Results tagged ‘ mariners ’

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…Tim took the other three from close range.

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

Spring Training V: Family Photos

In the fifth installment of our series of Spring Training updates, we’ve assembled our favorite family photos from Spring Training.  These are photos taken while the Mariners were practicing, but they focus on one or more members of our family (mostly Tim) and show a different perspective on the Spring Training experience.

Here is one of our first pictures from Spring Training 2011:

 

1 - welcome to Mariners Spring Training.JPGI asked Tim to point at the sign and his expression is priceless.  I think this face means, “Hurry up, I want to run in there and see the Mariners!”

By the way, here is a closer look at the map of the Peoria Sports Complex:

1a - practice fields map.jpgIn the picture of Tim pointing at the sign, he is standing at the “M” (inside a diamond) just below and to the left of practice field M3.  If you follow the walkway from that “M” straight up the map, you will reach a circle with a blue box inside it (between M3, M6 and M2).  That circle/blue box is a concession stand and restrooms.  The lines running left and right from the concession stand/restrooms are cement walkways that run down the middle of large strips of grass.  The grass and walkways run all the way from a fence that connects M1 and M7 (right around the infield dirt of both fields) to another fence that connects M3 and M4 (also right around the infield dirt of both fields).  All of that grass area is open to the public during Mariners workouts.

Pretty much the first thing we’d do each day (assuming the Mariners weren’t out on the fields already) was head to the grass between the player parking lot at M2.

The grass areas are perfect for playing catch with you father or your son (or both).  As everyone else waited down by the player entrance, this is where we set up for some catch:
2 - catch on grass.JPGFYI, that building down there on the left is the indoor batting cages.

Tim has got a lot better at catching and throwing over the last 6 months.  His catching improved dramatically when we got him a smaller glove that he can actually close!  Here, he fields a grounder:

3 - grounders.JPGIn this picture, my mom captured both of us right as Tim catches the ball:

4 - father-son Spring Training catch.JPGI can’t believe how big this guy is now-a-days:.

5 - Tim ready to catch.JPGHe looks like a real ballplayer, eh?

Sometimes Tim’s throws are perfect.  Other times, he throws like Rick Ankiel at the end of his pitching career.  Thus, I have to be ready for anything when he uncorks a hard throw:

6 - wild fastballs.JPGAs the Mariners head out to on in from M3-M6 before or after a work out, its an ideal time to get up and close for your favorite players.  Here, my mom got some shots of Mariners walking by and giving Tim “five” as they headed out to M3:

fiving players.jpgThe ideal place for fans to take some BP of their own at Mariners Spring Training is down the LF line of practice field M6, using the bullpen fence as a backstop:

7 - batting practice by M6.JPGThat is sort of a hard picture to understand.  Tim has already hit the ball and it is heading toward the SS side of second base.

M6 seems to get the least action…or at least the fewest spectators…so its a nice place to hit without having to worry about other fans getting in the way.

Here are two great pictures Colleen took of Kellan watching Tim pitch to my mom as I play the field:

7a - batting practice by M6.jpgKellan missed the first day of Spring Training workouts because the rain was threatening, the wind was gusting, and he was tired.  So he made his debut at Spring Training the next day, and this was his first picture “watching” the M’s prepare for the 2011 season:

8 - kellans first spring training picture.JPGThat’s pitcher fielding practice on M4, by the way.

There are a bunch of bushes and small trees between M4 and M5.  Here, Tim climbs in a tree (with M4 behind him):

8a - tree climbing.JPGColleen snapped a great shot of Kellan and me watching batting practice on M1:

9 - kellan watches with dad.JPGWIth seven practice fields and 60+ players running around from field-to-field plus getting to play catch and hit with your family members, there is a lot going on at Spring Training.  Tim couldn’t stay put in one place for too long.  He had to go, go, go:

10 - places to go.JPGMy mom got these funny shots of Tim and my dad monkeying around on the bleachers while watching fielding practice on M2:

11 - windy wrestling with grandpa.JPGHere is another funny shot of Tim pointing…this time at Ichiro (his arm is extended directly behind him so you can’t see it at all, but he is, indeed, pointing at Ichiro):

12 - theres ichiro.JPGHere’s another shot of Kellan and his Grandma — this time in the grass between M3 and M6:


DSC09401.JPGOne day, Tim took some BP between M4 and M5.  In this picture, Colleen catches Tim swinging through a pitch:

14 - swing and a whiff spring training style.JPGThe walkway from the parking lot to the practice fields (running behind the CF-to-RF wall of M3) is all rocks, gravel and plants.  Tim loved playing in the rocks and gravel:

15 - rocks and miguel olivo.JPGIn the picture above to the right, Miguel Olivo is trying to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim has a handful of rocks.   Instead of shaking Miguel’s hand, Tim opened his palm and showed Olivo the rocks he had collected beyond the M3 RF wall.

One day, Colleen fed Kellan a bottle while sitting on a little stone wall that circles the concession stand.  Tim took a break from his own BP and ran over to his mommy and spelled his name in the gravel:

16 - tim cook in dessert gravel.JPGHere is a nice picture Colleen snapped of Kellan and his grandma sitting in the bleachers at M6:

17 - grandma and kellan at spring training.JPGOn the day we got the Milton Bradley bat and Luke French autograph, Colleen snapped this shot of my mom with the boys:

18 - grandma and the boys.JPGThat day, Tim snapped a ton of pictures as we cylced through M3, M4, M5 and M6.  Here is a picture that one of us snapped of Tim snapping a picture of Luke French:

19 - number of christmas.JPGThe picture above to the right is the actual picture of Luke French that Tim is taking in the picture above to the left.  I thought that this was funny because right before taking this picture, Tim said to me, “Look, daddy, its the number of Christmas!”

Tim did most of the batting when we took BP beside M6.  But my mom and I took a few hacks too.  Here is a hilarious picture of Tim throwing at his grandma:

20 - back off my plate grandma.JPGShortly after the last picture, a bunch of Mariners outfielders started warming up down the M6 LF line just on the other side of the fence from out little BP site.  We took a break from BP to watch the guys play catch.  When Greg Halman caught the last ball thrown by his partner, I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and I pointed down to Tim.  About 5-10 seconds later, I took this picture of Tim:

21 - thanks greg halman ST.JPGThanks, Greg!

While Tim was pitching to my mom, I took a long range photo across the grassy area of Colleen and Kellan watching some pitchers warm up:

22 - mommy and kellan watch ST.JPGA little bit later, I took one of my favorite photos of Spring Training:

23 - colleen kellan tim chillin on the grass at spring training.JPGAn 8″ x10″ of this photo now hangs in my office at work.

One last fun family photo for this entry:

24 - Tim and Kellan on Mariners ball.JPGTim loves trying to push these big baseballs — click here for proof.  As for Kellan, he might have had a little help (hidden mostly behind the baseball) sitting up on top of that big baseball for this picture.

As I think these pictures show, the lazy days hanging around the Mariners Spring Training workouts at Spring Training are great.

Spring Training IV: Player Pictures

A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team.  We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria.  So, let’s take a look at what we got.

At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3.  There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields.  That is where we got most of the following pictures.

First up, we ran into Adam Moore:


1 - Adam Moore ST2011.JPGAt Tim’s first Spring Training in 2008, Adam Moore was the first professional baseball player with whom Tim ever got his picture.  So it was cool to have a little “reunion” picture in 2011.

Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:

2 - Garrett Olson ST2011.JPGGarrett is a good guy.

The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez.  We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time.  But its almost impossible.  Felix, however, is another story.  We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park.  Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:

3 - Felix Hernandez ST2011.JPGBy the way, this is as close as we got to a “picture with Ichiro”:

ichisan ST2011.jpgBefore this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager.  Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training.  And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:

4 - Eric Wedge ST2011.JPGNote:  In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom.  This was a common problem during Spring Training.  We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera.  Oh, well.

Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon.  Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:

5 - Chris Seddon ST2011.JPGIt was actually quite funny.  We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim.  Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above.  Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera.  Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:

Thanks, Chris!

Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:

6 - David Aardsma ST2011.JPGD.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip.  However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power.  At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:

 

ST6 - Jason Phillips (David Aardsma auto).JPG

Thanks, DA!

I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:

7 - Michael Pineda ST2011.JPGBefore this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person.  Let me tell you, you cannot miss him.  He is HUGE!  If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level!  (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge).  Pineda also signed this baseball for us:

STFAN1 - Michael Pineda auto.jpgThanks, Michael!

Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:

8 - Miguel Olivo ST2011.JPGAfter signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim.  He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks.  Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP.  Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:

ST1 - Chris Seddon (Miguel Olivo autograph).JPGFor our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:

9 - Jack Zduriencik ST2011.JPGJack is great.  He’s extremely nice and accessible.

He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised.  The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling.  Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?”  This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining.  I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life.  I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.”  Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.

Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip.  It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo.  This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:

10a - Howard Lincoln ST2011.JPGNote:  In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart.  If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.”  Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.

As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…

10 - Milton Bradley ST2011.JPG…Milton Bradley.

The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy.  Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry).  It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture.  And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.

First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:

11 - Franklin Gutierrez ST2011.jpgA day or two later, Franklin flew back to Seattle to see a doctor about some mysterious stomach issues he has had since last season.  Franklin also signed a baseball for us:

STFAN2 - Franklin Gutierrez auto.JPGThanks, Franklin!

Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:

12 - Justin Smoak ST2011.JPGIf Smoak lives up to his potential, the Cliff Lee trade will end up being a great deal for the Mariners.  So, we’re really pulling for Smoak to find his stroke at the major league level.

This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:

13 - Dustin Ackley ST2011.JPGAckley signed this baseball for us but then had to run:

ST4 - easter egg (Dustin Ackley auto).JPGThanks, Dustin!

We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:

14 - Greg Halman ST2011.JPGHalman was great.  He really liked Kellan.  He called him “cutie.”  It was pretty funny.  By the way, that ball Halman is signing was thrown to us by Halman earlier in the day.

Thanks, Greg!

We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:

15 - Matt Tuiasosopo ST2011.JPGTui was extremely outgoing and fan friendly all week.  He even chatted up Tim from third base one day during infield drills.

Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures.  I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.

That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us.  Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:

16 - Ryan Langerhans ST2011.JPGHere is a look at that baseball:

ST3 - Greg Halman (Halman, Tuiasosopo, Langerhans and Smoak autos).jpgUpper right:  Greg Halman 56, Matt Tuiasosopo 27

Lower left:  Justin Smoak 17

Lower right:  Ryan Langerhans

Thanks, guys!

At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:

17 - Greg Zaun ST2011.JPGIt’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre.  See that baseball Zaun is holding?  The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it.  The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB.  It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it.  It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it.  Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs.  Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.

As shown in our last entry, Kellan got his picture taken with his first pitcher, Luke French:
18 - Luke French ST2011.JPGLuke also signed Tim’s door prize baseball.

Thanks again, Luke!

Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:

19 - The Moose ST2011.JPGAs you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners.  We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training.  Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas.  But maybe we can track him down during the regular season.  We will see.

Spring Training III: Luke French

Last October 1st, we took Kellan to his first game.  The Mariners took on the Athletics and I snapped this photo…

20 - Kellan's first MLB pitch.JPG…of Luke French delivering the first pitch of Kellan’s MLB life to Rajai Davis.  It was a strike.

Last season, Tim and I tracked down his “first batter,” Frank Catalanotto, and got him to sign Tim’s “first pitch” picture:

6 - first pitch with catalanotto.jpgWe’ve still never tracked down Tim’s first pitcher, the recently retired Gil Meche.  But I was hoping that we would be able to get both Luke French and Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first pitch picture during Spring Training.  Unfortunately, Davis was traded to Toronto and is in Florida for Spring Training.

Therefore, our number one goal for Spring Training was to get an autograph from and photo with Luke French.

We kept an eye on Luke from the first day of our Spring Training trip…

1 - luke french warm ups.JPG…but Kellan was at my parents’ place napping so we didn’t try to meet up with French that day.

Still, we kept an eye on Kellan’s first pitcher that day as he threw a session in the Mariners huge bullpen (its about 10 pitchers mounds wide):

2 - french in megabullpen.JPGI feel bad for this, but French made a hilarious face as he delivered this pitch:

3 - award winning pitching funny face.JPGA couple days later (the same day Milton Bradley gave Kellan his bat), we were still looking to connect with French.  In fact, tracking down and getting a picture/autograph with French was the sole goal of the day before we planned on leaving the Peoria Sports Complex early to go on a tour of Chase Field.

As the Mariners made their way out of the clubhouse, they were all business.  I didn’t see French as he made his way out to the practice fields.  But it didn’t matter because all of the players were telling fans they couldn’t sign autographs until after practice.

Once we headed out of the field, Luke was there…

4 - french behind hand shakers.JPG…and he was preparing to warm up with his fellow pitchers just like every other day:

5 - french ready to play catch.JPGBy the way, Colleen took the last two pictures, and the next one.  She found Luke getting his work in on one of the fields instead of in the bullpen:

6 - french getting work in.JPGAs Tim and I shifted around from field-to-field, I let Tim take control of my camera.  He took a ton of interesting pictures, including the next two pictures.

As I mentioned in the Milton Bradley entry, my mom, Colleen and Kellan hung out watching live BP on the main field during most of this practice session.  After getting in his work, French grabbed a bucket and sat down (about 25 feet in front of my mom, Colleen and Kellan) to watch live BP on the M3 practice field:

7 - french on bucket.JPGRight after (or maybe just before) taking this picture, Tim yelled, “Hey, look, its the number of Christmas!”  That gave me a chuckle.

After a while, French hopped up from his perch and milled around a little bit behind home plate.  As Tim snapped this picture, Luke was exuding a strong “I’m about the leave” vibe:

8 - french outta here.JPGA few seconds after Tim took that picture, I watched as French started walking behind home plate and around to the first base side.  I looked at my mom…

9 - oh no kellan is sleeping.JPG…who was holding a sound asleep Kellan, and said, “Where’s French going?  Is he going in?”

There was no time to wait for her thoughts, I grabbed Kellan’s picture (which I had in a protective portfolio folder) and scurried around home plate and toward the other end of the complex.

This aerial photo shows my path in yellow and French’s path in red:

9b - there goes french.jpgI was trailing behind French and he must have heard footsteps because he turned around and stopped in his tracks and waited for me to catch up.  I asked Luke if he could sign something for me, and he said “no problem.”

I felt a little weird with the portfolio in hand because Spring Training is chalk full of sports memorabilia dealers who carry big notebooks full of baseball cards and glossy photos and collect autographs to take back to their shops to sell.  I showed Luke the picture and explained that it was the first pitch of my son’s first game.  And I flipped through the portfolio to show him that it was empty except for this picture — i.e., I was not just a random dealer looking to make a buck.  It seemed like he appreciated that.

Luke happily signed the picture for me.  I thanked him profusely and explained that I was sad that Kellan was asleep in the bleachers because I had wanted to get his picture with Luke.  I told him we would try to catch up with him again by the end of the week.  He said okay and we parted ways.

I ran back over to M3 and “showed” Kellan his newly improved “first pitch” picture:

10 - first pitcher autograph.JPGHe was quite literally speechless.

By the end of the week, we’d still never run into French again.  It was Saturday, and the Mariners/Padres fan fest was our last opportunity to track down French during Spring Training.

Fan Fest, which will get its own entry soon enough, featured a bunch of games for kids in the concourses of the Peoria Sports Complex main stadium and a work out by both teams on the field.  The Padres went first.

Around 11:00 a.m., we knew the Mariners would show up soon so my mom, dad, Colleen, Tim, Kellan and I gathered together down the 1B line in hopes of getting a picture with Ichiro (a still as of yet unfulfilled goal) as he entered the stadium through the players entrance in the rightfield corner.

Eventually, the Mariners arrived en mass.  While I didn’t see Ichiro anywhere (at least at first), I saw Luke French front and center:

11 - french and company arrive at fan fest.JPGHe’s the player closest to the camera with his glove on his left hip in that last picture.  The guys were down the line about 20 feet from the end of the seats in foul territory.  Several of the Mariners ventured on the field to chat with some of the Padres.

None of the fans around us made any attempt to chat with or lure any of the Mariners over toward the stands.  I thought, “what the heck,” and I called out, “Hey, Luke!”  I figured that with a crowd of his teammates all around, French would probably appreciate it if someone singled him out.  He did.

He turned and looked at me like, “Huh, what’s up?”  I gave him a big “hey, come over here” wave.  Three seconds later, Kellan’s first pitcher was standing next to us along the foul line.

I asked if he’d pose for a picture with my son and, when he said yes, I handed Kellan over to him.  I explained that we’d met earlier in the week and he’d delivered the first pitch of Kellan’s MLB career.  Luke remembered our first encounter and he was happy to meet Kellan and pose for pictures:
12 - Kellan and Luke.JPGHe must have thought the paparazzi were descending on him because my mom and Colleen both pulled out their cameras and we attacked the photo opportunity from three angles:

13 - french and cook.JPGMission Accomplished!

Thanks, Luke!  And best of luck in 2011!

Customers Report to Spring Training

I’ve mentioned on here before that there is a Rawlings outlet store in our town.  I’m one of the biggest Rawlings baseball glove advocates in the world.  So, needless to say, I think the Rawlings outlet is just about the best store ever (the Mariners team stores are also excellent).

Tim and I often swing by “the baseball store,” as we call it, on weekends, just for kicks.  And that is where we found ourselves on Sunday, February 13, 2011, as MLB pitchers and catchers began arriving at their respective teams’ spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida.

We weren’t the only ones with the idea.  The place was a buzz with amateur baseballers of all ages.

The trough along the back wall of the store was filled to the brim with an assortment of beautiful gloves of various colors and styles.  Tim gave his mark of approval:

rawlings tim.jpgThis closer view of the trough…

rawlings outlet.jpg…gives a better view of the dark brown and black glove with white lacing that I’ve had my eye on.  I might have picked one up, but the Trap-Eze style was already sold out!  I liked the modified Trap-Eze and one other style, but there is no beating a Trap-Eze.  I decided I should hold out for it to be re-stocked — not that I necessarily need another glove (see below).

When we wandered by one of the bargain glove bins, Tim pulled out this catcher’s glove…

rawlings orioles glove.jpg…and announced, “Look, its an Orioles glove.”

