Results tagged ‘ Ichiro ’

Pete Rose & Steve Carlton

Last week, I met two of the best baseball players of all time:  Pete Rose and Steve Carlton.  If you have a short attention span, this entry might not be for you.  But if you’re up for it, here is the scoop:

 

Pete Rose (Friday, December 4, 2009)

I met Pete Rose at the Second Annual Berks County Bar Foundation Holiday Benefit Luncheon.

Pete and Todd.JPG

I’d been looking forward to this luncheon for a couple months.  Last year, I went to the first edition of this same luncheon and saw (and for about 30 seconds spoke to) Mike Schmidt.  Its always fun to see one of the all-time greats up-close and personal and hear one of them give a speech.  Pete Rose did not dissappoint.

Actually, I had a crazy day at work that day and missed most of the luncheon.  When I arrived, Pete was already at the podium and had concluded his speech.  But he continued to field questions from the audience for about 1/2 an hour.  The guy was absolutely hilarious.  He had every person in the place in fits of laughter.

I’ve been to a lot of charity breakfast, lunch and dinner banquets and heard a lot of featured speakers:  Pete Rose was hands down the best, most entertaining and most intriguing I have ever seen.  And, oddly, despite his world wide fame (or infamy), he was also the most accessible.

Last year, I approached Mike Schmidt before his speech.  I was happy to get to say hello, shake his hand, and thank him for visiting our town.  But it was obvious that Schmidt wasn’t totally confortable just hanging out and chatting with the public.

Rose, on the other hand, was the epitome of comfortable.  After he concluded his Q&A session, he hung around and signed anything and everything that anyone asked him to sign…

pete rose autograph.jpg…all I had was a business card.  My plan is to frame the photograph above and Pete’s autograph together for my office.

While he was signing, Pete was still “on.”  The guy is completely (COMPLETELY) at ease talking with ANYONE.  Any question anyone had for him:  he had an answer.  Most people, however, just wanted his autograph.  So, I just hung out next to him at the front of the autograph line and chatted with him while he signed.  Eventually, the guy next to Pete in the picture above showed up to interview him (for this article) so I arranged for someone I know at the Bar Association to take my picture with Pete (thanks!) and I headed out.

I thought I’d share some of what Pete had to say, both during his Q&A session and during our post-presentation discussions…unfortunately, there were too many hilarious moments to remember them all (or even 1/2 of them), but I’ll do my best.

1.  I was going to try to ask a question during the Q&A, but it ended before Pete got to me.  So, the first question I asked Pete after the presentation:

“I heard a lot of TV this season that, if Jeter plays until he’s 43 or so, he might be able to break your hit record.  What do you think?”

Pete was very diplomatic.  I’m pretty sure that inside his head he was saying, “HELL NO!!!!”  (Oh, by the way, Pete cursed at will during the Q&A session, which was just one more thing that made me think he is an authentic guy — Pete Rose doesn’t fake it).  Anyway, Pete didn’t answer “HELL NO,” instead, he used some facts to lead me to the conclusion that there is no way Jeter is going to pass him.  First, Jeter won’t get his 3,000th hit until he is 37 years old.  That’s actually the same age Pete was when he got his 3,000th hit.  Second, Pete remind me that he got 1,600 hits after he turned 35.  (Actually, it looks like he got about 1,700 after turning 35 in 1976).  By all accounts, Jeter would also need about 1,600 hits after turning 35.  Third, those projections require Jeter to stay on his same pace until age 43, but it become a lot harder to play Major League baseball after age 41.  I will have to take Pete’s word on that one.  Anyway, Pete used those observations, body language and his tone of voice to indicate that he doesn’t think Jete is going to match his hit total.

I think Pete is right.  Jeter has 2,747 hits right now at age 35.  He needs 1,509 more hits to equal Rose.  To do that by age 43, Jeter would have to average 188 hits per year between ages 36-43.  Sure, Pete Rose didn’t get to 4,256 until age 45.  But I ask you, do you see Jeter playing for the Yankees at age 45?  And if not, do you see him playing for any team other than the Yankees?  I don’t.  And, I don’t.  And I don’t think he’ll average 188 hits per season for 8 more years.  But, hey, prove me wrong, Jeter.  That would be pretty amazing.

2.  During the Q&A session, Pete was talking about the 2009 World Series and he mentioned Ryan Howard’s poor performance, “I tell you what, Ray Charles could have struck out 13 times during the World Series.  (Making batting motions) In fact, Ray Charles probably would have made a little contact.  At least he could have heard the ball.”

World Series performance aside, Pete seemed to be generally down on Ryan Howard.  He thinks the strike outs are unacceptable.  He acknowledged that Ryan crushes fastballs, but he just can’t handle the off-speed stuff.  He mentioned, “I’d fine my pitcher if he ever threw a fast ball to Ryan Howard.  But for some reason, some managers still decide to do it about 50 times a season.  They figure its early in the game, what the heck?”

3.  Conversely, Pete was very impressed with Chase Utley, “The baseball was looking like a beach ball to him.  Its really easy to hit a beach ball!”

4.  After his presentation, someone asked Pete, “If you’d fine your pitcher for throwing a fast ball to Ryan Howard, would you fine Jimmy Rollins for hitting a home run?”  Rose was perplexed:  “What?  No.  Why would I?  He’s going to hit his home runs.”  It was suggested to Pete that J-Roll was struggling at the plate because he was trying to hit home runs.  Pete disagreed.  J-Roll isn’t trying to hit homeruns.  He’s just not hitting for a high average.  But even when you’re just trying to put good swings on the ball, a pro ball player like J-Roll is going to hit some home runs.  So, no, Pete wouldn’t fine J-Roll.

But, this begged the question (and Pete asked it), “But just because you’re fast, does that mean you should be hitting lead-off?

How about Alfonso Soriono someone asks?  “I don’t know why in the world anyone would give him 18 million dollars.”  So Pete wouldn’t hit Soriano lead off?  “I’d bat him 7th.  And you got to remember, he was a second basemen for the Yankees.”

5.  This is when Pete made a statement that I just couldn’t endorse:  “You know, the guy they love today is this ‘Ichiro’ (he pronounced it “itch-er-oh”).  You know, anyone is going to get 200 hits in a season if they’re up 700 times.  But, when you’re a lead-off hitter, you have one job and one job only — to get on base.  Now, I had 4,200 hits, but I also walked 1,600 times [actually 1,566 times – 14th most of all-time].  He (‘itch-er-oh’) only gets about 30 walks.”

(By the way, all of these “quotes” are actually just paraphrases.  Its not like I was recording the conversation.)

Okay.  I stood there silent at this point.  I didn’t have any need to argue with Pete Rose.  He was being very cool and friendly to everyone.  But, I think that Rose is off-base on his Ichiro assessment.

Yes, Rose averaged 71 walks per season compared to Ichiro’s 47 average walks per season – a difference of 24 on the positive side for Rose.  But Ichiro has averaged 231 hits per season over the course of his career compared to 194 person season for Rose — a difference of 37 on the positive side for Ichiro.  And, while I understand that Rose’s career numbers include his declining years toward the end, you have to realize that Ichiro’s MLB career number don’t include his numbers in Japan from age 20-26 when Ichiro was just flat out ridiculous at the plate:

SEASON TEAM G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
1993 Orix 43 64 4 12 2 0 1 3 2 7 0 2 .188 .212 .266 .478
1994 Orix 130 546 111 210 41 5 13 54 51 53 29 7 .385 .445 .513 .958
1995 Orix 130 524 104 179 23 4 25 80 68 52 49 9 .342 .432 .544 .976
1996 Orix 130 542 104 193 24 4 16 84 56 57 35 3 .356 .422 .504 .926
1997 Orix 135 536 94 185 31 4 17 91 62 36 39 4 .345 .414 .519 .933
1998 Orix 135 506 79 181 36 3 13 71 43 35 11 4 .358 .414 .518 .932
1999 Orix 103 411 80 141 27 2 21 68 45 46 12 1 .343 .412 .572 .984
2000 Orix 105 395 73 153 22 1 12 73 54 36 21 1 .387 .460 .539 .999
JPN Total 981 3619 658 1278 211 23 118 529 384 333 199 33 .353 .421 .522 .943

As it stands today, Rose’s career on base percentage was .375 and Ichiro’s is a modestly better .378.  But if you look at his years in Japan, Ichiro’s OBP increases (he was over .420 career in Japan).

One more thing, honestly, I can’t remember if Pete said “700 at-bats” or “700 plate appearances” per season.  Pete never had 700 at bats in a season.  Only a four people ever have (and one of them, Juan Samuel, did not get 200 hits that season).  Ichiro has had 7000 at-bats exactly once in his career.  Given those facts, I assume Pete meant plate appearances, not at-bats.  If so, I’d note that Pete had over 700 plate appearances 6 times without collecting 200 hits.

So, while I have the utmost respect for the all-time hits king, Ichiro is the man.  I wouldn’t want anyone else leading off for the Mariners.  And I will reject all arguments or opinions to the contrary.

Sorry, I had to defend my Mariner.  Now back to more good times with Pete Rose.

5.  Pete said some things during his Q&A session that really gave you a peak into the inner workings of Pete Rose’s brain.  You know what is in there?  Baseball.  And Winning.

First, Pete shared an extremely interesting story about why he was “Charlie Hustle.”  Pete Rose’s dad (Pete Rose) was a blue collar guy and a star athlete in Cincinnati, OH in his own right.  Rose mentioned that “I’m not the most famous Pete Rose in Cincinnati.”

Pete’s dad would come to games to watch Pete play for the Reds.  He didn’t make a big deal about it.  He didn’t come into the club house or try to capitalize on his son’s success.  He just came to watch his son.  Pete usually wouldn’t even see his dad at the game.  Now, Pete won the NL batting title in 1968 (.335 in “The Year of the Pitcher“) and 1969 (.348).  So, in 1970, Pete was already clearly a star.  Pete’s dad came to the ballpark one day — I think Pete said it was a doubleheader.  Pete hit well.  But grounded out to second late in the game.

When Pete left the clubhouse after the game, he found his dad leaning against his car.  Pete said hi to his dad.  His dad responded, “In the eighth inning, when you grounded out to second, did you run it out?”  Pete reflected on the game and then responded, “No, I guess I didn’t.  You know, it was a good pitch and I missed it.  I was mad at myself because I should have got a base hit on that pitch so I guess I didn’t run.”  Pete’s father responded:

When you do that you make me look bad!  Don’t embarrass me in this town!  When you hit the ball, you run as hard as you can until they hell ‘safe’ or ‘out.’ “

Pete’s dad then turned and walked away.

Pete’s dad obviously put a lot of pressure on him to do things the right way.  I got the feeling that it wasn’t always easy for Rose.  But you could tell he really respected and was grateful to his father for teaching him to do things the right way (well, with the exception of the gambling stuff, I guess).

6.  The second thing that Pete said that really struck a chord with me what that at the end of 162 games, he was mad that the season was over.  He was upset he had to go home and couldn’t play ball until the next season.  That is a feeling that I don’t get from a lot of today’s players.  But I think its a feeling that a lot of MLBloggers can relate to.  I know that I miss the season the moment the final out is recorded.

Pete mentioned that he was at the ballpark every off day.  “It was where I lived.”  He loved hitting in the cages.  He loved taking ground balls at whatever position he was playing or working on at the time.  He just flat out loved baseball and playing it for a living.  I can respect that.

7.  In a non-baseball moment, Pete mentioned that he and Alex Rodriguez have exchanged text messages on a regular basis for many years.  But when A-Rod started dating Madonna, A-Rod suddenly stopped returning Pete’s texts.  Pete remarked, “He dumped me for Madonna!”  Once A-Rod and Madonna stopped seeing each other and A-Rod moved on to Kate Hudson, A-Rod resumed his text message exchange with Pete.

8.  During the Q&A session, somone asked, “Who would win in a head-to-head match up, the 1980 Phillies or the 2008 Phillies.  Pete instantly responded, “They’d win.  We’re all in our damn 60s!”  After discussing some of the strengths of each team, Pete then commented, “Well, if it was Steve Carlton versus Cliff Lee [for Pete’s sake, we’ll pretend Lee was actually on the 2008 Phillies team], no one would win.  We’d probably go nothing-nothing all night.  Now, if it was Cole Hamels pitching (a BIG grin comes across Pete’s face), well, I’d like our chances.”

