Results tagged ‘ Jason Bay ’

Father-Son Baseball? Yes, Please! (4/14/2012)

It has been a long and busy off-season.  On Saturday, April 14, 2012, Tim and I kicked off our 2012 baseball season with a game between the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia.  I had been looking forward to this game like crazy.

I had originally planned to take both boys to Baltimore on Saturday, April 7th, but I didn’t realize it was Easter weekend and we had a house full of family.  So we had to wait a whole week to get our first taste of major league baseball for the season.

I’ve been extremely busy at work this off-season.  And our house has been crazy.  Having two boys is awesome.  But it is way harder than having one boy.  Tim and Kellan get along great most of the time.  But they also create non-stop action, tons of brotherly competition, a healthy dose of yelling and chaos, and they require a lot of discipline…or at least a lot of correcting.  Don’t do this, that, or the other thing.  Stop doing this, that, or whatever.

Baseball season provides something that the rest of the year generally does not.  Something I really needed.  Extended periods of father-son time in an environment that Tim and I just really enjoy.  No chaos.  Tim and I have gotten so good at attending games.  We’re an amazing team.  Hardly any discipline is needed.  It is just fun and relaxing days connecting with my boy and sharing our mutual love of baseball.  So let’s get to it.

The morning started with opening day of Tim’s first year of little league (which is the newest chapter of Tim’s life, extremely exciting, and will be up next on this blog).  After opening ceremonies, we hopped in the car, grabbed a happy meal from McD’s…

…and headed toward Philadelphia.  I was loving baseball season within the first fifteen minutes of our drive.  It was a completely unchanged experience despite the six month break.  Tim and I had great conversations the whole ride down, except of course for during the 15 minutes that we spent battling each other to see who could sing the best Gotye “Someone I Used To Know” (Tim’s favorite song).  Tim won!  As my wife will tell you, I’m a horrible singer.  By the way, Tim’s best comment during our drive was his description of what college is:  “college is where there are lots of boys and lots of girls and you find out who you are going to marry.”

We pulled into the stadium – paid our $15 to park.  Pulled on Tim’s new Ichiro jersey…

…and sized up our destination:  Citizens Bank Park!

Bring on the baseball.

We grabbed a spot second in line.  We started up a nice conversation with the guy behind us, another guy excited to be back at the ballpark for another year.  And within a few minutes, a young man approached and asked, “Are you Todd?”

It was a 12-year-old boy named Harrison who was at the ballpark with his father, Seth.  Another father-son having a great day with the sport they love.  Harrison reads our blog and leaves comments from time-to-time under the name “Philadelphia45.”  It was great to get to know Harrison and Seth a little bit.

Tim loves hanging with older kids, and Harrison was no exception.  Here they are hanging out at the gate – timed exactly when Tim blinked (oops):

When the gates opened, we went our separate ways, but we’d meet up again with Harrison and Seth.  Tim and I headed to left field.  We were among the very first people into the seats.  And within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lined a foul ball into the roped off seats down the 3B line.  An usher grabbed it and spotted Tim from a long way off.  He siliently (so Tim didn’t realize it) called us over to the “chain” and handed Tim his very first baseball of 2012:

Thank you, Sir!

We have somewhat of a routine for the BP at Citizens Bank Park.  First, we set up shop right down the line, in the very small piece of foul territory that is open at the beginning of BP.  Here was our view:

There was a Mets player…I think he was a player, although he was wearing shorts and no jersey…hanging out below us.  And I notice something very odd…

…he had a glove with “Todd Helton” embroidered on the thumb.  I asked him why he had a Todd Helton glove and he responded, “Because he gave it to me.”  “Oh, that’s really cool,” I responded.

Soon (as pictured above), Johan Santana showed up and started running from the foul line to CF.  At one point, he was approaching the foul line when a Phillies batter hit a long grounder right to him.  I called out, “Hey, Johan!”  When he looked up, I pointed at Tim and he started to motion like he was going to throw it to Tim.  But Tim was holding his glove in his throwing hand for some reason.  So, Johan pointed…or maybe he nodded…at Tim and then threw the baseball to me.  I handed it over to Tim and we both called out a loud and excited:

Thank you, Johan!!!

Wow, Johan Santana.  That’s a great toss-up.  Very exciting for our first toss-up of the season.  But in retrospect, our next toss-up would be about ten times more exciting.

We hung out in the same spot until they opened the rest of the stadium.  We watched Cliff Lee do some running…

…and we chatted with Harrison and Seth who had joined us shortly after the toss-up from Santana.  They had also caught two baseballs already – one from Michael Stutes who I really want to connect with some day on a toss-up because he once heckled my softball team while he played for the Reading Phillies.