I checked out the “Primo” line of fancy Italian leather gloves:

rawlings primo.jpgThat’s some nice looking leather!  But I don’t need that fancy of a glove.  I think these were in the $300-$400 range.  I’m sure they are outstanding gloves.  But if you know how to treat a glove right, I think you can be just as happy with any of the more modestly priced gloves.  I’ve never spent even $100 on a glove…and I’d put any of my gloves up against the top priced gloves (well, most of my gloves, at least).

Here is the other glove that I really have my eye on:

rawlings training glove.jpgIt is a training glove similar to the “flat” gloves.  This one looks like a normal glove (i.e., it is not flat), but it is really stiff and essentially doesn’t close at all.  By the 2011 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2011, I plan to own this glove and play lots of catch with my dad using it on the trip.

Interestingly, you cannot see anyone but Tim in any of these pictures.  But the place was packed.  People were looking at gloves, trying on gloves, debating gloves (including one dad who wouldn’t even let his son try on the $300 gloves), swinging wood bats, looking at clothing, cleats, batting T’s, baseballs, and catcher’s gear (in fact, Tim asked me to buy him an entire set of catcher’s gear, I did not).  It was great to see that the world is getting back into the swing of things…baseball things, that is.

With all of this talk of Rawlings gloves, why don’t I take the opportunity to share mine??  And how about in chronological order?

Wally Joyner model Rawlings RFM14 (first basemens glove):

Rawlings RFM14.JPGI probably got this glove in 8th or 9th grade, around 1990.  I restrung this glove with green laces in 2010 and featured it in an entry called “The Tale of the Prodigal Glove.”  This glove has the distinction of being my only all-brown leather glove.

Rawlings RBG36B:

Rawlings RBG36B.jpgMy first glove growing up was an old used Rawlings.  I don’t have it anymore.  Aside from the Prodigal Glove, this RBG36B glove was my first “new” Rawlings glove.  It was also my first black glove.  I got this in high school to replace my old Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove.  This was my outfield “gamer” in high school and American Legion ball.  It is formed to absolute perfection.  It is also the first glove that I restrung with different colored laces (because I loved Griffey’s black Trap-Eze with brown laces) and the first glove that I installed extra ties between the middle three fingers (see upper right picture).  It sits on my bookshelf in my home office and I almost never use it.  But, of all of my gloves, it is the glove to which I have the strongest sentimental attachment. 

Randy Johnson signature model Rawlings RBG10B (modified Trap-Eze):

Rawlings RBG10B.JPGI wrote an entire blog entry about this glove in 2009:  “Weekend Project:  The Trap-Eze-ification of a Non-Trap-Eze Glove.”  This glove holds an interesting place in my life.  My folks gave me this glove as a gift while I was in college so I could use it for intramural softball — I didn’t want to ruin my RBG36B by using it to catch softballs.  In years of playing softball, it never felt right.  I just couldn’t get it formed to my liking.  Because of this, I really didn’t care for this glove.  And that’s probably why I didn’t mind experimenting with it.  After I turned it into a blue-laced Trap-Eze, it was a whole new glove.  It feels perfect as a Trap-Eze.  It craddles the ball effortlessly.  It went from my least favorite to my most-used glove.  Since the modification, I have taken it to almost every game Tim and I have attended and I now use it as my softball glove.  I absolutely love this glove now.

Rawlings RBG22NC:

Rawlings RBG22NC.JPGIn a new city without any friends (or sons), I found myself at Dick’s Sporting Goods a day after receiving my first paycheck in my first (real) job out of school.  I was looking at gloves, just for kicks, when I found this beauty.  I loved the thatched pocket and grey “Rawlings” stitched on the back of the index finger.  I had no softball/baseball team and no one to play catch with me, but I had a new job and my first paycheck, so I decided that was all the justification I needed to buy myself this glove.  I’ve hardly used it since I bought it and its still not formed to my liking (largely because I let someone else use it and they, lets just say, didn’t treat it in compliance with my standards).  Eventually, I’ll break it in properly in the backyard with Tim (hopefully before Kellan can even play catch).

Rawlings RBG10H:

Rawlings RBG10H.JPGThis glove is absolutely perfect for softball.  I got it to replace my pre-op RBG10B as my everyday softball glove.  I found this beauty in the “blemish” bin at the Rawlings outlet.  I’m not sure why it was in the bin, I cannot find a blemish anywhere on it.  My folks were visiting when I bought this and my Dad bought the same glove at the same time.  Interestingly, they charged him $19.99 for his non-blemished “blemish” glove, and they charged me $12.99 for the same exact thing.  It was the deal of the century because this is a stellar softball glove.  By the way, you can see my Dad’s RBG10B in our GFS Roadtrip entries (see, e.g., here).

Rawlings GG601B:

RawlingsGG601B.JPGThis is my first ever “real” Trap-Eze glove.  I love it.  I bought it a couple years ago at the Rawlings outlet.  I’m very protective of it.  If you ask me to borrow it to play catch in my presence, I will say no (unless, perhaps, you are my dad, brother or Paul Samione).  I have respected (i.e., not restrung) the factory lacing, which is odd for me.  I have not even installed my customary between the finger ties.  I use this glove a lot in the backyard with Tim (or with my Dad when he visits), but I almost never take it to games and I never use it for softball.  Interestingly, this is my only glove that I wear with my fingers slid over one slot to the left (i.e., two fingers in the pinky slot and no finger in the index finger slot).

Rawlings GG12XTCBW:

Rawlings GG12XTCBW.JPGThis is the last glove I have bought - in 2009, I think.  I bought this glove at the Rawlings outleft because I loved the white Trap-Eze lacing and I thought it would be good to have a shorter (infield sized) glove (although I never play infield).  This glove is still very new, but it feels good.  Like the GG601B, I use this primarily around the house.  I did take it to one Mariners game at Fenway on July 4, 2009 –  see here

There you go:  a glimpse into the bustling Rawlings store on the day PItchers & Catchers began reporting to Spring Training and a tour of my person baseball glove collection.  Hope you enjoyed.

Go Mariners!

Speed Pitch & Blue Jays vs. Mariners (5/4/1985)

We just received a package of Christmas gifts in the mail from my folks.  Tucked in the bottom of the box, my folks had stashed a little surprise from the past:

speed pitch 5-4-1985.JPGYes, an “Official Speed Pitch Certificate” from the Kingdome.

Clicking on the picture will enlarge the certificate and display this explanatory note:

“The pitch was clocked by a Radar Gun, an instrument used to measure Major League pitchers.  This speed-measuring equipment has been verified to be accurate within one percent.”

So, that’s right, as a nine year old phenom, I lit up that official “Radar Gun” at a blazing 46 miles per hour (or at least within one percent of 46 miles per hour).

I remember the old Kingdome speed pitch.  It was just inside the Dome’s northern gate — just off to the right in this picture.  I couldn’t heat up the gun then, and I can’t heat it up now.  But its always been fun trying.

As you can see at the top of the certificate, there are a bunch of holes from where I tacked this “Official” certificate to the wall of my boyhood bedroom.  You will also notice that I did my best to obliterate one of the speed pitch sponsors.  I was a coca-cola drinking kid, and I didn’t want this “new generation” inspired soft drink logo muckin’ up my bedroom walls (FYI, I still prefer coke products).

Its cool to get back this little momento of past feats.  But what is even cooler is getting confirmation of a random date of a game I attended in the first few years of my Mariners fandom:  May 4, 1985.

With the help of Baseball-Reference.com, I was able to review a detailed description of this game – and it was a great one for a young Mariners fan.

The higlights:

  • The Mariners won the game by a score of 8-1 over the Blue Jays.
  • My favorite Mariner, Spike Owen, hit a 2-run homerun — his first of the season and sixth of his career.
  • Matt Young pitched a 1-run complete game for his second win of the young season.

Hey, what more can you ask for in a night at the Kingdome.  Good times.

Edgar Martinez, C&S Hall of Fame (2010)

This day is long past due.  But, there is no time like the present.  Finally, we are proud to officially induct Edgar Martinez into the Cook & Son Hall of Fame:


Edgar Martinez C&S HOF Plaque.jpgEdgar is a new breed of Cook & Son Hall of Famer.  He retired two years before Tim was born so he hasn’t played a role in any father-son baseball moments for us.  But, I watched him play in countless games with my parents, wife and friends during his career.

Unfortunately, Edgar played most of his career before the age of digital cameras.  So I have very few pictures of him from his playing days.  Lately, I have been searching for this one…

DSC08154.JPG…which my mom snapped when we were up close to Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner at “camera night” at the Kingdome.  This picture was from either 1990 or 1991 during the brief period when the Mariners had two Ken Griffeys.

Edgar was one of the most loved Mariners during his playing days, and he continues to be one of the most loved Mariners today.  For several years, a sign hung from the Kingdome’s 200 Level near home plate that prominently reminded everyone that “Edgar Esta Caliente.”

And, indeed, Edgar was “caliente.”

Between 1990-2001, Edgar was hurt for large parts of two seasons.  But in the other ten seasons, Edgar hit .302, .307, .343, .356, .327, .330, .322, .337, .324, and .306.

In one of my few action shots of Edgar, this picture shows Edgar’s familar batting stance:

2 - Edgar stance.JPGI believe this picture was from 2001, and it was one of my wife’s first Mariners games.

