concourse.  Kyle Seager led off the bottom of the ninth with a single.  With Seager waiting on first base, we had a great view of John Jaso as he and the rest of the Mariners tried to mount a ninth-inning comeback:

This was the third time we’d seen the Rays play in 2012 and they had lost the both of the previous games on walk-off homeruns by the hometeam (Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the Red Sox and Jim Thome for the Phillies) so I had high hopes in the bottom of the ninth.

But it wasn’t meant to be.  Jaso struck out, Jesus Montero grounded out, and then Trayvon Robins stuck out to end the game.

Getting an umpire ball also was not meant to be.

But, hey, a great post game family photo was mean to be:

And then we headed toward the gates:

On our walk to the car, we discussed how hilarious it was that during the whole game not a single Mariners employee stopped to ask me why I had a Safeco Field seatback strapped to my backpack.

Well, despite the loss, it was a great night and great to be back at Safeco Field sharing some quality time with family and the Mariners.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

18/16 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
27 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 1, Phillies   2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
99 Baseballs – Mariners 16, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 8, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
11/10 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park7/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose, Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

 

A Scorcher In The Nation’s Capital (7/7/2012)

After much internal debate about where to go and what to do, we eventually decided to head to Nationals Park on July 7, 2012, to see the Rockies take on the Nationals.   I had originally planned to take the boys to Cleveland with my buddy Greg.  But it ended up looking like that plan couldn’t happen.  Then Garrett Meyer gave a tip about how to get some free tickets to a Nationals game, so I picked this game so we could see Jamie Moyer.   Unfortunately, the Rockies designated Moyer for assignment long before this game happened and he is now toiling away in the Minor Leagues for the Blue Jays.

But, anyway, we had free tickets to the Rockies vs. Nationals.  And since he had originally planned to join us this weekend in Cleveland, our buddy Greg decided to join us in DC.

I was confused about what would be happening before this game.  It was listed as “photo day” on the Nationals’ promotional schedule.  It explained that the stadium would open 3.5 hours early (12:30 p.m.) and fans could go on the warning track in the outfield to get pictures with the Nationals between 1:30 and 2:45.  The game wasn’t scheduled to start until 4:05 so I was confused if BP was going to take place during the photo day festivities.  I asked Jeremy Guthrie about it on twitter, and he mentioned that BP was scheduled to take place on the field but he wasn’t sure how it would really play out.

When we arrived at the ballpark at 1:00 p.m., there were already some fans on the field.  The field was not set up for BP and I was thinking, “Wow, 2:45 to 4:05 is a long time between the end of photo day and beginning of the game if there is no BP!”

Wouldn’t you know, Jeremy Guthrie was standing in shallow LF right where we entered the field.  I called out to him and asked if they were going to take BP.

Nope.

Oh, well.  What can you do?  Make the best if it!

Guthrie was standing there with a baseball waiting for his partner to come play catch.  I told him that I’d play catch with him since he didn’t have a partner.

“Sure, I’ll play catch with you was his response.”  Greg snapped this picture…

…on his phone while Guthrie and I played catch until his partner arrived on the scene.  It didn’t last very long.  But it was my first time playing catch with a Major Leaguer and it was pretty darn cool.

Thanks, Jeremy!

By the way, Jeremy’s last throw to me was a pretty decent knuckleball.  I told him the best I could do was a pretty weak split-finger gripped knuckleball.  I let it fly and Guthrie got a good chuckle at my attempted knuckler.

After playing catch with Guthrie, I got a picture of Greg and the boys on the warning track:

I was hoping that Guthrie would toss us the baseball we played catch with after he finished throwing with his partner.  But he ended up playing catch with two different kids at the same time (using two different baseballs) and gave both baseballs to the kids.  But we did get a nice consolation prize, a picture with Guthrie:

I think that picture turned out to be pretty hilarious for a couple reasons.  First, Kellan has his back to the camera and Greg is starting to walk into the picture to get Kellan to turn around.  I take so many pictures that I don’t strive for perfection.  Kellan often times doesn’t look at the camera and I don’t really like to waste a Major Leaguer’s time trying to get Kellan to turn around if he doesn’t do it on his own.  Second, Tim is looking off camera at a girl who tried to get into our picture.  It was pretty funny.  Guthrie was clearly trying to get a picture with us, but this gal walked right up and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Guthrie.  When she turned and looked at a guy holding a camera, Guthrie politely explained that he would get a picture with her after he posed for our picture.  So she walked away, but Tim was still looking at her when I snapped the picture.  So sometimes a less perfect picture tells a better story and helps us remember exactly what was happening when we took the picture.

I should mention that Mateo Fischer met up with us when we were watching Guthrie warm up.

After getting the picture with Guthrie, we all decided to head out into the outfield.  We stopped at the LF foul pole and got a picture of Tim and Greg with the “336” signs:

Greg took a picture of me and the boys in front of the visitors’ bullpen in LF:

For good measure, I got a picture of Greg leaning against the wall by the “377” sign as Kellan wandered off toward CF:

We all caught up to Kellan and I got this picture of our little group:

Have you noticed in all of these pictures that Tim is holding a bright yellow squirt bottle?  He’s holding the squirt bottle because it was supposed to be (and was) 100+ degrees at this game.  I generally do not acknowledge or pay any attention to the weather, at least to future weather.  So when my wife kept mentioning during the week that it was supposed to be really hot at this game, I didn’t pay it much mind.  But the night before the game, we went to the store and bought Tim a squirt bottle to help us all keep cool.

We weren’t the only ones prepared with a water squirter.  As we walked by the opening in the CF wall where they store the batting cage and other stuff, an usher-type-guy told us there was a cooling station back there through the opening in the wall.

We were all for exploring this uncharted territory at Nationals Park.  So we headed into the store area…

…and found a some spare grass for replacing damaged grass on the field, a big pile of extra warning track dirt, a garage full of various types of equipment, and a couple fans blowing water on us fans:

Oh, yeah.  We also found a random brick behind the LF wall that the “Carolina Green Corp” built Nationals Park in 2007.

We ended up spending a lot of time in this shady area.  We kept coming back again-and-again to hide in the shade and take advantage of the mist-blowing fans.

But after our first visit to the cooling station, we continued on our way toward the RF foul pole.  The RF wall at Nationals Park features a large out of town scoreboard that we got to check out up-close-and-personal:

The Mariners’ position in the A.L. West cellar meant they were low enough on the wall that we could get our picture with our team:

I’ve noticed if I take two consecutive pictures, often times, Tim will look at the camera in one and Kellan will look at the camera in the other.  Here is a great example of the this phenomenon by the Nationals’ bullpen:

After we made it to the RF foul line, we headed up into the seats.  We found a shady spot in the second-to-last row where Tim could unload his water squirter in Greg’s face…

…and we could do some in-stadium birding.

When we made it up into the stands, the Nationals really started circling the ballpark in earnest.  Two players would come out at a time and begin a big lap around.  Mateo ran back down to the field before the rest of us.  We watched on from above as love-him-or-hate-him rookie, Bryce Harper…

…made his way down the RF foul line sporting a clown shirt.  Oh, by the way, now-a-days everyone who is originally elected to the all-star game bags out on it on some feigned injury or whatnot and is then replaced by a far less deserving player.  On this date, Bryce Harper (and his 62-games of MLB experience) was named to the NL All-Star team.

After cooling off in the shady seats for a while, we headed back down to the field.  We all headed out to CF and split time between the cooling station and the warning track.

Tim shook hands with and even got to spray several big leaguers in the face.  Here he is with Craig Stammen, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler:

BTW, credit for identifying all of these Nationals (none of whom looked the slightest bit familiar to me) goes to Mateo.  Thanks!

Here is a guy I did recognize, Mr. Too-Cool-For-School (And-The-Fans), Jayson Werth:

Notice the large padding he kept of empty grass between himself and the fans.  In that picture to the left, he was saying something to Tim along the lines of, “Oh, no thanks, spray yourself!”

A few Nats were standoffish like Werth, but most were very cool.  Here are a couple more of the cool variety – Henry Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel and Adam LaRoche:

Ankiel was one of the few I recognized and the only one with whom I shook hands.  LaRoche received a multiple-squirt facial attack from Tim.  I should note that Tim only squirted the players who specifically asked to be squirted.  I think there were four such players in total.

After a while I pointed out the indoor restaurant at the Red Porch to Greg and said, “Do you want to go in there and see if they have air conditioning going?  He pounced at the suggestion so we started heading over to the LF line to exit the field.

On our way, we met Terrance…

…who I personally believe is the No. 1 hype-guy in all of MLB.  I’ve seen Terrance working at Nationals games for years and the dude goes all full-force in and all-out attempt to rally the troops.

After this picture, he turned to Tim and asked, “IS YOUR NATITUDE IGNITED!”

Tim, showing an utter lack of Natitude, was like, “Whaaaat?”

And then Terrance noted that Tim most be too full of Marinertude to ignite any Natittude.  It was a keen observation.

Once we reached the concourse I noticed something that was just calling out for a picture:

Tim is acting like the Nats pig is a sweaty Nats player and his cooling him off with a blast of water to the eyes.

On our way to the Red Porch, Greg stopped to buy some food.  Mateo, the boys and I went ahead and found that the Red Porch restaurant was packed to the rafters.  There was no chance to get inside.  But there were a bunch of couches behind the restaurant that were all in the shade.  So we grabbed one…

…and waited for Greg.

Once Greg arrived, I put him in charge of the boys (including, to Tim’s great delight, Mateo), and headed off to grab some nachos.  But a funny thing happened on the way to get our food.  All of the fans were off the field by this point, and I noticed that a couple Rockies pitchers were coming out to warm up down the LF line.

We had been inside the ballpark for about two hours and had zero baseballs to show for it.  Kellan has NEVER been to a game without getting at least one baseball and I really wanted to keep that streak alive for him (btw, this was his 22nd game of his life). Instead of going to get the food, I headed back to the Red Porch and without saying a word to anyone (wink, wink…Mateo), I grabbed my backpack and Kellan and headed back to the LF line.

Three groups of Rockies pictures were playing catch and Drew Pomeranz was signing autographs at the corner spot.  Kellan and I walked down by Pomeranz but stayed about 10 feet from the group of autograph seekers.

When he finished signing and started walking off, I called out, “Hey, Drew.”  He hadn’t even started to warm up yet and he clearly thought I was going to ask for one more autograph.  Instead I asked him, “Hey, when you finish warming up, is there any chance you could toss your warm up ball over for this little guy?”  Pomeranz responded with a non-committal but encouraging-toned, “Possibly.”  He then ran over to the bullpen and started doing arm exercises with some stretchy bands.

Meanwhile, the first group of Rockies pitchers finished playing catch.  Rex Brothers was on the CF side of the pair and he ended up holding the ball.  He spotted us in the first row behind his partner (Josh Roenicke) and tossed the ball right to us.

Yes!

Thanks, Rex!

Kellan and I immediately bolted of the there and headed for the nacho stand.  On the way, I snapped this picture…

…and texted it to Mateo.

When Kellan and I reached the couches at the Red Porch, I was not surprised at all to find that Mateo was long gone.  Greg reported that he high-tailed it out of there the second he received my text.

Let me tell you, those nachos were delicious:

We had a great time eating, high fiving and squirting water all around in the shade.

But when we finished our nachos, we were all running low on water.  We had 3-4 20 ounce water bottles and we must have filled each of them up 10-15 times throughout the day.  We were constantly drinking water or having me pour it all over the boys’ heads.  Anyway, with our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.

Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains.  I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.

Wouldn’t you know, Mateo was down there watching the onlwith our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.

Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains.  I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.