Normally, when the rest of the stadium opens, Tim and I head out to the “pizza wedge” in RCF.  But the Mets have a commemorative baseball this season that I was really hoping we could get from one of the Mets pitchers warming up down the line.  So we relocated (along with Harrison and Seth) to the corner spot down the LF line:

We ended up standing right behind Tim Byrdak.  I was excited.  I have wanted Tim to get a baseball from another “Tim” ever since we got one from umpire Todd Tichnor.  Maybe this would be the day!?

When Mets coach Ricky Bones (I love that name!) walked by, Harrison asked for a picture.  Bones told Harrison to hold on and when he returned about 10 minutes later, Tim was a co-beneficiary of Harrison’s request:

Thanks, Mr. Bones!

And then things got REALLY exciting!  Tim Byrdak and his partner finished up playing catch.  A Mets batter had hit a grounder that rolled to a stop about five feet from Byrdak’s feet.  As he grabbed the ball to throw it in, while pointing at Tim, I shouted out, “Hey, Tim, how about throwing a ball to another Tim!?”

It worked.  Byrdak turned around and tossed the ball at Tim.  Tim has made amazing progress with his catching skills over the last two months, but I was nervous and anxious and excited all at the same time as the ball sailed toward Tim.  What would happen?

Without hesitating, Tim reached out and made a nice one handed grab with his glove.  A clean catch with zero assistance from his dad:

When the ball stuck in Tim’s glove I was ecstatic.  I literally jumped in the air and shouted, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!”  I was so happy and proud of my no-longer-so-little guy.  All offseason, we’ve been talking about how he’s going to catch a baseball (or baseballs!) on his own this season, and we’ve been talking about trying to get a baseball from a Major League “Tim” for years, and it all came together in one moment and sheer awesomeness.

It was truly perfect and completely made my day.

Some of our hugest “thank yous” ever to Mr. Timothy Christopher Byrdak!

We’ve been fortunate enough to get a nice collection of baseballs at MLB games, but this one definitely ranks right up there at the tippy top of the list as one of the best.

On the natural high of the toss-up from Mr. Byrdak, Tim and I decided to report to the pizza wedge.

Here’s a tip.  When relocating to another section of the ballpark, walk through the seats, not through the concourse.  That’s what we did and…

…Mike Pelfrey rewarded us with a baseball in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep center field.

Before hitting up the pizza wedge, we visited the Phillies hall of fame area so Tim could grab the different metal baseballs that have finger grips for different types of pitches, and then spit some seeds down…

…into the bushes in the batters’ eye.  And then Tim called Richie Ashburn “saaafe!” in our first MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt picture of the season.

The pizza wedge was dominated by a family a four with two 13-14 year old’ish girls who got some love from the players (as did “mom”), before Mets coach (and former player for numerous MLB teams) Tom Goodwin hooked Tim up with our first pizza wedge ball of the season:

Note: the balls from Pelfey and Goodwin followed the more traditional, point at Tim and throw to Dad method…although, Tim made an attempt at the Pelfrey ball, but it was too high and sailed over his glove and into mine.

There was still more BP, but we were done.  Tim wanted to play some games.  The speed pitch, for some reason, wasn’t open.  But we played the trivia game and the running in place game…

…in the deep LCF concourse.  This season, instead of handing out slips of paper that say you played one of these games, you collect stamps in the little booklet that Tim is holding in the above picture.  I’m not sure what you get when you fill it up with stamps.  We’ll see later in the season.

After some game time, we headed up the steps toward the upper deck.  We got this picture of Tim on the second deck with a view of the bullpens and Ashburn Alley behind/below him:

And then we headed to the back row of section 302 for what we determined must be the farthest seat from home plate:

Yep, make that two pictures checked off the 2012 Photo Scavenger Hunt list!

While up there, of course, I got a panorama from section 302:

And then we headed back down to the second deck for our first father-son picture of the season:

Thank you to a nice usher who snapped the photo.  As my Little Grandma would say, “Jiminy, Tim is gotten huge!”  Remember when he used to look like this?  It is fun looking back at game photos and seeing him grow up before my eyes.

Actually, he’s done some much growing that I was concerned he would be too tall for the kids’ play area.  But fear not…

…plenty of growing still to do before he is shut out of the play area.

Tim was excited after posing for that picture, he told me “I can even come back and play when I am seven!”

The game started while we were at the play area.  Soon, we grabbed some nachos…

…and our seats in section 104:

The Mets were already winning 1-0 on a David Wright homerun to LF.