9.  Okay, we’ve made it to the Ninth.  The last story I’ll share is the big obvious story.  Someone asked something along the lines of “What’s going on with your reinstatement and when (if ever) will you be in the Hall of Fame?”

The bottom line is that Pete has no clue.  He said he thinks he’s being teased.  For example, Selig just announced he’ll retire in three years.  It didn’t sound like Rose was buying that story.  He theorized that Selig is trying to wait to reinstate Rose until after Rose is too old to manage.  Or, he thinks Selig is waiting until Pete dies.  “But the joke’s on Selig, I’m gonna outlive him!”  But, as I mentioned, the bottom line is that Pete doesn’t know when or if he’ll get back into baseball and into the Hall of Fame. 

10.  Oh, wait…we’re heading into extra innings.  Two more brief comments.  First, someone asked Pete if he’d ever hurt a catcher playing so hard.  Pete responded, “Are you a baseball fan!?  Where were you in 1970?  He then told the story or lighting up Ray Fosse in the 1970 all-star game.  Pete talked about the purpose of the game (“The purpose of the game is to WIN.  That’s the only purpose.  You play to WIN!”) and how you play the game (clean but hard).  He said that, if you paid for a ticket to come to see Rose and his team play, he was damn sure going to do everything in his power to make sure you saw a win.  And that is how it should be.  He talked about hard (but clean) slides at 2B and pitchers brushing batters back with a inside pitch.  This is all part of the game and so is running over a catcher if he is blocking the plate.  In sum, Rose turned back to the guy who asked the question, “So the answer to your question, you bet I did.”

Okay, one more bonus Rose comment.  At the end of his Q&A, he said, “Does someone have one more question?”  A guy stood up and asked something like, “what do you think about all the discussion about wood bats vs. metal bats, etc., etc.?”  Pete scans the audience, “Does someone have one more GOOD question?

And that was my run-in with Pete Rose.  I left the event a much bigger fan of Pete Rose (aside from his silly thoughts on Ichiro).  He is a great lover of baseball.  He is a great people person.  He isn’t smug.  He isn’t aloof.  He isn’t better than me or you or the next guy.  He’s just a guy with a lot of baseball knowledge and experience and a desire to share it with anyone interested in hearing about it.  If you have a chance to go to a similar event featuring Pete Rose, I highly recommend it.

 

Steve Carlton (Saturday, December 5, 2009)

carlton.JPGMy Steve Carlton experience was much shorter and more ordinary, but it was cool nonetheless.  Tim and I met “Lefty” at an autograph signing event at the Majestic Tent Sale at the VF Outlets in Reading, PA.

Every couple months, Majestic puts on an amazing tent sale at the VF Outlets and it is standard to have a free autograph signing event featuring a player or two from the Phillies or the Eagles.  This is the second Hall of Famer I’ve run into at the Majestic Tent Sale.  Last year, Michael Jack Schmidt followed his luncheon experience by signing at the Majestic Tent Sale the next day.

I learned that some people lined up to get free tickets for the Carlton signing at 1:30 a.m. the night (morning) before (of).  I, on the other hand, had a connection and I landed two tickets without waiting in the cold dark and long ticket line in the morning…

lefty autographic ticket.jpg

…still we got to stand in the actual autograph line.

Eventually we made our way up to Lefty…

TJCs and Steve Carlton.JPG…and like Rose, he too was very nice.  He’d have little 2 minute discussions with each person (assuming the person engaged him in conversation).  He was extremely nice and cordial, and he went out of his way to connect with Tim.

Tim, however, was tired as could be after waiting through the autograph line.  Luckily, he found some activities to keep him occupied…

becoming daddy.JPG…like standing on my feet with his head in my jacket.

Or laying his head on his mother’s shoulder.

tired in line.JPGAnd we learned something interesting about lefty, he’s a “righty” when it comes to writing.

signing to tim.JPGWe got two autographs on the nice 8×10 glossy photo that they provided.  This one is signed to Tim…

lefty autograph.jpg…and mine just says “HOF ’94” under his signature.  Very nice.

Oh, yeah, and Carlton mentioned that he had a nice dinner the night before with Pete Rose at a local country club.  That would have been an interesting dinner discussion.

Mariners Dominate In The Bronx (9/3/07)

On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx.  We went with my friend Marc from college.  Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC.  This was the first time I’d seen him since college.  And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).

We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007.  The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History

TJCsDinos.jpg…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones.  Trust me.  He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum.  So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.

We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty… 

1 - baseball in the park.jpgThere were thousands of people in the park and every other field was packed.

Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.

Now, I’m a good baseball fan.  So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx.  Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
2 - its a little unsettling in this place.jpgI assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about.  The Mariners would surely destroy the home team.  The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens.  I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.

So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:

Still, he had questions for me…

4 - all these people over here really like the yankees too.jpg“You mean, none of these people like the Mariners?  All of these people are Y******* fans?”  (sorry for the censoring, Tim isn’t allowed to curse)

“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”

By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm.  He’s a good Mariners fan.

Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game.  In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.

The game started like so many Mariners games do:  Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field.  So things were already off to a good start.  Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date.  But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first. 

The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game.  King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.

But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second.  Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF.  Ben Broussard walked.  And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B.  Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul!  And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.

Tim was happy about this turn of events:

5 - good view up here.jpgBy the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us).  You don’t see that in a modern stadium!  Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970’s re-model job.

The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act.  They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.

Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF.  Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row!  Hooray for Ichiro!!!  And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.

Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.

In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.

By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:

6 - hahahahahaaaagreat.jpgAt some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly.  In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief.  A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.

Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game.  I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer.  After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth.  (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.”  That gave me a chuckle.)

Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins.  All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins.  What do you think, is that a record?  I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.

But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins.  Tim was all like…

7 - this is an awesome game.jpg“Dude, our Mariners are seriously awesome!”

The scoreboard showed the happy totals:

8 - happy totals mariners win.jpgAfter the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours).  But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:

9 - old bronx stadium semi-panaramic view.jpg

Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career.  But more importantly:

MARINERS WIN!!!!

The Griffey Email (2009 Edition)

Last year, I got an awesome email from the Mariners announcing the return of the greatest Mariner of all-time, Ken Griffey, Jr.

Today, I was equally as excited to receive the following email from the M’s:

griffey email.jpg

To read the rest of the article linked to the email, click here.

YES!!!!!

Thanks, Griff!  And welcome back, once more.  I can’t wait!

 

PS – while we’re on the subject to Griffey, I heard throughout the season that he made several sets of white silk ties for his teammates season.  But I never saw them on TV.  Well, I just found pictures of them on the printing company’s blog.  Check them out:

http://gorillaprintshop.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/ties_1.jpg

http://gorillaprintshop.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/mariners.jpg

I like ‘em!  Way to go, Griff.  Bring that sense of humor back our way in the spring.

A Pair of Losses to the Twins (Aug. 14-15, 2007)

Five days after Tim’s first Mariners road game, we were back in Seattle visiting my parents and taking in Tim’s second and third home Mariners games…
1a - welcome to safeco field.jpg…I slacked off on the photos, particularly for the second game, so I am doing this as a two-game entry.

As of this point in time, Tim had been to two Mariners games in his life and the Mariners were a perfect 2-0.  Unfortunately, I knew that wouldn’t last forever.  These two games would prove me right.  We would come out of these games with a 2-2 Mariners record in Tim’s games.  But, we had a lot of fun nonetheless.

At the first game, we sat in my parents’ seats…


1b - grandparents season tickets.jpg…they have had either full or partial season tickets for about 15 years now.  Back in 2007, their seats were behind home plate slightly toward the third base side, and about 30 rows up.  They were nice seats.

Both of these games were against the Twins.  For the first game, it was me and Tim, plus my parents and Colleen.  Tim was under 2 years old so he didn’t need his own ticket or seat.

My folks had a great time passing Tim back and forth during the game, and he had fun sitting on their laps and watching the game:


1c - serious game watchers.jpgHe especially liked eating Grandpa’s french fries.

I used to also take his portable booster seat to games and he spent a little time in it at this game (still eating french fries)…


1d - babybooster at safeco.jpg…and he spent some time sitting with me too…


1e - clowing around at safeco.jpgUnfortuantely, this game got outta hand quick.  It was a match up of Horacio Ramirez and Matt Garza.  You may recall that just five days ago, Tim and I had seen Ramirez earn his first road victory of the season.  Well, this game would be his first home loss of the season.  Its unfortunate we had to see this outcome.  Just a week later, Ramirez would face off against Garza at the Metrodome and would beat him.

With our M’s trailing in the middle innings, I took Tim to see the Mariners Hall of Fame display in the concourse behind 3B at Safeco Field.

First, we acted like we were picking off a home run:



1f - teamwork.jpgThen, Tim checked out some lumber used by Mariners greats including the great, Ken Griffey, Jr…


1g - special lumber.jpg

…I should note, I’m not sure if these bats are game-used or just the models these guys used.  I’m guessing the latter because it would seem like a poor decision to display a Griffey game-used bat in this manner (where it could get damaged by a fan).  Either way, its cool to see these guys’ bats.

By the seventh inning, the Mariners were trailing 7-1.  A lot of the damage was care of Twins center fielder Torii Hunter who was 3-4 with 4 runs scored.  It was getting ugly.  So, we decided to go track down one of the Mariners best fans of all-time, my best buddy, Paul:


1h - paulie in RF bleachers.jpgPaulie was sitting in the LF bleachers with some friends from work.  We stopped by the LF bleachers so Paul could say “hi” to Tim and Colleen.

Paulie and I had gone to the game the night before and saw the Mariners beat the Twins.  It was one of the few games I’ve been to without Tim since his first game back in September 2006.  Unfortunately, it would be the only home Mariners win either of us would witness in 2007, and Tim missed it.  But on a positive note, Paul and I enjoyed it a lot!

Anyway, back to this game, the Mariners tried to mount a come back in the 8th, but it was too little too late.  And then the Twins piled on 3 more in the top of the 9th to put the dagger in the M’s.  The bright spot on the night is that Ichiro was 1-4 to continue his hit streak in the games Tim had attended – 3 whole games, and counting…

August 15, 2007

Tim, my dad and I were right back at it the next day.  I got us tickets in the “Hit It Here” Cafe as a late-Father’s Day gift for my dad.  Although my dad had ate a meal in the Cafe before, none of us had ever watched a game from the Cafe.

This was a great game until the very end.  But it was also the worst photographed game of Tim’s life.  In fact, there is not a single picture of Tim and me together at this game, the only game of his life for which that can be said.  I think it was because we were in the Cafe, which is much more like being in a restaurant (because you are) than being at a ballpark (probably because it is so quiet in there).

But I did get some great grandfather-grandson shots, like these:


2a - welcome to the HIHC.jpgAs you can see to the left, Tim is checking out the menu.  The tickets in the “Hit It Here” Cafe come with something like a $18 food credit.  So, we had some eating to do!

We started out with some delicious nachos…


2b - a windo with a view.jpg…the carnage of which is shown behind Tim in the picture above.

That last picture gives you somewhat of a feel for the Cafe, but I didn’t get a good picture of what the place really looks like.  Here’s the deal:

There are three rows of counter-space seats.  We were in the first row where there are two seats for each window.  The seats are wooden chairs, not ballpark-style stadium seats.  Behind our seats was a row of restaurant-style tables.  They are tall tables/seats so the people sitting behind us had a clear line of sight over us.  Just above/behind those tables was another counter with another row of tables just behind it, and then one more counter with one last row of tall tables/seats behind it.  There is a big vertical rise in the Cafe.  In that last picture above, I am standing behind the top counter looking down.  You can see the bottom and middle counters, but you can’t see the tables because they are below and hidden by the middle counter.

After the nachos, we took on one mighty piece of chocolate cake with strawberry topping…


2c - monster chocolate and strawberry cake.jpg…this thing was huge and ridiculously good.

Grandpa helped Tim check out the action in the stadium with Grandpa’s binoculars…


2d - scopic safeco in binoculars.jpg…here is what our view looked like:


2e - view from HIHC.jpgAnd here is Adrian Beltre taking a hack:


2f - beltre batting.jpgAnd, sadly, that is all of the “decent” photos that I took at this game.

As for the actual game, as I said, it was a good one.  Jarrod Washburn pitched and gave up only 1 earned run in 7 innings (and 2 runs total).  It was 1-1 going into the top of the 8th inning.  And it was 2-1 Twins in the top of the 9th when, once again, Torii Hunter did some major damage.  He hit a grand slam against Sean Green with two outs in the top of the 9th inning.

