Results tagged ‘ marlins ’

Fun Fun Fun As Fish Fry Phils (5/4/2013)

The weekend of May 4-5 was going to be the first weekend of the MLB season during which we did not go to a game. But when we woke up on Saturday morning (May 4, 2013), a tweet was waking from us from Phillies Phan Harrison Tishler: “headed to Philly today?”

After reading Harrison’s tweet, I asked my wife, “Should the boys and I go to the Phillies game today?” “Sure,” she replied.

Game on!

I bought some tickets online and we headed down to Citizens Bank Park. I can’t stand e-tickets so I selected the “will call” delivery option. The website said I could pick up our tickets at a ticket machine on either the 1B or 3B sides of the stadium. After checking in with the Tishler’s at the LF gate, we headed off toward the 3B side of the stadium, did find any ticket machines…

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…, so we circled around to the 1B side, picked up our tickets at the 1B will call box, and ended up running around the entire stadium.

Back at the LF gate, we prepared our backpacks for the security check:

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That’s Harrison, Tami and Seth Tishler right behind Tim. It was great seeing them for the first time of 2013. Harrison had recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and he brought us one of his personalized Phillies-themed “H” baseballs…

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…, which is now on display on one of Tim’s baseball shelves.

Thanks, Harrison!

When the ballpark opened, Tim, Kellan and I headed into the first row in the LF corner. Right when we arrived in the first row, Bernie the Usher called over to Tim and told him to come over and see him. When he did…

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…, Bernie set a baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Bernie!

This was our view during the beginning portion of BP:

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During our first game at Citizens Bank Park of the season, Erik Kratz tossed us ball to Tim in the LF corner early in BP. This was our second Phillies game of the year, and it was like de ja vu all over again. The funny twist this time is that the ball tipped off of Tim’s glove and landed in the flower bed:

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Tim reached for it with his glove, but it was too far to reach. I reached down for it but Tim wanted to grab it on his own. Tim ended up hopping into the flower bed to grab the ball.

Thanks, Erik!

I like to keep the boys out of the direct sun as much as possible, so we decided to head to the back of the section that straddles the LF foul pole:

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Sometimes when we’re up front in this section, homeruns or long fouls get hit into the back of this section. So I figured we’d wait a bit and see if one would come out way.

No dice.

So we headed out to CF until about 5 minutes before the whole stadium opened:

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Right before the rest of the stadium opened, the boys played the running-the-bases game:

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Can you guess who won? Yep, Tim. That jump is his excited/victory pose. [Note: there was another kid around Tim’s age to the far left on the yellow footprints. So Tim wasn’t just celebrating because he beat Kellan.]

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed down into the pizza wedge. When we got down there, there was a stray baseball at the back of the Phillies bullpen and two groundskeepers working on the mound. In all of my experience at Citizens Bank Park, I’ve seen the two guys who chalk the foul lines give away some stray balls, but all other groundskeepers have said they were not allowed to give away baseball. Knowing these guys almost certainly couldn’t, I pointed out the stray baseball and asked the groundskeepers if they could toss it up.

They were not allowed to, one of them responded. And then they headed out into CF, walked the warning track toward the RF corner, and exited the field through the tunnel under the concourse.

A few minutes later, the same groundskeeper who had said he couldn’t toss up the baseball appeared above the RF seats, walked down the stairs into the pizza wedge, and handed a totally different baseball to Kellan. He apologized for not being able to toss the baseball from the bullpen up to us. It was pretty funny.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

While we were in LF, Alex Sanabia kept running back-and-forth across the outfield. Early in BP, we said “hi” to him (“Hi, Alex!”) and we exchanged waves. . When we reached the Pizza wedge, Sanabia was hanging out in RCF. When he fielded a ball, Sanabia made a long throw to Tim…

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…but it sailed high over Tim’s head so I had to catch it for him.

Thanks, Alex!

Tim and Kellan posed with their baseballs from Sanabia and the groundskeeper:

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Lately, we’ve stayed in the pizza wedge until BP ends. At this game, we decided to switch things up. We headed back over to LF…

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…where Chad Qualls tossed us a baseball…

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…and then the boys ate a bunch of snacks:

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After the boys were full of snacks, we decided to head back to the pizza wedge. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we walked across the LF seats about 15 rows back from the field…

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…when we made the bend toward CF a Marlins batter took a mighty hack and sent a fly ball in our direction. I stopped mid-row and watched the balls flight. It was right in line with us, but seemed like it wasn’t quite going to make it to us. But it kept carrying. With Kellan still on my shoulders, I leaned forward over the row of seats in front of us and reached and made a back-handed catch on the fly.

