Results tagged ‘ Ichiro ’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…a few more Mariners joined them on the field.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Josh!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Yawn*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He liked it.  So did Tim.

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

Here’s a random photo just for kicks:

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

Boom!  Weak ground out, scored 5-3.

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

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

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

RAIN DELAY!

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

Here is some more of the same:

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

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

The concourses were a packed, sticky hot mess:

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

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

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

And then I got a panorama from section 238…

…the tarp still had not moved much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While Tim worked on his water on cement art skills…

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

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

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

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

Luckily, there would be no eighteenth loss.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
19/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers Yankees; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
9/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Mariners Baseball In The U.S. Capital (6/21/2011)

When the 2011 season scheduled was released, I was extremely excited to see that the Mariners would be making their first trip to Nationals Park.  The downside was that the three game series was mid-week, with one game being a day game.  I really wanted our whole family to attend one of the games so both Kellan and Tim could see the Mariners in only their second trip to D.C.  But real life was not cooperating.

As the series approached, it was certain that we could not attend the second or third games the series because I would be on a brief business trip.  The first game looked like it was effectively out too.  But something happened during the day of the game that all of a sudden made the game possible.  It was such a late call, however, that Colleen (and therefore Kellan too) wasn’t prepared to make the trip down.  So around 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 2011, Tim and I hopped in the car hoping we could at least catch the tail end of BP.

And that is exactly what happened.  We walked in and saw literally two minutes of BP before the Mariners cleared the field.  In fact, it was so quick that we didn’t even get a single BP picture!

With the field empty, we headed into the infield to see if any Mariners were milling around over there.  They weren’t.

So, we hung out down the 3B line and watched the field for a bit.  After a while, the one and only Jason Phillips popped out of the dugout and headed out to the bullpen.  We said our hellos and how-you-doings as he passed by on his way to the bullpen.

Once his colleagues joined Jason out by the bullpen, we snapped this picture of Doug Fister and Chris Gimenez stretching out:

Soon, Adam Kennedy made an appearance down the 3B line:

Kennedy gave Tim a friendly wave, which is always cool to get from a Mariner.

Soon some more Mariners joined Kennedy, including Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley.  This was the first road game of Ackley’s career.  And when a guy in a Mariners fan called out his name and asked for an autograph, he came over…

…and signed for a few minutes.  We didn’t have a baseball yet so we didn’t ask for a signature.  And for some bizarre reason, I didn’t even think of asking Ackley if he would pose for a picture with Tim.  Man, I must have been off my game!

Anyway, before the game started, we headed out to the LF and sat behind the Mariners bullpen.  Actually, before sitting down, we peered down into the bullpen.  Bullpen coach Jaime
Navarro walked by just then, saw Tim, and motioned to us as if to say “hold on, stay right there.”  He then disappeared and reappeared with…

…this lovely Rawlings Official MLB baseball, which he tossed up to Tim.

Thanks, Jaime!

Okay.  It was game time and we were primed for our first Mariners win of the season.  This was only our second Mariners game of the year, and they lost the first game 2-1 to the Orioles in the 12th inning.  It was part of Brandon League’s stretch of losing 4 consecutive games.  Ouch.  So, we needed a win in a big way.

Things started out beautifully.  Tim’s favorite player, Ichiro spanked a single into LF:

Tim then told me to take a picture of Ichiro on first base.  So I did:

Ichiro then took second on a weak ground out by Brendan Ryan.  As Ichi stood on second, Tim told me to take a picture of Ichiro scoring.  And a few seconds later, Adam Kennedy singled
to CF and Ichiro scored:

FYI, Ichiro is directly behind Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in that picture.  His left leg is visible to the immediate right of Ramos.

Things were going great so far!

The Mariners scored a second run in the first inning when Dustin Ackley …

…singled to RF in this career debut road at-bat.

Doug Fister then came in and shut down the Nationals in the first.  In the process of Fister shutting down the Nats, I got this picture of Ichiro playing RF.

After one inning, the Mariners led 2-0.  We liked it.

We also liked this huge pile of chili nachos that we got before the top of the second inning:

Although it resulted in a nice action shot…

…Ichiro grounded out in the top of the second.  But the Mariners tacked on a third run in the third inning on a Dustin Ackley RBI ground out.  And this is what the scoreboard looked like after three innings:

Not only was the 3-0 score a happy sight, but it was nice to see “Seattle Washington” on the board as well.

Between innings, Screech rolled by on his lazy guy walking machine:

Between innings, we were also happy to find A.L. MVP candidate Larry Bernandez sitting nearby:

Larry Bernandez is an instant Mariners legend that hit the scene this scene.  Great to see him in the OF at this game.  Also, check out the cool 3D effect as Larry’s face matches up with his sign holder’s face!

During the bottom of the third inning, we needed to go on a water run.  As we strolled through the 3B side concourse after filling a bottle with water, Ian Desmond hit a deep fly ball that
Franklin Gutierrez caught to end the third inning.  We were in the concourse above the Mariners dugout, so we scurried down the stairs and nearly caught the ball after Guti flipped it about six rows deep into the crowd.

There were about 8 empty seats right where Guti flipped the ball, so we decided to sit down and give it one more shot at a third out ball.  But before we knew it, we ended up spending five innings sitting in those empty seats.

On this pitch, Franklin led off the top of the fourth with a solid single into CF:

Franklin then stole second and Chris Gimenez…

…, shown here with all-round good guy Greg Halman, struck out swinging.  That led to an 8-pitch at-bat by Mariners pitcher Doug Fister:

On the 8th pitch, Fister bounced a singled into RF and Gutierrez came around to score the fourth Mariners run of the game:

Ichiro and his classic pre-pitch pose…

…followed Fister, but grounded into an inning ending double play.

I don’t know what’s going on in this picture, but Tim looks hilarious:

See all the Mariners fans and people wearing baby blue behind us?  More on them later.

Fister was pitching lights out all night.  I was thinking he could pitch a complete game shut out:

In the top of the fourth inning, Adam Kennedy hit in yet another run.  At that point, the Mariners lead 5-0.  What a game!  We were having a great time!

In the middle innings, I shot a bunch of pictures of Tim in our seats.  Here are a couple of them:

And then I decided to take one with my cellphone to post on Twitter…

…and a couple minutes later the @Mariners replied: “What a handsome young man.”

Thanks, Mariners!

The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ian Desmond crossed the plate following a Roger Bernadina single.

On this swing, Ichiro led off the top of the sixth with his second hit of the night:

But he was stranded on base after stealing second base.

Inning-after-inning Justin Smoak tossed third-out-baseball-after-third-out-baseball to the same people:

I’m not sure if he was tossing them to the older gentleman under the red arrow or the younger girl under the red arrow.  Either way, it didn’t matter.  The younger guy under the yellow arrow leapt high in the air and intercepted three of the baseballs (and his dad intercepted another when the yellow-arrow-guy was out of the seats).

Over the course of several innings, I struck up a little conversation with the guy right behind me.  That whole row had super thick southern accents.  I asked the guy behind me how all of those folks became Mariners fans with such thick southern accents.  Turns out, they were Dustin Ackley’s friends and family visiting from North Carolina.

The three girls behind us looked like sisters and my understanding is that they are Ackley’s cousins.  The guy also pointed out Ackley’s father sitting nearby.  His mom and grandparents and a whole slew of other Ackley-people were sitting around us too.  And the Mariners knew it because they were trying like crazy to get a third-out ball to these guys.  One of the balls, in the bottom of the sixth inning, was a double-play ball started by Ackley.  But the Ackley-people got robbed by the guy in front of them every time, and they went home empty handed.

Aside from watching their quest to get a third-out ball, the most interesting thing about sitting by these folks is that they all called Ackley “Dusty” the whole time.  Here’s hoping that Dusty* has a long and stellar career as a Mariner.

Late in the game, Tim got a scrumptious ice cream helmet:

In the top of the ninth, Tim posed with Ichiro:

We were bursting with excitement for the Mariners win that was only three Nationals outs away in the bottom of the ninth.

As the Mariners were warming up for the bottom of the ninth, Tim and I slid into some seats right behind the 3B end of the Mariners dugout.  When Justin Smoak tossed the infield warm up ball in toward the dugout, it bounced off of the netting and back into the middle of the warning track.  But Michael Pineda hopped out of the dugout and grabbed the baseball.  I called out “Hey, Pineda!  Michael!”    He looked up, saw Tim and me above the dugout, and flipped the extremely dirty infield warm up ball to us:

Thanks, Michael!

It was the ninth and the end of a long day, but Tim was still choke full of silly faces:

As things got started in the ninth, King Felix looked our way and gave us a little nod:

A few drops of rain started to fall, and Tim laid back in his seat to track the rain on its way down to earth:

As for the game, even though it was not a save situation and Fister had thrown only 99 pitches and given up 3 hits, Brandon League game came in to attempt to finish out the game.   Jason Werth led off the inning and reached first on an error by Justin Smoak.  Then League walked Roger Bernadina.  Not a good way to start the ninth, but I felt okay with a four run lead.

Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a double play sending Werth to third with only one out to go in the game.  I was feeling good at this point.

And then I had a stupid, stupid idea.  League worked Jerry Hairston to a 2-strike count.  I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to take a picture of Hairston striking out to end the game for the Mariners win?”  I snapped this picture:

Ball 1.

Then I quickly started thinking that trying to take a picture of the final out of the game was a great way to jinx the Mariners.  But it was too late.  The jinx was on.

Harrison singled to center to score Werth (unearned run number 1 of the inning).  5-2 led Mariners.

Former Mariner Michael Morse then drilled a line drive off of Brandon League’s leg.  League had to leave the game:

No one had been warming up at all.  David Pauley had to jump up and head to the mound cold.  Even though he would get unlimited warm up pitches, it seems like pitchers who come in following an injury to the previous pitcher always struggle.  Pauley was no exception.

Danny Espinosa singled to RF scoring  Harriston (unearned run number 2 of the inning).

Wilson Ramos (who??) crushed a walk-off home run deep into the RCF seats (unearned runs 3, 4, and 5 of the inning).

Mariners lose.  We sat there stunned.  It was painful.  As I sat with my head hung in disbelief, the Mariners looked equally dumbfounded.  Most of the team just stood there for a minute.  Then Adam Kennedy slowly walked off of the field and his teammates started to follow him.

Such a great day of Mariners baseball turned so ugly at the end.

It had truly been a great evening at the ballpark with Tim…right up until the 26th out was recorded.  Aye, aye, aye…

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
14/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
43 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

25 Mariners & 4 Cooks in Baltimore (5/12/2011)

The day was upon us:  Kellan’s first game of the season!  Our first Mariners game of the season!  Kellan’s first Mariners road game of his life!  Our first game of the season with Colleen a/k/a “mommy.”  Fun times were ahead, guaranteed!

