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Kellan and Tim, 1 and 100 (7/16/11)

July 16, 2011 was a special day.  Most importantly, it was Kellan’s first birthday.  Yep, he’s finally made it to the single digits.  We decided to celebrate his birthday with a weekend trip to Baltimore with a whole bunch of friends and family.  The big event on Saturday (Kellan’s actual birthday) would be attending the game between the
Indians and the Orioles.  The following day, we would visit the famous National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

As an added bonus, the baseball game would be Tim’s 100th game.

Just like the Cleveland Indians, we stayed at the Renaissance Harborside hotel across Pratt Street from the Inner Harbor.  We started off with lunch a Tir Na Nog and then it was back to the hotel for birthday cake:

We were a little bit late to batting practice and missed out on most of the Orioles BP.  Right as we circled around to the 3B side, two Indians pitchers were finishing playing catch and one of them tossed their baseball to us.

A few minutes later, Avi Miller (decked out in full Indians garb) was chatting with Tony Sipp.  I called out, “Hey, Tony!  It is this guy’s first birthday, how about a picture!?”

Thanks, Tony!

Just a few minutes later, Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch.  A quick “Hey, Chad” later, he spun around and tossed his baseball to me, Tim and Kellan.  A few seconds after that, Durbin became the second major leaguer to hold the birthday boy:

In that last picture, the Orioles stadium attendant (Tom) has pointing at me and telling me to give him my camera so Tim and I could get in the picture.  The funniest part was when Tom delayed the picture so he could clear all of the people out from behind us – Tom apparently thought they were cluttering our picture with Durbin.

The picture of all of us with Chad Durbin turned out pretty hilarious…

…because Kellan is about to blink and his eyes are half closed.  He looks like he is falling asleep.

Earlier in the day, Avi had told me that the day before Zack Hample had pre-arranged to get the line-up cards from Manny Act after the game.  It would be awesome to get a line-up card for Kellan’s first birthday game.  So I figured it was worth a shot.

At the time, it was me, Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my cousin Nathan and his buddy Matt.  We all relocated from the 3B line to the seats behind home plate:

We spotted Manny Act hitting fungo on the 1B side of the batting cage.  Kellan and I scooted down to the first row on the side of the umpire tunnel.  Everyone else grabbed some seats, and Tim provided the entertainment:

Things worked out ideally.  I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get his attention.  But he ended coming over to the net on the other side of the umpire’ tunnel to talk to some
people he knew:

To get back to the Indians dugout, Manny would have to walk directly in front of us.  While we were waiting on Manny, an Orioles reporter (who Avi Miller has identified as Craig Heist)…

…came over and played with Kellan.  It was pretty funny.  The guy acted like Kellan was the cutest and funniest baby of all time.

And then Manny Acta walked by and stopped…

…to chat with us after I called out his name.  The discussion went something like this:

Todd:  Hi, Manny.  Hey, it is my son’s first birthday today.  I was wondering if there is any way that after the game we could get the line-up card with his birthdate on it?

Manny:  Oh, sure.  No problem.  But, it has to be after the game.

Todd:  Awesome!  Thanks so much.

Manny:  But, after the game!

Todd:  Sounds good.

Manny:  Yeah, but you have to wait until after the game.

Todd:  Cool.  Thanks.

Manny:  So just come down to the dugout, but not until after the game.

Got it.  I was excited to come back to see Manny, after the game, and see if he would remember us.

Tim, Kellan, Colleen and I spent the rest of BP out in left field, but nothing came of it…well, except for some nice family time:

So, it was game time.  We reported to our seats in section 7.  This picture is out of order, but here was our view from section 7, row 11:

There were 21 of us in all, including Tim’s buddy Sam…

…, who is the son of Colleen’s friend, Deb.

To start the game, we moved over a section so we could hide in the shade.  Kellan spent some quality time sitting on his aunt Kimberly’s lap:

In the bottom of the first, J.J. Hardy led off with a double for the Orioles.  He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  That made the score 1-0 Orioles after one inning.

At one point, the Orioles Bird showed up in the seats just below section 7.  I called out for whoever wanted a picture with the Bird to follow me.  And then began the slowest Bird chase of all time.  My crew included my sister-in-law Kimberly, my nephew and niece Gill and Kate, and Noah.  None of them had ever chased down a mascot before and they didn’t understand the urgency of a mascot chase.

Tim and I could have got our picture with the Bird and been back in our seats eating a pile of steaming hot nachos before this rag-tag group of Bird watchers made it to the
spot where the Bird used to be.  But the Bird had darted into a new section and was making his way through rows of fans handing out high fives and posing for pictures.

I repositioned our group at the bottom of the next section over where I predicted the Bird would return to the cross aisle.  While we waited, Kimberly posed with some displeased Orioles fans:

And then the Bird arrived on the scene and made Noah’s day:

When the moment came, Kate opted not to get in the picture.  The funniest thing about this picture is that I was the only person taking a picture.  The Bird is looking at the camera, and I have no clue what Gill and Noah are looking at…maybe they are watching the game!  And check out Gill with the classic Ted Williams glove on, ready to catch a foul ball.  Atta’boy, Gill!

The Orioles extended their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Derrek Lee singled in Nick Markasis.

With a group of 21 people to choose from, it was our first real opportunity to get one of the more difficult photos from the 2011 myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

15 people in 3 rows of 5, each holding a baseball.  Many thanks to (front row) Noah, Kate, Tim, Sam and Ellie; (second row) Jenn, Geralyn, Gill, Kristen, and Andy; and (back row) Mark, Kevin, Will, Matt and Nathan!

In the middle innings, it was time to hit the play area and get some dinner:

After having lots of fun on the fort, Tim gave us a huge scare by trying to inhale his hot dog and choking on it.  It was really freaky.  It was just like in “Field of Dreams” when the daughter chokes on a hot dog.  I slapped Tim on the back and he shot a two inch piece of hot dog out of his throat.

We’ve learned our lesson.  MLB games are nacho time, not hot dog time.

We had to hustle back to our seats because we were expecting something fun on the scoreboard.  But first there was more scoring.  The Indians tied up the score at 2-2 in the
top of the sixth on a double 2-RBI double by Mariner-child Michael Brantley.  The Orioles then recaptured the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Nick Markakis blasted a homerun to RCF.

And then our scoreboard message appeared out in CF:

Kellan’s first ever scoreboard “Happy Birthday!”  First of man, I am sure.

Then Avi and Zevi showed up at our seats to say hello, and I handed off a Mexican League (FeMeBe) baseball to Avi for a little prank I had in mind and with which Avi offered to help – you can see that story here.

Avi also told me that Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon would soon be heading back to the Dominican Republic to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the celebratory-shooting death of his cousin.  I figured I should take an action shot of Simon in case he gets convicted and never returns to MLB:

Of course, we got some random shots in the stands.  Like this shot of Colleen and Kellan seemingly in the middle of a staring contest:

And this shot of the Steeles as they get ready to call it a night:

And you know we had to get a brothers-in-matching-shirts shot:

It was a nice and relaxing evening at the ballpark.  The birthday boy got lots of attention…like here where he gets some snacks from Geralyn while I hold him:

Tim was his usual silly self:

In the eighth inning, Tim, Kellan and I relocated to some seats behind the Indians bullpen in hopes that Manny Acta would remember that he said Kellan could have the line-up cards.  Soon after grabbing some seats, Avi joined us.  And then a few minutes later, Colleen joined us as well.

Here was our view from the first seats we found:

Avi, Tim, Kellan and I eventually moved down to about the fourth row.  Nice seats. This doesn’t really do the view justice, but it looked  something like this:

Now, the Orioles were leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.  But then, on the strength of a trio of doubles by Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Felix Pie, the Orioles put up three more runs to make it a 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

Koji “Now A Ranger” Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the Orioles, but they did not bring him back for the ninth.  Instead, they went with Kevin Gregg.  It was not a good decision.  Gregg was anything but clutch.

After striking out the first batter in the top of the ninth, Gregg walked the bases loaded.  He then struck out the Lonnie Chisenhall for the second out of the 26th out of the game.  As Orlando Cabrera strode to the plate and the Orioles still leading 6-2, Avi declared, “The Orioles are going to win this game 6-5.”

He was spot on.  Cabrera laced a double to the RCF gap.  It cleared the bases and made the score 6-5 Orioles.

Buck Showalter had seen enough of Mr. Gregg.  He got the hook and was replaced by Mike Gonzalez.  Three pitches later, Grady Sizemore grounded out to first base and that was the ballgame.

I was did not have high hopes of actually getting the line-up card for Kellan because the Indians started filing into the tunnel to their clubhouse instead of out onto the field
for high-fives.  But we walked down to the first row right above the player exit to the clubhouse.  Just then, Manny Act walked by.  He looked up and saw me and gave me a look that made it clear we were getting the line-up card!  I was excited.  Manny ducked out of view for a few seconds and then he popped out of the dugout, reached up high and handed me the line-up cards – not one card  (like the one taped to the dugout wall), but two (as in the official cards he kept in his pocket during the entire game).  They were beautiful.  One for the Orioles.  One for the Indians.  Each signed by the respective managers (Manny Acta and Buck Showalter.  And both emblazoned with the date of Kellan’s first birthday.

Outstanding.

Thanks, Manny!

Before heading for the exit, Avi took two family pictures for us – this one with Kellan finding the field much more exciting than the camera (can you blame him)…

…and this one (where we could at least see his face):

On the walk to the exit, I took this photo of Kellan’s birthday gift from Manny Act:

He is officially the first Cook to ever receive birthday gifts (two baseballs and two line-up cards) from Major Leaguers….of course, he is also the only Cook whose birthday is
during the baseball season, so he has an advantage over the rest of us.

All-in-all, it was a great night!

Ah, I almost forgot, we also got another baseball post-game behind the Indians dugout.  The next day was Noah’s birthday and we had got him a Rawlings baseball glove.
Conveniently, it was in a gift bag and not sealed up in a wrapped box, so I slid that baseball into the glove when we got back to the hotel and gave it to Noah at breakfast the next day.  I am pretty sure he likes the baseball more than the glove.

Speaking of the next day, we had a blast at the aquarium and Inner Harbor.

The National Aquarium is great.  Here is a family photo of us in the Australia exhibit…

…and a shot of Tim and his cousins looking at some fish…and it appears Tim is applauding the fish.  “Good job swimming, guys!”

Tim really loved the dolphins (who were practicing for their show):

That is Uncle Kevin holding Kellan in the dolphin arena.

Tim and Kellan both loved the big jelly fish exhibit…

…but the sharks were scary with all of those teeth.  Actually, Tim told me the scariest thing about the sharks was their gums!

After the aquarium, we took a water taxi…

…to Fells Point for an early dinner.

What can I say, it was a great birthday weekend for our little boy.  Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped make it extra special.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
17/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets and Indians]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
50 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1
Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
12/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin
Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

The Ohio Cup (7/2/11)

I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now.  It has never seemed to work.  My original plan this season was to work it  into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work.  So we came up with a new plan:  Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.

Cincinnati was up first.  We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh.  On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.

But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati.  No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened.  So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!

First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…

…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager.  We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate.  Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.

Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields.  It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.

Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:

In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.

Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van.  I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays.  He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.

It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’”  His reply was priceless:  “So are we!”

It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s.  He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear.  Nothing overly important or exciting.  Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000.  It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.

The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student.  He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously.  They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.”  And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”

If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.

One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store.  It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever.  He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”

Oh, yeah.  And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it.  He never played games there.

And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.

Great American Ball Park is interesting.  Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River.  Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river.  The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River.  If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…

…to get to the stadium.  (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.)  In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings.  The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.

Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…

…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.

This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate.  There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:

In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.

