Results tagged ‘ Ken Griffey Jr. ’

2009: It Was The Best Of Times…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cheesin.jpg

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

ibombez.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

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

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

Camden Yards B.Y.O.I.C.H. (10-4-09)

Now, I realize that the title of this entry looks a little risque.  But I assure you it it not.  Read on and eventually you’ll see what its all about. 

On October 4 – the final day of the regular season (for everyone except the Twins and Tigers), Tim and I headed down to Camden Yards for our final game of what has been an outstanding 2009 season.

It was sad to think it was all coming to an end, already.  As we drove south, there was evidence of the end of baseball.  The “This Is Birdland” billboard off of Route 83 in York, PA — gone.  It has been there all season.  Worse yet, the Birdland billboards in Baltimore itself were also gone.  Finally, all season every street in downtown Baltimore had been adorned with numerous Orioles lamp-top signs.  All gone.  Sad.

So, here we were in Baltimore, closing out our in-person baseball season on the final Sunday of the season in the same place we had opened our in-person baseball season back in April on the first Sunday of the 2009 season.

Tim and I have seen a lot of great things and created a lot of great memories this season.  I was ready for one more day of it, but wishing there would be more.

Our first peak down Eutaw Street revealed some stadium attendants readying this beautiful baseball venue for one more hoorah before the off-season:


1 - readying for final game of 2009.jpgWe arrived early for batting practice.  But when we arrived I figured out that I had mistakenly thought it was a 1:05 start.  In fact, it was a 1:35 start and the stadium wasn’t even open yet.  So we had some time to kill before the gates opened at 11:35.

No problem.  Every time we’d visited Baltimore this season, I’d wanted to get a picture of Tim with the Babe Ruth statue.  Now, we finally  had some free time to do so:


2 - bambino and tim.jpgNext, Tim raced around a lot before deciding to pose with some of the retired Orioles numbers:


3 - o's numbers and tim trophy.jpgNotice how there is no “8″ in the bottom right picture?  About a month or two ago, four teenagers decided it would be a great idea to steal Ripken’s “8.”  It was all caught on camera and they were caught red-handed a short time after taking the “8.”  I was surprised it still had not beeen restored to its normal spot.

In my pictures this season, I’ve shown a lot of views of the warehouse from the field area.  It looks like a long brick building from there.  But you can’t tell how deep of a building it is.  So, I took this picture from outside the CF gate that shows the warehouse isn’t very wide:


4 - end of warehouse.jpgWhen they finally let us into the stadium, we found there was no BP.  I guess it wasn’t a huge shock.   It was a Sunday day game and the last game of the season and both teams were long since eliminated.  But, still, I thought they might hit just because it would make the fans happy.  No dice.

Despite no BP, they still had the stadium closed off except for season ticket holders who were free to go into the stadium to not watch BP:


5 - season ticket holders no BP entrance.jpgSo, we headed to our seats in section 90, straight away CF.  On the way, I took a panaramic view from a couple sections over from our seats:


6 - camden CF section 94 panaramica.jpgAnd I took this view from our seats.  Section 90, Row A, Seats 1-2 — very nice:


7 - camden CF section 90 row A seat 1 panaramic.jpgFinally, they opened the rest of the stadium. Tim hopped up on my shoulders and we walked the main field level aisle to take in the scenes of Camden Yards.  Here is our view as we approached home plate:


8 - camden plate 1B foul field panaramic.jpgAnd just for kicks, another view from about 50 feet away from the last view:


9 - camden plate 1B foul field pre-game panarama.jpgSome Blue Jays pitchers congregated down the 3B line to play catch…


10 - league accardo.jpg…the guy closest to us in the picture above to the left is Brandon Leauge.  Tim and I walked up to the railing and Tim yelled, “HI, ICHIRO!  Can I have that baseball?”  I explained that League wasn’t Ichiro.  Tim asked where Ichiro was.  Not here, unfortunately.

A few minutes later, Jeremy Accardo (pictured above to the right) walked by on his way to the dugout.  He walked up to us and pulled a ball out of his back pocket and handed it to Tim.

“Thanks, Jeremy!”

Then he proceeded down the baseline and started signing autographs by the end of the Jays’ bullpen.  With ball still in hand, Tim followed Accardo all the way down the line.  I followed along and grabbed a sharpie out of my backpack.  I told Tim to get up to the front of the group and ask Accardo to sign the ball he’d just given Tim.  Tim got up to the front and set the ball and sharpie on the top of the fence and then he uttered one of his funniest lines of the season:

“Excuse me, can you scribble on my ball?”

Accardo and the entire group of autograph seekers broke into laugher.  Accardo scribbled on Tim’s ball.

Then we headed to the kids’ play area.  First, Tim heated up the gun on the kids’ speed pitch:


11 - give em the heater rickey.jpgNext, he hit the bouncy house…


12 - final bouncy housing of 2009.jpg…usually the bouncy house is packed.  But it was only Tim and that little girl for a while. No one was in line so they got to bounce for a long time.  Eventually, the girl grabbed onto Tim’s leg and took him down like a freestyle wrestler.  Tim fell to the ground and complained to his tormentor:

“Don’t play with me.  I’m not a toy!”

As game time approached, we headed back to the field and watched the grounds crew chalk the batters box:


13 - readying the field.jpgThen we headed out to the team store.  On the way out there, I took this picture:


14 - smile for the team store.jpgFinally, it was game time and we headed to our seats.  We were right on the railing by the batters eye.  Check out all of the grass they’ve transplanted from the batters eye area to fix grass on the field:


15 - field patch grass.jpgTo took the picture below to the left showing the field and the railing separating the crowd from the batters eye…


16 - camden vines.jpg…Tim took a close up of the ivy vines on the railing.

Wow — somehow I put this picture totally out of place.  But check out how wide open and empty the concourse was behind 3B…


17 - big open and empty 3B concourse.jpg…the only bad thing about Camden Yards is that you cannot see the field from the concourse.

Back to our seats in CF, I took this action shot of Ricky Romero striking out (I think) Brian Roberts:


18 - romero to roberts.jpg…see the red arrow?  It is pointing to the seat I’d be sitting in to end our in-person baseball season.  See the guy in the seat in front of the red arrowed-seat?  After each pitch, he presses a button that flashes up on a little screen a description of the pitch (i.e., 92 M.P.H. fastball).

For the second weekend in a row, we were sitting behind Vernon Wells… 


19 - vernon wells.jpg…this game was much more relaxing for Vernon because no one was yelling at him that he hasn’t earned his multi-million dollar contract.