We packed ourselves into Colleen’s more family friendly car…

…and headed off to Camden Yards

We met our friend and Baltimore ticket agent, Avi Miller, on Eutaw Street before the gates opened, got out tickets, and then hung out with the regulars at the front of the line.

As Kellan waited for his first “gate opening” of his life, I snapped this picture of my little crew:

Yeah, that’s a good crew.

When the gates opened, we headed over toward the Mariners dugout.  The Orioles were hitting and the Mariners were stretching.  When the M’s finished stretching, most of them headed to the outfield to play catch, while a select few stuck in front of the dugout and played catch there.

As Dan Cortes walked by, I called him over and asked for a picture:

Cortes was very nice.  He chatted with us for a few minutes, and he confirmed that it was indeed him that we saw at the airport the day after the following game of the season last year.

Thanks for being cool, Dan!

As we watched Ichiro and Michael Saunders play catch in front of the dugout, a pair of fellow Mariners fans standing nearby offered to take a family photo:

Kellan was so into the pre-game festivities, he couldn’t be bothered with looking at the camera.

As we watched the action, the people from ROOT Sports came over and chatted with us.  They ended up taking our names and they take some video of us watching Ichiro and Saunders playing catch.  The guys said he wanted to show us on TV during the game.  I have no clue if that actually happened or not.

Three minutes later, Ichiro and Saunders finished up.  Ichiro ran off and Saunders came over and gave us their warm up baseball.   I asked him if we could get a picture and Tim asked him if he’d sign the ball he just gave us.  His answer was “yes” to both questions.  I handed Kellan over and we got this picture:

Thanks, Michael!

Kellan was having a blast at his first road Mariners game…

… “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!”

As can be seen between me and Kellan in that last picture, the ROOT sports guy came running back to get video of us talking to Saunders, but he was too late.

We decided to head down the LF foul line to watch the Mariners pitchers warm up.  As bartender turned Major Leaguer Tom Wilhelmsen walked by on the edge of the foul warning track, I asked him if he could help us out.  He looked confused but willing when he asked, “What’s up?

I explained that we needed a picture of Tim throwing a baseball to a player on the field for a photo scavenger hunt (the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt).  Tom was happy to help out.  To make sure we got the shot, Tim tossed two baseballs to Wilhelmsen.  Here is Tim’s favorite of the two photos:

By the way, this is Tim’s favorite of the two pictures because you can see the blue logo on the ball in flight.

As we hung out in foul territory, we chatted briefly with Mariners bullpen catcher extraordinaire Jason Phillips as he passed by on his way to do some work in the outfield.  Very soon after Phillips passed by, David Pauley finished up playing catch along the foul line.  As he turned and prepared to toss the baseball into the baseball bag (that can be seen in the picture of Tim throwing to Wilhelmsen), I called out, “Hey, David!”  He turned and tossed the baseball to us rather than to the baseball bag.

Thanks, David!

Mere second later, Jason Phillips ran by again.  Without us saying a word (or even really noticing yet that he was there), Jason grabbed a nice rubbed up baseball out of the bag, called out to get my attention, and tossed the baseball to us.  Man, that guy is awesome!

Thanks, Jason!

Before continuing, I must digress for a second.  Tim and I have got the game day process down pat.  It’s a fun and easy day for us.  While it’s just as fun, I rediscovered that it’s a lot harder taking a baby to a game!  We had a little umbrella stroller that we ultimately had to lug around for Kellan.  We strolled him into the stadium and around toward the Mariners dugout, but then I took him out of it while we were down front by the Mariners dugout.

Back to our story, eventually we noticed that rookie star Michael Pineda was sitting on the brick wall in LF foul territory.  We all scooted over there to see him.  From 2-3 rows back, I asked him if we could get an autograph and a picture with him and the boys.  He said, “sure.”

Colleen had our camera.  As I we started making our way up to Pineda, Colleen noticed that we’d left Kellan’s stroller sitting in the staircase behind the Mariners bullpen.  She ran off to grab it.  I turned around to see how she was setting up for the picture and I saw her walking away from us three sections down toward 3B.  Pineda was obviously wondering what was going on.  He mentioned he had to get going.  I told him that my wife had just run off with our camera so we’d settle for just an autograph.

Luckily, that same pair of Mariners fans who took our picture by the dugout snapped this picture…

…as Pineda handed our autographed David Pauley baseball back to us.  I gave the guy my card and he emailed the picture.  Thanks, Ray!

Next, we packed up our mass of bags and equipment, and headed out to the bullpen area in deep LCF.  On our way out there, we ran into the luckiest fan in the ballpark, Zack Hample, and he would, indeed, be quite lucky on this day.  We’ve got a couple Zack-Tim fist bump pictures over the last couple season, and Zack and Tim were back at it at this game:

Zack tried to go for a sliding up the rail fist bump, but Tim turned it into a high intensity brute force fist bump.  Tim is all about intensity.

We made plans to catch up a bit after BP, and then Zack headed to the flag court while we headed to the bullpen.  Nothing was going on in the bullpen at the time, so Tim, Kellan and I hung out in the front row and watched the M’s take BP…

…while Colleen grabbed a seat and relaxed in back row by the bullpen.  At one point, Felix Hernandez tried to throw us a baseball, but it fell short.  Could have easily caught it, but with Kellan strapped to my chest I let it go and it bounced into a lady’s lap who wasn’t paying attention.  A nice little surprise for her.

After BP, Zack (and Jona) came back over to the bullpen area.  And Tim tried to break Zack’s hand with another ferocious fist bump (Note:  Tim doesn’t full understand the concept of fist bumping):

Avi stopped by to say hi and he gave Tim a Orioles activity book/magazine for Tim.  While Colleen fed Kellan a bottle by the bullpen, Tim looked through his book and shared the highlights with his mommy:

Zack changed back into his Mariners gear to get a picture with all of us.  First, Jona took a picture with our camera:

Then, she took one with her own, and Tim decided to ham it up for the camera by giving his brother a big kiss on the cheek:

While Tim truly loves his little brother, this kiss was 100% for the benefit of the camera.  Tim is a little showman at heart.

There were a couple baseballs in the Mariners’ bullpen and about 5 or so in the Orioles bullpen.  Zack asked if we were waiting to ask someone if they would toss one of the balls up from the Mariners bullpen.  I told him to go for it.

Soon, Jason Phillips entered the bullpen and Zack politely asked him to toss up one of the baseballs.  Phillips obliged.

After he tossed the baseball to Zack, I asked Phillips to come over to us.  When he arrived about 10 feet below us, I asked him if he would take a picture from the middle of the bullpen with my camera.  It’s a picture I have had in mind for about a year and had been planning to ask Jason to take for us.  Jason told me to drop my camera down to him.

I paused.  It was a scary dilemma.  My camera is about 2 months old and Phillips was standing on concrete.   I said something like, “make sure you catch it!”  Holding his hands open to me, he gave me a look like, “Do you seriously think I am going to drop it…I’m a professional catcher!”  I asked him to take two steps to his left so he would be standing on AstroTurf.  He did.  I tossed my camera down.  He caught it and headed out to the middle of the bullpen with it.

Zack thought quickly and asked Jona to take a picture of Phillips with my camera:

Thanks, Zack and Jona!

And here is the photo I’d wanted for so long, the Mariners relievers-eye-view of Camden Yards from the visitors bullpen:

Cool!  Thanks again, Jason!

A little while later, Brandon League was pacing around the bullpen rubbing a baseball in his hands.  He walked over to our end of the bullpen and I told Tim he should ask Brandon for the ball.  When Tim asked League if he could toss him the baseball, Brandon walked over to Jason Phillips equipment bag, pulled out a different baseball and toss it up to us.

Thanks, Brandon!

Moments later, the game started and we watched Ichiro’s first at bat from LCF.  As Figgins came to the plate (and was in the process of hitting two consecutive foul balls that Zack caught in the air), we started walking to the other side of the stadium toward the RF foul pole.

On the way, we stopped at the Orioles fan assistance office where the O’s issued some certificates of recognition to the boys:

I thought it was pretty cool that when I told the fan assistance lady that Tim had already been to many games at Camden Yards she decided to make him a certificate for “being an AWESOME big brother!”

As we walked through the concourse toward RF, I snapped a picture of these retired number banners…

…I’m not sure if they are new or not, but I’d never noticed them before.

Here is where we landed – Section 6:

So its official, Kellan loves going to baseball games!  He had a blast.  Here he is sharing some pizza with me and doing some yelling-for-joy:

This was a great place for us to sit because it was the closest we could be to Tim’s favorite player – Ichiro.  Here was our view of Ichi:

Of course, at this first trip to Camden Yards, I had to take a picture of Kellan with the warehouse in the background:

In that last picture, Tim is right behind us and my friend and co-worker Charlie is sitting behind Tim.  Charlie was in Baltimore for a conference and joined us for the game.  Right around this time, he got an important email on his blackberry and was feverishly typing a response while Tim was talking a mile-a-minute into his ear.  A few second later, Tim was relocated to the seat in front of me…

…so Charlie could finish his email without getting a big ear full of Tim’s jibber-jabbering.

I was really hoping that Ichiro could get a hit for Tim and Kellan:

But he kept grounding out for most of the game.  And the game was speeding on by us.  The pitching match-up was Jason “Viva Las” Vargas…

…and Zack Britton.  They were both dealing big time.  They both pitched 9 shutout innings.

As the game whizzed by, we got some family pictures.  Here are my peeps:

The game went so fast, in fact, that we never even got ice cream helmets!  But Tim enjoyed a little pistachio and sunflower seed platter:

At one point, a bunch of people in section 8 stood up, yelled at each other, and acted like they were going to fight:

No punches were thrown.  But the cops ended up pulling a couple of the young thugs outta there.  As the people yelled at each other, the fans in the section inexplicably chanted “USA! USA! USA!”  Very odd.

Tim spent a bunch of time sitting next to the railing spitting seeds onto the warning track.  I came over and snapped this picture of Tim with Ichiro in the background:

Eventually, I was assigned mid-game diaper duty and I had to take Kellan to the bathroom.  On our walk through the concourse, we ran into The Bird and Kellan got a picture:

The Bird is a good guy.  Thanks,Bird!

On way back to the seats, I walked Kellan through the flag court and took some flag court photos.  Like this one…

…and this one:

Kellan really put on a serious face in the flag court.  And when we got back to our seats, I took another picture that for no apparent reason I like

The first nine innings took less than two hours, and then we were into bonus baseball.  And that meant bonus fun for us.  Tim did some sitting on Colleen’s lap:

Colleen did some sitting on Tim’s lap:

Kellan did some sitting on my shoulders:

And…well, no.  I didn’t do any sitting on Kellan’s shoulders.  He’s too little.

