Results tagged ‘ Ichiro ’

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 4, Yankees at Mets (5/27/2013)

On May 27, 2013, my dad’s birthday, we woke up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, with a bonus Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip game on tap for later that night in Queens.
We had plenty of time to get to NY so we started the day with a nice leisurely free breakfast in our hotel dining area:

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We had nothing but good things to say about the brand-spanking new Fairfield Inn in DuBois. A very nice place to stay for the night.
We hit the road and had a nice drive across Pennsylvania. It was route I’d never taken before. The boys did a little snacking in the car, and did some jumping jacks to burn some energy at a rest stop…

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…, then it was in to New Jersey, and on to the big city.

When we reached Manhattan, we parked in the upper west side and then dined on some huge pizza slices…

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…at Rays on 82nd and Columbus.

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out where we should get on the subway in the upper west side. So I gave Zack Hample a call. He pointed us in the right direction. And, wouldn’t you know it, as we approached the subway…

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…we ran into Zack on the sidewalk. It had only been 3 days earlier that we were hanging out with Zack in Toronto. It was cool to bump into him again on the same roadtrip, although not at another game.

My boys love riding the subway:

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My dad had never been to Shea or Citi Field and he was happy to get to see the sights…

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…from the 7 Train.

You know we had to get this photo right after arriving at Citi Field:

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We played a little catch in the parking lot and then hopped in line. As I held our spot, my dad took the boys for a little walk so he could see the outside of Citi Field. On their way back…

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…, Tim was showing off his muscles.

Once we headed into the stadium, we all headed to foul territory down the RF foul line. After a few minutes, the boys and I headed to the corner spot in RCF by the bullpens. Here was out view (to the left)…

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…and my dad snapped that picture of us hanging out at the bottom of the steep RF steps. In that line up of player in RCF, the left one in from the left (closest to us) was Bobby Parnell. Eventually, a baseball was hit out to the warning track about half way between the players and us. Parnell ran over to grab it, and he was kind enough to toss it up to us.

Thanks, Bobby!

It was really bright in RCF and nice and shady in LF, so we decided to head over there. On our way, we met up with Mr. Met:

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This was our view in LCF:

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Nothing was doing out there. The most interesting part of our time out in LCF was getting to watch Mariano Rivera shagging fly balls.

Coming into this game, at least one player or coach from every MLB team had thrown us a baseball since Tim’s first game back in 2006, every team, that is, except the Yankees. I was hoping we could cross the Yankees off the toss-up list at this game.

I was really hoping we could get a toss-up from Ichiro, but before Ichiro made it out to RF, we ran into another former Mariner, Shawn Kelley. And, wouldn’t you know, the former-Mariner now in a Yankees uniform tossed us a baseball:

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IN that picture, Tim is looking at me in disbelief because I had the audacity to catch the baseball that Shawn tossed to him after it sailed two feet over Tim’s head. Had I not caught it, we never would have seen it again. But Tim was definitely bummed out that he didn’t get to make the catch. Anyway…

Thanks, Shawn!

Then Tim’s favorite player (who sadly now wears pinstriped pajamas as his home uniform) came out to field some balls in RF:

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Hey, I failed to mention that, while we were in LCF, my dad found his way over to the corner spot where we got the ball from Parnell. At the time, Ichiro was blistering balls all over RF and the RF seats. When he hit a laser out to RCF, an unidentified Yankee fielded the ball and tossed it to my dad; a pretty cool birthday present from the Yankees.

We headed over to RF to watch Ichiro. He tossed several balls into the seats in foul territory, but nothing anyway near us. Once he headed to the dugout, we decided it was a bit too crowded in the seats. So we called it a day for BP, headed off to get some ice cream and headed to the picnic tables under Shea Bridge so the boys could eat their ice cream in peace:

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Kellan is still only two years old and is only potty trained when he feels like it. So he wears pullups most of the time. As we pulled into Manhattan, I changed Kellan and realized that I only had one more pullup! We were far from my car when we stopped into a drug store to get a fresh pack of pullups. As the kids ate their ice cream, I counted that I had 17 pullups in my backpack — quite possibly a new Major League record. I think this meant that my dad had about 8 in his back pack too. By the way, it ended up that I did need to buy them. Oh, well…better safe than sorry.

As the boys ate their ice cream two interesting things happened:

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First, a usher came over and toss a ball over the fence to the boys. Tim was mid-ice cream and couldn’t get his glove on in time. After the Shawn Kelley toss-up, I knew Tim wanted to be the one to catch (or at least secure) this ball, so I literally let the ball just hit me in the chest and bounce back against the fence. Tim ran over and grabbed it with his glove still in his throwing hand (picture above to the right).

Second, the same usher came back over to us two minute later with another ball. He felt that both boys should get a ball. This time, Tim had time to get his glove on and he made a nice catch on the high toss over the fence (there he is with it in the photo above to the left). Meanwhile, Kellan was shoveling ice cream into his face.

Double thanks, Usher!

By the way, that is the usher walking away from us behind Tim in the photo above to the left.

My dad came and found us. And look who else found us once my dad arrived:

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From time-to-time, Kellan has a case of the terrible twos. And this game featured a couple of them, including right when the game was about to start. That’s okay though. He can sit on my shoulders and fuss it up while we walk around and have a nice time. My dad needed to see some more of the ballpark so we all headed up to the Pepsi Porch in RF. That’s where we were when the game started. Here’s the second pitch…

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…because it ended up being a better picture than my shot of the first pitch.

The pitching match up was Jon Neise vs. Phil Hughes. That second pitch picture features a match up of Neise against Brett Gardner. Neise won that match up by way of strikeout.
My dad got his first taste of New York ushering…

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…while watching Robby Cano strike out for the final out of the top of the first. Neise k’d all three batters he faced. Anyway, see that little gate to my dad’s right in that picture above to the right? When we walked up to the standing room area, my dad walked up to that gate and rested his hands on top of the gate – a very natural thing to do in an SRO area. The usher told my dad that he couldn’t stand at the gate, he had to move over to the left…which was a pretty pointless rule.

On our way out of the Pepsi Porch, we got a picture of Tim posing in front of the 7 Train and muffler city (that’s my name for it. Whatever it’s called, it is an eye sore):

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And then Tim and my dad got a (bonus) picture with the Citi Field sign and some baseballs for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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We were in the upper deck concourse down the 3B side in the top of the second when Ichiro came to the plate:

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Tim watched on with uneasy anticipation as his all-time favorite batter took the batters’ box wearing the wrong uniform. It was the first time we’d ever seen Ichiro bat in person wearing a non-Mariners uniform, and it was a bit unsettling.

We are never accustomed to wanting a Yankee to get a hit or do anything positive in a game. But all of us were happy when Ichiro laced a harmless single to CF:

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It was Ichiro’s only hit on the day. He went 1-3 with a walk.

If I had it my way, Ichiro would rip off another 200 hit season this year, but his teammates would always squander the opportunities and leave him stranded on base.
While we watched Ichiro bat, my dad chatted with an usher who pointed out this:

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You see it? Row 6 and, right behind it, row 6. Oops!

In the top of the third, we grabbed some food and finally found our seats:

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Tim and my dad enjoyed their food and ended up sitting in our seats for a while. Kellan and I were I our seats for about five minutes tops. I ended up ripping off a big piece of Kellan’s soft pretzel and giving it to him to eat. I knew it was a mistake the second I did it. Kellan launched into another case of the terrible twos. Instead of letting his whining annoy our fellow fans, I decided to head back over to the bullpen area where Kellan could work the crankiness out of his system without bothering other fans. Somehow, we ended up staying there most of the game.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Brett Gardner led off the inning with a triple and scored on a Jayson Nix RBI single.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gardner helped keep the 1-0 Yankees lead intact. At the time, Kellan and I were in the field level concourse in LF. There were two outs when Daniel Murphy came to the plate. Murphy blasted the ball to deep LCF. It had just enough to get out of the ballpark…but it didn’t have quite enough to get out of Gardner’s reach. Garden jumped high against the wall and brought the homerun back into the park for the final out of the inning. Here is a video clip of the catch.

Tim and my dad ended up meeting up with us back by the bullpens around the sixth or seventh inning. We played a ton of catch back there:

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Above to the left, Kellan was throwing balls against the wall while my dad played back up. Above to the right, I was throwing long tosses (essentially the entire length of Shea Bridge to Tim. No one seemed to care that we were doing there, so that was pretty cool.

You know what wasn’t cool? The fans by the bullpens:

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There were a bunch of Mets and Yankees fans and they were cursing up a storm at each other and putting down each other’s team. It was ridiculous. Eventually, an usher came over and threatened to kick out the guy above in the Mets shirt who is facing the camera. He felt this was a grave injustice and that it was the Yankees fans who should have been threatened to get kicked out.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, David Wright launched a game tying homerun to LF.

We had signed my dad up for a “First Game” certificate at the fan assistance booth in the upper deck early in the game. They told us to come back for the certificate in the seventh inning or later. We decided to head up to grab the certificate and get a picture of the four of us.

Turns out my dad’s certificate wasn’t ready so they ended up mailing it to him. During the eighth inning, an usher took this photo of us on our final stop on the GFS Roadtrip:

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Here was our view of the action from our SRO spot in the bottom of the eighth:

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Lucas Duda ended up striking out to end the eighth inning, but the Mets fans didn’t care because two batters earlier Daniel Murphy had come through with a go-ahead RBI single to CF. So the Mets were up 2-1 going into the top of the ninth.

As Bobby Parnell came in for the save attempt, we relocated to the SRO behind the field level seats behind 3B so we would be closer to the exits when the game ended.
Historically, I have found it difficult to get down to the umpire’s tunnel at the end of Mets home games at Citi Field. At first, I wasn’t even thinking we would try. But Kellan and I ended up walking down to the SRO area just behind the section immediately above the umpire tunnel.

The usher was not checking tickets. But we stayed in the concourse.

With one out, this was our view as Ichiro worked a walk:

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In a 8-pitch at bat, Lyle Overbay ended up striking out for the second out of the top of the ninth inning. In this course of battling Parnell, Overbay ended up hitting a little foul nubber right in front of the plate. I watched as catcher John Buck retrieved the ball and gave it back to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Culbreth inspected the foul ball and then put it back in one of his baseball pouches.

Travis Hafner was the final batter of the game. As he batted, Kellan and I stood in the aisle right at the top of the stairs. Hafner ended up being retired on a moon shot, infield pop out to David Wright at 3B.

In terms of trying to get into position to get an umpire ball, pop fly outs are the best possible ending to a game. As everyone stood to watch the play, Kellan (on my shoulders) and I took off down the stairs and we had no problem reaching the umpire tunnel before Culbreth arrived. Culbreth ended up tossing a few baseballs to kids on the OF side of the tunnel. Then he turned and tossed his final baseball to us:

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The baseball was all smudged and dirty. I have a strong feeling it was the foul nubber that Overbay hit before striking out for the second out of the game. Of course, there is no way to ever confirm that suspicion…but it’s fun to speculate.

Thanks, Fieldin!

Right after we got the ball from Culbreth, a teenage fan standing next to us looked at me and asked, “Todd and Tim!?” “Yeah…well, Todd and Kellan,” I responded. I didn’t recognize him at first because he has almost doubled in size since the last time we saw him, but I was pleased to be face-to-face once again with our former ballpark buddy and MyGameBalls.com member, Alex K.

We chatted for a minute or two in the seats and then I asked if he could head up to the concourse with us so he could say hi to Tim. I knew Tim would be psyched to see him. Here’s the thing about Tim, he loves people. Especially, kids, of all ages. In 2009, we met Alex in Chicago and then saw him several times in NY, along with his buddy Joe Faraguna. Back then, every time we went to a game, Tim asked, “Will Joe and Alex be at the game?”

Tim was definitely thrown off at first at how much older and taller Alex looks now. But once he realized it was Alex from “Joe and Alex,” he was excited to see his old buddy. Of course, almost right away, Tim asked, “Where’s Joe?”

Check out these now (2013) and then (2009) picts of Tim and Alex:

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They’ve both grown a lot!

