Results tagged ‘ Jason Vargas ’

A Fun Day But Tough Mariners Loss in Baltimore (8/6/2012)

August 6, 2012 marked our only Mariners game at Camden Yards of the season.  So we had to make the most of it.  We arrived in plenty of time, got out tickets, and waited for those gates to open up and let us at our Mariners:

When we made our way into the stadium, the Orioles were hitting and our Mariners were stretching in front of their dugout.  So that’s where we headed.  As we approached the dugout, Stephen Pryor was walking down the line a bit to throw his glove in the grass outside of the *stretch zone* — I asked and he happily agreed to pose for this picture with the boys:

I think Kellan’s face in that picture is hilarious.  He simply refused to smile at the time.  He does that at times.

We were safely out of foul ball zone so I could let down my *don’t hit my boys* guard.  But moments after that picture with Pryor, an Orioles batter ripped a foul ball off of a protective net and it bounced over to the warning track and rolled to a stop just below us.  I reached over and grabbed it.

Thank you, very much, Orioles batter and lucky ricochet!

Then we headed above the dugout and watched our guys chat with each other…

…and then go through their stretching routine.

As the stretching began to wind down, I decided we should head down the LF line so we could claim a nice spot (among the 10 fans over there in foul territory) to watch the M’s play catch.  As we started walking down the line, I saw that Jason Phillips was standing on the foul warning track chatting with some guy (a non-uniformed Mariners employee).  As we were walking, Phillips looked up and saw us and he walked over to the bag of baseballs and grabbed one.

Phillips was deep in conversation when we reached Phillips, but he walked over and set the baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Jason!

Since he was deep in conversation, we didn’t wait around to chat with Phillips.  We just continued down the line.  We stopped about one section in from the foul pole and an Oriole immediately hit a baseball foul right behind us.  It trickled down the stairs right to us.

With Ichiro no longer on the team, King Felix is by far Tim’s new favorite Mariner.  At this game, he was sporting his white “Hernandez” t-shirt jersey that the Mariners gave my folks when they were invited to a game in the owners’ suite earlier in the season.  As all of the players made their way down the line, they stopped about 2-3 sections down from us and gathered around Phillips.

I pointed out Felix to Tim and Tim screamed, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, FEEEEELIX!”  Felix turned around and said “hi” and waved at Tim.  He then looked back-and-forth like he was searching for something.  He was.  It was the baseball bag.  He went over, grabbed a ball, and launched a arching pop fly in Tim’s direction.  Tim tried to navigate the seats in the first row, but the ball fell one seat short.  No catch, but Tim easily picked up the commemorative Orioles Park baseball from the folded seat.

Thanks, Felix!!!

Moments later, Felix started signing autographs.  We scooted over to the small gathering of people around Felix.  I was holding Kellan but another fan helped guide time right into the thick of the group…

…(you can see his hat just under the arms of the guy in the royal blue shirt) and King Felix stepped back from the group to get an extra good hold on the ball as he put a beautiful signature right on the sweet spot of the baseball he had just tossed to Tim.

Thanks, again, Felix! (And congrats again on the Perfecto!)

On our drive home, Tim was looking at the Felix autograph while chatting on the phone with his mommy and explaining the autograph.  He said something hilarious:  “Felix’s autograph is so cool.  It’s part signature and part letters!  You know how most autographs are just scribbles like a signature?  Well, this is both signature and letters!!!”  (That’s a paraphrase, by the way).

Once the Mariners started playing catch, we stationed ourselves between Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley:

Perez was playing catch with King Felix while Kelley played catch with Lucas Luetge.

This was some of the coolest *catch watching* in which we have ever participated.  Perez, who apparently has a crazy-strong arm, and Felix were playing long toss and Felix just kept scooting back-and-back-and-back.  Eventually, Perez threw a homerun over the CF fence and into the batters’ eye.  The grass in the batters’ eye is elevated so Felix was able to see Perez when he went up to retrieve the ball.  So Perez and Felix ended up playing catch from the batters’ eye to the LF warning track for a minute or two.  It was mighty impressive!

When Felix came back into CF it got even more interesting.  Felix nearly threw a ball into the seats.  Perez had to drift all the way back to the wall and reach up to get the ball.  Then, Felix threw a ball about one full section to our right.  It was definitely going into the stands.  I raced over there and there was zero doubt in my mind that I was going to catch it.  The throw was so offline and high that it didn’t seem like Perez was even going for it.  But then, as I reached up to make the easy catch at head level, Perez came flying in and made a running/jumping catch about one foot in front of my glove!

The whole thing was a ton of fun to watch.

Felix and Perez finished with some shorter harder throwing:

And then Felix came over to the wall and started signing autographs again.  Tim really wanted to get his picture with Felix, but there were too many people at this point gathered around trying to get an autograph.   So we backed away from the scene…and got rewarded for it.  As Felix signed autographs, Perez slowly walked toward the dugout.  Tim was just goofing off minding his own business in the front row when Perez walked up behind him and handed over the highly entertaining Perez-King Felix warm up baseball.  Awesome!

Thanks, Oliver!

While all of this was going on with Felix and Perez, I had also been communicating a bit with Shawn Kelley.  Kelley seems to be a super cool guy, a great dad and a big fan of kids.  And if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see he’s pretty funny too.

Well, my goal was to get a picture of him with the boys.  At times while players warm up, you can make eye contact or get in a word or two without disturbing their process.  I used these little breaks in the action to ask Kelley if the boys could get a picture with him after he was done warming up.

It was funny because he kept motioning like, “You want my autograph?”  And I would respond, “That would be cool too, but I really want a picture with you.”

Then, wouldn’t you know it, Kellan fell down and scraped his knee a bit (he does this all the time) right as Kelley wrapped up his throwing.  Kelley still thought we were asking for an autograph.  But all of our baseballs were put away and I didn’t feel like pulling one out.  I really just wanted a picture of him and the boys.  Because of the sniffling due to the scraped knee, the picture ended up being just Tim and Shawn:

Probably also due to the sniffling from the scraped knees, before leaving Shawn reached out and handed his warm up baseball to Kellan.  And it actually did the trick perfectly!  Kellan loves when he gets a baseball.  His eyes lit up and he yelled, “Baseball!”

And, hey, it was an Orioles Park commemorative (as was the Perez-Felix warm up baseball!)

Double thanks, Shawn!  Keep up the good work!

Once all of the pitchers were finished playing catch, we decided to head out to LCF by the bullpens.  Blake Beavan was out there and he decided to toss us this:

While out by the bullpen, Kellan and I were hanging out in one row and Tim was sitting right in front of me.  We spend most of our BP time in foul territory so we catch very few homerun balls.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I caught a BP homerun on the fly at Camden Yards was in 2004 before Tim was born.  Well, it is time to reset that clock.  Now, it has been since August 6, 2012.

A Mariner took a mighty hack and hit a screaming liner right to me.  Here is a reenactment of where I caught it, right above Tim’s head:

Yeah, he was busy eating a Nature Valley bar at the time.

That was it for BP.  Time to hit the kids’ play area.  We cut through the cross aisle around home plate and had an usher take our picture on the way:

After a vigorous bouncy house session, Tim and Kellan played on the too high and dangerous play fort…

…and then Tim did some pitching:

As Tim was unleashing his fastball fury, a fan walked by and yelled something like, “Looking good, King Felix!!!”

After the boys did some playing, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Jason Vargas warm up for the game:

He was looking pretty good.  And he had just been named A.L. Pitcher of the Month for July.  So I was hoping for good things from him in this game.

Once again (this is becoming the norm this season), Tim requested to do the old switcheroo – ice cream first, dinner second.  So we did.  We grabbed some ice cream helmets and found some seats in (approximately) section 62:

But something was amiss.  Kellan wanted nothing to do with his ice cream.  Instead, he just wanted to get out of those seats ASAP:

In that picture, he is trying to squeeze by me into the aisle.  He screamed throughout the national anthem.  I knew we couldn’t stay there.  Oddly enough, he calmed down the second we left this section.

We moved to some nearby handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle…

…and, instantly, Kellan’s screaming turned to smiles:

But he still didn’t want his ice cream.  So, as Dustin Ackley led off the game for the Mariners…

…, I took one for the team and ate Kellan’s ice cream.

The Mariners failed to score in the first.  Then it was Vargas’s turn:

Although he gave up two hits (including a double), he also got through the first inning unscathed.

Unfortunately, Chris Tillman kept retiring Mariners batters while Vargas gave up three runs in the bottom of the second.  They were the only runs Vargas would give up over eight otherwise strong innings of work.  But the Mariners just weren’t hitting.

We followed ice cream with a tasty pizza dinner:

I can’t remember who the batter was, but one piece of excitement was when one of the Orioles hit a single into LF and his bat traveled almost as far as the baseball.  Here is Kyle Seager retrieving the barrel of the bat from shallow LF:

While we were still eating our pizza, the Oriole Bird wandered by on his way to deliver some birthday wishes to several fans.  He stopped to pose for a picture with Tim (and his pizza crust):

Kellan kept a watchful eye on the big, scary Bird:

When the Bird wandered by again, after delivering a gift bag to a second birthday celebrating fan, Tim went over to say hi again and the Bird swiped the hat right off of Tim’s head…

…and proceeded to munch on it in his big beaked mouth.  Tim got a great kick out of the Bird’s antics.

In the fifth inning, Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl stopped by to say hi.  He also asked me, “is it too early to mention the no hitter?”  Indeed, Chris Tillman was throwing a no-no at the time.  I quickly responded, “No, Tillman is throwing a no hitter!!!”

That did the trick:  Mike Carp came up moments later and rapped the first Mariners hit of the night into LF.

Matt also mentioned that a guy who he described as “Alex from Seattle” was looking for me.  I had no clue who that was.  But we were soon pleasantly surprised when Alex “Not from Seattle but wearing a Mariners t-shirt” Kopp approached.