Finally, in the twelfth inning, Ichiro got his first hit of the day.  He worked his way around to third base and then scored the first run of the game on an RBI single by Miguel Olivo:

It was the first Mariners lead of Kellan’s in-person baseball life.  I was so excited about the prospect of Kellan’s first Mariners win.  In retrospect, however, I think I jinxed it.  Tim, Charlie and I relocated to the second row behind home plate for an attempt at a post-game umpire baseball.   This would mean that, if the Mariners won, I would not be with Kellan for his first Mariners win.  In retrospect, it was an incredible error in judgment by me.

Forces of fate (i.e., it is fate that I should be with Kellan when he first witnesses the Mariners win in person) kicked in.  In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Brandon League gave up a hit to the first batter.  He beaned the second batter.  He drilled the third batter too.  So the bases were loaded with no outs.  The fourth batter blistered a line drive that should have been a hit, but Luis Rodriguez made an outstanding diving catch at short stop.  Finally, the fifth batter hit a single up the middle that I could see and hear tip off of Brandon League’s bare hand, the tying and winning runs scored.

And the Mariners moved to 0-3 for Kellan.

It was painful, but in the long run, Brandon League did us a favor.  I won’t make that mistake again.  Next time we see the Mariners play, I will be holding Kellan when Miguel Olivo (or whoever) squeezes the glove on Kellan’s first Mariners win.

Despite the loss, it was a great day.  Kellan had a great day at the ballpark.  Tim and I had a great time having Kellan and Colleen join us.  It was great to see our Mariners for the first time.  Lots of fun all around.

By the way, we didn’t get an umpire baseball.  In fact, no one did.  The umpire just buried his head and left.  I went over to say good-bye to Zack and Jona.  They were behind the 3B dugout where Jona was taking this picture of Zack and the THREE foul balls he caught at this game.  As Jona took the picture, I could see in the distance that two ushers were kicking Colleen and Kellan out of the seats!  I didn’t have time to say good-bye to Zack, Tim and I took off like a lightning bolt back to Colleen and Kellan.

On our way out of the ballpark, I held Kellan up real high and Colleen snapped this picture…

…of Kellan with the Ken Griffey, Jr. homerun marker on the warehouse wall.  We then had a fun walk…

…back to our car.

Our first full family-of-four baseball game was in the books.  I can’t wait for our next.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
8/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)
9/2 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, and Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies)
24 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 3 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves)
3/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – Camden Yards]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
3 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
*includes Spring Training

Spring Training VII: Mariners Intrasquad & FanFest

Okay.  We’re two games into the regular season and I have finally reached our final Spring Training entry.  This is a split entry between a Mariners intrasquad game and the Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex.
 
Mariners Intrasquad Game
 
We went to Spring Training for the first week of full-squad work outs.  The first game against another team was the day we left.  But two days before we left, the Mariners played an intrasquad game.  I’d never been to a Major League intrasquad game.  It was pretty cool.  And the Mariners won!
 
The game was on the main Major League practice field (M1).  It was our first opportunity to see Mariners top prospect (and new 5th starter), Michael Pineda, in action.  Here he is pitching to Jack Wilson in the first inning:
1 - Pineda to Jack Wilson.JPGAnd here is Pineda pitching to the Mariners other top prospect, Dustin Ackley:
2 - Pineda to Ackley.JPGI didn’t take many pictures at the game because this is what it looked like from “the crowd” behind home plate:
3 - sparsley populated foul territory.JPGI really wanted to get a foul ball, even it is was with almost no competition at an intrasquad game on a practice field.  Tim clowned around in the grass while I played for foul balls:

4 - Tim clowning around in grass.JPGAnd he met a little friend (just to the left of Tim in the last picture) named Sean to play around with.  My dad and Sean’s dad, the guy with the blue shirt and glove right in the middle of the picture, were my main foul ball competition.  Both my dad and I only played for fouls until we got one, then we concentrated on watching the game.  As that last sentence implies, yep, we both got one.
 
Here is a diagram of our foul balls snags:
5 - Foul balls for everyone.jpgMy dad generally set up in the grass behind the 3B dugout — about 1/2 way back.  I set up on the walk way (where the long yellow arrow beings) for righties and I shifted behind home plates for righties.
 
My dad ended up getting a foul ball from Chone Figgins in the bottom of the first inning.  He had moved all the way back to the beginning of the short yellow arrow to chat with the “usher” who works by the entrance to the Mariners clubhouse building.  Figgins blooped a little looping foul right over me.  It was either mine or my dad’s for the snagging.  But I had to chase after it, while it was naturally traveling right to my dad.  He scooped it up while I was still about 20 feet behind the ball.
 
A couple innings later, I was on the walkway when Dustin Ackley (lefty) came to the plate.  When he popped a foul straight back, I figured there was no chance I would get it.  But for some reason, the 5-10 guys over in that direction stood motionless while I ran from the walkway all the way to the back corner (next to M7) and scooped up the foul ball.
 
Here is the Ackley foul ball:
6 - ST5 - Dustin Ackley (Intrasquad Foul Ball).JPGPineda was out of the game and I’m not sure who pitched it.  It’ll be cool to have this baseball in years to come when Ackley (hopefully) develops into a star player for the Mariners.
 
After getting that foul, I stopped playing for fouls and met up with the rest of my family at the 3B stands.  I ended up holding Kellan for the rest of the game, and when Mariners “bat boy” Jason Phillips saw us, he tossed a baseball over the fence to us.  That guy is great to us!
 
Thanks, Jason!
 
Kellan ended up falling asleep in my arms as I watched the rest of the game through the fence behind home plate.  Check out this view that you normally just don’t get of major leaguers in action:
7 - Watching Mariners like a high school game.JPGAs shown in that last picture, the Mariners had a two-man umpiring crew working the game.  I’m not sure who they were, but they seemed like regular MLB umps.  However, they could be the guys who work the various rookie/fall/etc. leagues that are played in Arizona throughout the year.  Anyway, despite the high school sized crowd, the umps made the game feel much more official.
 
About ten feet to my right as I watched the game behind home plate was a contingent of top Mariners brass — minority owner/majority owner rep Howard Lincoln, GM Jack Zduriencik, and an unidentified third guy.  After the game, Jack Z. took a minute to chat with me and pose for a picture with me and a folded-up, sleeping Kellan:

8 - Jack Z TJC and sleeping Kellan.JPG
Two guys got picked off second base during the intrasquad game, I told Jack Z. that my advice for the season was to work on not getting picked off 2B.  He shrugged in an “Oh, boy!” manner and said something like, “Oh, yeah, we’ll definitely be working on that.”
 
During the game, when Michael Saunders got picked off second (he just broke for third even before first movement), the third unidentified Mariners exec. busted out in laughter and exclaimed, “Ha!  Does he think he’s wearing an invisible suit!?  He think he’s wearing an invisible suit!”  It can’t be good to have the bosses mocking your boneheaded move like that!
 
A momemt after parting ways with Jack Z., Jack called back to us to introduce us to his wife, Debbie.  It was funny because she wasn’t standing there when I was chatting with Jack, and its not like Jack and I are hang out all the time, but for whatever reason he thought he should come back to introduce me to Debbie.
 
One last game note, although I didn’t get any pictures because I was playing for fouls, Ichiro lead off for Pineda’s team and was 2-2 on the day with two singles.
 
Mariners/Padres Fan Fest
 
On our last full day in Arizona, we attended Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex main stadium.  My folks, Tim and I headed over first and Colleen and Kellan joined us after Kellan’s morning nap.
 
When we entered the stadium, Tim was handed a little string backpack with baseball cards, a promotional baseball, and a sharpie from a local baseball card store.  The Padres were on the field.  Right off the bat, I split off from my folks and Tim so I could run over to the Mariners practice fields and see if the guys were practicing before Fan Fest.  They weren’t.  It was the first day of minor league camp and the only guys on the practice fields were minor leaguers.
 
So, I ran back to the main stadium.  I hung out in RF and scanned the stadium for Tim and my folks.  I could not see them anywhere.  While I looked, San Diego Padre Aaron Cunningham…
9 - aaron cunningham.JPG…tossed me a completely unsolicited baseball over the RF bullpen.
 
Thanks, Aaron!
 
Finally, I decided that they must be in the concourse behind the infield grandstand.  Once I headed over there, I found them fairly quickly.  They had been checking out all of the kids stuff set up in the concourse.
 
My mom took these cute pictures of Tim:
10 - funny poser tim.JPGI think they’re both hilarious.
 
They hadn’t played any of the games set up yet, so I got to watch Tim while he tested his skills at a weird batting contraption:
11 - hitting contraption and big baseball.JPGHe also tested his catching skills at a little pop fly station…
12 - catch and throw stations.JPG…and his pitching skills at a pitching station.
 
While Tim took some hacks at the batting tee station…
13 - getting in some tee work.JPG…I chatted briefly with a guy who I thought might be Jack Wilson’s dad (he had a “family pass” and his last name was Wilson), but it turned out he is Josh Wilsons dad.  The funny thing is that he REALLY looked a lot like Jack Wilson.
 
I had heard that the Mariners would be on the field around 11 a.m., and the time was fast approaching.  Colleen and Kellan had arrived by this time.  I grabbed Kellan and headed over to the 1B foul line where players enter the stadium from the clubhouse.  Last season, the “professional” autograph seekers boxed out all the kids during Fan Fest.  So this year, they had a rule that only kids and their adult companions could get into the first couple sections down the 1B line — the best autograph area once the players enter the stadium.
 
The rest of the family met up with us before too long (before the M’s arrived), and Colleen got this picture of Kellan waiting patiently for his Mariners to arrive:
14 - TnK waiting for mariners.JPGWhile we waited, my mom and Tim went over Tim’s kids passport — you got a stamp for each of the throwing, catching, hitting stations and could enter to win something if you did them all — and then my mom pointed out the best spot for Tim to get some autographs:
15 - Gma and Tim plan strategy.JPGAnd that’s just where we set up shop:
16 - Gpa and Tim set up.JPGSoon, our Mariners arrived:
17 - Mariners arrive.JPGAs previously featured in its own entry, the first Mariner we connected with at Fan Fest was Kellan’s first pitcher, Luke French.
 
Tim was all excited about his free promotional baseball.  He got it signed by a bunch of players.  Among them was Jamey Wright…
18 - chatty Jamey Wright.JPG…who literally took 1-2 minutes to chat with each kid as he signed autographs.  He was very cool.  Way to go, Jamie!
 