After chatting with Alex a bit, we headed toward the gates. On the way out, I realized my dad had missed out on a Citi Field must see, the big Jackie Robinson “42”:

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On the way to the 7 Train, we saw a cool Mets car:

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We said good-bye to Citi Field from the 7 train…

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…, the local 7 Train, that is.

It was a long but fun commute back to our car on the 7 Train and the 1 Train:

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And it was an even longer commute out of NY and back to Pennsylvania. We arrived home around 2:30 a.m.

So there you go, another successful Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip in the books. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in Texas in 2014 because my dad has now seen every team play a home game except the Rangers (he saw the Astros at the Astrodome so he still needs to visit Minute Maid Park and he saw the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium so he still needs to go to Marlins Park). Can wait to help him check all of those stadiums off of his list!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

11 Games

16 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets.

20 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2.

50 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 3, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2.

9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field.

16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson.

5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo.

Cook & Son’s MLB Adventures (Vol. 1)

The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.

As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:

I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!

A Fun Day But Tough Mariners Loss in Baltimore (8/6/2012)

August 6, 2012 marked our only Mariners game at Camden Yards of the season.  So we had to make the most of it.  We arrived in plenty of time, got out tickets, and waited for those gates to open up and let us at our Mariners:

When we made our way into the stadium, the Orioles were hitting and our Mariners were stretching in front of their dugout.  So that’s where we headed.  As we approached the dugout, Stephen Pryor was walking down the line a bit to throw his glove in the grass outside of the *stretch zone* — I asked and he happily agreed to pose for this picture with the boys:

I think Kellan’s face in that picture is hilarious.  He simply refused to smile at the time.  He does that at times.

We were safely out of foul ball zone so I could let down my *don’t hit my boys* guard.  But moments after that picture with Pryor, an Orioles batter ripped a foul ball off of a protective net and it bounced over to the warning track and rolled to a stop just below us.  I reached over and grabbed it.

Thank you, very much, Orioles batter and lucky ricochet!

Then we headed above the dugout and watched our guys chat with each other…

…and then go through their stretching routine.

As the stretching began to wind down, I decided we should head down the LF line so we could claim a nice spot (among the 10 fans over there in foul territory) to watch the M’s play catch.  As we started walking down the line, I saw that Jason Phillips was standing on the foul warning track chatting with some guy (a non-uniformed Mariners employee).  As we were walking, Phillips looked up and saw us and he walked over to the bag of baseballs and grabbed one.

Phillips was deep in conversation when we reached Phillips, but he walked over and set the baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Jason!

Since he was deep in conversation, we didn’t wait around to chat with Phillips.  We just continued down the line.  We stopped about one section in from the foul pole and an Oriole immediately hit a baseball foul right behind us.  It trickled down the stairs right to us.

With Ichiro no longer on the team, King Felix is by far Tim’s new favorite Mariner.  At this game, he was sporting his white “Hernandez” t-shirt jersey that the Mariners gave my folks when they were invited to a game in the owners’ suite earlier in the season.  As all of the players made their way down the line, they stopped about 2-3 sections down from us and gathered around Phillips.

I pointed out Felix to Tim and Tim screamed, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, FEEEEELIX!”  Felix turned around and said “hi” and waved at Tim.  He then looked back-and-forth like he was searching for something.  He was.  It was the baseball bag.  He went over, grabbed a ball, and launched a arching pop fly in Tim’s direction.  Tim tried to navigate the seats in the first row, but the ball fell one seat short.  No catch, but Tim easily picked up the commemorative Orioles Park baseball from the folded seat.

Thanks, Felix!!!

Moments later, Felix started signing autographs.  We scooted over to the small gathering of people around Felix.  I was holding Kellan but another fan helped guide time right into the thick of the group…

…(you can see his hat just under the arms of the guy in the royal blue shirt) and King Felix stepped back from the group to get an extra good hold on the ball as he put a beautiful signature right on the sweet spot of the baseball he had just tossed to Tim.

Thanks, again, Felix! (And congrats again on the Perfecto!)

On our drive home, Tim was looking at the Felix autograph while chatting on the phone with his mommy and explaining the autograph.  He said something hilarious:  “Felix’s autograph is so cool.  It’s part signature and part letters!  You know how most autographs are just scribbles like a signature?  Well, this is both signature and letters!!!”  (That’s a paraphrase, by the way).

Once the Mariners started playing catch, we stationed ourselves between Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley:

Perez was playing catch with King Felix while Kelley played catch with Lucas Luetge.

This was some of the coolest *catch watching* in which we have ever participated.  Perez, who apparently has a crazy-strong arm, and Felix were playing long toss and Felix just kept scooting back-and-back-and-back.  Eventually, Perez threw a homerun over the CF fence and into the batters’ eye.  The grass in the batters’ eye is elevated so Felix was able to see Perez when he went up to retrieve the ball.  So Perez and Felix ended up playing catch from the batters’ eye to the LF warning track for a minute or two.  It was mighty impressive!

When Felix came back into CF it got even more interesting.  Felix nearly threw a ball into the seats.  Perez had to drift all the way back to the wall and reach up to get the ball.  Then, Felix threw a ball about one full section to our right.  It was definitely going into the stands.  I raced over there and there was zero doubt in my mind that I was going to catch it.  The throw was so offline and high that it didn’t seem like Perez was even going for it.  But then, as I reached up to make the easy catch at head level, Perez came flying in and made a running/jumping catch about one foot in front of my glove!

The whole thing was a ton of fun to watch.

Felix and Perez finished with some shorter harder throwing:

And then Felix came over to the wall and started signing autographs again.  Tim really wanted to get his picture with Felix, but there were too many people at this point gathered around trying to get an autograph.   So we backed away from the scene…and got rewarded for it.  As Felix signed autographs, Perez slowly walked toward the dugout.  Tim was just goofing off minding his own business in the front row when Perez walked up behind him and handed over the highly entertaining Perez-King Felix warm up baseball.  Awesome!

Thanks, Oliver!

While all of this was going on with Felix and Perez, I had also been communicating a bit with Shawn Kelley.  Kelley seems to be a super cool guy, a great dad and a big fan of kids.  And if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see he’s pretty funny too.

Well, my goal was to get a picture of him with the boys.  At times while players warm up, you can make eye contact or get in a word or two without disturbing their process.  I used these little breaks in the action to ask Kelley if the boys could get a picture with him after he was done warming up.

It was funny because he kept motioning like, “You want my autograph?”  And I would respond, “That would be cool too, but I really want a picture with you.”

Then, wouldn’t you know it, Kellan fell down and scraped his knee a bit (he does this all the time) right as Kelley wrapped up his throwing.  Kelley still thought we were asking for an autograph.  But all of our baseballs were put away and I didn’t feel like pulling one out.  I really just wanted a picture of him and the boys.  Because of the sniffling due to the scraped knee, the picture ended up being just Tim and Shawn:

Probably also due to the sniffling from the scraped knees, before leaving Shawn reached out and handed his warm up baseball to Kellan.  And it actually did the trick perfectly!  Kellan loves when he gets a baseball.  His eyes lit up and he yelled, “Baseball!”

And, hey, it was an Orioles Park commemorative (as was the Perez-Felix warm up baseball!)

Double thanks, Shawn!  Keep up the good work!

Once all of the pitchers were finished playing catch, we decided to head out to LCF by the bullpens.  Blake Beavan was out there and he decided to toss us this:

While out by the bullpen, Kellan and I were hanging out in one row and Tim was sitting right in front of me.  We spend most of our BP time in foul territory so we catch very few homerun balls.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I caught a BP homerun on the fly at Camden Yards was in 2004 before Tim was born.  Well, it is time to reset that clock.  Now, it has been since August 6, 2012.

A Mariner took a mighty hack and hit a screaming liner right to me.  Here is a reenactment of where I caught it, right above Tim’s head:

Yeah, he was busy eating a Nature Valley bar at the time.

That was it for BP.  Time to hit the kids’ play area.  We cut through the cross aisle around home plate and had an usher take our picture on the way:

After a vigorous bouncy house session, Tim and Kellan played on the too high and dangerous play fort…

…and then Tim did some pitching:

As Tim was unleashing his fastball fury, a fan walked by and yelled something like, “Looking good, King Felix!!!”

After the boys did some playing, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Jason Vargas warm up for the game:

He was looking pretty good.  And he had just been named A.L. Pitcher of the Month for July.  So I was hoping for good things from him in this game.

Once again (this is becoming the norm this season), Tim requested to do the old switcheroo – ice cream first, dinner second.  So we did.  We grabbed some ice cream helmets and found some seats in (approximately) section 62:

But something was amiss.  Kellan wanted nothing to do with his ice cream.  Instead, he just wanted to get out of those seats ASAP:

In that picture, he is trying to squeeze by me into the aisle.  He screamed throughout the national anthem.  I knew we couldn’t stay there.  Oddly enough, he calmed down the second we left this section.

We moved to some nearby handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle…

…and, instantly, Kellan’s screaming turned to smiles:

But he still didn’t want his ice cream.  So, as Dustin Ackley led off the game for the Mariners…

…, I took one for the team and ate Kellan’s ice cream.

The Mariners failed to score in the first.  Then it was Vargas’s turn:

Although he gave up two hits (including a double), he also got through the first inning unscathed.

Unfortunately, Chris Tillman kept retiring Mariners batters while Vargas gave up three runs in the bottom of the second.  They were the only runs Vargas would give up over eight otherwise strong innings of work.  But the Mariners just weren’t hitting.

We followed ice cream with a tasty pizza dinner:

I can’t remember who the batter was, but one piece of excitement was when one of the Orioles hit a single into LF and his bat traveled almost as far as the baseball.  Here is Kyle Seager retrieving the barrel of the bat from shallow LF:

While we were still eating our pizza, the Oriole Bird wandered by on his way to deliver some birthday wishes to several fans.  He stopped to pose for a picture with Tim (and his pizza crust):

Kellan kept a watchful eye on the big, scary Bird:

When the Bird wandered by again, after delivering a gift bag to a second birthday celebrating fan, Tim went over to say hi again and the Bird swiped the hat right off of Tim’s head…

…and proceeded to munch on it in his big beaked mouth.  Tim got a great kick out of the Bird’s antics.

In the fifth inning, Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl stopped by to say hi.  He also asked me, “is it too early to mention the no hitter?”  Indeed, Chris Tillman was throwing a no-no at the time.  I quickly responded, “No, Tillman is throwing a no hitter!!!”

That did the trick:  Mike Carp came up moments later and rapped the first Mariners hit of the night into LF.

Matt also mentioned that a guy who he described as “Alex from Seattle” was looking for me.  I had no clue who that was.  But we were soon pleasantly surprised when Alex “Not from Seattle but wearing a Mariners t-shirt” Kopp approached.

We last saw Alex at PNC Park on June 9th (for MyGameBalls.com’s Ballhawkfest 2012).  Since then, Alex has started his first job out of college.  It was great to catch up with Alex for an inning or two…during which Alex had a great (but unsuccessful) chance at catching his first ever game foul ball.  Don’t worry, the next day he would catch a Nick Markakis game homerun on the fly in the flag court).

Around the sixth inning, we witnessed one of the worst scenes we’ve ever witnessed at a ball park.  It looked sort of like this:

Here’s what happened.  We ran over to the moon bounce for a second round of bouncing.  Some kids were in the bounce so we had to stand in line.  I was holding Kellan and getting him ready (taking his shoes off) when they started letting the next group of kids into the moon bounce.  Tim ran up and jumped into the moon bounce.  Right as I started to approach with Kellan, a 45-ish year old dad with a 4-ish year old son walked up and asked the moon bounce attendants to call for help.  The sat down on the corner of the moon bounce mat, about 2 feet in front of us, and the kid’s head was bleeding like crazy.  You can see the dad in the blue shirt and orange hat on the right side of the photo above, with blood all around them on the ground.