When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening.  And it was really hot.  We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line.  While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:

After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:

The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing.  BP got packed quick.  My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP.  But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us.  When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.

As he walked away, I called out, “Wait!  What’s your name!?”  He reply, simply, “Tony!”  I thought that was pretty funny.  We’re on a first name basis, you know?  I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.

Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…

…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:

Thanks, Tony!

Okay.  We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us.  We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring.  We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):

Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water.  It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.

Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:

Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:

Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so.  There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.

They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout.  But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:

There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out.  So that’s what we did…well, we tried to.  You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.

So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes.  Here was our view:

One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field.  I had no clue who he was.  The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games.  They hardly got the ball out of the infield.

But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field.  He was way out there in CF.  After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF.  I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up.  As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me.  It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.

Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:

I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered.  In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.”  The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade.  So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.

Thanks, Chad!

This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:

Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball.  It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.

Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:

And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:

After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:

Next, we headed over into the infield.  We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:

After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:

Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:

Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck.  Too high.  So we headed down to the upper deck concourse.  I kept dousing Tim’s head with water.  When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror.  Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk.  When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:

Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:

It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas.  First, section 516…

…section 423…

…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…

…section 430…

…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:

That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:

Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen.  This is what the bullpen looks like:

The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me.  A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area.  The Reds, however, did the opposite.  Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.

There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye.  Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:

We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem.  Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:

Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met.  But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot.  The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.

We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way.  As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:

Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs.  Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture.  While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp.  Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen.  We waited patiently.  And then he reappeared.  I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.

When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him.  At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen.  I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up.  But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger.  It was very impressive.

After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!”  That put a huge smile on his face.  During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him.  Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude.  He really seemed like a great guy.

Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.

Finally, it was time for the game to start.  We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…

…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103.  This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:

It was crazy hot in our seats.  I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats.  But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:

It was good to see the Reds play again.  We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds.  During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games.  They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years.  Like this guy…

…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto.  In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.

This was a low scoring game.  The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey.  We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.

We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station.  It really felt amazing in there.  We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning.  That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.

While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could.  After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.

As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:

We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while.  It looked like this:

And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:

Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:

An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:

We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends.  We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:

And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…

…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day).  Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).

Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:

That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…

…flied out to CF.  I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it.  Booo!

We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…

…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:

Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.

Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…

…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30).  Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right):  Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.

After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…

…but just for a minute.  We had our sights on ice cream helmets.  So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008.  As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction.  I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim.   Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.”  But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it.  He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:

Awesome!  Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!

The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous.  It was as if every fan at the game was in line.  We were in line for at least a full inning.  But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait.  They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!

We both got twist soft serves.  Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces.  Delicious.

We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:

Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:

It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long.  So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF.  On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:

As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:

It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area.  Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television.  But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:

That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures.  He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”

Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:

We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game.  So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game.  The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.

Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):

With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:

While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout.  Here is what it looked like:

The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate.  With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:

Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.

Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:

With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run.  But he struck out to end the game.

Indians win 3-1.

On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:

We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:

Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.

And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us.  It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations.  Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))
45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

MLB Pocket Schedules

Tim and I are now three weeks into our 2011 schedule and just had our first “off weekend” of the early season.  Kellan is still waiting for his first game action of the season.  Plenty of baseball left on the Cook & Son schedule for 2011.  Seems like a good enough reason to share our baseball pocket schedule collection.

Each year, I try to grab a few pocket schedules at every ballpark we visit.  We have a baseball card album full of them.  Let’s take a look — and lets do it in the order Tim first saw each of these teams play a home game.

First, our Mariners pocket schedules:

                     
2001 Mariners.JPG    
2003 Mariners.JPG

                    
2004 Mariners.JPG    
2005 Mariners.JPG

                      
2006 Mariners.JPG    
2007 Mariners (Felix).JPG

                      
2007 Mariners (Ibanez).JPG    

2008 Mariners.JPG  

                      
2009 Mariners (Felix).JPG    
2009 Mariners (Griff).JPG  

                     
2010 Mariners (Figgins).JPG    
2010 Mariners (Lee).JPG  

                     
 
2010 Mariners (Wakamatsu).JPG
     
2011 Mariner (Wedge).JPG

2011 Mariners (King Felix).JPG

Second, our Phillies pocket schedules:                       
2007 Phillies (Hamels).JPG    
2007 Phillies (Howard).JPG

                        2008 Phillies (Burrell).JPG    
2008 Phillies.JPG

2009 Phillies.JPG

Third, our Orioles pocket schedules:



2007 Orioles.JPG
2008 Orioles.JPG
2009 Orioles.JPG
2010 Orioles.JPG

Fourth, our Yankees pocket schedules:

                        2007 Yankees.JPG    
2008 Yankees.JPG

2009 Yankees.JPG

Fifth, our Pirates pocket schedules:

2007 Pirates.JPG
2008 Pirates.JPG
2010 Pirates.JPG

Sixth, our Reds pocket schedule (featuring Ken Griffey, Jr.! #3):

2008 Reds.JPG

Seventh, our Indians pocket schedules:

                        2008 Indians.JPG    
2010 Indians.JPG

Eighth, our Mets pocket schedules:

                         2008 Mets.JPG    
2009 Mets.JPG

2010 Mets.JPG

Ninth, our Diamondbacks pocket schedule:

2011 Diamondbacks.JPG

Tenth, our Nationals pocket schedules:

                          2009 Nationals.JPG    
2010 Nationals.JPG

Eleventh, our Red Sox pocket schedules:

2008 Red Sox.JPG
2009 Red Sox.JPG

Twelfth, our Cubs pocket schedule:

2009 Cubs.JPG

Thirteenth, our Twins pocket schedules:


                         
2009 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2009 Twins espanol.JPG

2009 Twins.JPG

                        
2011 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2011 Twins.JPG.

Fourteenth, our Brewers pocket schedule:

2009 Brewers.JPG

Fifteenth, our White Sox pocket schedules:

2009 White Sox.JPG

(This is one of my favorite schedules.  The picture of Ramirez’s homerun celebration couples just perfectly with the fireworks.  Good job, White Sox!)

2010 White Sox (AP).JPG

Sixteenth, our Blue Jays pocket schedule:

2009 Blue Jays.JPG

Seventeenth, our Athletics pocket schedule:

2010 Athletics.JPG

Eigthteenth, our Dodgers pocket schedule:


2010 Dodgers.JPGNinteenth, our Padres pocket schedule:

2010 Padres.JPG

Twentieth, our Angels pocket schedule:

2010 Angels.JPG

Twenty-first, our Giants pocket schedule:

2010 Giants.JPG

Twenty-second, our Spring Training pocket schedules:

2008 Cactus League.JPGOne more to come here…still need to photograph the 2011 Spring Training Schedule.  By the way, these include all Cactus League games for all of the teams in the Cactus League.

Bonus, our Reading Phillies pocket schedules (MiLB):

                         2008 R-Phils.JPG    
2009 R-Phils.JPG .

There you go, that is it for our MLB pocket schedules collection.  We plan to add plenty to this list in 2011.  In fact, by the end of the season, I hope to be able to add new schedules for the 2011 Mariners (actually already added), Orioles, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates, Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Reds, Rangers, Astros, Marlins, Braves and Nationals.

You Win Some and…(8/15/10)

On August 15, 2010, Tim and I woke up in our hotel in Cleveland ready to see the Mariners take another game from the Indians and for Tim to run the bases at Progressive Field.

But first we had to walk around downtown Cleveland a tiny bit to see what the city had to offer.  Just down the street from our hotel was a big park where Tim and I rocked out on some huge guitars…

1 - guitar free.JPG…and then we checked out a really huge “FREE” stamp, which I figured was a reference to the library nearby.

Sitting on the edge of Lake Erie and just down the hill from the park, we found this scene: 

2 - RnR HOF.jpgThat is the Cleveland Browns Stadium (check out the huge windmill to the right of the stadium), some sort of NASA building (the domed thing), and the Rock’N’Roll Hall of Fame.

Okay, that’s enough Cleveland for us, it was time to head to Progressive Field.

We arrived shortly before Gate C opened.  We were about 50 people back in the single line.  After a few minutes, a stadium attendant came up to us and told us to walk up front to start a new line.  So, all of a sudden, we were first in line:


3 - systems check.JPGIt was interesting to witness the stadium workers preparing to open up the gate.  It was like NASA mission control.  The guy standing by us had a walkie-talkie that was *blowing up* with ready checks.

“Team store ready?  “Check!”

“Suite ready”  “Check!”

“Right field ramp ready?”  “Check!”

Finally, all of the checks checked out and we hussled into the stadium to watch our Mariners take some BP.

All of those boxes at the gate?  They were filled with mustard hot dogs…

4 - Mustard Vargas.JPG…several weeks later, Tim still loves that hot dog.  A few minutes after that pictures, young ace-in-training Jason Vargas tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Vargas!

Tim wasn’t liking the sun beating down in RF, so we headed into the infield to hang out in the shade.

I was just hanging out watching BP and Tim was taking pictures of stuff all over the field.  He loves to take pictures.

At some point, one of our fine Mariners drilled a line drive off of the L-screen and it landed in foul territory…

5 - Rob Nodine.JPG…Mariners trainer Rob Nodine walked over, grabbed the baseball and tossed it up to us.  The baseball had really cool green marks from hitting the L-screen.

Thanks, Rob!

When BP wrapped up, Tim was sitting on my shoulders and we were shooting a video clip as all of our Mariners passed below us into the dugout.  And that is when I got this clip of Alonzo Powell tossing us our third and final baseball of the game:

Thanks, Alonzo!

With BP concluded and half-an-hour or more until game time, we headed up to the second deck in RF so Tim could play in the kids’ play area…

6 - imfamous playarea.JPG…the sight of a major melt down last season shortly before we saw Griffey hit his 624th career homerun.  Hmmm…Tim looks like a giant on that little motorcycle.  He might be too big for this play area.

Before the game started, we headed back down to the field level behind the M’s dugout.  During the national anthem, I got some pictures of our coaching staff including two Major League newcomers, veteran minor league coaches Daren Brown and Roger Hansen…

7 - new management.JPG…along side a couple Mariners coaches who had both thrown us a baseball within the last 24 hours, Alonzo Powell and Lee Tinsley.  By the way, Hansen is the same guy featured in a large scale Ken Griffey, Jr. prank during spring training.  Griff and Hansen go way back.  I think this is Hansen’s first stint in the majors and I hope that Griff gets out to the ballpark (any ballpark) to show his friend some major league support this season.

So, it was game time, and Tim and I found ourselves in the standing room area just behind the last row of seats on the 1B side of home plate.  Yesterday, Ichiro led off the game with a quick single.  Today, he never swung the bat…

8 - 4-for-Ichiro.JPG…and received a four pitch walk to lead off the game.  Unfortunately, he was left on 2B at the end of the inning.

It was lunch time.  Amazingly, Tim did not want nachos.  Instead, all he wanted was a ridiculously huge cup of french fries…

9 - fries time.JPG…that we ate at a table in the 1B side concourse.  While Tim sat and attacked the fries, I nibbled on my fair share of fries while standing next to the table watching Felix Hernandez dominate the Indians.

With the score knotted at zero, Adam Moore grounded out in the second inning:

10 - Adam Moore is No 10.JPGHe’s playing an excellent catcher now-a-days.  But after this game, his batting average dipped to a frighteningly low .159.

The Mariners were doing nothing offensively.

No worries.  Felix Hernandez was still dominating:

11 - King Felix.JPGIchiro was still looking for his 151st hit of the season when he came to bat in the third inning.  No dice.  He grounded out:

12 - Ichiro grounder.JPGIt was time for some ice cream.  We found this place in the 1B side inner concourse (the concourse on the 1B side splits into a two parts – the inside part is open to the field and the outside part is enclosed between concession stands, bathrooms, etc.).