Once again, on the positive side, Ichiro was 2-4 with 2 stolen bases, and Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with a home run.

Despite the 6-1 final score, it was a well-played and exciting game until the very end, and it was a fun late-Father’s Day celebration for the Cook & Son Bats crew.

Tim’s First Mariners Road Game (8/9/07)

On August 9, 2007, Tim and I headed down to Baltimore for Tim’s first Mariners road game.  As best I can recall, I didn’t see the Mariners play in a road game until I was 23, also in Baltimore.  Tim bested me by about 20 years on that front.

This was Tim’s third game of his life and it was being played in his third MLB stadium of his life.  Not bad.

This would be a cool and memorable game too because (as strange as it sounds) it was Tim’s first game NOT in a luxury suite or, put another way, his first game in the seats.

And here he is checking out his first stadium seat of his life…


1 - so these are seats.jpg…well, actually we’ll see later that this isn’t Tim’s actual seat, but its in the same row.  He was checking out how these seat thingys work.

Not only was this Tim’s first game in the seats, it was our first game as a father-son team.  At his first game, we had 27 other family members and friends with us in the suite.  At his second game, we had 10-15 of my co-workers and their “significant others” with us in the suite.  At this game, it would be just me and Tim, and we would prove to be stellar MLB game partners.

This season (2009) is the first time I felt like Tim was old enough and had enough endurance to go to batting practice before a game.  Back in 2007 and 2008, we regularly arrived just before game time.  While we arrived at this game after BP ended, we did have some time to check out the stadium before the game started.

After checking out our seats in CF, we headed behind the 3B dugout to get a classic Camden Yards picture with the field and warehouse in the background:


2 - tim's first camden yards picture.jpgLook at how happy that boy is to be at the ballpark with his dad and his Mariners.  This is Cook & Son / Mariners baseball!

By the way, do you see that glove Tim is holding?  It is a Rawlings RBG36B (circa 1992).  I didn’t take that glove to a single game in 2009.  It is nothing fancy.  But it is my favorite glove.  It is the glove I used in the outfield in high school.  I formed it perfectly for my hand.  It fits my glovehand like an extra layer of skin.

Anyway, back to Camden Yards.

After walking around a bit, we found ourselves in my second favorite spot to get a posed picture at Camden Yards — down the 1B line right where the concourse takes a turn toward RF.

We got a picture with home plate behind us…


3 - tim's third camden yards picture.jpg..and then pivoted 45 degrees and got one with the warehouse behind us:


4 - tim's second camden yards picture.jpgIt was game time.  We headed out to section 90 (straight away CF) and took our seats behind Ichiro (and whoever played CF for the O’s in 2007).  Here is Tim in his first ticketed seat (with a little booster seat helping him out):


5 - seats in section 90.jpgAfter a while, Tim had enough of the seats and wanted to walk a bit.  We made our way to the standing room flag pavillion in RF.  I had never really spent time in the flag pavillion before this game.  But starting with this game and continuing until today, the flag pavillion has proven to be Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards.

At this game, he was all about puddle stomping in the flag pavillion:


6 - welcome to the flag pavillion.jpgOf course, Tim was only a year and a half old at this point, so he couldn’t run around the whole game.  So from time-to-time, he’d take a break in his stroller…


7 - gooooo mariners.jpg…and as you can see above to the right, he was into the game and cheering for his Mariners.

The Mariners were leading the game early when Tim and I got some nice person to take our picture out on Eutaw Street:


10 - tim's first eutaw street picture.jpg

morrow 2009.jpg
The seats and the Mariners road game weren’t the only firsts of the day.  It was also Tim’s first rain delay!

We were out in CF where there is nowhere to take refuge from the rain.  So Tim and I ducked into the concourse behind the infield seats.  We did some walking around until the rain let up.

When the rain let up, I decided we should go check out the Mariners bullpen.  I didn’t realize at the time that there was covered seating for the players in the bullpen.  I was wondering whether the relief pitchers would be in there or not.  They were.

We headed over to the pen and looked down to see a couple Mariners pitchers milling about.  And the above-pictured then-rookie Brandon Morrow was chatting with a somewhat scary groupie-looking lady who was standing in the LCF seats.  Brandon somewhat looked “trapped” into talking to this lady.  When Morrow saw us standing there wearing our Mariners gear I could tell he started thinking, “here’s my out!”  He turned to us and asked if we were from Seattle.  Scary groupie-looking lady was out of the Morrow loop.

Morrow and I chatted for a minute or two.  Then I asked him if there was any chance Tim could get a baseball.  Brandon was more than happy to oblige.  He ran back over to the bullpen bench and grabbed a ball out of the baseball bag.  He ran back over to us and fired a strike into my glove.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

After the rain stopped, we headed back out to CF.  This is what the view looked like from out there:


8 - camden 2007 RCF panaramic.jpg

I think the rain delay was in the fifth inning with the score tied 5-5.  Four of the O’s runs came on a grand slam by Miguel Tejada.  The grand slam was Tejada’s 250th home run of his career.

After the rain delay, the Mariners piled on some runs and took a 10-5 lead.  Tim was excited to walk down every row in the CF seats and touch all of the dripping wet seats:


9 - bullpen ball from morrow spot.jpgIn the picture above, the red circle shows where we were standing when Brandon Morrow tossed us the baseball during the rain delay.


Right at the end of the game, Tim got really tired.  The Mariners were up 11-8 and we trusted them to get the job done in our absence, so we called it a night a bit early.

Tim was cuddling up with his baseball in the car when we found the game on the radio…


11 - tim and baseball drive home.jpg…as we made our way through the city to the freeway entrance, the Mariners scored two insurance runs.  That was plenty for future Orioles closer, George Sherrill to close the win out for the Mariners.

As the box score shows, it was a great game.  Ichiro was 3-6 to bring his average to .350 on the season.  He also had 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.  Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with 2 RBI.  Jose Guillen, then the Mariners right fielder, was 1-3 with a HR and 2 runs scored.

Horacio Ramirez got the win for the Mariners to take his record to 7-3.  Interestingly, before this game Ramirez was 6-0 at home and 0-3 on the road.  So we saw his first road victory of the season.  We also saw one inning by Mariners rookie Ryan Rowland-Smith who is the first player in MLB history with a hyphenated last name, and a darn nice guy.

Tim’s MLB Debut (9/12/06)

Welcome to my first “turn-back-the-clock” game entry.  When I took Tim to his first game back in 2006, I didn’t even know MLBlogs existed.  Tim and I went to about 20 games or so between 2006-2008 and I plan to tell those stories this off-season.  This is the first.

When I found out toward the end of the 2005 baseball season that our first (and so far only) child due to be born in early 2006 was going to be a boy, I got really excited about the idea of having a little baseball partner.   I was looking forward to playing catch in the yard and teaching my son how to hit.  And I was really excited to have a little partner with whom to go to MLB games and, hopefully, to love the Mariners as much as I do.

Tim was born in January 2006.  I decided I wanted his first game to be a Mariners home game and I wanted it to be late in the season so he would be at least six months old…so he could at least somewhat “experience” the experience, not just “be there.”  I picked Tuesday, September 12, 2006 as the big day.  The opponent would be the Blue Jays.

Now, I’m a guy who likes to make an event out of things.  I’m not against creating my own holidays.  And I didn’t want this day to be just any other day…because it wasn’t.  September 12th would be Tim’s FIRST BASEBALL GAME and, better yet, his FIRST MARINERS GAME!  This was big.  So I fully intended to do it right.  And with help from some important people, most notably my awesome parents, it was done right!

I started out by simply emailing the closest people in my life sort of a “save the date” and open invitation.  I definitely wanted my parents and my best friend (and co-best Mariners fan) Paul to be there.  I was hoping also that Colleen’s folks (from Virginia) and her sister’s family (including my nephew, Gill, who (much to my dismay) I have still failed to get to a MLB game!) to join us.

Following my email, my mom had an amazing idea.  I have two cousins who both live in Western Washington and both have daughters 2 months older than Tim.  Plus, my parents have season tickets with their best friends, Lynn and Steve, and they have a grandson who is also two months older than Tim.  So my parents offered to get a suite so all four kids plus TWENTY-FIVE friends and family members could join together for this (personally) historic event.

YES!!!!!

Big, huge, enormous thanks to my folks!

So, we weren’t messing around.  This was going to be seriously awesome.

I decided I couldn’t go in there empty-handed.  In a possibly unprecedented move, I made a set of three custom baseball cards to commemorate Tim’s first game, complete with fake 1-game 2006 seasons stats (fyi, Tim had some great stats).  Here is what they looked like: 


1 - rookie cards.jpgThey were the size of regular baseball cards and I gave one to each person who attended the game with us — except the grandparents got a full set of three cards.

Before we knew it, it was September and our trip to Seattle was upon us.  The big day started with a run around Green Lake with my father-in-law, Kevin, and then some painting in my folks’ garage…


2 - painting sign.jpg…more on the painting later.

It was a 7:05 start and the weather was gloriously sunny.  Beautiful.  Our suite was down the 1B line just foul of rightfield.  In the picture below to the left, the red arrow is pointing to our suite…


3 - stadium views.JPG…and the picture to the right shows our view of home plate from the suite.

When we arrived at the stadium, I already had Tim’s first game ticket encased in an inch-thick screw down jumbo baseball card holder — where it will be locked down for all time.  The guy at the Suites entrance thought it was pretty unusual, but his scanner had no problem scanning the ticket through the glass.

Plus, it gave me the opportunity to explain to the ticket guy that four little kids would be celebrating their first game ever in suite number 5, which resulted in unexpected but much welcome extra-special treatment.

Shortly after arriving, we met up with my cousin, Janet, her husband, Destry (who runs ridiculously fast (i.e., sub-2.5 hour) marathons, and their daughter and Tim’s co-guest of honor, Julie.  Here we are hanging out in the three rows of seats in our suite: 


4 - TJCs with Johnsons.jpg…note the Ted Williams jersey on the wall behind us.  Each of the suites at Safeco Field is named after a Hall of Famer.  My guess is that the best suite will some day be called the “Ken Griffey, Jr. Suite.”

After watching lots of Mariners games on TV with me throughout the season, Tim was excited to finally be making his MLB debut…


5 - fun.jpg…Julie was just taking it all in — while wearing her sweet Mariners cheerleader outfit!

We got a “BP Group” picture of the folks who were there early:


6 - group in the suite pre-game.jpgLeft to Right:  (Totally cut off is my uncle Ray, Julie’s grandpa), my dad Jim, Colleen, Me and Tim, Destry, Janet and Julie, and my aunt Carol (Julie’s grandma).

After the group shot, it was time to hit field level.  This is literally the second picture ever taken of Tim in the field level of a MLB ballpark and the first with MLB ball players shown in the background…


7 - TJCs with Jason Phillips in background.jpg…any guesses who wore number “47” for the Blue Jays in 2006?  Well, wouldn’t you know, it is none other than current Mariners bullpen catcher and Chief-Cook-and-Son-Baseball-Giver, Jason Phillips.  If the first picture had to feature non-Mariners, I think its pretty darn cool that it was Phillips.

Once we were down on the field level, we took a peak back up at our suite, where Uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy, was doing his best Tricky Dick Nixon above my painting project:


8 - sign.jpgYes, the “First Gamers Club!”  I spent a lot of time debating if the sign should say this or “The September Call-Ups”  I think both are great.  But in the end this seemed better for the paper I used for the sign, plus it is more easily understood by non-baseball people.  FYI, they showed our sign on the jumbo screen during the game!

By the way, Laura is my cousin’s Daniel’s daughter and Kasey is Lynn and Steve’s grandson.  They weren’t there for BP, but you’ll see them soon.

After that picture above behind the 1B dugout, we spotted my dad down the 1B line.  He was seeing if he could catch a ball.  So, we went down and joined him.  Immediately upon meeting up with my dad (and about 1 minute after the picture behind the dugout), Colleen took this picture of three generations of Cook boys enjoying an evening at the ballpark: 


9 - first BP action.jpgAnd, immediately after Colleen took that picture, the BP batter hit a ball to that guy pictured above with the big red arrow pointing at him.

Until recently, I had no clue who he was.  But as he fielded the ball, I yelled, “ITS MY SON’S FIRST GAME CAN WE GET THAT BALL!?!?!?”

Without pause, he immediately turned around, walked over to us, and set Tim’s first MLB ball ever into my glove!