Tim got an autograph and some bunny ears from the one and only Mariners Moose:
19 - The Moose.JPGAfter all the Mariners had passed by, we got this shot of Tim and Kellan with thier West Coast grandparents:
19a - Grandfolks and Grandkids.JPGHere is a look at Tim’s autopgraph baseball (its too bad he didn’t use a ROMLB for these autographs!):
19b - Tims cheap autoball.JPGAs best as I can tell:
Top Left (top to bottom):  The Mariner Moose, Jamie Wright (#50), and Matt Tuiasosopo (#27).
Top Right (top to bottom):  Chone Figgins (#9), unsure, unsure.
Bottom Left (top to bottom):  unsure, David Aardsma (#53), unsure.
Bottom right (top to bottom):  Justin Smoak, Luke French (#25), Michael Pineda (#36).
 
Next, it was time for the Mariners to take some BP.  My goal for the day was simple:  Catch a homerun hit by Ichiro.
 
I failed.
 
Ichiro hit several homeruns to RF (where we were).  But all but one landed in the bullpen.  My dad should have caught the one that landed on the grass berm, but he was mugged by some out-of-control fan who made everyone miss the ball on the fly (my dad made no effort to dive on the pile for the baseball in the grass).
 
Although I have read that he doesn’t consider himself a particularly good golfer, one of Ichiro’s BP homeruns was a hole in one:
 
20 - Ichiro hole in one.JPGAs illustrated in the picture above, Ichiro’s homerun was coming right at me, but it fell short, hit the back wall of the bullpen (about 5-10 feet below me) and bounced directly into a box on the ground (I think it was the control box for the hose hanging on the fence).  Very impress, Ichi!
 
While Ichiro’s group was batting, Adam Moore was alone in RF shagging baseballs.  When he spotted me and Tim behind the bullpen, he hooked us up with this baseball (which I think, but am not 100% positive, was hit by Ichiro):
 
 
20a - ST8 - Adam Moore.JPGIn my quest to catch an Ichiro homerun ball, I didn’t come up entirely empty handed.  I did manage to make a clean “on the fly” catch of a Justin Smoak homerun along the RCF end of the bullpen:
21 - smoak HR.JPGAfter Ichiro finished hitting, I was certain that he would call it a day and head back to the Mariners clubhouse.  But, to my surprise, he grabbed his glove and headed out to RF.
 
While I was still thinking Ichiro was going to pack up and leave, Tim, my mom and I relocated back to the 1B foul line in hopes of getting a picture with Ichiro on his way out of the stadium.  While we were hanging out over there, Brendan Ryan hit us two foul balls:
                    22 - ST10 - Brendan Ryan.JPG  
23 - ST11 - Brendan Ryan.JPG
 
The first Ryan foul bounced high off of the warning track over a teenaged kid (probably 13-14) and right to me and Tim.  The second Ryan foul ball rattled off of several fans gloves, including that same kid.  I felt bad for him and tried to give him the baseball.  But he declined, explaining that he has about 100 of his own already.
 
Eventually, someone hit a ball down the line and Ichiro looked right at me like he was going to throw it to me.  But Tim had wandered off about 15 feet and Ichiro didn’t seem him.  My mom and I could see the thought process go through Ichiro’s brain, “Oh, I thought that guy had a little boy.  Oh, well, I’ll toss it to that kid over there instead.”
 
My mom and I looked at Tim and in unison we both said, “Oh, Tim, Ichiro wanted to give you that baseball but he couldn’t find you!”  For the next ten minutes, Tim didn’t stray from us at all.  And when the next ball got hit right down the RF line, Ichiro ran over, scooped it up and tossed it right to us:
24 - baseball from Ichiro HOORAY.JPGOur first baseball ever from Ichiro.
 
THANKS, ICHIRO-SAN!
 
Ichiro is hands down Tim’s favorite player.  So its awesome to get a baseball from him.  Tim put his Ichiro baseball right next to his bed with an Ichiro baseball card in a display case next to it.
 
Here is  close up of our Ichiro baseball (below to left)…
                25 - ST12 - Ichiro.JPG    
26 - ST13 - Jack Wilson.JPG
 
…and our final baseball of the day from Jack Wilson (above to right).  The Wilson baseball was funny.  We were back in RF and everyone collectively decided it was time to head out to get some lunch.  As we were leaving the berm in RF, Jack was retrieving a baseball from the warning track just below the bullpen.  I called down, “Hit me over the shoulder, Jack!”  Jack looked up, hiked the ball to himself, rolled out of the pocket to the right, and threw a post pattern to me up on the berm.
 
Thanks, Jack!
 
Thirty seconds later, Jack threw a laser to my dad as he crossed the bridge over the players entrance to the field.  Thanks again, Jack! (on behalf of my dad).
 
Before leaving the stadium, Tim pitched and hit some baseballs at the last pitching and hitting stations.  On one of his final swings, Tim jacked the ball literally out of the Peoria Sports Complex (over that building behind the hitting station):
 
27 - Tim leaves the Complex.JPGThe Moose was watching Tim pitch at the pitching station and afterwards we got this cool picture of Tim and the Moose:
27a - Moose featuring Tim.JPGAfter lunch, we stopped back in at the stadium, but all of the Mariners were gone.  We got some pictures of the Dave Neihaus tribute sign (also a patch the Mariners are wearing this season, which is also featured in our blog banner up top this season):
28 - Mom and Dave MYOHMY.JPGFinally, on our way out to the parking lot, I took some pictures of the Peoria Sports Complex scoreboard…
 
And that was it.  The next morning, I drove by the complex and saw some Mariners milling around by the clubhouse building.  But there was no major league work out due to the first Spring Training game later that day.  Later that day, we caught out plane back to Pennsylvania.  It was a great time at Spring Training, and we left more excited than ever for the regular season to start about a month later.

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

After a brief detour through the Metrodome, its back to Spring Training.  We still have a few more reports to go from the desert.  This one has no real *story* per se, its just a bunch of pictures.  It does, however, have a theme:  practice.  We took a bunch of nice pictures of Mariners doing the hard work of preparing for the 2011 season and its time to share them.

Each morning, the entire Mariners major league camp would report to practice field M3 for a big stretching routine:

1 - pitcher stretching.JPGYou can always expect to see the guys playing a lot of catch at Spring Training:

2 - Ichiro throwing.JPGAbove, Ichiro is playing catch with…hmm…probably Milton Bradley on practice field M1.

The Mariners coaching staff hits hours of fungo to the Mariners infielders during Spring Training.  Here, Justin Smoak gloves a grounder on the first day of full team workouts on M2:

3 - Justin Smoak grounder.JPGJosh Wilson got into the action right next to Smoak:

4 - Josh Wilson grounder.JPGAcross the diamond, Chone Figgins — back at his native third base — got hand cuffed by this grounder, but made the play:

5 - Chone Figgins handcuffed by grounder.JPGBetween fields M1 and M2, there is a little half field (infield only).  Here, Dustin Ackley practices taking grounders at second base on the short field:

6 - Dustin Ackley grounder.JPGThe pitchers spend a lot of time re-learning how to field their position during Spring Training.  Here, big Michael Pineda practices his pick off move as a bunch of his colleagues watch:

7 - Pineda drills.JPGThis next picture is hilarious to me.  This was the first day of full squad workouts and the coach (cannot remember which one) said, “First grounder of the season!” and then hit this ball to King Felix Hernandez a/k/a Larry Bernandez:

8 - Felix first grounder of 2011.JPGThe look on Felix’s face is priceless.  FYI, despite his surprised look, he did catch the ball.

Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips was working the fungo a bunch the week we were in Peoria.  Here is an action fungo shot of Jason on M4:

9 - Jason Phillips fungo.JPGErik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise this Spring.  He is flat out pitching like a stud and finally looking like he might live up to the original hype.  Here he is getting in his work in the mega-bullpen between M3 and M4:

10 - Erik Bedard bullpen.JPGThree or four mounds over from Bedard, King Felix was strutting his Cy Young-stuff:

11 - Felix Hernandez bullpen.JPGIn a little strip of random grass between M2 and M7 (the half field), Ichiro, Dustin Ackley and a couple other guys played a little pepper:

12 - Ichiro and Ackley pepper.JPGSomeone peppered a hot one Ichiro’s way and Ichi had to make an acrobatic catch at close range:

13 - catching pepper.JPGWhat makes this next picture cool was unintentional and hard to decipher.  However, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I captured two balls in the air — Figgy gunned a ball to Justin Smoak that appears in the upper lefthand corner of the photo and Brendan Ryan his underhanding a second baseball to 2B:

14 - smoak and two balls in air.JPGAs I said, lots of pitcher fielding practice.  Here, Jason Vargas, Luke French and Brandon League handle hot shots back up the box:

15 - vargas french league.JPGAnd here is another hilarious picture of King Felix fielding his position — he did not catch this one:

16 - Larry Bernandez.JPGBut Ichiro caught this one (during outfielder practice on M5):

17 - Ichiro catch.JPGYou can get so close to your favorite players during Spring Training that its almost ridiculous.  Here, Tim played in the warning track dirt just behind Ichiro waiting his turn at the plate:

18 - Ichiro stretch pre-batting.JPGOne day, the guys all came out to practice and the outfielders reported to M6.  Ichiro was all set to play catch with Milton Bradley when he realized he’d forgot his glove in the clubhouse.  Ichiro’s interpreter, Anthony Suzuki, bolted off to the clubhouse and came cruising back with Ichiro’s glove:

19 - Anthony Suzuki glove retriever.JPGMichael Saunders tracks this ball in the birght Arizona sun during outfielders practice on M6:

20 - Saunders ranging.JPGMore pitcher fielding practice — Erik Bedard doesn’t show the best form while snaring this grounder from the short stop position:

21 - Bedard grounders by short.JPGOne last group of photos, all of Ichiro.  I took the picture of Ichiro in the top left (below)…

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…Tim took the other three from close range.

So there you go, a look behind the scenes at Spring Training practice.   For my money, practice is where the fun is at Spring Training.

Mariners Spring Training Video Update

We’re here in Peoria, AZ for Mariners Spring Training.  We’ll see no games while here.  Just practice.  Frankly, I think that practice is the best part of Spring Training.  We’ve had many memorable encounters and have tons of great pictures to share.  But I haven’t had time to put an entry together yet.  So I figured we’d share a couple videos from Spring Training before putting together a write up.