My mom was an ICU nurse and she tells me that head wounds bleed a lot.  But, man, I’ve never seen anything like this.  The kid was drenched in blood.  My first instinct was to shield Kellan from seeing what was going on.  Another Mariners fan was standing right there (in the hot and sweaty evening air) and he freaked out (in a good way).  He ripped off his (no doubt sweaty) shirt and tried to give it to the dad to wipe up the kids’ blood.  The dad was very thankful but declined because he had something of his own to clean up the kid.

I have no clue what happened to the kid.  My first thought was that he fell off of the terribly dangerous looking and tall play set, but I didn’t see any blood on the ground over there.

All sorts of cops and security people ran over.  The dad did a great job comforting his boy and calling for more help.

Meanwhile, Tim was bouncing in the moon bounce and I circled around the side so Kellan wouldn’t see too much of what was going on.  All of a sudden, a 30-ish year old lady took a backwards dive right onto the cement.  Someone yelled that she was having a seizure, but she was not moving at all.  My guess is that she passed out from watching the kid with the bloody head.  Whatever happened, she wasn’t moving at all.  She no doubt bashed her head hard of the cement when she fell.  Her daughter (shown on the far left sitting on the ground wearing pink) started to totally freak out.

The lady seemed to be with some other people who started to tend to her.  They all called for more help and scream out for another ambulance (the dad had already asked for one for the boy).

Just then, they let the kids out of the moon bounce.  The bloody kid was practically sitting on Tim’s shoes so he had to go right up to the dad and kid to get them.  Actually, you can see Tim’s hat directly above the dad’s orange hat as he is grabbing his shoes.  Once he ran over to me and put on his shoes, I got my boys out of there as fast as humanly possible.

There was bad mojo in the air and I wanted none of it.  I have no clue why that cop appears to be smiling/laughing for my camera.  It was a very serious and unpleasant scene.  It might just be a bad picture and he wasn’t really smiling.  Who knows.

We got out of there and headed back to the cross-aisle:

Soon, we headed behind home plate.  The Mariners were still losing 3-0.  They did eventually score one run in the 8th inning and they definitely had opportunities to score a second and third run, but they just couldn’t do it.

We headed  behind the dugout in the cross-aisle to watch the 8th and 9th innings.  Interestingly enough, the usher at the top wouldn’t let us stand in the cross aisle (that’s a new one on me at Camden Yards), instead she *made us* sit in the fancy seats behind the home plate end of the dugout:

Okay, usher.  If you insist!

I took a bunch of unimpressive action shots as the Mariners tried unsuccessfully to tie up the score.

Seager hit a 1-out single in the top of the ninth:

At this point, a homerun would have tied up the score.

Mike Carp grounded out sending Seager to 2B:

Casper Wells hit a weak grounder for an infield single:

Now, with two outs, a homerun would have put the Mariners ahead and a gapped would have probably at tied it.

But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t to be.  Eric Thames (not on this pitch) grounded into a game ending fielder’s choice:

That sent out Mariners in-person season record to 2-1.  Alas, no undefeated Mariners season for us in 2012.

After the game, an usher took our picture behind the Mariners dugout:

And one our way out of the stadium, I took this panorama from right next to the batters’ eye:

Thankfully, our next three games would feature the Mariners at Safeco Field.  Hooray!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

17/15 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
26 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – 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
95 Baseballs – Mariners 15, 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 6, 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
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 Park6/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – 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
6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez

 Bonus Picture: Tim likes to pose with the many Orioles signs all over the place at Camden Yards:

Thank You, Ichiro / Tim’s Ichiro Stats

Ichiro Suzuki has always been Tim’s favorite player.

And a couple of time, Ichiro gave back a little love (in the form of baseballs) to Tim:

(It’s hard to tell, but that is Ichiro in the background between me and Tim in the picture to the left.)

We are very sad to see him leave the Mariners.  But we have shared a ton of great times together watching Ichiro work his magic…

… in a Mariners uniform.  (By the way, that was Ichiro’s 184th hit of the 2009 season).

Last night while I half watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics, I compiled *Tim’s* Ichiro stats.

Not too shabby, at all.  Of those 42 games and 57 hits, the single hit that stands out as my favorite was Ichiro’s homerun off of Rogers Clemens at old Yankee Stadium on September 3, 2007.  Part of a 3-5 day, that homerun marked Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the seventh season in a row.  (And that day King Felix and the Mariners handed Clemens the final regular-season loss of his career).

Thank you, Ichiro-san!

2012 Cook GFS Game 6 – Mariners vs. Rockies (5/19/12)

On May 19, 2012, we headed back to Coors Field on a grey and drizzly morning for the sixth and final game of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

When we headed into the ballpark, it felt like only about 10 other fans joined us.  And there was no one on the field.  The tarp was out.  The batting cage was nowhere to be found.  There would be no BP to speak of.

Luckily, we did not have to wait too long for some on field entertainment.  Pretty quickly, the Mariners pitching corps popped out of the dugout and headed to the CF grass next to the visitors’ bullpen.

As the Mariners pitchers stretched and chatted amongst themselves…

…Kellan and I were the only fans in the front row section.  There were a couple fans above us in the bleachers.  The only other people in the front row were my dad, Tim, Dan and Emily, and they were chatting amongst themselves over in LF at Dan’s seats:

This was our view out in CF:

When the Mariners paired up and started playing catch, the closest Mariners to us were Hisashi Iwakuma (along the warning track in RCF) and Brandon League (in the CF grass):

While the M’s played catch on the field, Kellan pushed his stroller around, stomped in puddles, and just hung out and watched the action on the field:

Eventually, League short hopped Kuma with a hard throw.  The ball trickled past Kuma and was scooped up by his interpreter.  Kuma pulled a second baseball out of his pocket and he and League played catch for a few more minutes.

Once they finished playing catch, League tossed the ball they were using to a guy in the bleachers behind us.  League then motioned to Kuma’s interpreter for their original warm up ball.  He tossed that ball to us, and it was a Dodger Stadium commemorative ball!

Thanks, Brandon!

After getting the baseball from Brandon, Kellan and I stayed put for a few minutes.  But when I looked back over to LF, Dan gave a big *come over here* wave.  When Kellan and I reached Dan’s seats, he introduced me to a guy from mlb.com who said he wanted to interview me about our Roadtrip.  He ended up shooting a five minute video interview (during which I felt like I was continually looking off camera to check on Tim and Kellan who were running back-and-forth).  I’ve never seen that video turn up anywhere.  But later the same day of the game, the following blurb popped up on MLB.com’s Cut4 page:

When the interview wrapped up, the only Mariners still playing catch were Tom Wilhelmson and Charlie Furbush.  And they were playing extreme-long-toss – from the LF foul line to the RF warning track.

When they finished up and started to walk off…

…, one of them (I think Furbush) tossed the baseball to my dad…actually, he completely air mailed him, but it stayed in the front row where we were the only fans who could get to it.  It was also a Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball, my dad’s second!

Once Furbush and Wilhelmson wrapped up their long-toss show, there was absolutely nothing happening on the field.  So we just hung out for a bit and watched Felix and Brandon League…

…get in some work in the bullpen.

Eventually, Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Suzuki (Ichiro’s interpreter) started playing two person pepper along the LF line:

Tim, Kellan and I headed over there to watch since nothing else was happening.  After playing some pepper, Muni ran some sprints.  Check out those fancy shoes he is wearing.

When he wrapped up the running, Muni and Anthony started walking back to the dugout, and all of the fans hanging out down the line were completely silent…except us.

I called out a simple, “Hey, Muni!”  He looked over and then did an exaggerated backspin to crow-hop before gentling tossing one of the two baseballs he’d been using to us.

Thanks, Muni!

After he tossed the baseball to us, another fan got brave and asked for an autograph.  He ended up coming over and signing a bunch of autographs, including signing the baseball he’d just thrown to us:

I’ve thought for a while that it would be cool to get a Japan-born Major Leaguer to sign a baseball in Japanese (Iwakuma did this for my dad at spring training).  So, as Tim handed the baseball to Muni, I asked if he would sign in Japanese.  He responded (essentially), “No Japanese!  This is America!  Only English!”

No problem, an English Muni-autograph was just fine for us.

Thanks, again, Muni!

My dad was still out in LF and he took this picture of us as we walked back to LF:

Check out all of those fans!  Man, it was packed!

It was quiet and peaceful in the stadium.  The grounds crew was using the quiet time to tidy up the outfield grass:

We still had a long time until the game was scheduled to start.  So we headed over to the Blue Moon Brewery restaurant in the RF foul corner concourse.  I had a big, tasty BBQ sandwich…

…but Kellan wouldn’t let me simply sit and enjoy it.  Instead, while Tim and grandpa hung out at the table, I ate on foot while watching Kellan run up-and-down and up-and-down and up-and-down this ramp:

After lunch, we headed back out to the OF.  My took Tim to get some pizza (he didn’t want to eat in the Brewery), and Kellan and I checked out the tunnels under the OF bleachers:

We noticed a funny site as the Mariners relievers approached the bullpen before the start of the game:

They had to stop and wait for the band that played the national anthem to finish marching by before they could get to the bullpen.

As the band belted out the national anthem, the boys were ready to get to the baseball:

Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich’s (who is pictured in LF before Tim in the first game picture from our last entry) first pitch to Dustin Ackley was called a ball…

…and we were underway!

I am quite happy to report that this game was all Mariners.  And the scoring got underway when Kyle Seager belted a 2-run homerun in the top of the second inning:

With the 2-0 lead in hand, the Mariners never looked back.

Of all the games to which I have taken both boys together, this was by far the easiest because Kellan fell asleep while I was holding him in the first or second inning:

And he just kept on sleeping until THE SIXTH INNING!

For most of that time, Kellan and I sat with Don the Rockpile Ranter and his son, Hunter:

It was great chatting with these guys.

Sadly, I did not get a picture of the “Bring Back Helmer” sign that Hunter periodically held up for the TV cameras.  (It looked a whole lot like this).

I hardly took any pictures while sitting there holding Kellan.  But I did manage to get a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

And one of Ichiro drilling a line drive toward short stop:

If you click on that picture, you can see the ball just to the left of Ichiro and just barely above his head level.  Unfortunately, Tulowitzki made a diving catch on the ball.

But it didn’t matter.  The Mariners were already piling on the runs.  They scored 2 more in the third inning, 1 in the fourth (on a single by Jason Vargas!)…

…, and 4 more in the sixth.  That made the score 9-0 Mariners.

Don didn’t like the score so much, but I sure did.  And Kellan would have too if he was awake.

Eventually, I headed further out toward LCF to see my dad and Tim.

Kellan was still fast asleep, but it was ice cream time for Tim:

Want to see essentially those same exact two pictures again, but this time as one picture?  Okay, here you go:

Kellan woke up just in time for Don to catch a Rockies shirt in the T-shirt launch.  He ran up into the bleachers to make the grab and he handed the shirt to us on his way back down:

Kellan was mighty satisfied holding it all wrapped up in cellophane.  But he was still a little cranky from his nap.  When I unwrapped the shirt, Kellan gave me a piece of his mind.  Apparently, he wasn’t ready to see it unwrapped quite yet.

In the sixth inning, the Rockies brought Eric Young in to play CF as part of a double switch.  I took some pictures of the Rockies outfielders, but really I just wanted to show how tiny Eric Young seems to be:

My dad spent most of the game chatting with Rockies regular Robert Harman:

Before this trip, I knew about Robert from the Rockpile Rant and an article Zack Hample wrote about Barry Bonds’ final career homerun.  Robert was very nice and he and my dad got along swimmingly during the game.

Here are some pictures I took in the tunnel under the bleachers in LCF:

Top left:  There is some sort of security office under there, right around the corner from the women’s restroom.

Top middle: There was a brief rain shower late in the game.  The game wasn’t delayed at all, but we hid out for a few minutes in the tunnel where this was our view of the field.  We ended up putting our backpacks in the tunnel for the rest of the game to keep dry.  It is definitely convenient having your own personal tunnel like this for a game!

Top right: Tim, Emily and Emily’s friend played tag in the tunnel.  This was just one of the many things they did to entertain themselves in the tunnel.  Kellan tried to mix it up with the big kids a bit too.