10 - tim's first ball ever.jpgI didn’t get my first baseball at a game until I was probably 12 or 13.  So I was SUPER-EXCITED to have a ball from Tim’s first game ever.

After we got that ball and posed for a bunch of pictures with it, I decided we’d accomplished all we needed to during BP.  It was time to walk Tim around his new baseball home.  Time to get acquainted with Safeco Field.

We started by heading up to the field level concourse and walking out to centerfield.

Now, about this time, you might be wondering why there were two guys with red arrows pointing at them in at picture above.  Well, when we reached CF, I heard someone yelling from the field.  Still standing in the concourse, I looked down and I saw that guy in the picture above with the smaller red arrow pointing at him.  He had a baseball in his hand, and he fired it up to us (still in the OF concourse) for Tim’s second ball of his life!  WOW!!!

A few minutes later, we met up with Janet and Julie in LF foul territory and we gave Tim’s second baseball to Julie so she too would have a keepsake from her first MLB game:


11 - ten minutes two baseballs.jpgWhat can I say.  The game hadn’t even started yet.  And we were already have a great time:


12 - exciting.jpgAfter our brief tour around the field, we headed back up to the suite where we found that more of our suite-mates had arrived.

Colleen’s mom and sister (and her family) couldn’t make the trip, but Colleen’s dad, Kevin, and his uncle Bob and aunt Ann did.  Here I am hanging out with Kevin and Bob before the game:


13 - gamerailing.JPGKevin is a Yankees fan (he has an excuse, he grew up in Jersey City) and Bob is a Red Sox fan, but they like each other nonetheless.

The game had not started yet so Tim grabbed a bite to eat — the old standard (bottle of milk) and a new treat (his first dog at the ballpark, he finished about 2-3 bites of the dog):


13 - first ballpark dog.jpgSoon all of the First Gamers Club kids had arrived and they were up for some playtime in the suite:


14 - playtime.jpgIn the picture above to the left, that is Laura, Julie, Tim and Kasey (left-to-right, obviously).  To the right, Tim and Kasey had a push-ups contest.  I think Tim did about 200.

And then the big moment arrived, and my dad was thoughtful enough to capture history for us — Tim’s first MLB pitch ever:


Tim's First MLB Pitch.jpgGil Meche to Frank Catalanotto — STRIKE 1!  
Things would only get better from there.

Tim and Kasey spent some time enjoying the game from the front row of the suite:


15 - tim and casey.jpgWe took about a billion pictures of everyone:


16 - people posing for pictures2.jpgTop left, Tim and my dad.  Top right, Lynn, Tim and me.

Bottom left, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife, not Colleen’s sister), Alison with Tim and my dad.  Bottom right, my mom, Tim and me.

Remember how I said I originally did not know who gave us Tim’s first baseball?  Well, I figured it out earlier this season (2009).  First, I noticed he was a left hander from the picture of him walking back out to his spot in the OF in the picture above.  So I looked up every lefty who played for the Blue Jays that season.  I then took the 3-4 possible mystery men and put them into Google Images.  I wasn’t positive, but my front runner was a September call-up named Davis Romero (who has never made it back to the bigs and is still playing Triple-A ball for the Blue Jays).

Then one day I was combing through old game pictures and I found the following picture from Tim’s first game:


17 - davis romero warms in bullpen.jpgIts an odd picture, don’t you think?  But odd’ness aside, do you notice anything?

At the top right, there is a TV screen mounted on the ceiling of our suite where (if you click to enlarge the picture) you can see that Davis Romero is warming up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen.  More importantly, its not too difficult to tell that Davis Romero, indeed, is the mystery man who gave us Tim’s first ever MLB ball.

So, at long last, “THANK YOU, DAVIS ROMERO!”

Anyway, we kept snapping away at the pictures, here are Tim and Colleen in the suite:


18 - tim and mommy.jpgRemember how I mentioned we got special treatment after I told the ticket taker about the First Gamers Club?  Here is part of it — free Mariners lunch boxes!


19 - lunchbox.jpgThat’s a great lunch box.  Although he didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time, Tim loves it now.

Here is a shot of my mom with two of her sisters Margaret (left) and Carol and, of course, Julie too:


20 - sisters.jpgAlthough he’s a Yankees fan, “Poppy” got into Tim’s big first game too…


21 - poppygame2.JPG…as did Bob and Ann (pictured to the right).

And as the Mariners led the Blue Jays, we just kept snapping away at the photos and having a grand old time in suite number 5:


22 - people posing for pictures.jpgTop left, me and Tim with Lynn and Kasey and Laura and her mom, Noelle (my cousin Daniel’s wife).  Top right, me with my dad and brother, Jason.

Bottom left, Alison, my dad and Steve.  Bottom right, half of my dad with Tim, Destry, Julie, Kasey and Lynn.

But then, the tiredness kicked in.  Tim had a tiredness-inducing double whammy going here.  First, it was late at night for the boy (9’ish o’clock).  Second, we were on the West coast just two days removed from our home in Pennsylvania and he was still on east coast time — so it was really three hours later for Tim.

So, Tim spent some time chilling out under a blanket strapped to either me or Colleen in a baby bjorn:


23 - tired tim.jpgSoon, it was time for more special treatment — the Mariner Moose showed up to greet us in the suite:


24 - the moose visits.jpg…as you can see, Uncle Ray really enjoyed the Moose’s visit.

In between photo sessions, we actually watched the game:


25 - fans in seats.jpg…and look who was with us, my best buddy Paul!


26 - with paulie.jpgIt was great to have “Pauliewog” there for Tim’s first game because I’m gonna rely on Paul a lot in life to re-enforce for Tim the finer points of Mariners-fandome and provide him a shining example of a positive Mariners attitude.

And before we knew it, the Mariners WON!  The first in-person Mariners win of Tim’s life — I couldn’t have scripted it better:


28 - mariners win.jpgAfter the game, Tim and I got one more picture with the field in the background before heading out:


29 - infrontend.jpgI think this game was the start of something beautiful. 
Welcome to a new era, the Tim-and-Todd-traveling-baseball-fans era.

By the way, Ichiro went 1-5, Raul Ibanez (1st inning) and Adrian Belte hit homeruns, and Gil Meche got the win.  You coudn’t have scripted a better first game experience.

2009: It Was The Best Of Times…

Simply put, 2009 was outstanding.  Tim and I had more fun than than should be allowed.  We saw a lot of amazing baseball (33 games) including:

  • Tim’s first time seeing Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a homerun (and as a Mariner!)
  • Ichiro getting lots of hits en route to a record breaking 9th season with 200+ hits
  • Felix Hernandez dominating the AL
  • Jamie Moyer being Jamie Moyer
  • A walk-off homerun by Raul Ibanez
  • A walk-off single by Ichiro in the bottom of the 14th inning
  • Two games with walk-off singles by Jose Lopez
  • baseball in 13 stadiums including, most notably in my book, our first game at the Metrodome (also, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Miller Park, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Rogers Centre and Progressive Field)
  • Seeing a the Cubs score 10 runs in one inning
  • Tim finishing off seeing all 30 MLB teams play live.
  • A winning season by the Mariners!  (85-77)

We also made great memories interacting with some ball players including:

  • Tim asking Mariners reliever Chris Jakabauskas in the lobby of our hotel if he wants to come “see our room.”
  • Meeting Mariners G.M. Jack Z. on the streets of Boston.
  • Getting a picture with Felix Hernandez.
  • Getting a picture with Ryan Rowland-Smith and having him throw a baseball to Tim:
  • Giving Jason Phillips an A-Rod baseball to put in the Mariners bullpen’s pink backpack and then confirming the next day (in the hotel lobby) with Jakabaukas that the ball was indeed in the backpack.
  • Getting 8 baseballs from Jason Phillips, including a pre-autographed ball, and baseballs at 6 stadiums.

The season — my first on MLBlogs — has provided so many great moments that I’ve recorded in game entries.  Some of my favorite entires have included:

Finally, we took tons of great pictures to document our adventures this season. 

Here are some of my favorites (at least one from each game):

We started the season off on a chilly day in Baltimore — the world was our oyster, we had our whole season before us:

cheesin.jpg

In week 2, we cheered on as former Mariner Raul Ibanez hit this pitch for a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning:

ibombez.jpg

In week 3, Tim raced down the foul territory warning track on his way to his first Kids Run the Bases of the season following our first game ever at Citi Field.

citi RF foul track.jpgIn week 4, Tim couldn’t adjust to the West Coast time change and was a little out-of-sorts when Jarrod Washburn threw us our first ball of the season from the Mariners dugout during the 9th inning of an exciting Mariners win:

sad boy with a ball.JPGWith this pitch on May 2, 2009, Tim had finally officially seen Ken Griffey, Jr. play for the Mariners (YES!!!):

Griff at Bat.jpgOn May 3, 2009, we took in an excellent Mariners game with some of my high school friends and their kids.  Awesome times.  And the Mariners won in 15 innings:

joyners huge gloves and tim.jpgOn May 4, 2009, Tim and I got our picture with Red a/k/a “Beltre Guy” — who is fast becoming a Safeco Field Legend due to his passionate following of Adrian Beltre.  Will Red be back in 2010?  We will see: 

beltre guy.jpgOn May 5, 2009, we snagged a bag of hot roasted peanuts from a long-time Mariners legend, Rick “The Peanutman” Kaminski:

peanut man.jpgBack in Philadelphia later that same week, Tim put the smack down on this ice cream helmet — this boy really knows how to put an ice cream helmet in its place:

ice cream helmet devoured.jpgIn mid-May, we went to Philadelphia to see the Dodgers, but the best part of the night was seeing my favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer.  With Colleen’s new camera and a little computer magic, I was able to create one of my favorite pictures of the season:

moyermotion.jpgThe very next week, we took in our first game ever at Nationals Park, Tim ran the bases (twice) following the game, and we got a sweet picture with Theordore “Teddy” Roosevelt:

TJCs and Teddy R.jpgNext up, we were back in Baltimore to see the Tigers with a couple Tigers-fan-friends.  And Tim and his buddy, Brady, put on a dance show in the shady upper deck:

dancing.jpgOn June 3, 2009, Tim and I returned to Nationals Park hoping to witness Randy Johnson’s 300th career win.  Instead, we watched hours of rain turn the field into a lake (we also met Zack Hample for the first time and spent several hours chatting with him while watching the rain fall):

11 Lake NatsPark.jpgOn June 10, 2009, Tim got to see Griffey bat play for the first time ever in a Mariners uniform (he wore a Seattle Rainiers uniform on May 2nd, and was sick the rest of that week):

16 power stroke foul.jpgAfter the game, Mariners trainer Rick Griffin gave us a close up look at Griff’s bat — sweet:

31 swingman.jpgOn June 28, 2009, we stopped by Camden Yards on our way home from an OBX vacation and witnessed a monster Adam Dunn bomb and Tim ran the bases at our favorite park outside of Seattle, Washington:

25 - on field family picture.JPGTim and I had tons of fun watching the guys in the M’s bullpen this season.  In this July 2, 2009 picture, Chris Jakabauskas is shown sitting in the bullpen at new Yankee Stadium with one of three big metal warrior helmets the Mariners bullpen displayed during games until Bug Selig put the kybosh on the M’s fun:

31b - jak and helmet.JPGThe next day, my mom, dad, Tim and I were in Boston to watch our Mariners (and Jakabauskas) beat the Red Sox:

20 - ready to play ball.JPGWe started out watching the July 3, 2009 game from these seats with a young Red Sox fan named Tyler who told us to stay sitting there until people with tickets showed up.  The fans in Boston were awesome all weekend:

18 - seats by tyler.JPGThe next day, Eric Bedard gave us his and Felix Hernandez dirty warm-up ball, a few minutes later, we got our picture with Felix and he signed the ball:

7 - felix warm up ball autograph and photo.jpgTim and I spent a good portion of the Independence Day game standing (or crouching) in this walkway SRO area — where the local fans continued to be extremely nice to us:

18 - fun in the walkway.JPGLater in the game, my mom taught Tim how to do the wave:

22 - first wave.JPGDuring our third and final game at Fenway, Tim and I stumbled across the 2004 and 2007 world series trophies — although I wasn’t able to get a picture of it, this game was extra special because Tim saw Griff get a hit (a single off of the Green Monster) for the first time ever):

23 - 2004 2007 WS trophies.JPGIn mid-July, Tim and I headed back to Nationals Park for our rain-out make-up game and Tim tried unsuccessfully to get someone to hit him a homerun:

17 - hit it here.jpgIn late July, we were back in Philadelphia to see the Cardinals, during one of many rain delays we sat through this season, Tim begged and pleaded for an ice cream helmet:

12 - ice cream pleeeeeease.JPGDuring the rain delay, Tim and I toured around Citizens Bank Park trying to find a place where Tim could eat his ice cream in peace — it took us to three different locations:

13 - 1st ice cream spot.JPGIn early August, we were back in Philadelphia to see Moyer pitch against the Marlins:

7a - moyer warm up motion.jpgHopefully this won’t be the last time we ever see Moyer pitch — but, sadly, it could be:

8 - moyer bullpen motion.jpgOn August 5, 2009, Tim and I headed out to a sold-out FirstEnergy Stadium to watch future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez pitch for our local Reading Phillies:

12 - pedro motion.jpgA week or so later, Tim and I meet up with my dad in Chicago for The Great (Second Annual) Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip of 2009 where we witnessed the Cubs hang a 10-spot on the Pirates in the second inning:

22 - ten spot.JPGBefore the game, my dad toted Tim around as we toured Wrigley Field:

14 - holding tim upper RF.jpgTim and I had a blast touring around the upper deck at the Metrodome — as the title of this picture indicates (we loved the Metrodome!):

16 - we love this place.jpgThis is one of my favorite pictures from our trip to the Metrodome (other favorites include looking behind the canvas curtains in RF-CF):

14 - big screen close up.jpgOn the third day of the baseball road trip, we visited the House that Happy Built — and we got this picture with Nick “The Happy Youngster” who we had first met on June 10th in Baltimore):

27 - happy.jpgTim wore his pajama pants to Miller Park (his choice, not mine), and he also ran the bases following the game (and I ran them with him!) after which we got a picture with my dad:

40 - 3 cooks at miller park.JPGThe next day, we finished off the baseball road trip and Tim finished off seeing all 30 MLB teams when we saw the Kansas City Royals play for the first time (and we got a ball from Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist):

13 - willie ballgame.jpgAfter the game, I presented Tim with a trophy memorializing his 30-team accomplishmen (thanks to Curious George, Tim loves trophies) — after the game, the nice folks did a cool little article about Tim’s milestone:

30 - trophy.jpgI took this picture for Tim’s 30-Team milestone entry — I like it:

helmets and balls.JPGJason Phillips, shown here with me and Tim in Cleveland in late-August, was by far the coolest guy we ran into this season.  Jason gave us 8 baseballs this season including at least 1 baseball at each stadium at which we saw the Mariners play this season (Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Progressive Field, Safeco Field, and Rogers Centre) — plus, we took time out to chat (and be photographed) with us several times throughout the season:

17 - jason phillips.jpgDuring that same game, Tim got his picture with Slider:

23 - slider tim.jpgThe following day, Tim and I achieved our No. 1 goal of the season — we saw Griffey hit a homerun as a Mariner — No. 624 of his career:

8 - griff about to score on HR624.jpgWhen we arrived home late that night, I watched the highlight and realized that Tim and I (the blue and white blur) could be seen in the highlight of Griff’s homerun:

9 - KGJ HR 624.jpgOn Tim’s third MLB anniversary (Sept. 12, 2009), we went to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in the Bronx and we had a blast.

 

1 - magic floating tim and yankee stadium.jpgDuring the fun-filled day, Tim played catch with an usher in the LF bleachers concourse:

25 - catch with usher.jpg…and the usher temporarily lost Tim’s baseball when it rolled through a hole in the stadium’s wall — the usher retrieved the ball, but also rewarded us with an Orioles BP homerun ball:

26 - the ball incident.jpgTim also caused a scene in CF going all medieval on a pile of Moe’s Billy Barou Nachos — a mere 1,410 calories:

15 - CF nacho madness.jpgBack in Seattle the following week, we saw Adam Moore make his MLB debut and Tim showed us a new way of wearing a baseball glove:

18 - new catching technique.jpgAt our final game of the season at Safeco Field, Colleen and I minute to pose for a picture while Tim played in the kids’ play area:

10 - with colleen in playarea.jpgThe next weekend, we attended our first game in Toronto and got a picture with and a ball and autograph from Ryan Rowland-Smith:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgThe ball from Rowland-Smith was the first ball Tim has ever caught thrown by a major leaguer — which is featured in another mygameballs.com article:

15 - fun with RRS.jpgOn the final Saturday of the regular season, we were back at Citi Field where we spent time with new friends and MLBloggers Alex K. and Joe F who were supercool to Tim:

5 - tim's guys.jpgWe closed out the season on the final Sunday back at Camden Yards — where it all began just six months earlier.  This time, Tim enjoyed the only ice cream helmet (a Mariners helmet) served at Camden Yards in 2009:

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

Although my wife can, I officially “can’t wait” for the 2010 baseball season to begin.  I’m already planning it out and we have some exciting baseball trips in the future.

I’ve certainly enjoyed sharing our stories from the ballpark this season.  The reason I created this blog was the record our baseball adventures so Tim could look back on them later in life.  This season has been thoroughly documented and I’m quite happy with the results.  Now, entering the off-season, I’m thinking about the games we went to before this season.  I have them all recorded in Tim’s Baseball Log.  But I’m thinking that I might find time during the off-season to put them in story form here on my blog.  Therefore, if you’re interested in hearing about and seeing some pictures from the games Tim went to between 2006-2008 (about 22 games total), check back from time-to-time during the offseason.  Otherwise, see you in 2010.

Mariners in Toronto – Part I of II (9-26-09)


1 - first look at skydome.jpgOkay — get ready for a long (and hopefully fun-filled), picture-laden game report.

It took some coaxing, but about a month ago I finally got my lovely wife, Colleen, to agree to a late-season family trip to the Great White North.  It would be our first trip ever to Toronto, our first game outside of the United States, and our first game ever at Rogers Centre.

It would also be our final Mariners game of the season, and a re-match of Tim’s first game ever.

To the right is a picture of our first close-up view of Rogers Centre.  Behind the stadium, you can see the CN Tower, which I am told is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.

Let’s get to the game.

We drove north from Pennsylvania the night before and stayed about 88 miles from Toronto, right down the street from Niagara Falls.  I didn’t know when, if ever, we’d get back to Toronto, so I wanted to get there early for all of BP.

We arrived before the stadium opened, grabbed our tickets at will call, and chatted with some nice Canadians in line.  Much to our delight, the Canucks informed us that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!  YES!  I was psyched.

The stadium opened at 11:00 a.m.  I hustled in to see what I could see, and Colleen took this picture as she and Tim approached the field level seats:

2 - just ichiro and todd.jpgMe and Ichiro.  No BP.  No one else on the field.  Just Ichiro.  Aye, aye, aye…two hours to kill before the game.  By the way, that is a banner I made sticking out of my backpack.

Here is the view from the 1B field level seats — essentially our first view of the field upon entering the stadium:

3 - rogers 1B Field panaramic2.jpgWe wandered back-and-forth between Ichiro, the foul pole, and the Mariners dugout.

I took some random pictures: 

4 - random pre-game stuff.jpgTo the left, big cushy seats along the front row (and Tim standing at the far end of them). To the right, the M’s batting helmets, gloves and shin guards.  Check out the shag-carpet looking field turf.

We looked into the dugout to see if any Mariners were in there…

5 - father and son pre-game.jpgNope.  Not yet.  By the way, Colleen took this picture because she thought it was cute how Tim was looking up at me.

After a bit, Tim and Colleen went up to the 200 level to a kids area (that didn’t impress Colleen).  I decided to stay on the field level and explore a bit more.

Then, some Blue Jays came out to play catch — a bunch of them.  I decided to go over and see them.

First a little background.  Do you recall that I’ve had a bunch of interactions this season with Mariners bullpen catcher (and former big leaguer) Jason Phillips?  Jason has been extremely cool to me and Tim.  Well, the Blue Jays just called up Jason’s younger brother, Kyle, for his first action in the major leagues.

I was thinking it would be really cool to get a ball from a pair of brothers at the same game.  So I decided to see if Kyle Phillips was over there.  But I couldn’t find him.  I noticed that Jays pitcher Brian Tallet was about 2 feet from the first row playing catch down the LF line:

6 - no soup for brian tallet.jpgI went over and politely asked him if he knew where Kyle Phillips was.  He totally ignored me.  And, I never found Kyle.  Oh well.

I was now on the opposite side of the infield.  I decided to walk around the OF concourse and head over to the Mariners bullpen.

When I got there, this is what I saw:

7 - olson-moore bullpen.jpgTo the left, bullpen coach John Wetteland is at the top left about to exit the bullpen door.  I have been debating with myself over the identity of the stretching Mariner at the bottom and to the right.  At first, I thought it was Garrett Olson.  But then I saw Garrett Olson out in RF later and I didn’t think he was the same guy.  I decided the stretching guy was rookie catcher Adam Moore — a guy I’m following closely.  But after returning home and examining all of my numerous pictures, I again think it is Garrett Olson.

Whichever one it is, the guy was cool.  He was down there stretching and I was up above just standing around observing my surroundings.  He turned around and looked up and saw me wearing my Mariners jersey.  He yelled, “Hey, there!” up to me.  We chatted for a minute or two.  We discussed that the Jays were throwing a lefty and Ken Griffey, Jr. would not be in the line up — a familiar scenario for me this season.

After chatting for a couple minutes, he yelled “hold on a minute” and he ran over to the wall (up where Wetteland is pictured).  He opened the bullpen baseball bag and pulled out a ball and threw it up to me.

“Thanks, mystery Mariner!”  (probably Garrett Olson)

 After chatting with probably-Garrett-Olson, I headed back over to the seats along the 1B line and I watched some more stretching:

8 - pre-game stetching.jpgThat is David Aardsma to the left and Ichiro to the right.

Eventually, Chris Jakubauskas came out to the field behind 1B (below at left side)… 

9 - jak and morrow.jpg…I yelled down to him, “Hey, Chris, need someone to play catch?”  He laughed and kept stretching.  Eventually, Brandon Morrow (top middle) ran out to stretch and play catch with Jakubauskas.  In the bottom left picture, Morrow threw one by Jak and all the way to the LF wall.

After Jak returned with the ball, they played catch for a few more minutes and then Morrow tossed their warm-up ball to me.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:

10 - jason phillips.jpg

Jason walked out to the RF foul line to play catch with someone-or-other, I can’t remember who.  I was watching some other M’s play catch.  When I looked left, Jason was walking out from the dugout.  He looked my way and raised his hand in the air above his head as if to say, “You again, you’re everywhere!”

He immediately set down his bag (that big bag behind him in the picture) and walked over to chat.  He gave me a hand shake and we chatted for several minutes.  I asked him about his brother and he said Kyle would be catching that day and he was excited to watch his brother play.

I mentioned to Jason that I was at the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium when “some dude wearing glasses hit a home run against my Mariners.”  Jason responded, “Yep, that was me.  Hit it to center off of Ryan Franklin.  And Franklin was mad at me about it.”

I also gave Jason a card with our blog address on it.  Hey, in case you’re reading this, Jason, THANKS!  You’ve really made this seasona lot of fun and very memorable for me and Tim.  Looking forward to seeing you in 2010 if you stick with the M’s!

While all of this was going on, Colleen took a couple shots of Adam Moore stretching and running…

 
11 - more adam moore.jpg 
IMG_4456.jpg
  

 …as shown on the right, Adam Moore is the first ball player Tim ever met, and his first autograph.  It was at spring training in 2008.  I’ve been following him ever since and hoping he’d get called up to the big club.  Hopefully he’s here to stay.

Oh, yeah.  So I guess you could tell, Colleen and Tim met up with me again after the play area.  Tim was ready to catch his first ball ever… 

12 - how about a ball.jpgYeah, Tim has got a bunch of baseballs at games.  But they’ve all been either (i) thrown to me or (ii) handed to Tim.  Tim had been telling me at games recently that he wanted to catch a ball himself.  I was hoping it would happen.

By the way, in that last picture, do you see a baseball in the black glove sitting on the ground by the foul line to Tim’s left?  That ball is also shown here:

13 - RRS to GO.jpgThat is Ryan Rowland-Smith throwing the ball to Garrett Olson.  He was throwing some wicked junk balls that Garrett really had to work hard to catch.