One interesting Edgar Martinez memory from my past comes to mind.  It occurred around 1991-92 in the Kingdome.  I was at the game with my folks and one of my friends.  My friend and I were sitting in the first row down the 3B line near the home plates in the visitors’ bullpen.  My parents were in the second row just behind us (in our actual seats).  Edgar was playing 3B and Randy Johnson was pitching.  I was playing the role of the Steve Bartman character (but without the unhappy ending).

I have no memory of who the Mariners were playing or who was at the plate.  The batter fouled a high looping pop fly right to me.  My mom was listening to the game on a set of earphones and, when Edgar and I clanked gloves, she heard Dave Neihaus call out in dissappointment, “Oh, no!!!  A fan made Edgar miss the ball!”

Edgar picked up the baseball and tossed it back to me, but someone interfered and the ball once again fell to the astroturf below.  The ball girl ran over and ended up giving the baseball to someone else (or maybe she kept it…bottom line, she didn’t give it back to me).

The happy ending:  Randy Johnson struck out the batter on the next pitch.

And that’s the story of how I prevented Edgar Martinez from making a put out and thereby directly effected Randy Johnson’s career strike out total (4,875 rather than a mere 4,874).

Of course, in the 1995 ALDS, Edgar hit a grandslam in game 4 to force a game 5.  Then, in game 5, Edgar hit a “The Double” scoring Joey Cora for the tie and Ken Griffey, Jr. from first to send the Mariners to their first ever ALCS.  It is the defining moment and pinnacle of success in the Mariners 33 year history.

When we visited Seattle in October, I got the opportunity to attend an Edgar Martinez Foundation event and meet the man himself:

3 - Edgar and Todd.jpgThe event was an silent/live auction and dinner program that benefited the Martinez Foundation.  The Foundation is dedicated to education issues.  It was a great event and a lot of fun.  In fact, it was by far the most fun I have ever had at a charity dinner event.

I attended with my buddy, Paul, and a couple of Paul’s friends.  When I saw Edgar walking around during the silent auction, I didn’t hesitate to go say hello.  Paulie was quick with his iPhone and snapped that picture above.

Then, Paulie handed off his phone to Nikki — a friend from high school — and she snapped this picture:

4 - Edgar Paul Todd.jpgEdgar was the third person inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame (following Alvin Davis and Dave Niehaus).  So, I took the opportunity to discuss the Mariners Hall of Fame with Edgar.  My first question:

Todd - “You know who needs to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame?”

Edgar – “Who?”

Todd – “Harold Reynolds!”

Edgar – “Absolutely!” (or some positive term of agreement like that).

I asked how we make that happen and Edgar was at a loss for an answer.  Eventually, we discussed that I should run an online campaign for Harold to be inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.  Its a lot more ambitious of a concept than our (successful) campaign to get ice cream helmets at Camden Yards last season, but I think its worth a shot.  So, watch for that.

Harold will have his day.  This day, however, is for “Gar.”  It was a thrill to have such an excellent human being and ballplayer wear a Mariners uniform for his entire career.  And it is an honor to now induct Edgar Martinez as the fourth member of the Mariners Hall of Fame.

A couple parting notes, for a long time, Edgar’s 2,247 hits have been an all-time Mariners record.  That record, however, will be broken in April 2011 after Ichiro collects 4 more hits to pass Edgar has the all-time Mariners hit record.  It has been great having a true Mariners hero  lead the hit parade for so many season.

Finally, I would like to thank Edgar for being so nice in person and signing these baseball cards for my boys:

5 - edgar autographs.JPG

2010 Mariners Season Finale (10/3/10)

2010 was a long and fun season.  And, on October 3, 2010, we headed down to Safeco Field for the final game of our and the Mariners 2010 season.

The line-up was Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my folks, my buddy Paul, and me.  Although Paul joined us late, the rest of us headed down for non-existent batting practice.

We headed into Safeco Field and found ourselves in the standing room area in center field.  Nothing was going on yet.  So we just hung out for a few minutes.  We were ready for some good old-fashioned Mariners fun:


1 - three boys in CF.JPGSoon, a couple Cook & Son Hall of Famers made their way out to the bullpen:  Jason Phillips to the left…

2 - here come phillips and RRS.JPG…and finale starting pitcher, Ryan Rowland-Smith, to the right.  After a tough season where we never got to see him pitch live, I was excited for the opportunity to watch Ryan close out the 2010 season with a strong final outing.

The Mariners braodcasters do their pregame show from the centerfield standing room area.  After Tim hopped from my shoulders to grandpa’s shoulders, Kellan and I strolled over to watch the broadcasters preparing for their show.  All of a sudden, I saw a familiar face and, before I knew it, Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik…

3 - Zduriencik kisses Kellan.JPG…was kissing Kellan like a campaigning politician.

Despite the terribly disappointing season, I believe in Jack.  I think he has a good vision for the team.  And as GM’s go, Jack is the most visible the Mariners have ever had.  In two seasons, we’ve met him several times — like last season on the streets of Boston.

After saying hello to Jack Z., we watched Ryan Rowland-Smith warm up among a sea of mascots: 

4 - RRS and the mascots.JPGAcross the field from RRS, opposing starter Dallas Braden warmed up for the A’s.

My folks and Tim stayed in the outfield when Colleen, Kellan and I headed toward the Mariners dugout.  As we walked through the seats behind first base, we watched as the Mariners Moose jacked a homerun to win the mascot homerun derby…

5 - Moosebombs.JPG…while Bill Kruger and Brad Adam interviewed Jack Z. (who you can see sitting below the bright light).

I had a goal of getting either Luke French (Kellan’s first pitcher) or Rajai Davis (his first batter) to sign the picture of Kellan’s first pitch.  We hung out behind the Mariners dugout watching for French…

6 - watching some pre-game activities.JPG…but we never found him.  So instead, we just had another fan take our picture.

Eventually, a bunch of Mariners came out and started playing catch and stretching down the 1B line…

7 - mascots and mariners.JPG….you can see them in the background of this picture my parents took of some of the mascots.

When some of the Mariners started playing catch, I gave up on finding Luke French and we headed over by the guys who were playing catch.   Two games ago, Greg Halman had tossed Tim and me his pregame warmup baseball.  That day, we were practically the only people watching the players playing catch.  But on this day, the seats were crowded.  We were about six rows back and the first three rows were packed.  I was hoping we could get one more baseball this season and this was our chance, but there was a lot of competition and the odds weren’t looking good.

As the players started heading back to the dugout a ball or two got tossed to fans in the first row.  Finally, Halman and his partner finished playing catch and Halman ended up with the baseball.  He looked over to the crowd and I yelled, “Hey, Greg!!!!”  I was the only one to call out to him by name and he appreciated it.  He scanned around and found me and then tossed his baseball high over everyone else so they couldn’t intercept it on its way to me and Kellan.

The baseball was just a bit over my head level.  As I reached up to make the easy grab, Colleen yelled “No! NO!!!!”  She was scared I would miss the ball and it would hit Kellan.  It was pretty funny, really.  Her maternal instincts to protect our baby overrode her common sense about my abilities to catch a baseball lobbed to me.

The expression on Kellan’s face in this picture illustrates how difficult the catch was for me:

8 - kellans third baseball.JPGYep, it was pretty routine.  (That’s a yawn, by the way).

Thanks, Greg!

The Mariners cleared out and we never found Luke French.  But when I looked over toward LF, I saw Kellan’s first batter stretching and preparing for the game.  So we headed over there:

9 - watching Rajai Davis.JPGIn that last picture, Rajai Davis is the guy bending down and reaching toward the ground.

As we waited to see if Davis would come over to sign autographs on his way back to the dugout, we watched this guy…

10 - dont catch fair balls.JPG…walk down the fence and explain to everyone in the front row that they will be kicked out of the game if they interfere with a live ball in play.  His message was simple, “Foul grounders are fair game, but catching a fair grounder will get you ejected.

When Davis finished streching, he jogged straight into the A’s dugout.  No first batter autograph for Kellan on this day.  But don’t fret.  We’ll track down Rajai Davis some day.  You can mark my words on that.

Rajai Davis wasn’t the only A’s player walking straight lines, but not all of them were heading to the dugout.  After warming up in the bullpen, Dallas Braden exited the bullpen gate and walked in a laser straight line directly to us.  As I watched him approach, he displayed an odd expressionless face with his harms hanging unnaturally still as he walked…as I said…directly to us.  Confused, I looked at him standing two feet in front of me.  What’s going on here, I thought to myself.

Then Braden extended his arm, opened his glove, nodded to me to reach in and remove…

 

11 - thanks dallas braden.JPG…this baseball from the pocket of his glove.  Although it took me hundreds of games, it took Kellan only two games to get a baseball from a pitcher with a perfect game on his resume.

Thanks, Dallas!

With no first pitch autographs, but two new baseballs in our pockets, we reported to our seats along the first base line.  My mom took a picture of us (Paul was still en route to the ballpark):

12a - family shot at our seats.JPGWe were ready for some Mariners baseball!

At exactly 1:11 p.m., Ryan Rowland-Smith delivered the first pitch of the game…

13 - RRS first pitch and one11.JPG…for ball 1.  However, if you click on that picture to enlarge it, the pitch looks pretty good to me.  Davis ended up leading off the game with a single.  RRS’s body language wasn’t looking good after the single.  He sort of looked like, “Oh, no.  Here we go again.”