About 5-10 minutes before the rain, the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The final two runs came on a homerun hit by Wilin Rosario that sailed right over our heads into about the sixth or seventh row of the bleachers behind us.  I was hoping it would ricochet back down to us (my Dad had caught a Miguel Olivo BP homer like this the day before and Robert got a Michael Cuddayer game homer like it earlier in the season), but the crowd swallowed it up, never to be seen again by us folks down in the first row.

It was too bad this homerun couldn’t have been hit in the eighth inning instead of the seventh, because almost no one was left in the bleachers after the rain…

…and the ball almost certainly would have bounced back down to us.

The Mariners got one run back in the eighth on a passed ball to Kyle Seager that scored Ichiro.  That made it 10-3 Mariners, which would hold up to become the final score of the game.

The previous day, I had noticed that Michael Saunders…

…tossed the CF-LF warm up baseball into the crowd in the ninth inning.  There were zero fans in the front row out in CF by the batters’ eye.  So I figured that Kellan and I ought to head over there in the ninth so Saunders would have a target.

It was a solid plan.  After finishing his ninth inning warm up tosses with Casper Wells, Saunders turned and threw a strike right to us.  Another Dodger Stadium commemorative!

Thanks, Michael!

Sean Kelley and Steve Delabar each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning of relief to cap off the game.  Another wonderful Mariners win!  That made them 2-0 for us on the season.

After saying our good-byes to Dan and Robert (Don had left during the rain because he feared for his super-nice camera’s safety), we got an usher to take our picture:

Then we walked around to home plate…

…and got an usher to retake the family photo the fan had botched the night before:

The key to that picture was that Tim had his foot up on the step above us.  He thought this made the picture look very, VERY cool.

Outside the stadium, I got a shot of my three Roadtrip mates outside Coors Field:

And then we headed over to the 15th Street Mall for some dinner.

On our walk back to the hotel, my dad and Tim were locked in battle in a fierce game of “yellow cab” (the objective being to spot as many yellow cabs as possible) when we walked by Coors Field for the final time:

“YELLOW CAB!” (in the foreground)  “YELLOW CAB!” (across the street)

The yellow cab battle continued as the fifth installment of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip slowly walked down Park Road to our hotel and into the sunset

It was an OUTSTANDING trip.

Let the planning begin for the 2012 GFS Roadtrip!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

10/9 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3
51 Baseballs – Mariners 9, 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
10 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4
8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Spring Training in AZ and PA

It’s sad to be in Pennsylvania while my parents are in Arizona with the Mariners and are sending us pictures like this one of Ichiro…

…, this one of new Mariner Jesus Montero…

…, this one of Felix (the catcher)…

…, this one of Smoak, Carp, Ichiro (with pink-lined shoes), Rick Griffin and Guti…

…, this one of Dustin Ackley…

…, this one of Hisashi Iwakuma…

…, this one of King Felix pitching…

…and this one of a foul ball my dad caught today and then got signed in Japanese by Ikawuma:

As explained by our friend Nao:  “top, “岩” (IWA=rock); 2nd, “隈”, (KUMA=corner, shadow); 3rd, “久” (HISA, eternity); bottom, 志(SHI, will).”

Okay.   That’s a lot of fun in Arizona.

But, while we don’t have any Mariners here in Pennsylvania, we do have baseball!

This past weekend, Tim and I headed to our favorite local ballfield with our buddy Greg for some catching, throwing and hitting.  Tim focused on the hitting.

He had a lot of fun with his new baseball bats.  Here is a single to right:

A little fun with photo editing resulted in this picture of Tim’s batting motion:

Near the end of our practice, I got two two pictures that did not require any photo editing (although they may look like they did).  Tim took a mighty swing but came up empty on this pitch from Greg:

FYI, that is a cloth Rawlings training ball so it did not hurt when it nailed me behind the plate (I was using a camera only, no glove).

And I saved the best for last.  Tim’s wicked 6-year-old bat speed made his new metal bat look like a flimsy piece of swing cheese on this swing:

While we are quietly longing to be in Peoria with our Mariners (and Grandma and Grandpa), an afternoon playing baseball at the park is a great alternative!

Mariners Season Finale (9/28/2011)

All good things have to come to an end.  Even the baseball season.  And so the Mariners 2011 season ended on September 28, 2011, and we were there for it.  This is the story.

The line-up was different for this game.  Kellan had a few sniffles, so we didn’t want him to get sick.  So Colleen and Kellan sat this one out.  Meanwhile, my brother and sister-in-law were expecting the birth of their first baby any day so my mom stayed home in case the baby wanted to make an appearance that day (he didn’t).

So it was me, Tim, my dad, and my best buddy Paul at this game.  Paul would come straight from work and meet us at game time.

If I ran the Mariners, there would definitely, absolutely, without question be batting practice on the final day of the season.  Sadly, I do not run the Mariners so, despite the fact it was a night game, I was uncertain and doubtful that there would be batting practice.

I tweeted to some Mariners and Mariners personnel in hopes of figuring out whether it would be worthwhile arriving two hours before game time.  Word finally came in from Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims…

…but it was too late.  We arrived early for (no) BP.

No problem.  Nothing wrong with several hours of hanging out at Safeco Field, even if nothing is happening.

And that is exactly what was happening.  Nothing.

When we arrived, there were two Mariners playing catch along the RF foul line.  Before the rest of the stadium opened for the fans, the two Mariners were long gone.  We did not see another uniformed Mariner for about an hour-and-a-half.

We headed into the infield seats and did some quality hanging out:

We did *a lot* of hanging out.  We stayed down the RF line hoping some Mariners would come out to play catch.  It wasn’t happening.  We grabbed some seats and just chatted to pass time:

Eventually, a Mariners groundskeeper came walking by on his way to the outfield.  He walked right up to us and stopped in front of Tim –

Groundskeeper:  I bet you arrived early because you wanted to see batting practice, right?

Tim:  Uh, huh.

Groundskeeper:  You probably wanted to catch a baseball, right?

Tim:  Uh, huh.

And then the groundskeeper pulled our final baseball of the season out of his pocket and handed it to Tim:

Thanks, Groundskeeperdude!

A bunch of A’s pitchers came out and played catch down the LF line.  We didn’t even budge.  We didn’t want to miss out on any time with our Mariners, in case the Mariners happened to come out and play catch.

So, we hung out some more.  And I took this panorama from our spot in section 112:

Tim spent some time leaning over the short wall and playing with the warning track dirt:

Eventually, we gave up on the Mariners coming out – which was disappointing.  I think the Mariners need to realize that their fans want to see the guys on the last day.  It’s the end of a long grueling season for them and I understand that they are ready for a break and time to rest.  But for the fans it is the last chance to see their guys until next season.  So, hey, come on.  Come out and be seen one last day.  Rest tomorrow!

Anyway, we pulled up stakes and headed to the kids’ play area:

It could very well be Tim’s last time playing in the Mariners kids’ play area.  There is a height limit, and Tim was only one inch below it.  Next season, he’ll likely exceed it.  So Tim enjoyed his time in the play area.

Eventually, we reported back to the RF/1B line to see if any Mariners were going to make a pre-game appearance.  I really figured that tons of Mariners would be out signing for fans – that is what the fans want on the last day of the season!  But it still was not happening.

We headed behind home plate for a panorama:

I got a better picture than the night before of the new Dave Niehaus sign:

Of course, I had to take a picture of the beautiful Safeco Field clock/sign above the LF bleachers:

Ah, it’s a great looking stadium sign out there.  I could look at it all day.

Eventually, it really, truly did seem as if a bunch of Mariners were going to come out and do some pre-game autographing.  We staked out a spot just past 1B.  Shelly was ready with his blue sharpie:

We got our first signs of Mariners life – Chris Giminez and Jason Phillips made their way to the bullpen:

I was just taking the picture of Phillips and Giminez, but check out the situation that was unfolding on the out-of-town scoreboard?  The A.L. wild card was still up for grabs.  It would either be the Red Sox or the Rays.  They were tied going into the day.  And when Phillips and Giminez made their way out to the Mariners bullpen, the Red Sox were leading the Orioles 3-2 in the top of the seventh and the Yankees were leading the Rays 7-0 in the bottom of the sixth.  Things were looking good for the Red Sox.

We like to get an autograph or two, but at this game I really wanted to collect a bunch of them.  I had a plan.  While my dad and Tim held our ground along the 1B line, I ran out to the bullpen.  I did not know what my new nephew’s name would be, but I wanted to get a personalized signed baseball for him.  Jason Phillips hook up me big time:

He signed the baseball on one side and wrote a personalized message (“Welcome to Life Mr. Cook!”) across the sweet spot of the ball.  By the way, this was a ball that Casper Wells had thrown to some fans the day before.  They dropped it into the gap and an usher eventually gave it to my dad and Kellan.

I reported back to Tim and my dad (can you spot them?)…

…with the baseball in hand.  Now all I needed was for a ton of Mariners to add their signature along with Phillips’ signature.  If that plan did not work, it would be a pretty weird “welcome to life” memento for my nephew.

Miguel Olivo came out to sign autographs, but he never moved from one spot.  Neither did we.  So we missed out on Olivo’s signature.

A bunch of Mariners did eventually come out to play catch and stretch:

And one of them (Kyle Seager) signed the baseball and Tim’s hat.  Tim also got his had signed by this Mariners ball girl:

We still had a dismal two signatures on our baseball as game time approached.  So before heading to our seats, Tim and I headed back to the bullpen and we struck Mariners gold over there.  The guys in the bullpen were awesome – not just for me.  The bullpen was doing what the whole team should have been doing during the whole pre-game – they were signing and signing and signing, and greeting and thanking fans.  It was great.  In all, I believe we got 10 signatures. Unfortunately, I did not keep a picture of the whole thing, but I think my nephew’s baseball was signed by:  Jason Phillips, Kyle Seager, Brandon League, Chance Ruffin, Tom Wilhelmsen, Shawn Kelley, Jamey Wright, Jaime Navarro, Josh Lueke, Steve Delabar.

With the signed baseball in hand, we reported to our seats.  And look who was there to root of the Mariners with us:

It’s Paulie!

It is always great to take in a game with Paulie.  This would be the second season in a row that we’d close it out the Paul.

The game was a good one, but did not go the Mariners way.  The A’s right fielder Jai Miller hit a 2-run homerun in the top of the second inning and the 2-0 score held up all night.  Gio Gonzalez pitched a dandy for the A’s.  He threw 8 innings and only gave up two hits.  Not much you can do in terms of scoring runs when you’re only collecting 2 hits over the course of the game.  But we had a heck of a time at the game nonetheless.

With not much action to photograph, I at least managed to get a good shot of Justin Smoak…

…wearing his face-protecting batting helmet extension.  While it kept his mended face safe, it did not help Justin collect any hits.

A couple innings into the game, Tim and I went to get our final ice cream helmets of the season.  We went to the ice cream place by the home plate end of the Mariners Hall of Fame.  I had passed through the Hall of Fame the previous day, but Tim had not.  So we took a stroll through it on our way to get ice cream.

Tim posed on the pick-off-a-homerun-ball wall:

In the Ichiro’s locker display, we saw the baseball that Ichiro slapped into history for his all-time single season record 262nd hit of 2004:

Tim posed with the Peanut Man memorial:

I sure wish Rick could have been here to toss us some peanuts at this game.  He will be forever missed at Safeco Field.

The Mariners Hall of Fame is small.  But there are some cool things to see in there.  Tim posed with a display showing the innards of a baseball:

They had a Safeco Field inaugural game ball from 1999…

…along with an Ichiro game-used bat.

Accompanied by a list of Mariners gold glove winners, they had Harold Reynolds’ 1988 Gold Glove Award:

This Alvin Davis game-used bat is nice…

…, but the 1977 Mariners inaugural game ball was even better.

Just before grabbing our ice cream helmets, Tim posed with “Bone”:

When we returned to the stands, I took a panorama from our seats in section 144:

I got these tickets on stubhub for cheap, cheap, cheap!  Cheap tickets on stub hub is the best thing about the end of the season.