Mateo was down there watching the only remaining Rockies pitcher playing catch.  And wouldn’t you know, it was Drew Pomeranz and he was just about to finish his warm-ups.  Like Brothers, Pomeranz was on the CF side of his partner.  When he finished playing catch, he looked up, spotted  us, and tossed us the baseball.  Thereby turning his prior “possibly” into a “sure thing!”  It all looked sort of like this:

Thanks, Drew!

Kellan and I again immediately took off for the concourse.  Greg, who has never got a baseball at a game before (but hopefully will by the time this season is over!), was amazed when we showed up at the water fountain with a second baseball in hand.

As we finished topping off our water bottles, we spotted some Presidential looking fellas in the concourse.  We headed over there and Tim and Greg got pictures with George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt:

After 45 seconds in the sun with the Presidents, we headed back to the shade:

Eventually, Tim ran down to the front row to hang out with Mateo:

See the guy in the red Nationals jersey out in CF in that last picture.  That was Nationals coach Jim Lett.  I pointed him out to Greg and told him that Lett would most likely throw us a baseball by the time this game concluded.

Once the final Rockies pitcher left, we decided it was time to visit the air conditioned team store…

…it felt like pure heaven in there.  We came back later for more.

It was game time.  We had some great seats in section 135 down the 1B line. But it was way to sunny and hot in the seats.  So we headed over to section 137 and hung out in the shady seats toward the back of the section.  This was our view for the first several innings:

Immediately before the first inning started, Kellan and I walked over to the railing looking down into the Nationals bullpen.  There was only one player in there and he grabbed some stuff…

…and headed out the big door way that you can see in the bottom right corner of that last picture.  I think all of the Nats relieves were hiding out back there.  Who knows.  Maybe they were in the dugout and only planned to come out to the bullpen if needed in the game.

Anyway, there was only one guy left and it was the aforementioned Jim Lett.  He was out in RF playing catch with right fielder (and former Mariner) Mike Morse.  When he and Morse finished, Lett collected the LF-CF warm up ball (used by Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore), and then he tossed us one of those baseballs (not sure which warm up ball it was) as we stood right behind the RF foul pole.

Thanks, Jim!

The Nationals had 2012 All-Star Gio Gonzalez on the hill:

He pitched a very solid game.

My cellphone told me that it was mighty hot and was gonna stay that way all night:

Even though the boys really aren’t fans of the heat, they did great and had a lot of fun in the shade with the water squirter:

When Bryce Harper came to the plate in the bottom of the first, my camera and I were all set to see what all of the hype is about.  Instead, the young phenom strike out looking on a pitch he clearly thought was a ball, hang there hanging his head for a good 5 seconds without moving, and then do a world class pouty, slouchy walk…

…back to the dugout.  So, yeah, in our first Bryce Harper at bat, Harper demonstrated his youth much more than his All-Star caliber skills.

The first scoring of the game came in the bottom of the second inning when Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to RF.

And we just kept having fun…

…playing and squirting water every which-a-way in the shady seats.  In those last pictures, Kellan is smiling at laughing at Greg who was making faces and what-not to entertain Kellan.

Harper’s second at bat came in the bottom of the third inning and resulted in a groundout:

Greg bought a big all-you-can-eat popcorn.  Tim requested a picture posing with “the smallest piece of popcorn” of all time:

Eventually, we decided to relocate to the 3B line, which was completely shaded.  On our way, we stopped off once again at the air conditioned team store:

When we left the team store, we decided to head to the upper deck instead of going to the 3B side.  Greg had been to Nationals Park once before, but had never visited the upper deck.  I old him it featured a nice view of the Capitol building.  And I wasn’t lying:

After Tim and Greg got a picture behind home plate…

…, we grabbed some ice cream and reported to the seats at the top of section 408:

On our walk up the section 408 stairs, I almost had an ugly spill.  I was holding Kellan in my left arm, and his ice cream helmet in my right hand.  As I ascended the stairs, I kicked the stair and tripped.  Kellan’s ice cream helmet went flying.  I started to fall and drop Kellan, but then I caught myself and Kellan on the way down.  It wasn’t pretty and probably scared the pants off of Kellan.  Luckily, the little guy escaped the incident unscathed.

Hopefully that is my last time I ever trip while holding one of my boys!

Anyway, I should mention that the Rockies scored a run in the top of the fourth inning to tie up the game at 1-1.

While Kellan enjoyed his ice cream helmet, Tim enjoyed his very first ICE CREAM GLOVE!

Check that thing out!  I’ve never seen one of those before.  It is a little left handed catcher’s glove designed to receive a generous portion of your favorite frozen refreshment.   The only knock of I on the ice cream glove is that didn’t have a Nationals logo or anything to show that we got it at Nationals Park.

Despite the single run for the Rockies in the fourth, Gio Gonzalez was still pitching quite effectively:

Kellan had a whole lot of chocolate left on him after he finished his ice cream:

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Nats took control of the game thanks to some horrendous play by the Rockies.  Danny Espinosa led off the inning with a double.  Harper followed with a single on this swing:

Harper demonstrated some terrible baserunning.  He tried to take second and should have been thrown out.  Instead, he headed back to first.  The Rockies should have thrown him out, but no one covered first.  Although no error was given on the play, we’ll call that a mental error by the Rockies because they failed to take advantage of Harper’s bad baserunning.

Ryan Zimmerman followed Harper with an RBI single:

With Harper on first, new Rockies pitcher Josh Roenicke threw a pitch in the dirt.  Zimmerman advanced to second on the play.  He was going to make second easily.  There was absolutely no way he was going to be thrown out.  But when Zimmerman was about ten feet from second base, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario made a horrible decision to throw to second.  Rushing the throw, he air mailed the ball into CF allowing Harper to trot home for the second Nats run of the inning.

While all of this was happening, we were sitting maybe four rows from the top of the stadium.  I told Greg that he would be able to see the Washington Monument if he went up to the top row.  He headed up there and reported he couldn’t see it.  I was like, “What?  Are you blind?  Its right over there…”

Oops…that’s a new building over there and it completely blocks what used to be a view of the Washington Monument.  Too bad.

A few minute later, Ian Desmond grounded into a fielder’s choice:

With two outs and runners on 1B and 3B, Roenicke tried to pick Ian Desmond off of 1B.  Instead, he tossed the ball into the 1B dugout.  Zimmerman trotted home on the play with the third run of the inning.

That made the score 4-1 Nationals.  That score would hold up for the rest of the game.

After the lengthy bottom of the sixth inning, we relocated to some shady seats down the 3B line, all the way out by the LF foul pole.  Here was our view from the back of section 108:

We could see Terrance doing his thing in the first row:

The highlight of the rest of the game was this Bryce Harper ground out:

Or, wait…no, the highlight was hanging out with my boys (and Greg)…

…and continuing to douse them with bottle after bottle of water from the trusty water fountain.

In the top of the ninth, the “Giambino” (one of my least favorite baseball nicknames) strikeout:

The Rockies just couldn’t get anything going.  One batter later, the game was over…

…and Screech the Eagle was climbing up on his perch to wave the “W” flag as the Nats ignited the crowd’s Natitude (but nore ours).

On our way out of the stadium, a nice guy took our picture in the LF concourse:

For his payment for taking that picture, Tim was required to squirt him in the face with his water squirter.

And there you go.  Another fun day at the ballpark.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

14/12 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 1
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
78 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 2, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 4 – Orioles vs. Royals (5/16/12)

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, we woke up for the last time in our St. Louis area Caboose and hit the road for Kansas City.  The drive to KC was pretty easy, just a few hours. Nothing like our 550+ mile trek from Minneapolis to St. Louis.

However, we had put the wrong address in our GPS, which resulted in us driving right by our hotel (literally right by it, it was right off Exhibit 18 on I-70), right by Kauffman Stadium…

…and all the way into one of the least desirable sections of Kansas City.  After figuring out our mistake and backtracking 20 minutes, we found our hotel and just rested in our room for several hours.  But our hotel time, I reconnected by phone with Royals season-ticket holder and myGameBalls.com member Garrett Meyer.  We’d met Garrett last season at Ballhawkfest.  Garrett knew we’d be at this game.  After catching up a bit, Garrett and I discussed gate times and the Royals “early-bird” tour.

After discussing it with my dad, we opted to meet up with Garrett and do the early bird tour, which gets you into the Royals…

…Hall of Fame (where we saw some cool stuff like this…

…) and then it gets you into BP way before the rest of the public.

Besides getting in early, the normal BP people have to stay in the outfield for a while once they are let into the stadium.  Meanwhile, the early bird tour people stay on the infield, behind the dugouts.  We set up shop behind the Orioles’ visitors’ dugout on the 3B line:

It was beautiful.  Our view looked like this:

At the beginning, Garrett was on the Royals side (where the Royals pitchers were warming up).  A bunch of fans wearing Orioles gear were on our side and they all seemed to be either autograph collectors or folks who just wanted some extra time to see the Orioles.  No one seemed to have any interest in getting a baseball tossed to them.  Also, if foul balls are hit into the stands down the foul lines, the usher will let you run down and grab it.  It was a crying shame that ZERO baseballs were hit into the foul seats (which is amazing).

Anyway, while the Royals were taking BP, several infields took grounders at SS and 3B.  The first group of infields included Alcides Escobar…

…and the second group included former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt.  Both the tossed stray BP balls to us on their way off the field.

Thanks, Alcides and Yuni!

A few Orioles were hanging around in the bullpen below us.  Since people were asking for autographs, I asked Tim if he wanted to get one of our new baseballs signed.  He did.  Dana Eveland was happy to oblige Tim’s request:

During much of BP, Tim played with ants that were crawling out of a little hole in the cement…

…and Kellan just walked up and down the rows like walking was going out of style.

At some point, Garrett came over to the 3B dugout.  I hadn’t even seen him yet when I noticed an Orioles coach standing by the Orioles BP ball bin start tossing balls out in the crowd.  He must have thrown 6-7 baseballs in a row.

Moments later, Garrett walked over to me and Kellan and said, “That Orioles coach is tossing a Camden Yards Commemorative to anyone who asks for one!

Kellan and I high tailed it down there.  He was no longer throwing baseballs, but was still standing at the ball bin.  I called out to him and when he looked up I was happy to see the face of former-Mariner Jim Presley looking back at me.

I asked for a OPACY commemorative ball, he dug around in the bin until he found one (I saw it too), and then he tossed *a baseball* to us:

(Photo taken after the game started)

I was thrilled!  I shouted out a big:

Thanks, Jim!

And then Garrett whispered to me, “it is not commemorative!”  He could see in my glove as I thanked Presley and saw the MLB logo on the ball he’d thrown.  I was utterly confused because I *saw* Presley grab a commemorative baseball and throw it to me.  Or at least I thought I did.

Garrett and I exchanged puzzled looks.  And then I got bold.  I called out to Jim again and asked (paragraphing), “Hey, Jim.  I don’t mean to be annoying, but is there any way I could trade this baseball for one of the Camden Yards baseballs?”  He looked up at me with a confused look and asked, “That one wasn’t one!?”

Nope.

I tossed it back to him.  He put it back in the bin and he tossed me a pearl of a Camden Yards commemorative baseball.

Thanks again, Jim!

Presley then walked away from the bin.  My dad and Tim had not heard or seen what was going on.  When Garrett, Kellan and I went back down toward the OF end of the dugout, I told my dad that he and Tim should give it a shot if Presley wandered back over to the bucket.

Well, wouldn’t you know, he did…

…and they did, and he hooked them up to!

Sweet!

Quadruple thanks, Jim Presley!

It was our first Camden Yards baseballs and my dad’s first baseball of the trip.  So it was a very special interaction with a first class former Mariner.

Moments after Tim and my dad returned with their Camden Yards baseballs, an Orioles fan was getting an autograph from Brian Roberts at the camera well at the end of the dugout.