Kellan was ready to see some quality Mariners baseball…

15 - kellan over shoulder.JPG…after a 9-0 shut out loss in his MLB debut game.

Despite the early frustrated body language, it seemed like RRS started believing in himself.  And he should have because he had a good day.  After RRS induced a fly out to CF for the first out of the game, Josh Bard threw out Davis trying to steal second.  Then RRS struck out Jack Cust to end the first.

Yep, RRS was looking good…

14 - RRSMotion2.jpg…and he had one scoreless inning in the book.

As each Mariner came to bat for the first time, a picture drawn by a kid was displayed on the big screen.  Here are all nine of the M’s batters:

16 - line up drawn by kids.JPGFranklin Gutierrez took a couple mighty looking hacks in the bottom of the  first…

17 - Guti doesnt go yard.JPG…but both he and the Mariners came up empty handed.

Hey, guess who showed up?  It was Paulie!

19 - Tim and Paul.JPGPaulie, Tim and I had big plans for this game.  We bought tickets to this game at the very beginning of the season figuring that it would probably be Griffey’s final game.  We were hoping to see Griffey’s final homerun and Griff getting carried off the field and into retirement.  Sadly, we were Griffeyless on this day.

The A’s ended up scoring two runs off of RRS.  They got one run in the third when Mark Ellis doubled to score Rajai Davis.  In the fourth, Kurt Suzuki hit a lead off homerun to make it 2-0 A’s.

To this point, the A’s had scored 11 runs to the Mariners zero runs so far in Kellan’s first two games.  It was high time for the Mariners to get on the board for Kellan.

Michael Saunders led off the bottom of the fifth with a single.  Our buddy Greg Halman…

20 - Halman singles.JPG…followed Saunders with a single of his own on this swing.

Two batters and two outs later, Saunders was erased, Halman stood on second base, and Matt Mangini occupied first as Ichiro came to the plate.  In the hands down most exciting moment of Kellan’s young Marienrs fan career, Ichiro lined a double down the RF line on this swing…

21 - Ichiros RBI double.JPG…and Halman and Mangini scored Kellan’s first two Mariners runs ever.  We were all on our feet screaming and cheering.  It was a great moment.

After Ichi’s 2RBI double, the Ichi-Meter was changed to record Ichi’s 213th hit of 2010:

21a - Ichimeter at 213.JPGSo the score was all knotted up at 2-2.  I was excited for the possibility of Kellan witnessing his first Mariners win and RRS finishing off the season with a long-awaited second win of the season.

The excitement was contagious.  Tim and Paul had to practice some fist bumps:

22 - fist bumping practice.JPGAnd of course Tim had to get in some playing-with-Grandma time:

23 - fun with Grandma.JPGWith the Mariners on the board, Kellan sat up and took notice:

24 - colleen and kellan watching some baseball.JPGHe was ready for the possibility of a personally historical moment — his first ever Mariners lead??

My little family bunched together and cheered like crazy for a Mariners rally:

25 - family cheer.JPGI had to get a picture with my big boy and teammate:

26 - Todd and Tim.JPGAnd, of course, we had to celebrate the day with the season’s final ice cream helmet:

27 - last ICH of 2010.JPGUnfortunately, after Ichiro’s double, the rally ceased.  And after five innings, both teams went to their bullpens.

It should be noted that RRS actually had a slightly better line than Dallas Braden.  Both pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs.  But RRS gave up only 4 hits to Braden’s 5 hits, and he struck out 3 to Braden’s 2.  They both walked 1 batter.

Sadly, the Mariners bullpen turned Braden into a winner-in-absentia.  After Braden left the game knotted 2-2, Mariners reliever Anthony Varvaro promptly gave up a run on two hits in the top of the sixth.  He would pitch only one-third of an inning.

In the 8th inning, Garrett Olson gave up a homerun to Kevin Kouzmanoff.  That made the score 4-2 A’s.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Ichiro notched his 214th and final hit of the 2010 campaign:

28 - Ichiros 214th and final hit.JPGHe then stole his 42nd and final base of the season.   He wound up on third base on a Jose Lopez groundout.  Finally, Ichiro scored his 74th and final run of the season on a Justin Smoak line drive single to left field.

Sadly, Ichiro’s run would be the final Mariners run to be pushed across the plate in 2010.  We lost our 101st game of the season, and 2nd of Kellan’s life, by a final score of 4-3.

Toward the end of the game, I snapped a picture of the Mariners mlb.com beat writer, Jim Street (in the OU hat):

29 - Jim Streets final game.JPGJim was closing out the final game of his career…although I recently read that he is only “semi-retired” so maybe we’ll still see him on mlb.com from time-to-time.

After the game, we got a final family-at-the-ballpark picture…

30 - Final Family Shot of 2010.JPG…and a final TJCs and Paulie picture:

31 - Tim Paul and Todd.jpgIt was so sad that our season was over so soon and that, as we exited the gates at Safeco Field, we would be entering a period of six months without (regular season) Mariners baseball.

I snapped one more panorama for 2010 on our walk to the CF gates:

32 - final panorama of 2010.jpgIn doing so, I noticed that the hand operated scoreboard was already set up for the 2011 home opener:

33 - ready for 2011 home opener.JPGThat was comforting to see.

Tim and I took a couple final pictures on our way out of the stadium:

34 - one last shot in 2010.JPGHe failed to smile in any of them.  But how could I blame him?

It was now officially the off-season.

Bummer.

2010 Fan Stats:

29 Games

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


35 - halman and braden finish the season.jpg25 Ice Cream Helmets
(Mariners (3), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

66 Baseballs (15 Mariners, 2 Angels, 5 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

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

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Kellan’s MLB Debut (10/1/10)

October 1, 2010 was a big day, and its going to result in a BIG game report.  Here we go.

The day was finally upon us:  Kellan’s first Mariners game!  In the morning, I laid out our shirts for the day in small, medium and large sizes:


1 - 3 for M's Baseball.JPGFor this extra special game, I decided to don my extra special jersey:  my official Mariners Ryan Rowland-Smith No. 18 jersey.

It was a night game and we had a busy day preparing for it.  In the morning, my mom and I went shopping at a craft store and then, just like I’d done a little more than four years ago, I set up shop in my parents’ garage to paint version 2.0 of the First Gamers Club sign:

2 - painting first gamers club sign.JPGMy mom headed up a project of her own:  creating a picture display for the “2006 First Gamers Club Reunion“:

3 - 2006 first gamers club reunion.JPGOn September 12, 2006, we celebrated the first “First Gamers Club.”  The guests of honor (the “First Gamers”) were Tim, Julie (my cousin Janet’s daughter), Laura (my cousin Daniel’s daughter), and Kasey (our family friends’ grandson).  With the exception of Laura, all of the 2006 First Gamers would be in attendance for the second First Gamers Club celebration.

This time, the guests of honor would be Kellan, Gill and Kate (Kellan’s and Tim’s only first cousins (my sister-in-law Kimberly’s and brother-in-law Kevin’s kids)), and Tyler and Erika (my cousin Janet’s 3-year-old twins).

Thanks to my wonderful parents, Tim’s first game was in Suite 5 at Safeco Field (the Ted Williams suite).   Thanks again to my wonderful parents, Kellan’s first game would also be in Suite 5 at Safeco Field.  Here is Kellan’s extremely cool first game ticket:


Kellan's First Game TicketWe arrived right when the gates opened.  As we slowly made our way from the parking garage, through the suite level concourse and down to the field level, several ushers gave Tim and Kellan some baseball cards, including these two absolute keepers:

griff and felix cardsIt was quite the chore to keep Tim from playing with (and thereby destroying) his Felix and Griffey cards during the game.  He was very excited about them.  I kept them safe and let him play with (and destroy) several less important cards he also received from ushers during BP.

When we made it to the field level, Tim and Colleen headed to the team store where Tim got some cool Mariners athetlic shorts (pictured throughout this entry) and Kellan and I reported directly to the RF foul line to watch BP.

This is the first picture ever of Kellan at Safeco Field (or any MLB stadium):

4 - Welcome to the Bigs kid.JPGWe watched BP from almost the exact same spot from which Tim and I watched BP at his first game.  The only disappointing part of the pre-game events was that the Mariners were already off of the field when we arrived.  So Kellan’s first BP was limited to the visiting Oakland A’s.

When we arrived at the field, my mom, dad and brother had already hung the First Gamers Club sign from our suite:

5 - Second First Gamers Club sign.JPGBy the way, the “M” in “GAMERS” looks different because I painted silver sparkles over the black paint of the “M.”

According to the time coding on my camera, it took exactly 11 minutes until A’s 30-year old, first time September call-up, Bobby Cramer, bestowed upon Kellan the very first MLB baseball of his life:

6 - Kellan's first baseball.JPGHere is a cellphone picture I took so I could immediately show off Kellan’s prize:

Kellan's first baseball cellphone pict.jpgBobby Cramer was very nice.  We chatted a little bit during BP and he agreed to sign Kellan’s first baseball after the conclusion of BP.

After hitting the team store, Tim and Colleen met up with us and Colleen took this picture of her three guys with Kellan’s first baseball:

7 - new game crew.JPGTim was excited for his little brother.  He really loves that little guy.