We spent a lot of the game (we’re mobile so not all of the game) sitting behind this dude…

…named “Duda,” Lucas Duda, and this other dude named….

…Hunter “Ugliest Mechanics In Baseball But Monster Power” Pence.

After nachos, it was time for Tim’s first ice cream helmet of the season.  We took the scenic route to our favorite ice cream lady at Citizens Bank Park…

…that’s the view from Section 242¸by the way.

Most of the teams in Tim’s little league are sponsored by local businesses, but one is sponsored by today’s Phillies starter, Vance Worley (who used to play for the Reading Phillies):

Big thanks to Vance for supporting our league, but this, unfortunately, was not his day.

On this pitch, Vance got Jason Bay to ground into a double play…

…but a run scored making it 2-0 Mets.  Duda was up next and he clubbed a 2-run homer to make it 4-0 Mets.

How about a random shot of British Columbian-born, Gonzaga University-alum Jason Bay:

Guess what?  Tim still likes ice cream hemlets…

…and our lady still makes a huge helmet.

The Phillies have not started strong this season.  And I noticed something…the fans do not seem to believe in them as much as in the last couple years, at least at this point with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both on the DL.  Check out the patch of empty seats with the Phils losing 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning:

I never saw that last season at Citizens Bank Park.

Tim wanted to visit the team store.  On our walk around the stadium, we noticed this nice mosaic art piece in the concourse:

While Tim and I were talking about the little Phanatic in the mosaic, the real Phanatic’s mom showed up on the scene.  I pulled our my camera and it refused to fire when the Phanatic’s mom patted Tim on the head.  Instead, the flash delayed the shutter and it didn’t take a picture until the Phanatic’s mom stuck her hand in my face with an exaggerated “Hi, Dad” wave:

So I got a rare close up of the Phanatic’s mom’s hand!

Shortly thereafter, Tim became the owner of a new stuffed Phanatic:

We stopped by the play area on our way back to RF, but it was just closing down.  Sad news.  So we headed back to the now hardly half-full RF seats.  Between innings, an usher took this shot of me and Tim:

By the way, Tim’s eyes were starting to look puffy because he was battling serious hay fever, which has been a daily battle for the last couple weeks.

The Phillies really did nothing offensively in this game.  Well, next to nothing.  They did get a single on this pitch to Juan Pierre:

If you look closely, you can see the baseball heading toward RF in that picture.

It is almost impossible to get an umpire baseball in Philadelphia (it would be easier if you had seats in the Diamond Club), but it was our first game of the season so, heck, we were up for the challenge.

We relocated to the concourse behind section 130.  For a while, we stood behind the camera man…

…where we saw Ruben Tejada drive in pinch runner Mike Baxter…

…off of Michael Stutes:

And then we watched David Wright…

…and Ike Davis…

…make outs for the Mets.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim and I slid into nearly ideal seats for making the umpire ball attempt:

The umpire Alfonso Marquez (shown in the background) would enter a tunnel at the home plate end of the dugout, just to the right of the guy in the light blue Phillies t-shirt in that last picture.

We had a great view of Jimmy Rollins, as he grounded out:

And a great view of Hunter Pence, while he struck out:

There were tons of empty seats in RF as Jon Rauch pitched to the day’s final batter John Mayberry:

Mayberry ended the game in the ideal umpire attempt manner – a high pop up that allowed us to get into position while the umpire had to stay at home plate.

We slid all the way into the second a row and stood at the little railing separating the really nice seats (dugout) from the ridiculously nice seats (Diamond Club).  Tim and I both called out “Alfonso” when he stopped on the grass just short of the warning track to wait for his colleagues.  He heard us call his name and fired an absolutely beautifully rubbed up baseball to us:

And then he left.

We lingered for a bit and then headed toward the LF corner on our way to the exit.  Tim was tossing the umpire ball into his glove over and over while we walked.  I noticed that there were two ballgirls down the LF line and I asked Tim if he wanted to get a picture. He said yes, and then yelled and started running.

I thought he was running to the ballgirls, but he had missed his glove and fired his new umpire ball under some seats and it disappeared.  We couldn’t find it anywhere, but fortunately, a nice fan pointed it out and we retrieved it from a tray of peanuts (or some type of food).

Fifteen seconds later and we would have missed getting this double ballgirl picture, which was taken mere feet from the spot where Tim caught the baseball from Byrdak about 4-and-a-half hours earlier:

A pose with his umpire ball and Citizens Bank Park sign…

…and with the Harry Kalas statute…

…and then we were “outta there!”

It was an incredibly awesome first day being back at the ballpark.  I can’t wait to fold Kellan into the mix for our first 3-guys game next weekend.