They had ice cream helmets here and some excellent choices of real ice cream flavors…

13 - fancy ice cream.JPG…”Mariner” Moose Tracks, Mint Chocolate Chip, French Vanilla, Chocolate, Superman…and two others that I cannot read.

I got some “Mariner” Moose Tracks and Tim got Superman.  The lady was even kind enough to scoop only blue, yellow and green for Tim (and no extreme hyperness inducing red dye no. 40 ice cream).  Thanks, lady!

Tim enjoyed his Superman ice cream helmet from the handicapped accessible seating right by where we’d previously been standing in the SRO area…

14 - superman ice cream.JPG…I asked if he could sit there and the usher was nice enough to allow it.

Felix, well, he was still dominating:


15 - Felix induces Marson to Groundout 1-3.JPGActually, through four innings, we had a double no-hitter on our hands.

Finally, in the top of the 5th Casey Kotchman broke through with the Mariners first hit of the game, a leadoff double to deep CF.  At this point, our ice cream was gone and Tim was wrapped up in playing with his new mustard hot dog…

16 - fun with mustard.JPG…note that in the bottom center and right pictures, Tim is showing me that the mustard hot dog is eating and spitting sunflower seeds.

While Tim was busy with the mustard hot dog, the Mariners were busy trying to scratch out a run or two for King Felix.  And, despite their best efforts, it wasn’t going too well for the M’s.

With runners on first and second, Michael Saunders attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt…

17 - failed sacrifice for Saunders.JPG…but Indians pitcher Justin Masterson was able to get the lead runner at 3B.

After Chris Woodward walked to load the bases with one out, Ichiro absolutely crushed a line drive…

18 - Ichiro crushes bases loaded line-out.JPG…that Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta snared for the second out.  It had extra bases and 2 RBIs written all over it!  Chone Figgins then laid down another failed bunt for the third out of the inning.

Still, no runs for the Mariners.

Luckily, Felix was still dominating the Indians:

19 - Felix still dominating.JPGSure, he gave up a hit in the fifth and another in the sixth, but he was looking pretty unstoppable.

If the M’s could just scrape out one run, we would have been feeling really good about our chances at seeing a second straight Mariners win.

Tim needed to visit the play area again.  And he tossed some foamy baseballs into this pitching thingy:

20 - all strikes for Tim.JPGSince we were up in the second deck in RF, we figured we better  revisit the spot where we witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 624th career homerun.  Everything looked beautiful from up there…

21 - Site of No. 624.JPG…except that Griffey was retired and not in attenance.

I noticed that the walkway went out over Gate C (in fact, this walkway is what we tried to take cover under during the rainstorm the day before) and then turned left and headed toward Heritage Park.  So, we followed it.  This was the view from the walkway in almost straight-away CF:

22 - Jake Centerfield bridge panorama.jpgIt was a beautiful day.  We were witnessing an excellent pitchers duel.  We were excited to be at the ballpark:

23 - TJCs on Jake CF bridge.JPGWe decided to go down and visit Heritage Park.  I saw this hanging on the wall, and it looked new to me, so I figured I should share it here…

24 - The Ray Champman Story.JPG…if you click on the picture you can enlarge it so you can read The Ray Chapman Story.

While down there, we spied on the Indians reliever…

25 - Spying on the Indians bullpen.JPG…Masterson lasted only six innings and then Tony Sipp took over for the Tribe.

It was getting into the bottom of the seventh at this point.  We headed to the bleachers in LF.  Felix still had no run support, but he was still looking unhittable.

The first batter in the bottom of the seventh flew out to Franklin Gutierrez.

The second batter grounded out to short stop.

And then things took a disasterous turn.  King Felix induced former Mariner Luis Valbuena to ground to 2B.  But instead of recording the third out of the inning, Chone Figgins booted the ball.

It was nightmare time.  Felix should have been out of the inning.  The Mariners should have been batting in the top of the 8th.  Instead, the Indians proceeded to score SEVEN UNEARNED RUNS.  Six unearned runs were *charged* to Felix, including a grand slam by Travis Hafner.  Then Sean White came in and gave up the final unearned run of the inning — a homerun by Jayson Nix.

Stick a fork in the Mariners.  After a dominating 6.2 inning performance by King Felix, the Mariners were done.

Felix’s line on the day:

6.2 innings, 6 Hits, 6 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 4 BB, 7K

We headed into the infield for the end of the game.  We found some seats under cover where I got some close-up shots of some Mariners throw-away at bats…including, Russell Branyan…
 26 - Russell Branyan watches a strike.JPG…watching a low pitch en route to a four pitch walk in the top of the 8th.

And Jose Lopez fouling off a pitch…

27 - Jose Lopez fouls.JPG…before hitting a single to RF, which sent Branyan to 2B.  Branyan would go on to score the Mariners only run of the game on an infield single by Franklin Gutierrez.

Tim loves a kids show called “Team Umizoomi,” which has taught him to have “pattern power.”  Tim grabbed my camera and showed off his pattern power with alternating shots of his mustard hot dog and the infield…

28 - Tim's got pattern power.JPG…Pattern Power!

In the eighth, the Indians tacked on two more runs on a homerun by Michael Brantley, who by all indications appears to be the son of former Mariner Mickey Brantley…who happens to be the first person to ever give me a baseball…way back in my youth at the Kingdome.

Like yesterday, we found ourselves sitting in the front row behind home plate in the ninth inning.  It was interesting to watch the home plate cameraman switch camera positions each time a different handed batter came to the plate… 

29 - righty camera lefty camera.JPG…for righties he moved to the left side of home plate and then he switched to the right side when a lefty came to bat.

The game ended with little fan fare.

Once again, a million kids of all age materialized at the umpires’ exit and the home plate umpire ignored everyone.

We headed over to the Mariners dugout to cheer on our non-victorious guys and to pose for a picture:

30 - post-game pre-bases.JPGI guess Tim is posing with his non-existent umpire baseball.

Finally, it was time to line up for Kids Run the Bases!  Exactly 1 year and 363 days ago, Tim, my Dad, and I lined up in this very ballpark for our first ever Kids Run the Bases experience.  We had to go almost to the top of the stadium to find the end of the line…

31 - one tall line.JPG…you can’t really tell in that picture, but the line weaved back and forth up all of those ramps shown in the picture.

I was interested to see something while in line.  When we ran the bases on August 17, 2008, we passed by a sign in the bowels of Progressive Field that notified us that it has been “19” days since the Indians last “Lost Time Accident.”  I was interested to see how many days they were at now.  My math powers (just like Team Umizoomi) told me that the most days it could possibly be up to was 747 (August 17, 2008 to August 15, 2010 + 19 days = (365 x 2) – 2 + 19 = 747).

The suspense mounted as we wound our way down and down and down into the belly of Progressive Field.  Finally, we reached the bottom.  We turned the final corner and walked into a machine storage / random work stuff area and found the sign:

32 - 365x2-2+19.JPGGood Job, Indians!

Let’s hear it for on-the-job safety!

Finally, we were on the RF foul warning track.  We got some nice person to take our picture by the 325 sign… 

33 - first foul pole reunion.JPGjust like the one my dad took 728 days earlier.  Tim has grown a bit in the past two years.

Then, I had a terrible idea:  I would video Tim’s run around the bases.  I’ve done this a couple times to moderate success.  This time, my filming was a complete failure (well, of the running the bases portion at least, the lead up to the bases is okay).  Here is the evidence:

One cool thing that is hard to tell from this video is that there were several Indians stationed on the field giving kids high fives — one by 1B (not sure who) and one at home plate (manager Manny Acta).

After running, we strolled by the 3B dugout and I got pictures of the fancy dugout seating between the two dugouts and behind home plate (to the left below)…

34 - dugout seating dugout.JPG…and the Indians dugout (right above).

After running the bases and before we could meet up behind the plate, Tim scratched his finger on the metal fence in front of the dugout seating area.  It was a teeny, tiny little scratch, but you would have thought his whole arm was ripped off.  Here he is *gutting out* one last picture from the field…

35 - progressive field with a booboo.JPG…as he holds out his injured pinky to avoid touching anything with it.  When we arrived back at our hotel, we applied a huge adult sized band-aid that really did the trick.

Before leaving the field, I got this panorama from foul territory down the 3B line:

36 - jake LF foul territory panorama.jpgAnd then I walked us back to our hotel with Tim on my shoulders.  On our way back, we (once again) discussed this burnt out building a couple blocks north of the stadium (far left below)…

37- burnt out building.JPG…this rock-with-a-tongue (middle), and I got a picture of us walking (reflection in windows).

Despite the bizzare 7-unearned run inning and the loss following a dominating performance by King Felix, we had a great time at this game and on our entire weekend trip to Cleveland.

2010 Fan Stats:

21 Games

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

17 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals, Indians)

53 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Indians Lose! Indians Lose! (8/14/10)

On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…

1 - My Ohio My.JPG…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!

As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels).  We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint:  see the title of this entry).

Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it.  We stayed at the Doubletree.  Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…

2 - Pondside Doubletree.JPG…all that blue at the far left is the aforementioned “Lake.”  Lake Erie.  Its huge!  Still, Tim persisted in referring to it as a “pond” all weekend.

Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark.  As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…

3 - Indians Stuff in Little Park.JPG…which is right across from Gate C.

We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened.  In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet.  So we got a picture…


4 - Tim at Gate C.JPG…and headed toward the LF corner of the stadium (where I was told I would find the main ticket office).

We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…

5 - TJCs Progressive home plate entrance.JPG…for a photo opportunity.

And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game.  Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:

6 - Progressive Kids Fun Day.JPGTim was ready to play and have some fun, but nothing was open yet.  We did get a funny picture…

7 - Little Headed Indian.JPG…but otherwise all we could do was look at all the fun they had planned for a little later.

So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…

8 - prophetic tarp.jpg…there had not been a drop of rain all day, but the tarp was on the field.  I wondered if the Indians knew something that I did not.

They did.

About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down.  It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain.  By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.

It was massive, massive rain.

They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain.  We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.

Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea.  No one was in the RF stands.  No one at all.  I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life — easter eggs.

Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:

10 - easter in august.JPGSeven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball.  Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF.  The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF.  The balls were SOAKED.  However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.

Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…

9 - rain rain go away.JPGIt took a long time, but eventually CF was playable.  Kudos to the grounds crew.

Eventually, the Mariners pitchers came out to stretch out their arms:

11 - M's Pitchers Warming at Jake.JPGAt the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game.  So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up.  The guys were having fun as they did their work.  As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head.  It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that.  Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms.  Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads.  There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.

As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…


12 - Thanks Jamey Wright.JPG…”Hmm…,” I thought, “cool a baseball from Adam Moore.”  He looked sort of like Adam, but he was clearly wearing Adam’s number 50.

Here is Adam wearing his number 50 last season in his MLB debut.

Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.

“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.”  I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.

Thanks, Jamey!

(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle.  Who knows?)

Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack.  We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).

Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…

13 - Phillips and Felix.JPG…who were playing catch in RF.

I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason.  I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).

While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!”  I thought that was pretty hilarious.  But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.

The next picture tells two stories:

14 - felix throws into seats.JPGFirst, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out.  Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips).  A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.

Thanks, Felix!

We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.

Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands.  They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.

Finally, the tarp came off of the field…

15 - tarp wrangling.JPG…althought it was giving the grounds crew some troubles.

It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…

16 - sleeping tim.JPG…he fell asleep on my shoulders for about 15-20 minutes.

Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…

17 - jake field level home panorama.jpg…and the tarp was put back on the infield (although there wasn’t any more rain).