We last saw Alex at PNC Park on June 9th (for MyGameBalls.com’s Ballhawkfest 2012).  Since then, Alex has started his first job out of college.  It was great to catch up with Alex for an inning or two…during which Alex had a great (but unsuccessful) chance at catching his first ever game foul ball.  Don’t worry, the next day he would catch a Nick Markakis game homerun on the fly in the flag court).

Around the sixth inning, we witnessed one of the worst scenes we’ve ever witnessed at a ball park.  It looked sort of like this:

Here’s what happened.  We ran over to the moon bounce for a second round of bouncing.  Some kids were in the bounce so we had to stand in line.  I was holding Kellan and getting him ready (taking his shoes off) when they started letting the next group of kids into the moon bounce.  Tim ran up and jumped into the moon bounce.  Right as I started to approach with Kellan, a 45-ish year old dad with a 4-ish year old son walked up and asked the moon bounce attendants to call for help.  The sat down on the corner of the moon bounce mat, about 2 feet in front of us, and the kid’s head was bleeding like crazy.  You can see the dad in the blue shirt and orange hat on the right side of the photo above, with blood all around them on the ground.

My mom was an ICU nurse and she tells me that head wounds bleed a lot.  But, man, I’ve never seen anything like this.  The kid was drenched in blood.  My first instinct was to shield Kellan from seeing what was going on.  Another Mariners fan was standing right there (in the hot and sweaty evening air) and he freaked out (in a good way).  He ripped off his (no doubt sweaty) shirt and tried to give it to the dad to wipe up the kids’ blood.  The dad was very thankful but declined because he had something of his own to clean up the kid.

I have no clue what happened to the kid.  My first thought was that he fell off of the terribly dangerous looking and tall play set, but I didn’t see any blood on the ground over there.

All sorts of cops and security people ran over.  The dad did a great job comforting his boy and calling for more help.

Meanwhile, Tim was bouncing in the moon bounce and I circled around the side so Kellan wouldn’t see too much of what was going on.  All of a sudden, a 30-ish year old lady took a backwards dive right onto the cement.  Someone yelled that she was having a seizure, but she was not moving at all.  My guess is that she passed out from watching the kid with the bloody head.  Whatever happened, she wasn’t moving at all.  She no doubt bashed her head hard of the cement when she fell.  Her daughter (shown on the far left sitting on the ground wearing pink) started to totally freak out.

The lady seemed to be with some other people who started to tend to her.  They all called for more help and scream out for another ambulance (the dad had already asked for one for the boy).

Just then, they let the kids out of the moon bounce.  The bloody kid was practically sitting on Tim’s shoes so he had to go right up to the dad and kid to get them.  Actually, you can see Tim’s hat directly above the dad’s orange hat as he is grabbing his shoes.  Once he ran over to me and put on his shoes, I got my boys out of there as fast as humanly possible.

There was bad mojo in the air and I wanted none of it.  I have no clue why that cop appears to be smiling/laughing for my camera.  It was a very serious and unpleasant scene.  It might just be a bad picture and he wasn’t really smiling.  Who knows.

We got out of there and headed back to the cross-aisle:

Soon, we headed behind home plate.  The Mariners were still losing 3-0.  They did eventually score one run in the 8th inning and they definitely had opportunities to score a second and third run, but they just couldn’t do it.

We headed  behind the dugout in the cross-aisle to watch the 8th and 9th innings.  Interestingly enough, the usher at the top wouldn’t let us stand in the cross aisle (that’s a new one on me at Camden Yards), instead she *made us* sit in the fancy seats behind the home plate end of the dugout:

Okay, usher.  If you insist!

I took a bunch of unimpressive action shots as the Mariners tried unsuccessfully to tie up the score.

Seager hit a 1-out single in the top of the ninth:

At this point, a homerun would have tied up the score.

Mike Carp grounded out sending Seager to 2B:

Casper Wells hit a weak grounder for an infield single:

Now, with two outs, a homerun would have put the Mariners ahead and a gapped would have probably at tied it.

But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t to be.  Eric Thames (not on this pitch) grounded into a game ending fielder’s choice:

That sent out Mariners in-person season record to 2-1.  Alas, no undefeated Mariners season for us in 2012.

After the game, an usher took our picture behind the Mariners dugout:

And one our way out of the stadium, I took this panorama from right next to the batters’ eye:

Thankfully, our next three games would feature the Mariners at Safeco Field.  Hooray!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

17/15 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
26 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
95 Baseballs – Mariners 15, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park6/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez

 Bonus Picture: Tim likes to pose with the many Orioles signs all over the place at Camden Yards:

2012 Cook GFS Game 6 – Mariners vs. Rockies (5/19/12)

On May 19, 2012, we headed back to Coors Field on a grey and drizzly morning for the sixth and final game of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

When we headed into the ballpark, it felt like only about 10 other fans joined us.  And there was no one on the field.  The tarp was out.  The batting cage was nowhere to be found.  There would be no BP to speak of.

Luckily, we did not have to wait too long for some on field entertainment.  Pretty quickly, the Mariners pitching corps popped out of the dugout and headed to the CF grass next to the visitors’ bullpen.

As the Mariners pitchers stretched and chatted amongst themselves…

…Kellan and I were the only fans in the front row section.  There were a couple fans above us in the bleachers.  The only other people in the front row were my dad, Tim, Dan and Emily, and they were chatting amongst themselves over in LF at Dan’s seats:

This was our view out in CF:

When the Mariners paired up and started playing catch, the closest Mariners to us were Hisashi Iwakuma (along the warning track in RCF) and Brandon League (in the CF grass):

While the M’s played catch on the field, Kellan pushed his stroller around, stomped in puddles, and just hung out and watched the action on the field:

Eventually, League short hopped Kuma with a hard throw.  The ball trickled past Kuma and was scooped up by his interpreter.  Kuma pulled a second baseball out of his pocket and he and League played catch for a few more minutes.

Once they finished playing catch, League tossed the ball they were using to a guy in the bleachers behind us.  League then motioned to Kuma’s interpreter for their original warm up ball.  He tossed that ball to us, and it was a Dodger Stadium commemorative ball!

Thanks, Brandon!

After getting the baseball from Brandon, Kellan and I stayed put for a few minutes.  But when I looked back over to LF, Dan gave a big *come over here* wave.  When Kellan and I reached Dan’s seats, he introduced me to a guy from mlb.com who said he wanted to interview me about our Roadtrip.  He ended up shooting a five minute video interview (during which I felt like I was continually looking off camera to check on Tim and Kellan who were running back-and-forth).  I’ve never seen that video turn up anywhere.  But later the same day of the game, the following blurb popped up on MLB.com’s Cut4 page:

When the interview wrapped up, the only Mariners still playing catch were Tom Wilhelmson and Charlie Furbush.  And they were playing extreme-long-toss – from the LF foul line to the RF warning track.

When they finished up and started to walk off…

…, one of them (I think Furbush) tossed the baseball to my dad…actually, he completely air mailed him, but it stayed in the front row where we were the only fans who could get to it.  It was also a Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball, my dad’s second!

Once Furbush and Wilhelmson wrapped up their long-toss show, there was absolutely nothing happening on the field.  So we just hung out for a bit and watched Felix and Brandon League…

…get in some work in the bullpen.

Eventually, Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Suzuki (Ichiro’s interpreter) started playing two person pepper along the LF line:

Tim, Kellan and I headed over there to watch since nothing else was happening.  After playing some pepper, Muni ran some sprints.  Check out those fancy shoes he is wearing.

When he wrapped up the running, Muni and Anthony started walking back to the dugout, and all of the fans hanging out down the line were completely silent…except us.

I called out a simple, “Hey, Muni!”  He looked over and then did an exaggerated backspin to crow-hop before gentling tossing one of the two baseballs he’d been using to us.

Thanks, Muni!

After he tossed the baseball to us, another fan got brave and asked for an autograph.  He ended up coming over and signing a bunch of autographs, including signing the baseball he’d just thrown to us:

I’ve thought for a while that it would be cool to get a Japan-born Major Leaguer to sign a baseball in Japanese (Iwakuma did this for my dad at spring training).  So, as Tim handed the baseball to Muni, I asked if he would sign in Japanese.  He responded (essentially), “No Japanese!  This is America!  Only English!”

No problem, an English Muni-autograph was just fine for us.

Thanks, again, Muni!

My dad was still out in LF and he took this picture of us as we walked back to LF:

Check out all of those fans!  Man, it was packed!

It was quiet and peaceful in the stadium.  The grounds crew was using the quiet time to tidy up the outfield grass:

We still had a long time until the game was scheduled to start.  So we headed over to the Blue Moon Brewery restaurant in the RF foul corner concourse.  I had a big, tasty BBQ sandwich…

…but Kellan wouldn’t let me simply sit and enjoy it.  Instead, while Tim and grandpa hung out at the table, I ate on foot while watching Kellan run up-and-down and up-and-down and up-and-down this ramp:

After lunch, we headed back out to the OF.  My took Tim to get some pizza (he didn’t want to eat in the Brewery), and Kellan and I checked out the tunnels under the OF bleachers:

We noticed a funny site as the Mariners relievers approached the bullpen before the start of the game:

They had to stop and wait for the band that played the national anthem to finish marching by before they could get to the bullpen.

As the band belted out the national anthem, the boys were ready to get to the baseball:

Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich’s (who is pictured in LF before Tim in the first game picture from our last entry) first pitch to Dustin Ackley was called a ball…

…and we were underway!

I am quite happy to report that this game was all Mariners.  And the scoring got underway when Kyle Seager belted a 2-run homerun in the top of the second inning:

With the 2-0 lead in hand, the Mariners never looked back.