If you’ve been following this blog this season, you know that Camden Yards is the only stadium we’ve ever visited that doesn’t have ice cream helmets.  Since early June I’d had an idea and I finally implimented it at this game…


20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg…Camden Yards:  Bring Your Own Ice Cream Helmet.

I wanted to do this in late June when we saw the Nationals in Baltimore, but I forgot the helmet at home somehow.

It was pretty cool to be scraffing down a Seattle Mariners ice cream helmet in Baltimore.  And, I’m pretty sure that Tim is the only person to have an ice cream helmet in Baltimore this season.  That’s pretty cool to say.  But, I hope that thousands of people get the joy of eating an ice cream helmet at this classic ballpark next season.

By the way, this was an excellent ice cream helmet.  Real strawberry ice cream with chunks of strawberries and sprinkles.  Delicious.

After his ice cream helmet, Tim asked to go to his favorite spot, the flag pavillion.  On the way, he posed for this picture at the top of section 90:


21 - catching the game from CF.jpg…please excuse the strawberry ice cream reminants on Tim’s Ichiro shirt.

Tim loves the flag pavillion…


22 - tim in flags.jpg…it is great for running around and playing fake baseball games.

This was our view from over the RF wall…


23 - camden RF flag panarama.jpg…we were out toward the CF side because the wall is lower on that side.  Down by the RF foul pole, the fence is about a foot taller, it seems, and you have to stand right at the fence to see over it.  In CF, you can stand back a little bit and still see the action.

Tim decided that the big diamond shaped pattern on the ground was a baseball field, and the dark corners were bases…


24 - fake game in flag pavillion.jpg…we played a lot of fake baseball there.

In the picture to the top left, Tim is sitting in the “dugout.”  After a few seconds, he yelled “Now batting, Roehner” (fyi, Roehner is Tim’s imaginary pro-baseball player friend).   Then he jumped up (top right) and ran toward the home plate corner of the pattern and said, “Yay, I’m up.”  It was pretty cute.

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this awesome park, but I realized I’d never taken a panaramic view of the Eutaw Street warehouse.  Well, here you go:


25 - camden warehouse panaramic.jpgAnd here is a view from Eutaw Street looking into the flag pavillion:


26 - camden flag pavillion panarama.jpgWhile out on Eutaw Street, we looked for all of the Mariners home run markers.  There were only two:


27 - griffey bomb.jpgOh, yeah, my man Ken Griffey, Jr. can hit some BOMBS!  The one on the left is the only ball to ever hit the warehouse on the fly.  (Yes, I’ve included a picture of this before, but who cares, its worth a second, third, or fifteenth picture, so don’t count on this being the last).

Late in the game, we headed behind home plate and hung out in prime foul ball territory — above the main cross aisle.  This was our view:


28 - camden plate above aisle big shadow panarama.jpgAs I sat in the back row watching the game, Tim took about 100 pictures.

In this picture, Tim is looking down into the main aisle taking rapid fire pictures of people walking by:


29 - rapid fire fan cam.jpg…it was pretty cool to watch a slide show of Tim’s cross aisle pictures (but I won’t bore you with them).

Here are a few of my favorite shots Tim took toward the end of the game:


30 - tims picts.jpgTop left, Tim’s view from his perch on my shoulders (you can see he is looking over my shoulders).  Top right, Tim took a shot of some writers in the press box.  Bottom right, this cute little fan waved up to Tim as he was taking his rapid fire fan shots (it was hilarious when this picture came up in the sequence of his fan shots).  Bottom left, I’m filling up Tim’s travel water cup (actually a baby’s sippy cup) at the water fountain out beyond RF.

Back to our foul ball spot behind the plate, here is a panaramic view:


31 - good shot by tim.jpgAnd here is a shot Tim took of me sitting in the back row (see how the press box is right behind me):


32 - daddy watching on.jpgThen Tim and I took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other:


33 - picture-in-picture.jpg…Tim’s camera is my old camera.  It has problems in bright light (it gets blury), but its perfect for Tim.  He loves it.

As the ninth inning approached, I asked Tim if he wanted to go down behind home plate and see if the umpire would give us a ball at the end of the game.  Of course, he did.  So, we found some great seats in the 8th row off of the umpires’ tunnel.  Here was the view:


34 - camden plate 8th row panaramic.jpgOur season was almost over, so I was getting picture happy, and I took one of us fooling around in the seats:


34a - another picture why not.jpgAnd I took a picture of the Blue Jays dugout:


35 - jays dugout.jpgAnd, as the game went into extra innings (free bonus baseball!), I took some action shots of pitches approaching home plate:


36 - action behind plate.jpgAnd I got one of Luke Scott hitting a ground ball…


37 - lukes not hit.jpg…and getting thrown out at 1B.

The game went into the bottom of the 11th inning still tied 3-3.  The Blue Jays brought in Brandon League to try to shut down the O’s for one more inning.  Big mistake.  The first batter got a solid base hit.  The second batter laid down a nice sacrifice bunt.  League fielded it near 1B and *shot put* over the head of the first basemen for an E-1.  With runners on first and second and no one out, the third batter laid down another sacrifice bunt.  Again, League fielded it.  Again, League threw it away.  This time he spiked it into the dirt in front of 1B.  It went by whoever was covering 1B and squibbed into shallow RF.  The lead off batter scored easily from 2B.  And that was it.  Season over for the O’s and Jays.

And it was “go time” as far as trying to get our final umpire ball (and final ball period) of the 2009 season.  One piece of background here.  During the 9th or 10th inning, Tim yelled “Umpire can I have a ball?” during a break between half-innings.  The umpire looked up at Tim, but had no expression on his face.  Still, I thought he had heard Tim.

Now, back to the end of the game.  We were in the 8th row on the 1B side of the umpire tunnel.  We couldn’t get any lower because there were people in every other row — mostly adults, but a few kids at the very bottom.  But right when the third out was recorded about 10,000 kids flooded the first row.  I figured there was no chance for us to get an umpire ball in the 8th row.

Triple-A call-up umpire Todd Tichenor walked through the gate and emptied his baseball bags into his umpire’s mask.  He had about 6 balls, it seemed.  He stopped in the first row and gave them all out to screaming little kids.  I figured the deal was done.  No umpire ball.

Then Tichenor started walking into the tunnel.  He walked directly below us.  Tim and I were peering over the brick wall and I said, “Hey, do you have one more ball for my son?”  Without looking up, Tichenor stopped directly in front of us.  His right hand reached into the bag attached to his right hip and pulled out *the final umpire ball of Camden Yards 2009 season* and lofted it directly up to us.