It was the first time I’d ever caught a batted ball on the fly with one of the boys on my shoulders and it was pretty darn cool. [Note: I have caught a BP homer on the fly while holding Kellan with my right arm…so has my dad.].

When we made it back to the pizza wedge, Kellan crawled around like a dinosaur a bit:

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And Tim caught a baseball tossed to him by A.J. Ramos:

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Thanks, A.J.!

BP ended way early because it was Little League day and a whole bunch of Little Leaguers got to march around the ballpark on the warning track. As we watched, Tim said he wanted to go find Harrison, but I assured him that Harrison would turn up in the pizza wedge before too long. Meanwhile, former Mariner Miguel Olivo started stretching in CF.

I was right. Harrison and Tami soon showed up. We all camped out in the first row of the pizza wedge. Eventually, Phillies bullpen coach Rich Dubee walked out to the bullpen. He grabbed a bunch of baseballs and tossed one to Harrison and then a bunch to other fans to our right (higher in the pizza wedge seats). Dubee was all out of baseballs, but then he spotted that same baseball sitting on the hose (the one I’d asked the groundskeeper to toss up to us)…

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…and Dubee tossed it to us.

Thanks, Rich!

Meanwhile, back in CF, Olivo wasn’t getting much of a chance to warm up because he was giving high fives to Little Leaguers and posing for photos:

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Soon, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo made his way to the bullpen. He too ended up grabbing a bunch of baseballs and tossing them into the crowd. He tossed one to Harrison, then another to me and Kellan, and then one to Tim.

That last one that Tim caught was extra special…

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…because it was the 400 baseball that we’ve got at MLB games since Tim’s first game back on 9/12/2006. Jesus ended up signing it for us too!

Double thanks, Jesus!

We watched Cole Hamels and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz…

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…warm up for a few minutes and then we parted ways with the Tishlers and headed off to find some dinner.

The plan was hot dogs for dinner. But at the last minute, Kellan rejected the hot dog concept and opted to get a giant pretzel.

We picked a nice random spot in the RF concourse to eat:

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What was in that plastic bin sitting behind Kellan in that last picture, you ask? Well, a bunch of…

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…rocks, water and sludge, of course!

Tim finished eating before Kellan so he did some dancing to pass the time:

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Usually, we like to get a picture of the first pitch of the game. We missed it at this game, so the third pitch will have to do:

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This game absolutely flew by. It was amazing. After watching the first batter of the game *live*, we headed to the kids’ play area:

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Cole Hamels blanked the Marlins in the first (despite hitting a batter). Freddy Galvis knocked a single in the Phils’ half of the first, but was left stranded on base. After Galvis’s first inning single, the Phillies would not collect another hit all night. And the Marlins only had four hits in them.

The first three innings blew by in a blink of an eye. Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna knocked a solo homer in the top of the second and Chris Valaika followed with a solo blast of his own in the top of the third.

That made it 2-0 Marlins and we finally left the kids’ play area.

We were ready for some ice cream so we went to our go-to ice cream lady:

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Check out this monster chocolate chip cookie sundae:

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We took it up to our seats (or almost our seats) in section 306…

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…to eat our sundae:

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I’ve taken hundreds of stadium panoramas over the past several years and this one from section 306 row five might be among the very best looking panoramas:

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After devouring our ice cream, the boys wanted to keep on moving. We headed back to the kids’ play area. As the kids were playing, I was amazed to notice that it was only 8:30 and the game was already in the seventh inning!

We decided to switch things up, and head to spot where we had not spent much time. He headed up to the second deck in LF. Check out the view from the SRO area right behind section 243:

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Over Kellan’s objection, a nice usher took our picture with the field behind us…

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…and another with the liberty bell:

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And I took an extra shot of Tim with my cellphone that turned out pretty cute:

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The boys stood on this little railing a bit…

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…and watched the game. But then they decided they should play some fake baseball:

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While the usher nearby cracked down on some fans standing in the wrong SRO spots. But, thankfully, he had no problem with Tim and Kellan playing fake baseball in the middle of the cross-aisle.