I know why Ernie Banks always wanted to *play two* — hip, hip Hooray for Baseball!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

1/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
2/0 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets; Kellan – N/A
1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1
6 Baseballs – Mets 4, Phillies 1, Umpires 1
1/0 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – N/A
1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A

Cook Family In The Citi (6/18/2011)

With Kellan still less than a year old, most of our games this season will be just me and Tim.  Essentially, I have planned out one game at each of our “local” stadiums (i.e., northeastern United States minus Boston) for our entry family to attend.  On June 18, 2011, it was Kellan’s and Colleen’s first game at Citi Field.  And we made a weekend of it.

Lots of “firsts” for Kellan on this trip.  First NL stadium (Citi Field).  First NL team (Mets).  First Inter-league game (vs. Angels).  First trip to New York.  First hotel room (Club Quarter’s Wall Street).  First sub-river tunnel (Holland).  First subway ride (I can’t remember if it was the A, C, B, or D, but it was from 86thto Columbus Circle).  First trip to the big FAO Schwartz….

…and to Central Park (FYI, this list isn’t in chronological order).  First New York Pizza…

…(from Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus).  First elevated train (the 7 Train…Queens portion).  And first picture with a gigantic apple…

…or maybe I should say a “Big Apple.”  Yep, lots of firsts.

I thought the stadium would already be open when we arrived, but it was not.  So we got to stand in a fairly big line for about 10-15 minutes.  I snapped this picture of Tim and Colleen as we waited:

Not only was this Colleen’s first game at Citi Field, it was her first home Mets game, period.  She never joined me on any of my handful of trips to Shea Stadium.  So was it was good to finally get her out to Queens.

By the time we made it to the seats, there were already a lot of people in the stands.  But deep LCF was open.  So we headed out to the corner spot by the even “Bigger” Apple:

Kellan is a humungous baby for a Baby Bjorn, but it is still the most convenient way to get him around the ballpark.  Even then, Colleen had to lug the stroller along the way.

There were two “Mets” right in front of us…

…and another “Met” about 75 feet over toward left field.  All three of them had “OO” and their first names (Anthony, Travis and Jimmy) on their backs.  I guess they are bat and/or ball boys.  Tim was pretty confused about why there were multiple people wearing “OO,” but he promptly forgot about the confusion and rained down a loud “THANK YOU” on Travis when he
tossed us a baseball:

Colleen thinks the ball is in my glove and she should know best since she took the picture.  But, to me, it looks like I’m still watching the flight of the ball on its way up to me.  Who knows?

Right when Travis tossed us the baseball, the Angels pitchers all reported to the LF foul line for stretching and throwing.  I apologized in advance to Colleen and explained that we needed to relocate over there because I was hoping we could get a baseball from the Angels, and that it would be an Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball (which is the reason I picked this particular game for Kellan’s first at Citi Field).

Us three boys grabbed a spot along the railing behind Scott Downs (among others), as Tim pointed out airplanes passing over head:

And what do you know, Downs tossed us his baseball when he finished playing catch:

Although it was not a commemorative ball, we were mighty appreciative.

Thanks, Scott!

Colleen was hanging out in some seats about 15 rows back from the field.  We lingered a few minutes after getting the baseball from Downs, and then we raced over to her:

And , upon arrival, Colleen snapped this picture of Tim’s big cheesy grin:

Of course, we are competing in the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt, so we needed a Citi Field *bonus* picture.  Colleen snapped two of them and I love them both.  This is the one we submitted on mygameballs.com:

I picked that one because it shows Kellan more clearly and it clearly shows that he is trying to eat the baseball like an apple.

But I also love the funny face that Tim is making in this one:

After those pictures, Colleen headed to the family restroom to change Kellan.  Tim and I headed back down to the front row while we waited for them to return.  It was extremely obnoxious down there.  We were surrounded by a group of young boys (maybe 10-13 years old…its hard to judge).  They were flat out screaming at every player who touched a baseball.  “THROW ME THAT BASEBALL!”  They also mixed in a smattering of foul and derogatory language.  You know, the kind of stuff that just *really* makes a ballplayer want to give a kid a baseball (yeah, that’s sarcasm).

While those kids were ensuring that no baseballs would be tossed into our section, the strangest thing happened.  We got a *hit* baseball!  It was so unlike us.  An unidentified Angels lefty sliced (or is it hooked) a ball right down the LF line.  I ran a full section over down a completely empty row.  I was certain the ball was going to fall 10-15 feet (and 3-5 rows) below me and I was hoping that it would hop up in my direction.  But lo-and-behold, the ball hung in the air and made it all the way to me.  I was so surprised that it hung up that I botched the play as I turned my glove over in slow-motion to make the backhanded attempt.  Luckily, it hit the pinky of my glove and fell into the seat right there.  All I had to do was bend over and pick it up.