Tim thoroughly enjoyed his mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet:

But it made him hyper and cold.  So we threw on my sweatshirt:

We were really hoping to see at least one more hit from Ichiro.  But it wasn’t in the cards.  He flew out in his second to last at bat of the season…

…and he finished the season with 184 hits and a .272 average.

Paul has incredibly awesome season tickets just a couple rows behind the Mariners dugout.  This results in him not exploring the stadium much.  All season, he had never been out to “The Pen.”  So I took him out there so he could check it out:

As the game rolled on, we did a lot of scoreboard watching.  By the end of the night, at lot of people were claiming this was one of the best days of baseball ever.  The Red Sox folded in the ninth and ended up losing to the Orioles.  Meanwhile, the Rays marched back from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Yankees 8-7 on a Evan Longoria homerun that punched the Rays’ ticket to the post-season, and ended the season for the Red Sox.

Mike Carp went down swinging in the bottom of the ninth to end the season for the Mariners.  After the game, Paul got a season-ending shot of me, Tim and my dad:

And my dad got one with me, Tim and Paul:

And that was our 2011 baseball season.  Great times!  Bring on 2012!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
33/8 Games (Tim/Kellan)
22/11 Teams [Tim – Mariners,   Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves,   Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,   Yankees, Marlins, Pirates, Athletics; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets,   Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics]
24 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Mariners   (1), Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1),   Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
108 Baseballs (25 Mariners,   7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 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, 9 Marlins,   1 Pirates, 4 Athletics)
14/6 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, Safeco   Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park,   Nationals Park, Safeco Field]
19/10 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,   Rich Harden; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin   Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad   Durbin, Rich Harden]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard   Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
24 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,   Steve Delabar, Rich Harden, Kyle Seager)
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

More Fun At Safeco Field (9/27/2011)

We were right back at it on September 27, 2011.  It was the second-to-last Mariners game of the season.  Once again, my dad, Tim, Kellan and I headed down to Safeco Field for BP and my mom and Colleen met us just before game time.

We started out very much like the previous afternoon.  My dad took Kellan and I took Tim.  And we all headed to the SRO area in CF.  Casper Wells was shagging balls in CF and he would directly and indirectly hook up both sets of us.  First, he tossed a ball to a couple fans and they botched it.  The ball fell down into the gap.  Casper is still relatively new in Seattle and apparently did not know what it looked like behind the fence.  He ran over, jumped up, hooked his arm over the wall, and peered down into the gap.

Casper saw the ball was a lost cause so he hopped down and gave the fans a shrug like, “Sorry!  Nothing I can do about it now!”

Thirty second later, an usher walked through the gap and grabbed the ball.  I knew just what would happen next.  The usher looked up at the fans as he walked through the gap.  He passed by the fans to whom Casper had thrown the ball and then he saw my dad and Kellan.  He reached up and handed them the ball.

So after this, I figured that Casper was in a giving mood.  When he caught his next fly ball, I called his name.  He was a good distance out into the field, but he turned around and saw us and fired the ball to me and Tim.  Here is Tim holding the ball from Casper with Casper in the background:

Check out that spiffy argyle mariners hat.  That was in Tim’s sorry-you-got-beaned-by-a-BP-foul prize bag.  It’s a kinda funny hat, but Tim loves it.

As 5:10 approached and the rest of the stadium was going to open, Tim and I headed over to the area behind the visitors’ bullpen.  The sun streaming over the infield grandstands wreaked havoc on my camera.  Here is a blurry panorama of the view from behind the bullpen:

Last season, it would have been impossible for a player on the field to throw a baseball to a fan behind the dugout  But with the new “The Pen” set up…

…that is exactly what Jamey Wright did, and we were on the receiving end.  It was an impressive throw over the bullpen.

Thanks, Jamey!

When the rest of the stadium opened, Tim, Kellan and I headed up the stairs…

…and scooted over to the corner spot in section 152.

Down below us and a little bit toward CF was…

…Brandon League, Jamey Wright and Jeff Gray.  Someone hit a liner down the LF line that rolled to a stop on the warning track.  Gray jogged over, grabbed the ball, walked out into LF until he could see us, and then tossed the ball up.

Thanks, Jeff!

Mere minutes later, something crazy happened.  Shawn Kelley spotted us up above the hand-operated scoreboard and came over to toss us a baseball he’d just caught.  On his walk over, he caught another ball.  When we reached a spot below us on the warning track, he tossed the first baseball to me, and then he tossed the second.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was one for each
kid.   But as I caught the second baseball, a fifty year old guy second ten feet behind us (and completely out of Kelley’s view from down on the field) let out a big gasp, “Aaaahhhhhhh!!!!!”  I turned around and looked at him and he explained, “Ah, I totally had that one!”

Kelley clearly was throwing a ball up for Tim and a ball for Kellan, and there was a zero percent chance of him catching the ball, but I figured *what the heck* so I turned around and tossed the guy the second baseball.  “Thanks, I gotta give this to someone actually.”  And then he left the section.  It was bizarre.  But, whatever, at least he said thanks.  A little manners goes a long way.

After the Mariners finished hitting, we met up with my dad and we scooted around to the LF foul line.  We saw the usher who had come to Tim’s rescue the day before with the foul-ball-to-the-hand incident…

…and went over to thank him again for his help.  Another usher was standing there and she asked to hear the story.  In that last picture, Tim is showing her the bruise on his hand.

Understandably, we were a little nervous about hanging out in the foul ball zone.  So we headed down the line closer to third base where it would be less likely that Tim (or any of us) would get beaned by another foul ball.  A random Athletic came walking by and signed an autograph for a visiting A’s fan.  It was Rich Harden, but for some reason, I didn’t recognize him and had no clue he was at the time.  After he signed a baseball for Tim, I asked if he’s pose for a picture with the boys.  Right when I trained the camera on them, someone hit a bouncer that landed right behind Harden and the boys:

Harden had no clue the ball was coming.  At the last second, I  reached out with my bare left hand and the ball clanked right off of my palm and rolled further down the warning track.
Harden gave me a *holy cow* look, paused for the picture, and retreated so he wouldn’t get hit by the next foul ball.

We continued on our way.  Down to home plate and around to the Mariners dugout we went.  Steve Delabar was hanging out on the stairs of the Mariners dugout signing autographs….

…so we worked our way through the little line that had formed got ourselves our very own Delabar autograph.

And then we headed down the RF line:

We were hanging out behind a little screen set up on the edge of the grass.  An A’s coach was fungoing grounders to several A’s first basemen.  He was hitting hard shots that required the guys to dive toward the foul line.  Several of them snuck by the fielders and game to a rest by the screen behind which we were hiding.  Two groundskeepers were standing on the warning track a little further down the line toward Mariners dugout…

…one of them walked over and grabbed one of the baseballs that had been fungo’d down the line, and came over and handed it to Kellan.  Kellan was like, “Hey, thanks, man” as he sat in my arms clutching his new baseball.

So, BP was pretty crazy for us.  We moved around a lot and had come away with five baseballs.  BP was still going strong, but we decided it was time to track down some 2011 Mariners
pocket schedules.  None of the concession stands had them.  So we head over to the fan assistance office, which is right next to the First Aid room we had visited the day before.

Sometimes teams are out of pocket schedules at the end of the season so I wasn’t sure if we’d have any luck.  As we approached the window, I didn’t see any pocket scheduled out on display. When I asked the lady if she had any pocket schedules, she looked left and right, stood up, walked to the back of the room, reached into a small cardboard box, pulled something out and handed me this:

Tons and tons of Felix Hernandez 2011 pocket schedules!  (And that’s the Delabar autographed baseball included to give perspective of how many schedules we received.)

Tim posed with one of his schedules and Shelly in front of the big bat art thingy hanging above the main entrance rotunda (which is just to the right of the fan assistance office):

And then I took Tim’s picture in front of the First Aid station we’d visited the day before:

Just then, a Mariners employee walked by on her way into the fan assistance office and asked if I wanted her to take a picture of all three of us.   Thanked her but declined the offer  explaining that I was just taking the picture because Tim had visited the  First Aid office the day before.  She asked what happened and, after hearing the story, announced that she had something that might make him feel better.  We headed back into the fan assistance office and she disappeared into the back office area.  When she returned, she presented Tim with a Felix Hernandez bobblehead!

Thanks!

New prizes in hand, we headed back to the field.  The A’s were still taking BP.  We met up with my dad in CF.

There is a little break outfield seats in deep RCF – its like a little tunnel for groundskeepers to access the tunnel under the seats.  My dad was in the front row on the RF side of the tunnel.  Tim, Kellan and I went to the corner spot on the CF side of the tunnel.

Over the next ten minutes, Tim got two new souvenirs.  First, A’s September call-up Graham Godfrey tossed us a near-pristine Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative baseball…

…and an usher named Tim gave both Tim and Kellan each a big back of baseball cards (both featuring an Ichiro card)!

And that was it for BP.  As the A’s cleared the field, we sat around in the seats and ate some snacks:

Soon, my lovely wife…

…and mom arrived for the game.

I grabbed a big batch of fries with the tastiest garlic dipping sauce and we reported to our seats in section 109:

I knew this game had the possibility of being a tough one.  The A’s had Trevor Cahill on the mound, and (despite his unimpressive 2011 ERA and W-L record) he’s a quality pitcher.  Unfortunately, he had his *a game* on this day, and Mariners starter Blake Beavan did not.  The A’s scored three runs in the top of the first inning – on a 3-Run homer by Josh Willingham.  And that is all the A’s needed to win the game.

The Mariners offensive highlight of the day was Ichiro’s first at bat:

He watched that pitch, but then slapped a single for his 184th and final hit of the 2011 season.  I don’t think any other major leaguer would be disappointed with a 184 hit total, but it was sad see Ichiro fall short of 200-hits for the first time in his MLB career.  Hopefully he’ll bounce back and top 200 hits and a .300+ average again in 2012.

I had noticed this the night before, but not photographed the new “Dave Niehaus 1977-2010” sign that was added above the TV press box:

In the second inning, this camera man…

…knelt next to me for about 10 minutes with his camera trained on Tim and Kellan.  I have no clue if  the boys were actually on TV.  But the guy was there so long it was almost uncomfortable.  I mean, how are you supposed to act when a guy has a camera on you like that for 10 minutes?

As the Mariners were giving up two more runs in the top of the third (to make it 5-0 A’s), we enjoyed some nachos:

In the middle innings, Colleen and I visited the team store to do a little shopping.  On the way, we wandered through the Mariners Hall of Fame area behind the 3B concourse.  The M’s Hall of Fame is nothing compared to the Reds super-impressive Hall of Fame, but it has some really cool stuff in on display.  Here are a few of them.

The bat Ichiro used to set the new all-time Mariners career hits record in April 2011:

Dave Niehaus’s score card with notes regarding the first Mariners game ever (April 6, 1977):

Ichiro’s and Griffey’s clubhouse lockers full of memorabilia:

Anew display case memorial to Rick “The Peanut Man” Kaminski:

There was a book for fans to write notes about the Peanut Man…as you can see, I left a note.

On the way back to our seats, I passed through “The Pen” once again:

I really like that “The Pen” sign with the old school Mariners logo.

I also checked out the action in the Mariners’ bullpen – Brandon League was chatting with a teammate:

The score continued to go in the wrong direction.  In the top of the fifth, Beavan gave up a 2-run homerun to Scott Sizemore.   That made the score 7-0 A’s, and that would be the final score.

Despite the bleak prospects of winning the game, we still had a lot of fun.  The boys spent some quality time with their Grandma…

…while Grandpa went on a food or bathroom run.

I got an exciting picture of the Safeco Field RF gap…

…which now features a net that would prevent fans from falling to the concrete below.