Tim and I swooped in and capitalized big time:

In one fell swoop, we accomplished three things: (i) Tim got Roberts to sign his new Camden Yards baseball, (ii) he got his picture with Roberts (first ever picture  with an Oriole!), and (iii) Roberts held the baseball and gave a thumbs-up in the picture so it qualified for five points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Thanks, Brian!

Tim was in a thumbs-up mood.  So he got a thumbs-up picture with Garrett too:

While the Orioles pitchers warmed up down the LF line (where we could only go if a foul was hit into the stands), three set of Orioles position players played catch right in front of us at the dugout.  When the final group was finished, Chris Davis tossed us his warm up baseball before walking back into the dugout.

Earlier in BP, my dad and I had a little bit of discussion with former-Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair.  Tim and I have had several nice discussions with Adair at Camden Yards since he joined the Orioles’ coaching staff.

Well, after all of the Orioles pitchers had warmed up down the LF line, I saw Rick down the line chatting with an O’s pitcher and tossing a baseball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand.  He was probably 150 feet down the line.  When he finished chatting with the player, I called out, “Hey, Rick!” and I flashed him some leather.  I was hoping he would make a big long toss throw to me.

Instead, he walked toward us.  He was on his way to the dugout.  It was clear he was going to give us the baseball, but he wasn’t into the long toss idea.  As he got closer, he was into Tim’s catching range, so I pointed to Tim.

Adair made a good toss, but Tim botched the catch.  It fell to his feet and he picked it up.  He’s actually botched the toss from Jim Presley too.  So he wasn’t having a gold glove day so far.  But he got the ball on his own, so it was all good.

Big thanks to Rick Adair!

Eventually, a friendly female usher who was chatting with us behind the dugout told us that the entire stadium was open so we could move around wherever we wanted to go.  My dad went to the team store to buy some baseballs (he buys a team or stadium baseball at each stadium he visits), Garrett went out into the outfield where we saw several Orioles air mail baseballs over his head, and Tim, Kellan and I headed down the LF line, but stayed in foul territory.  We took up a spot on the wall and watched BP:

Orioles pitcher Luis Ayala was running around LF wearing a huge, oversized glove.  From myGameBalls.com and other mlblogs, I know there are several guys around the country who use a “big glove” like this.  So I scanned the crowd, and soon we met Minnesota’s own Big Glove Bob:

I love that picture of Tim and BGB.  Bob has the face of a man stuck in the middle of Tim unfolding a long and overly detailed story.  I believe this particular story was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.  That was a story with which Tim regaled anyone who would listen while at Kauffman Stadium – notably, Garrett about five times or so.

Kauffman Stadium was great, but the setup of the seats down the LF line was frustrating me while we were down the line.  At some stadiums the seats in the corner are situated diagonally so the end seat in each row butts up against the fence.  In that type of row, I can block Kellan into a defined space.  But  none of the seats down the line at Kauffman Stadium butt up against the fence.  In fact, there is a huge amount of space in front of the seats.  So it was very difficult to keep Kellan near us without chasing him back and forth.

I decided we should go out to LCF so I could block in Kellan at the end of the bottom row next to the batters’ eye.  We ended up going out there for a very brief time, but the sun was right on us and it was too hot.

While we were there, Ronnie Deck and someone named “Flaherty”…

…were shagging fly balls in CF and LCF.

I placed my third or fourth call of the day to my “Orioles guy,” Avi Miller.  The call went like this:

Todd – “Hey, Avi, what is Flaherty’s first name”?

Avi – “Ryan.”

Todd – “Oh…wait, I gotta go.”

I called him back about 30 seconds later.  That call went like this:

Todd – “Ryan Flaherty just tossed us a Camden Yards commemorative.  Thanks for the assist!”

Avi – “Any time, sir.”

If you’re visiting Camden Yards or seeing the Orioles on the road, Avi is a good guy to know.   Well, he’s a good guy to know in general, I guess.

Thanks, Ryan and Avi!

That was it for BP.  Thanks for the early bird tour, we snagged 7 baseballs with almost no effort.  Not too shabby.

As we made our way toward foul territory, we stopped briefly at the bullpen.  One of the Orioles coaches was crossing the warning track grabbing stray balls.  Totally out of view, he tossed one right over me.  I didn’t see it in time to get my glove up and it sailed right into the fountain.

Doh!

While we were out in LCF, me and the boys met up with my dad and Garrett.  After BP, Garrett offered to take us to the only “Kauffman Stadium” sign in the ballpark, which is above the Royals dugout on the 1B side, so we could get a Kauffman Stadium bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Because of the Diamond Club, you cannot get from the 3B side to the 1B side on the field level without going up into the concourse.  While we were passing through the concourse, Tim and Garrett posed for a picture with the Royals pig:

There were a bunch of kids in the first row above the dugout and it was far from an ideal situation to get a picture featuring the Kauffman Stadium sign.  This was as good as we could do with Garrett’s assistance:

I took a second picture of Tim from the first row just in case the last picture came out horribly:

Then, we split off from Garrett and the boys, my dad and I headed up to the upper deck to try again from up there:

That one isn’t ideal either, but it was better.  Tim was pretending to be scared his heights while up there.  That’s why he isn’t smiling in the photo.

While up there, I also got this panorama from the front of section 420:

And then we walked the concourse a bit.  All the way down the LF line, we could see a classic spiral ramp and the KC Chiefs stadium next door:

We all headed down to the field level for the beginning of the game.  We got some great tickets on stubhub for way under face value.  This was our excellent view from section 112:

And this was the view of the first pitch of the game:

Fairly quickly after the game started, Tim wanted to go see the kids play area that I’d mentioned was behind the scoreboard in CF.  I didn’t know what all was back there, but I was up for checking it out.  On our way, we met Sluggerrr:

As passed behind the Royals Hall of Fame, we noticed that the crown on top of the scoreboard had little spikes on it.  We figured we ought to take a picture of it:

We also figured we should take some panoramas from the top of section 202 in LF:

And from down at the bottom of section 202, just above the LF fountains:

As we made our way to the play area, we ran into the Kauffmans…

…who were apparently very enthusiastic with their waving.

On the back of the scoreboard, the Royals have a big “KC” logo instead of a “Kauffman Stadium” sign:

There was one big problem with the play area:  it had too much fun stuff.  Literally, it was just too much.  Tim was really excited about it.  But I quickly realized we could end up spending the entire game there.  And I wasn’t too excited to spend our only game at Kauffman Stadium behind the scoreboard where I couldn’t see the game.

Here are two of the things we didn’t do:

On the left, that is a miniature golf course.  See how the ground is all wet in front of the mini-golf?  Well, we didn’t notice as we made the approach.  And then a huge blast of water flew straight up my pants.  I walked over a fountain set into the walkway exactly when it went off.  My shorts were completely drenched.

It was funny, but I could have lived without the comic relief.

Tim was really excited to play, but I had to limit him to the play fort thingy.  Mini-golf just takes too long!

The play area would be great if this wasn’t our first game at Kauffman Stadium.  It would be ideal for the down time between the end of batting practice and the beginning of the game.

The other non-ideal thing was that the play fort was a bit too advanced for Kellan.  So Tim played for a bit while Kellan and I just roamed around.  And I got this panorama from behind the scoreboard:

And soon enough, it was time to head back into the infield and grab some dinner:

We go the nachos and grandpa got the BBQ sandwich.  In retrospect, I wish I would have tried a BBQ sandwich too, but I missed out.

Actually, I basically just missed out on dinner because this was going to be our only game in KC and I needed to run around and see the stadium.  So the boys ate dinner with Grandpa and I took off.

I started by heading the LF corner and I got this panorama from behind section 104 – just on the CF side of the Royals bullpen:

Then I checked out the fountains…

…and the trough behind the CF wall, where a few people have jumped down to grab homerun balls.  I could see several baseballs down there.

I got this panorama from the walkway behind section 101:

Then I walked through the area behind the batters eye and below the scoreboard, and I popped out on the other side in the party porch:

I walked across the party porch and got another panorama from RF:

Behind the Orioles bullpen in RF, there is a bar thingy that I didn’t go inside…

…and I’m not sure if it is open to the public.

There are more fountains and less seating in RF than in LF.  There are also more statues in RF than in LF:

Here is one of my favorite panoramas that I got at Kauffman Stadium, from above/behind the fountains in RF (the thing on the far upper right is the bottom corner of the scoreboard):

I circled around that bar thingy and got this panorama from section 248:

Then I headed up to the 300 level (which I would naturally call the “second” level).  It seemed to be a suite and club type level, but it seemed that they let anyone walk through it.

I had a funny interaction in the suite level concourse.  I ran into a super-drunk Orioles fan who was also walking around the stadium taking pictures.  He saw me walking with my camera and thought it was hilarious.  We chatted a bit, and he had previously also lived in Pennsylvania.  He ended up taking a picture of the two of us.  I gave him a hugely over-exaggerated thumbs-up in the picture.  I imaged that the next day he probably scrolled through his pictures and scratched his head thinking, “Wow – I drank too much.  Who in the world is this guy!?”

Anyway, I got panoramas from section 321:

And another from the stairway between sections 315-316:

I noticed that this would have been the ideal spot to get our picture with the Kauffman Stadium sign:

Maybe next time!

By the way, although I never tried to walk into the Diamond Club, it seemed as if anyone could sit in any seat at Kauffman Stadium without an usher ever asking to see your ticket.

Next, I headed up to the upper deck and got a couple shots before my dad texted that Kellan was asking for me.  First, I got this panorama from section 419:

And this one from section 417:

After twirling my way down the spiral ramp, I noticed that there was a cool “Royals” sign on the exterior of the stadium:

When I got back to the seats, it was reaching twilight.  The scene in the outfield looked pretty cool with a pink water show going on in the RF fountains:

By the way, I should mention the game was 0-0 through four-and-a-half innings.  In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals finally found the plate, twice, on the strength of a Humberto Quintero single to CF.  That made it 2-0 Royals.

Soon, it was time for ice cream.  Tim, Kellan and I went in search of some ice cream helmets.  We finally found them behind 3B.  I was surprised to find that the Royals only offered vanilla soft serve.  I thought that was odd.  And it was outside of Tim’s chocolate wheelhouse.  But the Royals made up for it with a strong showing on the toppings front.  Tim got crushed Oreos and Tim got chocolate chip cookie dough topping.  And the toppings looked and tasted GREAT!

Here’s a pretty sight:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to share in much more than a single bite.  I used the ice cream time to finish my tour of the stadium.

I started by running up to the .390 Bar & Grille on the second deck.  It was a nice looking restaurant with a big sign “NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.”  Unfortunately, all but one of my pictures in their came out completely blurry. But the one that came out clear was the most important.  Here is clear was the most important.  Here is our view if you choose to dine at the .390 Bar & Grille:

Wait, I got one more good picture from the restaurant:

That’s my dad holding Kellan as he scarfs down some ice cream.  We had the first four seats in the row and Tim is off-camera eating his ice cream in seat number 4.

I left the restaurant and got this panorama from section 401:

I already had a panorama from the front of section 420, so I went for another from the back row:

As I circled behind the first base dugout, a Royal (I think it was Francouer, but I’m not certain) smoked a foul ball right to OUR seats.  I zoomed in to see if I could see if my dad got it…

…, which would have been really hard while holding Kellan.

He didn’t get it.  Actually, if you look right between the ballboy next to the “Firestone” sign and my dad and Kellan, you can see a guy (two rows in front of my dad) in a blue shirt and light colored shorts.  He is leaning forward with his hands over his head.  In his left hand, you can see him holding the foul ball.  That is darn close!

I kept moving and got this shot from the stairs between sections 425 and 427…

…this one from between sections 435 and 437…

…, and this one from the very last seat at the end of section 439:

My tour was essentially complete, but I got a couple more pictures as I made my way back to our seats.  I got this shot from section 230:

And this one admiring the big World Series trophy that is part of a sign for the Royals team store:

By this time, it was official, I was hardly spending any time at all in our seats.  And, frankly, it wasn’t going to spend much more time there.  It was very late in the game by this time.  Like the 7thor 8th inning.