It was our first ever hit ball in Queens.

Colleen and Kellan were literally walking down the aisle toward us when we got the hit baseball.  I picked it up, gave a kid a high five, and Tim and I went back up to where Colleen and Kellan were sitting.

We decided to skip the rest of BP and instead head out to the kids play area.

When we reached our destination, Mr. Met was out there taking photos with fans so we got a family shot with him:

Two notes:  (1) I am attempting to catch Mr. Mets’ head and (2) all of us Cooks (except Kellan) are looking at our camera while Mr. Met is looking at the Mets fan photos photographer.

A few minutes later, Tim was manning the field…

…in the whiffle ball Citi Field.  Like Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Tim has got some “Tenacious D.”

After a little hitting…

…and a little baserunning…

…it was time for dinner.  We walked almost all the way around the stadium in our quest for food.  It was took crowded in the large eating area above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.  So we headed out to the Pepsi Porch in RF.  On the walkway out to the Pepsi Porch, I got this shot of Tim with *muffler city* in the background:

By the way, that’s just my name for it.  It is basically a big eye-sore composed of dingy car repair shops.

We decided on an all-Nathan’s Famous hot dog dinner:

A corn dog for Tim.  Spicy vegetarian dog for Colleen.  A big sloppy hot dog with mustard, onions, relish and sauerkraut for me.  And cut up hot dog bits (no condiments) for Kellan.  Tasty.

While we ate, we were serenaded with the National Anthem by Roy Hobbs’s girlfriend, Glenn Close:

Mrs. Hobbs totally botched the second to last line of the anthem.  Well, she sang all the right words, but her voice totally broke on the high note (“…land of the free-eeeeeee”).  She rolled with it, gave a big laughing smile and the old college try as she belted out that cracking “freeeeeee,” and, in the process, she really won the crowd over.  She got a huge ovation after she finished.

We sat in section 523 for almost the entire game.  When Tim, Kellan and I climbed to the top, we took this picture of Colleen that shows a fair representation of our view (although, we were obviously closer than the camera view):

Obviously, we were hoping the Mets would win because that would be better for the Mariners.  And at the end of the day, that’s what happened.

I was mighty pleased when native-British Columbian and Gonzaga University alum Jason Bay…

…came to the plate to Pearl Jam’s “Alive” off of their smash-hit debut album “10,” which was released during my freshman year of high school and was, of course, HUGE at my school.

I was quite pleased to hear Mike Pelfrey representing the Seattle Grunge era with his batting intro song:  Nirvana’s cover of the Meat Puppet’s “Lake of Fire.”

It was also nice to see that Russell Branyan…

…had found a place to fit in this season.  That guy can mash the ball!  Luckily, he did not do so at this game.

In fact, the Angels didn’t do much mashing at all at this game.  Mike Pelfrey pitched a complete game, giving up only five hits and 1 run.

The Mets had a good day at the plate.  It started in the third inning, when Jose Reyes hit a single, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored the first run of the game on a single by Carlos Beltran.

In the third, Tim and I went to grab an ice cream helmet, and Tim spontaneously busted out in an in-stadium statue pose:

When we returned to our seats, Kellan was conked out on Colleen’s lap:

The Mets got right back at it in the fourth inning.  Angel Pagan led off with a single.  He then stole second and scored on a Jason Bay single.

Meanwhile, Bay didn’t look like he was long for first base:

Within seconds of taking that last picture, Bay swiped second base.

I should mention that Dan Haren was pitching:

It wasn’t his night.

Soon after stealing second, Bay scored the third run of the game…

…on a Russell Branyan error.

Both the ice cream and the Angels deficit were keeping us happy.  Actually, Tim was focusing more on the ice cream at this point:

Here is a random picture of Citi Field and Kellan as he sits on my lap:

It should be noted that Kellan is wearing a hand-me-down Mariners t-shirt that he received (with love) from his big brother.  It should also be noted that this was Kellan’s fourth Major League Baseball game and Tim wore the exact same shirt to his fourth MLB game.

Most of our pictures from this game are random smiling Cook Boys pictures.  Here is one of them:

In our four previous games at Citi Field, we had never seen a Met hit a homerun and raise the Big Apple.  Well, Carlos Beltran finally did it for us:

High fives for Carlos:

Beltran’s blast made it 6-0 Mets (Reyes had scored on the batter before Beltran’s homerun) at the end of the fifth inning.  In the top of the sixth, the Angels got their sole run on a Mark Trumbo homerun.  And that was all the scoring in this game.