Back to that ball in the glove.  That was Ryan Rowland-Smith’s glove.  After he and Olson finished tossing, Ryan headed over to the RF corner where someone who appeared to be a Rogers Centre regular had a whole bunch of glossy pictures set out on the wall.  Rowland-Smith headed over and autographed one for her.  Then he worked his way down the wall in our direction signing for everyone.

When he reached us, I asked if we could get our picture with him — “of course” was his response:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgAs we were getting ready for this picture, I asked, “After this picture, do you think you could throw that ball in your glove into my son’s glove?”  “Oh, definitely, no problem” was Ryan’s response.  It was funny.  He almost said it like it was a foregone conclusion.

After the picture, Ryan headed over to his glove and grabbed the ball.  I stood Tim up on the wall and Ryan tossed it to him…

15 - fun with RRS.jpgIn the top left, Ryan had just thrown the ball to Tim, but Tim missed it.  Ryan is chuckling and coming over to grab the ball off of the ground.  In the top right and bottom left corners, Ryan is autographing the ball for us.  He then handed it back to us and went on signing.

But the story isn’t over.  We were still standing right next to Ryan and he was still signing.  A couple seconds later, someone handed him a ball to sign, but didn’t have a pen.  Ryan asked, “Does anyone have a sharpie?”  At the same time, Tim said something to me about being sad that he missed the ball when Ryan threw it to him.

I handed a sharpie to Rowland-Smith and said, “I have one.  By the way, do you think you could re-throw that ball to my son so he can try to actually catch it.”  “Of course, no problem,” Ryan said with another chuckle.

Ryan then took the ball all the way across the warning track.  I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh.  How’s Tim gonna catch this from that far!”  In the bottom middle of the picture above, the red arrow shows the flight path of the ball as Tim squeezes it safely in his glove.

SUCCESS!!!

Tim (and I) was so excited about his big catch:

16 - woooh.jpg

By the way, today (9-29) I asked Tim who threw the baseball that he caught.  He thought about it for minute and first said, “Jason Phillips.”  Then he thought harder and he came up with a new answer, “Smith Roll.”  Hey, that’s not too far off.  “Ryan Rowland-Smith” is probably a hard name for a 3-year-old to remember.

An extra big, huge thank you to Ryan Rowland-Smith.  He was so extremely nice.  He really came off like he is one of the nicest guys around.  His demeanor just exuded niceness.

At this point of pre-game, I realized we had caught three baseballs — tying our single game record — and we hadn’t even got a ball from Jason Philips.  There was a great chance of breaking our record, despite no BP.

But for the time being, it was getting close to game time.  Most of the players had left the field.  So Tim and I decided to go on a stadium tour while Colleen went to find our seats.

I started with a panaramic from the RF corner where we’d celebrated Tim’s big catch:

17 - rogers rf foul corner field panaramic.jpgHere is a shot of the ailse that leads from the main concourse down to the RF corner:

18 - rogers field level back aisle.jpgBehind home plate: 

19 - rogers plate field panaramic.jpgNotice that big blue double railing down the middle?  I think that has something to do with helping handicapped patrons down the stairs, which is nice.  But it kept fustrating me because you can’t get passed it without walking up to the concourse.

Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:

20 - rogers LF foul field panaramic.jpgI thought this sign was pretty funny:

21 - low headroom.jpgThat “low headroom” sign is on that same support beam all the way around the stadium.  Behind home plate, it is a good sign because the headroom is very low.  But where it is pictured above, it is about 30 feet above the aisle below.

Here is a picture standing in front of the batters eye…

22 - rogers CF batters eye view panaramic.jpg…which is just a big black cloth laid over the field level seats in CF.

Then we headed up to the 500 level (we’ll have to come back to explore the 200-300-400 levels).  Here is a panaramic view from roughly behind home plate in the 500 level:

23 - rogers plate upper panaramic.jpgBy the way, the double set of lights at the top right isn’t real.  That’s an effect from me combining multiple pictures to make that panaramic view.  There is only a single set of lights up there.

Here is are a couple views of the seats and roof support beams in the 500 level:

24 - blurry 500 level.jpg…check out how they have railings between every row of seating.  They only have that in the 500 level (as far as I could tell).  I guess it is so people don’t fall down the incredibly steep steps.  It makes it hard to walk through the narrow rows quickly.

Here is a view from a little more than half way up the 500 level in RF foul territory…

25 - rogers RF foul upper below lights panaramic.jpg…not bad, but you are gonna miss any catches made right down the RF line.

 And, here is a panaramic view from the back row of the same section…

26 - rogers rf foul upper behind lights panaramic.jpg…notice anything?  Yep, that’s right.  The seats are ABOVE THE LIGHTS!!!  Not quite as good as the seats half way up the section.  Here you’re going to miss anything that happens at home plate or in RF or LF.  But, hey, its a unique view and you could chalk it up as an odd experience if you are ever forced to sit here.

Here is another view from further out in RF — in homerun territory.  It would be quite a blast if a home run ever made it up here:

27 - rogers rf foul line upper panaramic.jpgHere are a couple more random shots from up there:

28 - rogers centre stadium scenes1.jpgTop left, there appears to be a restaurant (or something) just below the big screen.

In the top right and bottom left, you can see a crane contraption that is holding up the foul pole.

Bottom right, its just a picture of the big screen — featuring Franklin Gutierrez.

And that was our tour.  We headed to our seats in RF for the game to start.  This was our view from the first row in section 104:

29 - rogers rf section 104 row 1 seat 107 panaramic.jpgAlmost immediately, I headed back out to the concourse to get Tim a treat:

30 - blue jays ice cream helmet.jpgSo, at the beginning of each game at Yankee Stadium, the entire RF bleachers section chants each Yankees players name until they wave at the RF bleachers.  At Rogers Centre, this guy is in charge of the roll call:

31 - roll call guy.jpgHe did it all himself.  But he successfully collected a bunch of Blue Jay waves.

Back to our seats.  Check out how awesome these are — the M’s bullpen bench was elevated above the OF wall just a coule feet from us:

32 - elevated M's bullpen.jpgAfter the roll call guy did his thing, the entire Mariners bullpen yelled, “VERNON WELLS!”  Vernon promptly gave the bullpen a big smile and a wave.

John Wetteland then yelled to Vernon:  “Can I have a baseball?”  Others followed with, “Can I have your bat?,” “Can I have your glove?,” and “Can I have your cleats?”

And that wasn’t all the fun they had.  The entire M’s bullpen then waged an all out every-man-for-himself pumpkin seed flicking war.  Seeds were flying everywhere for about 15 minutes.  David Aardsma and Jason Vargas both took seeds to the face.  Some of those guys could flick a seed 30 feet on a line.  It was pretty impressive, and hilarious.  Everyone in the crowd was watching them closely and getting a kick out of it, including this guy:

33 - tim is all smiles in toronto.jpgThen we were interrupted with some baseball.   I can’t remember who hit this ball, but a Mariner hit a ball to deep right CF.  I thought it was extra bases all the way.  But the Jays’ right fielder, Jose Bautista, tracked it down and made an amazing catch just below us before smashing into the hard plexiglass wall at full speed.  It seemed like he was down for a minute or two after the catch.

Here is a screen shot from the highlight on mlb.com.  This is just before he smashes into the wall — the red arrow is pointing to me, you can’t really see Tim in the seat next to me (the empty looking seat), and then Colleen is in the pink:

34 - bautista catch screen shot.jpgDuring the game, Tim tested out his new hobby (more on that later):

35 - cameraman tim.jpgThen it was time to take a walk.  We walked around the 100 level concourse.  We walked by a neat looking market before ending up in the team store:

36 - rogers team store.jpgTim didn’t want to leave the team store because it had a field on the ground.  Most of it was painted, but the bases and home plate were glass and you could see a real game-used home plate and bases under each piece of glass.

Tim took a lot of swings at fake balls and ran a lot of bases in the team store.  I was okay with it because I could see the game while I stood by the guard at the home plate pictured above to the right.

While I was standing there, Ichiro was kicked out of the game for the first time in his career and Adam Moore hit his first extra base hit (2B) and collected his first RBI of his career.  It was cool to be there for that.

Eventually, we left the team store and I walked all the way around the stadium while holding Tim in my arms…

37 - sweeney swings k-phillips catches.jpg…while doing so we saw Mike Sweeney at bat and Kyle Phillips playing catcher.

After Ichiro was booted for arguing balls and strikes, Bill Hall took his place in RF. 

38 - two RFers.jpgAs we walked around the concourse, Tim fell asleep.  I headed back to our seats and handed Tim off to Colleen.  Unfortunately, it was very difficult to sit next to Colleen while she held Tim like this because Tim’s legs were in the way:

39 - nap time.jpgSo I continued to walk around and take pictures.  And then I hung out above the Mariners bullpen in section 106.

I got some good action shots including these… 
40 - the kids are alright.jpgTop left, Adam Moore getting drilled by a pitch.  Top right, Josh Wilson getting a line hit up the middle moving Moore to second.

Bottom left, Moore on second thanks to Wilson’s hit.  Bottom right, Matt Tuiasosopo hitting, I believe, a sacrifice fly scoring Moore.

Hey, how have I not shown you the roof yet –here it is: 

41 - rogers roof.jpgTim slept until the end of the game — in the 10th inning.  I spent the last inning or two behind the bullpen taking pictures:

42 - rogers bullpen scenes.jpgTop left, Rob Johnson, Jason Phillips, Randy Messenger, David Aardsma, and Jason Vargas.  Top right, Chris Jakubauskas’s glove and pink backpack.

Bottom right, David Aarsdma half-heartedly warming up – he never entered the game.  Bottom left, the bullpen baseball bag.

I usually try to come away from each game with one baseball.  At many games, we get none.  But I generally don’t set any goals other than trying to get one ball.  Although we already had three at this game, I still wanted one more.  I needed a Jason Phillips ball.  You see, we’d now seen the Mariners play at six stadiums this season and Phillips had given us at least one ball at each stadium this season (in order, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (2), Fenway Park (2), Progressive Field, and Safeco Field).

But when the game ended, I still had not got one from Jason and I thought my window of opportunity had closed.  I saw him pack up his bag on the other side of he bullpen before handing it to Miguel Batista to carry to the dugout.  Meanwhile, David Aardsma zipped up the bullpen baseball bag and started walking to the dugout.

As Jason walked by below me, I called out, “Hey, Jason!”  He looked up and pointed at me as if to say, “OH, YEAH!”  He then jogged into the OF and caught up with Aardsma.  When he went for the baseball bag, Aardsma played keep away for a second.  Then Phillips pointed over toward me and said something to the D.A.  Aardsma relented and let him have the bag.  Jason opened it up, grabbed a ball, turned toward me and threw a long strike into my glove.

“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”

Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!

We got into a long line that snaked its way through the bowels of the Rogers Centre under the RF seats.  Here are a couple behind the scenes areas we saw:

43 - behind the scoreboard OF wall.jpgThe top pictures show wires coming out from under the seats, presumably to power the large screens on the OF wall.  The bottom pictures show the back of the OF wall from under the field level OF seats.  It looked like the video screen sections of the OF wall were on rollers and could be moved around (for example, to reconfigure the stadium for a Buffalo Bills game).

Here is another interesting shot, a hole in the wall looking into the Mariners bullpen:

hole in bullpen wall.jpgNext, we got our classic Kids Run the Bases RF wall distance picture (for the first time ever including meters as well as feet): 

44 - rogers RF wall 328ft-100mtr.jpgThen it was off to the races.  I *chaperoned* Tim:

45 - running the bases.jpgIn case you missed the video of Tim running from my last post — click here to view it.

Unlike the other teams where we have run the bases, the Blue Jays didn’t kick us off of the field immediately upon Tim finishing running the bases — so we were able to get a nice family picture….
46 - rogers and the cooks.jpg…and some other random shots hanging out on the field:

47 - more on field fun.jpg

Tim thought that silly face he is making in the picture by the dugout was hilarious.

Finally, we got one more picture from the main concourse before leaving the Rogers Centre:

48 - father-son-field.jpgThanks for an excellent season Mariners.  It was grand, indeed.

Season Fan Stats:

31 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)


49 - outside rogers centre.jpg12 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

26 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
32 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

50 - four balls.jpg

“The Yankees Are Bossy” (9-19-09)

My mom, Colleen, Tim and I were in the car driving to Safeco Field to see the Mariners take on the Yankees when Tim turned to me and proclaimed:

“Dad, the Yankees are bossy.”

Indeed.