Of all the games to which I have taken both boys together, this was by far the easiest because Kellan fell asleep while I was holding him in the first or second inning:

And he just kept on sleeping until THE SIXTH INNING!

For most of that time, Kellan and I sat with Don the Rockpile Ranter and his son, Hunter:

It was great chatting with these guys.

Sadly, I did not get a picture of the “Bring Back Helmer” sign that Hunter periodically held up for the TV cameras.  (It looked a whole lot like this).

I hardly took any pictures while sitting there holding Kellan.  But I did manage to get a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

And one of Ichiro drilling a line drive toward short stop:

If you click on that picture, you can see the ball just to the left of Ichiro and just barely above his head level.  Unfortunately, Tulowitzki made a diving catch on the ball.

But it didn’t matter.  The Mariners were already piling on the runs.  They scored 2 more in the third inning, 1 in the fourth (on a single by Jason Vargas!)…

…, and 4 more in the sixth.  That made the score 9-0 Mariners.

Don didn’t like the score so much, but I sure did.  And Kellan would have too if he was awake.

Eventually, I headed further out toward LCF to see my dad and Tim.

Kellan was still fast asleep, but it was ice cream time for Tim:

Want to see essentially those same exact two pictures again, but this time as one picture?  Okay, here you go:

Kellan woke up just in time for Don to catch a Rockies shirt in the T-shirt launch.  He ran up into the bleachers to make the grab and he handed the shirt to us on his way back down:

Kellan was mighty satisfied holding it all wrapped up in cellophane.  But he was still a little cranky from his nap.  When I unwrapped the shirt, Kellan gave me a piece of his mind.  Apparently, he wasn’t ready to see it unwrapped quite yet.

In the sixth inning, the Rockies brought Eric Young in to play CF as part of a double switch.  I took some pictures of the Rockies outfielders, but really I just wanted to show how tiny Eric Young seems to be:

My dad spent most of the game chatting with Rockies regular Robert Harman:

Before this trip, I knew about Robert from the Rockpile Rant and an article Zack Hample wrote about Barry Bonds’ final career homerun.  Robert was very nice and he and my dad got along swimmingly during the game.

Here are some pictures I took in the tunnel under the bleachers in LCF:

Top left:  There is some sort of security office under there, right around the corner from the women’s restroom.

Top middle: There was a brief rain shower late in the game.  The game wasn’t delayed at all, but we hid out for a few minutes in the tunnel where this was our view of the field.  We ended up putting our backpacks in the tunnel for the rest of the game to keep dry.  It is definitely convenient having your own personal tunnel like this for a game!

Top right: Tim, Emily and Emily’s friend played tag in the tunnel.  This was just one of the many things they did to entertain themselves in the tunnel.  Kellan tried to mix it up with the big kids a bit too.

About 5-10 minutes before the rain, the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The final two runs came on a homerun hit by Wilin Rosario that sailed right over our heads into about the sixth or seventh row of the bleachers behind us.  I was hoping it would ricochet back down to us (my Dad had caught a Miguel Olivo BP homer like this the day before and Robert got a Michael Cuddayer game homer like it earlier in the season), but the crowd swallowed it up, never to be seen again by us folks down in the first row.

It was too bad this homerun couldn’t have been hit in the eighth inning instead of the seventh, because almost no one was left in the bleachers after the rain…

…and the ball almost certainly would have bounced back down to us.

The Mariners got one run back in the eighth on a passed ball to Kyle Seager that scored Ichiro.  That made it 10-3 Mariners, which would hold up to become the final score of the game.

The previous day, I had noticed that Michael Saunders…

…tossed the CF-LF warm up baseball into the crowd in the ninth inning.  There were zero fans in the front row out in CF by the batters’ eye.  So I figured that Kellan and I ought to head over there in the ninth so Saunders would have a target.

It was a solid plan.  After finishing his ninth inning warm up tosses with Casper Wells, Saunders turned and threw a strike right to us.  Another Dodger Stadium commemorative!

Thanks, Michael!

Sean Kelley and Steve Delabar each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning of relief to cap off the game.  Another wonderful Mariners win!  That made them 2-0 for us on the season.

After saying our good-byes to Dan and Robert (Don had left during the rain because he feared for his super-nice camera’s safety), we got an usher to take our picture:

Then we walked around to home plate…

…and got an usher to retake the family photo the fan had botched the night before:

The key to that picture was that Tim had his foot up on the step above us.  He thought this made the picture look very, VERY cool.

Outside the stadium, I got a shot of my three Roadtrip mates outside Coors Field:

And then we headed over to the 15th Street Mall for some dinner.

On our walk back to the hotel, my dad and Tim were locked in battle in a fierce game of “yellow cab” (the objective being to spot as many yellow cabs as possible) when we walked by Coors Field for the final time:

“YELLOW CAB!” (in the foreground)  “YELLOW CAB!” (across the street)

The yellow cab battle continued as the fifth installment of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip slowly walked down Park Road to our hotel and into the sunset

It was an OUTSTANDING trip.

Let the planning begin for the 2012 GFS Roadtrip!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

10/9 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3
51 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
10 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4
8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

The Best Mariners Game of 2011 (9/26/2011)

For the second season in a row, we decided to end our season at Safeco Field with our Mariners taking on the Oakland Athletics.  The first game of the series as September 26, 2011.  The crew on hand would be Colleen, Tim, Kellan, my mom, my dad and me.  The night started earlier for my dad, Tim, Kellan and me.  We headed down early for BP, and Colleen and my mom joined us.

It is old news at Safeco Field, it was my and the boys’ first time checking out the *new* “The Pen” area at Safeco Field.  It is on the field level in straight away center field (below what would otherwise be called the *field level* concourse) and it opens 2.5 hours early.  The rest of the ballpark opens 2 hours early.  I think it is a great move by the Mariners because in years past, Mariners fans only got to see about 5 minutes of Mariners BP when the whole stadium opened only 2 hours early.

We entered the ballpark through the LF bullpen level entrance and made our way to the singles patio (SRO area) directly over the CF wall.  We parked Kellan’s little stroller at the back of the patio and my dad held him.  I don’t have any pictures or video to show it, but within moments the four of us were all smiling and waving for the TV camera as the Mariners pre-game show went to commercial.  And then we got our game faces on.  My Dad and Kellan went right on the wall to watch the Mariners hit.  Tim and I hung
out behind the TV camera well for a few minutes, but then we relocated behind the Mariners bullpen.

Almost immediately after we reached the Mariners bullpen, my dad and Kellan walked over to meet us and my dad pulled a baseball out of his glove to show me.  “I caught it on the fly!,”  he announced with a smile.  I was excited because on the drive to the ballpark we had discussed catching BP homers on the fly, and my dad said he’d never caught one at Safeco Field.  Very cool.

Then it dawned on me:  he caught a BP home on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!  WOW!  I wish I would have seen it.  It must have been incredibly awesome.  FYI, he explained that he was a ball that barely cleared the wall and required my Dad to reach down over the railing to grab it.

Like two seconds later, a Mariners employee walked by and handed Tim our first baseball of the day.  She explained that it was Shawn Kelley’s warm up ball.  That is pretty
cool.

Oh, by the way, we entered this game with 96 total baseballs on the season.  I truly never thought we would ever in our lives get 100 baseballs in a season.  But with 3 more (after the Shawn Kelley ball from the Mariners employee) we would reach the amazing milestone.

Anyway, my dad handed Kellan off to me right as the rest of the ballpark opened.  My dad headed to the seats in CF (just to the RF side of the batters’ eye) and Tim, Kellan and I headed to section 106 in RF.  Intentionally set up shop behind Michael Pineda (because he is awesome)…

…and before long, guess what happened?

I’ll give you a hint:  it looked sort of like this:

That’s right.  I caught a BP homer on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!!!

Kellan was having quite a day!

It felt awesome!  When I made the grab, I immediately held my glove high over my head in victory!  A couple fans cheer for the catch.  And best of all, Pineda gave me a celebratory fist pump!  With my glove still held aloft, I turned toward CF and *showed* the catch to my dad (who can be seen under the little yellow arrow two photos above).

The three of us should have stayed put, but instead we headed over toward RCF to chat with my dad.  When I looked back to the spot where I caught the homer, another guy caught another homerun standing in the exact same spot!  Ah, well.  One homer on the fly with Kellan was good enough for me.

Soon, the Mariners cleared the field and the A’s pitchers came out to play catch down the LF line.  We decided to walk all the way around the ballpark around the RF foul pole, toward home plate (where Tim got his picture with this big Ichiro baseball card)…

…and down the 3B/LF foul concourse.  Eventually, we cut through the seats and diagonaled through some sections trying to make our quickest route to the railing above the A’s pitchers.  As we cut through the last full section before reaching corner, an A’s batter hit a line drive that landed right in the middle of the section about four rows below us.  A bunch of fan scrabbled for it as Kellan, Tim and I continued on toward the railing.  But as we reached the last seat in the
section, I looked down and the baseball popped out at us.

And, holy cow, it was the elusive Angels 50th Anniversary Commemorative baseball!

That was pretty crazy.  We had been trying to get one of these baseballs all season.  We had actually gotten 5 baseballs from the Angels this season, but all 5 were normal ROMLBs.

Even crazier, that was our 99th baseball of the season.  I could not believe it – one more and we would reach the 100 baseball plateau!

But No. 100 would not be all fun and games.  Things were about to get scary.

We made it to the railing right above the A’s pitchers.  I was holding Kellan in my left arm.  Tim was standing to my left with his hand on the railing.  Just then, I noticed a fellow-MLBlogger, Wayne Peck, about 10-15 rows below us.  I had never met Wayne before, but we had communicated through our blogs and twitter.  When I saw him, I called out his name and he came up to say hi to us.