Kellan had been in the seats most of the game and he was ready to move around.  Mere minutes after returning to the seats, Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle.  We ended up stopping in a huge tunnel behind section 118 (right behind 3B):

Kellan had a great time running around in this cross-aisle.  It was pretty clear that the Royals ushers didn’t care what fans did in this huge open area.  Kellan was sprinting back and forth across the big piece of cross-aisle/tunnel real estate, and all we got were “oh, that’s adorable” looks from the ushers.

After a while, Kellan decided it was time to continue his hanging from railings strength training:

The game was still tight.  In the top of the 8th, the Orioles finally got on the board on an RBI double by Nick Markakis.  That made it 2-1 Royals heading into the bottom of the 8th.

But the Royals got the run back pretty quickly.  After two quick outs, Billy Butler hit a single.  He was then replaced by pinch runner Mitch Maier.  Moments later, Maier motored around the bases and beat the tag…

…on a double by Alex Gordon.

That made it 3-1 going into the top of the ninth.

With three quick outs and the Royals could tuck the win into their back pocket.

We decided to get a closer look.  Garrett had texted and mentioned he was in the fourth row in section 118.  I noticed that the usher were not checking anyone’s tickets.  So as the teams made the offense-defense switch before the top of the ninth, Kellan headed down the stairs and met up with Garrett.

This was our view:

View nice.

Garrett was sitting with fellow myGameBalls.com member Leiming Tang.  Like the seats, Leiming was very nice too.

But you know what wasn’t nice?  The Royals’ decision to bring in Jonathan Broxton to close out the game.  Living in the Phillies’ television market, I know a thing or two about Broxton.  Well, really I only know one thing, I HAVE NEVER SEEN HIM CLOSE A GAME SUCCESSFULLY.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration, there is a chance that I have seen him do it.  But I seriously do not remember that ever happening.

Guess what?  It didn’t happen at this game.

You know, I said bringing in Broxton “wasn’t nice.”  I take that back.  I had wanted to see two games in Kansas City, but the length of the drive to Denver wouldn’t permit it.  And, frankly, I had missed a lot of this game because I was touring around the ballpark.

So I think the Royals were actually doing the nicest thing they could for me.  They extended the game, and almost let me see two games in one.

So, I guess you can tell by now, Broxton blew the save.  He blue it BIG TIME.

He coughed up the first run on a homerun by Wilson Betemit:

That made it 3-2 Royals.

He then gave up singles to Chris Davis, Xavier Avery, and J.J. Hardy.  Hardy’s single was of the RBI variety.

Tie ballgame, 3-3.  Extra innings on their way, and so was a huge dose of hitting futility (or pitching dominance).

In the top of the 10, we were happy to see 5’7” Royals pitcher Tim Collins.  Like Tim Cook, Tim Collins also sports number 55:

He sat the Orioles does in order.

After the 9th ended, Tim and my dad came down and met up with us in section 118.

Tim entertained Garrett with story after story after story.  Every fifth story, it seemed, was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.

Garrett was great.  He handled Tim’s shower of stories like a champ:

A friend of mine from New Orleans had told me a day or two before this game that a local guy named Johnny Giavutella had just been called up to the Major Leagues by the Royals.  Well, Giavutella pinch hit in the 10th inning:

He came up empty in the 10th inning, but eventually went 1-3 on the night.

We had lots of time to chat and take random photos, like these shots by my dad:

In the 13 inning, Nick Johnson hit a double for the Orioles.  For some reason, the ball was thrown out of play after the hit, and it was eventually tossed into the stands.  Johnson’s double­-ball now resides at my parents’ house!

Sluggerrr came and visited our section to keep the game entertaining (just in case the duel of the relievers wasn’t entertainment enough for some of the fans):

Heading into the 14 inning, Kellan was ready for more baseball!

In the top of the 15th inning, Adam Jones took matters into his own hands:

He hit a solo bomb to LF (way out of there) to break the 3-3 tie.

Kellan continued to clown around with Grandpa during the top of the 15th inning:

And then Tim, Kellan, and I moved into the first row with Leiming during the bottom of the 15th inning:

Actually, Tim had already been down there with Leiming and Garrett – and he had been having a blast hanging with the guys.  They were both awesome and really made Tim feel like one of the guys.

It just so happened that we were directly above the umpire’s tunnel.  Our friend (well, we don’t know him, but he’s been friendly to us in the past) Angel Hernandez was behind the plate.  We were in absolutely ideal post to get an umpire baseball.  Leiming, Tim, Kellan, and I all had our gloves ready when the final out was recorded.  (By the way, Garrett had moved to see if he could get the final out baseball – he was unsuccessful).

As we prepared for the final out, I told Tim he needed to be sure he squeezed that ball tightly if Hernandez tossed him a baseball because it would fall back down into the umpires’ tunnel if he missed it.

After the final out was recorded, Angel Hernandez walked right to us.  We all called out to him.  He then looked at me and Kellan and said, “Let’s let the little guys get one first!” and he flipped a ball to me.  He then flipped a second ball to Tim, and Tim caught it!  Success!

Finally, he tossed a third baseball to Leiming before ducking into the tunnel.

Thanks, Angel!

With these two baseballs, Angel Hernandez has now tossed us a baseball on each of the last three Cook GFS Roadtrips.

A few minutes later, we got a late night photo of four happy Cooks:

What a night!  Tim and I tied the longest game of Tim’s life, and Kellan set his new longest game record as well.

As we drove back to the hotel, I looked back, snapped this photo…

…and wished The K a good night.  It was a great one.

The next day would be a travel day.  A long one, we would be driving all the way to Denver.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

8/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
12/11 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2
42 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
6 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3
7/6 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Brian Roberts; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
4 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts

Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2011)

On September 12, 2011, Tim had a rough afternoon.  He fell on the playground at school, banged up his knee, and had to go see the school nurse:

No fun.

But don’t you worry, things were about to turn around for young Tim.  Today was his Fifth MLB Anniversary and we were about to have an awesome evening of baseball at Camden Yards.

You might have noticed that Tim had a little turtle that he has been bringing to games the last couple months.  His name is “Shelly” (yeah, he’s a boy!).  Tim got Shelly at the Baltimore Aquarium the day after Kellan’s first birthday and he loves that little turtle like crazy.

On our drive to the ballpark, Tim devised a plan revolving around Shelly:

First, he wanted Shelly to get his first baseball at the game.  Second, he wanted to get a player to sign the ball for Shelly.  I told Tim we’d do our best to achieve these goals.

The first goal would not take long.  I bought cheap (super cheap) but good (really good) tickets on stubhub, but they were not “season” tickets, and we were running late and arrived after the ballpark opened and Avi Miller was already inside the ballpark.
So we were stuck in CF-RF for about 10 minutes upon entering the ballpark.

We wandered down into section 90 to see what was happening.  A few moments later, former-Mariner Chris Jakubauskas…

…saw me put on my Mariners jersey.  Jak ended up calling to one of his Orioles teammates who had a baseball.  The teammate tossed the ball to Jak and then Jak waved and then tossed the baseball to us.

Thanks, Jak!

Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:

The last couple minutes before the rest of the ballpark opened to non-season ticket holders ticked by ever so slowly.  But finally we were permitted to make our way into RF foul territory and around home plate.  We were going to head down the foul line toward the LF foul pole.  By this time, the Rays were hitting and the Orioles had all exited the field.  As we past third base and the infield dirt, the batter hit a soft grounder that rolled to a rest in the grass behind short stop.  Rays pitcher J.P. Howell ran over from shallow CF, grabbed the ball, waved to us and made a long throw our way.

Thanks, J.P.!

Mere seconds after gloving the ball, a familiar voice came from behind us, “That’s J.P. Howell.”  It was our friend and future
Orioles Fan Hall of Famer Avi Miller.

Avi knew it was Tim’s fifth MLB anniversary.  Although he was wearing a Rays hat…

…, Avi announced that he had brought a Mariners hat in honor of Tim’s anniversary.  Very kind, Mr. Miller.

The three of us walked down the line toward the foul pole and a Rays batter hit a grounder down the line and directly to the on-field usher (Tom) who was standing directly in front of us.  Tom grabbed the ball and turned and gave it to Tim.  Big thanks, sir!

Avi headed back out into left field and Tim and I stayed put.  It was an unusually small BP crowd.  But after hanging out in foul territory for a bit, Tim wanted to head out into LF as well.

As Tim and I circled around the foul pole, a batter hit a baseball to the wall just below us.  There were really no fans anywhere around us.  When Juan Cruz walked over to retrieve the baseball, I said, “Hey, Juan.  Any chance we could get that baseball?”
Cruz looked right at us with a odd (but otherwise indescribable) expression, and then turned and walked away without saying a word.

So, we headed out to section 186.  Not too much was going on.  We chatted a bit with Matt Hersl.  We chatted a bit with Avi.  At one point, Avi asked if we knew a player’s name…

…it was Juan Cruz.  I told him that I was pretty sure it was Juan Cruz, but he’d given us a really weird look earlier so maybe I was wrong.  Hmm…maybe I’d call him the wrong name?

Nah…I looked in our little book where I record all sorts of stuff.  Yep, Juan Cruz had tossed us a baseball earlier in the season…and my list confirmed that his name was, indeed, Juan Cruz.

Eventually, someone hit a laser line drive homerun directly over our head.  I jumped for it and it probably sailed less than a foot over my glove.

Like two seconds, I heard someone yell (at us) from the field.  It was Juan Cruz!  I was utterly confused.  He was probably 2-3 sections over toward the LF foul pole.  He held up a baseball and pointed at us.  I wasn’t sure if he was looking pointing at us or someone else.  Tim was standing directly in front of me.  In fact, I had my hands on his shoulders as I looked at Cruz with a confused look on my face.  (A little backstory, I am incredibly terrible at deciphering what people with accents are saying, and Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, but for some reason it sounded like he was yelling with a thick southern accent).  He yelled
something that was completely indecipherable to me:

Cruz - “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (confused) What!?

Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (even more confused and not even sure if he was yelling at me or someone else!) “What!?”

Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (really embarrassed by this point) “What!?!?!?!?!”

Cruz – (pointing at Tim directly in front of me) “BEEEEE CAREFULLLLLL!!!!”

Ah, ha.  Finally, it all made sense — he didn’t want to hit Tim with his throw!

Todd – “Oh, okay!”

And then he threw me a strike.

Thanks (and sorry), Juan!

After the baseball from Cruz (already our fourth of the day), the main highlight of the rest of BP was that James Shields made a ridiculously awesome catch, leaping high over the wall in LCF to pick off a would-be BP homerun.

Wait, there was another highlight during BP.  Tim got his picture sitting in one of Camden Yards’ two orange seats (the one where Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 278th homerun landed), and then Shelly got his picture in the Ripken orange seat too:

Wait, again, there was still one more highlight of BP.  At one point, Tim and I were chatting with one of the Orioles regular leftfield ushers (Miss Kelly).  After attending a bunch of O’s games over the last couple years and hanging out with Avi and some of the
other LF regulars, Kelly clearly recognized us.  But I was pleasantly surprised when she actually knew Tim’s name!  “Wow,” I thought to myself, “If an usher knows us by name, I guess we are officially *quasi-Camden-Yards-regulars!”  I like it!

After the Rays cleared the field, the extremely small crowd of BP-goers cleared out of LF except for us, Avi and one or two other guys.  There were tons of BP homers strewn about the ground in the Orioles’ and Rays’ bullpens.

After a while the pitchers, catchers, and coaches headed out to the bullpens.  Former-Mariners pitching coach and current Orioles pitching coach was kind enough to toss us a baseball from the Orioles bullpen.

Thanks, Rick!