Then, someone took this excellent family picture of the four of us:

8 - happy baseball family.JPGThat kid in the yellow shirt explained that the Mariners had stamped some of the BP balls with a “CATCH & WIN” stamp.  If you caught one of the stamped baseballs, you could turn it in for an autographed Mariners baseball at a prize table in the concourse behind home plate.  (I guess I should mention that it was Fan Appreciation Night).

Well, Kellan’s first baseball had the stamp.  It is visible in the last couple pictures — it looks like a blue blob on the baseball.  As much as I would like to get an autographed Mariners baseball, there was no way in the world that I was going to trade in Kellan’s first baseball.

Soon, more First Gamers showed up.  In this picture, Tim is jumping for joy (and sporting his new shorts!) as my dad chats up Tyler and Erika: 

9 - hopping happy baseball kids.JPGJulie is in the pink hat just behind Tim.  I got a kick out of the fact that Tim and Julie shared their first game together back in September 2006.  Now, just over four years later, Julie was enjoying her second baseball game while Tim was taking in his EIGHTY-SECOND game!

Eventually, my dad was able to secure a couple baseballs for Julie, Erika and Tyler:

10 - baseballs for the johnsons.JPGI believe that both of those baseballs also came courtesy of Bobby Cramer.

Soon, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate also made their way down to join us for some BP.  Colleen and Kimberly took this nice “sisters” shot…

11 - sisters.JPG…that features the First Gamers Club sign in the background.

True to his word, the second BP ended, Bobby Cramer ran over and signed Kellan’s first baseball:

12 - autograph from bobby cramer.JPGNote that Bobby is using the Cook & Son tried-and-true baseball glove hat method while signing Kellan’s baseball.  Kellan’s first baseball is pictured below.  I am extremely happy with it.  Bobby did an excellent job with his autograph.  The placement of his autograph and his jersey number (“64″) off-set to the side of the “CATCH & WIN” stamp and a nice grass/dirt smudge easily make it one of the most visually unique and pleasing baseballs in our collection.

Even if Bobby doesn’t turn out to be an all-star player, he can rest assured that he will always be remembered by the Cook family.

Thanks, Bobby!

BP was great fun with all of the kids.  The only regret was that I had not been able to get a baseball for Gill and Kate.  I’d once given Gill a baseball Gil Meche used to do some rehab work at old Yankee Stadium, so they had a real MLB baseball already.  But I was determined that Gill should get one at his first game.  At this point, I wasn’t sure how or if that was going to happen.

Before leaving our BP spot, I had to pose for a picture with Tim in his familiar shoulder riding position and Kellan in his baby bjorn:

13 - walking for three.JPGIn that picture, you can see the “CATCH & WIN” logo on the big screen behind us.

After BP ended, Tim headed up to the suite with his Grandma.  Meanwhile, Kellan, Colleen and I headed over to the Mariners dugout.  I really wanted to get a picture of Kellan with a Mariner at his first game.  I had discussed it with Ryan Rowland-Smith at our last game and he said he’d gladly pose for a picture with us and that we should come over by the dugout.  So that’s what we did.

Kellan took a little power nap:

14 - already tuckered out.JPGAnd he concentrated hard on taking “it” all in while he was awake:

15 - taking in the ballpark experience.JPGWhen Colleen split off from us to go fetch Kellan’s pacifier, a nice fan asked if I wanted him to take our picture.  Hey, why not?  Right?  So here it is:

hanging by M's dugout with KellanNo Mariners were in sight for a long time.  Then, John Wetteland came out and started signing autographs down the foul line.  A couple rookie calls up soon joined him.  We stuck by the dugout looking for RRS.  Eventually, he came out and we locked eyes.  I pointed down the foul line and we both nodded our heads.  But when he went down the line to meet up with us, a throng of fans rushed him for autographs.  Then more players came out and joined the huge autograph session.

We moved down the line a bit and waited for people to clear out from the RRS line.  In this picture, Kellan looks like a pro-autograph hound as RRS signs an autograph for another fan in the background:


16 - how about some player interactions.JPGWe ended up getting pictures with four Mariners:

17 - kellan with pauley RRS olson and sedden.JPGClockwise from top left:  David Pauley, RRS, Chris Seddon, and Garrett Olson.

Olson posed for a picture with us and then saw the little helmet in my hand.  He grabbed the helmet, put it on Kellan’s head, and leaned in for a second picture.  Excellent move, Garrett!

I got a bright idea earlier in the day, I brought Tim’s ice cream helmet from the last game and a metallic-silver pen and got the guys to autograph it:

18 - autographed ice cream helmet.JPGA couple of the autographs are on the far side near the back.  On the bill of the helmet, those autographs are Cook & Son Hall of Famers Jason Phillips and Ryan Rowland-Smith.

Phillips wasn’t autographing down the line.  While the autograph session was going on down the line, he was out in the bullpen and outfield working with starting pitcher Luke French and catcher Josh Bard.  After we got those player pictures above, it was getting close to game time.  We still had not visited the suite yet.  But before heading up, I told Colleen we needed to go out to the bullpen because I wanted to say hi to Jason.

We found Phillips pretty quickly.  He came over to chat and meet Kellan.  And he asked, “Hey, where’s the big guy?”  Yep, Tim has graduated from being our “little boy” to being our “big guy.”

Jason Phillips has been so incredibly cool to Tim and I over the past two seasons.  I definitely don’t want to try to take advantage of the relationship.  But this was Kellan’s first game!  So I had to ask if he could hook Kellan up with his first Mariners baseball.  “Of course,” was Jason’s response.

Thank you, Jason!!!

Faced with a fresh, new-to-the-world Mariners fan, Jason told us a story about when his kid was born and he was just days away from the start of a baseball season.  When we parted ways, we wished each other well for the offseason.  By the way, the baseball Jason gave to Kellan was fresh out of the box.  It is a beautiful clean pearl of a baseball.

Here is a look at Kellan’s first two baseballs:

19 - bobby cramer jose lopez-auto and jason phillips.jpgWait, that’s three baseballs?  To the left, that is Kellan’s absolutely beautiful Bobby Cramer autographed, “CATCH & WIN” stamped first baseball.  The baseball on the right (“107″) is the baseball from Jason Phillips.  (FYI, I internally debated with myself long and hard about whether we should start again at “1″ now that Kellan has joined our little baseball team.  I’m still not convinced I made the right decision, but I decided that we’d just keep on with our existing numbering system under the theory that all of the baseballs are collectively “Cook & Son” team baseballs.  Right or wrong, I’ll live with that decision until the boys are old enough that I’m no longer “cool” and they feel the need to have their own separate numbering system.  Hopefully that’s in the distant future because I love being on my sons’ team.)

Anyway, what about that middle baseball?  We wandered by the prize booth.  I showed them Kellan’s baseball (now autographed by Bobby Cramer) and told them there was no way I was going to give it to them, but that we still would like to get an autographed Mariners baseball.  They put a little red dot inside the “C” in of the “CATCH & WIN” stamp and let me pick a bag from the autographed baseball grab bag.  Truth be told, I like that red dot a lot.  It adds to the story of Kellan’s first baseball and it looks cool.   Anyway, Colleen and I both pointed to the same grab bag, and we ended up pulling the above-pictured Jose Lopez autographed baseball.  We like Jose.  The Jose baseball is definitely a welcome addition to our home.

Okay — it was game time.  We reported to the suite and said our hellos to the gathered crowd of family and friends.

I absolutely love Tim’s “first pitch” picture.  So, in addition to myself, I assigned two other people to photograph Kellan’s first pitch.  One took the shot too early and one took it too late.  Luckily, I took it at just the right time and Kellan is now the proud owner of a framed picture of the first pitch of his first Mariners game.  Here it is:

20 - Kellan's first MLB pitch.JPGIf you cannot tell, the baseball can be seen in the foul grass on the 3B side, just to the right of the circle of dirt around home plate (click to enlarge the picture and you’ll be able to see it).  Just like Tim’s first pitch thrown by Gil Meche, Kellan’s first pitch thrown by Luke French was a called “strike one.”

On the second pitch, Rajai Davis popped out to…

20a - Ichiro in RF.JPG…Ichiro in right field for the first “out” of Kellan’s career as a Mariners fan.

After that second pitch, sadly, it was all downhill for the Mariners.  The next batter hit a homerun and the A’s never looked back.

But lets dwell on the positive.  Here was our beautiful view from Suite 5 at Safeco Field:


20b - safeco suite 5 panorama.jpgWhen you attend a game in a luxury suite, its easy to end up not hanging on every pitch of the game.  There is a lot that goes on in a suite.  And my mom and Colleen did an excellent job snapping pictures of all of the fun.

In no particular order, lets check in on the fun:

21 - people.JPGTop left: my dad with my folks’ closest friends and co-Mariners season ticket holders Lynn and Steve.  And half-hidden behind Lynn in Kasey from the First Gamers Club class of 2006.  Kasey and Tim had a blast together at this game.

Top right: my cousin Annie smiles for a picture with her (and my) uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!  Ray is Julie, Erika and Tyler’s grandpa.

Bottom left:  Annie with her sister (and my cousin) Katie, my Dad, Julie and Kate (my neice).

Bottom right:  My dad, Julie and Kate sans Annie and Katie.