And then I committed a cardinal sin of BP:  I took my eyes off the batter and turned to my right to shake Wayne’s hand as he approached.  Right as Wayne and I clasped hands, several of the A’s pitchers yelled, “HEAD’S UP!!!”

I turned back to the field (still holding Kellan in my left hand and with Tim was literally standing leaning against my left hip).  I scanned the area and surrounding area and I saw NOTHING!  And then…

DIIIIINNNNNNGGGG!

A liner buzzes in and clanks off of the railing.  I thought it got all railing at first.  But then Tim broke out crying.  The ball hit right where his pinky knuckle met the railing.  It pinched Tim’s hand really hard against the railing and bounced onto the field.  I knelt down to comfort him and look at his hand (still holding Kellan).  It was a little bit red and obviously hurt a lot.  I turned to start taking him out of there when this guy arrived on the scene:

I cannot remember his name…it was something unique.  By the way, those pictures are from the following day when we visited the scene of the accident.  Anyway, this guy came to our aid and led us to the First Aid office.  Now, get this, as we walk out of the section with the usher leading the way, an A’s pitcher (I have no clue who) called out to me and tossed me the baseball that had just smashed Tim’s hand.

The little meany was both our 100th baseball of the season and another Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative.

I truly couldn’t believe it.  Who gets a milestone baseball with this kind of crazy story behind it?  Just Tim, I guess!

Anyway, we were ushered off to the First Aid room.  With Tim still whimpering in pain, the walk to the First Aid room was like torture.  Kellan started feeling like he weighed 200 pounds and I couldn’t do much to comfort Tim while holding him.  I quickly called my dad and told him where to come meet us with Kellan’s stroller.

As they started checking out Tim’s hand…

…my dad and Wayne both arrived at the First Aid office to check on Tim.  I handed Kellan off to my dad so I could talk to the first aid people.  Tim’s hand puffy and red.  But I think we were pretty lucky.  I’m pretty sure it was more of a glancing blow getting some of the meat of Tim’s hand and a lot of the railing.

The first aid people were very nice.  They gave me some advice about what to do for Tim’s hand and they gave Tim an ice pack for now and one for later.  They told me that I might want to go get an x-ray the next day if it kept bothering Tim.

Then the First Aid guys did a little whispering and the bearded-usher left.  He reappeared a few minutes later with a you-just-got-drilled-with-a-BP-foul-ball prize pack for Tim.  It included a Felix Hernandez t-shirt, a funny M’s hat that Tim loved, a pennant for Tim to color with crayons, and, most notably, a baseball that the usher had run down and got from the Mariners dugout.  You know, it is an odd way to get a baseball at a game, but since Tim had to endure a lot of pain to get it, we counted it!  No. 101 for the season.

As the usher handed removed it from the bag and handed it to Tim, I said, “Don’t’ let this be an incentive to get hit by any more baseballs!”

So, yeah, it was a crazy and scary situation.  I hate thinking about what could have happened.  In the end, I made a big mistake in not waiting to watch the pitch before turning to shake Wayne’s hand.  It could have plunked any of us square in the head.  So we have to be thankful that it was just a minor injury.  Tim took it like a champ and handled the bad situation really well.

Big thanks to the usher and First Aid people.  And to Wayne for coming and checking on Tim, very cool.

Anyway, we eventually made our way back out to the field.  Tim had been hit right at the beginning of A’s BP so they were still hitting when we got back to the field.  Tim was
understandably scared and did not want to go down by the field.  So Tim, Kellan and I grabbed some seats toward the back of one of the sections on the 3B side…

…while my dad and Wayne went back to the LF corner.

As Tim iced his hand, we checked out more goodies in his goody bag.  There were baseball cards and some posters (one for Tim and one for Kellan) featuring Justin Smoak.  Tim was super excited that the posters were *autographed* (they were not real autographs, but part of the poster).

After a little while, we decided to go to the very back of the seats in CF…high enough up that we did not think any baseballs would be able to reach Tim.  One our way out there, we got a picture with the Mariners Moose…

…and with the new (and really cool) Dave Niehaus statue:

Here are my boys hanging out with their grandpa in row 34 out in CF:

We were, indeed, high enough up in the seats that nothing came even remotely near us.

Once BP ended, we headed off to the play area where both boys had a lot of fun:

Finally, just before game time, we headed back down to “The Pen” where we eventually met up…

…with Colleen and my mom.  Check out that cool seating area in The Pen!  I have never seen open flames in a public area of a MLB ballpark.  Very cool, Mariners.

While we were in The Pen, we stopped by and said hello (once again) and got a picture with Wayne (and his wicked awesome Big League Chew t-shirt!):

And then we grabbed some delicious nachos and reported to our seats in section 108:

Tim and Kellan cannot get enough of their grandma and grandpa.  They always have a blast hanging out with them at a Mariners game:

Here was our outstanding view from the second row of section 108:

We were hoping to witness Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life and Tim and I were trying to break a nasty 10‑game Mariners losing streak dating back to last season.  The game did not start out ideally.  With Jason Vargas on the hill, Jemile Weeks led off with a double, he advanced to 3B on a groundout by Coco Crisp, and then scored on a single by Hideki Matsui.

While the Marines batted in the first inning, I noticed a familiar face patrolling RF for the A’s:

It was Michael Taylor, who played AA-ball for the Reading Phillies a couple years ago.  We saw him play as an R-Phil and he could definitely put on a show with the bat.  He got heckled mercilessly during this game by a four fans about 2-3 rows directly behind us.  Thankfully they kept it clean while having a whole lot of fun at Taylor’s expense.

Of course, our view in the top of each inning was a bit better – we were right behind Ichiro:

In the second inning, we got a great picture of Tim with our Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs and the Safeco Field clock/sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

After helping me and his grandpa catch those BP homers before the game, Kellan was all set to catch a game homerun of his own:

The boys had lots of fun getting their mommy into the Mariners spirit too:

Early in the game, my cousin Nathan texted to let me know that my other cousin (and his sister) Annie was at the game in my parents’ normal seats on the 3B side.  My mom and Colleen headed off to the team store to do some shopping (or browsing at least) and Kellan and I headed off to see Annie.  On our way, Kellan and I stopped off at the Mariners bullpen to what was going on…and I got this cool picture of Kellan sitting on the SRO counter:

The last time we saw Kellan was just a few days after Kellan was born.  It was great seeing her again.  Happily, we successfully turned our backs to the field for this picture…

…without getting nailed in the backs of our heads with a foul ball.

There was, however, a pretty amazing foul ball when we were chatting with Annie.  A’s first basement Chris Carter became only the second (or maybe third) person ever to hit a foul ball over one of the structural arches in Safeco Field’s roof.  It looked a little like this:

Carter’s foul landed in the staircase at the OF side of the 3B dugout and bounced incredibly high off of the cement before a lucky fan won the jump ball for it.

After spending an inning or so with Annie and her friend, Kellan and I headed back toward our seats…but, once again, we stopped off at the Mariners bullpen.  This time, we ended up chatting briefly with Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips.  I had not seen Phillips during BP, but he mentioned that he saw me and Kellan catch our homerun during BP.  I thought that was pretty cool that he didn’t know we were going to be at the game, but recognized us as we caught the BP homerun.

When we returned to our seats, the score was still 1-0 A’s.  Kellan decided to pull out his Justin Smoak poster and take a bunch of hacks like he was at the plate:

And I think Kellan’s practice hacks helped warm up the Mariners bats.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Miguel Olivo bashed his 19th homerun of the season.  It was an impressive shot to LF, and it tied up the game 1-1.

With the game tied up, Tim watched the Mariners up close with grandma’s binoculars:

Jason Vargas was still on the mound for the Mariners and he was looking really strong.  And his offensive-minded teammates gave him some additional run support in the bottom of the sixth inning.  The inning started very unimpressively, with a swinging strike out by Ichiro and a pop out by Luis Rodriguez.  But Dustin Ackley followed Rodriguez with a single.  Mike Carp followed Ackley with another single.  Then big Justin Smoak stepped to the plate and unleashed a deep blast to RCF:

Party time!  With Smoak’s homerun, the Mariners pulled out to a 4-1 lead!

But the 3-run lead gave us little comfort.  Tim and I had seen the Mariners let leads slip away multiple times this season.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, I was trying to get another picture of Ichiro just standing around doing nothing in RF.  Right as I pressed the button to take the picture, Scott Sizemore hit a shallow fly ball to RF.  I captured Ichiro…

…right when he started to break in and to his left to run down the baseball.

There were a lot of empty seats around us.  Our actual seats were in the third row, but me and the boys jumped around a lot from the first to the fourth rows.  Late in the game, Kellan and I spent a lot of time in the first row where my little No. 51 watched closely the Mariners big No. 51:

Meanwhile, Tim was having tons of fun with his grandma:

And then it was business time…

…the ninth inning arrived.  Kellan has been just three sweet outs away from his first Mariners win before just to have it slip away.  In Baltimore earlier in the season, the Mariners took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 13th inning just to have Brandon League blow the win after Jason Vargas had pitched an incredible game.  I understand that I have no control over the Mariners on-field play.  But I have felt partially responsible for that loss.  It would have been Kellan’s first Mariners win, but Tim and I went to try for an umpire ball and left Kellan and Colleen alone in our seats.  I should have been holding Kellan at the very moment that he witnessed his first Mariners win.  I think the world knew that and intervened to make sure Kellan experienced his first Mariners win the right way.

Well, it was go time once again.  Vargas had once again pitched an absolute gem.  He threw eight innings, gave up 5 hits and struck out 10 Athletics.  Enter the ninth inning and Brandon League.  League has had a great season.  That blown save in Baltimore was smack dab in the middle of League’s roughest patch of the season, it was the third of four straight blown saves/losses for League.