Heading into the ninth inning, the boys and I headed down to section 129 to make an attempt at an umpire baseball. We had a nice view of Steve Cishek…

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…and he pitched to J-Roll…

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…in the bottom of the ninth. But Kellan was tired and cranky and he didn’t want to sit down. Actually, he did want to sit down, but he wanted to sit on my shoulders, which couldn’t happen in the third row of the seats. So we took off.

We headed down the LF line and watched Chase Utley fly out…

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…to end the game.

We headed to the gates, but our game experience wasn’t over quite yet. We ended up trudging around in the Phillies parking lot for probably half-an-hour, but we finally found what we were looking for:

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The Veterans Stadium home plate marker! That picture earned us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

On our way to the car, Tim got a final photo fake catching a baseball at the Veterans Stadium first base marker:

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And there you go. Another great game at Citizens Bank Park.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

6 Games

10 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins

10 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2

28 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4

5 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park

11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

2 Autographs – Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Marlins Park: Take 2 (9/1/12)

We woke up at the downtown Miami Hilton on the morning of Saturday, September 1, 2012, with 8 hours of kill before our second and final game of the weekend at Marlins Park.  We threw on our beach clothes, hopped into the Crown Vicky, and headed off to nearby Miami Beach.

We parked along Ocean Drive.  As I was paying for parking people were taking pictures in front of the building right across the street from our car.  Turns out that it was Gianni Versace’s house (left below):

Some bad stuff happened on the sidewalk in front of that house back in the 90s.  Check out that Versace Wikipedia link to read about it.  After Colleen got a picture with the Versace mansion, we had some fairly unimpressive breakfast at a sidewalk restaurant.  That big thermometer (above right) was right across the street from our breakfast table and people kept getting pictures in front of it.  So after breakfast, Colleen and the boys joined in the fun.

And then it was  off to the beach:

I am not a beach person at all.  But South Beach is awesome!  The water is warm and there are hardly any waves at all.  Lots of fun.

I splashed around a bunch in the water with Kellan, but Tim spent most of his time searching for sea shells…

…and then he posed with a rescue waver runner before we headed out.

After we had our fill of the beach, we headed back to the hotel so Kellan could get a quick nap.  But he had no interest in it.  So we headed to our hotel’s rooftop pool:

The pool at the Miami Hilton is really cool.  And you can see Marlins Park from the deck.

Around 3:45, we packed up and headed out to Marlins Park.  This time, the Cook Family was at full strength.  And, for the record, Marlins Park was Colleen’s 14th MLB stadium (old Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Fenway Park, Citi Field, new Yankee Stadium, Nationals Park, Progressive Field, Rogers Centre and Marlins Park).

We parked at the CVS again.  In fact, the parking attendant remembered us and intentionally had us park in the exact same spot as the night before.  These pictures should be flipped, but here are a couple views of the Marlins parking garages as we approached the stadium:

The picture above to the right is the view across NW 7th Street as we approached the mid-block crosswalk.  The picture above to the left is the end of that same parking garage from the little street approaching the ballpark, and that is a big art piece on the side of the parking garage.

The day before we turned to our right and walked toward the home plate gates.  At this game, we turned left, and headed toward the left field corner.  As we circled the corner, we walked by a “Boletos” window…

…and found some bamboo trees around the corner.

There is a big side walk area behind the LF side of the ballpark, and the sidewalk is littered with the artistic *remnants* of the words “ORANGE BOWL” sunken into the sidewalk.  Tim and Kellan decided to pose with ever letter that was accessible to foot traffic:

Along the left field outer wall of the stadium, there is an entrance for the Clevelander Night Club:

If we had Clevelander tickets, we could have entered the ballpark already, but we didn’t.  The sad thing is that we could see the Marlins inside taking BP.  Only the select few with Clevelander or certain other “premium” tickets ever get to see the Marlins take BP in Miami.  That’s too bad.