“THANK YOU, BLUE!”

 Tim got all excited when he looked at the baseball and saw the MLB batter logo on the ball.  “Daddy, there is a Mariner on my ball!”  A few minutes later he would add, “When I was a baby, I didn’t realize there were Mariners on the baseballs.”  That gave me a chuckle.

Sadly, we started to make out way out of the stadium for the final time in 2009.  Just then, we saw the Oriole’s Bird signing autographs down the 1B line.  We made our way to the front of the line and got a high five and a very serious looking picture with the Bird:


38 - tim and bird.jpgThen Tim posed with his 37th and final ball of the season…


39 - final game final ball of 2009.jpg…and we made out way out to Eutaw Street to walk to our car.

As we approached CF, we looked back toward the field.  The gates to the OF seats were locked up, and we could see the Bird heading into the umpire’s tunnel for the final time of the 2009 season…

 


the bird is out of here.jpg…the end of the season had officially arrived in Baltimore.

We took one last picture on our way out of Camden Yards:


40 - final picture - goodbye 2009.jpgAnd then it was over.

But wait, when we arrived home, I watched the Mariners beat the Rangers for finish with 85 wins and a grand celebration on the field after the game.  It was an awesome end to the Mariners season.

Bring on 2010!

Season Fan Stats:

 

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

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
27 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
37 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 3 Umpire, 3 Astros, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1, 1 Blue Jays)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Hill, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry, Jeremy Accardo) 
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

 

Up Next:  Cook & Son’s 2009 Season-In-Review Wrap Up

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


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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I took some random pictures: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I got there, this is what I saw:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thanks, Brandon!”

Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:

10 - jason phillips.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

 
11 - more adam moore.jpg 
IMG_4456.jpg
  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUCCESS!!!

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

16 - woooh.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”

Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

47 - more on field fun.jpg

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

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

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

Season Fan Stats:

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


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

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

50 - four balls.jpg

“The Yankees Are Bossy” (9-19-09)

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

“Dad, the Yankees are bossy.”

Indeed.

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

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

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

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

1 - ichiro.jpg…he would draw a walk.

 Tim was very protective of his ice cream:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here is Adrian Beltre… 

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

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

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

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

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

Young gun Doug Fister was on the mound…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season Fan Stats:

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

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

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

Extra Innings in Seattle (9-17-2009)

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

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

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

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

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

3 - adam moore stretching.jpg

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

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

5 - Morrow in Bullpen.jpg

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

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

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

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

6 - backwards watching to the pen.jpg

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

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

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

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


9 - nice ice cream seats.jpg

This was our view:

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

10 - ice cream madness.jpg

Colleen took a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25 - beltre blast.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was our view from section 186:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

33 - section 186 with daddy.jpg

Colleen took a great action shot too:

lowe induces a grounder.jpg

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

34 - safeco sign and clock.jpg

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

Bring on some extra innings!!!

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

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

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

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

Here is an illustration of the throw:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

MARINERS WIN!!!

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

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

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

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

Season Fan Stats:

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

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

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

 

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

 

Douglas S. Cook

 


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

Ultimate Goal: Accomplished (8-23-09)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 - tims hotrod.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18 - jake RF foul upper panaramic.jpg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 - felix from pizza line.jpg.

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

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

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

Here is Tim out in the bleachers:

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

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

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

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

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

Season Fan Stats:

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

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

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

 

1st Baseball Roadtrip Recap (2008)

Tomorrow evening, Tim and I will fly to Chicago where we will meet up with my dad.  Its time for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.  I figured I’d share the story of our The (original) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008 so you know the background of this grand tradition.

I only started blogging about our baseball experiences this season.  Last season, I had to resort to traditional email updates to keep my wife and other family members up-to-date on our trip status.  Below, I have copied and pasted those email updates with just a few of the many pictures that were originally attached to the emails.  I hope you enjoy.

This season, our Road Trip will take us from Wrigley to the HHH Metrodome to Miller Park and back to the south side of Chicago for a game at U.S. Cellular Field.  The last game of the Road Trip will mark an important milestone and I’m EXTREMELY excited to get this trip under way and rack up some awesome family baseball memories.

So, here is the background I promised:

 

[AUGUST 15, 2008]

So we are in Washington, PA at our first night KOA. The drive went well
last night. Tim got whiney right at the end when we took a wrong turn and
got lost for a short time. Otherwise, he did great.
 
1roadtrip1camping.jpgHe wasn’t too excited to sleep in the cabin at first, but he ended up having
a great night and is really enjoying the campground. He thinks the red
light on the fire alarm on the ceiling of the cabin is a ladybug and he
talked about it at great length last night until 12:30 am when he finally
went to bed.
 
This morning he did some exploring and then hit some baseballs. Pa and I
played catch in between Tim’s hacks at the tee.
 
Next, we’re off to Cabela’s in West Virginia so Tim can check out some live
fish and dead animals. Then its on to Cincinnati where we will be in a
hotel. The Reds play the Cardinals tonight and I’m hoping Pujols hits 4
homeruns.
 
Here are some pictures.
 
Next update tonight following the game.
 
-Todd

 

[AUGUST 16, 2008]

Here are a ton of pictures from today. We arrived in Cincinnati around
3pm. Hung out at our hotel a bit. Then we hit the streets and walked to
“Skyline Chili” for dinner. I got the 5-ways Chili, Dad got 2 Cheese Coneys
and cheese fries, and Tim got the kid’s cheese coney meal. You might notice
in the pictures, there was some cheese involved. (note, I also got
non-cheese fries).


2-pacheesers.jpg 

Then it was off to the game. As per usual, Tim’s cuteness secured him a ball.  This time, from Cardinals reliever Chris Perez, who would eventually
earn a save in the game. We also got two autographs. Some dude, and Edison Volquez — a hot, up-and-coming pitcher for the Reds, you might have heard of him, he started the all-star game for the NL this season. [Note: At the time I wrote this, I was under the impression Volquez had been the starter, I'm not sure why.  I'm now aware Ben Sheets was the starter...I'm not sure why.]


2-greatamoutside.jpg

2-cinciballfromchrisperez.jpgWe then toured the Reds Hall of Fame, which is really cool. There is a lot
to see and do in there. Including a pitching areas where you can pitch and
someone can stick their head in a little window and call balls and strikes.