Well, League brought the drama with him to the mound.  He gave up a lead-off single to Coco Crisp.  League then struck out Hideki Matsui, but Crisp stole second and third
in the process.  He scored the A’s second run of the game on a ground out by Josh Willingham.

So there we were, just one out away from Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life.  But then Scott Sizemore hit a double, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Kurt Suzuki.

Things were getting super-tense.

I was holding Kellan tight and hoping for the best.  And Suzuki answered our prayers.  He jumped on the first pitch and hit a weak grounder Luis Rodriguez at short stop.  Rodriguez fired the baseball across the diamond and Justin Smoak’s glove clamped down on the 27th out of the game.

MARINERS WIN!  MARINERS WIN!!  MARINERS WIN!!!

Oh, yeah, MARINERS WIN!  M-A-R-I-N-E-R-S…

…WIN!  Yes!

MARINERS WIN!

Here are three happy Mariners fans basking in the glory of this historic MARINERS W-I-N:

And it was a historic game.  It was Kellan’s first win, it snapped a 10-game Mariners losing streak for me and Tim, my dad and I both caught BP homers on the fly while holding Kellan, and we caught (well, sorta) our 100th baseball of the season.  Historic!

We marked the occasion with a family picture:

And a picture with the Ichi-Meter (and Ichi-Meter lady):

By the way, the 183r of those Ichiro hits occurred in the seventh inning of this game.

On the way out of the ballpark, Tim got his picture with Ichiro (and Shelly):

Did I mention:  MARINERS WIN!?

2011 C&S Fan Stats
31/7 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)).
101 Baseballs (19 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, 3 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]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
21 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)
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

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

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

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

…and headed off to Camden Yards

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

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

Yeah, that’s a good crew.

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

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

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

Thanks for being cool, Dan!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Michael!

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

… “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!”

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, David!

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

Thanks, Jason!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Zack and Jona!

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

Cool!  Thanks again, Jason!

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

Thanks, Brandon!

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

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

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

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

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

Here is where we landed – Section 6:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bird is a good guy.  Thanks,Bird!

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

…and this one:

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

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

Colleen did some sitting on Tim’s lap:

Kellan did some sitting on my shoulders:

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

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

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

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

And the Mariners moved to 0-3 for Kellan.

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

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

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

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

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

…back to our car.

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

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

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…Tim took the other three from close range.

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

You Win Some and…(8/15/10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Team store ready?  “Check!”

“Suite ready”  “Check!”

“Right field ramp ready?”  “Check!”

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

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

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

Thanks, Vargas!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Rob!

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

Thanks, Alonzo!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mariners were doing nothing offensively.

No worries.  Felix Hernandez was still dominating:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felix, well, he was still dominating:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, no runs for the Mariners.

Luckily, Felix was still dominating the Indians:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While down there, we spied on the Indians reliever…

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

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

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

The second batter grounded out to short stop.

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

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

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

Felix’s line on the day:

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

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

And Jose Lopez fouling off a pitch…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The game ended with little fan fare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s hear it for on-the-job safety!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Fan Stats:

21 Games

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

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

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

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Indians Lose! Indians Lose! (8/14/10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They did.

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

It was massive, massive rain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jamey!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next picture tells two stories:

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

Thanks, Felix!

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

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

Finally, the tarp came off of the field…

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

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

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

Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…

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

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

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

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

The 2010 Mariners bullpen…

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

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

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

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

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

21 - jake 1B field level view panorama.jpg

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

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

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

By the way, Ichiro grounded out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…

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

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

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

This was our view:

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

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

Here was our view:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mariners win!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Fan Stats:

20 Games

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

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

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

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 5: Mariners at Padres (6/13/10)

On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced.  Here it goes.

We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast.  Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:

1 - morning fun at KOA playset.JPGIt was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park.  I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego.  Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game.  I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.

Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium.  But we arrived about 45 minutes before him.  So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP.  After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today.  Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed.  There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.

Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.

Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…

2 - RRS getting a sweat on.JPG…and Ichiro was stretching and playing catch with his interpreter in shallow LF:

3 - Ichiro warms up.JPGSoon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch.  While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off.  I wasn’t sure where he had gone.  When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…

4 - figgy kotch and dads baseball.jpg…Kotchman walked back to the dugout.  As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt.  Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.

Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad.  The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere.  People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball.  At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:


5 - petco lawn care.JPGThe Padres helmets came with number stickers.  I put “18″ on the back of Tim’s helmet.  When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5″ on the bill of his helmet.  Then he told me to put a “1″ in front of the “5.”  I did…

5a - Ichiro 15.JPG…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!”  He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15″ — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.”  A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front.  Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51″ on it.

We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…

6 - rounding petco park.JPG…around to the main entrance by home plate.  Inside the main entrance, there is a big, cool, rock waterfall wall:

7 - petco waterfall wall.JPGMy Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate.  They were amazing seats.  A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.

We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch.   First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us.  At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…

8 - french vargas.jpg…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove.  I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in.  When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished.  He said, “Maybe.”  Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.

Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us.  The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…

9 - aardsma waves league stretches.JPG…which Tim thought was pretty cool.  After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line.  Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up.  As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch.  He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”

As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:

10 - tim and chad cordero.JPGTim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up.  League was still pitching to Aardsma.  Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up.  For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.

WHHHHHHHIZZZZZZ BAAAAAANGGGGGGGG!!!

The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma.  From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track.  As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall.   People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim.  Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side.   And it would have really hurt, I could tell.  An usher came to ask us if we were alright.  Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.

Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.

The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching.  Today, we watched first hand as…

11 - RRS working with Cliff Lee.JPG…RRS worked with (and learned from) Lee.

Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back.  This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished.  Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.

Thanks, Brandon!

Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen.  We decided to head over there as well.  Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there.  We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.

When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:

12 - CS HOFs RRS and Phillips with autos.jpgBetween pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi.  After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit.  It was nice to chat with him.  As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball.  So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan.  But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair.  When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips.  So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.

Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together.  But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame.  I guess I should ask him later this season.

After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?”  (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions).  We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.”  Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!”  That gave Jason a big smile.

Then we headed to our seats.  Check this out:

13 - Tim 51.jpgIn that picture, I am sitting in my seat (Section 101, Row 18, Seat 1) and Tim is standing next to the row in front of us (wearing his new helmet with Ichiro’s “51″ on the front and side).

Here was the view:

13a - petco section 101 row 18 seat 1.jpgSo you want to hear something crazy?  We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family.  Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting.  I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son.  He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know:  Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies.  (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).

The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were.  Here is a look at one of the rings:

14 - Tim the World Champion 51.JPGJason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years.  And these were some huge and legit looking rings.  Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.

By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity.  This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…

18 - a stranger among us.JPG…and it belonged to a Yankees scout (whose work failed to prevent the Mariners from soon taking 2 of 3 against the Yankees in the Bronx).

 You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field.  Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days.  There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…

15 - military day.JPG…and a whole bunch more sitting in the upper deck down the 1B line.

This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…

16 - padres camo jersey.JPG…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious.  That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.

Soon, the game was underway.  Ichiro led off with a walk…

17 - Ichiro walks in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…check out that view!  Unfortunately, as is happening way too much this season, Figgy erased Ichiro…

19 - Figgy GIDP in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…by grounding into a double play.

This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.

I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats.  It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:

20 - Felix baffles Eckstein in 1st 6-13-10.JPGBy the way, that is David Eckstein about to pop out to lead off the bottom of the first.  He would go 0-4 with 2 Ks against King Felix.

The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun.  No shade at all.  Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun.  But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…

21 - ice cream time 6-13-10.JPG…early in the game.  By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth.  He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips.  And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.

The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana.  Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…

22 - sacrificial felix.JPG…like this successful sacrifice in the top of the third.  Unfortuantely, this sacrifice ultimately did not produce any runs because Ichiro…

23 - Ichiro grounds out in 3rd 6-13-10.JPG…followed with a groundout for the final out of the top of the third inning.

 Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…

24 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 1.JPG…but the ball was low and must have knuckled.  I could see right off the bat that Guti was having trouble figuring out how far the ball would travel.  The ball was coming down quick…

25 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 2.JPG…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it.  But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall.  Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”

I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not.  After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns.  They’re fundamentally different than homeruns.  Pretty exicting.  I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.

 All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres.  We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…

26 - Milton Bradley post HR celebration.JPG…in the form of a traditional 2-run homerun in the top of the fourth.  The score was now tied 2-2, much better.

Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun.  So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before.  We headed up to the upper deck in RF… 

27 - exploring petco.JPG…where it looked like this:

27a - petco RF upper deck panorama.jpgThen we headed to the top of the upper deck in deep RCF:

28 - petco RCF upper deck back panorama.jpgFrom up there, we could look down on the Park in the Park…

28a - petco PITP from RF.JPG…the bleachers…

29 - petco bleachers from RF.JPG…and the Beach:

30 - petco beach from RF.JPGBy the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field.  Not a bright idea.  Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.

On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):

31 - TJCs petco RF ichiro.JPGWe noticed a weird little flag court area in the RF foul upper deck area where the Padres have flag depicting the league standings…

32 - petco hidden standings flags.JPG…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see.  In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.

Even from above, Felix looked dominant:

33 - felix from above 6-13-10.JPGWe decided to go up to the top of the RF foul seats behind the military guys.  Here was the view:

33a - petco RF foul upper military view panorama.jpg…and a very, very similar view (from just across the aisle and down a little bit from the last panorama:

33b - petco RF foul upper end military view panorama.jpgTim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:

34 - Tim and Zamora.JPGSometimes Tim is a little shy.  Just before these pictures, he walked down the stairs whispering “thank you” to the Marines.  I am positive that none of them heard him.