At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs.  We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit.  We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left.  We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.

Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game.  And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…

18 - backwards walking pink backpack.JPG…being carried by Chris Seddon.

The 2010 Mariners bullpen…

19 - national anthem.JPG…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen.  But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.

When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144.  That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:

20 - Ichiro's 149th hit of 2010 in 1st 6-14-10.JPGIchiro moved to third when Chone Figgins followed with a single of his own.  Then he scored the first run of the game when Russell Branyan grounded into a double play.

We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.

This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:

21 - jake 1B field level view panorama.jpg

We were still absolutely soaking wet.  Particularly our feet.  I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks.  His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours.  We had to do the unspeakable.  We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks.  I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes.  All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.

In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again.  Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…

22 - tim and ichiro.JPG…some day we hope to get one “actually with” Ichiro.  Maybe next year at Spring Training.

By the way, Ichiro grounded out.

Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…

23 - all thumbs.JPG…this boy can find fun anywhere, even when just confined to his hands.

One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…

24 - vargas weird leg.JPG…and he was looking strong.

Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance.  We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…

25 - flag zoom.JPG…it was an Indians flag up there.  While we don’t endorse the team, its good to see Cleveland supporting their squad.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.

Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.

I felt bad for Marte.  I know nothing about the guy.  Literally, nothing.  But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland.  There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad.  I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players.  Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family.  But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win?  It doesn’t make any sense.

With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets.  Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting.  Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.

Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:

26 - jake concourse.JPGThis *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle.  They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess.  And it took forever to get the waffle cone.  While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.

Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.

Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5’s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte.  That did not help his cause.

It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.

Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.

We relocated to the standing room area in LF.  Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…

27 - whaffle cone.JPG…the bottom of that cone snapped off and about half of that ice cream ended up smeared all over Tim’s clothes.  It was a chocolately mess.

Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out.  And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:

28 - Ichiro's 150 hit of 2010 in 6-14-10.JPGBetween innings, I took this panorama from the standing room area:

28 - Jake LF standing room panorama.jpgWhile in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch.  Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…

29 - outfielers ready position.JPG…but Ichiro was firmly planted on the ground with each pitch.  Interesting, indeed.

In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:

30 - Kotchman goes yard.JPGThat made the score 9-2 Mariners.

Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…

31 - rocking slider.JPG…could help the Indians figure out Vargas and get back into the game.

Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit.  Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3.  But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.

In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF.  We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.

This was our view:

32 - jake LF wheelchair seats panorama.jpgWe stood there for two innings without an usher uttering a word to us (such as, “hey, you can’t stand there”).  It was a nice spot from which to watch the game.

In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.

Here was our view:

33 - jake behind home back of field level panorama.jpgWe could see some empty seats down low behind home, which looked perfect for positioning ourselves for an umpire baseball opportunity.

By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:

34 - jamey wright pitches in 9th.JPGIt was an excellent vantage point from which to watch Jamey Wright close out the Mariners win.

It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:

35 - M's dugout at Jake 8-14-10.JPG

Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:

Mariners win!

It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out.  So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball.  But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.

Oh, well.  It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired.  Which was just fine with us.  We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.

And guess what?  Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:

36 - tinsley for ten.jpgCrazy!  Of course, this happened solely because the driving rain kept people out of the RF seats so I could extract 7 soggy easter eggs.  But still, all we could say was “WOW, 10 baseballs!”

Our day was still far from concluded.  For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n’Blast” fireworks show.  It is a big fireworks show set to music.  I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.

As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands.  Tim was all excited to try to catch one…

37 - flinging shirts.JPG…but nothing was shot short.

Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.

Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:

After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.

2010 Fan Stats:

20 Games

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

16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

50 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

2008 Roadtrip, Game 2 – Angels at Indians (8/17/08)


ruth 1927 bat.jpgOn the second day of the 2008 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, we left Cinncinati and headed down to Louisville, Kentucky for a tour of the Louisville Slugger factory.  It was awesome.  But they don’t allow cameras in the factory, so I don’t have much to share on it.  So go check it out for yourself.  In addition to the factory, there is an extremely cool Louisville Slugger museum that includes a Babe Ruth bat that has 20+ notches that Ruth carved into it around the Louisville Slugger logo for each homerun Ruth hit with the bat during his record setting 60 homerun 1927 season.

On day three of the roadtrip, we made our way up north to Cleveland, Ohio and…

1 - Hey Its Progressive Field.jpg…Progressive Field a/k/a “The Jake,” home of the Cleveland Indians.

We had a game on tap between the Cleveland Indians and the Anaheim Angels of Orange County, California.

We parked a block or two away, walked passed one of the worst corporated named sporting venues of all-time, the Quicken Loans Arena, through a nice little court yard festival area…

3 - courtyard outside The Jake.jpg…and we arrived at the Jake.

2 - Approach to the Jake.jpgWe headed inside and my dad immediately took a picture of me and Tim and our first view of the field:

4 - Inside Jake.jpgThere was no BP so we had plenty of time to explore the stadium.  We started by heading toward the home plate area…

5 - Behind Dugout.jpg…then we walked the field level concourse…

6 - walking The Jake concourse.jpg…in the concourse toward RF, we saw a big picture of former Mariner and still Seattle resident (as far as I am aware), Omar “Little O” Visquel…

7 - little O.jpg…the inset picture of his signature is from the wall in Heritage Park, the Indians Hall of Fame.

We walked through the large RF-CF concourse with all of its various concession stands…

8 - RF Concourse.jpg…and we made our way out to Heritage Park:

9 - heritage park.jpgHeritage Park has two levels.  In the top left picture, Tim is shown standing in the middle of a big circle which is lined with HOF plaques.  Above, I have included pictures of some of the Indians HOF plaques.  These are some top-of-the-line HOF’ers:  Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, Cy Young, Larry Doby, Early Wynn, Nap Lajoie and Earl Averill.

You might have heard of these guys.

Well, on second thought, although he is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, maybe you don’t know Averill.  He isn’t quite on the same level as the rest included here.  He was voted into the National HOF by the veterans committee in 1975, 34 years after his final season.  I included Averill because, as his plaque notes, he is the “Earl of Snohomish.” 

That’s Snohomish, Washington.  I grew up in Edmonds, Washington, which is in Snohomish County.  Like Adam Eaton, Averill went to Snohomish High School, which many, many, many years after Averill graduated would eventually be in the same athletic conference, WesCo Triple-A, as my high school, Edmonds-Woodway High School.  More on Snohomish County and my former WesCo Triple-A foes later.

Back to the tour.  After Heritage Park, we headed to the upper deck so I could take pictures for this panaramic view:

9a - progressive 3B upper roadtrip panaramic.jpgFYI, Heritage Park is at the intersection of the LCF bleachers and the batters’ eye in CF.

Next, it was time for lunch…

10 - nacho time.jpg…Nachos!  A Cook family favorite.

Then it was game time.  This was our view from Section 175, Row M, Seats 3-5 at Progressive Field:

11 - lounging in seats.jpgA majority of the scoring occurred in the first inning of this game.

The Angels got on the board first.  After singles by future-Mariner Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Mark Teixeira, and a fielders choice by “Big Daddy Vladdy” Guererro, the Angels led 2-0.

The top of the Angels order would do most of the damage for the Angels on the day.  Figgins was 2-5 with 2 runs scored, Aybar was 2-5 with 1 run, and Teixeira was 2-4 with 1 RBI.

12 - our game view.jpgThen the teams switched sides and it was the Indians’ turn.  The Indians would match the Angels on a 2-run single by future-Mariner Franklin Gutierrez.  Gutierrez would eventually go 3-3 on the day.

The crowd was pretty low key…

13 - wow.jpg…but Tim can always find something to amaze him at the ballpark.  I have no clue what has his attention here, but I think its a funny picture.

In the bottom of the third, Ryan Garko hit a single…

14 - look at that future Mariner.jpg…that scored Jamey Carroll for the Indians’ first lead of the day.  Franklin would follow with another single.  I didn’t know it yet, but that guy rules.

Soon, it was time for ice cream helmets…

15 - indians ice cream helmets.jpg…Tim beat the heat by eating his ice cream sitting on the ground in the shady beneath his seat.

We’d driven to Cleveland in the morning from a camp ground an hour or so west of Columbus, Ohio.  Tim hadn’t napped so I knew he would crash at some point during this game.  That time came in the 4th or 5th inning.

I took him up to the concourse behind our section to get him out of the sun.  He fell asleep sitting on my shoulders and he stayed that way for 3 entire innings.

16 - shoulder nap.jpgWhile Tim was napping, the Indians and Angels scored their final runs of the day.  In the top of the fifth, Figgins singled and then scored on a passed ball by Sal Fasano.  That tied the score at 3-3.

Fasano would get his redeption by scoring the winning run for the Indians on a sixth inning single by Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore.

Speaking of Sizemore, you know where he grew up?  In Everett, Washington.  Yep, that’s the county seat of Snohomish County.  Sizemore graduated from my WesCo rival, Cascade High School.

Aside from rejuvenating Tim for the rest of the day, something else good came out of Tim’s nap.  In that picture above to the left, do you see the large usher in the green shirt and the dark-haired guy sitting under the “PR” in the “Express” sign?  Those two chatted the entire Tim I was standing up there.  The seated guy had a son (sitting right in front of me in the picture).  So the usher mentioned to him that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!  I had no clue.  The only advertised promotion was an art kit for kids.  Tim had never run the bases at a big league field (for that matter, neither had I), so I was extremely excited.  The usher told us where to go toward the end of the game to get in line.

After Tim woke up, we went back to our seats for a little bit.  I told my dad about it being Kids Run the Bases Day.  We decided to make our way over to the RF corner where the line would form.  On our way, an usher took a picture of us…

17 - RF foul corner.jpg…and since we were in Cleveland (and it was 2008), Tim wore his hat like C.C. Sabbathia.

We missed the uneventful ninth inning because we were in a long line snaking up the switch-back walkway from the field level to the upper deck behind the RF concourse.  Notably, Jeremy Sowers got the win for the Indians taking his season record to 2-6.  His only other win on the season was the Mariners-Indians game we had attended in Seattle back on July 19, 2008.

Anyway, the line finally started moving and we snaked our way under the stadium, and passed a sign that read:

ON THE JOB SAFETY BEGINS HERE

This Department Has Worked 19 Days Without a Lost Time Accident.

ACCIDENTS ARE AVOIDABLE

The “19” was a red digital light that counts up each day from the last accident.

Anyway, eventually, we made our way out of the tunnels and through an entrance at the side of the visitors’ bullpen…

18 - visitors bulllpen.jpg…we walked out onto the RF warning track.  My dad took our picture against the OF wall (a picture we now try to duplicate at other parks)…

19 - 325 warning track.jpg…and I took my Dad’s picture with the warning track and OF grass behind him.

And much to my delight, since Tim was only two, I got to run with him…

20 - tim runs the bases.jpg…I gotta admit it, I was at least as excited about it as Tim.  It was really cool to be running behind Tim around the same bases we would eventually see Ken Griffey, Jr. circle after his 624th homerun.

After circling the bases, we met up with my dad and got a few more picture before we left the field of play.

21 - dugout and LF.jpgBetween the Angels loss (yeah, the Mariners were already out of it but its always good to see a division rival lose) and running the bases, it was an outstanding second game on the roadtrip.

We capped off the day at the KOA in Streetsboro, Ohio where my dad helped Tim roast the first smore of his young life:

22 - tims first smore.jpgA great day.

A Sunny Day At Safeco Field (7/19/08)

In 2008, we only spent parts of two days in Seattle.  In July, we went on an Alaskan cruise with 25 family members to celebrate my grandparents’ 65 anniversary.  Our ship docked back in Seattle in the morning on July 19th, and a few hours later we were at Safeco Field for our only Mariners home game, and our final Mariners game, of 2008.