The first day of spring training was extremely windy with periodic spurts of rain. After the Mariners stretched on one field, the different position groups split off onto separate fields. This video shows the outfielders running over to the Mariners main practice field, and features Ichiro giving me a funny little look as he passes by me and Tim:

Many of the chain link fences on the Mariners Spring Training complex are wrapped in dark green fabric meant to cut down wind on the field. Its my least favorite part of the M’s Spring Training complex. Interestingly, the Padres complex (just on the other side of the Mariners and Padres shared stadium) doesn’t have any of these annoying wind barriers on the fences. In this video, Felix Hernandez is seen pitching in a jumbo-bullpen through a little flap in the wind barrier:

In this video, a group of Mariners pitchers are going through pitcher fielding practice (PFP) on one of the Mariners practice fields. At this point, the pitchers were fielding ground balls and then throwing to third base. You’ll notice that the few fans watching the Marines practice are almost completely silent. That’s the standard at Mariners Spring Training. Well, Tim isn’t the standard fan. He’s loud. After this video, Felix fielded a ball and threw to third base. Tim let out a loud, “Good job, Felix,” prompting Felix to spin, lung toward Tim and give him a double arm point and a loud “THANK YOU!!!” This prompted Nate Robertson (following Felix) to ask, “What about me?” Tim was silent, so I responded in a somewhat sarcastic tone, “Good job, Nate.” All of this drew a chuckle from the players and normally silent fans.

In the final video in this entry, Ichiro is shown taking BP on one of the Mariners practice fields. Pretty much every swing shown here resulted in a nice line drive into shallow right field:

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Camera Day & Other Old Mariners Stuff

I’ve been looking through some old photo albums lately and found a bunch of old Mariners photos I figured I would share.  Most of the following photos are from “Camera Day” (the best promotional night ever) at the Kingdome.  The first set are from 1986, the second is from 1987, and the third is from 1990 or 1991 (my hunch is its 1991).

The picture quality of these photos is pretty shabby because I literally just took digital photos of actual printed photographs (my scanner is out of order right now).

During the 1986 season, I was ten years old and I was a huge Mariners fan.  And in this pre-Griffey era, there was no Mariner (an no ballplayer period) more important to me than the Mariners sure-handed short stop, Spike Owen.  This is the only picture I ever got with Spike.

1 - Spike Owen 1986.JPGLater this season, I was dealt a major blow when the Mariners dealt my all-time favorite player to the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox then moved on to the World Series and, for the first time ever, I watched the World Series and was pulling hard for Spike to win a championship.  Spike had a great post-season in ’86.  He hit .429 in the ALCS and .300 even in the World Series.

After 1986, Spike went on to have a solid career.  He wasn’t an all-star and he won’t be in the Hall of Fame, or even any team’s Hall of Fame, but he had a career of which he should be proud.  He had over 1,200 hits and was recognized as a quality short stop (although he never won a gold glove).

Interestingly, in the final at bat of his career, Spike hit a fly ball that Ken Griffey, Jr. caught for the first out of the ninth inning of the Mariners 1-game playoff against the Angels in 1995.  Two outs later, Spike’s career was finished and the Mariners had won their first A.L. West Championship and made the playoffs for the first time in team history.

How about some more 1986 Mariners.  Here I am with Al Cowens:

2 - Al Cowens 1986.JPGOf course, we had Phil Bradley and “Stormin” Gorman Thomas.

3 - Phil Bradley 1986.JPG  
4 - Gorman Thomas 1986.JPG

Phil Bradley was a quality Mariner.  Over five seasons, he hit .301 and was an all-star in 1985.  In ’86, Bradley hit .310.

Who remembers Steve Yeager and Ken Phelps?

5 - Steve Yeager 1986.JPG  
6 - Ken Phelps 1986.JPG

I never realized this until right this second, but Yeager is apparently the reason that Spike Owen changed his number from 7 to 1 in 1986.  I became a big Spike Owen fan initially because we both played short stop and we both wore number 7.  I can tell you that M’s jersey I’m wearing in these pictures has a big number 7 on the back, and it was for Spike Owen, not Steve Yeager.

Of course, Ken Phelps is famous in Mariners history for two things he did involving other teams.  First, Phelps was famously traded to the Bronx for future Mariners Hall of Famer, Jay Buhner.  Second, as an Oakland Athletic, Phelps hit a homerun with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to break up Brian Holman’s bid for a perfect game.

Next up, Edwin Nunez and Dave “Hendu” Henderson:

7 - Edwin Nunez 1986.JPG  
8 - Dave Henderson 1986.JPG

Hendu was traded to the Red Sox along with Spike Owen.  While he only had one hit and batted .111 in the ALCS against the Angels, Dave’s only hit was huge.  With the Red Sox down to their potential final out of the series in the ninth inning of game five, Hendu delivered a two-run homerun off of Donnie Moore.  The game when into extra innings, in the 11th inning, Hendu delivered the game winning RBI with a sac fly (also off of Donnie Moore).  The Red Sox won the game, and then won games 6-7 to advance to the World Series.  In the series, Hendu hit .400 (10 for 25) with 2 homeruns.

Hendu can be heard from time-to-time broadcasting Mariners games and seems to be a great guy.

Next up, Billy Swift and Karl Best:

9 - Billy Swift and Karl Best 1986.JPGOur catcher in 1986 was the one and only, Bob Kearney.

10 - Bob Kearney 1986.JPGIn 1987, I wasn’t about to miss Camera Day.  Again, we were along the third base line.  This season, I decided to sport my green and gold Sno-King Youth Club baseball uniform.  Here I am with “Mr. Mariner,” Alvin Davis:

11 - Alvin Davis 1987.JPGWith Spike Owen gone, someone had to play short stop in 1987.  And the job was split between Rey Quinones and this guy, Domingo Ramos:

12 - Domingo Ramos 1987.JPGI don’t even remember the next guy, Bill Wilkinson:

13 - Bill Wilkinson 1987.JPGWe got some more Bob Kearney:

14 - Bob Kearney 1987.JPGThe 1987 Mariners catcher of the future, Dave Valle:

15 - Dave Valle 1987.JPGWe weren’t the best team in 1987, but we did have a (future) Hall of Famer at the helm:  Dick Williams:

16 - Dick Williams 1987.JPGKen Phelps was still hanging around in 1987:

17 - Ken Phelps 1987.JPGI got my picture with a couple Mikes:  Mike Kingery (RF) and Mike Moore (P):

18 - Mike Kingery 1987.JPG  
19 - Mike Moore 1987.JPG

Next up, in the only picture of me holding a bat on a big league field, I posed with Mariners coach, Phil Roof:


20 - Phil Roof 1987.JPGComing off of the bench, we had Rich Renteria:

21 - Rich Renteria 1987.JPGWho could forget Scott Bankhead?

22 - Scott Bankhead 1987.JPGOnce again, Phil Bradley put together a nice season hitting .297:

23 - Phil Bradley 1987.JPGOur primary catcher in 1987 was this man:  Scott Bradley:

24 - Scott Bradley 1987.JPGAnother guy I don’t remember was Steve Sheilds:

25 - Steve Shields 1987.JPGHere I am with Mariners coach Ozzie Virgil:

26 - Ozzie Virgil 1987.JPGAnd finally, it was Hendu’s replacement:  John “Johnny Moe” Moses:

26b - Johnny Moses 1987.JPGThat’s it for picture day in the 1980s.  But we still have some more pictures to share.

Here I am in the Mariners dugout during a Spring Training game in 1991 — I was the batboy for the game:

26c - TJC in M's dugout spring training.JPGHere I am retrieving a bat (possibly Ken Griffey, Jr.‘s) as Jay Buhner strides to the plate:

26d - TJC the batboy Buhner the batter.JPGBy the way, Griffey went 3-3 with 3 singles, Randy Johnson got the win, and Cubs 2B Ryne Sandberg a solo homerun.

This experience was one of the coolest I’ve ever had in baseball.  Griffey was incredibly cool to me.  He was easily the most chatty with me in the dugout.  Harold Reynolds warmed up before the game using my first basemens glove.  Randy Johnson pitched at had to use Edgar Martinez’s bat.  At one point, The Big Unit bunted a pop up to the Cubs pitcher and never left the batters box.  The Cubs pitcher totally booted the ball and it rolled into foul territory over by the Cubs dugout.  But Randy was still in the batters box and was thrown out at first.  Finally, I went from really disliking M’s first baseman Pete O’Brien (I’m not sure why I had not liked him previously) to really liking him (because he was incredibly cool to me in the dugout).

After this game, I got my first and only picture with Ken Griffey, Jr.

tjcgriff.jpgOur last Camera Day was in 1990 or 1991.  We just took pictures of players as they stopped by to shake hands.  I’m not in any of the pictures.  I’m not sure if it was because it was too packed or if I felt like I was too old (I was 14 or 15) or if the players were just shaking hands and not posing for pictures.  Who knows?

Anyway, here are some of the pictures, starting with Alvin Davis and Ken Griffey, Sr.:

27 - Alvin Davis 1990-91ish.JPG  
28 - Ken Griffey Sr 1990-91ish.JPG

There was Harold Reynolds and Greg Briley:

29 - Harold Reynolds 1990-91ish.JPG  
30 - Greg Briley 1990-91ish.JPG

In a couple years, I was never able to get a good picture of (or with) Harold Reynolds, which is really unfortunate because I regard him as one of the top players in Mariners history.  A great player and a great guy.

Ken Griffey, Jr. stopped by, but we got a really terrible picture that isn’t even worth posting.  

But we got decent shots of two future Mariners Hall of Famers:  Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez (with Jay Buhner):

31 - Jay Buhner 1990-91ish.JPG  
32 - Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner 1990-91ish.JPG

Finally, we got this shot of Dave Valle:

33 - Dave Valle 1990-91ish.JPGNext stop is Pittsburgh in 2004.  Colleen and I headed to Pittsburgh for the weekend to see the Mariners in their first and only appearance at PNC Park.  Colleen and I had been together almost five years at this point and were engaged, but because I had been in law school for three of those years and hours away from any Major League team with no son to travel around with she didn’t really fully know me as a baseball fan yet.  Primarily, she knew me as a guy who watched a ton of Mariners games on TV and occassionally took her to a game in Philadelphia or Baltimore.  This was her first real baseball roadtrip.

Here are some shots from Pittsburgh of the first and third winningest pitchers in Mariners history:  Jamie Moyer (first at 145 wins) and Freddy Garcia (third at 76 wins):

34 - Jamie Moyer 2004.JPG  
35 - Freddy Garcia 2004.JPG

Here is another (poor quality but) interesting picture from our Pittsburgh trip:  Ichiro wearing (i) a brown glove and (ii) long pant legs:

36 - Ichiro brown glove and long pants.JPGFinally, this last picture of the entry is from Safeco Field.  I’m not sure what year it is from — probably 2003-04 — but it also shows Ichiro sporting long pants:

37 - Ichiro long pants.JPGAnd there you go, some of my old, pre-Tim, mostly pre-digital Mariners pictures.

2010 Mariners Season Finale (10/3/10)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Greg!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thanks, Dallas!