As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:

35 - petco architecture.JPGAt the very bottom in RF (it seemed like it was even lower than the field level), the concourse was full of military stuff.  Like this huge model aircraft carrier:

36 - petco aircraft carrier RF lower concourse.JPGBy the time we returned to our seats, Al had taken off.  So it was just the three of us roadtrippers when an ausher took this picture of us as Felix warms up in the background…

37 - 7th inning stretch at petco.JPG…with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

After our stadium tour, Tim did a much better job staying cooling in the seats.  He did some fake running poses…

39 - petco seat fun.JPG…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells.  See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture?  That old lady was unintentionally hilarious.  She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle.  At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence!  hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.

Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.

Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2.  The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.

Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins.  Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…

40 - jose lopez go ahead double in 8th 6-13-10.JPG…for a line drive double down the 3B line.  Chone touched home to grab a 3-2 lead for the Mariners.

Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…

41 - bradley works a HBP.JPG…the Padres weren’t too happy with the call, but Hernandez wasn’t persuaded to reconsider his call.

In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres.  Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson.  It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career.  Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.

Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.

That brought Ichiro to the plate.  Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead.  Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…

42 - ichiro foul bunt in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…next he watched a ball and foul tipped a stike…

43 - ichiro watches one 6-13-10.JPG…then with a count of 1-2, Ichiro got his pitch and played a little game of switcheroo with Johnson…

44 - ichiro insurance in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…Ichiro took Rob’s spot at second and Rob took Ichiro’s at home.  And just like that the Mariners had a 4-2 lead.

Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game.  But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried.  Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.

The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout.  In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel.  An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby.  He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.

I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel.  He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game?  Sure!”  And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:

45 - Felix goes 26 outs.JPGIn that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout.  He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez.  When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play.  But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.

Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game.  But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:

46 - happy totals from petco 6-13-10.JPGAfter the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire.  He was very nice.  But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.

Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…

47 - Cowboy Joe West and Tim.JPG…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball.  He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim.  He was very amused by his little prank.  And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.

I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt.  It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get.  The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games.  They take off quick.  So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.

Thank you, Joe West!  And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!

Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

The line started deep in the Park in the Park…

48 - like a parade.JPG…while waiting to get back into the stadium, the Marines marched by and the crowd gave them a long ovation as they filed by.  Tim was up on my shoulders and asked, “Is this a parade?”

We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:

49 - petco RTB approach.JPGThe line took a while to finally get into the field.  But finally we made it!  And it was awesome.  Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases.  Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400″ foot sign:

50 - TJCs and petco 400.JPGNormally during Kids Run The Bases, we have to ask other fans to take our pictures because the ushers just say, “Keep moving, keep moving.”

We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…

51 - Time the OF umpire.JPG…after I took those pictures, he told me he was standing like an umpire.

We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker.  This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…

52 - Tim makes the catch.JPG…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322″ like he was playing outfield.  Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball.  I absolutely love that jumping picture.  Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!

The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen.  Tim played a little catcher…

53 - Tim mans the bullpen plate.JPG…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate.  Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them.  But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen.  They missed out on some great photo opportunities!

Thanks, Padres!

Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…

54 - Tim and petco.JPG…and then I opened up this box and checked out the bullpen phone…

55 - Tim in petco bullpen.JPG…and Tim sat on the bullpen bench.

The Padres did a great job with the actual run too.  They spaced the kids out really well.  When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!”  So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing… 

56 - tim runs the bases petco.JPG…along the way, Tim gave the Friar a high speed high five.

My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:

After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed.  I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…

57 - TJCs and Petco 3B dugout.JPG…then an usher let my Dad hop down onto the field to get this picture with us…

58 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…and I transferred Tim over to my Dad’s shoulder to get this picture by the “336″ sign in LF:

59 - Tim and Grandpa 336.JPGBy the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence?  Those go into the Padres team store.  There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.

After that last picture, we headed out to our car…

60 - goodbye petco.JPG…and said our good-byes to Petco Park.  It was a great two game set in San Diego.

We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again.  After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…

62 - post game swim and mexican food.JPG…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall.  It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice.  So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.

2010 Fan Stats:

13 Games

14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)


61 - SD ICH and baseballs 6-13-10.JPG12 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)

Fenway Park – Part 3 of 3 (A Moment to Remember – 7/5/09)

1 - more copley ball.JPGFor the second day in a row, we woke up and had breakfast and played some baseball in Copley Square.  On this day, however, we just played catch and did some base running (on four drains in front of the Church in the square).

Soon, it was time to head to Fenway Park for our final game of the weekend roadtrip.  We were hoping for a Mariners sweep.  But it wasn’t in the cards.

I’m going to break with my usual protocol and skip to the fourth inning.  I’ll go back and cover the game from the beginning, but I don’t want to bury the most important part of this unfortunate Mariners loss in the middle of the entry.

You might have noticed by now that I am a big Mariners fan. And, by definition, that means I am a huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fan.  Ken Griffey, Jr. means everything to Mariners fans (at least to real Mariners fans).  I was 13 when Griff broke into the Mariners back in 1989.

The Mariners were a fairly unimportant team until 1989. Well, they were important to me and about 10,000 other people in the state of Washington.  But they were sort of a minor league Major League team to everyone else.  They had zero winning seasons in their history.  There were constant rumors and threats that the team would move — most notably to Tampa, Florida.  The Kingdome — as beautiful and perfect as it was — was largely empty.  (By the way, that wasn’t sarcasm, the Kingdome was, indeed, beautiful and perfect).


2- me and griff 1991.jpgAnd then, in April 1989, things changed.  KEN GRIFFEY, JR. ARRIVED!  All of a sudden, one of the most celebrated young ball players in baseball was a Seattle Mariner.  People started to pay some attention to our club.  People started showing up at the Kingdome.

In 1991, we had a WINNING SEASON!

In 1995, we WON THE WEST!  We made the PLAYOFFS!!  We were two games from the World Series.

The Mariners were no longer going to move away!  Instead, they built Safeco Field.  It was a golden era in Mariners baseball.

Long story short:  Ken Griffey, Jr. changed baseball in Seattle, he saved baseball in Seattle, he IS baseball in Seattle.

Therefore, when my son was born in 2006 and we started going to baseball games together, I had a goal:  Take Tim to see Griffey.

We have had incredibly bad luck in this respect.  Prior to this weekend, we had gone to see him play more than 10 times, and Griff played in only three of those games.  In those games, he has had gone hitless (but with a bunch of walks).

So we turn to this game.  Shortly before game time, they announced the starting line-up.  I was more saddened to learn that Mike Sweeney would be DH’ing and Griffey would have the day off.

I started thinking worst case scenario.  This is very possibly our final Mariners game of the season.  They don’t come back to the Northeast this season.  In 30 years, would Tim have to tell his son, “Yeah, your grandpa took me to see the great Ken Griffey, Jr. when I was a boy.  But I never saw him get a hit.”  I hated the thought.  But there was nothing I could do about it.  The Mariners were facing a lefty, Jon Lester, and Mike Sweeney had to get his work in to stay sharp.

Then in the fourth inning (with no disrepect to Sweeney), something wonderful happened:

3 - sweeney back spasms.JPG

I was totally unprepared.  (That notice was actually posted in the 5th or 6th inning).

Tim was sitting on my shoulders.  We were at a food stand behind the grandstand behind the seats by the 1B dugout.  I had just ordered a sausage with onions and peppers (for me), a hot dog (for Tim), a diet coke, and a bag of peanuts.  There was no counter at the cash registered so I had to hold everything in one hand while finding my money and paying the cashier with the other hand (while still balancing Tim on my shoulders with no hands).

In the midst of all of this, I hear the following over the stadium P.A. system:

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, JUNIOR!”

Instantly, my thought was, “The Red Sox don’t have a Junior!  AHHHHH!!!”

I jammed my wallet and change into my pocket, gathered up everything as best as I could and ran toward the field as fast as I could.

This picture shows our starting point and our route to the field:

4 - oh my griffs up.JPG

When we ran into the back of the grandstand, I believe we were in Section 13 or 14.

I yelled up to Tim, “I THINK GRIFF IS UP!”

Right as we got in view of the field, we saw Lester start his wind up and deliver a pitch to Griffey.  What happened next was possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen at a major league stadium:  Griff drilled the pitch off of the Green Monster!

According to my DVR, it looked something like this:

5 - Griff Hits the Monster.JPG

I think that to everyone else in the stadium, it was just a random lead off hit in the top of the fourth inning.  But to me, it was possibly the greatest baseball moment ever.  For the first time in over ten years, I witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr. — my boyhood hero and favorite baseball player of all-time — get a hit for my Seattle Mariners and I witnessed it with my son sitting on my shoulders sharing the moment with me.  And the fact that he hit the ball off the Green Monster, the most famous outfield wall in baseball, made it even more exciting.

This simple hit is easily the highlight of my season so far, and I plan to think and talk about it with Tim for years and years to come.  I hope Tim and I get another chance to see Griffey play — this season and next.  But, if that is not possible, this hit will keep me satisfied.

(By way of background and to clarify, *I* have seen Griffey get tons of hits, hit numerous homeruns, multiple grand slams, makes dozens of circus catches (including the one when he broke his arm in half) — but I’d never shared any of those moments with Tim.  That’s what made this hit so special).

By the time I could get to a spot where I could put our food down and get to my camera, Franklin Gutierrez had advanced Griff to second with a single.  Here is Griff leading off of second:

 

6 - griffs on second.JPGGriff would have two more plate appearances on the day, both walks.  He went 1-1 on the day.  Amazingly, I got zero pictures of Griff at the plate during this game.

Okay, now lets back track to the beginning of the game.

We entered the stadium again through the CF gate on Lansdowne Street.  It was a 1:35 start, but the teams still took BP.  We arrived as the first group of Mariners were hitting, including Griffey and Ichiro.