Colleen got into the picture-taking action.  After Tim danced around in the front row, she got this cute picture of him:

Kellan and I posed for this picture featuring my new Ryan Rowland-Smith “Hyphen” T-shirt:

I *tweeted* a similar picture to RRS so he would know people are still thinking of him at Safeco Field, and he retweeted it to his followers and sent this reply:

After Tim did more dancing, this time in the stairway, Colleen got another cute picture of Tim:

And she took a bunch of shots of Ichiro playing RF:

And a nice action shot of Ichiro grounding out:

Win or lose (but hopefully win), a Mariners game is a great backdrop for some quality family time.  Kellan enjoyed some quality family time talking baseball with his grandpa:

After the game, we got another family picture:

And then we headed for the exit.  On the way out, I took this panorama of Safeco Field from the CF concourse as the roof rolled closed:

Definitely would have preferred a 7-0 over this 0-7 loss, but it was still a great day at Safeco Field with the family and our Mariners.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
32/8 Games (Tim/Kellan)
22/11 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates, Athletics; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics]
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)).
107 Baseballs (24 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 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, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates, 4 Athletics)
14/6 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, Safeco Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Safeco Field]
19/10 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, Rich Harden; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin, Rich Harden]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
23 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, Steve Delabar, Rich Harden)
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 Best Mariners Game of 2011 (9/26/2011)

For the second season in a row, we decided to end our season at Safeco Field with our Mariners taking on the Oakland Athletics.  The first game of the series as September 26, 2011.  The crew on hand would be Colleen, Tim, Kellan, my mom, my dad and me.  The night started earlier for my dad, Tim, Kellan and me.  We headed down early for BP, and Colleen and my mom joined us.

It is old news at Safeco Field, it was my and the boys’ first time checking out the *new* “The Pen” area at Safeco Field.  It is on the field level in straight away center field (below what would otherwise be called the *field level* concourse) and it opens 2.5 hours early.  The rest of the ballpark opens 2 hours early.  I think it is a great move by the Mariners because in years past, Mariners fans only got to see about 5 minutes of Mariners BP when the whole stadium opened only 2 hours early.

We entered the ballpark through the LF bullpen level entrance and made our way to the singles patio (SRO area) directly over the CF wall.  We parked Kellan’s little stroller at the back of the patio and my dad held him.  I don’t have any pictures or video to show it, but within moments the four of us were all smiling and waving for the TV camera as the Mariners pre-game show went to commercial.  And then we got our game faces on.  My Dad and Kellan went right on the wall to watch the Mariners hit.  Tim and I hung
out behind the TV camera well for a few minutes, but then we relocated behind the Mariners bullpen.

Almost immediately after we reached the Mariners bullpen, my dad and Kellan walked over to meet us and my dad pulled a baseball out of his glove to show me.  “I caught it on the fly!,”  he announced with a smile.  I was excited because on the drive to the ballpark we had discussed catching BP homers on the fly, and my dad said he’d never caught one at Safeco Field.  Very cool.

Then it dawned on me:  he caught a BP home on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!  WOW!  I wish I would have seen it.  It must have been incredibly awesome.  FYI, he explained that he was a ball that barely cleared the wall and required my Dad to reach down over the railing to grab it.

Like two seconds later, a Mariners employee walked by and handed Tim our first baseball of the day.  She explained that it was Shawn Kelley’s warm up ball.  That is pretty
cool.

Oh, by the way, we entered this game with 96 total baseballs on the season.  I truly never thought we would ever in our lives get 100 baseballs in a season.  But with 3 more (after the Shawn Kelley ball from the Mariners employee) we would reach the amazing milestone.

Anyway, my dad handed Kellan off to me right as the rest of the ballpark opened.  My dad headed to the seats in CF (just to the RF side of the batters’ eye) and Tim, Kellan and I headed to section 106 in RF.  Intentionally set up shop behind Michael Pineda (because he is awesome)…

…and before long, guess what happened?

I’ll give you a hint:  it looked sort of like this:

That’s right.  I caught a BP homer on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!!!

Kellan was having quite a day!

It felt awesome!  When I made the grab, I immediately held my glove high over my head in victory!  A couple fans cheer for the catch.  And best of all, Pineda gave me a celebratory fist pump!  With my glove still held aloft, I turned toward CF and *showed* the catch to my dad (who can be seen under the little yellow arrow two photos above).

The three of us should have stayed put, but instead we headed over toward RCF to chat with my dad.  When I looked back to the spot where I caught the homer, another guy caught another homerun standing in the exact same spot!  Ah, well.  One homer on the fly with Kellan was good enough for me.

Soon, the Mariners cleared the field and the A’s pitchers came out to play catch down the LF line.  We decided to walk all the way around the ballpark around the RF foul pole, toward home plate (where Tim got his picture with this big Ichiro baseball card)…

…and down the 3B/LF foul concourse.  Eventually, we cut through the seats and diagonaled through some sections trying to make our quickest route to the railing above the A’s pitchers.  As we cut through the last full section before reaching corner, an A’s batter hit a line drive that landed right in the middle of the section about four rows below us.  A bunch of fan scrabbled for it as Kellan, Tim and I continued on toward the railing.  But as we reached the last seat in the
section, I looked down and the baseball popped out at us.

And, holy cow, it was the elusive Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative baseball!

That was pretty crazy.  We had been trying to get one of these baseballs all season.  We had actually gotten 5 baseballs from the Angels this season, but all 5 were normal ROMLBs.

Even crazier, that was our 99th baseball of the season.  I could not believe it – one more and we would reach the 100 baseball plateau!

But No. 100 would not be all fun and games.  Things were about to get scary.

We made it to the railing right above the A’s pitchers.  I was holding Kellan in my left arm.  Tim was standing to my left with his hand on the railing.  Just then, I noticed a fellow-MLBlogger, Wayne Peck, about 10-15 rows below us.  I had never met Wayne before, but we had communicated through our blogs and twitter.  When I saw him, I called out his name and he came up to say hi to us.

And then I committed a cardinal sin of BP:  I took my eyes off the batter and turned to my right to shake Wayne’s hand as he approached.  Right as Wayne and I clasped hands, several of the A’s pitchers yelled, “HEAD’S UP!!!”

I turned back to the field (still holding Kellan in my left hand and with Tim was literally standing leaning against my left hip).  I scanned the area and surrounding area and I saw NOTHING!  And then…

DIIIIINNNNNNGGGG!

A liner buzzes in and clanks off of the railing.  I thought it got all railing at first.  But then Tim broke out crying.  The ball hit right where his pinky knuckle met the railing.  It pinched Tim’s hand really hard against the railing and bounced onto the field.  I knelt down to comfort him and look at his hand (still holding Kellan).  It was a little bit red and obviously hurt a lot.  I turned to start taking him out of there when this guy arrived on the scene:

I cannot remember his name…it was something unique.  By the way, those pictures are from the following day when we visited the scene of the accident.  Anyway, this guy came to our aid and led us to the First Aid office.  Now, get this, as we walk out of the section with the usher leading the way, an A’s pitcher (I have no clue who) called out to me and tossed me the baseball that had just smashed Tim’s hand.

The little meany was both our 100th baseball of the season and another Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative.

I truly couldn’t believe it.  Who gets a milestone baseball with this kind of crazy story behind it?  Just Tim, I guess!

Anyway, we were ushered off to the First Aid room.  With Tim still whimpering in pain, the walk to the First Aid room was like torture.  Kellan started feeling like he weighed 200 pounds and I couldn’t do much to comfort Tim while holding him.  I quickly called my dad and told him where to come meet us with Kellan’s stroller.

As they started checking out Tim’s hand…

…my dad and Wayne both arrived at the First Aid office to check on Tim.  I handed Kellan off to my dad so I could talk to the first aid people.  Tim’s hand puffy and red.  But I think we were pretty lucky.  I’m pretty sure it was more of a glancing blow getting some of the meat of Tim’s hand and a lot of the railing.

The first aid people were very nice.  They gave me some advice about what to do for Tim’s hand and they gave Tim an ice pack for now and one for later.  They told me that I might want to go get an x-ray the next day if it kept bothering Tim.

Then the First Aid guys did a little whispering and the bearded-usher left.  He reappeared a few minutes later with a you-just-got-drilled-with-a-BP-foul-ball prize pack for Tim.  It included a Felix Hernandez t-shirt, a funny M’s hat that Tim loved, a pennant for Tim to color with crayons, and, most notably, a baseball that the usher had run down and got from the Mariners dugout.  You know, it is an odd way to get a baseball at a game, but since Tim had to endure a lot of pain to get it, we counted it!  No. 101 for the season.

As the usher handed removed it from the bag and handed it to Tim, I said, “Don’t’ let this be an incentive to get hit by any more baseballs!”

So, yeah, it was a crazy and scary situation.  I hate thinking about what could have happened.  In the end, I made a big mistake in not waiting to watch the pitch before turning to shake Wayne’s hand.  It could have plunked any of us square in the head.  So we have to be thankful that it was just a minor injury.  Tim took it like a champ and handled the bad situation really well.

Big thanks to the usher and First Aid people.  And to Wayne for coming and checking on Tim, very cool.

Anyway, we eventually made our way back out to the field.  Tim had been hit right at the beginning of A’s BP so they were still hitting when we got back to the field.  Tim was
understandably scared and did not want to go down by the field.  So Tim, Kellan and I grabbed some seats toward the back of one of the sections on the 3B side…

…while my dad and Wayne went back to the LF corner.

As Tim iced his hand, we checked out more goodies in his goody bag.  There were baseball cards and some posters (one for Tim and one for Kellan) featuring Justin Smoak.  Tim was super excited that the posters were *autographed* (they were not real autographs, but part of the poster).

After a little while, we decided to go to the very back of the seats in CF…high enough up that we did not think any baseballs would be able to reach Tim.  One our way out there, we got a picture with the Mariners Moose…

…and with the new (and really cool) Dave Niehaus statue:

Here are my boys hanging out with their grandpa in row 34 out in CF:

We were, indeed, high enough up in the seats that nothing came even remotely near us.

Once BP ended, we headed off to the play area where both boys had a lot of fun:

Finally, just before game time, we headed back down to “The Pen” where we eventually met up…

…with Colleen and my mom.  Check out that cool seating area in The Pen!  I have never seen open flames in a public area of a MLB ballpark.  Very cool, Mariners.

While we were in The Pen, we stopped by and said hello (once again) and got a picture with Wayne (and his wicked awesome Big League Chew t-shirt!):

And then we grabbed some delicious nachos and reported to our seats in section 108:

Tim and Kellan cannot get enough of their grandma and grandpa.  They always have a blast hanging out with them at a Mariners game:

Here was our outstanding view from the second row of section 108:

We were hoping to witness Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life and Tim and I were trying to break a nasty 10‑game Mariners losing streak dating back to last season.  The game did not start out ideally.  With Jason Vargas on the hill, Jemile Weeks led off with a double, he advanced to 3B on a groundout by Coco Crisp, and then scored on a single by Hideki Matsui.

While the Marines batted in the first inning, I noticed a familiar face patrolling RF for the A’s:

It was Michael Taylor, who played AA-ball for the Reading Phillies a couple years ago.  We saw him play as an R-Phil and he could definitely put on a show with the bat.  He got heckled mercilessly during this game by a four fans about 2-3 rows directly behind us.  Thankfully they kept it clean while having a whole lot of fun at Taylor’s expense.

Of course, our view in the top of each inning was a bit better — we were right behind Ichiro:

In the second inning, we got a great picture of Tim with our Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs and the Safeco Field clock/sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

After helping me and his grandpa catch those BP homers before the game, Kellan was all set to catch a game homerun of his own:

The boys had lots of fun getting their mommy into the Mariners spirit too:

Early in the game, my cousin Nathan texted to let me know that my other cousin (and his sister) Annie was at the game in my parents’ normal seats on the 3B side.  My mom and Colleen headed off to the team store to do some shopping (or browsing at least) and Kellan and I headed off to see Annie.  On our way, Kellan and I stopped off at the Mariners bullpen to what was going on…and I got this cool picture of Kellan sitting on the SRO counter:

The last time we saw Kellan was just a few days after Kellan was born.  It was great seeing her again.  Happily, we successfully turned our backs to the field for this picture…

…without getting nailed in the backs of our heads with a foul ball.

There was, however, a pretty amazing foul ball when we were chatting with Annie.  A’s first basement Chris Carter became only the second (or maybe third) person ever to hit a foul ball over one of the structural arches in Safeco Field’s roof.  It looked a little like this:

Carter’s foul landed in the staircase at the OF side of the 3B dugout and bounced incredibly high off of the cement before a lucky fan won the jump ball for it.