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

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

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

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

Kellan was ready to see some quality Mariners baseball…

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

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

Yep, RRS was looking good…

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

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

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

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

Hey, guess who showed up?  It was Paulie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

34 - one last shot in 2010.JPGHe failed to smile in any of them.  But how could I blame him?

It was now officially the off-season.

Bummer.

2010 Fan Stats:

29 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)


35 - halman and braden finish the season.jpg25 Ice Cream Helmets
(Mariners (3), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

66 Baseballs (15 Mariners, 2 Angels, 5 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Kellan’s MLB Debut (10/1/10)

October 1, 2010 was a big day, and its going to result in a BIG game report.  Here we go.

The day was finally upon us:  Kellan’s first Mariners game!  In the morning, I laid out our shirts for the day in small, medium and large sizes:


1 - 3 for M's Baseball.JPGFor this extra special game, I decided to don my extra special jersey:  my official Mariners Ryan Rowland-Smith No. 18 jersey.

It was a night game and we had a busy day preparing for it.  In the morning, my mom and I went shopping at a craft store and then, just like I’d done a little more than four years ago, I set up shop in my parents’ garage to paint version 2.0 of the First Gamers Club sign:

2 - painting first gamers club sign.JPGMy mom headed up a project of her own:  creating a picture display for the “2006 First Gamers Club Reunion“:

3 - 2006 first gamers club reunion.JPGOn September 12, 2006, we celebrated the first “First Gamers Club.”  The guests of honor (the “First Gamers”) were Tim, Julie (my cousin Janet’s daughter), Laura (my cousin Daniel’s daughter), and Kasey (our family friends’ grandson).  With the exception of Laura, all of the 2006 First Gamers would be in attendance for the second First Gamers Club celebration.

This time, the guests of honor would be Kellan, Gill and Kate (Kellan’s and Tim’s only first cousins (my sister-in-law Kimberly’s and brother-in-law Kevin’s kids)), and Tyler and Erika (my cousin Janet’s 3-year-old twins).

Thanks to my wonderful parents, Tim’s first game was in Suite 5 at Safeco Field (the Ted Williams suite).   Thanks again to my wonderful parents, Kellan’s first game would also be in Suite 5 at Safeco Field.  Here is Kellan’s extremely cool first game ticket:


Kellan's First Game TicketWe arrived right when the gates opened.  As we slowly made our way from the parking garage, through the suite level concourse and down to the field level, several ushers gave Tim and Kellan some baseball cards, including these two absolute keepers:

griff and felix cardsIt was quite the chore to keep Tim from playing with (and thereby destroying) his Felix and Griffey cards during the game.  He was very excited about them.  I kept them safe and let him play with (and destroy) several less important cards he also received from ushers during BP.

When we made it to the field level, Tim and Colleen headed to the team store where Tim got some cool Mariners athetlic shorts (pictured throughout this entry) and Kellan and I reported directly to the RF foul line to watch BP.

This is the first picture ever of Kellan at Safeco Field (or any MLB stadium):

4 - Welcome to the Bigs kid.JPGWe watched BP from almost the exact same spot from which Tim and I watched BP at his first game.  The only disappointing part of the pre-game events was that the Mariners were already off of the field when we arrived.  So Kellan’s first BP was limited to the visiting Oakland A’s.

When we arrived at the field, my mom, dad and brother had already hung the First Gamers Club sign from our suite:

5 - Second First Gamers Club sign.JPGBy the way, the “M” in “GAMERS” looks different because I painted silver sparkles over the black paint of the “M.”

According to the time coding on my camera, it took exactly 11 minutes until A’s 30-year old, first time September call-up, Bobby Cramer, bestowed upon Kellan the very first MLB baseball of his life:

6 - Kellan's first baseball.JPGHere is a cellphone picture I took so I could immediately show off Kellan’s prize:

Kellan's first baseball cellphone pict.jpgBobby Cramer was very nice.  We chatted a little bit during BP and he agreed to sign Kellan’s first baseball after the conclusion of BP.

After hitting the team store, Tim and Colleen met up with us and Colleen took this picture of her three guys with Kellan’s first baseball:

7 - new game crew.JPGTim was excited for his little brother.  He really loves that little guy.

Then, someone took this excellent family picture of the four of us:

8 - happy baseball family.JPGThat kid in the yellow shirt explained that the Mariners had stamped some of the BP balls with a “CATCH & WIN” stamp.  If you caught one of the stamped baseballs, you could turn it in for an autographed Mariners baseball at a prize table in the concourse behind home plate.  (I guess I should mention that it was Fan Appreciation Night).

Well, Kellan’s first baseball had the stamp.  It is visible in the last couple pictures — it looks like a blue blob on the baseball.  As much as I would like to get an autographed Mariners baseball, there was no way in the world that I was going to trade in Kellan’s first baseball.

Soon, more First Gamers showed up.  In this picture, Tim is jumping for joy (and sporting his new shorts!) as my dad chats up Tyler and Erika: 

9 - hopping happy baseball kids.JPGJulie is in the pink hat just behind Tim.  I got a kick out of the fact that Tim and Julie shared their first game together back in September 2006.  Now, just over four years later, Julie was enjoying her second baseball game while Tim was taking in his EIGHTY-SECOND game!

Eventually, my dad was able to secure a couple baseballs for Julie, Erika and Tyler:

10 - baseballs for the johnsons.JPGI believe that both of those baseballs also came courtesy of Bobby Cramer.

Soon, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate also made their way down to join us for some BP.  Colleen and Kimberly took this nice “sisters” shot…

11 - sisters.JPG…that features the First Gamers Club sign in the background.

True to his word, the second BP ended, Bobby Cramer ran over and signed Kellan’s first baseball:

12 - autograph from bobby cramer.JPGNote that Bobby is using the Cook & Son tried-and-true baseball glove hat method while signing Kellan’s baseball.  Kellan’s first baseball is pictured below.  I am extremely happy with it.  Bobby did an excellent job with his autograph.  The placement of his autograph and his jersey number (“64″) off-set to the side of the “CATCH & WIN” stamp and a nice grass/dirt smudge easily make it one of the most visually unique and pleasing baseballs in our collection.

Even if Bobby doesn’t turn out to be an all-star player, he can rest assured that he will always be remembered by the Cook family.

Thanks, Bobby!

BP was great fun with all of the kids.  The only regret was that I had not been able to get a baseball for Gill and Kate.  I’d once given Gill a baseball Gil Meche used to do some rehab work at old Yankee Stadium, so they had a real MLB baseball already.  But I was determined that Gill should get one at his first game.  At this point, I wasn’t sure how or if that was going to happen.

Before leaving our BP spot, I had to pose for a picture with Tim in his familiar shoulder riding position and Kellan in his baby bjorn:

13 - walking for three.JPGIn that picture, you can see the “CATCH & WIN” logo on the big screen behind us.

After BP ended, Tim headed up to the suite with his Grandma.  Meanwhile, Kellan, Colleen and I headed over to the Mariners dugout.  I really wanted to get a picture of Kellan with a Mariner at his first game.  I had discussed it with Ryan Rowland-Smith at our last game and he said he’d gladly pose for a picture with us and that we should come over by the dugout.  So that’s what we did.

Kellan took a little power nap:

14 - already tuckered out.JPGAnd he concentrated hard on taking “it” all in while he was awake:

15 - taking in the ballpark experience.JPGWhen Colleen split off from us to go fetch Kellan’s pacifier, a nice fan asked if I wanted him to take our picture.  Hey, why not?  Right?  So here it is:

hanging by M's dugout with KellanNo Mariners were in sight for a long time.  Then, John Wetteland came out and started signing autographs down the foul line.  A couple rookie calls up soon joined him.  We stuck by the dugout looking for RRS.  Eventually, he came out and we locked eyes.  I pointed down the foul line and we both nodded our heads.  But when he went down the line to meet up with us, a throng of fans rushed him for autographs.  Then more players came out and joined the huge autograph session.

We moved down the line a bit and waited for people to clear out from the RRS line.  In this picture, Kellan looks like a pro-autograph hound as RRS signs an autograph for another fan in the background:


16 - how about some player interactions.JPGWe ended up getting pictures with four Mariners:

17 - kellan with pauley RRS olson and sedden.JPGClockwise from top left:  David Pauley, RRS, Chris Seddon, and Garrett Olson.

Olson posed for a picture with us and then saw the little helmet in my hand.  He grabbed the helmet, put it on Kellan’s head, and leaned in for a second picture.  Excellent move, Garrett!

I got a bright idea earlier in the day, I brought Tim’s ice cream helmet from the last game and a metallic-silver pen and got the guys to autograph it:

18 - autographed ice cream helmet.JPGA couple of the autographs are on the far side near the back.  On the bill of the helmet, those autographs are Cook & Son Hall of Famers Jason Phillips and Ryan Rowland-Smith.

Phillips wasn’t autographing down the line.  While the autograph session was going on down the line, he was out in the bullpen and outfield working with starting pitcher Luke French and catcher Josh Bard.  After we got those player pictures above, it was getting close to game time.  We still had not visited the suite yet.  But before heading up, I told Colleen we needed to go out to the bullpen because I wanted to say hi to Jason.

We found Phillips pretty quickly.  He came over to chat and meet Kellan.  And he asked, “Hey, where’s the big guy?”  Yep, Tim has graduated from being our “little boy” to being our “big guy.”

Jason Phillips has been so incredibly cool to Tim and I over the past two seasons.  I definitely don’t want to try to take advantage of the relationship.  But this was Kellan’s first game!  So I had to ask if he could hook Kellan up with his first Mariners baseball.  “Of course,” was Jason’s response.

Thank you, Jason!!!

Faced with a fresh, new-to-the-world Mariners fan, Jason told us a story about when his kid was born and he was just days away from the start of a baseball season.  When we parted ways, we wished each other well for the offseason.  By the way, the baseball Jason gave to Kellan was fresh out of the box.  It is a beautiful clean pearl of a baseball.

Here is a look at Kellan’s first two baseballs:

19 - bobby cramer jose lopez-auto and jason phillips.jpgWait, that’s three baseballs?  To the left, that is Kellan’s absolutely beautiful Bobby Cramer autographed, “CATCH & WIN” stamped first baseball.  The baseball on the right (“107″) is the baseball from Jason Phillips.  (FYI, I internally debated with myself long and hard about whether we should start again at “1” now that Kellan has joined our little baseball team.  I’m still not convinced I made the right decision, but I decided that we’d just keep on with our existing numbering system under the theory that all of the baseballs are collectively “Cook & Son” team baseballs.  Right or wrong, I’ll live with that decision until the boys are old enough that I’m no longer “cool” and they feel the need to have their own separate numbering system.  Hopefully that’s in the distant future because I love being on my sons’ team.)