Eventually, the game started. We had nice outfield seats. The stadium is
nice. Seemed small and cozy. Tim and I had some great ice cream in Reds
helmets. We did a lot of walking around and seeing all the ins-and-outs of
the ball park.

After the game (Cardinals won 5-3), they had a spectacular fireworkds show.
I think it might have been Tim’s first. He loved it. The grande finale was
one of the best i’ve seen.

Then we walked back to the hotel. Tim fell asleep on my shoulders.
More tomorrow…
-Todd


2-greatam3cooks.jpg
2-greatamericanfromRF.jpg
2-greatamOF.jpg
2-greatamnight.jpg
2-greatamfireworks.jpg 

[AUGUST 16, 2008]

Hi, Guys. Another great day on the baseball roadtrip. We woke up in
3-batlumber.jpgCincinnati and got showered up. Tim had a fine day of brushing his teeth, started off with some quality morning brushing. After leaving the room and
packing up the car, we headed to the free breakfast in the hotel. It hit
the spot. Then it was just 100 mile drive to Louisville. Note, Cincinnati
has some of the best this-way-to-the-freeway signage I’ve ever seen. There
was a sign “To 75″ just as we exited our hotel and another one every block
for the entire mile or two that we weaved around the city before getting on
the freeway.
 
3-signatures.jpgTim did great in the car on the way down, which made the drive nice.
Louisville Slugger was excellent, even though Tim was not. Tim’s theatrics
began during the factory tour because little ones are not allowed to sit on
dad’s shoulders in the factory (although there was nothing low hanging that
would have bonked tim’s head). so, he whined a bunch in the factory. I was
suprised how small the factory is. They essentially make all MLB bats
(about 40% of all bats used in the MLB) on one machine. It cranks them out
at rate of 30 seconds per bat. Minor League bats are made on the other side
of the factory.
 
3-louisvilleorigins.jpgThe museum was really cool. The best item in there, in my book, was a bat
Babe Ruth used the year he hit 60 homeruns. The Babe carved 21 notches
around the label on the bat, one for each home run he hit with the bat
before it broke. The bat is huge, as you can see in the picture when you
compare it to the guy standing behind it.
 
3-hitting.jpgThere was also a baseball diamon in one room. Tim loved it. They gave
everyone mini-bats and Tim swung, swung, swung and ran, ran, ran (the bases)
in that room. He had another melt down when we finally made him leave the
room. Note, that room has a dugout, and Tim and I got an awesome picture
acting like we are teammates at the top step waiting to hit.
 
3-bighitter.jpgThey also have two batting cages in the museum. I took two rounds. One
with Ty Cobbs bat. The heaviest bat ever. Let me tell you, you notice it
at the plate! The second with a Jim Thome bat, which was designed by Edgar
Martinez (the guy running the cage is a huge M’s fan and picked it out for
me because of the Edgar connection). Dad took one round with the Hank Aaron
bat. Again, Tim had a minor meltdown when not allowed to take any hacks in
the cage.
 
We all got personalized bats. Tim and mine are with us, but Dad’s is being
mailed to Edmonds. I picked black bats with silver writing to look like
Griff’s bat. I got them personalized to remember the roadtrip.


3-bats.jpg

Next, it was off to Brookville, OH (ten miles outside of Dayton). We’re now
in our cabin at the KOA. Its a great KOA. Tim had an absolute blast. We
arrived around 4:30. Tim played like crazy in the huge boat-shaped sand
box. He played with tons of kids in the playset area. He sat on
crazy-four-wheeler bikes you can rent. He played tons of gold with his new
M’s golf set, even enlisting several neighorhooding campers (kids and
adults) to golf and/or hit baseballs with him.
 
3-ruthian.jpgWe capped off the night with Superman Ice cream (except dad has moose
tracks, I think). Then it was more quality tooth brushing. Now, lil’
Timmers is sleeping an Dad is off brushing his teeth.
 
3-bbqing.jpgOh, I forgot to mention, we BBQ’d at the cabin for dinner. Excellent
BBQ’ing by dad.
 
Oh, I also forgot a great line from this morning. I was emailing in the
hotel room and Tim said something to Pa. Then, Pa said to Tim, “No, your Pa
has it.” And Tim got this big huge smile on his face like something really
funny just happened and he says to me, “You’re Pa!? You’re Pa!?” It was
quite funny.
 
Anyway, that’s update no. 3. Please enjoy a ton of pictures below.
-Todd

 

 [AUGUST 17, 2008]

howdy, folks. so we find ourselves at the end of another great day. we
woke up in Brookville, OH this morning at about 7:30. We got the car all
packed up before Tim finally woke up. By 8am, we were on the road heading
to Cleveland. Tim was, once again, excellent in the car. We pulled into
Cleveland by about 11:30.


4-dajake.jpg
The game at Cleveland’s Progessive Field f/k/a Jacob’s Field was great. Our
4-thejake.jpgseats were in foul territory down the third base line. The Indians were
playing the Angels. I never really decided who i would root for, but when
the Indians won, it was alright with me.
 
Before the game, we toured the field by foot and then Tim and I shared some
nachos while Dad had some red vines. Once the game started, Tim did a nice
job sitting in the seats and allowing us to watch the game. However, by the
fifth, Tim was quite ready for a nap and he decided to take it on my
4-jakeconcourse.jpgshoulders. I ended up watching several innings standing at the top of the
section behind the seats while Tim did his best job of tryng to break my
neck supporting him while he napped.
 
During Tim’s nap, I talked to a robust field attendant and a guy in the last
row. The attendant mentioned that it was “kids run the bases” day and that
kids would start lining up by the 7th inning to run a lap of the bases
following the game. So, after his nap, Tim and I met back up with grandpa
and we went and found the line. After the Indians won the game (and
series), the long line started to snake its way through the bowels of
Progressive Field. (I’m happy to report that it has been 19 days since the
Indians’ last “lost time” on the job accident — or at least so read the
sign beneath the field).
 
4-jakeicecreamhelmet.jpgBecause Tim’s such a little whipper snapper, they let me run the bases with
him. We had a blast. Here is the picture the Indian’s took for us to
purchase:
http://www.printroom.com/ViewGalleryPhoto.asp?evgroupid=0&userid=indians&tcount=62&scount=20&gallery_id=1229183&image_id=19
 
4-jakefaces.jpg
4-jakenap.jpgAfter the game, we collected the kid’s giveaway (they do it after the game
for some reason), an Indians’ art set) and then we called Colleen to
mapquest directions to our next KOA.
 