Adair also noticed our Mariners shirts and stopped to chat a bit. He asked Tim who his favorite player is (Ichiro) and his favorite pitcher (Tim faltered, but then agreed when I suggested Felix Hernandez).  I told Adair the story of my mom getting one of the Rick Adair prank t-shirts that Ken Griffey, Jr. had made during spring training in 2010.  He got a kick out of that.

After Adair left, another Orioles coach (or a guy who at least seemed to be a coach) came over and started talking to some fans and signing some autographs.  We decided to put Tim’s pre-game autograph plan into action.  It worked perfectly, and now we are proud to say that Tim’s little turtle Shelly is the proud owner of a baseball from Rick Adair bearing a personalized autograph from Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor:

Nice!  Thanks, Scott!

It was getting close to play area time.  But we hung out for a few more minutes.  Eventually, Rays coach Jim Hickey entered the visitors’ bullpen:

There were still probably three BP homers laying in the grass.  Avi asked Hickey for one and he responded, “You’re too old!”  He then turned and weakly tossed a ball in our direction.  But it didn’t clear the fence and it bounced down into the stairway that leads from the back of the bullpen down to the bullpen bathrooms.  His second toss was on the money.

Thanks, Jim!

Interesting side note, someone else later tossed the other ball (the one that Hickey failed to get over the fence) to Avi.

That was it for our field-area pre-game festivities.  We’re typically pretty good at getting 1 or 2 baseballs during BP.  But due to the incredibly small BP crowd, we amazingly came away with six baseballs!  It was pretty crazy.

Aside from a game in 2010 when we got 10 baseballs (including 7 easter eggs), we had never gotten  more than 7 at a single game.
Interestingly, we had come into this game sitting on 191 baseball since Tim’s first game.  Coming into the game, I did not even consider the possibility that we would have a chance to approach the 200-plateau at this game.  But with six baseballs in our backpack, I began to wonder.  I jokingly told Avi that *all we needed* was to get 3 baseballs during the game to hit 200.
There was still no way I thought it could happen, but in the back of my mind, I thought it would be pretty cool to do it because Tim had gotten his first baseball on September 12, 2006 and his 100th exactly one year earlier on September 12, 2010.  How cool would it be to hit 200 on September 12, 2011?  Pretty cool, was my thought.

But enough with the wild speculations, we had a play area to get to.

Tim started out by posing for (another) picture with one of the big bird bobbleheads (this time with his trusty companion, Shelly):

And then he played like a mad man:

As play areas go, Camden Yards is always a fun one.  Lots of things to do and not too crowded to have fun.

As game time approached, we grabbed a hot pile of nachos…

…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:

Actually, that view is from row four of section 10, and our seats were actually about 10-15 feet to the left in row 4 of section 12.  Anyway, the seats were awesome, and there was a constant possibility that the ballgirl would catch a foul grounder and give it to Tim.

I mean, check this out:

The ballgirl was sitting just on the other side of the guy in the blue shirt and blue hat.  She did get a grounder early and gave it to
the son of the guy in orange directly in front of Tim in that last picture.  But we didn’t stick around in these seats (we need our freedom to move around!) long enough to see if she’d eventually give Tim a foul ball.

Here’s an interesting picture:

I took it because the Orioles’ first base coach’s last name is “Kirby,” and that is also the name of our awesome black lab (interesting fact:  my wife and I met at a dog park thanks to Kirby!).  The picture is also interesting because it shows home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.  Cuzzi has given us a post-game baseball once before.  Hmm…I wondered if he might do it again.  We’ll have to wait and see.

The Rays got on the board first in this game.  In the top of the third inning, the Rays scored three runs on a 2-RBI double by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.

Despite the awesome seats and very real possibility of getting a foul ball from the ballgirl, Tim wanted to roam.  And so, we roamed.  First, we tracked down the highly accessible Orioles Bird:

Then it was time to grab a 5th Anniversary ice cream helmet.  We decided to head out to LF:

Here is a panoramic view of Camden Yards from our very, temporary seats in section 80:

When Evan Longoria stepped to the plate, I sent Avi a less than prophetic text declaring that I was about to catch Evan Longoria’s homerun (note:  Avi, in fact, caught Evan’s first homer of the 2011 season).  In reply, Avi mentioned that he was sitting a couple sections to our left; over by the bullpens.  So, after Longoria failed to hit a homerun to me, we relocated to section 86, where Avi delivered on his promise to wear a Mariners cap in honor of Tim’s 5th MLB anniversary:

Over the next several innings, we sat in a lot of different seats in section 86, but here is just one of our short-time views of the ballpark from section 86:

We spent a lot of time during the game hanging out by the Rays bullpen.

Right below us during a big portion of the game, was Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi:

That hyper-crazy look on Tim’s face was induced by a three-pronged attack on his senses – chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce!  Only on his MLB anniversary!

I had no clue what Cursi’s name was, but Avi did and he passed on the info to me and Tim.  Had it stuck in my brain a little better, it
might have paid off in a big way.  In the bottom of the sixth inning (with the O’s trailing 4-1), Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hit a homerun that was hearing almost right to us.  But it was a tiny bit to our left (toward centerfield) and not quite far enough to reach us.  The homerun landed in the Orioles bullpen, bounced over the wall into the Rays bullpen, and right to Scott Cursi.  We were literally the closest people to Cursi at the time.  I wanted to ask him to toss the homerun ball up to us, but “Scott” just couldn’t get off of my tongue.  Before I could recall his name, he rolled the ball back toward the bullpen bench.  It rolled past the bullpen and to a police officer stationed at the other side of the bullpen.  The cop set the ball down against the back wall of the bullpen for a few seconds.  Eventually, one of the players gave him the “it’s okay” sign, and he tossed the homerun ball to a fan above the bullpen.  Shucks!

At one point, Tim went down a couple rows and visited with…

…Avi, Flava Dave (glove on head) and Tim Anderson (Markakis jersey).  In the picture above, Tim is taking great joy in pointing out the Dora the Explorer backpack in the Rays bullpen.

So, late in the game we were still sitting on 197 lifetime baseballs.  I continued to tell Avi in jest that “all we need is three more balls
before the end of the game” to reach 200!  But it wasn’t looking it was going to happen – and why would it?  I doubt we have ever got three baseballs after the start of a game before – certainly, we have never gotten three baseballs after the seventh inning stretch.

But this was Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary!  Magic was in the air!

In the seventh inning, Scott Cursi gave a baseball to a Rays-fan Dad who was celebrating his daughter’s first birthday game (hey, if it was also her first game, she has a great MLB anniversary!).  After he tossed up that  baseball, I called down, “Hey, Scott, it is not my boy’s birthday, but it’s a really special day for him.  Any chance he can get a baseball too?”  Cursi responded in the affirmative.  Then he walked over to his equipment bag (bullpen catchers always have a bunch of loose balls in their
equipment bags!), pulled out and examined two different baseballs, and then tossed one of them to us.

Thanks, Scott!

I was super-excited.  Could 200 actually happen on Tim’s MLB anniversary?  We relocated down by Avi and the guys next to the Orioles bullpen.  Avi had seen us get the ball from Cursi.  “Just two more!”, I reported!

In the eighth inning, our buddy Chris Jakubauskas started warming up for the Orioles…

…he was pitching to Orioles bullpen catcher (and Avi’s chum) Ronnie Deck.  Avi was optimistic that Deck would assist us in reaching the 200-plateau on Tim’s MLB anniversary.  When Jak threw his final pitch, he walked off  of the mound without waiting for a return throw from Deck.  Ronnie jumped to his feet, and I yelled out, “Hey, Ronnie, can we get the baseball, please!?”
Ronnie took 2-3 almost exaggerated running steps toward the bullpen bench, and then stopped on a dime, spun, and tossed us the baseball over the fence.

199!

Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!

We knew what had to happen.  “We’re heading to the umpire’s tunnel, I announced to Avi, Flava Dave, and Mr. Anderson!

Luckily, this was one of the least attended games of the season.  The crowd was particularly sparse with the O’s trailing 5-2 going into the ninth inning.  The ushers were checking tickets and we were able to take the ideal seats beside the umpire tunnel:

As the ninth inning progressed, Tim and I chatted with the guy who sits beside the tunnel and punches the buttons that displays the pitch information (speed and kind of pitch).  I tried my best, but I failed to correctly decipher a single pitch.

As the game drew to a close, I kept waiting for kids to storm the tunnel area, but it wasn’t happening.  Finally, Mark Reynolds struck out to end the game…

…and Phil Cuzzi walked back to the net behind home plate.  After the field crew quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel, Cuzzi stayed put.  He was waiting for his three colleagues to join him before he exited the field.

The mustachioed usher on the other side of the tunnel had brought a little girl down to make an attempt for an umpire ball.  But the little girl and Tim were the only kids in sight while Cuzzi waited for the other umpires.  I looked around expecting a flock of kids to run to the tunnel.  It never happened.

As Cuzzi ducked under the net and entered the tunnel walkway, it was just the little girl and Tim who were waiting for him.  I could not believe it.  Our 200th baseball seemed like a guarantee at this point.

First, Cuzzi placed a baseball into the little girl’s hands.  Next, he turned around and spotted Tim.  He reached out and placed a beautiful, rubbed up gem of a baseball into Tim’s (actually Kellan’s) baseball glove.

YES!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Cuzzi!!!

On the fifth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball, and the first anniversary of our 100th baseball, Tim held up his glove with a smile and displayed our 200th baseball:

I truly could not believe it.  Aside from the 7-easter egg fluke game in Cleveland, we had never got nine baseballs at a game.  It was like the baseball gods were smiling down on Tim trying to make his 5th MLB anniversary as special as possible.

Mission accomplished, baseball gods!

As the fans filed out of the stadium and the relievers made their way to the dugouts, Tim got a post-game photo with Flava Dave:

And then we spotted a couple Rays players lingering along the foul line wall.  He headed over there and Tim autographs from
and Tim’s picture with rightfielder Brandon Guyer…

…and third basemen Russ Canzler:

Before heading for the gates, we got a final Father-Son Camden Yards picture by the dugout:

When I looked back at the field on our way up to the cross-aisle, I noticed something funny – Brandon Guyer had jumped the wall and was standing with the fans (who I suspected were his friends and family) in the seats:

On the way out, we stopped on Eutaw Street so Tim and Shelly could say good-bye for the offseason to Ken Griffey Jr.’s deep RCF homerun maker:

And (okay, that other picture wasn’t the *final* father-son picture), I took a parting shot of Tim and I on our way out of the gates:

It is always sad when we know we will not visit Camden Yards until the next season.

Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…

…and then we called it a night.

It had been an amazing…

…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.

September 12th is quickly becoming one of my very favorite holidays!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
29/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
91 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins,
1 Pirates)
13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; 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]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen,
Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

The Mariners’ Seventeenth Straight Loss (7/26/11)

We were supposed to go to Bronx to see the Mariners on Monday, July 25, 2011.  But then we had to cancel and reschedule for Wednesday, July 27, 2011.  Finally, after a series of crazy and annoying circumstances, we ended up going to see the Mariners on Tuesday, July 26, 2011.  This, of course, if the story of that game – Kellan’s first in the Bronx
(his fourth stadium overall).

Usually, we always park in Manhattan and take the subway to either of the New York ballparks.  But at this game, we decided to drive right to the stadium and pay a small fortune (almost as much as our game tickets) to park in an official team parking garage.

As a result, it was our first time ever entering the ballpark at Gate 8 (behind CF):

While we were in line, we met some nice Washington-based Mariners fans.  Always good to meet some good guys at an opposition ballpark.  While we waited the last couple minutes for the gates to open, I noticed that right next to our line there was an employee check point:

What do they think employees are going to bring into the ballpark?

When we entered the ballpark, the batting cages were set up, the home team with the white pin-striped pajama outfits was stretching in RF, and there were no Mariners in
sight.  So we headed over to the Mariners dugout on the 3B side.