Aside for the final score of the game, it was a beautiful day.

1 - welcome to safeco field.jpgIt turned out that it was turn back the clock day.  I think we were turning back the clock to 1988, as you can tell from this fake picture of Ichiro…

2 - 80srific Ichiro.jpg…it was definitely sometime in the 1980s.  Do you think Ichiro looked like that in the 80s?  I’m doubting it.

My dad, my uncle Tom, and Tim and I entered the ballpark right as the game started.  We grabbed some snacks and watched the top of the first inning from a standing room counter behind section 145: 

3 - popcorn behind section 145 at safeco.jpgWe had great seats in the field level down the 3B line in the shallow outfield foul territory.  My mom, aunt Barb, and my parents friends and co-season ticket holders, Lynn and Steve, met up with us.  But it ended up that Tim and I spent most of the game on our own, away from our excellent seats.

We first split off from our family and friends so Tim could get a delicious Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream helmet.  But we ended up never returning to our normal seats because the Mariners went down 9-2 by the third inning, and the two people circled in this picture (of Ichiro stepping into the box in the top of the third)…

3a - fuzzy ichiro and red circle.jpg…ended up leaving early.  The lady saw Tim sitting on my shoulders and thought we were just an adorable father-son combo so she approached us and gave us their ticket stubs.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Indians scored three runs in the top of the first on the “strength” of terrible pitching by Miguel Batista.  The Indians first inning was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo.

In the top of the second, I took this picture of Brian LaHair’s first career at-bat…

4 - brian lahair debut at-bat.jpg…the Mariners were projecting big things from LaHair — they have never materialized.  He popped out to CF in his first career at-bat.

Here is a picture of Tim checking our the stadium from our actual ticketed seats:

5 - checking out safeco field.jpg

At the end of the second, we parted ways with my family to grab Tim’s ice cream helmet.  We took it to the standing room counter just above the visitors’ bullpen.  We were standing right behind Raul Ibanez…

7 - raul in LF.jpgThis was Tim’s second career ice cream helmet and his first with real ice cream (not soft serve).

6 - ice cream helmet.jpgHe loved it.

After Tim finished his ice cream, an usher spotted us.  The Mariners are very antsy about kids sitting on this counter (or on their dad’s shoulders while standing right here) because on the other side of the counter is a 20 foot drop into the bullpen.

So we headed down the stairs and walked over to the Mariners bullpen.  Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was warming up…

8 - dickey knuckles.jpg…it was pretty cool watching his knuckler up close.  Hey, check it out, its Norm “The Sheriff” Charlton to the far right of that picture.

After watching Dickey, we headed over to RF and watched Ichiro patrol his domain – he had already had an outfield assist, robbing Ben Francisco of a hit by forcing out Jamie Carroll at second base in the first inning.

9 - Ichiro in RF.jpgThis is where we were when the lady circled in red above gave us her tickets.

When we got to those seats, Raul Ibanez was stepping into the box to lead off the bottom of the sixth.  Check out the view from these seats!

10 - rauuuuuul on deck.jpgRaul would get plunked by the third pitch he saw from Jeremy Sowers in this at-bat.  By the way, to this point in the season, Sowers was winless with an ERA in the mid-6 range.

Adrian Beltre followed Raul with a single.

11 - beltre then lopez.jpgBy the way, check out those sweet retro-Mariners uniforms.  They looked so much better than I remembered them looking back in their day.

The Mariners made a push that was too little too late.  Ultimately, Raul made his way around the diamond to score the Mariners’ third run of the game.  Beltre then scored the M’s fourth run…

12 - wild pitch scores beltre.jpg…on a wild pitch.

Check out these seats!  I loved them!

R.A. Dickey entered the game in the seventh…

13 - dickey.jpg…and then he entered the M’s dugout just below our seats four batters later after pitching a scoreless top of the seventh.

Yuniesky Betancourt led off the bottom of the seventh for the Mariners…

14 - Yuni and Tim.jpg…and, six months later, I ended up using this picture from Yuni’s at-bat to make baseball cards for all of the kids who attended Tim’s third birthday.

During and following Yuni’s at-bat, I had an excellent opportunity to take some close-up photos of Ichiro.  At the time, Ichiro was riding a six game hitting streak in games attended by Tim, but he was 0-3 so far on the day.

Let’s see what happened.   First, Ichiro’s head popped into view over the dugout roof just in front of us…

15 - ichiro appears.jpg…as Sam Perlozzo headed to the 3B coach’s box, Ichiro headed to the on-deck circle to prepare for his at-bat…

16 - ichiro arises.jpg…as Betancourt faced Edward Mujica, Ichiro tugged on his sleave, stretched, and mentally prepared to do battle in the batter’s box…

17 - ichiro prepares.jpg…and then Ichiro made his classic approach to the plate…

18 - ichiro approaches the plate.jpg…followed by Ichiro’s classic pose (which, by the way, is currently pictured on my T-shirt as I type this entry)…

19 - ichiro poses.jpg…and on the first pitch he saw from Mujica, Ichiro extended his hit streak to all seven of Tim’s Mariners games…

20 - ichiro singles.jpg…with a single into centerfield.  Unfortunately, Ichiro would be stranded on base in the inning and the score would remain 9-4 Indians until the bottom of the ninth.

In the ninth, Ichiro was up for his final at-bat following a two-out single by Yuniesky Betancourt.  Ichiro capped the day’s scoring with a 2-run homerun off of his fellow-countryman, Masa Kobayashi.  All in all, he had a great day, 2-5 with a single and homerun, 2RBI and an outfield assist.

Unfortanetly, the Mariners just could not overcome the 8 earned runs Batista gave up in his 2-innings of work.  Despite the loss, Tim and I had a great time at Safeco Field and couldn’t wait to come back in 2009.

21 - TJCs at Safeco Field.jpgGo Mariners!

Ultimate Goal: Accomplished (8-23-09)

Only once before have I broken the normal protocol and started an entry at the middle of a game, rather than at the beginning.  It was for our third game at Fenway back in July, and the purpose was to explain Ken Griffey Jr.’s fourth inning single off of the Green Monster.  At the time, it was the first and only hit Tim had ever seen Griffey collect.  It was a truly special moment.  You can read all about it here.

Once again, I am happy to brake with tradition.  Once again, I will start my story with zero outs in the top of the fourth inning.  Once again, the story will involve my favorite player of all time, Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr.

1 - griff in lineup.jpgGuess what, when we arrived at The Jake and checked the Mariners line-up, Griff was in there – scheduled to hit clean-up and DH.  That’s a good start.

Before the season started, I sat down at my computer, pulled up a bunch of MLB schedules and drafted the official “Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda.”  I then emailed the Agenda to a select group of “Important People” (family, friends, etc.) and invited people to join us on our ride through the 2009 season.  Along with the agenda, I included the following note detailing the goals I had in mind when drafting the agenda:

Important People,
 
    Below, please find the official Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda*.  The basic goals of the Agenda include:
 
1) See Griff hit a Homerun as a Mariner (most important goal);
2) Complete Tim’s “Seen all MLB Teams” Goal (left to see: A’s, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Red Sox, Rays, Dodgers, Padres, Astros, and Braves);
3) Continue new Baseball Roadtrip tradition;
4) Visit 10+ stadiums, including HHH Metrodome (final season), Nationals Park (2d season), Yankee Stadium (first season) and Citi Field (first season);
5) Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition;
6) Get Gill to his first MLB and Mariners Game;
7) Get Poppy out to the ball field at least twice; and
8) Have fun and make memories.

At the beginning of the day, with 26 games under our collective belt on the season, Tim and I had covered most of the goals:  “All 30 Teams” – check; Baseball Roadtrip – check; 10+ stadiums (including HHH Metrodome, Nationals Park, New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field) – check; Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition – check (we’ll be at Yankee Stadium on 9/12/09 for the third anniversary of Tim’s first game); and Have Fun and Make Memories – check.

Due to a chain of events including a miscommunication, a late invite to the Outer Banks and a Citizens Bank Park sell out, goals 6-7 had to be re-scheduled a couple times and, ultimately, suspended until next season.

But goal number one was left incomplete.  In what might have otherwise gone down as a perfect season of baseball fandom, the most important task was left undone.  The mere possibility of it was the entire reason for this trip.  To see my boyhood (and, heck, my adulthood) baseball hero blast a homerun and share the moment with my son was all I wanted out of this season.

Enter, Fausto Carmona and the top of the fourth inning.  Tim and I were out on the bridge that connects The Jake to a parking lot behind the LF bleachers.  He’d been a little grumpy because he hadn’t had a nap, plus I think he was a little bit hungry.  Colleen went down to Heritage Park and was in line to buy some pizza.  I was holding Tim in my arms and this was our view:

2 - jake griff HR panaramic.jpgCarmona started Griff off Ball 1, Ball 2.  Then he reached back and hurled a 93-mph 4-seem fast ball that caught wwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too much of the plate…
3 - griff 624 gameday.jpg…and this happened (picts courtesy of MLB.com screen shots)…

griff 624b.jpg
5 - griff 624d.jpg
6 - griff624a.jpgRight off the bat, it looked like a home run.  However, Grady Sizemore was going back on it like he thought he might have a play on it.   Worse yet, the roof of the batter’s eye bar was in my way.  I could tell it would land out of view on the other side of the roof.  So, I ran toward RF down the bridge until the roof was no longer in play.  I saw Sizemore run out of room and the ball bounced sideways off something in the CF seats, took one big hop and was gloved by a lucky fan.  Here was the estimated flight path of the ball (as estimated unscientifically by me):

7 - griff bomb path.jpg…the guy cirlced on the right is the lucky guy who took home No. 624 on Griff’s career.

Due to the odd angle looking down from the bridge, I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a home run until the second it bounced in the seats.  But the second it bounced, I jumped in the air with Tim still in arms and gave a little shout:  “YESSSSS!!!”

I immediately began fidgeting with my pocket to try to get my camera out, but I had a wardrobe malfunction and couldn’t get it out of my pocket until right before Griff crossed the plate.  This is the only shot I got of our magical moment in Cleveland:

8 - griff about to score on HR624.jpgWhen we arrived home late that night, I watched the video highlight of Griffey’s home run on MLB.com, and I was excited to see that (although you cannot make us out) you can see me and Tim (the blue (my jersey) and white (the front of my hat) blob) moving across the bridge during the highlight of Griff’s bomb.  Here is a screen shot that shows Griff’s HR ball in the air and Tim and me on the bridge:

9 - KGJ HR 624.jpgAnd there you have it:  our number one goal of the season completed!  Never did I imagine 20 years ago, as an eighth grader going to games with my folks and marvelling at Griffey hitting homeruns in the Kingdome, that some day I would be in Cleveland, Ohio and witness the Greatest Mariner of All-Time hit a home run for the M’s while spending an afternoon at the ball park with my son.  It was truly incredible.

And, as my mom said to my dad while watching the game on TV some 2,500+ miles away, “that home run just made Todd’s whole trip.”  It did.  In fact, it made my whole season.

Now…I hope to get a chance to do it again!!

Okay, now that we have the most important part of the game covered, why don’t we go back and start from the beginning.  It was kids’ day at the park.  Outside the LF entrance, they had all sorts of games and events for kids.  Like these little peddle cars that Tim drove around a little coned track:

10 - tims hotrod.jpg

After Tim drove this car, Colleen and Tim played around some more while I went into the Jake and watched the last few minutes of Mariners BP.  I hadn’t gotten much in terms of stadium pictures the day before, so I needed to tour around a bit.