Here is one of Tim’s standard silly faces that I never tire of:

I also never tire of playing with Kellan…

…or feeding him a bottle while taking in a ballgame.  (Although Kellan will soon graduate from the bottle stage of life).

In the seventh inning, Tim asked to do some exploring.  So, we walked through the CF area where the “Shake Shack” was all lit up in Mets blue and orange:

And we spent some time behind the bullpens watching relievers warm up for both teams:

At the very end of the game, we scooted back over toward the 3B side and positioned ourselves in the concourse above the umpire’s tunnel.  With two outs in the top of the ninth (when they were still checking tickets), Vernon Wells hit a towering pop up for the final out of the game.  As the ball ascended, I scooped up Tim and we started to scurry down the stairs towards the umpires’ tunnel.  But a voice from above called us back.  An usher told us, “you can’t go down there.”  He did not realize the game was going to be over in literally 2-3 seconds.  When he
realized it, he stuck to his guns, “the game is over, you can’t go down there.”

Oh, well.  No umpire ball attempt for us at this game.

We slowly made our way out of the stadium, and we ended up sitting on some benches outside for a while so the traffic on the 7-train could die down a bit.  While we were waiting, I got this picture of Tim with Citi Field lit up at night:

We then made our way back down to Wall Street and our waiting hotel room beds.  The next morning, we trooped around the downtown area a bit before heading home.   We got Tim’s picture with the famous bull:

And we checked out lady liberty from a far:

All-in-all, it was a nice little trip to New York City and Citi Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
13/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
8 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
41 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden
Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark
in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

The Braves and the Metropolitans (4/24/10)

On Saturday morning, April 24, 2010, we found ourselves on the 7-train weaving our way through the roof tops of Queens, New York…

1 - watching queens.JPG…we were on our way to Citi Field…

2 - citi field 2010.jpg…and a game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets.

Our travels took longer than we expected, so we missed all of the Mets BP and arrived probably half way through the Braves BP.  We headed down the 3B line toward the LF corner and grabbed a spot to watch the action.

3 - citi field apple and BP.jpgIn our third game at Citi Field, I finally remembered to take a photo of the home run apple while it was “up.”  This apple is much bigger than the old Shea Stadium apple and instead of being in a top hat it is just in a random raised opening in center field.  Its not a bad home run apple, but I favor the old Shea apple, which seemed to have more of a *kitsch* factor.

During BP, we ran into MLBloggers Joe and Alex, whom we had spent time with last October during a rain-soaked game at Citi Field.  Tim just loves hanging out with these guys.  The day after this game, he couldn’t stop telling his mom about his buddies (e.g., “Did you know Joe has two dogs?”  “Alex shared his peanuts with me!”).  Anyway, the four of us headed over to the Braves dugout toward the end of BP and one of the guys took this picture of us on the way through LF…

4 - TJCs at Citi LF.JPGHere was our view from behind the 3B dugout:

5 - citi section 121 sunny day panorama.jpgLook how happy Tim was hanging out with the guys:

6 - Tim Alex and Joe.JPGAnd we ran into Mr. Met before the game…

7 - Tim and Mr Met.JPG…we’d seen Mr. Met in the OF last season but never got Tim’s picture with him.  So it was cool to get another chance.

During BP, I noticed how the seats at the top of the LF upper deck appear to be tucked away under the out of town scoreboard…

8 - seats under scoreboard.JPG…they reminded me of some seats we visited at Rogers Centre last season.  I decided we’d have to check out those seats during the game.

Here’s a shot of Tim and Alex in deep discussion about the intricacies of peanut cracking…

9 - peanuts with alex.JPG…see the little bit of dust on the corner of the dugout, those are Tim’s peanut shells.  He was trying to crack them on the cement because his fingers weren’t strong enough to crack them on his own.

Shortly before the game, several Braves came out of the dugout to stretch, run and play catch behind third base.  Here is hot shot rookie Jason Heyward…

10 - heyward national anthem.JPG…Alex came away with that baseball in Heyward’s glove.

As the game started, we split away from Joe and Alex and headed toward the kids play area in center field.  The Mets have batting cages and a whiffle ball field in CF, but not a playset like at many stadiums.  Tim was excited to do some hitting.  But on the way out to the whiffle ball field, he asked, “Why isn’t Alex coming to watch me hit?”  It was pretty funny.  I think he remembered that last season, Alex did just that.