My hope was that the Mariners would win.  Unfortunately, they were facing Trevor Cahill who was looking to cap off a stellar season with his 18th win to go along with is sub-3.0 ERA.  As with all apparent Mariners losses in the making, my second goal was that hopefully at least Ichiro would get a hit.  I was poised with my camera ready to capture the moment:

21a - Ichi-pose.JPGBut he walked in the first and, as shown here,…

21b - ichi grounder to first.JPG…grounded into a fielder’s choice in the third.

Back to the suite pictures.  In the top left photo below, Katie shares a moment with her (and my) cousin Janet:

22 - people.JPGJanet, of course, is Raaaaaaaaaaayyy’s daughter, and Julie, Erika and Tyler’s mother.

Top right:  My dad holds Kellan as uncle Raaaaaaaaaayyy watches on.

Bottom left:  My mom goofs around with Julie.

Bottom right:  Katie holds Kellan as they watch the game from the suite’s top row of seats.

By the way, each of my cousins at this game are children of my mom’s sisters, each of my aunts at this game are those very same sisters of my mom (she has four sisters and two of them were at this game), and each of my uncles at this game are the husbands of the aforementioned aunts and fathers of the aforementioned cousins.

More pictures:

23 - people.JPGTop left:  Lynn, my dad, Kellan, me, and my aunt Carol (wife of Raaaaaaaayyy, mother of Janet, and grandma of Julie, Erika and Tyler).

Top right:  My dad and Steve.

Bottom left:  Kasey (in his grandma’s arms) pats Kellan (in my dad’s arms) on the arm, while Colleen and I smile for the camera.

Bottom right:  Trouble with a capital “T” and “K”.  Left to their own devices, I am certain that Tim and Kasey could get into unruly amounts of mischief.  (And, for good measure, Kate is hiding under the table).

The Mariners love new fans.  They were quick to bestow unto Tim, Kellan, and all of the kids these fancy “first game” certificates:
Seattle Ms 1st game cert-Kellan.jpgOf course, this wasn’t Tim’s first game, so I digitally edited his certificate.

You know what else they have in suites?  Awesome food, and lots of it.  Here, my best buddy, Paul, and I point out (with amazement) part of the spread:

24 - check out that food.JPGAlong the wall off-camera to the right, we also had pizzas, hot dogs, and delicious little mini corndogs.

As the Mariners fell further-and-further behind their opponents, we just kept having fun:

25 - people.JPGTop left and right:  Carol plays with Kellan.  In the photo on the left, my aunt Margaret watches on in the pink jacket.  In a crazy and by all accounts unplanned twist of fate, Carol wore the exact same white sweater and Margaret wore the exact same pink jacket to Tim’s first game.  Here is the photographic evidence.

Bottom left:  Me and Paulie (taken about two seconds before (or possibly after) our “pointing at the food” picture above).

Bottom right:  Tim and one of his favorite people in the whole world, his grandma.

This has been a lot of pictures…well, that’s not even the half of it.  Let’s keep going:


26 - people.JPGTop left:  my mom and Kellan.

Top right:  the kids gather for some First Gamers Club cake!

Bottom left:  I paparazzi-style ambushed my brother Jason as he got up to get more food and/or drink.  Paulie laughs at Jason in the process.  Back in 1998-99, Jason, Paul and I were roommates during the year after I graduated from college and before I moved to Pennsylvania for law school.  Between the three of us, there was a lot of making fun of each other going on in that house.  Good times.

Bottom right:  Janet watches the game with all three of her kids.

Wait.  That was three pictures in a row without Kellan.  Here we go, its Kellan and Lynn on the left…

27 - people.JPG…and Kellan and aunt Kimberly on the right.

And how about some Kellan, mommy and the Safeco Field sign pictures?  We got those too:

28 - Colleen and Kellan.JPGLike at Tim’s first game, the Mariners Moose paid a visit to the suite and posed for pictures with everyone.  Here are just two of the many Moose pictures:

29 - the Moose is Loose.JPGHeck, let’s see a few more:

more moose picts.JPGBy this point, all of these people should look familiar except two of ‘em.  In the top left, Janet’s husband Destry is holding Erika and Tyler.  At the bottom left, Katie and Annie are joined by their dad (and my uncle) Tom in their Moose picture.  By the way, to connect the dots, maybe I should mention that Margaret and Tom are the parents and Katie and Annie are the sisters of my cousin Nathan with whom Tim and I went to a Nationals vs. Mets game on September 6, 2010.

Tim and his cousin Kate are about 9 months apart in age (Tim is older) and they have a great time with each other.  Here, Tim makes silly faces at my camera…

30 - some cousins.JPG…while Kate smiles at someone else’s camera.

Meanwhile, Kate’s big brother and Tim’s cousin, Gill, was having fun sitting with his dad (“uncle Kevin”) and playing with the large stack of baseball cards he’d acquired from various ushers throughout the night:

31 - some baseball cards.JPGGill’s baseball fan loyalty is somewhat up in the air.  While his dad is a moderate Phillies fan (more of an Eagles and Flyers fan) and his (and Tim’s) grandpa is a Yankees fan, I have designs on drafting Gill into a life of indentured Mariners fanitude.

Tim continued having way too much fun, alternatively, with Kasey and his grandma:

32 - tim having fun.JPGAnd aunt Kimberly and uncle Kevin couldn’t say enough about their experience at Safeco Field…

33 - Kmart and Kmart.JPG…where everyone was “so very nice” to them.

With Kellan’s first game not quite going as planned on the field, there was plenty of time to smile at Kellan…

34 - Kellan and Margaret.JPG…or to take “guys” shots with my littlest boy and Paulie…

35 - Paul Kellan and Todd.JPG…and, of course, I had to get a shot with both of my boys…

36 - me my boys and my brother.JPG….with Tim wearing a pair of rabbit ears courtesy of his uncle Jason.

At some point, Gill requested to go to the kids play area.  Lynn, Kasey, Tim and I decided to join them.  I took this shot from a little concourse that joins the 1B side suite level to the RF suite level:

37 - walkway between suites.JPGThe play area was pretty crowded and it was easy to lose sight of the kids in there.  So we didn’t stay too long.  Before we left, I made a suggestion to Kimberly:  if they would like, we could stop by the Mariners bullpen and I could try to get a baseball for Gill and Kate before heading back to the suite.

Things worked out ideally.  As we approached the bullpen, Garrett Olson was warming up, but for some unknown reason, Jason Phillips wasn’t doing the catching.  Instead, Jason was standing behind the catcher just off to the lefthanded batters box side of the plate.  He was standing against the fence to the bullpen.

In the picture below to the left…

38 - hooked up by Jason Phillips.JPG…you can just barely see a little piece of Jason’s blue baseball cap above the green padding right over Gill’s right hand.  As we walked up to the fence, I noticed that Jason was standing right there.  I said hello and he turned around to chat.

Again, I don’t like asking Jason for too much, but these were drastic times.  Gill and Kate were never going to have another first game.  I introduced Jason to everyone, mentioned that they’d flown out to Seattle from the east coast to share their first baseball game with Kellan, and I asked if it was possible for them to get a baseball to mark the occassion.  “No problem,” Jason said, “just let him finish warming up so I can get over to my bag.”  Above to the right, Gill watched through the fence with wide eyes.

Once Garrett finished warming up, Jason headed over to his equipment bag, pulled out a baseball and tossed it over the fence to uncle Kevin who handed it over to Gill who then gladly handed it over to his sister, Kate.

Thanks, again, Jason!

To celebrate Gill and Kate’s first baseball, the three cousins got ice cream helmets and took them back to the suite:

39 - cousins and ice cream helmets.JPGIchiro came to the plate for his final at bat of the night in the 8th inning.  He was still looking to collect his first hit of the night, and his 211th of the season.  And with this swing…

40 - Ichiro hits single in 8th.JPG…he extended his hit streak in games attended by Kellan to one (1) game (and counting).

It was getting late and the action in the suite was quieting down a bit.  The Martelons enjoyed some more “first game” action from the steps in the suite’s seating area:

41 - martelons.JPGThe food service people started cleaning up…

42 - suite from hallway.JPG…while Colleen and Kellan relaxed in a cushy chair:

43 - suite quieting down.JPGOthers, including me and Tim, quietly watched the Mariners offense sputter to the finish line of a 9-0, six hit, shutout loss:

44 - safeco suite 5 panorama.jpgThe brutal loss, however, couldn’t dampen our spirits.  The season was long lost months ago and, while a win would have been great, this night was about family, friends and sharing our five kids’ “first game” experience with one another.  And on that front, the night was a smashing success.

After the game concluded, people slowly said their temporary good-byes (we’re all family, we’d see each other again soon):

45 - packing up.JPGPaulie pointed out the framed shot of our favorite baseball player of all-time hanging on the wall:

46 - paul points out Griff.JPGMonths earlier, I had hoped and expected that Ken Griffey, Jr. would be playing in this game.  Given his retirement, I was at least happy to have him “in” the suite with us.

I didn’t want to leave.  I grabbed my “big guy” and we got a picture as the Safeco Field roof rolled shut:

47 - TJC and tjc in a suite.JPGIn the name of preserving history, I got a picture of the “unhappy” totals:

48 - happy day but unhappy totals.JPGThen we got a picture of our whole family:

49 - 8 Cooks.JPGWe try to get a full family shot at least once a year.  It was great to get this one at Safeco Field (although poor little Kellan was lights out at this point).  Oh, by the way, there is my camera-shy sister-in-law, Alison, between my mom and brother!  (With this picture, I am pretty sure I’ve now included at least one picture of each person who attended the game with us in the suite).