I headed to home plate where I got this panaramic view:

11 - jake plate field panaramic.jpgI headed down to the front row and tried to walk down the 1B line in that big red front aisle, but I got booted out.  Apparently, that aisle is only for really special people.  Since it was such an important aisle, I took a picture of it…

12 - red carpet.jpg…the guy standing at the end of the red aisle is the guy who booted me out of the aisle.

Two seconds later, Colleen called me and I headed back over to LF and met up with her and Tim.

We had excellent seats in the second deck just above the Mariners bullpen.  So we headed over there to check things out.

Colleen sat in our seats while Tim and I hung out in the front row where this was our view…

13 - jake rf bullpen middle panaramic.jpg…as we watched Felix Hernandez warm up:

14 - felix warms.jpgAfter playing catch in the OF, Felix went into the bullpen and pitched off of the mound to M’s back-up catcher Rob Johnson.  (I’ll still call Kenji Johjima our starter).  It was pretty funny watching Felix warm up.  We actually couldn’t see Felix because the mounds are under the second deck.  So we could just see the ball fly into view and into Johnson’s glove.

All of a sudden Tim started yelling down to Johnson:  “Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!  Can you throw me a ball sneakers!   Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!  Hey, sneakers!”

I asked Tim why he was calling Johnson sneakers and explained his name was Rob Johnson.  Tim responded, “That’s sneakers.  Sneakers is my friend.”

I asked him why he called him sneakers.  “He’s wearing sneakers.”  Of course!

A few minutes later, the Mariners relievers marched out to take their spot in the bullpen:

15 - relievers.jpgAbove to the right is the aftermath of a hilarious scene that I missed photographing.  (I was wearing a new pair of shorts and I could never seem to get my camera out of the cargo pockets in time!).  Mariners closer David Aardsma is standing at the bottom.  Two seconds before this shot, he just finished going down that line of relievers having each of them smell the inside of his hat.  Each reliever buried his face in Aardsma’s cap and then they would chat about how it smelled.  It was pretty hilarious — much more hilarious than this picture of the aftermath of smellfest.

Soon, the game started.  Just then, Tim spotted the kids’ funland that was situated directly behind our section (section 316).  Here is a photo:

15a - step 2 kids funland.jpgAs MLB stadium play areas go, this one is pretty weak.  If you have young kids, you’ll notice that everything in here is something you probably have in your playroom or back yard, or maybe your friends’ have it in their playroom or back yard.  Nothing special here.  Step 2, the manufacturer of all this stuff, is headquartered just outside of Cleveland.  I guess that is why they have an all-Step 2 play area.  Whether it was comparatively weak or not, Tim still loved it in there.  He never wanted to leave he was having so much fun.  Therefore, Colleen hung out with him and I watched the Mariners bat from the standing room counter behind our section.  It looked like this:

16 - jake rf foul middle panaramic.jpg…and then I went on a little stadium tour.  I started by climbing to the top of the upper deck in RCF:

17 - jake RF upper panaramic.jpgNext, I headed across the rows to the RF foul corner:

18 - jake RF foul upper panaramic.jpg.

Here are a couple more picts showing the empty upper deck concourse in RF and an incredibly steep look down to the RF foul pole:

19 - up high in cleveland.jpgThe view from the top behind home plate:

20 - jake plate upper panaramic.jpgThen, an Indian hit a liner to CF and Franklin Gutierrez came running in to make the play…

21 - franklin grab in CF.jpgAnd, I got some shots of the bullpens:

22 - bullpens grass turf.jpgThis is interesting.  Exactly like the bullpens at Nationals Part, the bullpen in the RF corner (to the right) is field turf, but the bullpen in CF (to the left) is real grass.  Odd, huh?  In D.C., I thought it was because there was an entrance from the employee-only (worker) level concourse where they could bring tractors, etc., through the bullpen to the field.  I figured they put in turf so the heavy equipment passing through the bullpen wouldn’t get damaged.  But I didn’t notice a similar tractor entrance in Cleveland.  I’m not sure why one bullpen is grass and the other is turf.

Here is a view into the Mariners dugout — where Griffey (pre-home run) can be seen chatting up some of his teammates):

23 - Mariners dugout.jpgHe came to the plate while I was passing by, so I took this picture of Tim’s friend “sneakers”:

24 - sneakers.jpgAfter sneakers, I took a couple shots of Ichiro that I combined to make this:

25 - ichiromotion hit 184.jpgThat swing resulted in a single up the middle for Ichi’s 184th hit of the season.

I headed up to the upper corner in LF where I got this view:

26 - jake LF foul upper panaramic.jpgAfter the tour, I met up with Colleen and Tim.  Tim still didn’t want to leave the play area.  But we got him out of there in time to witness Griff’s bomb, as described above.

So, remember I mentioned Colleen was in line for pizza when Griff hit his home run?  Well, she wasn’t able to get any.  She is a vegatarian and when she got to the front of the line, they had just given away the last slice of cheese pizza.  All that was left was pepperoni.  So she came back and met up with us again.

After a little bit, we went back and I stood in the incredibly short but frustratingly slow pizza line.  While in line, I took this picture of King Felix:

27 - felix from pizza line.jpg.

There were literally only 2 people in front of me in line for pizza.  But before I made my way to the front of the line, Felix retired the side, the teams switched positions, and Griff came to bat.  I was forced to abandon my spot in line to go watch Griff’s at bat, and take this picture:

28 - griff takes ball.jpgUnfortunately, the home run was Griff’s only hit on the day, so this at bat didn’t end well.

After Tim got some pizza in him (yes, I eventually did make it through the pizza line), Tim forgot about the play area and we relocated to the LF bleachers so he wouldn’t see the playarea again.

Here is Tim out in the bleachers:

29 - tim the bleacher boy.jpgHere was our view from the bleachers:

30 - jake LF HR bleachers panaramic.jpgTim and I had fun eating sunflower seeds out in the bleachers, and Tim had a blast spitting seeds:

31 - cleveland seeds.jpgUnfortunately, it wasn’t the Mariners day.  We wouldn’t push any more runs across the plate after Griff’s home run.  Meanwhile, Felix had an off-day.  The Mariners lost 6-1.

It was Kids Run The Bases day, but we had a six hour drive following the game, and Tim really needed a nap in the car so we headed out.

Despite two terrible losses, it was great to see our Mariners once again this season, and it was OUTSTANDING to see Griff hit his 624th home run of his career.

Season Fan Stats:

27 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)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, 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)

 

Mariners at The Jake (8-22-09)

After returning home from Boston back in July, it started to hit me that, if Griff decides to retire after this season (and I sincerely hope he DOES NOT), Tim and I would never see him play again.  I didn’t like that idea.  So I reviewed the rest of the M’s schedule to see if they would visit anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.

They had one more trip to Cleveland on the books.  Cleveland is in northeastern Ohio, and Ohio borders Pennsyvlania to the West.  I determined that fits within the definition of “anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.”

Therefore, just 4 days removed from the conclusion of a wonderful roadtrip with my dad, Tim, my wife Colleen and I piled into the car and headed across Pennsylvania on the PA Turnpike.

After camping out a night in Washington, PA, we headed north up the Ohio turnpike to Cleveland and after taking 80N-to-480W-to-77N-to71 we cruised into town on 9th Street and this was our view:

1 - the jake.JPG

Ah, Jacobs Field…the Jake.  (I think that is a typo on the sign, that’s not how you spell ‘Jacobs’).  It was good to be back to the first field where Tim ran the bases.  And it was great to be in the same city as the Mariners.

We came into the city early to see what we could see in the Land of Cleve.  Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the city…except that its on a BIG lake.  We ended up driving through downtown and spotting the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Statium.  So we turned left down a street heading toward the water.  Next, we turned right down a long road that ran by some water and an airport before finally reaching a marina.  Here are some pictures of what we saw:

2 - down by lake erie.jpgCheck out that lake!  Tim was asleep when we pulled up to the marina.  We woke him up and pointed out the huge lake.  He responded, “No, Daddy.  That’s not a lake.  That’s an ocean!”  Its big.  In that top right picture, that’s the R’n’R Hall of Fame.  Below, is a Blue Angels jet resting on a stand in front of a Navy facility by the airport.  Pretty cool stuff.

And, that was the extent of our city touring.  We had a game to go to!

After parking in a garage a few blocks away, we walked up to a misty Jacobs Field.  The clouds were just spitting a little bit.  No need for an umbrella or a hood.  And I figured it would be no problem for BP.

I was wrong.

Colleen and I had made a deal.  We would come early to this game so I could watch some BP.  But we wouldn’t come early the next day (which was a day game and might not have BP anyway).  But as a approached the gates, I could see the in field was covered.  No BP.

There was a sign that said the stadium was open at Gate C.  So walked over to Gate C in RCF: 

3 - walking to gate c.JPGWe’d never entered through Gate C before (we’d only been here once before).  Below to the far left, that is what it looks like…

4 - gate c feller lineup.jpgIn front of the Gate C entrance, there is a statue of Bob Feller (middle) with which Tim posed.  I didn’t think it was a very good statue, at least compared to the extremely life-like statues at U.S. Cellular Field.  [NOTE TO THE MARINERS:  When Griff does eventually retire, use whomever made the statues at U.S. Cellular for his statue.  Also, use a classic Griff pose, not the pose with both arms over his head after hitting a home run.]

As we entered Gate C, there were two display cases just inside the gate with lists of the two teams’ starting line ups.  Oh, no…no Griff!

Despite my disappointment (which I was prepared for because I knew a lefty was pitching for the Indians), I thought it was a cool feature to have the line-ups posted like that.

Below is a view of the RF concourse…

5 - RF concourse.jpg

…we quickly learned that we were trapped in the RF seats and/or concourse until 6:00 p.m. — a full a hour away…and most of the food stands were not yet open (and as I mentioned, no BP).  What ever would we do to kill the time?

We walked down into the field level seats as close to the RF foul pole as we could get (the Mariners bullpen is between the seats and the foul pole.  Here was our view:

 

6 - jake RF HR field panaramic.jpg
As shown above, there were a couple Mariners on the field.  David Aardsma ran out to the bullpen (shown above) to grab some baseballs for playing some catch with his colleagues in the M’s bullpen.

The big draw on the field was Ichiro.  He played catch (with his interpreter, I believe)…

7 - ichi warms up.jpg

…and then he did some running.

Then a couple Mariners relief pitchers played catch by the tarp over the in field.  Because we were stuck in RF, we couldn’t get very close.  I couldn’t recognize anyone from out there except David Aarsdma.

Ardsma and his buddy were the last two playing catch.  His partner threw a ball passed him that rolled out and sat in the grass just off the tarp behind second base.  Aardsma pulled another ball out of his pocket and finished playing catch.

When he was finished, he walked out to grab the ball behind second.  We were now all alone in the seats in RCF.  I called out, “Hey, D.A.!!!!!”

The D.A. immediately picked up the damp ball and threw it REALLY far and directly into my glove:


8 - aardsma ball.jpgIn this picture of Tim, that is Aardsma to the left of Tim’s head.  D.A. threw the ball to us from about 2 feet behind the tarp right behind where Tim is holding up the ball.  It was a great throw.

After throwing the ball to us, a bunch of people in RF yelled Aardsma’s name and he turned and threw his other baseball on a line all the way to the back of the RF seats.  The throw was very impressive.

Here is a panaramic view from where we caught the ball from Aardsma:

9 - jake RCF field panaramic.jpgAnd here is a look to our left.  Check out how thick the OF wall is.  I’m not sure, but this seems to be designed so people do not interfere with borderline homeruns:

9a - jakes thick OF wall.jpg

By the way, Aardsma’s second throw landed at the top of that last section, just under the overhang.