As we approached what I will call the Centerfield gate, I turned around and took a picture of the boys and Colleen with several of the sunken letters behind them:

Amazingly, while there were a lot of people milling around outside of the Clevelander, there were zero people in line at the CF gate.  So I hopped in line, and Tim and Kellan played with some green lights set into the sidewalk:

I didn’t realize this until working on this blog entry, but the gates are colored (signs, etc.) and feature lights set into the ground.  And those colors all match the colors of the concourse corresponding where you will enter the stadium.  For example, Tim and Kellan were playing with green lights and the signs on the CF gate were green, and when we ran into the ballpark, we entered the green section of the ballpark.  And if you look at our last entry, you’ll have to take my word for it that we exited the ballpark in the yellow section of the ballpark and there were yellow lights on the ramp down to the ground level outside.  That’s pretty cool.  Well thought out, Marlins.  Good job!

We had ten or so minutes to kill, so Tim and I played catch at the gate:

Check out this nice catch by Tim:

He’s chalk-full of good catches these days.

As we stood at the front of the line, this was our view through the gates:

This is a much better entrance than the RF gate.  In RF, you have to slowly wind your way up a spiral walkway (sorta spiral, at least).  The CF gate gives you a straight shot right up some those steps and into the CF concourse.

So, Tim, Kellan and I headed right down into section 36.  Almost immediately, a groundskeeper walking through the outfield tossed a baseball up to Tim.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

And just a few minutes later, another baseball was hit to the warning track near us.  Tim got Josh Edgin’s attention and Edgin tossed the ball up…

…and Tim made a great grab.  The ball from the groundskeeper was thrown over Tim’s head and we picked it up off of the ground.  But Tim gloved the ball from Edgin cleanly, and it marked the very first Tim that Colleen had ever seen Tim catch a baseball completely on his own at a baseball game.  By the way, she had stayed up at the top of the section and took three of those pictures from behind us.

Thanks, Josh!

Right after Tim caught the baseball from Edgin, Kellan got all excited and stood on the wall with his glove over his head yelling for more baseballs:

It was pretty cute.

We had only been in the park for a few minutes by this time, ten at the most.  During that time, one of the Mets hit a homerun into section 40 along the RF line.  Section 40 was completely empty and I thought it might be a good spot to go to try to catch a BP homer on the fly, so we all headed over there.

As Tim, Kellan and I walked into the section, there was an usher standing on the stairs right along the foul line…

…he pointed to two different spots in the empty rows of seats and lo-and-behold there were two baseballs just waiting to be found.  We grabbed them and then headed down to the front row to watch more BP.  I thought that was really cool of the usher, and quite fan friendly.  We have found very few “easter eggs” at MLB games.  It seems like most teams have their ushers clear out easter eggs before fans can find them.  So it was really cool that this usher kept tabs on the baseballs and then pointed them out to us.

Thanks, Usher!

In addition to pointing out the baseballs, the usher was a really nice guy.  He chatted with us a little more as we hung out in his section.

Colleen followed us into the section and several other fans, maybe 10 or so, followed her.  There actually ended up being a decent little gathering of fans down there.

Several Mets pitchers were running from the RF foul line to CF and Kellan was still hoping that someone would toss him a baseball:

Ready for the blurriest picture I’ve ever posted on this blog?  Here we go:

This shot was taken during possibly the 3 most interesting seconds of BP.  A Mets batter hit a homerun to our right (closer to the bullpen).  It was going to land 10 feet to our right and a row or two behind us.  There were several fans right where it seemed like the homer was going to land.  I didn’t even make a move for it.  There was no chance of me getting over there.  But then, magically, it slammed untouched into a folded up seat between all of the fans and took a crazy ricochet toward the foul pole.  I flung my hand up and – BOOM! – barehanded the baseball as it tried to whiz by my head.  Immediately upon catching the baseball, I turned around (as shown in the picture above) and looked at the ball and another baseball whizzed by me.  As you can see in the picture above to the left, right as I barehanded that homerun ball, Tim was calling out to Jon Neise.  Neise tossed a ball up to Tim but threw it over his head.  It hit the seats right in front of me.  The ball rattled around on the floor for half a second before we scooped it up.

So, we very quickly got four baseballs in section 40.  I figured that was good enough.  So we did a little exploring.