After spending an inning or so with Annie and her friend, Kellan and I headed back toward our seats…but, once again, we stopped off at the Mariners bullpen.  This time, we ended up chatting briefly with Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips.  I had not seen Phillips during BP, but he mentioned that he saw me and Kellan catch our homerun during BP.  I thought that was pretty cool that he didn’t know we were going to be at the game, but recognized us as we caught the BP homerun.

When we returned to our seats, the score was still 1-0 A’s.  Kellan decided to pull out his Justin Smoak poster and take a bunch of hacks like he was at the plate:

And I think Kellan’s practice hacks helped warm up the Mariners bats.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Miguel Olivo bashed his 19th homerun of the season.  It was an impressive shot to LF, and it tied up the game 1-1.

With the game tied up, Tim watched the Mariners up close with grandma’s binoculars:

Jason Vargas was still on the mound for the Mariners and he was looking really strong.  And his offensive-minded teammates gave him some additional run support in the bottom of the sixth inning.  The inning started very unimpressively, with a swinging strike out by Ichiro and a pop out by Luis Rodriguez.  But Dustin Ackley followed Rodriguez with a single.  Mike Carp followed Ackley with another single.  Then big Justin Smoak stepped to the plate and unleashed a deep blast to RCF:

Party time!  With Smoak’s homerun, the Mariners pulled out to a 4-1 lead!

But the 3-run lead gave us little comfort.  Tim and I had seen the Mariners let leads slip away multiple times this season.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, I was trying to get another picture of Ichiro just standing around doing nothing in RF.  Right as I pressed the button to take the picture, Scott Sizemore hit a shallow fly ball to RF.  I captured Ichiro…

…right when he started to break in and to his left to run down the baseball.

There were a lot of empty seats around us.  Our actual seats were in the third row, but me and the boys jumped around a lot from the first to the fourth rows.  Late in the game, Kellan and I spent a lot of time in the first row where my little No. 51 watched closely the Mariners big No. 51:

Meanwhile, Tim was having tons of fun with his grandma:

And then it was business time…

…the ninth inning arrived.  Kellan has been just three sweet outs away from his first Mariners win before just to have it slip away.  In Baltimore earlier in the season, the Mariners took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 13th inning just to have Brandon League blow the win after Jason Vargas had pitched an incredible game.  I understand that I have no control over the Mariners on-field play.  But I have felt partially responsible for that loss.  It would have been Kellan’s first Mariners win, but Tim and I went to try for an umpire ball and left Kellan and Colleen alone in our seats.  I should have been holding Kellan at the very moment that he witnessed his first Mariners win.  I think the world knew that and intervened to make sure Kellan experienced his first Mariners win the right way.

Well, it was go time once again.  Vargas had once again pitched an absolute gem.  He threw eight innings, gave up 5 hits and struck out 10 Athletics.  Enter the ninth inning and Brandon League.  League has had a great season.  That blown save in Baltimore was smack dab in the middle of League’s roughest patch of the season, it was the third of four straight blown saves/losses for League.

Well, League brought the drama with him to the mound.  He gave up a lead-off single to Coco Crisp.  League then struck out Hideki Matsui, but Crisp stole second and third
in the process.  He scored the A’s second run of the game on a ground out by Josh Willingham.

So there we were, just one out away from Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life.  But then Scott Sizemore hit a double, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Kurt Suzuki.

Things were getting super-tense.

I was holding Kellan tight and hoping for the best.  And Suzuki answered our prayers.  He jumped on the first pitch and hit a weak grounder Luis Rodriguez at short stop.  Rodriguez fired the baseball across the diamond and Justin Smoak’s glove clamped down on the 27th out of the game.

MARINERS WIN!  MARINERS WIN!!  MARINERS WIN!!!

Oh, yeah, MARINERS WIN!  M-A-R-I-N-E-R-S…

…WIN!  Yes!

MARINERS WIN!

Here are three happy Mariners fans basking in the glory of this historic MARINERS W-I-N:

And it was a historic game.  It was Kellan’s first win, it snapped a 10-game Mariners losing streak for me and Tim, my dad and I both caught BP homers on the fly while holding Kellan, and we caught (well, sorta) our 100th baseball of the season.  Historic!

We marked the occasion with a family picture:

And a picture with the Ichi-Meter (and Ichi-Meter lady):

By the way, the 183r of those Ichiro hits occurred in the seventh inning of this game.

On the way out of the ballpark, Tim got his picture with Ichiro (and Shelly):

Did I mention:  MARINERS WIN!?

2011 C&S Fan Stats
31/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
22/11 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins, Pirates, Athletics; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics]
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)).
101 Baseballs (19 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 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, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates, 3 Athletics)
14/6 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, Safeco Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Safeco Field]
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

GFS 2011 Game 5 – Mariners at Rays (8/19/11)

On the morning of August 19, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Our game wasn’t until 7:00 p.m.  So we dined on some free breakfast at the hotel, and then relaxed and played at the pool for a while…

…before heading to the beach for some more relaxing and playing.

At 4-something o’clock in the afternoon, we headed to Tropicana Field.  One thing that I didn’t know about, but stands out prominently when you see Tropicana Field is that the dome is tilted.  Our first thought was that the high side of the roof was the outfield where homeruns and outfield fly balls would reach their apex.  On second thought, we contemplated that the
high side of the roof might be home plate where baseballs would be hit straight up from home plate.

Anyway, we would find out soon enough.  First, we had to pay $15 to park in the ballpark lot:

Wait, wait…turns out we were among the first 100 cars with four-or-more passengers and, therefore, we parked for free!  Cool.  None of us had ever experienced anything like that before at an MLB game!

Walking through the stadium parking lot toward the main entrance, we stopped for a photo in front of a big Rays *twinkle* — I don’t know what else to call that thing.  So I’ll call it a *twinkle*:

Oh, lookie there, its our Roadtrip guest:  my mom!

Tim was super-psyched to have his grandma join us for some baseball and other fun in the Tampa Bay area.  She is, hands down, one of Tim’s favorite people in the world.

We arrived before the doors (they were, in fact, doors, not gates) opened.  So we hung out below some palm trees outside of the CF entrance:

Upon entering Tropicana Field, Tim and I closed out the A.L. East stadiums.  We have now been to Camden Yards, old Yankee Stadium, new Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, and Tropicana Field.  This is our final new stadium of 2011.  To date, Tim and I have been to 29 stadiums together (I have also been to the Kingdome and Veterans Stadium) and
there are only three teams (the Cardinals, Royals and Rockies) that we have not seen play a home game.  We will finish those teams off in 2012 – although we will also have to back track to Minnesota (Target Field) and Miami (new Marlins ballpark) before we can say we have been to games at all current-MLB stadiums.

Back to this game, I was under the impression that fans would be confined to the outfield concourse during the first half hour after the doors opened.  So the first thing we did was head upstairs to a little lookout above the rays tank:

I had told him about it and Tim was super-excited about the rays tank.  And the excited did not fade through the weekend.  Here is a view of the field from the lookout above the rays tank:

I immediately noticed something:  there were fans in the outfield stands.  This was a Friday night game.  I guess they must not do the confined-to-the-concourse thing for weekend games.  Anyway, there was no reason to be at the lookout if the stands were open.  So we headed down to the RCF seats right next to the rays tank:

Check that out.  Rays are swimming by literally three feet away from those seats.  How awesome is that?  These are officially Tim’s favorite seats at any MLB ballpark.  (And, as I type this, he reminds me that he didn’t love them just for the rays, he loved the horseshoe crabs too!).

About seven minutes after gates opened (according to the time stamp on the following photo), Jake McGee…

…welcomed us to Tropicana Field with a toss-up.  FYI, David Price is the guy running to the left, McGee is the guy acting like he is about to make a backhanded catch.

About five minutes later, we all circled around the stadium to the Mariners dugout on the 3B side.  Ichiro was playing catch…

…with Chone Figgins along the 3B line.  My Dad was hanging out above the dugout (where Miguel Olivo tossed him his warm-up baseball).  My mom and Tim headed over to hang out with my Dad, and I relocated down the LF line where the Mariners pitchers were just starting to play catch:

Unless you have these super-fancy tickets along the foul line, fans cannot get down to the field by the bullpens.  Its not as bad as in Miami where normal fans cannot get to the field anywhere in fair territory.  At Tropicana Field, any fan can get down to the front row on the field between the dugouts and the bullpens, but then these big party areas set back the normal fans about 20-30 feet from the field.

As would become a recurring theme of this weekend, Tim wanted to go back out to the CF seats so he could watch the rays in the rays tank.  My mom took him out there and my Dad and I hung out by the Mariners bullpen.

I went to section 137…

…by the foul pole, and my Dad hung out in…oh, probably…section 133 or so by the bullpen mounds.  My Dad’s positioning paid huge dividends:  Michael Pineda tossed him a baseball.  Pineda has had a rougher go of it in the second half of the season, but I think he is going to develop into a dominating MLB pitcher.

A few minutes later, Dan Cortes (who is standing above and slightly to the left of the bald security guard in the last picture) finished playing catch with Josh Lueke.  When I called out his name, Cortes happily tossed me his unofficially rubbed up and dirty baseball.

Thanks, Dan!

I’ve chatted with Cortes a few times this season.  He seems really nice.  He’s at the stage that he’s excited to be in the big leagues and he is ready to spend a little time chatting to fans who recognize him.

When the pitchers finished playing catch, they disbursed across the outfield.  I spend a few minutes hanging out in LF, but it was somewhat crowded and I was alone.  I figured it would be more fun to go meet up with Tim and my mom in CF.  I started toward a tunnel to run out to the concourse, but then I figured I might as well walk to the LCF side of the batters’ eye in the seats.  I could then run down into the concourse and head over to the RCF seats.  The decision paid off.

In deep LCF, Tom Wilhelmsen was all by his lonesome shagging baseballs.  Wilhelmsen is in a similar place as Cortes – happy to be in the major leagues.  But add to the mix that fact that he was out of baseball for about 6 years.  Two years ago, he was a bartender in the Phoenix area.  Now, he is a Major League baseball player.  What wouldn’t he have to be happy about?

As I passed behind Wilhelmsen, a ball was driven into the deepest part of LCF.  I called out Tom’s name and flashed him my glove.  He then disappeared from sight for 3-4 seconds and returned ready to fire me a strike.

Thanks, Tom!

When I reached the rays tank, Tim was excitedly watching (and “oooh’ing” and aweing about) the rays and, to my surprise, he was holding a baseball.  Turns out that Justin Smoak spotted Tim and my mom in the seats watching the rays and tossed up a baseball.  It was the first baseball Tim’d ever gotten outside of my immediate presence!  Oh, my young boy is growing into a man.  *weep* *weep*

And then it was time for one of the most exciting BP moments or our season.  My Dad was in straight away right field.  I relocated to RF after Jason Vargas tossed him his warm up ball in LF.  We all decided to go hang out over there when we saw that Ichiro was shagging fly balls out there.

You can only go in the front row in the outfield during BP if you have front row tickets – my guess is that it is a safety issue.  The railings are ridiculously low.  Anyway, we couldn’t get into the front row.  So Tim and I were standing together in the second row directly behind Ichiro.  Oddly enough, Tim was actually standing directly in front of me – i.e., we were both standing in front of the same seat in the second row.

One of our lefties spanked a ball over Ichiro’s head.  It ended up on the warning track directly in front of us.  As Ichiro came back for it, Tim and I both called out to him and politely asked for him to toss the baseball to us.  As he grabbed the baseball, he looked up right at us.  He saw Tim decked out in Mariners gear.  Our eyes connected.  And he tossed the baseball right to us.

But there was a problem.  There were grown men on either side of me in the front row.  For us to get the baseball, one of two things would have to happened.  The first option was if, noticing that the baseball was plainly for a little kid (Mariners fan) who had asked for it, the two guys would just let it sail between them so we could catch it.  That option was a no go.  Both seemed intent on depriving Tim of the baseball that his baseball hero had decided to toss right to him.