Anyway, what about that middle baseball?  We wandered by the prize booth.  I showed them Kellan’s baseball (now autographed by Bobby Cramer) and told them there was no way I was going to give it to them, but that we still would like to get an autographed Mariners baseball.  They put a little red dot inside the “C” in of the “CATCH & WIN” stamp and let me pick a bag from the autographed baseball grab bag.  Truth be told, I like that red dot a lot.  It adds to the story of Kellan’s first baseball and it looks cool.   Anyway, Colleen and I both pointed to the same grab bag, and we ended up pulling the above-pictured Jose Lopez autographed baseball.  We like Jose.  The Jose baseball is definitely a welcome addition to our home.

Okay — it was game time.  We reported to the suite and said our hellos to the gathered crowd of family and friends.

I absolutely love Tim’s “first pitch” picture.  So, in addition to myself, I assigned two other people to photograph Kellan’s first pitch.  One took the shot too early and one took it too late.  Luckily, I took it at just the right time and Kellan is now the proud owner of a framed picture of the first pitch of his first Mariners game.  Here it is:

20 - Kellan's first MLB pitch.JPGIf you cannot tell, the baseball can be seen in the foul grass on the 3B side, just to the right of the circle of dirt around home plate (click to enlarge the picture and you’ll be able to see it).  Just like Tim’s first pitch thrown by Gil Meche, Kellan’s first pitch thrown by Luke French was a called “strike one.”

On the second pitch, Rajai Davis popped out to…

20a - Ichiro in RF.JPG…Ichiro in right field for the first “out” of Kellan’s career as a Mariners fan.

After that second pitch, sadly, it was all downhill for the Mariners.  The next batter hit a homerun and the A’s never looked back.

But lets dwell on the positive.  Here was our beautiful view from Suite 5 at Safeco Field:


20b - safeco suite 5 panorama.jpgWhen you attend a game in a luxury suite, its easy to end up not hanging on every pitch of the game.  There is a lot that goes on in a suite.  And my mom and Colleen did an excellent job snapping pictures of all of the fun.

In no particular order, lets check in on the fun:

21 - people.JPGTop left: my dad with my folks’ closest friends and co-Mariners season ticket holders Lynn and Steve.  And half-hidden behind Lynn in Kasey from the First Gamers Club class of 2006.  Kasey and Tim had a blast together at this game.

Top right: my cousin Annie smiles for a picture with her (and my) uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!  Ray is Julie, Erika and Tyler’s grandpa.

Bottom left:  Annie with her sister (and my cousin) Katie, my Dad, Julie and Kate (my neice).

Bottom right:  My dad, Julie and Kate sans Annie and Katie.

My hope was that the Mariners would win.  Unfortunately, they were facing Trevor Cahill who was looking to cap off a stellar season with his 18th win to go along with is sub-3.0 ERA.  As with all apparent Mariners losses in the making, my second goal was that hopefully at least Ichiro would get a hit.  I was poised with my camera ready to capture the moment:

21a - Ichi-pose.JPGBut he walked in the first and, as shown here,…

21b - ichi grounder to first.JPG…grounded into a fielder’s choice in the third.

Back to the suite pictures.  In the top left photo below, Katie shares a moment with her (and my) cousin Janet:

22 - people.JPGJanet, of course, is Raaaaaaaaaaayyy’s daughter, and Julie, Erika and Tyler’s mother.

Top right:  My dad holds Kellan as uncle Raaaaaaaaaayyy watches on.

Bottom left:  My mom goofs around with Julie.

Bottom right:  Katie holds Kellan as they watch the game from the suite’s top row of seats.

By the way, each of my cousins at this game are children of my mom’s sisters, each of my aunts at this game are those very same sisters of my mom (she has four sisters and two of them were at this game), and each of my uncles at this game are the husbands of the aforementioned aunts and fathers of the aforementioned cousins.

More pictures:

23 - people.JPGTop left:  Lynn, my dad, Kellan, me, and my aunt Carol (wife of Raaaaaaaayyy, mother of Janet, and grandma of Julie, Erika and Tyler).

Top right:  My dad and Steve.

Bottom left:  Kasey (in his grandma’s arms) pats Kellan (in my dad’s arms) on the arm, while Colleen and I smile for the camera.

Bottom right:  Trouble with a capital “T” and “K”.  Left to their own devices, I am certain that Tim and Kasey could get into unruly amounts of mischief.  (And, for good measure, Kate is hiding under the table).

The Mariners love new fans.  They were quick to bestow unto Tim, Kellan, and all of the kids these fancy “first game” certificates:
Seattle Ms 1st game cert-Kellan.jpgOf course, this wasn’t Tim’s first game, so I digitally edited his certificate.

You know what else they have in suites?  Awesome food, and lots of it.  Here, my best buddy, Paul, and I point out (with amazement) part of the spread:

24 - check out that food.JPGAlong the wall off-camera to the right, we also had pizzas, hot dogs, and delicious little mini corndogs.

As the Mariners fell further-and-further behind their opponents, we just kept having fun:

25 - people.JPGTop left and right:  Carol plays with Kellan.  In the photo on the left, my aunt Margaret watches on in the pink jacket.  In a crazy and by all accounts unplanned twist of fate, Carol wore the exact same white sweater and Margaret wore the exact same pink jacket to Tim’s first game.  Here is the photographic evidence.

Bottom left:  Me and Paulie (taken about two seconds before (or possibly after) our “pointing at the food” picture above).

Bottom right:  Tim and one of his favorite people in the whole world, his grandma.

This has been a lot of pictures…well, that’s not even the half of it.  Let’s keep going:


26 - people.JPGTop left:  my mom and Kellan.

Top right:  the kids gather for some First Gamers Club cake!

Bottom left:  I paparazzi-style ambushed my brother Jason as he got up to get more food and/or drink.  Paulie laughs at Jason in the process.  Back in 1998-99, Jason, Paul and I were roommates during the year after I graduated from college and before I moved to Pennsylvania for law school.  Between the three of us, there was a lot of making fun of each other going on in that house.  Good times.

Bottom right:  Janet watches the game with all three of her kids.

Wait.  That was three pictures in a row without Kellan.  Here we go, its Kellan and Lynn on the left…

27 - people.JPG…and Kellan and aunt Kimberly on the right.

And how about some Kellan, mommy and the Safeco Field sign pictures?  We got those too:

28 - Colleen and Kellan.JPGLike at Tim’s first game, the Mariners Moose paid a visit to the suite and posed for pictures with everyone.  Here are just two of the many Moose pictures:

29 - the Moose is Loose.JPGHeck, let’s see a few more:

more moose picts.JPGBy this point, all of these people should look familiar except two of ‘em.  In the top left, Janet’s husband Destry is holding Erika and Tyler.  At the bottom left, Katie and Annie are joined by their dad (and my uncle) Tom in their Moose picture.  By the way, to connect the dots, maybe I should mention that Margaret and Tom are the parents and Katie and Annie are the sisters of my cousin Nathan with whom Tim and I went to a Nationals vs. Mets game on September 6, 2010.

Tim and his cousin Kate are about 9 months apart in age (Tim is older) and they have a great time with each other.  Here, Tim makes silly faces at my camera…

30 - some cousins.JPG…while Kate smiles at someone else’s camera.

Meanwhile, Kate’s big brother and Tim’s cousin, Gill, was having fun sitting with his dad (“uncle Kevin”) and playing with the large stack of baseball cards he’d acquired from various ushers throughout the night:

31 - some baseball cards.JPGGill’s baseball fan loyalty is somewhat up in the air.  While his dad is a moderate Phillies fan (more of an Eagles and Flyers fan) and his (and Tim’s) grandpa is a Yankees fan, I have designs on drafting Gill into a life of indentured Mariners fanitude.

Tim continued having way too much fun, alternatively, with Kasey and his grandma:

32 - tim having fun.JPGAnd aunt Kimberly and uncle Kevin couldn’t say enough about their experience at Safeco Field…

33 - Kmart and Kmart.JPG…where everyone was “so very nice” to them.

With Kellan’s first game not quite going as planned on the field, there was plenty of time to smile at Kellan…

34 - Kellan and Margaret.JPG…or to take “guys” shots with my littlest boy and Paulie…

35 - Paul Kellan and Todd.JPG…and, of course, I had to get a shot with both of my boys…

36 - me my boys and my brother.JPG….with Tim wearing a pair of rabbit ears courtesy of his uncle Jason.

At some point, Gill requested to go to the kids play area.  Lynn, Kasey, Tim and I decided to join them.  I took this shot from a little concourse that joins the 1B side suite level to the RF suite level:

37 - walkway between suites.JPGThe play area was pretty crowded and it was easy to lose sight of the kids in there.  So we didn’t stay too long.  Before we left, I made a suggestion to Kimberly:  if they would like, we could stop by the Mariners bullpen and I could try to get a baseball for Gill and Kate before heading back to the suite.

Things worked out ideally.  As we approached the bullpen, Garrett Olson was warming up, but for some unknown reason, Jason Phillips wasn’t doing the catching.  Instead, Jason was standing behind the catcher just off to the lefthanded batters box side of the plate.  He was standing against the fence to the bullpen.

In the picture below to the left…

38 - hooked up by Jason Phillips.JPG…you can just barely see a little piece of Jason’s blue baseball cap above the green padding right over Gill’s right hand.  As we walked up to the fence, I noticed that Jason was standing right there.  I said hello and he turned around to chat.

Again, I don’t like asking Jason for too much, but these were drastic times.  Gill and Kate were never going to have another first game.  I introduced Jason to everyone, mentioned that they’d flown out to Seattle from the east coast to share their first baseball game with Kellan, and I asked if it was possible for them to get a baseball to mark the occassion.  “No problem,” Jason said, “just let him finish warming up so I can get over to my bag.”  Above to the right, Gill watched through the fence with wide eyes.

Once Garrett finished warming up, Jason headed over to his equipment bag, pulled out a baseball and tossed it over the fence to uncle Kevin who handed it over to Gill who then gladly handed it over to his sister, Kate.

Thanks, again, Jason!

To celebrate Gill and Kate’s first baseball, the three cousins got ice cream helmets and took them back to the suite:

39 - cousins and ice cream helmets.JPGIchiro came to the plate for his final at bat of the night in the 8th inning.  He was still looking to collect his first hit of the night, and his 211th of the season.  And with this swing…

40 - Ichiro hits single in 8th.JPG…he extended his hit streak in games attended by Kellan to one (1) game (and counting).