Here is a view to our right:

10 - jake LF stands and scoreboard.jpg

The red arrow points to our seats in Section 184, Row B.  They were excellent seats.

Next, we went to Heritage Park.

11 - heritage park.jpg

Heritage Park is the Indians’ outdoor Hall of Fame.  Its pretty cool.  As you can probably tell from the bottom picture, Tim and I played catch in Heritage Park.  Colleen didn’t think it was appropriate to play catch in there.  I told her they’d tell us to stop if they didn’t like it.

After a couple minutes, a stadium usher type standing behind the plaque in the bottom left corner of the picture above called me over.  Uh, ho.  I figured we were, indeed, getting shut down.  I walked over to him.

Todd – “Yes?”

Usher – (pulling a baseball from his pocket and whispering while staying behind the column) “Throw this one back to him.”

So, how about that?  Instead of getting told not to play catch in Heritage Park, we were rewarded with a ball.  Not bad.

“Thanks, Usher-guy.”

Tim was happy to add another ball to his collection.

After playing some more catch, we walked down the stairs to the lower section of Heritage Park.  While down there, Colleen found this:

12 - hal trosky.jpgThis was literally the first and only plaque Colleen read.  So, as a big-time migraine sufferer, she was mighty surprised to see she’d picked the plaque of a ball player whose “Career was curtailed after 1941 season by migraine headaches.”  That is something you don’t hear every day.

Finally, they opened the rest of the stadium.  We were eating some nachos by this time.  We relocated to the seats just a little bit down the line from 1B.  We were at the top of the section when two individuals popped out of the M’s dugout and started walking toward the bullpen.  One of them was Jason Phillips, whom you might remember from our trip to New York and Boston in July.  We had a couple interactions with Phillips in Boston and New York this season, and he’d already given us 5 baseballs so far this season.

I ran down to the first row and arrived there just as he passed:

Todd – “Hey, Jason!”

Phillips – (looks over and give me a big smile) “Hey, how you doing, buddy?”

Todd – “Good, man.  Nice to see you.  Any chance of you hooking us up with a warm up ball today?”

Phillips – (I couldn’t understand exactly what he said, but it was something like) “I’m sure we can make that work.”

Then he said something like, it would be a little bit because he had to do some stuff first.

I went up to talk to Colleen and Tim.  And we relocated down to the bottom of the field section.  Eventually, Jason and Felix Hernandez started playing catch, and we watched:

13 - felix phillips.jpgThen Felix and Jason walked back into the dugout.  As Jason walked away, he looked over to me and held up a finger as if to say, “Hold on a minute.”

Tim and I hung out in the RF foul corner and scoped out the scenery…

16 - TJCs RL corner.jpg

…like this weird little “chalking” machine that really shoots white spray paint onto the ground…

14 - chalking machine.jpg

It didn’t do a very good job.  A chalk line looks about 10,000 times better than this painted line, even after the guy took two passes at it.

We scoped out the bullpen, which has a seating area in the front with the pitching mounds behind…



14a - Ms bullpen.jpg 

15 - wedding bells.jpg
 

…just above the OF fence in foul territory, we noticed what looked like a wedding party.

In a little bit, Jason came back out and went into the bullpen again.  Again, he looked over to us and gave us the “hold on a minute” finger.  He put on some shin guards in the bullpen and grabbed his catchers mitt.

Then he walked out of the bullpen, came straight over to us and set a nice looking ball showing some warning track dirt marks into my glove.

Then we all posed for a picture:

17 - jason phillips.jpg

“Thanks, Jason!”  He has been mighty cool to us this season and I am hoping he sticks on with the Mariners as bullpen catcher and eventually as a coach (that is, unless he has an opportunity to make a comeback as a player).

Next, we headed out to our seats in the LF bleachers — Section 184.

I trudged up the stairs and into the upper CF corner in Section 185 and took this panaramic view:

18 - jake CF panaamic.jpgI didn’t get much in the way of action shots at this game.  But here is a classic Ichiro pose:

19 - ichibats.jpg

Here is Mike Saunders, who made an error in LF and got hounded for the rest of the game by a bunch of guys three rows behind us:

20 - branyanbats.jpgThere is our OF corps for the night:

21 - Ms OFrs.jpgOf course, Tim wanted to play catch several times during the game.  And he wanted to play in the tunnel from the LF concourse into the LF bleachers.  I told Tim we’d certainly get kicked out of the tunnel and told to either stop or move elsewhere…

22 - jake tunnel catch.jpg…I was wrong.  Instead, we were encouraged by the Section 184 usher.  In fact, you can see him watching us in the picture to the right.  He thought it was great that we were playing catch in the tunnel, even as people passed in and out of the tunnel.

Here is another action shot: (i) to the right, Fister nailed someone in the head (he was okay) and everyone gathered around to check him out and (ii) Josh Wilson about to catch a pop up…

23a - earholed popup.jpg

…see that bat boy running in from the right side in the Josh Wilson pop-up picture?  There was a runner on 3B and that kid came sprinting in like he was Usain Bolt.  The guy behind us got all excited and thought it was the runner trying to score.  He was right to get excited.  It was pretty strange to see that bat boy come sprinting in like that.

Midway through the game, the Indians mascot, Slider, came to our tunnel with a pizza and gave it to some guy in Section 185.  Tim and I left our seats and I asked Slider’s chaperone if we could get a picture with slider — of course we could:

23 - slider tim.jpgA great picture.  But what exactly is slider supposed to be?

Soon it was time for ice cream.  We had to walk to the Pierre’s booth behind home plate.  On the way, I took this action shot of Mariners rookie pitcher, Doug Fister, through the foul pole:

24 - foul pole fister.jpg

The Jake has some interesting art hanging around the park.  Here is one of Pronk.

24b - pronk.jpgPierre’s had real ice cream and multiple desirable flavors at a reasonable price!  I couldn’t decide if Tim would enjoy chocolate chip mint or moose tracks better.  So we got both and shared them both:

24a - ice cream helmets.jpgTim loved having two flavors.

The game itself was a good one, but disappointing.  The Mariners led most of the game on the strenth of an Indians error and a Russell Branyan HR in the first inning.  But we wouldn’t score again and the Indians would tact on a run at a time in three different innings.  The game headed to extras.

Griff didn’t play, but I could see him in the dugout…

25 - griff chillin.jpg…he started carrying around a bat while wearing his batting gloves.  The M’s had pinch hit for DH Mike Sweeney late in the game (or maybe it was pinch ran for him) with Ryan Langerhans.  I was sure Griff would pinch hit for Langerhans in the 10th or 11th inning.  With his bat in hand, it looked certain.  But then the Indians brought in another lefthanded reliever, and the M’s kept Langerhans in to bat.  So, no Griff.  Bummer

Late in the game, Colleen wore my new grey zip-up sweat shirt.  And Tim wanted to share the hood: 

25a - stop hoody time.jpg

Tim was happy to have “mommy” join us for this game.

In the bottom of the 11th, Luis Valbuena (a former Mariner) hit a walk off homerun.  Double bummer.

To make up for dissappointing us by beating our M’s, the Indians put on a huge and extremely cool Rock’n’Roll Fireworks show.  We had to relocate to the infield seats (you’ll see why below).  On our way, we got a nice family picture (featuring Colleen’s nice new hairdo and fireworks being set up behind us).

26 - pa cooks at jake.jpgHere’s why we had to move, we would’ve been blasted with fireworks:

27 - jake fireworks.jpg

IMG_1112.JPGThe initial blast scared Tim.  Then he started enjoying the fireworks…but finally the loud music put Tim to sleep…

28 - watching fireworks.jpg…so we took off early to beat the traffic.

We would be back the following day and we’d be hoping with all our might that Griff would be in the line-up. 

Season Fan Stats:

26 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
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)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, 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)

Meeting the Metrodome (8-15-09)

August 15, 2009 – Road Trip Day 2:

Last season, we designed our baseball road trip around my desire to visit the Louisville Slugger factory.  This year, the primary focus was to take part in the final season of the beautiful Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.  Today was the day, and the Metrodome did not disappoint.

We started the day at Wisconsin Dells KOA — which by the way is one happening KOA.  We rose early and walked a couple laps of the KOA camp grounds…
1 - good morning from Wis Dells.jpg…then my dad and Tim played some catch while I re-packed for the next leg of the drive.


2 - Metrodome or Bust.jpgSoon, it was time to jump into the car and drive 3.5 hours out to the Twin Cities for some Twins baseball.

If you like water parks, you really gotta check out Wis Dells.  There are huge water parks on every block.  There was some crazy looking stuff.  So check it out.

A large portion of our drive was in Wisconsin.  When I think Wisconsin, I think cheese.  And the billboards of Wisconsin didn’t let cheese stray far from my mind.  We spotted billboards to every type of cheese based establishment you’d ever want to visit.  Unfortunately, we visited none.

We had a funny moment as we drove through Saint Paul.  I make mix CDs from iTunes for our road trips, and many of our weekend game excursions.  I made two volumes for this trip and we were listening to volume 2 as we drove into Saint Paul.  The radio in our rental car blared Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”  Then Tim yelled, “WE ARE THE MARINERS!  Let’s sing it!  Let’s sing it!”  So we did,

We are the Mariners, my friends.  And, we’ll keeping on hitting until the end.  We are the Mariners, We are the Mariners.  No time for losers because WE ARE THE MARINERS…of Seattle…of Seattle!”

The game was a 3:10 start.  We rolled into the bigger Twin City at about 12:30 and quickly found a reasonably priced ($10) parking garage across the street from the Metrodome.  We parked in the closest parking space to the Dome.

We then climbed the stairs and exited the parking garage out of a set of doors leading to a pedestrian-only street (at least it was pedestrian-only at the time) between the garage and the Metrodome.  This is what it looked like:

3 - metrodome catch.jpg

Tim and I used the time leading up to the 1:10 opening of the stadium to play some catch on the street while my dad explored around the perimeter of the HHHM.

We then met up and got our pictures by this sign…

4 - home of the twins.jpg…on our way to Gate B where we entered the Dome.

A few minutes later, we were inside the first true “Dome” of Tim’s life, and mine and my dad’s first true “Dome” since the King of all Domes, the Kingdome:

5 - made it to the metrodome.jpg

Look at Tim checking out the Dome with wonder and amazement.  For those of you who weren’t raised in a dome, you might not understand.  But there is something awe inspiring being in such a huge building.  The Kingdome was just about the coolest place in the world.  It was huge.  There were fireworks going off inside.  And it was the place where I fell in love with baseball and the Mariners.

I have no affiliation to the Twins (although my great grandma Lillian Hoffman was from Worthington, Minn.), but I’ve long been a Twins sympathizer.  Some of it had to do with Kirby Puckett — for whom I named my dog, Kirby.  But a lot more of that had to do with the fact the Twins play in this beautiful Kingdome’ish facility. 

All this is to say that it strangly felt like a homecoming entering the Metrodome for the first time.  And I was ten times as excited to be there than I was excited to be at the objectively far superior Wrigley Field the day before.

We arrived for the beginning of BP because we really wanted to try to get one of the extremely cool looking HHH Metrodome commemorative baseballs that I’ve seen on tons of MLBlogs all season.  The Twins were hitting when we entered, and we took our place in CF:

6 - CF seats.jpg

We stood all by ourselves at the CF corner seats highlighted by the red arrow above.  There were two Twins players in CF shagging balls.  I had the feeling they were pitchers, but I have no clue who they were.  But, apparently, it didn’t matter:

7 - hhh metrodome commemorative ball.jpg

This was our 20th ball of the season — an all-time season best for me and Tim (or for me alone before Tim was born) and it was our first ever commemorative ball.