Moments after a guy who reads our blog (I’m embarrassed to say, I’m not 100% of his name anymore.  I’m pretty sure it was Jonathan…but Andrew also seems right too. Hmmm….), Colleen snapped this picture of me and the boys:

Moments later, the first two Mariners of the day popped out of the dugout and headed toward the LF foul line:

This next picture is blurry but cute.  As we watched Michael Pineda and Chris Ray head down the LF foul line…

…a few more Mariners joined them on the field.

We followed the Mariners a little bit down the line, but stayed behind the big protective nets that they put up during batting practice.  There were two Mariners pitchers playing catch right in front of us (well, way down there in front of us…we were trapped behind the Legends Suite seats), but I had no clue at all who the closer of the two Mariners was.  He was obviously a pitcher, but he did not look familiar at all from the distance.

Just then, the same two Mariners fans who we chatted with in line wandered by and took a family photo of us:

I asked the guy if he had any clue who the Mariners pitcher down below us on the foul line was.  He guessed it was Josh Lueke.

Here is a panorama that I took a bit later, but it shows the scene:

We were hanging out in the empty aisle all the way to the right of that panorama.  Lueke was standing on the foul line between the second and third protective netting poles.
We were just chilling and passing time in the shade…

…and then Lueke and his partner finished throwing and Lueke (holding the baseball) started to turn to walk away.  I called out, “Hey, Josh!”  He turned around (hey, the
Mariners fan was right, it was Lueke!) and I flashed my glove at him.  He reared back and lobbed a high ball over the protective netting.  With Kellan strapped to my chest…

…it was anything but a routine catch.  I had to reach up and back as far as I could and I just barely got enough glove on the ball to reel it in.  But I got it.  The catch garnered some cheers by nearby fans.

Thanks, Josh!

I knew that the ushers would check tickets soon and start asking people to head to their own seating areas.  So I asked Colleen if it was okay for her to keep the boys so I could run out to LF for a few minutes.  She agreed.  But there was absolutely no action out there.  I wasn’t there long, but in that time not a single homerun was hit into the LF seats.
Consequently, the only thing I got out there was this picture of my cute little family chilling in the seats in foul territory:

Nothing was going on out there, so I headed back to my peeps in foul territory.  We watched the Mariners pitchers finish their throwing routines:

The timing of BP seemed totally wrong.  The ushers still had not checked tickets when the home team cleared the field.  But before the Mariners batters started warming up, the grounds crew removed the batting cages.  WHAT!?  We got cheated out of Mariners BP!  No fun.

So, we decided to take a circuitous walk in the concourses in search of food.  We ended up at a SRO counter in the LF corner on the second deck with nachos, hot dogs, and garlic knots.  After chowing down, I decided to take Colleen to “Bronx Central Station” a/k/a the least baseball-stadiumesque concourse in all of Major League Baseball.

But on the way, we stopped off to take this picture that fairly well illustrates our feelings about the team that calls this ballpark home:

I suggested the thumbs down, but the priceless expression on his face is all Tim’s doing.

And then we continued on our journey.  At the top of the stairs down to the aforementioned train-station-looking outer concourse, I got this picture of Tim and Colleen:

When we reached the far end of the station, we posed for another picture and Kellan showed us his true feelings about this *magnificent* ballpark:

*Yawn*

Two seconds after that picture, we ducked into the nearby team store for some much needed air conditioning.  Ah, that felt good.  But it was almost game time, so we had to
re-enter the heat and humidity and make our way to our seats in LCF.  We had planned to get ice cream on our way, but we cut it too close and we would have missed the Mariners at bats in the top of the first, so we headed right to our seats.

We arrived just as someone-or-other sang the National Anthem:

This was our view from section 239, row 4, seats 1-4 (actually, it was my view from seat 1):

Note the police officer stationed at the bottom of the aisle just in front of us.  There is an armed police officer in every section in the bleachers.  You know, you gotta keep the people in the cheap seats in line, we can’t be trusted to police ourselves.

As he always does, Ichiro led off for the Mariners, and he was facing the perennially dominant C.C. Sabbathia:

Unfortunately, Sabbathia (who is almost always on his game) was extra on his game tonight.  It wasn’t going to be pretty.

By the way, I think that Tim and Kellan could use Sabbathia’s game pants as a sleeping back – one boy per pant leg.  Those are some huge – seemingly flared at the thighs – pant legs.

As the bleacher creatures out in RF did the roll call, I go this picture of former-Athletic great (now mediocre) Eric Chavez acknowledging the fans:

After Sabbathia sat our Mariners down 1-2-3, we procured two twist ice cream helmets and one twist cone and headed back to our seats.  I think this might be Kellan’s first ever taste of ice cream:

He liked it.  So did Tim.

Here is something odd.  Between innings, instead of playing catch with Jason Phillips, Greg Halman played catch with the third base line ballboy:

Here’s a random photo just for kicks:

Doug Fister (sadly, now a member of the Tigers) was on the mound for the Mariners and he was solid as usual.  Through the first three innings, the score was 0-0.  When Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the fourth, I figured I ought to get a picture of him hitting, you know, since he’s in the 3,000 hit club now and all.  And he didn’t disappoint:

Boom!  Weak ground out, scored 5-3.

Unfortunately, Curtis Granderson followed Jeter with a solo homerun.  In the bottom of the fifth, the bad guys added two more runs on an RBI single by Eric Chavez and another ground out by Derek Jeter.  That put the Mariners in a 3-0 hole.  Even worse was the fact that Sabbathia was, through six innings, pitching a perfect game.  Not good.

I sent a strategic text to twitter designed specifically to jinx Sabbathia’s perfect game.  Sure, it would be amazing to witness a perfect game, but not a perfect game *against* our Mariners.  That would be terrible.

And guess what, I think the jinx text worked.  No, the Mariners didn’t start hitting, walking or reaching base on errors.  Instead, it started raining!

RAIN DELAY!

We retreated to the upper deck where there was more room to hide from the rain.  All throughout the ballpark, fans were finding shelter from the rain wherever they could:

Here is some more of the same:

And we also used the opportunity to get our Bronx NY bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Once the rain stopped and the grounds crew started pulling off the tarp, and I got this panorama:

The concourses were a packed, sticky hot mess:

We grabbed an open spot and passed the time with some snacks:

Before too long, it was time for baseball once again.  The nice thing about a good rain delay is that a lot of the fans leave and a lot of seats open up.  So, instead of going back
to row 4 of section 239, we  headed to the first row of section 238.

As we waited for the tarp to be rolled up and carted off, Kellan reclined in my arms and just chilled out:

And then I got a panorama from section 238…

…the tarp still had not moved much.

Before the game started up again, I finally got a photo of something I noticed at the beginning of the game, a new elevated bench in the bullpen:

When the top of the seventh finally rolled around, Sabbathia was right back out there ready to go for his perfect game.  Ichiro struck out for Sabbathia’s nineteenth consecutive out.  But that is as far was this sad little experiment in perfection would go.  With the raining falling again our hero for the night, Brendan Ryan stepped to the plate and laced a line drive single into LF.  Here is actually photographic evidence (albeit quite blurry) that the Mariners had a baserunner at this game:

That was a relief.  Now it was time to try to win the game.  We were only down 3-0.  The game was still in our reach.  Oh yeah, how did I forget to mention, the Mariners were trying to break a then-club record 16-game losing streak.

After the Ryan hit, the Mariner couldn’t advance him past second base and we squandered our first scoring opportunity.

Fister was still solid in the bottom of the seventh.  Then, in the top of the eighth, Sabbathia fell apart.  He walked the first three batters of the inning and was pulled from the
game.  Sadly, once David Robertson entered the game, the Mariners could only score one run in the eighth – on a Chone Figgins fielder’s choice to third base.

I was longing for a grandslam.  But it just wasn’t in the cards.  And the 3-1 score was as close as the M’s could get it.  In fact, in the bottom of the eighth, the Mariners gave that run back when Mark Teixeira solo homerun.

There was one more rain delay during the game, and we ended up spending a lot of time running up the section 237/238 stairs to high from the rain, and then running back down the stairs to watch more of the game once the rain would stop again.

While Tim worked on his water on cement art skills…

…Kellan spent a lot of time waving at the 20-something girls sitting about 2 rows and ten feet behind us.  What can I say, the ladies love
Kellan.

Big special thanks to my lovely wife, Colleen, for letting us stick it out until the bitter end in hopes that we would finally see Kellan’s first Mariners win.  Sadly, his inaugural win will have to wait for another day…hopefully at Safeco Field later this season.  For now, his lifetime Mariners record dropped to 0-4.

He fell asleep on my shoulder on the walk to the car:

After a sitting through a big traffic jam getting out of the immediate area of the ballpark, we had an easy drive home…plenty of time to sit and lament the Mariners historic
seventeenth straight loss.

Luckily, there would be no eighteenth loss.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
19/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers Yankees; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 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, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
9/3 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; 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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; 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]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Comerica Park: A Diamond In The Rough (7/3/11)

Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.

So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…

…Detroit, Michigan.  The Motor City!

I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time.  But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect.  As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd.  It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it.  I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.

That didn’t seem right.

When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished.  It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.

Yikes.  Detroit was not looking good.

The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation.  Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.

As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better.  But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye.  Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:

The parking lot was a disaster.  Huge pot holes.  I mean huge.  Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into.  That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one.  As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time:  “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”

I broke into laughter.  It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.

So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.

But you know what?  It was all worth it.  Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”

Comerica Park is AMAZING!  I loved it.  I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point.  All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures.  And this entry is going to have a ton of them.

We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place.  We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):

The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park.  After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):

Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw.  He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:

This gate is pure awesomeness.  It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos.  I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.

This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall.  The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area.  On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:

Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:

Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.

All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:

Cool.

Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design.  It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail.  They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium.  In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc.  But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park.  If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans.  They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.

After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium.  There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field.  We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:

Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:

In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance.  Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.

Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:

The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot.  That street provides a clear view into the ballpark.  We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:

These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.

Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles.  While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…

…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park.  As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures.  And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.

When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.

  • No batting practice;
  • Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
  • Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.

As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up.  We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:

It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch.  After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate.  Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet.  He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound.  At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:

A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.

With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game.  But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.

We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers.  It was pointless to stay there.  Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line.  But it was packed by the time we got there.  So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.

This was our view from the first row of section 121:

And the move worked out.  As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line.  Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.

Success!  A baseball from Comerica Park:

It was officially time to explore!

Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:

Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side.  It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:

Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture.  Cool, eh?

We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point.  Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…

…in search for the carousel that I had heard about.  After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:

You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.

Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge.  So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter.  So we continued on our
tour.

We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:

Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:

Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past.  I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years.  So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s.  Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor.  You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.”  The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well.  Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.

Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…

…and another from section 210:

While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):

Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field.  Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:

And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):

When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:

Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars.  We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water.  But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.

On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:

Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based?  While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:

Look at that!  It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars.  Awesome.  These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.

While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water.  Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:

Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story:  “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”

Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.

First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):

Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:

Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:

Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture  (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…

…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium.  Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium.  From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned.  I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place.  Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.

Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:

Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl.  Outstanding!

When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head.  He said it showed that I was really a baseball player.  I thought that was cool.  Thanks, usher guy!

Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:

I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture.  Cool.

Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:

The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…

…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:

It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…).   Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.

After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides.  So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel.  In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards.  It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.

First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:

Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:

And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:

Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB):  (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle.  More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game.  The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards.  It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.

Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:

We were really lucky.  There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel.  But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.

Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel).  But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay).  So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:

Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again.  Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):

We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):

On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:

When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel.  We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side.  We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line.  By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!

I told Tim we would have to come back later.  That line was going to take forever.

So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144.  On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:

This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):

There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:

Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:

See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence?  They’re watching free baseball!  The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game.  I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.

