Results tagged ‘ Jamey Wright ’

More Fun At Safeco Field (9/27/2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jamey!

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

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

Down below us and a little bit toward CF was…

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

Thanks, Jeff!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then we headed down the RF line:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks!

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

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

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

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

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

Soon, my lovely wife…

…and mom arrived for the game.

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

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

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

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

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

In the second inning, this camera man…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…while Grandpa went on a food or bathroom run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a nice action shot of Ichiro grounding out:

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

After the game, we got another family picture:

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

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

2011 C&S Fan Stats
32/8 Games (Tim/Kellan)
22/11 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates, Athletics; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
107 Baseballs (24 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates, 4 Athletics)
14/6 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park, Safeco Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Safeco Field]
19/10 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Rich Harden; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin, Rich Harden]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
23 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor, Steve Delabar, Rich Harden)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game***2011 All-Star

Spring Training VII: Mariners Intrasquad & FanFest

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

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

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

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)

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