The second option was for me, without the ability to enter the front row, to someone beat out two grown men standing closer to Ichiro and catch the ball before them.  And that’s what would have to happen.  As the ball sailed to me, the guys crashed in from both sides.  Luckily, neither guy reached out toward the field for it, they just moved laterally.  Their gloves came together like a curtain trying to shut us out.  But I leaned WAAAAY forward (Tim slid to the side so I didn’t smash him into the seat in front of me) and my pushed through the narrow opening between their gloves.  The two guys essentially caught my wrist, and on the other side, my glove caught the baseball.

I pulled my glove back really having no clue if I got it or not.  I opened my glove and we found the baseball inside.  We were ecstatic!  We yelled out a huge:

THANK YOU, ICHIRO!!!

And I held the ball up for my parents to see.  Two seconds later, handed the ball to Tim and he posed for a picture with Ichiro (and one of the would-be Ichiro-ball interceptors) in the background:

After our initial celebration, Tim ran up to his grandma and I headed to the back of the section where I got a second picture showing Tim, the Ichiro baseball, my mom and my dad (blue hat and green backpack):

This was already one of our best batting practices ever.  To cap it off, I caught a Kyle Seager (I am pretty sure it was Seager) homerun on the fly at the back of the section.  It was pretty exciting since I almost never catch balls on the fly (in fact, this was my first of the season).  The ball was hit about 10 feet to my left.  I ran over there and it was coming directly to two guys (probably 22’ish years old).  Neither had a glove, but both hopped up and made a quarter-hearted attempt at catching it.  But in the end, I think both were scared to try to catch it bare handed.  So they let it sail directly between them and straight into my glove.

It was pretty cool and my Mom gave a big cheer from the bottom of the section.  So that was cool.  Seager really got a hold of that one.  The ball ended up mildly lopsided from the force of the hit.

And that was it for BP.

Then, Tim had a great idea…

…“Let’s go see the rays tank!”

On the walk to the rays tank (or to the line for the rays tank), we passed under this interesting lamp:

That’s the arm of “Raymond,” the Rays’ mascot.  Although many people are down on domed-stadiums (not me, I love ‘em!), no one can credibly say that the Rays haven’t done a great job making their concourses interesting for fans (particularly kids).  There are tons of things to see and do in the various concourses that circle Tropicana Field.

It took awhile, but we finally made it to the front of the rays tank line:

Oops…we forgot about the upstairs waiting area.  What is this, the Empire State Building line?

In the second floor waiting area, Tim posed (quite hilariously) with some rays painted onto a bench:

We were sure to obey all of the “Rays Tank rules”:

Anyone can go in and pet the rays for free.  But for $5 (that goes to the local aquarium), you can feed the rays too!  Tim preferred the “drop it and let them find it” method of feeing the rays:

Mostly, he just wanted to watch them from close up:

If you had food, the rays would flock to you and stick their faces and wings above the water.  Meanwhile, the horseshoe crab and its baby walked around the bottom of the tank and didn’t bother anyone.  Of course, I had to keep an eye on the field to see if my Mariners would reappear.

And they did.  While we were in the rays tank area (you only get 8 minutes in there, something I did not yet know at this point), Felix Hernandez came out to warm up.  I entrusted Tim to his grandparents’ care and headed off to watch Felix.

After the rays tank, but before meeting up with me down the LF line, my parents took Tim to play in the RF concourse:

And soon enough, this picture showed up on my phone (via text from my mom):

That is Raymond, the Rays’ mascot.  But interestingly, it isn’t the normal Raymond.  The normal Raymond is fuzzy, like most mascots.  This Raymond was a big inflatable guy.

This was my view of Tropicana Field from section 127…

…as I watched Felix run through his pre-game routine.  By the way, at Tropicana Field, odd numbered sections are on the 3B/LF side and even numbered sections are on the 1B/RF side.

During the singing of the National Anthem, Felix looked like a true all-star…

…complete with stars shaved into the side of his head.

In recent history, the Mariners bullpen has featured a rookie with a pink back pack.  Well, for this series, I featured two pink back packs, another silly kids’ backpack (that will be shown later), and a tiny little pink lunch box…

…carried by Dan Cortes.

We sat in section 129 at this game.  This was our view:

And this is what we looked like (or at least three of us) at the beginning of the game:

Although we sat in section 129, we were supposed to sit in section 131.  But there was a problem.  This big dude in the Hawaiian shirt (row K) was sitting in our seats:

Going into this game, the Mariners were 0-3 for me and Tim this season with two walk-off losses.  We yearned for a Mariners win like nobody’s business.  We were hoping that Ichiro…

…would start it off hot for the Mariners.  Unfortunately, he popped out foul to the catcher.

We were in need of food.  So between innings I headed out to the concourse.  The field level concourse is interesting at Tropicana Field.  It is split between an inner concourse – primarily just for walking from here to here – and an outer concourse that doubles as a food court of sorts.  Here are two pictures of the food-concourse on the 3B side…

…where I found our nachos…

…and a all-you-can-drink diet coke (actually, it was probably diet pepsi).  And I drank a whole lot of diet pepsi to make sure I got my money’s worth.

While we were eating our nachos, the Rays’ mascot, Raymond, made an appearance about two sections down from us.  I asked Tim if he wanted to get his picture with Raymond and, of course, he did.  So we put the nachos down and sprinted down to sections toward home plate and got this photo with Raymond:

Two minutes later, Raymond was standing two rows behind our seats taking pictures with fans.  Oh, well.  The chase was part of the fun.

One of the newest and most exciting young Mariners, Trayvon Robinson…

…, was playing LF and was standing directly out from our seats most of the game.  After the Mariners failed to score in the top of the first.  Robinson made a brilliant diving catch on a liner to LCF to retire the first Rays batter of the game in the bottom of the first.

The game was scoreless through the first and second innings.  Robinson then led off the third with a double to RF.  He took second on a groundout by Ichiro.  Trayvon then scored the first run of the game when Franklin Gutierrez grounded to short stop Sean Rodriguez who threw the ball way (also allowing Gutierrez to take second).

It was time for Tim and I to go on a little adventure.  He wanted to go see the rays tank and I wanted to go take Tim’s picture with his Ichiro baseball and the Tropicana Field sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

On our way to the sign (or what I thought was the sign), we stopped off in section 144 to take this panorama:

I thought that the *Tropicana Field* sign was really cool looking, with a big orange and straw logo.  Tim decided on a catching-the-Ichiro-baseball pose and I thought the picture turned out great:

At the time, it did not occur to me at all that the sign did not say “Tropicana Field.”  No, not at all.  Of course, it is plain as day, it is just a Tropicana juice sign!  Aye, aye, aye…

As we continued on our way toward the rays tank, we took some pictures of the interest set up at Tropicana Field.  First off, the RF seating section is really small.  Tons of batters were hitting BP homers to the very back of the seats because there just are not many rows of seats in RF.  One reason there aren’t many seats is because they have this cross-aisle behind some of the sections in RF (close to the foul pole):

I have no clue what the blue risers are behind the cross-aisle.

We stopped in the cross-aisle behind section 135 to get this panorama:

In foul territory down the 1B line there is a party area similar, but not identical, to the party area down the 3B line:

Once you get to the scoreboard and big screen in RF, the cross-aisle ends, and the blue risers turn into black risers:

But enough of that.  There were rays to watch:

And Tim had blast watching them:

If you happen to have tickets in section 150 next to the rays tank, if you are able to look away from the rays, this is what your view of the field would look like:

As we were circling back around the cross-aisle toward home plate, it was the top of the fifth and King Felix had yet to give up a single hit to the Rays.  With the Mariners still leading 1-0, Ichiro led off the fifth with a single:

With Ichiro still on first, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 116:

But then Franklin Gutierrez grounded into a double play.  An Adam Kennedy strike out later, the top of the fifth inning was history.

We headed out to the concourse and bought some ice cream helmets.  As we walked the inside concourse around home plate toward our seats, we got a shot of the weird tunnels into the seating area behind home plate:

Very odd, indeed.

Back in the seats with Grandma and Grandpa, the ice cream was quite tasty:

Unfortunately, the Rays tied it up 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth with a run manufactured by B.J. Upton.  After singling on a weak grounder past Adam Kennedy at third, he stole second, stole third, and scored on a bunt by John Jaso.  The worst part about it is that Upton should have been out at first.  Adam Kennedy didn’t get in front of the ball.  Instead he ole’d it right into a single.  Unfortunately, this would not be Kennedy’s only botched play on the day…so stay tuned.

The Mariners reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh on a lead-off homerun to RF by Kyle Seager:

That *should have* been all the support that Felix needed for the win.  He was, as usual, dominating:

In the eighth, Tim and my Mom headed back to the rays tank…

…and then things fell apart for the Mariners.

More precisely, things fell apart in the bottom of the eighth when Johnny Damon stepped to the plate with two down and a runner on first:

One more out and the Mariners would head to the ninth with the 2-1 lead intact.  Felix pumped strike one and strike two over the plate.  One more strike and the Mariners could stick a fork in the eighth.

But then Damon hit a grounder between third and short stop.  Kennedy moved like a slug over to get it.  He double or triple or…I don’t know…infinity-clutched the ball.  I yelled, “AAAAAAHHHHHHH, GET RID OF IT!!!!!!”  And then Johnny Damon crossed first base safe.

I could not believe it.

Any other day, Kennedy makes that play.  Kyle Seager, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo, David Bell, Russ Davis, Mike Blowers, Edgar Martinez, Jim Presley, Jamie Allen, Manny Castillo, Dan Meyer, Ted Cox, Bill Stein, and anyone else who has ever played a single game at 3B for the Mariners would have made the play.  In fact, they would have made the out at either 2B or 1B.

But this was this day, and it was Adam Kennedy (who had already cost Felix a run) was at third, and the play was not made.

As great as King Felix is, he does not always respond well to boneheaded misplays.  And he did not respond well at this game.  So Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist both followed with RBI singles.  A few minutes later, game over.  Mariners lose.

It was a tough, tough loss.

As the relievers headed back to the dugout, I got this picture featuring a pink backpack and the new R2D2 backpack:

As the ninth inning was playing out, I realized something – the Tropicana sign wasn’t the Tropicana Field sign.  And Tim was way out there in CF by the rays tank.  I texted and called
my Mom to ask her to come back to meet up with us.  But her phone was in his bag and she didn’t  hear it.  So, just in case we didn’t get another baseball at Tropicana Field, my Dad took a Tropicana Field bonus picture of me…

…and when my Mom and Tim finally arrived (and the lights had been turned down), I got a bonus picture of Tim.

And then we got a group photo with the lights out:

Tim requested that it be a *thumbs up* photo.

See all of those people on the field?  On Friday nights, the Rays turn off the main lights, turn on some disco lights and dance music, and let fans leave the game by walking across the field to an exit in CF.

We headed down to the field and got a picture of Tim on the warning track with the dugout behind him:

We got another picture of Tim standing on the LF foul line:

And then Tim started to dance like crazy.  It was all I could do to get him to stop dancing long enough to take this picture behind second base (doing an 80s b-boy pose)…

…and this on-field Tropicana Field bonus picture (this is the official photo we submitted to the scavenger hunt):

Then, as Tim went back to throwing his hat in the air and dancing, I took a 360 degree panorama from behind 2B:

If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you can see Tim dancing on both sides of the panorama.

I took this same picture, but my Dad did a better job of it – a worm’s eye view of the center of Tropicana Field’s roof:

After Tim did a bit more dancing, including some break dancing on the big screen…

…we called it a night.

We’d be back again the next day (August 20, 2011) hoping for our first Mariners win of the season.

I have to say, despite the crushing Mariners loss, I really liked Tropicana Field.  I grew up among rumors of the Mariners moving to St. Petersburg to play in this very building.  Because of that, I’ve always had negative feelings about Tropicana Field.  But I grew up going to and absolutely loving the Kingdome.  And like the Metrodome in 2009, I felt right at home at Tropicana Field, a great little domed stadium.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
24/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (1)).
68 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
12/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.
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