We arrived in the Cleveland/Streetsboro KOA around 5pm. Its nice, but not
as happening at the Brookville KOA (which, did we mention, won KOA’s
4-firstsmoreever.jpgPresidential Award last year). We played in the kids’ play area, fed fish
from the dock, BBQ’d and made Tim’s first smorse around his first campfire
tonight. Tim had a blast and just finally got to bed.
 
All in all, it was another excellent day of road tripping. Tomorrow, we’re
off to Pittsburgh. See you then. In the meantime, check out these
pictures.
 
-Todd


4-jake3bline.jpg
4-jake325.jpg
4-jakebases.jpg


4-jakeplate.jpg

 
4-jakesprinklers.jpg

 

[AUGUST 18, 2008]

howdy, folks. so we made it home this evening, but not before taking in
5-clemente.jpganother great game on the roadtrip. we cruised a quick 100 miles into
Pittsburgh, PA this morning for a 12:30 match-up between the Pirates and the
visiting Mets. The teams decided against taking batting practice this
morning so we wondered around the park before the game and ultimately ended
up down the third base line where the Pirates’ pitchers were playing catch
in pairs. the ball catching opportunities were slim, but we capitalized
big-time. first, a Pirate pitcher (possibly someone-or-other Nelson) threw
a ball to Pa. Then, Tim and I got Pa’s ball autographed by Matt Capps (DL).
Next, Pa got our pitcher taken with Matt Capps.

5-notclemente.jpg

5-capps.jpgNext, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim. Then, Tim and I got it
autographed by Sean Burnett (eventual winning pitcher on the day), Tyler
Yates (relief pitcher today (pre-save)), and T.J. Beam. Finally, we capped
off the session with a picture with Mr. Beam.
 
Next, we walked around the park for a bit. We even visited the first water
fountain Tim ever used (last September). The water fountain is doing well.
 
We had a bite to eat before the game and Tim konked out on my shoulders, but
let me switch him to a traditional baby-holding position. He slept through
all the nachos!

5-pnc3cooks.jpg
After his nap, we got some mint chocolate chip ice cream in Pirates’
helmets. While Tim ate his (with sprinkles) sitting under our seats, a nice
5-bigscreen.jpgcamera man found us and broadcast Tim for about 10-15 seconds on the jumbo
tv screen in the park. It was actually our second time getting media
coverage on the day. Earlier, we had our text message about the roadtrip
put up on the scoreboard between the first and second levels.
 
Our seats in the OF were excellent. But, due to the heat, we eventually
relocated to the handicap accessible seats under the right field seats. It
had an excellent breeze that made the end of the exciting game even better.
 
5-pnctouring.jpgAfter the game, we took a leisurely 250 mile drive back to Reading where
mommy was waiting to greet and hug us.
 
Its been a truly great baseball roadtrip. Although I have to work in the
day tomorrow, the roadtrip continues tomorrow evening with a Phils vs. Nats
game in Philadelphia. Should be more of the same — fun, fun, fun.
 
See pictures attached.
 
-Todd

 

 [AUGUST 19, 2008]

Well, here is the final update for the big baseball roadtrip. I was back to
work today before taking off early to head down to the Phillies/Nationals
game. It was nice to be back in the car and on the road again after a hard
days work.
 

6-citzseats.jpgThe Phils pulled out a much needed come from behind win. They never led
until one out in the bottom of the eighth. Then they brought in Brad Lidge
and he sealed the deal.
 
I didn’t expect a big crowd so I hadn’t pre-ordered tickets. When we
arrived all they had left was obstructed view and standing room tickets. We
opted for obstructed view. And, you know what? You can’t see very well
through a big yellow foul pole.
 
6-foulpoleseating.jpgAfter a couple innings behind the pole, we hit the bricks. We walked down
to the team store and then got something to eat. Pa and I got “Schmidters”
and Tim got the biggest chocolate soft serve with sprinkles ever to be
served in the mini-Phillies helmet.
 
Tim started complaining about the wind in the stadium and saying he wanted
to go home. So we put on his sweatshirt and walked some more. Eventually,
we found a landing above the left field seats and below the jumbo screen.
There was a sectioned off handicap area with one on in it. Tim went in and
claimed it as his playground. When a guard came to kick him out, a bunch of
guys yelled at her “LET HIM PLAY!!! LET HIM PLAY!!!” So she caved to the
6-icecreammania.jpgcrowd-pressure. Tim played the rest of the game in there and eventually
made fast friends with his would-be ejector. She ended up giving him a
Phillies hat and trying continuously to get him on the jumbo screen to no
avail. He really entertained in there and by the end of the game, he no
longer wanted to go home.
 
It was a nice game to end an excellent baseball roadtrip. Here are a few
pictures from tonight.
 
Thanks for staying tuned,
Todd

 


6-citz3cooks.jpg

And that, in a nutshell, was the First Annual Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008.  I asked my dad to come out and take this trip with us because I wanted to go to the Louisville Slugger factory.  We built the rest of the trip around that.  By the time we got back to the hotel room in Cincinnati after the first game, we decided the trip had to be an annual thing.

Let the Second Installment begin!

Griffey & Sensation: Two Kids Combine To Make Sweet Music

It’s the All-Star break…no Mariners games to watch.  What better time to share a non-game-based Mariners story?

Raise your hand if you know that Ken Griffey, Jr. has his own rap song?   (Not just a rap song about him, but a song in which HE IS THE RAPPER - or one of them, at least).  This is my story about Ken Griffey, Jr. , the recording artist, and his buddy, Kid Sensation.

[For those with short attention spans, you can check out and buy the three Griffey-based songs here , here, and here (or on iTunes)...and an Ichiro! song here.  For the rest of you, please come on a ride with me back to the 1990s.]



king2.jpgMy story starts where so many of my best stories begin:  The King County Domed Stadium a/k/a the “Kingdome.”

I loved the Kingdome.  Safeco Field is outstanding, but the Kingdome will always feel like my baseball home.  When they imploded the Dome in 2000, I calculated that I had spent 78 entire days of my life at the Kingdome – 97% or more of that time was at Mariners games.

One thing I loved about the Kingdome was it was sparsely populated.  Often times 15,000-20,000 people were crammed into 55,000 seats.  There was a ton of room to move around and get to know the place.  And I did.   I knew the place backwards and forwards.

In 1991, the Kingdome became even more exciting for me.  For a 2-3 year span, my family’s partial season ticket plan landed in an interesting spot – about 3 feet from Ken Griffey, Jr.’s  good friend and Seattle Rap Legend, Kid Sensation (a/k/a Xola Malik – pronounced “Ko-Lah”).