Well, actually…in the three games Tim has seen the Yankees play in his life, the Yankees haven’t been very bossy.  We’ve seen the Mariners beat the Yankees twice and the Orioles just a couple weeks ago beat the Yanks too.  So, really, the Yankees have been pretty accomodating in the games we’ve seen them play.

We were hoping they would be similarly accomodating at this game.

We had four excellent seats in section 151 (left field).  But, I also had my best buddy Paul’s two tickets in section 123 (just a couple rows back from the Mariners’ dugout).  Paul was at a family get-together and was hoping to meet up with us later in the game.  He never made it.

We arrived just before game time.  After watching the Yankees bat in the top of the first, Tim and I grabbed an ice cream helmet (mint chocoloate chip and chocolate fudge chip) and headed over to Paul’s seats in time to watch Ichiro lead off the bottom of the first… 

1 - ichiro.jpg…he would draw a walk.

 Tim was very protective of his ice cream:

2 - dont look at my ice cream.jpgThis is his, “I know you’re looking at my ice cream, don’t even think about, I’m not sharing” look.  And, true to his look, he did not share.

Two more notes about that picture.  First, I don’t like it when teams leave a big huge bar code on the side of the ice cream helmets.  We haven’t received many bar-coded helmets.  Mostly in Philadelphia.  Before this week, we’d never received a bar-coded helmet at Safeco Field.  And I hope we never do again.

Second, that guy in the white hat sitting behind Tim was pretty hilarious.  He and this buddies were all decked out in Washington Husky gear.  Just a couple hours prior, the Huskies had taken down my dad’s alma mater, the No. 3 ranked USC Trojans.  (FYI, in college football, I root for my Temple Owls (GO OWLS!) and then the entire Pac-10.  In conference play, I root for the UW, followed by WSU (my brother’s alma mater), followed by USC (dad), followed by whichever team is located closest to Seattle.  But in the grand scheme of things, the Mariners are the only team I truly care about in any sport).

Anyway, as I was saying, that guy was pretty funny.  He kept yelling at all of the Yankees (particularly C.C. Sabbathia) and saying he was going to buy them dinner at various fast food restaurants if they continued to strike out (Yankees batters) or give up hits (Sabbathia).  He was going to take them to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Time, Papa Murphy’s, Red Lobster, etc., etc.

Enough about that guy, here is the view from Paul’s amazingly awesome seats:

3 - safeco pauls seats panaramic.jpgPaul’s family has split season tickets with another guy (Louie) who has had the tickets since 1977 (the M’s first season, and the year Paul was born).  In the Kingdome, Paul’s seats were even closer (third row, I believe) but they crammed a few extra super-expensive rows in front of his seats at Safeco Field.  The tickets are row 14, but I think they are only about 5-8 rows back from the dugout.

All of my action shots were coming out blurry at this game, but I got some good “batting stance” shots.  Here is Jose Lopez: 

4 - jose lopez.jpgI like Jose.  He’s good.

And here is Adrian Beltre… 

5 - beltre.jpg…he hit a double on this pitch, but my swinging shot and rounding first shot are both horribly blurry.

Hey, guess who stopped by our section?  It was the Beer Poet: 

6 - beer poet.jpgI can’t recall any of his poems, but essentially he says a lot of stuff like this:

“An evening at the ballpark, such a special treat.  Nothing makes it better than a cold beer while you sit in your seat.”

His actual poems are moderately better than that, but you got the gist of it.

Young gun Doug Fister was on the mound…

7 - fister.jpg…but unforunately he was shooting blanks on this night.

In the second inning, someone or other bunted the ball off of Kenji Johjima…

8 - johjima hit by bunt.jpg…it was an odd play, and Kenji was down for a few minutes.

During the top of the third, we headed out to CF to the play area, and I took this panaramic view as we passed behind the RF foul pole:

9 - safeco RF concourse panaramic.jpgHey, check out who was out at the play area:

10 - with colleen in playarea.jpgTim only played a little bit before we headed back to section 151 to meet up with my mom.  Here was my view from section 151, row 34, seat 1:

11 - safeco section 151 panaramic.jpgRow 34 is only about 5 rows back from the LF wall, directly down the line behind the hand-operated scoreboard.

We got two big batches of Jim’s garlic fries…

12 - Jim's Garlic Fries.jpg…and Tim ate a bunch of them before he decided that garlic is “too spicy.”

It was about time for Tim to act silly in the seats: 

13 - all smiles.jpgAnd then it was time for some more “spicy” garlic fries… 

14 - with grandma and garlic fries.jpgThat is Tim’s official “garlic is too spicy” face.  As for me, I’m a huge fan of garlic.  And these fries we ridiculously (in a good way) garlicy.  This wasn’t garlic powder or garlic flavoring.  This was full on mashed up and diced garlic bits.  I think each of our orders of fries had about 5 entire garlic bulbs on ‘em.  When all of the fries were gone, there was still an entire hand full of diced up garlic bits in each little cardboard tray.  I tried to eat all of the garlic in one of the trays, but I failed.  It would have made my head explode.  Too spicy.

Back to the game.  As I mentioned, Fister wasn’t on top of his game.  So, Don Wakamatsu pulled him before too long: 

15 - pulling fister and pauls seats.jpgSee the red outline in that picture?  Those are Paul’s seats as some non-ticketed dude prepares to take advantage of Paul’s absence.

Speaking of Paul, I bet you’re wondering what he looks like, right?  Well, you could look back at my entries from May when we went to a couple games together.  But it would be a whole lot easier if I just posted this:

 

griff-paul-kevin.JPGThat’s Paul in the middle, to the right is Paul’s brother Kevin, and to the left?  Well, that’s none other than future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey, Jr.

Once again, back to the game.  It was a cool but pleasant night at the ball park.  But late in the game, a few rain drops started to fall.  The powers that be decided it was time for some indoor baseball.  The following photos are very dark but they show the roof starting to creep across the field toward the 3B line:

16 - roof approaches.jpgAnd the next set of pictures show the roof approaching and passing the LF foul pole:

17 - indoor foul pole.jpgMark Teixeira was having good night at the plate, and the Mariners bats and pitchers weren’t doing too much.  So Tim had to get creative in the seats.  He decided to do some fake fishing.  Here he is walking up from row 33 to row 35 holding a fake fishing pole (note that for some reason he is bare footed…he likes to feel right at home at the park):

18 - fishing in section 151.jpgHe would stand on the stairs in row 35 and cast his fake fishing line down toward the OF wall.

Late in the game we ran around in the OF concourse a bit.  And that is where we were when the Yankees recorded the 27th out in the bottom of the ninth.  Aye, aye, aye…I was hoping Tim would never have to see the Yankees win a game in his life.  Oh, well, I need to come to grips with the fact that I can’t protect him for every bad thing that might happen in life.

We have one more Mariners game this season.  And with a win, the Mariners will finish the season with a winning record at games attended by me and Tim.  Let’s do it M’s!!!

One more comment on the Yankees.  This is the first time I’ve seen the Yankees play a game outside of Yankee Stadium since August 24, 1995.  I attended that game with Paul.  That game is widely recognized as the turning point in the Mariners season, after which they made a hard charge past the California Angels of Anaheim.  The Mariners were 11.5 games back at the time.  And in the 8th inning, the Mariners were losing 7-5.  In the 8th, Edgar Martinez hit a home run off of David Cone to make it 7-6 Yankees.

But the Mariners had been perenial losers.  The first two batters made quick outs in the bottom of the ninth.  Paul and I started to give up on the game.  In fact, we decided to leave and try to beat traffic.  But as we were walking out, Vince Coleman drew a walk from John Wetteland (now Mariners bullpen coach).  Paul and I started thinking about things.  Junior could get another at-bat!  We sprinted back to Paul’s seats (you know, the one’s I mentioned above, the ones 3 rows behind the 1B dugout).  As Joey Cora, battled Wetteland, Coleman stole 2B and 3B.  Cora then lined a single to LF to score Coleman and tie the game.

Up to the the plate sauntered Ken Griffey, Jr.  He would see only one pitch.  And we would see that pitch land in the upper deck in RF.  MARINERS WIN!!!

Twenty-five days later, the Mariners had erased the Angels’ 11.5 game lead.  Ultimately, the Mariners would beat the Angels in a one game playoff to claim their first ever A.L. West title.

So you ask what is the point of that long story?  Well, back in 1995, we watched the Mariners beat the Yankees in Seattle free of the presence of hordes of Yankees fans.  You see, the Yankees hadn’t been very good for a while.  They had not made the post-season since 1981.  And they didn’t have the massive traveling fan base that now accompanies them everywhere they go (and the hordes of bandwagon *fans*).  At least they didn’t have them in Seattle.

It was a much more pleasant way to watch a home Mariners game.  I live on the east coast and I see the Mariners on the road more than I see them at home.  So, I like my Mariners home games to feel like Mariners home games.  All this is to say that, this is likely my last Yankees game in Seattle.

By the way, don’t fear, the next day the Mariners would crush the Yankees to take the series 2-1.  Griffey would hit a bomb.

Anyway, on our walk to the car, I took a shot of the Seahawk’s stadium, Qwest Field:

19 - qwest field.jpgQwest Field sits on hallowed grounds — the site of the Kingdome.  I really wish Safeco Field could have been placed on the Kingdome’s site.  But it couldn’t happen.  The Mariners needed to play in the Kingdome until Safeco Field was ready to open in July 1999.  The Seahawks on the other hand, got an upgrade, they played at Husky Stadium while Qwest Field was being built.  Husky Stadium is probably better than Qwest Field.

One final note, the day after this game, we flew back into Philadelphia.  As we were driving out of the Philadelphia airport, Tim again told me that the Yankees are “bossy,” and he added that they “cheat.”  I told him that was not very nice of the Yankees.  But then, he told me that the Yankees called him on the telephone and apologized.  So, I guess that was considerate of the Yankees.

Season Fan Stats:

30 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)

12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

25 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
28 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Extra Innings in Seattle (9-17-2009)

On Thursday September 17th, we found ourselves in Seattle.  It wasn’t a planned trip.  We’d just be in town for a couple days.  But we found some time for our Mariners.

We headed to Safeco Field in the early afternoon.  It was a 3:40 start and Tim was fast asleep when we arrived at the Field:

1 - missed BP and sleepy.jpgWe were there plenty early, but BP ended early.  So we watched the grounds crew ready the field:

2 - caring for the IF.jpgAfter a few minutes, M’s catching prospect, Adam Moore, popped out of the dugout.  I called out, “Hey, Adam!”  He turned around and said hello.  I asked him, “Will we see you out there today”?  “Yep,” he responded as he headed out toward the M’s bullpen.

I’ve had my eye on Moore for a couple years because he is the first ballplayer Tim ever met — back at spring training in 2008.  This would be his major league debut.  We followed him out to the OF to watch him prepare for the game.  He did a lot of stretching and running:

3 - adam moore stretching.jpg

I took some photos of the batters eye (below to left) and the M’s bullpen (below to right): 

4 - safeco batters eye and bullpens.jpgThen we watched M’s fireballer, Brandon Morrow, warm up for the game: 

5 - Morrow in Bullpen.jpg

As Morrow and Moore warmed up, I tracked down Jason Phillips and had a brief chat with him.  Jason Phillips and I have run into each other a lot this season.  And he has always been very cool.  Extremely cool, in fact.  For proof, just see here, here, here, here and here.

Phillips circa 2003.jpgHey, did I ever mention that I realized I saw Jason Phillips hit a home run against the Mariners once?  I did.  It was back in 2003.  It was the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium.  I’d never heard of Phillips at the time.  He wore some crazy sports glasses (see picture).  Back in those days, he played catcher and first base.  He ended up hitting a home run off of Ryan Franklin.  I vividly recall thinking, “Who is this guy with these crazy glasses hitting a homerun against my Mariners?”   Now, I know.  It was Jason Phillips.  And, although he helped the Mets best my M’s back on June 6, 2003, I’m happy he’s one of us now.  And, unless he decides to make another go of it as a player and catches on somewhere, I hope he’ll stick around with the M’s.  He’s proven to be “good people.”  (By the way, on June 7, 2003, the Mariners-Mets game was rained out.  So I got a two-for-one double-header on Sunday, and the M’s swept the double-dip behind a couple gems by Freddie Garcia and Jamie Moyer — between the two games, the score was Mariners 20, Mets 1).

Later in the game, I asked Phillips what happened to the glasses.  “I had surgery,” he replied.