Here is a look down into the bullpens:

The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.

Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:

It was ice cream time.  We grabbed some helmets…

…and found some ice cream seats in our section.

Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:

The scoreboard has three screens.  A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side.  Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen.  The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages.  I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen.  Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.

Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):

Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:

It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle.  Pretty cool, idea.

I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:

After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot.  Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle.  We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…

…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game.  It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…

…for Magglio Ordonez.  Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…

…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers.  (Note:  right as I was about to  get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).

With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel.  The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good.  We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:

All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape!  Super V!  They were actually pretty cool.  Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.

Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:

The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:

The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool.  The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.

By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth.  We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…

…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).

We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:

As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:

It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:

My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box.  At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable.  Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…

…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.

We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:

It is always great to get an umpire baseball.  And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.

Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!

The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not.  It was Kids Run The Bases day!  Hooray!

On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:

And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:

It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…

…and down under the RF seats.  Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.

The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases.  Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience.  The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.

We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…

…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).

Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…

…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is.  And it wasn’t just chalk foul line.  The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground.  These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.

Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:

Then we approached the first base area.  There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”

When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?”  She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”

So I followed Tim out toward first base…

…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:

As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…

…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:

We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…

…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!

SAFE!  (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).

As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B).  But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you!  I don’t see you!”

Thanks!

So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…

…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.

Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.

On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:

Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field.  Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background.  A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:

The Tigers staff are cool folks.

Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!

Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?”  With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!”  The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball.  Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”

Thanks!

I’m serious.  Comerica Park is awesome!  Well, done Tigers!

We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot.  When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left.  We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park.  And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:

In the famous word of the Terminator:  “[We’ll] be back!”

2011 C&S Fan Stats
16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 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, 2 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; 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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; 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.

2010 Mariners Season Finale (10/3/10)

2010 was a long and fun season.  And, on October 3, 2010, we headed down to Safeco Field for the final game of our and the Mariners 2010 season.

The line-up was Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my folks, my buddy Paul, and me.  Although Paul joined us late, the rest of us headed down for non-existent batting practice.

We headed into Safeco Field and found ourselves in the standing room area in center field.  Nothing was going on yet.  So we just hung out for a few minutes.  We were ready for some good old-fashioned Mariners fun:


1 - three boys in CF.JPGSoon, a couple Cook & Son Hall of Famers made their way out to the bullpen:  Jason Phillips to the left…

2 - here come phillips and RRS.JPG…and finale starting pitcher, Ryan Rowland-Smith, to the right.  After a tough season where we never got to see him pitch live, I was excited for the opportunity to watch Ryan close out the 2010 season with a strong final outing.

The Mariners braodcasters do their pregame show from the centerfield standing room area.  After Tim hopped from my shoulders to grandpa’s shoulders, Kellan and I strolled over to watch the broadcasters preparing for their show.  All of a sudden, I saw a familiar face and, before I knew it, Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik…

3 - Zduriencik kisses Kellan.JPG…was kissing Kellan like a campaigning politician.

Despite the terribly disappointing season, I believe in Jack.  I think he has a good vision for the team.  And as GM’s go, Jack is the most visible the Mariners have ever had.  In two seasons, we’ve met him several times — like last season on the streets of Boston.

After saying hello to Jack Z., we watched Ryan Rowland-Smith warm up among a sea of mascots: 

4 - RRS and the mascots.JPGAcross the field from RRS, opposing starter Dallas Braden warmed up for the A’s.

My folks and Tim stayed in the outfield when Colleen, Kellan and I headed toward the Mariners dugout.  As we walked through the seats behind first base, we watched as the Mariners Moose jacked a homerun to win the mascot homerun derby…

5 - Moosebombs.JPG…while Bill Kruger and Brad Adam interviewed Jack Z. (who you can see sitting below the bright light).

I had a goal of getting either Luke French (Kellan’s first pitcher) or Rajai Davis (his first batter) to sign the picture of Kellan’s first pitch.  We hung out behind the Mariners dugout watching for French…

6 - watching some pre-game activities.JPG…but we never found him.  So instead, we just had another fan take our picture.

Eventually, a bunch of Mariners came out and started playing catch and stretching down the 1B line…

7 - mascots and mariners.JPG….you can see them in the background of this picture my parents took of some of the mascots.

When some of the Mariners started playing catch, I gave up on finding Luke French and we headed over by the guys who were playing catch.   Two games ago, Greg Halman had tossed Tim and me his pregame warmup baseball.  That day, we were practically the only people watching the players playing catch.  But on this day, the seats were crowded.  We were about six rows back and the first three rows were packed.  I was hoping we could get one more baseball this season and this was our chance, but there was a lot of competition and the odds weren’t looking good.

As the players started heading back to the dugout a ball or two got tossed to fans in the first row.  Finally, Halman and his partner finished playing catch and Halman ended up with the baseball.  He looked over to the crowd and I yelled, “Hey, Greg!!!!”  I was the only one to call out to him by name and he appreciated it.  He scanned around and found me and then tossed his baseball high over everyone else so they couldn’t intercept it on its way to me and Kellan.

The baseball was just a bit over my head level.  As I reached up to make the easy grab, Colleen yelled “No! NO!!!!”  She was scared I would miss the ball and it would hit Kellan.  It was pretty funny, really.  Her maternal instincts to protect our baby overrode her common sense about my abilities to catch a baseball lobbed to me.

The expression on Kellan’s face in this picture illustrates how difficult the catch was for me:

8 - kellans third baseball.JPGYep, it was pretty routine.  (That’s a yawn, by the way).

Thanks, Greg!

The Mariners cleared out and we never found Luke French.  But when I looked over toward LF, I saw Kellan’s first batter stretching and preparing for the game.  So we headed over there:

9 - watching Rajai Davis.JPGIn that last picture, Rajai Davis is the guy bending down and reaching toward the ground.

As we waited to see if Davis would come over to sign autographs on his way back to the dugout, we watched this guy…

10 - dont catch fair balls.JPG…walk down the fence and explain to everyone in the front row that they will be kicked out of the game if they interfere with a live ball in play.  His message was simple, “Foul grounders are fair game, but catching a fair grounder will get you ejected.

When Davis finished streching, he jogged straight into the A’s dugout.  No first batter autograph for Kellan on this day.  But don’t fret.  We’ll track down Rajai Davis some day.  You can mark my words on that.

Rajai Davis wasn’t the only A’s player walking straight lines, but not all of them were heading to the dugout.  After warming up in the bullpen, Dallas Braden exited the bullpen gate and walked in a laser straight line directly to us.  As I watched him approach, he displayed an odd expressionless face with his harms hanging unnaturally still as he walked…as I said…directly to us.  Confused, I looked at him standing two feet in front of me.  What’s going on here, I thought to myself.

Then Braden extended his arm, opened his glove, nodded to me to reach in and remove…

 

11 - thanks dallas braden.JPG…this baseball from the pocket of his glove.  Although it took me hundreds of games, it took Kellan only two games to get a baseball from a pitcher with a perfect game on his resume.

Thanks, Dallas!

With no first pitch autographs, but two new baseballs in our pockets, we reported to our seats along the first base line.  My mom took a picture of us (Paul was still en route to the ballpark):

12a - family shot at our seats.JPGWe were ready for some Mariners baseball!

At exactly 1:11 p.m., Ryan Rowland-Smith delivered the first pitch of the game…

13 - RRS first pitch and one11.JPG…for ball 1.  However, if you click on that picture to enlarge it, the pitch looks pretty good to me.  Davis ended up leading off the game with a single.  RRS’s body language wasn’t looking good after the single.  He sort of looked like, “Oh, no.  Here we go again.”

Kellan was ready to see some quality Mariners baseball…

15 - kellan over shoulder.JPG…after a 9-0 shut out loss in his MLB debut game.

Despite the early frustrated body language, it seemed like RRS started believing in himself.  And he should have because he had a good day.  After RRS induced a fly out to CF for the first out of the game, Josh Bard threw out Davis trying to steal second.  Then RRS struck out Jack Cust to end the first.

Yep, RRS was looking good…

14 - RRSMotion2.jpg…and he had one scoreless inning in the book.

As each Mariner came to bat for the first time, a picture drawn by a kid was displayed on the big screen.  Here are all nine of the M’s batters:

16 - line up drawn by kids.JPGFranklin Gutierrez took a couple mighty looking hacks in the bottom of the  first…

17 - Guti doesnt go yard.JPG…but both he and the Mariners came up empty handed.

Hey, guess who showed up?  It was Paulie!

19 - Tim and Paul.JPGPaulie, Tim and I had big plans for this game.  We bought tickets to this game at the very beginning of the season figuring that it would probably be Griffey’s final game.  We were hoping to see Griffey’s final homerun and Griff getting carried off the field and into retirement.  Sadly, we were Griffeyless on this day.

The A’s ended up scoring two runs off of RRS.  They got one run in the third when Mark Ellis doubled to score Rajai Davis.  In the fourth, Kurt Suzuki hit a lead off homerun to make it 2-0 A’s.

To this point, the A’s had scored 11 runs to the Mariners zero runs so far in Kellan’s first two games.  It was high time for the Mariners to get on the board for Kellan.

Michael Saunders led off the bottom of the fifth with a single.  Our buddy Greg Halman…

20 - Halman singles.JPG…followed Saunders with a single of his own on this swing.

Two batters and two outs later, Saunders was erased, Halman stood on second base, and Matt Mangini occupied first as Ichiro came to the plate.  In the hands down most exciting moment of Kellan’s young Marienrs fan career, Ichiro lined a double down the RF line on this swing…

21 - Ichiros RBI double.JPG…and Halman and Mangini scored Kellan’s first two Mariners runs ever.  We were all on our feet screaming and cheering.  It was a great moment.

After Ichi’s 2RBI double, the Ichi-Meter was changed to record Ichi’s 213th hit of 2010:

21a - Ichimeter at 213.JPGSo the score was all knotted up at 2-2.  I was excited for the possibility of Kellan witnessing his first Mariners win and RRS finishing off the season with a long-awaited second win of the season.

The excitement was contagious.  Tim and Paul had to practice some fist bumps:

22 - fist bumping practice.JPGAnd of course Tim had to get in some playing-with-Grandma time:

23 - fun with Grandma.JPGWith the Mariners on the board, Kellan sat up and took notice:

24 - colleen and kellan watching some baseball.JPGHe was ready for the possibility of a personally historical moment — his first ever Mariners lead??

My little family bunched together and cheered like crazy for a Mariners rally:

25 - family cheer.JPGI had to get a picture with my big boy and teammate:

26 - Todd and Tim.JPGAnd, of course, we had to celebrate the day with the season’s final ice cream helmet:

27 - last ICH of 2010.JPGUnfortunately, after Ichiro’s double, the rally ceased.  And after five innings, both teams went to their bullpens.

It should be noted that RRS actually had a slightly better line than Dallas Braden.  Both pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs.  But RRS gave up only 4 hits to Braden’s 5 hits, and he struck out 3 to Braden’s 2.  They both walked 1 batter.

Sadly, the Mariners bullpen turned Braden into a winner-in-absentia.  After Braden left the game knotted 2-2, Mariners reliever Anthony Varvaro promptly gave up a run on two hits in the top of the sixth.  He would pitch only one-third of an inning.

In the 8th inning, Garrett Olson gave up a homerun to Kevin Kouzmanoff.  That made the score 4-2 A’s.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Ichiro notched his 214th and final hit of the 2010 campaign:

28 - Ichiros 214th and final hit.JPGHe then stole his 42nd and final base of the season.   He wound up on third base on a Jose Lopez groundout.  Finally, Ichiro scored his 74th and final run of the season on a Justin Smoak line drive single to left field.

Sadly, Ichiro’s run would be the final Mariners run to be pushed across the plate in 2010.  We lost our 101st game of the season, and 2nd of Kellan’s life, by a final score of 4-3.