The first thing we noticed was that they moved the batting cages from behind the RF wall of the whiffle ball field to behind whiffle ball infield.  Before hitting, Tim worked his way across the outfield shagging balls hit by other kids:

11 - citi fielding 2010.JPGThen it was Tim’s turn at bat.  Here is a video…

Next, it was time to hit the soft toss batting cage…

12 - citi cage 2010.JPG…that bat is still way too heavy for Tim, but he had fun hitting in the cage nonetheless.

 After some hitting, we found our way up to the last row of the upper deck in deep left center field…

13 - citi section 538 last row panorama.jpg…where we watched a couple innings from behind the scoreboard while we ate some chicken nachos…

14 - citi field chicken nachos.JPG…and Tim started collecting food on his t-shirt.  A lot more would follow those stray cheese drips.  By the end of the day it was an impressive “collection.”

I was excited to see what this Jason Heyward guy was all about.  I ended up photographing all of his at-bats at this game, all from different spots in the stadium.  However, he hit the third pitch of this at-bat up the middle for a single…

15 - jason heyward single up middle.jpg….before I could clean the cheese from my fingers and get out my camera.  So, one Jason Heyward at-bat and one hit.  Not too shabby.

While Tim kept piling in the nachos (like his parents, he loves nachos!), I got this picture of David Wright…

16 - david wright grounds out in second.JPG…grounding out.  And this picture of Larry “Chipper” Jones hitting a foul ball:

17 - chipper jones foul ball in third.JPGAfter the nachos, we were on the move.  We circled the whole stadium looking for an ice cream helmet.  We must have missed them because we couldn’t find them for a long time.

I took this picture of the big open concourse area above the Jackie Robinson rotunda…

18 - citi above rotunda 2010 panorama.jpg…I took this picture because that “Big Apple Brews” in the middle of the concourse wasn’t there last season.  Its a new addition this season, one of several at Citi Field.

We finally found ice cream in CF.  It was packed and we didn’t want to find a place in the sun, we went down under “Shea Bridge” and Tim at his ice cream behind the bullpens.

19 - ice cream by the bullpens.jpgBy the way, last season, the Shea Stadium Home Run apple was stationed right where this table now sits under Shea Bridge.  You can *sorta* see the field from behind the bullpens.  But there are a couple flat screen TVs on the wall right above the bullpens so we could watch the game while Tim ate his ice cream.  We also watched the Braves relief pitchers do some stretching.

Right when we arrived behind the bullpens, Heyward came to the plate…

20 - jason heyward fouls back pitch in fourth.jpg…so we ran up the stairs and snapped this picture from Shea Bridge of Heyward fouling a pitch straight back (its right on the catcher’s right knee).  He eventually struck out in this at-bat.

After ice cream, we explored a bit more.  We found ourselves in the concourse behind 1B when Heyward came to the plate in the sixth inning.  He eventually walked…

21 - jason heyward walks in sixth.jpg….by the way, according to baseball-reference.com, Jason Heyward is 6′ 5″ and Braves first base coach Glenn Hubbard is 5′ 9″.

After watching Heyward walk, we decided to check out another new feature at Citi FIeld, the Mets Hall of Fame in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

Tim posed with the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies…

22 - mets hall of fame 2.jpg….it was cool to see the 1986 trophy because it was the first World Series that I really followed as a kid.  However, I was rooting for the Red Sox who had traded during the 1986 season for two Mariners, Dave Henderson and my at-the-time favorite player, Spike Owen.

Tim also stared down legendary Mets manager, Case Stengel…

23 - mets hall of fame 1.jpg…that’s a great little statute.

Before heading back up to the field level, we snapped this picture of Tim…

24 - tim trailblazer humanitarian american.jpg…standing in Jackie Robinson’s foot steps.

Finally, we went to the 3B side concourse where we watched the rest of the game from the SRO area behind the seats in (approximately) section 124:

25 - tim lounges in citi field SRO area.jpgThe game was a pitchers dual.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Braves were winning 1-0 until Jason Bay hit this RBI double off the wall in left center field…

26 - Jason Bay RBI double in 6th.jpg…scoring Jose Reyes and tying up the game at 1-1.

In the seventh inning, Walla Walla Washington’s own (and former Mariner) Eric O’Flaherty entered the game for the Braves….

27 - Walla Walls Eric OFlaherty in 7th.jpg….he only faced one batter and probably threw over to first as many times as he threw to the plate.  Eventually, he retired his only batter of the day, Alex Cora.

In the eighth inning, with the Mets leading by a score of 3-1 (the ultimate final score), Jason Heyward almost grounded into a double play (see the ball bouncing in the dirt to the far left)…

28 - jason heyward grounds into FC in 8th.jpg…but he beat the throw to first.