We started out in the CF bleachers.  Griffey was blasting bombs into the RF bleachers.  I wanted to go over there, but there is no way I am going to try to catch a HR ball with Tim on my shoulders.  Shortly after we arrived, Griff hit a ground rule double to straight away CF that bounced up into the stands and directly into my Dad’s glove.

My Dad has had great luck with Griffey this year.  In addition to this BP ground rule double, on the first day of spring training, my Dad got Griff’s second BP homerun in his second tour of duty with the Mariners.

I decided to go up onto the Green Monster and see if Tim and I could get into the seating area.  There is a staircase in the CF concourse that takes you up to the Green Monster.  You can walk out to the edge of the seating area, but they won’t let you out into the seats without a Monster ticket.   So Tim and I just stood around up there for a few minutes taking in the view before heading back down to the field level seats.

I had a thought in the back of my head that it would be neat to get a ball thrown up to us on the Green Monster.  Tim and I stood in the closest spot to the seats that you can get to without a Monster ticket:

8 - phillips from monster.JPG We stood in the spot under the red arrow where the guy in the red shirt is standing.  I noticed Jason Vargas and Jason Phillips standing together below in LCF.   (In the picture to the right, that is Jason Phillips after the two Jasons split up).

After a few minutes, someone hit a ball to Vargas.  I yelled down from the Mondster, “Hey, Vargas!!!!”  He heard me!  He looked up!  He turned around and he fired the ball to me. Unfortunately, it was too low and it clanked off a light and some bricks just below us — out of reach.

Jason Phillips stood and watched Vargas’s failed attempt.  And just then, someone hit him a ball.  “Hey, Jason!”  Phillips looked back up at me.  He turned around and he fired the ball to me.  A perfect strike.  It would have hit me directly in the chest.  It was a very impressive throw, and much appreciated.

“Thanks, Jason!”

Here is a picture that illustrates the flight of the ball:

At the time Phillips threw the ball, he was even a little bit — maybe 10-15 feet — closer toward LF.  He didn’t lob the ball up to me.  He fired it on a line, just like the arrow in this picture.  As I said, a very impressive throw.

Tim and I then went down to the CF bleachers and met up with my mom who was standing right where my Dad caught Griff’s ground rule double about 10 minutes earlier.

Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were standing below us.  Felix runs all over the place trying to make high light reel catches during BP.  At one point, he caught one near us.  He looked up and made I contact with me (and Tim).  There was a lady from Seattle shouting at him standing directly next to me to my left.  Felix fired the ball up to us.  He threw it to our right side so the shouting lady wouldn’t interfere.  I could have caught it without moving at all — I just had to reach across my body and back hand it.  However, as I started to go for the backhand, I realize there was a 8′ish year old boy wearning a Red Sox jersey and a glove standing next to me.  If I didn’t catch the ball, he’d get it.  I decided to let me have it since we already had the ball from Jason Phillips and we got Felix’s warm up ball the day before.

Soon thereafter, someone hit a ball into the OF corner by the end of the Red Sox bullpen.  Here was the scene:

9 - bedard ball.JPG

We were standing in the red circle.  Erik Bedard was standing at the red “X”.  There was a rope running along the warning track.  (I think it was to keep people involved in the pre-game ceremonies off of the grass).  The rope went down the warning track and around a big door in the outfield wall.  The ball went in the corner behind the rope as shown above.

Bedard turned around and walked over and grabbed the ball.  A whole bunch of people including a bunch of 10′ish year old kids, were standing by the bullpen directly above the ball.  I figured Bedard would grab it and flip it up to them.  While those people all yelled at Bedard for the ball, Erik picked it up and looked at them.  He then walked as slowly as humanly possible back over to the yellow “X” in the picture above.  Then he looked up and made eye contact with me (and Tim), and fired the ball to us.  I had the feeling that Bedard had watched Felix throw us the ball when I let the kid catch it and he was trying to finish what Felix had started.  The yelling lady was still next to me.  Like Felix, Bedard threw the ball to my right so she wouldn’t get it.

 Next, it was time to walk around.  We checked out the RF corner and the Pesky Pole:

9a - pesky pole.JPG

As RF corners go, this is one of the most interesting in baseball.  Not very “corner-ish.”  More like a RF curve.

We walked up through the old wooden grandstand seats:

 
10 - grandstand seats 1B line.JPG

We headed out to Yawkey Way and watched Tom Caron from NESN interview comedian Mike O’Malley:

11 - nesn tom caron and mike omalley.JPG

Sean Casey was walking around the NESN set.  I walked over to get a picture of him (or possibly with him), but he vanished into thin air.

It was getting close to game time, so we walked back into the stadium and went through the busy concourse behind home plate:

12 - concourse home to third.JPG

When we were down here, we got Tim a chocolate ice cream helmet and headed toward our seats in the grandstand behind home plate:

16 - overflowing ice cream helmet.JPG

The seats were great.  Here was our view:

13 - fenway 22-15-18 panramic.jpg

The red arrow points to where Tim and I were standing when Griffey hit his single off of the Green Monster.

We watched te pre-game festivities such as the reading of the Fenway Park Code of Conduct…

14 - fenway code of conduct.JPG

…the carrying of the pink backpack to the Mariners bullpen by Christ Jakubauskas…

15 - Jak-n-backpack.JPG

…the third ceremonial first pitch by Marky Mark Wahlberg (and his re-do third ceremonial first pitch due to his first third ceremonial first pitch sailing high over the catcher to the backstop):

17 - Marky Mark Pitches the Funky Stuff.JPG

Finally, it was game time.  As always, future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki led off for the Mariners:

18 - lester-to-ichi with floating ball and pedroia.JPG

I like this picture for two reasons — (i) the ball is captured right above the plate (but low, it was called a ball) and (ii) Dustin Pedroia is, for some reason, floating in the air at second base (click on the picture to see it larger, Pedroia is totally off of the ground).

I got some more Red Sox pictures:

19 - youk-n-papi.JPG

I wanted to get a shot of Big Papi clapping his hands before stepping into the box but I missed it.  He hit the next pitch into the RF bleachers, the second Red Sox home run in the first inning.

By the time Griff was up for a second time, we were touring around in the grandstand out beyond the Pesky Pole.  He walked.  Here he is leading off first base:

20 - griffs on first.JPG

We went out to the concourse in the RF corner and took this picture showing the Red Sox World Series and other banners:

25 - fenway banners panaramic.jpg

FYI, see the guy wearing the red shirt above the blue 1967 banner in the middle of the picture?  He is standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats where Tim and I spent a lot of time over the course of the weekend.

The red arrow in that last picture is pointing to this:

 
26 - the Green Monster.JPG

I’m guessing this guy is called the “Green Monster.”  We saw the real one of this guy running around on the field before each game, but we never saw him in the crowd.  This was the best we could do with respect to getting a mascot picture.

See the red arrow in that last picture?  It is pointing to a staircase that leads to the “Players Club.”  I’m not sure what the Players Club is all about.  It looked like it was for special events or people with special tickets.  But we headed in to check it out and no one seemed to mind.  Here is what it looked like:

21 - players club.jpg

…more players club…

22 - players club.jpg

…and we found something cool in the Players Club:

23 - 2004 2007 WS trophies.JPG

(From Left:  2004 World Series Trophy, Todd & Tim, 2007 World Series Trophy)

We walked out of the players club just in time to see this…

24 - Ellsbury homer.JPG

Through the break in the grandstand and bleachers, that is Jacoby Ellsbury hitting a home run to bring the score to 4-3 Mariners.

We met up with my folks and watched the game on a TV while we ate some food at the tables in the RF corner.  From our table, you could see the Players Club above the food stands:

27 - players club outside.JPG

While we sat here, the Mariners brought in Miguel Batista.  It was not Miguel’s day.  He gave up a bunch of runs and the Mariners eventually lost the game 8-4.

 Tim and I watched the last inning from our familiar RF corner by the Mariners bullpen.  We were hoping Griff would get one more at bat, but it wasn’t in the cards.  We settled for one more picture with the field before heading out:

28 - one last look.JPG

This game, we switched things up and exited the stadium from the RF exit so I could get a picture of this:

29 - ted williams.JPG
When my Dad was a kid, there was no baseball team in the state of Washington.  Ted Williams was his baseball hero.  This is what the plaque below Ted says:

9

Ted Williams

Boston Red Sox

The greatest hitter who ever lived, an American patriot, and a pioneer in the development of the Jimmy Fund.   Ted Williams will forever be one of the great heroes in the history of baseball, Boston and America.  He amassed 521 home runs despite sacrificing five years in his prime to serve his country during World War II and the Korean War.  He was a relentless champion of children, such as this child to whom he is offering his cap, in their battle against cancer, and helped make the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute the world renowned center of research and care that it is today.

The memory of Ted Williams will forever be a point of pride for the Boston Red Sox, the people of Boston, New England, and the United States of America.

We took one more picture outside:

30 - goodbye fenway.JPG
“Good bye, Fenway!”

With that, we started our walk back to the hotel…
 

31 - hit the road.JPG
…so we could start our drive back home.

For so many reasons, it was such an awesome weekend shared with Tim and my folks.

32 - weekend recap.JPG
 

Season Fan Stats:


fenway ticket.jpg18 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
14 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
17 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Start Spreading The News: Mariners Beat Yankees in the Bronx (7/2/09)

So I am behind in my entries because my folks, Tim and I are in the midst of an EXTREMELY AWESOME Fourth-of-July-Mariners-Rampage-on-the-A.L.-East-Leaders-Weekend Roadtrip.  Right now, Tim is crashed out from another super-sweet Mariners victory at Fenway Park.  So I guess it is time to use Tim’s pre-fireworks nap to begin my entry for our July 2, 2009 game at the new Yankee Stadium.