Toward the end of the game, I snapped a picture of the Mariners mlb.com beat writer, Jim Street (in the OU hat):

29 - Jim Streets final game.JPGJim was closing out the final game of his career…although I recently read that he is only “semi-retired” so maybe we’ll still see him on mlb.com from time-to-time.

After the game, we got a final family-at-the-ballpark picture…

30 - Final Family Shot of 2010.JPG…and a final TJCs and Paulie picture:

31 - Tim Paul and Todd.jpgIt was so sad that our season was over so soon and that, as we exited the gates at Safeco Field, we would be entering a period of six months without (regular season) Mariners baseball.

I snapped one more panorama for 2010 on our walk to the CF gates:

32 - final panorama of 2010.jpgIn doing so, I noticed that the hand operated scoreboard was already set up for the 2011 home opener:

33 - ready for 2011 home opener.JPGThat was comforting to see.

Tim and I took a couple final pictures on our way out of the stadium:

34 - one last shot in 2010.JPGHe failed to smile in any of them.  But how could I blame him?

It was now officially the off-season.

Bummer.

2010 Fan Stats:

29 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)


35 - halman and braden finish the season.jpg25 Ice Cream Helmets
(Mariners (3), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

66 Baseballs (15 Mariners, 2 Angels, 5 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, 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)

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia (6/20/10)

I really wanted to go to a Twins game this season so we could try to get one of those fancy “Target Field” commemorative baseballs.  We had tickets to the Friday, June 18th game, but it was too soon after our return from the roadtrip.  Finally, I found $12/ticket SRO tickets on Stubhub to the Sunday, June 20, 2010 game.

I didn’t realize (I am generally terrible at tracking “holidays”), but June 20th was fathers’ day.  What better way to spend fathers’ day than at a ballgame with your son, right?

Upon entering the stadium, we discovered there was no BP.  The The quest for a Target Field baseball was not looking good.   We headed to the LF foul corner in hopes of getting a toss up from one of the several Twins playing catch in LF.

The quest was looking a little better when we got the corner spot down the 3B line.  Perfect.  It looked like this:

1 - citz bank section 138 row 1 panorama.jpgBut the Twins weren’t in the toss-up mood.  Also, I could tell that none of them were using Target Field baseballs. 

Oh, well.

It was already hot, and Tim hates the sun, so we took off and headed over to the kids’ play area.

When we got to the play area, Tim modeled the Phillies “sarge” hat give away:

2 - sarge hat.JPGThen, like he tends to do, he set up his shop…


3 - buy something.JPG…where Tim will sell you almost anything (french fries, bananas, whatever) through those little holes in the plexi-glass.

Tim’s last MLB kids’ play area was at the Oakland Colesium where the play area is rather blah’ish.  But there is no blah in Philadelphia.  Check it out:

4 - fun time in phila.JPGBy the way, in the bottom right, Tim’s left hand is giving a thumbs up, but his right hand is actually pointing (with his thumb) at the little metal ball that he successfully maneuvered to the middle of the puzzle.

After some playtime, we headed out to RCF to watch Roy Halladay warm up…

5 - halladay vs pavano.JPG…Carl “The ‘Stache” Pavano was also warming up (in the middle picture ‘Stache is rubbing up his warm up baseball with some warning track dirt).

As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:

6 - OF tossing.JPGAs we watched Halladay in the OF, some Twins player (I’m guessing a rookie reliever) walked by with a Monkey back pack…

7 - monkey pack.JPGExcellent, guy.  We loved it!

Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:

8 - halladay and pavano bullpen.JPGHalladay was looking strong:

9 - halladay motion.JPGActually, you should see it for yourself:

Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:

10 - pavanostache.JPGHalladay finished up first and headed to the dugout:

11 - halladay ready.JPGWe headed up to the upper deck in deep RCF…

12 - citz pen from above.JPG…where we continued to watch Pavano warm up from above:

13 - pavano penwork.JPGIn all of Tim’s games at Citizens Bank Park, we’ve never hung out in the upper deck in RF.  Today, was the day.

We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:

14 - nachos behind SRO Upper RCF.JPGThat is where we were in the top of the first when Joe Mauer hit this single…

15 - Joe Mauer singles off Roy Halladay.JPG…off of Roy Halladay.  Orlanda “O-Dog” Hudson had stolen second during this at bat and he scored easily on Mauer’s single to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead.  That score would hold up until the fifth inning.

After the first, we aimlessly walked back and forth a bit in the OF concourse.  I took this random shot of the concourse…

16 - Citz Upper RF corner concourse.JPG…where the upper deck bends from fair to foul territory.

Eventually, Tim and I headed up into the upper deck seats in section 301, the deepest part of the ballpark.  This was the view from almost the very top of the stadium:

17 - citz bank section 301 panorama.jpgWhile up there, I took a shot of Tim…

18 - TJCs in Citz RCF Upper Deck.JPG…and then one of the “Fan Photos” camera people took a picture of both of us.  In that picture, I am wearing Tim’s hat on top of my hat.  While we were eating nachos, Tim took off his hat and I put it on top of mine for safe keeping.  However, after taking these pictures, I looked at Tim and became alarmed.  “Oh, no!  Where did your hat go, Tim,” I asked?  “Its on top of your head, silly daddy,” Tim replied.  I’m pretty sure I was wearing double hats for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, we decided to head to the lower level to cool off in the covered concourses and get an ice cream helmet.  Here are some (out of order views) from our walk from RF to home plate and over to 3B in the concourse:

19 - concourse funny faces and siren.JPGIn the left picture, that big photo of Roy Halladay hangs in the concourse just inside of the 1B enterance from Pattison Avenue.  The middle picture shows a John Deere mini-truck with flashing sirens, something we see wizzing through the concourse almost every time we visit Citizens Bank Park.  To the right, the photo of Brad Lidge and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz hangs in the concourse behind home plate.

Finally we made it to the Old City Creamery down the 3B line.  If you are ever in Philadelphia and want the BIGGEST and most sprinkle covered ice cream helmet of all time, make sure that THIS LADY…

20 - Philadelphias best ice cream lady.JPG…around the side corner register at the 3B Old City Creamery makes your helmet.  She always goes crazy with the ice cream and just as crazy with the sprinkles — here is Exhibit 1.  And it was more of the same on this day:


20 - makeshift ice cream seats.JPGAs Tim ate his ice cream helmet (and I knelt next to him helping him), we had possibly the most unique view of the game that we’ve ever had at a big league ball park:

21 - view around old lady.JPGHalladay was looking good as usual.  But so was Pavano:

22 - Pavano working on No-No in 4th 6-20-10.JPGIn fact, the moustached one had a no hitter going into the fourth inning, until he came up against Placido “Here’s One For The Fathers” Polanco, who ripped a single on this one-handed swing:

23 - Placido Palanco singles in 4th 6-20-10.JPGChase Utley followed with a single of his own…

24 - Chase Utley fouls before single in 4th 6-20-10.JPG…but not on this swing.  But it didn’t matter.  Pavano stranded Polanco and Utley on 2B and 1B, respectively.

Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…

25 - Roy Halladay delivers a pitch.JPG…but that did not stop Denard Span from cranking a solo homerun to bring the score to 2-0 Twins.

After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…

26 - Tim and Bridgette ballgirl.JPG…who also gave Tim an autographed ballgirl baseball card.  Tim was pretty bashful about getting his picture with the ballgirl, but after I pointed out how she’d run onto the field to get stray foul balls, he thought it was pretty awesome.  Now, he wants to get his picture with the ballgirls all the time.

After his first ballgirl picture, Tim requested a trip back to the play area.  While we were on our way through the concourse heading over to the play area, Phillies back-up short stop Wilson Valdez poked a solo homerun of his own:

27 - Wilson Valdez scores on homer.JPGBut his run was all the Phils could manage in the bottom of the fifth.  The score was 2-1 Twins.

The play area was PACKED:

28 - back to crowded playarea.JPGIn the sixth inning, the Twins tacked on another run on a single by Jason Kubel.  The run was unearned.

Carl Pavano meanwhile…

29 - Pavano still dealing.JPG…just kept on dealing.

In the top of the 8th, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot to take the score to 4-1 Twins.

That was the score when Shane Victorino grounded out weakly…

30 - Shane Victorino grounds out on a low pitch 6-20-10.JPG…to first base in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Its never a good thing for a team when the opposing starter gets an at bat in the 9th inning, and that is just what happened at this game.  Halladay’s relief, Chad Durbin retired Pavano…

31 - Pavano bats in the 9th 6-20-10.JPG…on a ground out to short stop.

Now, earlier in the game while Tim was eating his ice cream helmet, we got to talking to three guys.  A dad and his teenaged (or maybe young twenties) sons.  It was the usual discussion, they were admiring our Mariners jerseys and telling us they love Griffey.  Out of nowhere, a lady came up to us and handed over 4 tickets to the section immediately behind the 3B dugout.  The lady’s father was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get down to the seats so they were going to hang out in the handicapped area.

The other guys took three of them and said thanks.  I grabbed the fourth ticket knowing we’d never sit there.  But the ticket came in handy in the ninth inning.  They almost always check tickets in the fancy areas at Citizens Bank Park and this ticket would get us down there to try to get an umpire ball at the end of the game.

In the ninth inning, we headed down.  They checked our ticket and waved us down into the fancy seats.  We grabbed some seats in row 11 of section 130.  This was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:

32 - citz bank section 130 row 11 panorama.jpgNot too shabby.

Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:

33 - Tim lounges in the seats.JPGChase Utley couldn’t do anything for the Phillies cause…

34 - Chase Utley about to ground out in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…he grounded out for the second out of the inning.

Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…

35 - Ryan Howard sets up in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…but he extended the game with a single:

36 - Ryan Howard singles in 9th 6-20-10.JPGHoward’s single was too little too late.  Carl Pavano got Werth to pop out to short LF to finish off a complete game victory.  Both Pavano and Halladay moved to 8-6 on the season.

On Werth’s swing, Tim and I scurried down to the first row as close to the umpires’ tunnel as we could get, but the home plate umpire never looked our way.

It was looking like a zero baseball day (and a zero Target Field baseball season) for us.  But as the Twins players and coaches streamed into the dugout, we noticed a guy throwing ball after ball after ball into the crowd.  It was Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra

37 - Joe Vavra Twins Batting Coach.JPG…and with only one baseball left in his hands, Vavra tossed Tim our first (and only) baseball of the day, which turned out to be our first (and most likely only) Target Field commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Joe!

A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek

38 - Rick Stelmaszek bullpen coach.JPG…tossed me his official blue MLB Father’s Day wrist band.

Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:

39 - goodies from Vavra and Stelmaszek.JPGBeing a father-son team like we are, Tim and I were pretty excited about getting the fathers’ day wrist band.  I’m pretty sure that Stelmaszek picked us out because he saw a boy and his dad together.

Thanks, Rick!

It was time to head out.  On the way to our car, Tim just had to get his picture (once again) with the statue of Steve Carlton:

40 - sitting under lefty.JPGTim is a sucker for a statue.  Can’t get enough of ‘em.

On our way our of the parking lot, well, while waiting for the cars to finally get moving, I snapped a panorama of the sports complex parking lots:

41 - citizens bank parking lot panorama.jpgCitizens Bank Park, obviously, is to the far left.  In the middle (far in the back) is the Eagles’ home, Lincoln Fnancial Field.  And to the far right is the Spectrum.  You can’t see it, but behind the Spectrum is the Wachovia Center (I think they still call it that — it was formerly the Core States Center and First Union Center).

And that’s all she wrote.  It was a good fathers’ day.  We drove home and spent the rest of it with my lovely wife and Tim’s lovely mommy, Colleen.

2010 Fan Stats:

16 Games

16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)

13 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)


42 - ball and wrist band.JPG35 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

10 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)

11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

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

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