TheKids.jpgWhen I was growing up in the 80s, we would go to 10-20 Mariners games each season.  In 1991, my parents decided to get the 20-game plan.  We were in the second row behind the visitors’ bullpen (3B line) in the first four seats on the right side of the aisle.  Across the aisle in the front row, there were two guys in their early-20s who always seemed to be having a great time.  One of them immediately seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place him at first.

Right away, we noticed these guys were interacting with Griffey from the stands.  Griff would give them a nod or a point of the glove.  Then, we saw the “familiar looking guy” exiting the Dome with Griff through the players’ parking lot.  “Who is this guy?”


rollin.jpgBefore long, I made the connection.  I had Kid Sensation and Sir Mix-A-Lot in heavy rotation.  I soon recognized my Kingdome section-mate on the cover of Kid Sensation’s debut album “Rollin’ With Number One.”  (By the way, my favorite K-Sen song at the time was “SeaTown Ballers,” check it out here).

I wasn’t a shy kid.  So I was quick to introduce myself.  Xola was one cool dude.  Xola and his buddy, who I will call “C” and is Griff’s friend from Cincinnati, were always willing to chat with me and my buddies.  When I didn’t have my 20-game plan tickets, Xola and C would let me and my buddies sit in their extra seats (they had what seemed to be about six seats that were often times filled with their friends, including Craig “Younger Brother” Griffey and D.J. Train (see M.C. Ren and N.W.A.))

I seemed to be the only person in the Dome that figured out that we were sitting next to Kid Sensation.  And for a teenage guy who was already listening to Kid Sensation’s music it was extremely cool.


power.jpgIn 1992, Xola came out with his sophomore album, The Power of Rhyme.  I bought it immediately and was psyched to find a track, “The Way I Swing,” featuring the vocal-stylings of the Mariners All-Star Center Fielder.  “Swing” is the first episode of a trilogy of Griffey-based songs released by Xola between 1992-2009.  All three are “must have” tracks for any fan of Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Seattle Mariners.

“The Way I Swing” begins with Dave Neihaus’s classic call of Griffey’s home run in his first career at bat in the Kingdome.   From there, the two friends banter back-and-forth about their mad skills in the batters box and recording studio.  (e.g., “One likes to Bat, the other likes to Battle, one from Cincinnati, and the other’s from Seattle, Griffey’s batting average is three-oh-oh and the Kid is undefeated with a dozen K.O.’s”).

Considering that Griffey undeniably is a first ballot Hall of Famer (he should be a unanimous selection) and one of the best baseball players of all time, it is utterly amazing to me that “The Way I Swing” is not universally known by all baseball fans. 

So check it out here and download it here - and preview the 2009 remix here and download it here.

The second installment in the Griffey-trilogy is 2000′s “Do Your Thing.”  “Thing” doesn’t feature Griffey on the microphone, but it offers an unique behind-the-scenes look at Ken Griffey, Jr. “the friend.”  Xola pays tribute to Griff’s accomplishments as a Mariner, reminisces about the good times the two shared during Griff’s first stint in Seattle, and offers Griff encouragement and love as he joins the Cincinnati Reds.  The song can break your heart as a Mariners fan, but offers a moving glimpse into Griff’s personal life and his decision to return home to Cincy.

You can preview “Do Your Thing” here and download it here.

Finally, with Griffey’s resigning with the Mariners in 2009, Xola released the celebratory track “Back Home.”  The song is pure joy.  It begins with a radio host announcing to his Seattle listeners that Griffey has resigned with the Mariners, it includes excerpts from Griffey’s re-introductory press conference, and it perfectly captures the sheer joy and elation that die-hard Mariners fans felt the day Griffey decided to come “Back Home.”

You can preview “Back Home” here and download it here.

In 2009, Xola has, for the most part, retired the Kid Sensation moniker.  He is preparing to release a new album simply as Xola Malik (lets face it, neither Xola nor Griff is a “kid” anymore).  Meanwhile, he is a successful businessman (see http://www.henchhench.com),  a dedicated philantrophist (see http://www.liveunited.org/music), and a creative producer/performer and actor.

Sitting next to Xola back in the Kingdome was a thrill.  Although I didn’t meet Griff while sitting with Xola, I got a peak into his circle of friends and a what it must have been like to hang out with him back in his 20s.  Plus, Xola and C were just fun to be around.  I recall once that Xola ordered a bag of peanuts from Seattle’s famed peanut vendor Rick Kaminski…


king1.jpg…and then sent Rick all the way up to the cross aisle and down toward the next section to throw the peanuts.  The Peanut Man fired the peanuts behind his back a good 100+ feet over 25 rows of people…


king5.jpgThe Peanut Man threw the peanuts from the top arrow to Xola standing at the point of the bottom arrow,
and nailed Xola in the hands.  Sadly, Xola does not quite have the glove Griff has and the peanuts escaped his grasp and landed in the bullpen.  (That’s alright though, Griff doesn’t quite have the same skills in the booth as Xola, so we’ll call it a draw).

Well, that’s my story of Griffey the recording artist and his friend Kid Sensation.  I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you’ll check out and enjoy these three great Griffey-based songs. 

Tim and I will be checking out our first second-half game action this weekend in D.C…hopefully they actually play a game this time.

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)

Fourth of July at Fenway – Mariners Win!

So, we woke up to a lazy Saturday morning in Boston…

1 - july 4th.JPG…it was Independence Day, better head over to Fenway.

Wait, first, we better hit some baseballs in Copley Square:

2 - copley ball.JPGI’m not sure why, but some tourist actually took pictures of Tim hitting in Copley Square.

Soon, it was time to hit the road for our already familiar walk down Boylston Street to Ipswich Street and over to Lansdowne — ah, Fenway Park:

3 - walking to fenway.jpg

 Tim and I entered the park through Gate C on Lansdowne and headed up the CF stairs to the Green Monster.  I was sad to learn that they were already checking tickets, so we couldn’t get all the way out onto the Monster, but I took pictures for this panaramic:

4 - fenway CF green monster panaramic.jpg

My folks entered from Gate A on Yawkey Way and went into the field seats behind the Mariners dugout where someone snapped this shot:

4a - folks in fenway.JPG

Tim and I came over and met up with my folks and we spotted our buddy from the streets of Boston, Mariners GM Jack Zdureincik:

5 - Jack Z in dugout.JPG

While we were standing here, there was almost nothing going on on the field.  Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were playing catch down the LF line by the Green Monster.  But the field was otherwise empty.  Maybe some grounds crew people were watering the infield.  Tim and I were just sitting in the front row drinking some cold water to cool off.