As Morrow was warming up in the pen, the rest of the M’s bullpen marched out to the pen…backwards: 

6 - backwards watching to the pen.jpg

After Moore and Morrow started walking toward the dugout for the beginning of the game, I asked Tim if he was ready for some ice cream.  He was.  We went to the ice cream stand tucked back in a corner by the Mariners Hall of Fame.  And check out what I found hanging right by the ice cream stand:

7 - respect for moyer.jpgNice job, Mariners.  I like it.  Respect for Moyer.  That’s what he deserves (psst…take note Philadelphia).

We made it back out to the concourse behind home plate in time to watch Adam Moore make his debut behind the plate.  This is his second batter:

14 - adam moore's 1st career batter.jpgA huge portion of the stadium was in the shade, but our seats were not.  So we headed over to section 149 and grabbed some cool and shady ice cream seats:  


9 - nice ice cream seats.jpg

This was our view:

8 - safeco Section 149 panaramic.jpgAnd this was Tim’s ice cream face:

10 - ice cream madness.jpg

Colleen took a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

11 - ichi in the OF.jpgAnd I took a shot of Ichiro at the plate (he walked on the next pitch):

12 - ichiro at bat in 1st.jpgI was hoping he’d steal second…

13 - ichi leads off.jpg…but he stayed put.

 A usher came to check out tickets.  I told him we were in a different section and asked if we could stay while Tim ate his ice cream.  The usher said no problem.

I told Tim to eat reeeeeeaaallllly slowly.  I wanted to stay until Adam Moore’s first big league at bat.  First, I got my first peak at another September call-up, Matt Tuiasosopo.

15 - Tuiasosopo at Bat.jpgJust before Adam Moore came to the plate, the usher came back and asked, “Is he done with his ice cream?”  I was already trying to focus my camera on Adam Moore.  I confirmed that Tim was finished with his ice cream but asked if we could stay for Moore’s first career at bat.  Again, he said “no problem.”

Here are two shots from Moore’s first at bat, I believe it was a ground out: 

16 - adam moore's 1st career AB.jpg
17 - adam moore's 1st career AB no.2.jpgHe went 0-5 on the day with several ground outs.  No strike outs.  I thought two of his grounders were going to make it though for hits, but they did not.

Immediately after his at bat, we packed up my bag and headed out of section 149.  Tim was on my shoulders and was fidgeting with my glove with his foot as we walked up the stairs to the concourse.  When we reached the top, Colleen took what might be my favorite picture of the season so far:

18 - new catching technique.jpgNext, Tim and Colleen headed to the play area and I stood in the concourse behind the field level seats in LF (section 151).  After a while, Tim and Colleen came and met up with me and we sat down in section 152.

These also were not our seats.  An usher spotted us.  But instead of checking our tickets and booting us out, he gave Tim these…

20 - blueberry and marshmellow.jpg…baseball cards of Jack McDowell and Barry Larkin.  Tim held them up to show me and said, “Look, its Blueberry (McDowell) and Marshmellow (Larkin).”  He thought his nicknames were quite clever and he repeated them over and over.

Another usher randomly came up to us and asked if we wanted her to take our picture: 

19 - Pa Cooks in Wa.jpgThe ushers seem to be more relaxed in section 152 than they are in section 149.

Colleen got into the picture taking action several times.  She took this nice shot of Morrow on the mound: 

21 - morrow pitching.jpgI took another picture of Adam Moore not getting his first base hit of his career (with Ichiro on deck behind him):

22 - adam moore with ichi in back.jpgOur seats in section 152 were right next to a fence that looked down into the White Sox bullpen…

23 - feeling right at home.jpg…hey, make yourselves right at home, guys!

There is a fence behind the bullpens with standing room from which you can watch the game.  We headed down to stand behind the White Sox pen for a little bit.  After a few minutes, a guy came walking through a little fence that separates the M’s bullpen from the visitors’ pen.  He was a Mariners employee, not a ballplayer.  I’m not sure what his job is, but he was in the pen all night.  He walked up to Tim at the fence and handed him a piece of gum in a wrapper.  Then he pulled out a baseball and squeezed it through a gap in the fence.  Here is Tim with the ball:

24 - HHH Metrodome Ball.jpgYou can’t tell in that picture, but it was a HHH Metrodome commemorative ball.  We were pretty excited to get it.  My guess is that the White Sox brought it with them… but who knows?

After Tim posed with the ball, we relocated by 60 feet and stood behind the M’s bullpen: 

24 - behind M's bullpen.jpgAbove to the left, we played a little catch.  Above to the right, we watched pitchers warm up (shown here is Garrett Olson).

 By this point, it was the 7th inning and we were trailing 3-0.  I think we only had 1 or 2 hits.  But then Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate and hit a home run that handed in the bullpen and rolled directly to our feet…

25 - beltre blast.jpg

In the screen shots above, Tim and I are standing directly beneath the “49” in the Mets-Braves score.  In the top picture, the homerun ball is a white blur directly between me and Tim.  In the second picture, I’m bending down acting like I’m going to field the homerun ball as a grounder as it rolled to a rest just below us on the other side of the fence.

But for that fence, we could have just leaned over and scooped up Beltre’s blast.  Here is the opposite view (courtesy of Colleen, who can also be seen lurking in the shadows in the screen shots above):

26 - beltre blast reverse.jpgThe ball is directly in front of me just below the cement on which Tim is standing.

John Wetteland came and grabbed the ball.  I asked him if he could toss it over to us.  But he explained that they always save home run balls for the batter.  He grabbed it and gave it to someone who put it in their bag for Beltre.

The Beltre home run brought the score to 3-1 White Sox.

Next, we headed up to the left field bleachers where we sat in the first row of section 186 from around the 7th to the 11th innings.  Our seats for this game were actually in section 183, but we opted for 186 because it is above the Mariners bullpen.  183 is above the visitors’ bullpen.

This was our view from section 186:

28 - safeco Section 186 front row panaramic.jpgThis is a look to our left where you can see Ichiro on the big screen and the side of the roof tucked behind the scoreboard:

29 - safeco jumbo screen and roof pushed back.jpgHere is my little family:

30 - section 186 fake smile with mommy.jpgThis is the view looking down from section 186 toward the left.  It is the standing room area in CF…

31 - CF standing room area.jpg…its very popular with the singles.  Lots of drinks being consumed down there.  Lots of flirting taking place.  Hopefully some of them are also watching the game.

I’m always trying to snap photos of fielders catching balls.  But its hard because you have to be pretty quick with a slow reacting digital camera.  Here were my best efforts on the night:

32 - action in the OF.jpgI nailed that Gutierrez catch on the right.  On the left is Ichiro, but I missed getting the ball in the shot.  I just happened to be taking a picture of Ichiro getting ready for the pitch when the batter lofted a short fly to him.  Even with my camera already locked on Ichiro, I couldn’t get the ball in frame.

Here is a shot Colleen got of me and Tim watching our squad:

33 - section 186 with daddy.jpg

Colleen took a great action shot too:

lowe induces a grounder.jpg

I posted a picture almost exactly like this next one back in May, but I think it looks great so here it is again: 

34 - safeco sign and clock.jpg

Our time in section 186 was extremely exciting because the Mariners mounted a ninth inning comeback.  We were still down 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth.  The ChiSox brought in local product Bobby Jenks.  He’s pretty good.  But not good enough on this night.  Jose Lopez hit a solo bomb into the White Sox bullpen to bring the score to 3-2.  Then, with 2 down, Bill Hall hit a solo bomb of his own, also into the White Sox bullpen.

Bring on some extra innings!!!

As I mentioned, Section 186 is just above the Mariners bullpen.  To be more precise, it is above the home plates in the Mariners bullpen (on the CF side of the bullpen).  The Mariners used 8 pitchers in this game so Jason Phillips was constantly warming up someone throughout the late innings.  Here he is in action:

34a - Jason Phillips in Safeco Bullpen.jpgSee the pink backpack in that picture?  Well, Phillips’s catchers equipment bag is the blue bag two over to the right.  At the bottom of the bag (as pictured), you can see a sliver of white.  That was a baseball sitting on his bag.  At one point, Jason walked out to start warming up another pitcher.  I shouted, “Hey, Jason” down to him and pointed at the ball sitting on his bag.  He pointed at the pitcher he was about to help warm up.  But the way he did it, I could tell he was going to toss a ball up our way, just not quite yet.

In the eleventh inning, Jason was just standing there by home plate.  He was about to start warming up another pitcher.  And all of us sudden you could see a thought pop into his head.  He darted a look up me (Tim and Colleen had just left to visit the play area).  We made eye contact and he immediately turned and walked over to his bag and pulled a ball out of it.  The LF bleachers are about 25-30 feet above the bullpen.  He tossed the ball to me but it didn’t make it all the way up.  It clanked off of the steel beam supporting the bleachers and fell back into the bullpen.  Phillips let out a little sigh, and he walked back to his bag for another ball.  The second time was the charm.  He fired a strike into my glove.

For the seventh time and in the fifth stadium of the year, “THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!!!”

Here is an illustration of the throw:

39 - 7th jason phillips ball.jpgThe first ball hit that big beam next to the Dodge advertisement and fell staight down passed all of the people standing above the out-of-town scoreboard.

After securing the much-appreciated ball from Jason Phillips, I headed down to the play area to meet up with my people.  It was getting late, and a lot of people had left already.  Tim was the only kid in the play area.  I split time between watching the game on the flat screens in the play area and watching live from the main concourse in CF.  This was the view from CF: 

37 - safeco CF top panaramic.jpgAnd this was my view of Colleen in the play area from CF:

35 - colleen in playarea.jpgWhile in the playarea, Tim and I played fake home run derby.  He hit a home run on every pitch:

27 - playarea fun.jpgHere is a veritcal panarama showing a view from the roof above the play area down to the floor:


36 - safeco playarea vertical panaramic.jpgWhile in the CF concourse, I took the opportunity to document the two balls we’d collected at this game (including the somewhat warn HHH Metrodome logo on the ball Tim got from the guy in the bullpen):

38 - two balls in seattle.jpgSpeaking of the guy in the bullpen, here is a picture of him as he walked by Jason Phillips and Sean Kelley:

phillips and other ballgiver.jpgThis was our sixth game of the season at Safeco Field, and our fifth of the season without Griffey in the starting line-up.  So, I was thrilled when he came to bat as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 12th:

40 - griff at bat from CF.jpgUnfortunately, Griff stuck out.  But it was still great just to see him.

Adam Moore came to the plate once again searching for his first big league hit.  I thought he was going to get it on this swing, but it didn’t qutie happen:

41 - adam moore grounds out.jpgBut the Mariners would not be denied on this night.  In the bottom of the 14th, Ryan Langerhans got on with a single.  Kenji Johjima followed with a hit-by-pitch (pinch hitting for Moore).  And Ichiro followed with a game winning single scoring Langerhans from second.

MARINERS WIN!!!

42 - mariners win.jpgThe team chased Ichiro all the way into CF to beat on him in celebration of his game winning hit.  He made his best effort at avoiding the celebratory whooping, but the team tracked him down in the end.

On our way out of the stadium, we stopped to watch the street drummer do his thing.  Tim danced up a storm as this guy put on a five gallon drum clinic.  After a few minutes, the guy handed Tim a pair of drunk sticks and said, “You dance pretty good, little man.  Let’s see how you drum!”  Here are Tim and the drummer doing their thing together:

43 - tim and the drummer guy.jpgColleen took a video clip of Tim and the drummer that can be viewed by clicking here.

After thanking the drummer for the memories and rewarding him with a tip, we called it a night.

Season Fan Stats:

29 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)

12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

24 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
28 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

 

This entry is dedicated to the memory of my father’s brother and my uncle:

 

Douglas S. Cook

 


doug.jpgA UW Social Work Professor and a dedicated advocate for people with developmental disabilities, Doug died on September 10th from Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. A more loving, gentle and principled human being could not be imagined. Doug was born in Yakima, WA on March 30, 1946. He earned a MSW at Rutgers, a Master of Divinity from Princeton and a PhD from UW. Before the onset of illness, he was the Director of Social Work at the UW CHDD where he researched, published and taught. The UW School of Social Work presented him with their Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999. His students honored him with Best Practicum Instructor award. Doug also received awards in the disabilities field too numerous to list. He was a hiker, a dancer, a bowler and most of all a loyal friend. Doug was always generous with his smile and his kindness.

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