In the 8th inning, neither Jose Reyes nor David Wright could add any insurance runs for the Mets:

29 - jose reyes and david wright in 8th.jpg

30 - umpire bruce dreckman.jpgWe didn’t manage to catch a ball during BP.  So we were hoping we would get a chance for an umpire ball after the final out of the game.  The home plate umpire was Bruce Dreckman.

The only problem is that the Mets ushers religiously check the tickets of all patrons entering the field level seats during the entire game.  When it got to the top of the ninth inning (with the home team winning) and they were still checking tickets, I figured it just wasn’t in the cards for this game, which was fine because we’d had a great day at the ballpark already.

But then something funny happened, with one out in the top of the ninth, Alex came walking up the stairs to the concourse.  He was looking for us and he was armed with a field level ticket for a section right by the umpires tunnel.  He flashed his ticket for the usher and we were all admitted to the seats with one out to go in the game.  We met up with Joe just a short distance from the umpires tunnel.  We had just enough time to say hi to Joe when Martin Prado (in for Chipper Jones who got hurt somehow during the game) grounded out to end the game.

Even before the ground ball reached Jose Reyes, we were standing next to the umpires tunnel.  Tim called out to “Bruce!!!” as he exited the field.  Dreckman reached out and set a nice rubbed up gamer into Tim’s left “Go, Deigo, Go!” glove-clad hand (as shown above, Tim likes to wear these gloves at games because he thinks they are like batting gloves).  However, with the thick and slick glove on his hand, his left hand wasn’t big enough to palm the ball and he dropped it back into the tunnel.  Luckily, another umpire (I think Paul Emmel) saw the whole thing unfold and he picked it up and handed it back to Tim.

Thanks, Mr. Dreckman and (probably) Mr. Emmel!  And thanks, Alex, for the assist!

Tim was exited to collect his third umpire ball in as many games this season and he celebrated by balancing it on his head while sitting on the 3B dugout:

31 - umpire ball from bruce dreckman.jpg(Check out his serious face as he balances the ball on his head).

We hung out with Joe and Alex for a few more minutes behind the dugout before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases.  Tim was excited to chat up his guys a little more.

While by the dugout, something funny happened.  A teenage guy was behind the dugout with a baseball and he asked for an autograph from every Braves player and coach who walked into the dugout.  He was getting no takers.  So, eventually, he asked a Mets stadium attendant standing at the top step of the Braves dugout for her autograph.  Finally, he had a taker.  Then, he jokingly asked every police officer, security guard or random attendant to sign his ball.  I didn’t see him get any more takers.  Eventually, he asked Joe to sign his ball.  Then, he asked Tim.  So, here you go, Tim’s first ever autograph signed for a fan at an MLB game…

32 - tim autographs baseball.jpgJoe helped him hold the ball steady and he wrote a shaky but legible “T-I-M” on the ball.  Then for good measure (at the request of the ball’s owner), he did a little scribble next to his “signture.”  Tim got a kick out of the experience.

And just like that it was time for Kids Run the Bases.  The line was massively long and it took a long time to get back into the stadium.  But as we entered though the bullpen area, we were afforded a special behind the scenes glimpse of the bullpen area:

33 - moes club and mets bullpen.jpgTo the left, that is the Moe’s Club right behind the RF wall.  There is a restaurant (at least it looked like one) behind this seating area.  To the right, that is the little room where the relief pitchers sit in the Mets bullpen.

I got a couple pictures before (right) and after (left) Tim ran the bases…

34 - citi warning track 2010.jpg…but I didn’t get any running the bases pictures because I was too busy running the bases behind Tim filming this high speed video clip of Tim:

I also enjoy it when I am allowed to “chaperone” Tim around the bases — something I have now been allowed to do at Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Miller Park and Progressive Field.

After running the Citi Field bases, we headed out to the parking lot and Tim ran the Shea Stadium bases:

35 - running shea stadium bases.jpgAlthough we attended a game in 2008 when Shea and Citi were right next to each other, I was still amazed at how close the Shea Stadium base placques were to Citi Field.

Finally, we got a picture with the Shea Stadium home run apple…

36 - shea homerun apple.jpg…and called it a day.  We hopped the 7-train back to Manhattan, picked up some pepperoni pizza and garlic knots, and drove home.   After leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, we arrived home at about 9:00 p.m….thirteen hours well spent on another father-son baseball adventure.

2010 Fan Stats:

3 Games

6 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

3 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Mets, & Nationals)

11 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires)

3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

2 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park, Citi Field)

 

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