A couple minutes after taking that picture of Jack Z. above, Tim, my mom and I moved down the 3B line a bit and stood where the red arrow is pointing in the picture of Jack.  Immediately, upon our arrive (literally within a few seconds), Erik Bedard and Jason Phillips walked by:

6 - bedard and phillips.JPG

Bedard spotted Tim and I and chucked his and Felix’s warm up ball to us — Sweet!

“Thanks, Erik!”

Jason Phillips looks over at us and give us a big smile and a point, “You again!”  We returned the favor with a smile and a point.  If you haven’t read the last two entries, Phillips, Tim and I had shared a couple exchanges the previous day and two days earlier in New York.

In case you aren’t familiar with Mr. Phillips and want to look him up on Baseball-Reference.com, you’ll notice there are two Jason Phillips in major league history.  This one is Jason Lloyd Phillips.  He is now the Mariners bullpen catcher.  But he previously played for the Mets, Dodgers, and Blue Jays.  His best season was 2003 when he hit .298 with 120 hits, 11 HRs and 56 RBI for the Mets.  Hopefully he’ll get another shot to make a big league club.  If not, I’m happy to have him in the Mariners bullpen and organization.

Back to the game at hand.  We noticed that Mariners ALL-STAR pitcher Felix Hernandez was signing autographs down the 3B line.  I’m not a big autograph guy, but I figured what the heck, let’s give it a shot.  I didn’t have a pen, but I thought it would be cool to have Felix sign the ball he’d just used to play catch with Bedard.

Much more than autographs, I prefer getting our picture with players.  So when Felix grabbed his warm up ball back from me I asked him if we could get our picture with him.  Felix signed the ball with a borrowed sharpie and responded, “Sure.”

I took the first one myself and then looked at it and it wasn’t very good.  Felix just stood and watched me waiting for me to give him the “okay” on the picture.  Very cool.  A nice Bostonian said, “Let me take it.”  So I handed her my camera and Felix posed for another picture with us — much better:

“Thanks, Felix.”

“Thanks, lady.”

Here we go:

7 - felix warm up ball autograph and photo.jpg

When I gave King Felix the ball, I was wondering if he thought it was odd that I’d ask him to sign such a dirty ball.  He didn’t give me the ball, so he didn’t know it was his warm up ball.

My dad buys a team ball at each stadium he visits.  He got Felix to sign a Red Sox / Fenway Park Fourth of July Ball.

Here we are in the 3B side concourse showing off the Bedard-Hernandez ball:

8 - championship wall and felix ball.JPG

Although you can’t see it, that wall has signs for all of the Red Sox World Series Championships.  FYI, you can see in this picture that I brought my new Rawlings Trap-Eze infielders glove.  I saw it at the Rawlings outlet and loved the white lacing.  I have no actual need for an infielders glove (I play LF for a beer league softball team), but I had to get it.  I love it.

Next, we checked out Yawkey Way:

9 - Yawkey Way.JPGThis is the main street along the 3B side of the park.  FYI, Fenway Park’s address is 4 Yawkey Way.  This street and all of the people shown in the picture are actually *inside* the stadium.

That band was playing on Yawkey Way and they were rockin’ it hard.  I really enjoyed them.  To their right, you can see “Big League Brian” — the dude on stilts.  He has a soft baseball that he throws back and forth with fans in the crowd.  Tim wanted to go down to see him and the band, but when we finally made our way down there the band was packing up and BLB was nowhere to be found.

Next, my folks headed to our seats in the CF bleachers — section 37, row 21.  Tim didn’t want to go out into the sun.  So we hung out in the shady standing room area at the back of the grandstand behind third base.

And we took some pictuers.

Here is the Mariners bullpen crew walking to the bullpen — Chris Jakubauskas is sporting the pink backpack (Q:  Is my A-Rod ball in there???  We’ll have to wait and see…):

10 - bullpen to bullpen.JPG

Griff and his colleagues stood for the National Anthem:

11 - National Anthem.JPG

Ichi and Griff in the on-deck circle:

12 - Ichi and Griff.JPG

Ichiro led off the game.  Its no secret, but I’ll go on the record — this guy is decent, extremely decent:

13 - Ichiro.JPG

He was followed shortly by The Kid:

14- Griff Hitting.JPG

In the bottom picture, you can see the ball going foul.  He hit it directly above me and Tim.

By the way, I must note that the people at Fenway (pretty much everyone, fans, attendants, cops, everyone…) are so cool.  Many of the standing room areas under the grandstand have painted lines on the ground that are clearly marked “STANDING ROOM.”  In those areas, they have attendants that will come ask you to stand in the lines if you are milling about outside of the lines.

As Griffey was at bat, I was standing right behind the seats and 15 feets or so outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.”  Tim was on my shoulders and I was focused on taking shots of Griff.  A bunch of other fans were standing all around me, also outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.”  I could hear an attendant approaching and telling people they needed to stand in the marketd areas.  Then amazingly, he went to every single person in my area EXCEPT ME.  He tapped each person on the shoulder and politely explained that they needed to stand in the painted “STANDING ROOM” areas.  But he just let me stand in the middle of the aisle and take pictures of Junior.  How cool is that?  He understood that it was important to me to get some shots of my guy, and he just let me stay there and do my thing.

“Thanks, dude!”

 After Griff’s at bat, Tim was ready for a chocolate ice cream helmet, and we were lucky enough to walk by a standing room counter space right as a guy left it — so I watched the game from here (leaning around the pole) as Tim ate his ice cream:

14a - ice cream standing room.jpg

FYI, if you want oreos, M&M’s or other toppings on your ice cream helmet at Fenway, I believe you have to go to the ice cream place behind the RF bleachers.  They had no toppings at the ice cream stand at the back of the grandstand.

Here is a shot of the grandstand seating down the 1B line:

15 - Grandstand.JPGIn

In my post for the July 3rd game, I mentioned that Tim and enjoyed standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats down the 1B line.  The red arrow in the last picture shows where we stood for several innings during this game.  Here is what it looks like up close:

16 - walkway.JPG

Tim is sitting on the step in this picture.  He is checking out some beads that a Red Sox fan gave him on our walk to this spot.  The guy was all dressed and painted up in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July.  He saw Tim on my shoulders and gave him a set of red and blue beads.  For the rest of the weekend, Tim had me wear one set while he wore the other.