After the M’s schedule came out for this season, I noticed the M’s would be in Boston over the 4th of July weekend.  So I asked my recently retired parents, Jim and Marilyn, if they wanted to meet up with me and Tim for some road M’s games.  Then we realized that the day before the Boston series the M’s would be in the Bronx.  So we incorporated this game into our trip.

My good friend from college, Davlynn, used to live at 84th & Amsterdam, so I always park there whenever I go to NYC.  So that’s what we did.  And we took the B and the D train up to the Stadium.  The people on the subway were very nice.  We were going the wrong way and several people pointed us in the right direction when they noticed we were wearing Mariners gear but heading the wrong way.

Once we arrived at 161st Street, this is what we saw:

1- bronx outside panaramic.jpg

Tim was a bit disoriented from just waking up from a nap.  So he didn’t want his picture outside the stadium.  But we got some a shot of me and my dad, and one of my folks:

2a - outside with folks.JPG

Tim was pretty helpful, however, finding the tickets in my mom’s purse:

2 - finding tickets.JPG

Once found, we entered the stadium through Gate 6:

3 - into stadium.JPG

The “Great Hall” is pretty Great.  Its some pretty cool architecture.  But it doesn’t look like a baseball stadium.  More like a really cool train station — like 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

Here is our first view of the field:

4- bronx 1st view panaramic.jpg

We went early for Mariners BP (and a few minutes of Yankees BP) so we had the *great honor* of visiting the exclusive field level of Yankee Stadium:

5 - field level.JPG

In the first picture, Tim is stuffing his face with a hot dog and pretzel.  It really hit the stop and made it so he could start enjoying his Bronx experience.  In the middle, my pa and I pose with the field before heading off to make our best efforts and snagging a BP homerun.  On the right, I wanted to show you my silly Washington Nationals string backpack.  I learned the hard way last season at the Yankees don’t allow real back packs.  So, luckily, at the May 17th Phillies/Nationals game in D.C., the Nationals gave Tim this string backpack that we used at this game.

While the Yankees were still hitting, I went behind home plate to take a panaramic:

 

9 - bronx field home panaramic.jpg

…and we saw Freddy Sez…who had a less than prophetic message on this sign:

 

8 - freddy sez.JPG

Later, we jinxed the Yankees by having Tim — a true blue Mariners fan — ding Freddy’s pan — TAKE THAT YANKEES!

I watched the M’s prepare for BP:

 

10 - Griff Felix BP.JPG

You can’t tell in this picture, but King Felix was swinging a bat behind the cage.  I noticed that it was Ronny Cedeno’s bat.  Griff, on the other hand, was swinging a Ken Griffey, Jr. bat.

Griff and Ichi were in the first group of M’s hitters and they practiced their bunting:

 

10a - ichi to griff.JPGA few minutes later, we were banished from the field level.  We made our way to the less exclusive bleachers where my dad became the first Cook to snag a ball at Yankee Stadium.  It was Mariners BP homerun.  It bounced into the field level seats and my pappy reached out and grabbed it before it could fall back down to the field level seats.  Here he is with his bounty:

6 - pa 1st bronx ball.jpg

Then my dad and Tim posed for a picture in the bleachers:

7 - tim and pa.JPG

Tim asked my mom if she’d take a picture of him with his water bottle on his head.  And she’s a grandma, so she said yes:

8 - waterhead.JPG

 Soon, BP was finished and it was time to explore the stadium.  We started by climbing the stairs in RF to the highest spot in RF where I took this picture:

11 - 4-train.JPG

That’s the number 4 train speeding by the outfield wall — which it did all night long.  Tim loves trains.  So it was cool to have one zooming by every couple of minutes.  Our seats were in the third to last row right on the aisle under the big ball on the AT&T sign — and they cost me only $5/ticket.

While up there, I zoomed in on the new Monument Park…

12 - monument park.jpg

…and this picture of Carsten Charles Sabbathia — who looked almost as big as Monument Park:

 

13 - sabbathia warms.jpgThen we headed to the highest point behind home plate where I took these pictures:

15 - bronx home upper panaramic.jpg

While Tim hung out with Grandpa, I got this picture with my mom:

16 - upper deck with mom.JPG

And then we got a family picture (except for me wife who is home watching the puppy and relaxing):

17 - folks and TJCs.JPG

Then we went to the highest spot in LF.  I took this picture showing the bleachers and the bullpens, etc.:

18 - bleachers from upper deck.JPG

Then we headed to our seats.  Here is Tim standing on the row in front of our seats.  Check it out, traditional “bleachers” with no seat backs:

19 - Tim in 238-22-2.JPG

By the way, for anyone interest in it, this picture was taking from Section 238, Row 22, Seat 2.  From that spot, we watched Jason Vargas warm-up for the game:

21 - vargas warms.jpg

From our seats, this is what you see if you look behind you over your right shoulder:

20 - retired numbers.JPG

Here is what they mean:  4 – Lou Gehrig; 3 – Babe Ruth; 5 – Joe DiMaggio, 7 – Mickey Mantle, 37 – Casey Stengel; 8 – Yogi Berra & Bill Dickey (retired together in 1972); 16 – Whitey Ford; 15 – Thurmon Munson; 32 – Elston Howard; 9 – Roger Maris; 10 – Phil Rizzuto; 1 – Billy Martin; 44 – Reggie Jackson; 23 – Don Mattingly; 49 – Ron Guidry; and 42 – Jackie Robinson (in Dodger Blue instead of Yankee blue).

 My main gripe with new Yankee Stadium is that it is sorta like a museum with tons of armed guards stationed everywhere to keep the museum safe from the riff-raff that trudge through it.  There were armed police officers all over the place.  Tons and tons of them.  And one of the main goals of the place seems to be to keep the low paying customers out of the way of the high paying customers.  However, I was very happy to learn that they don’t really care what you do in the concourse (other than carry your son on your shoulders).  Specifically, in the outfield concourse directly on the back side of the retired numbers no one cared if Tim and I played catch.  We didn’t just throw one or two balls.  We full-on played catched for several innings at a time twice.  Here we are having a lot of fun (and I could even see Ichiro score the first run of the game from here):

 
22 - playing catch.jpg

After our first catching session, Tim got an ice cream helmet for $6.50:

23 - bronx ice cream helmet.JPG

Hey, have you heard at all about some seats having an obstructed view in CF in Yankee Stadium?  The rumors are true — how in the world did they failed to plan around this?

24 - obstructed view.JPG
Don’t worry.  If you sit in these seats, its I’m sure nothing will happen in RF or 1B — and if it does, I’m sure you’ll be able to see all the action by looking at the side of those flat screen TVs.

Eventually, my dad wanted to see the team store so we went exploring.  Here is a panaramic from the second deck in LF foul territory:

26 - bronx LF foul concourse panaramic.jpg

Here is the main entrance to the Yankees front office:

27 - Yankees Offices.JPG

They do have standing room in the open air concourse behind the field level where anyone can stand and watch the action.  Here is a shot of Kenji Johima getting drilled by a pitch:

29 - hitting kenji.JPG

Here is another shot of the Great Hall — this time at night with the readboards lit up in blut lights:

30 - great hall blue.JPG

When we got back to our seats, it seemed like some of the crowd had left.  We were able to get some seats down in the first row above the Mariners bullpen.

 

31d - watching the M's win.JPG

Notice the armed guard right next to us.

We watched David Aardsma warm up:

31 - david aardsma.JPG

The M’s bullpen is a colorful group of guys.  They have a bunch of traditions that help them build a sense of family in the pen.  One is a pink backpack that rookie reliever Chris Jakubauskas carries everywhere.  Another is a bunch of warrior helmets the releivers take with them:

31a - helmets.JPG

Here is 30-year-old rookie Jakubauskas sitting with one of the helmets:

31b - jak and helmet.JPG

Jak and M’s bullpen catcher, Jason Phillips — a heck of a good guy as I’ve come to learn — were having a great time in the bullpen.  A bunch of Yankees fans were playfully heckling them and they were playing right along.  Eventually, Jason Phillips rewarded me with a ball after I called out his name:

31c - TJCs first ball.JPG

After Phillips threw us the ball (the second ball he’s thrown us this season), I got an idea.  The M’s tote around all sorts of odd things in their pink backpack.  I thought I’d try to give them something to add to the mix.  I’ve had an A-Rod Mariners photo ball sitting around the house for years that I just can’t stand.  I thought it might find a happier home in the pink backpack.  So I wrote a message on it:

32 - A-Rod ball.JPG

After Aardsma shut the Yankees down for the Mariners win, I tried to get Phillips’ attention again.  I think I may be one of the only people who knows his name while at a Mariners game.  So he has responded well to me calling his name.  I yelled out again and showed him the ball and said I wanted to throw it to him.  He yelled something that looked agreeable, but then he walked out of sight.  He came back a minute or two later and waved a ball at me and yelled, “Its autographed already” and he threw it up to me.  I thanked him for it but yelled back, “Thanks.  But I want you to have *this ball*.”  I threw it down to him.  My mom yelled, “Read it!”

Phillips picked it up and read it.  He gave me a big smile and a thumbs up and walked out of sight.  By golly, I think it worked!  (Stay tuned for future entries to see if it really worked!)

Interestingly, the autographed ball made it two balls from Phillips in about 10 minutes.  Here they are with one of our tickets and Tim’s ice cream helmet:

35 - helmet balls and ticket.JPG

After the game, we posed for pictures.  Here are my folks:

33 - folks after m's win.JPG

Tim was too tired for our picture.  The game ended at 11 o’clock due in part to a 30 minute “rain delay” despite absolultely no rain and the field ever being covered.

Here is Tim a few minutes later in the subway:

34 - lights out on subway.JPG

Now, its off to Boston!

Season Fan Stats:

15 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
6 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
11 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), and Yankees)
11 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Umpire)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, NL West)
 
2 Autographs (Ryan Perry, Jason Phillips)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

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