Tim got super-excited when I handed him the ball.  He held it out to a crowd of adults who were all cheering him on for getting the ball and yelled, “I GOT A BASEBALL!”  He then ran to the incredibly steep Metrodome stairs (much steeper than the Kingdome’s stairs) and started running up the stairs holding the ball behind his back.  The following scene transpired as I ran after him:

[METRODOME - Interior - Early Evening]

Todd – “Tim, where are you going!!!!?”

Tim – “I got to show my baseball to Grandpa!”

Todd – “But Grandpa is down there! (pointing back to the field)”

Tim – “Ohh!” (turning to run down the incredibly steep stairs)

Todd – “Hold on to the seats!  You’re gonna fall down!”

Tim – (ignores his father and runs to his grandpa)

Tim – “Grandpa, I GOT A BASEBALL!!”

Grandpa – “Cool!”

Stadium Attendant – (Takes picture of me, Tim and the baseball)

Carlos Gomez – (throws ball to a little girl standing next to my dad)

Dad – (catches the little girl’s baseball)

Stadium Attendant – “Give that ball to that girl.”

Dad – (gives baseball to little girl)

Carlos Gomez – (throws baseball to my dad)

Dad – “Look, Tim!  Another ball!”

Tim – (takes ball and gives it to me and starts running up the stairs)

Todd – “Where you going!!!!!!?”

Tim – “LET’S GO PLAY CATCH!!!” (in a tone implying that I’ve been forcing him not to play catch all this time).

Todd – (chases Tim)

Carlos Gomez – (throws his batting gloves to my dad)

Dad – (gives one of the batting gloves to the little girl and pockets the other)

[END SCENE]

The scene on the field:

8 - gomez gloves TJCs ball.jpg

The red arrow: Carlos Gomez.

The glove and ball:  courtesy of Carlos Gomez.

The guy cirlced by Todd (not by Bert):  unknown Twin who threw the ball to me and Tim.

(By the way, Gomez made a ridiculous home run robbing catch during BP just to the RF side of the 408 sign.  He was on a full sprint and his body was half above the fence as he caught it.  He got a huge ovation from the small BP crowd.)

After the scene above, Tim and I played some catch in the concourse behind the RF baggy:

11 - inside metrodome catch and dropoff.jpg

It was pretty crowed in the concourse, at least for playing catch, but we managed to play some quality catch for a few minutes.  Check out the picture on the right, those doors are chained and locked shut.  On the other side of the door is the beginning of a stairway that leads down into the seats at Vikings games.  However, at Twins games, they lead to big drop off into the outfield and/or the seats folded up behind the baggy.

Speaking of the baggy and the folded seats, after playing catch, we went into the seats in CF closest to the baggy.  This was the view:

9 - metrodome cf ball panaramic.jpg

This is the view to my left, check it out:

10 - balls on cup holders.jpg

In the picture to the right, notice anything interesting?  There are four baseballs resting on the backs of the folded chairs.  They are all perched on the drink holders on the backs of the seats.  Note: the smaller ball-looking-object toward the bottom left of the picture is a balled-up foil hot dog wrapper, not a baseball.

Tim sat in the seats in this CF section and looked at some baseball cards an usher gave him.  The Indians were hitting now and someone hit a ball to an Indian named “Lewis” — I have no clue who that is — and I yelled, “Hey, Lewis!” to see if he’d be interested in throwing a ball up to our high vantage point.  He wasn’t interested.  But the funny part of the story is that Tim shouted, “No, Dad, we already got a baseball!  Leave them alone, they’re concentrating!”  So after a few more minutes, we left the Indians to their concentrating and we headed to the upper deck to see if it was less crowded.  Tim still had catch-playing on his mind.  However, the upper deck concourse was even busier than the lower concourse.  So, we decided to get some dinner.

We ordered nachos, a hot dog, a gigantic diet coke, and a bottle of water.  Normally I bring a little infant “sippy cup” for Tim to drink water out of during games.  But I’d forgot it in the car.  I bought the water solely for the purpose of having a re-sealable water holding receptacle for Tim’s water.  However, and this is my biggest complaint about the Metrodome, the kind Mid-western lady wouldn’t give us the cap.  I told her it was the sole reason I purchased the water.  She apologized, but said it was “League Policy” that they cannot give out caps with bottled drinks.  That’s a new one on me.  How about you?

Here is the spot we found for eating our food:

12 - hot dogs and nachos.jpg

This was the view:

13 - metrodome RF foul upper panaramic.jpg

My dad tracked us down and ate with us.  But soon, it was time for me to go off and explore and photograph the stadium.  I asked my dad if Tim could stay with him.  He said yes, but Tim wanted to come explore the stadium with me.

Here we go –

With Tim on my shoulders, we started off by walking up the stairs and toward home plate.  Our first stop was the infield *big screen* (the Metrodome has two screens).  I have never seen this before, but the screen is literally two feet behind the back row of seats, and you can easily touch it.  Here it is up close:

14 - big screen close up.jpg

Cool, huh?  Each red, blue and green dot is a little light that feels like a little bump.

Here is the view from the top of the dome behind home plate:

15 - metrodome plate upperback panaramic.jpg

Here are a couple Dome-loving Cooks in this same spot:

16 - we love this place.jpg

While behind home plate, I noticed some stuff that looked a lot like Kingdome stuff:

17 - kingdome de ja vu.jpg

What’s the opposite of *state-of-the-art*?  History-of-the-art?

Next, we continued on our journey and headed toward the LF corner.  On our way, we noticed this:

18 - upper deck obstruction.jpg

Support beams ringing row 26 of the Metrodome upper deck.  The Kingdome didn’t have support beams.  Instead, if my knowledge serves me, it had high tension cables that ran across the roof and down the sides.  They were built into the building, you couldn’t see them.  But they kept the whole thing tight and in place without support beams — and without the obstructed views that result from beams in stadiums.

Now, check this out in the picture to the right.  The seats directly behind the beam are missing the “seats.”  They’re just backs and arm rests.  Obviously, you cannot buy those non-seats.  However, one row back from the beam, the seats are seats.  I had to probe further.

This is what I determined, the Twins have apparently concluded that the following is an unacceptably obstructed view:

19 - officially unacceptable obstructed view.jpg

That’s a good call by the Twins.  That view just won’t do.

However, apparently this view will do — and apparently, it is worth $22 (the general cost of an infield upperdeck seat according to http://www.twins.mlb.com):

20 - 22 dollar obstructed view.jpg

Hmmm…it does provide a decent view of third base and LF-CF.  But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this view also is unacceptable — of course, the Yankees will probably side with the Twins on this one.

In the Twins defense, I’m not sure if they have an obstructed view decreased price.  However, is there any price you would pay for that view?  You can’t see the infield!!!

This wasn’t the only odd seating situation I found in the upper deck.  Take a ganders at this:

21 - duct work seating.jpgThe red arrows are pointing to the same seat.  To the left, notice that you risk a concussion getting to this seat.  I had to duck not to smash my head (and Tim’s) on that huge pipe above the seats.  To the right, notice that the lucky Twins fan who sits in this seat has to look around the duct work to watch the game.  In fact, if he or she decides to relax a bit and actually sit back in his or her seats, his or her head will be behind the duct.  Doh!

On with the tour, LF foul territory:

22 - metrodome LF foul upper panaramic.jpg

Left field, monster bomb territory:

23 - metrodome RF HR upper panaramic.jpg

Here is the main scoreboard and big screen — with a little more protection and a warning, but still easily accessible to the crowd:

24 - danger zone seating.jpg

Here is the view from deep Left CF:

25 - metrodome cf upper panaramic.jpg

On TV, I’ve always thought the big retired number pictures were on a white wall at the top of the Metrodome.  They are not.  Instead, huge portraits of Kirby Puckett (34), Harman Killebrew (3), Rod Carew (29), Kent Hrbek (14), Tony Oliva (6), and Jackie Robinson (42) hang from big sheets of white canvas that are also hanging from the Metrodome roof.

Oddly, these things stop about 4-5 feet above the seats so you can see and/or walk up behind the curtains, which is a little spooky:

26 - behind the curtain.jpg

As we walked along the bottom of the curtain, Tim would punch the sand bags shown in the bottom right picture.

Here is a view from RF:

27 - metrodome RF upper hr panaramic.jpg

A very similar picture from a little further foul:

28 - metrodome rf long foul upper panaramic.jpg

Finally, we headed back to the home plate area and got one more panaramic from the first row of the upper deck:

29 - metrodome plate upperfront panaramic.jpg

I should note that, if you buy tickets in the home run porch (LF), the Twins don’t let you into the field seats in the infield area.

So, our touring was complete, and it was time to head to our seats in section 100, row 9 of the home run porch:

30 - home run porch.jpg

Top left, Tim and grandpa hanging out watching the first inning.  Top right, Tim has fun making faces.  Bottom left, Choo stood about 30 feet from us in LF.  Bottom right, some dudes wearing man-eating fish helmets.

Here was our view from our seats (featuring our Metrdome ball):

31 - metrodome sec. 100 ball panaramic.jpg

In the second inning, Tim and I went to get ice cream helmets.  Oddly, he decided he wanted a cone.  But then, due to no nap all day, he fell asleep before we reached our seats again…

32 - sleepy ice cream.jpg

…so I handed off the cone to my dad.

Here is the game from the ice cream helmet point of view:

34 - ice cream helmets view.jpg

After my dad finished Tim’s cone, Tim did some sleeping on Grandpa’s shoulder:

33 - grandpas shoulder.jpg

Then he came back to my shoulder until he woke up…

35 - sleepy time at metrodome.jpg

In the picture to the right, Tim asks me in a still grogy voice, “Where’s my ice cream cone?”  So, we headed back to section 131 (or so) to get more ice cream.

Along the way, I took a picture of a *luxury* suite:

36 - luxury cell.jpg

The suites open to the main concourse, which is certainly odd, and they seemed like they were only about 8′ x 8′ — not too impressive.

Before getting the ice cream, we stepped into one of the entry ways to the infield seats and took some action photos:

38 - metrodome action.jpg

The worst part about the Metrodome is that it was really hard to get action photos to come out clear.  Most of my shots were extremely blury.  However, in the top right, here are a few decent photos.

In the top left, that stolen base was negated by a foul tip.  At top right, Choo takes a cut at a pitch.  Bottom left, my dad’s new favorite Twin, Carlos Gomez, fires a ball back to the infield.  Bottom right, Grady Sizemore does the same as Gomez.

This time around, Tim decided on the ice cream helmet…

37 - chocolate hot fudge helmet.jpg…after after I explained that he could get hot fudge topping in a helmet, but not on a cone.  He was happy with his choice.

Hey, have you heard its hard to see fly balls in the Metrodome roof?  It is.  Here is why:

39 - metrodome roof.jpg

It appears to be a two-layer roof.   The natural light filters through the roof.  When it is sunny outside, the roof it brighter white.  Once it started getting darker outside, the roof was noticably darker.

Here is my favorite action shot of the day…

40 - unknown single.jpg

I’m not sure who the hitter is, but this swing resulted in a single to LF.

We were all rooting for the Twins.  However, it wasn’t their night.  They ultimately lost the contest to the Indians.

Here is our official baseball road trip group shot:

41 - 3 satisfied customers.jpg

After the game, it was on to Hixton, Wisconsin for another night at a KOA.  It was a lot of driving to get this Metrodome game in, but it was well worth it.  We were three completely satisfied customers (well, aside from the invocation of the alleged “League Policy” against giving customers caps for their bottled drinks).

Next up, the Astros and Brewers in Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

Season Fan Stats:

23 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
9 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and HHH Metrodome)
20 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, and Pirates– and sort of the Giants)
19 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins and Cubs)
20 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

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