It was getting late and the action in the suite was quieting down a bit.  The Martelons enjoyed some more “first game” action from the steps in the suite’s seating area:

41 - martelons.JPGThe food service people started cleaning up…

42 - suite from hallway.JPG…while Colleen and Kellan relaxed in a cushy chair:

43 - suite quieting down.JPGOthers, including me and Tim, quietly watched the Mariners offense sputter to the finish line of a 9-0, six hit, shutout loss:

44 - safeco suite 5 panorama.jpgThe brutal loss, however, couldn’t dampen our spirits.  The season was long lost months ago and, while a win would have been great, this night was about family, friends and sharing our five kids’ “first game” experience with one another.  And on that front, the night was a smashing success.

After the game concluded, people slowly said their temporary good-byes (we’re all family, we’d see each other again soon):

45 - packing up.JPGPaulie pointed out the framed shot of our favorite baseball player of all-time hanging on the wall:

46 - paul points out Griff.JPGMonths earlier, I had hoped and expected that Ken Griffey, Jr. would be playing in this game.  Given his retirement, I was at least happy to have him “in” the suite with us.

I didn’t want to leave.  I grabbed my “big guy” and we got a picture as the Safeco Field roof rolled shut:

47 - TJC and tjc in a suite.JPGIn the name of preserving history, I got a picture of the “unhappy” totals:

48 - happy day but unhappy totals.JPGThen we got a picture of our whole family:

49 - 8 Cooks.JPGWe try to get a full family shot at least once a year.  It was great to get this one at Safeco Field (although poor little Kellan was lights out at this point).  Oh, by the way, there is my camera-shy sister-in-law, Alison, between my mom and brother!  (With this picture, I am pretty sure I’ve now included at least one picture of each person who attended the game with us in the suite).

Then, I got yet another panorama from the suite (showing the roof closing)…

50 - safeco suite 5, ted williams suite panorama.jpg…and one more picture of my happy little family (the “PA Cooks”):

51 - 4 Cooks.JPGAside from the final score, it was an almost unbeatable day at the ballpark.

Welcome to the Majors, Kellan!

Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ichiro greeted us in the hallway…

52 - Griff and Ichi see us out.JPG

…as we made our way from the suite to the car.

Why did the night have to end?

2010 Fan Stats:

28 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

24 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (2), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

64 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Angels, 4 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Family & Safeco Field (9/30/10)

Tim’s little brother, Kellan, was born in July and there was no way that I was going to allow him to miss out on meeting the Mariners during the first baseball season of his life.  And there was no way Kellan was going to experience his first game anywhere but Safeco Field.  So, as the season drew to a close, we found ourselves in Seattle.

Kellan’s first game was slated for Friday, October 1, 2010.

But we were in town a couple days early to visit my family and the Mariners were playing.  There was no way that Tim and I were gonna miss out.  On Thursday, September 30, 2010, we gathered up my mom, dad, and brother Jason, and headed down to Safeco Field.

We had Colleen’s sister’s family in town with us and a lot going on, so we headed down late and missed batting practice.  When we arrived, no one was on the field.  So, we headed to the play area…


2 - safeco play area.JPG…Tim always enjoys the Safeco Field play area.  When he finished up playing, we found the Mariners Moose nearby…

3 - moose 2010.JPG…and posed for a picture with him in his little Moose den.

Next, we figured we better head over to the Mariners dugout to see what was going on with our Mariners.  And that’s when we saw one of the prettiest sights we’d seen all season:

5 - hello safeco 2010.JPGAh, beautiful Safeco Field.  We love this place.

Other than Chone Figgins stretching down the RF line, none of the players were on the field.  But we did see some of the Mariners top brass…

4 - Howard Lincoln.JPG….President & COO Chuck Armstrong.  “Hmmm,” I wondered, “what’s up with Chuck.”

After a bit, there were a bunch of Mariners warming up down the RF line.  Tim and I headed over there…

6 - greg halman warmups.JPG…and we were essentially the only people around when Greg Halman finished playing catch.  I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and fired the ball to us.

Thanks, Greg!

 It was just minutes until game time, so we reported to our seats in RF.  We picked RF because the week day crowds had been tiny lately at Safeco Field and we figured our chances of getting near a homerun ball would be decent.  Also, as an added bonus, we’d been near Ichiro.

Speaking of Ichiro.  Turns out Chuck Armstrong was in the dugout because he was getting ready to present Ichiro with some awards of some sort…

7 - congrats ichiro.JPG….for being the first Major Leaguer to collect 200 hits for ten straight seasons.

We were pretty busy chatting and generally having a good time during the game, so I did a pretty shabby job at getting action shots.  But we’ll do our best to take you through the night.

Here was our crew…an excellent bunch of ballgame companions (note that Tim was busy eating a hot pile of nachos)…

8 - view of ichiro.JPG…and here was our view of Ichiro as he played catch with Franklin Gutierrez between innings.

And this was our view of the game from Section 109, Row 25, seats 5-9:

9 - safeco section 109, row 25 panorama.jpgNow is that a great looking ballpark or what?  By the way, Row 25 is the third row back from the field in RF at Safeco.

As for the game, it started off nicely.  It was the A’s and the Mariners.  Doug Fister took on Gio Gonzalez.  Both pitchers were “on” at the beginning.  Despite some hits by both teams through the early innings (including a first inning single for Ichiro (his 209th hit of the season)), the game was scoreless through four innings.

It was a lot cooler at this game than we were used to while attending games in the northeast.  So, a couple innings into the game, my mom, Tim and I visited the M’s team store and I got a great deal on a new Mariners sweatshirt for Tim.

On the way back to our seats, we decided to walk by the Mariners bullpen.

I noticed something interesting, something that I’d never noticed before…

10 - flat pitching rubber.JPG…a little cut out at the front of the M’s bullpen mound with a flat ground pitching rubber.  That was a new one on me.

As I stood at the fence starring at my camera’s LCD screen and taking some of the worst and most blurry pictures of all time of Ichiro batting…

11 - blurry ichiro.JPG…my mom mentioned, “Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith just looked over at you.  Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith is walking over here.”

I looked away from my camera, and there was Mr. RRS.

Hey, Ryan!

It was great to catch up with RRS.  It was interesting to chat about what it was like in the clubhouse as the Mariners were 97 losses into the season and four days away from the off-season.  It was also cool to get a sneak preview into his very interesting training plans for the off-season.  I felt a bit bad seeing RRS watching the game from the bullpen after a tough season.  And I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him pitch once more and close out the season on a positive note.  While it wouldn’t happen at this game, I would get my chance.

Soon, we headed back to our seats.  It was time for a chocolate cihp cookie dough ice cream helmet…

12 - M's ICH 2010.JPG…but as things got sweet for Tim, they got sour for the Mariners.

Between the fifth and sixth innings, Doug Fister gave up 6 runs and Brian Sweeney gave up the seventh run of the game.  Quickly, our pitchers’ dual turned ugly.

But after 97 losses, we were used to seeing the M’s trailing their opponent and we were able to still have a good time…

13 - fun in RF.JPG…as we watched the Mariners on the way to their 98th loss of the season.  Hey, check out that great new sweatshirt on Tim.  Its a zip-up with a teal inner hood.  Very nice.

(By the way, I made Tim take off his new sweatshirt and wear his old green sweatshirt to eat his ice cream helmet.  That guy is sloppy with the ice cream.)

It was also very nice to be hanging out behind Ichiro:

14 - its Ichiro.JPGAnd, of course, it was nice to get a chance to snap a picture of the Greg Halman ball:.

15 - Halman baseball at safeco.JPGSpeaking of Greg Halman, he made an outstanding diving catch in left field.  In fact, it was such a nice, high speed diving catch…

15b - halmans new belt…that he broke his belt in the process.

 After Halman’s catch, I figured I should go back over by the bullpen to snap a shot of Halman.  While I was there, I also snapped a picture of the Mariners’ mop-headed September call-up, Dan Cortes…

16 - Dan Cortes bullpen and airport.JPG…interestingly, five days later with the season concluded, we were getting ready to board our airplane back to Pennsylvania while Mr. Cortes was getting ready to board his flight back home to the Los Angeles area.  (FYI, the white and red arrow is pointing to my brother and parents).

Well, we made it to the 8th inning.  It was still 7-0 A’s, and despite fairly empty seats, we’d managed to go the whole game without catching a homerun.

And then, the perfect opportunity arose…and I totally botched it.

With two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Chad Pennington hit a homerun in our direction.  I had an open lane to the ailse.  It seemed like it was going to land 5-10 rows behind us and right on the aisle.  I bolted to the aisle and headed up three rows.  Then the ball totally died.  I turned around but couldn’t make it back to “the spot.”  The spot, sadly, was precisely at the aisle seat…

17 - homerun failure.JPG….in THE ROW IN WHICH I WAS JUST SITTING.  It was right there, on my side of the green railing.  RIGHT THERE!  Had I stayed put, I could have caught it easily.

I still had a chance.  Someone bobbled the ball.  I made a dive for it down the stairs while passing under that railing, which ultimately resulted in several flesh wounds and two large buises but no baseball.

Aye, aye, aye…

Oh, well.  while I really would like to catch a game homerun some day, I would much, much, MUCH prefer that it not be a homerun off of the Mariners.

Anyway, it was moving into the 9th inning.  Tim and I decided to head over to the 3B dugout in hopes of getting our hands on our first ever Safeco Field umpire ball.

Here was our first view as Anthony Varvaro pitched to Kevin Kouzmanoff…

18 - Varvaro to Kouzmanoff.JPG…the white arrow is pointing to my brother and parents.  We were in the concourse standing room area for that picture.

A few minutes later, we mae it to the first row right on the umpire tunnel, but an usher told us we couldn’t sit in the “charter” seats.  I asked her how far back we had to go.  Row 11 was acceptable.

So, this was our view from the 11th row of Ichi’s final at bat of the night when,…

19 - Ichiro 210 of 2010.JPG…after a hard foul liner right over our heads, he smacked a single for his 210th hit of the season.

After the final out of the game — and an 8-1 loss — home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman handed a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim (pictured below).  It was the 105th baseball in the “Todd & Tim Baseball Partners Era.”  Our next baseball would be our first of the “Todd, Tim & Kellan 3-Man Baseball Team Era.”

It was a miserable loss, but it was great being back at Safeco Field and it was great spending the evening with my family.

On the walk back to my brother and parents in RF, an usher took this excellent shot of me and my boy
...

20 - We love this place.JPG…and then…

21 - Five Cooks at Safeco Field.JPG…another usher took this excellent shot of all of us.

As we left the park, I was excited to know that we’d be walking back into the park less than 24 hours later for the first game of Kellan’s life!

2010 Fan Stats:

27 Games


22 - Halman 104 and Dreckman 105.jpg20 Teams
(Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (1), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

62 Baseballs (13 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

15 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

10 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

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