Then, I got yet another panorama from the suite (showing the roof closing)…

50 - safeco suite 5, ted williams suite panorama.jpg…and one more picture of my happy little family (the “PA Cooks”):

51 - 4 Cooks.JPGAside from the final score, it was an almost unbeatable day at the ballpark.

Welcome to the Majors, Kellan!

Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ichiro greeted us in the hallway…

52 - Griff and Ichi see us out.JPG

…as we made our way from the suite to the car.

Why did the night have to end?

2010 Fan Stats:

28 Games

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

24 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (2), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

64 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Angels, 4 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

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

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Family & Safeco Field (9/30/10)

Tim’s little brother, Kellan, was born in July and there was no way that I was going to allow him to miss out on meeting the Mariners during the first baseball season of his life.  And there was no way Kellan was going to experience his first game anywhere but Safeco Field.  So, as the season drew to a close, we found ourselves in Seattle.

Kellan’s first game was slated for Friday, October 1, 2010.

But we were in town a couple days early to visit my family and the Mariners were playing.  There was no way that Tim and I were gonna miss out.  On Thursday, September 30, 2010, we gathered up my mom, dad, and brother Jason, and headed down to Safeco Field.

We had Colleen’s sister’s family in town with us and a lot going on, so we headed down late and missed batting practice.  When we arrived, no one was on the field.  So, we headed to the play area…


2 - safeco play area.JPG…Tim always enjoys the Safeco Field play area.  When he finished up playing, we found the Mariners Moose nearby…

3 - moose 2010.JPG…and posed for a picture with him in his little Moose den.

Next, we figured we better head over to the Mariners dugout to see what was going on with our Mariners.  And that’s when we saw one of the prettiest sights we’d seen all season:

5 - hello safeco 2010.JPGAh, beautiful Safeco Field.  We love this place.

Other than Chone Figgins stretching down the RF line, none of the players were on the field.  But we did see some of the Mariners top brass…

4 - Howard Lincoln.JPG….President & COO Chuck Armstrong.  “Hmmm,” I wondered, “what’s up with Chuck.”

After a bit, there were a bunch of Mariners warming up down the RF line.  Tim and I headed over there…

6 - greg halman warmups.JPG…and we were essentially the only people around when Greg Halman finished playing catch.  I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and fired the ball to us.

Thanks, Greg!

 It was just minutes until game time, so we reported to our seats in RF.  We picked RF because the week day crowds had been tiny lately at Safeco Field and we figured our chances of getting near a homerun ball would be decent.  Also, as an added bonus, we’d been near Ichiro.

Speaking of Ichiro.  Turns out Chuck Armstrong was in the dugout because he was getting ready to present Ichiro with some awards of some sort…

7 - congrats ichiro.JPG….for being the first Major Leaguer to collect 200 hits for ten straight seasons.

We were pretty busy chatting and generally having a good time during the game, so I did a pretty shabby job at getting action shots.  But we’ll do our best to take you through the night.

Here was our crew…an excellent bunch of ballgame companions (note that Tim was busy eating a hot pile of nachos)…

8 - view of ichiro.JPG…and here was our view of Ichiro as he played catch with Franklin Gutierrez between innings.

And this was our view of the game from Section 109, Row 25, seats 5-9:

9 - safeco section 109, row 25 panorama.jpgNow is that a great looking ballpark or what?  By the way, Row 25 is the third row back from the field in RF at Safeco.

As for the game, it started off nicely.  It was the A’s and the Mariners.  Doug Fister took on Gio Gonzalez.  Both pitchers were “on” at the beginning.  Despite some hits by both teams through the early innings (including a first inning single for Ichiro (his 209th hit of the season)), the game was scoreless through four innings.

It was a lot cooler at this game than we were used to while attending games in the northeast.  So, a couple innings into the game, my mom, Tim and I visited the M’s team store and I got a great deal on a new Mariners sweatshirt for Tim.

On the way back to our seats, we decided to walk by the Mariners bullpen.

I noticed something interesting, something that I’d never noticed before…

10 - flat pitching rubber.JPG…a little cut out at the front of the M’s bullpen mound with a flat ground pitching rubber.  That was a new one on me.

As I stood at the fence starring at my camera’s LCD screen and taking some of the worst and most blurry pictures of all time of Ichiro batting…

11 - blurry ichiro.JPG…my mom mentioned, “Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith just looked over at you.  Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith is walking over here.”

I looked away from my camera, and there was Mr. RRS.

Hey, Ryan!

It was great to catch up with RRS.  It was interesting to chat about what it was like in the clubhouse as the Mariners were 97 losses into the season and four days away from the off-season.  It was also cool to get a sneak preview into his very interesting training plans for the off-season.  I felt a bit bad seeing RRS watching the game from the bullpen after a tough season.  And I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him pitch once more and close out the season on a positive note.  While it wouldn’t happen at this game, I would get my chance.

Soon, we headed back to our seats.  It was time for a chocolate cihp cookie dough ice cream helmet…

12 - M's ICH 2010.JPG…but as things got sweet for Tim, they got sour for the Mariners.

Between the fifth and sixth innings, Doug Fister gave up 6 runs and Brian Sweeney gave up the seventh run of the game.  Quickly, our pitchers’ dual turned ugly.

But after 97 losses, we were used to seeing the M’s trailing their opponent and we were able to still have a good time…

13 - fun in RF.JPG…as we watched the Mariners on the way to their 98th loss of the season.  Hey, check out that great new sweatshirt on Tim.  Its a zip-up with a teal inner hood.  Very nice.

(By the way, I made Tim take off his new sweatshirt and wear his old green sweatshirt to eat his ice cream helmet.  That guy is sloppy with the ice cream.)

It was also very nice to be hanging out behind Ichiro:

14 - its Ichiro.JPGAnd, of course, it was nice to get a chance to snap a picture of the Greg Halman ball:.

15 - Halman baseball at safeco.JPGSpeaking of Greg Halman, he made an outstanding diving catch in left field.  In fact, it was such a nice, high speed diving catch…

15b - halmans new belt…that he broke his belt in the process.

 After Halman’s catch, I figured I should go back over by the bullpen to snap a shot of Halman.  While I was there, I also snapped a picture of the Mariners’ mop-headed September call-up, Dan Cortes…

16 - Dan Cortes bullpen and airport.JPG…interestingly, five days later with the season concluded, we were getting ready to board our airplane back to Pennsylvania while Mr. Cortes was getting ready to board his flight back home to the Los Angeles area.  (FYI, the white and red arrow is pointing to my brother and parents).

Well, we made it to the 8th inning.  It was still 7-0 A’s, and despite fairly empty seats, we’d managed to go the whole game without catching a homerun.

And then, the perfect opportunity arose…and I totally botched it.

With two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Chad Pennington hit a homerun in our direction.  I had an open lane to the ailse.  It seemed like it was going to land 5-10 rows behind us and right on the aisle.  I bolted to the aisle and headed up three rows.  Then the ball totally died.  I turned around but couldn’t make it back to “the spot.”  The spot, sadly, was precisely at the aisle seat…

17 - homerun failure.JPG….in THE ROW IN WHICH I WAS JUST SITTING.  It was right there, on my side of the green railing.  RIGHT THERE!  Had I stayed put, I could have caught it easily.

I still had a chance.  Someone bobbled the ball.  I made a dive for it down the stairs while passing under that railing, which ultimately resulted in several flesh wounds and two large buises but no baseball.

Aye, aye, aye…

Oh, well.  while I really would like to catch a game homerun some day, I would much, much, MUCH prefer that it not be a homerun off of the Mariners.

Anyway, it was moving into the 9th inning.  Tim and I decided to head over to the 3B dugout in hopes of getting our hands on our first ever Safeco Field umpire ball.

Here was our first view as Anthony Varvaro pitched to Kevin Kouzmanoff…

18 - Varvaro to Kouzmanoff.JPG…the white arrow is pointing to my brother and parents.  We were in the concourse standing room area for that picture.

A few minutes later, we mae it to the first row right on the umpire tunnel, but an usher told us we couldn’t sit in the “charter” seats.  I asked her how far back we had to go.  Row 11 was acceptable.

So, this was our view from the 11th row of Ichi’s final at bat of the night when,…

19 - Ichiro 210 of 2010.JPG…after a hard foul liner right over our heads, he smacked a single for his 210th hit of the season.

After the final out of the game — and an 8-1 loss — home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman handed a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim (pictured below).  It was the 105th baseball in the “Todd & Tim Baseball Partners Era.”  Our next baseball would be our first of the “Todd, Tim & Kellan 3-Man Baseball Team Era.”

It was a miserable loss, but it was great being back at Safeco Field and it was great spending the evening with my family.

On the walk back to my brother and parents in RF, an usher took this excellent shot of me and my boy
...

20 - We love this place.JPG…and then…

21 - Five Cooks at Safeco Field.JPG…another usher took this excellent shot of all of us.

As we left the park, I was excited to know that we’d be walking back into the park less than 24 hours later for the first game of Kellan’s life!

2010 Fan Stats:

27 Games


22 - Halman 104 and Dreckman 105.jpg20 Teams
(Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (1), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

62 Baseballs (13 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

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