Here is our view of the field from where Tim was sitting (FYI, the view is much better from the standing position — I really liked it in this spot):

17 - view from section 5 walkway.JPG

Tim loved it in the aisle way.  He was all smiles, that is until he grabbed his glove and started playing catcher:

18 - fun in the walkway.JPG

Note, Tim is not wearing his shoes.  He felt right at home at Fenway.  He was in his socks probably 50% of the time while we were at Fenway during the weekend.

From the aisle, we watched the Mariners bullpen stand in a line:

19 - Mariners bullpen lineup.JPG

(From left:  Coach John Wetteland, Mark Lowe, Sean Kelley, David Aardsma (bald), Roy Corcoran (hat behind Aardsma), Sean White (looking down), Chris Jakubauskas, Not-Sure-Probably-Jason-Phillips, Not-Sure-Probably-Miguel-Batista — through the crack, pink backpack).

I’m not sure why the Mariners bullpen does this, but (as you’ll see) they do it a lot.  They are standing in a line facing away from the scoreboard and toward the doorway from the bullpen to the field.  I meant to try to ask someone in the bullpen what it was all about, but I forgot.  My mom’s theory is that they are seeing off a bullpen-mate who is entering the game.  I’m not sure.  I don’t think a reliever came in at this point.  Anyone have any ideas?

Finally, we had avoided the sun long enough, we decided to join my parents in our seats in CF.  Here was our view:

20 - fenway section 37 row 21 panaramic.jpg

[NOTE:  While uploading that picture, Franklin Gutierrez hit a 3-run bomb against the Rangers to put the Mariners up 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th.  Can we finally beat the Rangers?  Yes!  Go Mariners!]

Before sitting down, Tim showed my folks his shoulder-top power stroke:

21 - swinging in 37.JPG

My mom and the Fenway faithful taught Tim how to do his first “wave”:

22 - first wave.JPG

The Mariners changed pitchers and the outfielders converged to do some stretching:

23 - to stretch or not stretch.JPG

Soon, I decided to go down behind the Mariners bullpen, just in case Griffey, Ichi or Branyan decided to hit a HR there.  Tim stayed with my folks for a bit, but then he requested to come down to me — by this point, the boy was bare footed (so I made him stay on my shoulders):

24 - behind bullpen.JPG

Can you spot us in that picture?  We’re standing next to a police officer at the back upper corner of the bullpen.  Notice anything else in that picture?  Yep, the guys were back at it again:

28 - bullpen lineup.JPG

I know there is some meaning to this, but what is it?

We watched Miguel Batista play catch with Ichiro between innings:

26 - miguel batista.JPG

All of a sudden, Tim tells me, “Take a picture of those guys!”

Todd:  “Who?”

Tim:  “Those guys” (pointing, but I couldn’t see it because he was behind my head)

Todd:  “Who?  I can’t see where you’re pointing.”

Tim:  “THOSE GUYS!”

Todd:  “Buddy, I can’t see where you’re pointing.  Who do you want me to take a picture of?”

Unknown Voice:  “He’s pointing at me.”

Todd:  “Oh, okay.”

Here are “those guys”:

25 - cop usher and shiny glasses.JPG

“Those guys” didn’t care at all that Tim and I stood right here in the middle of the aisle for the last three innings of the game.  Very cool.  Thanks, those guys.

The police office asked Tim, “Hey, little guy, are you a Red Sox fan?”

I told him that we were Red Sox fans to the extent that we can’t stand the Yankees (sorry, Yankees fans).  The officer responded, “That’s fine by me.  We can accept that.”  He was a nice guy.

Soon we saw this guy stretching out and warming up:

27 - Aardsma.JPG

David Aardsma = Mariners Win.

The Happy Totals to prove it:

32 - more happy totals.JPG

If you couldn’t tell, our seats were under the “great” in the “make something great” sign.

How awesome, three games into our weekend road trip, the Mariners are 3-0.

The bullpen guys marched back to the dugout to greet the rest of their teammates — Jakubauskas totes the pink backpack…hmmm…and my A-Rod ball?):

30 - bullpen to dugout.JPG

Then I watched a couple guys fix the Mariners bullpen mound.  This closet is at the CF end of the Red Sox bullpen:

29 - bullpen fixer.JPG

The bullpen fixer guys, like everyone else, were really nice too.  One of them congratulated Tim on his team winning the game.

Before leaving Fenway, we got a family picture:

31 - cooks at fenway.JPG

Tim shows off his Felix Hernandez ball.

It was the Fourth of July, so that night, we headed to the park along the river and watched some fireworks:

33 - fireworks.JPG

After fireworks, we returned to our hotel and who did we run into by the elevators?  Mariners reliever and keeper of the pink backpack, Chris Jakubauskas.  As he walked by, I called out, “Hey, Chris!?”  He spun around, “Hey, man.”

He walked over and chatted with me and my folks for a couple minutes – probably about 3 minutes or so.  Here is paraphrased excerpt of part of our conversation:

Todd:  “So you got an A-Rod ball in your pink backpack?”

Chris:  “Huh, what?  Oh, yeah.  Where’d that come from?”

Todd:  “Its mine.”

Chris:  “I was going through the backpack because I have to make sure we have certain things in there and I pull out this A-Rod ball.  I’m like, ‘What the h— is this A-Rod ball?’  I took it around to everyone, ‘Did you put this A-Rod ball in there?’ No one knew about it.”

Todd:  “I gave it to Jason Phillips the other night in New York”

Chris:  “I’m gonna have to ask Phillips about that one.”

Todd:  “I’ve had it sitting around for a couple years and couldn’t stand it, so I thought it would be happier in the pink backpack.”

Tim (to Chris):  Do you want to come see my room?”

Chris:  “What, little guy?”

Tim:  “Do you want to come see my room?”

I told Tim that Chris has his own room and was on his way somewhere so he couldn’t come see our room.  Before parting ways, I asked Chris if he’d watched the fireworks from his room in the hotel.  He explained that David Aardsma (a former Red Sox player) got them out onto the Green Monster to watch the fireworks.  Hmmm…its nice to be a major league ball player and to have connections!

It was very cool chatting with Jakubauskas.  He was extremely nice and was glad to chat with some Mariners fans in the elevator bank.  Many props to Jak.  He’s got some fans in the Cook household.

After chatting with Jak, we called it a night and looked forward to our final game of the weekend the next day…

Season Fan Stats:

17 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)
13 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (2) and Yankees)
15 Baseballs (10 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))

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