First, we took Colleen up to the upper deck seats above section 40.  Colleen though the “concourse” up there was quite bizarre so she snapped our picture:

We took a stroller through the upper deck seats.  Here is what Marlins Park looks like from section 140:

While we were up there, I noticed something I had not noticed the day before – there is a “Marlins Park” sign above the RF upper deck seats:

I found out later that Colleen took our picture as me and the boys walked across the upper deck seats:

Before  heading down from the upper deck, I got a panorama from the SRO behind the seats in section 134:

After we got our fill of the upper deck, we headed down and over to the SRO area behind the homerun statue.  There were three Mets standing down below us but we only recognized one of them, Chris Young.  Like Tim in t-ball this season, Chris Young wears number 55.  So that made Tim happy.  Tim decided to try to get Young to toss a ball all the way up to us.  But it was clear it wasn’t going to happen.  So we swung around to the LF seats.

Here was our view from the end spot in the first row of section 32:

We were right above the Clevelander, but you wouldn’t really know it.  All we could see below the LF bleachers were a bunch of blue awnings:

We were still relatively close to Chris Young and Tim was still hoping that Young would toss a baseball up to him.  But Eric Langill beat Young to it:

Thanks, Eric!

Young did eventually *try* to toss Tim a baseball…

…but things were a bit complicated.  First off, where we were in the front row it was only about two feet deep.  We were past the last seat and there is just a little extra space that is…just sorta *there*  The point is, there was a big bright lime green wall directly behind us.  Plus, most of Tim’s body was behind the front wall of the section – you know, the wall that keeps people from falling down into the Clevelander.

All this meant that Tim was a really small target for Young to hit.  Add to that fact, the fact that Tim really likes to makes catches on his own.  He doesn’t like me swooping in to make a catch when he thinks he can make it on his own.  So, when Young air mailed the ball over Tim’s head, although I could have easily stepped forward and caught it right above Tim’s head, I hung back and hoped Tim could reach the ball.  When it flew over Tim’s outstretched glove, I tried to play the ricochet off the wall, but it bounced oddly off the wall and the family a couple seats down from us snatched up Tim’s Chris Young baseball.

Tim was pretty bummed out about it because he really wanted to catch a baseball from Young.  I felt bad for Tim not being able to catch the baseball from a fellow number 55.  But, assuming Tim was going to catch the baseball from Young, I was going to give the Langill baseball to that family anyway.  So at the end of the day, missing the baseball was a wash.

As BP started to wind down, we headed over to the LF corner.  It looked a little like this over there in section 29:

There were a couple BP homers scattered in the Marlins bullpen.  I figured we would hang out there until someone wandered out to the bullpen.  As Randy St. Clair made his way down the LF line, an usher came through and told everyone they had to leave unless they had tickets for that section.  I pointed out St. Clair and mentioned we were hoping he would toss up one of the baseballs in the bullpen.  The usher gave us the blessing to stay put.

And when St. Clair passed by below…

…he stopped and tossed the one baseball right below us to a kid just down from us.  He then disappeared and five seconds later reappeared holding up a baseball and calling out to Tim.  It took St. Clair a couple attempts to get the baseball up to us.  His first toss wasn’t high enough and actually bounced out onto the foul warning track.  But St. Clair ran over and grabbed it and made a better toss.

Thanks, Randy!

Before heading out, I snapped a picture of the smaller scoreboard behind section 29:

An usher had told Colleen that some Marlins would be signing autographs behind the LF seats prior to the game.  We had noticed them doing this before the game the night before.  Unless it was Mike Stanton…I mean, Giancarlo Stanton, I had no interest in waiting around on them.  We never did end up seeing any Marlins signing autographs over there, but we did see these guys:

Those guys were hanging out taking photos right by the “Taste of Miami.”  Colleen wanted to check out the T.o.M.  While doing so, we noticed that there was a door leading out to a little landing outside.  We headed out there to get a picture of Colleen and Tim with the city behind them:

And then we headed up the big escalator…

…to the upper deck.

We were essentially just walking around so Colleen could see the stadium and we could kill some time before the game started.  But I did have one thing I needed to do up in the upper deck.  I had not got a panorama all the way out by the RF corner.  So we walked all the way around the upper deck so I could get this panorama from section 302:

We were getting really close to game time.  Colleen and Tim wanted to grab some food and Tim wanted to show Colleen the bobblehead museum so we split up.  While they did those things, Kellan and I headed to our seats.

As I surveyed the area and took some photos, Kellan snuck some of daddy’s diet pepsi and guarded my seat:

Here was our view of Marlins Park from section 3, row E:

By the way, I should point out that row E is the third row off the field in section 3.  The front row (row C) has only two seats.  Row D is four seats wide.  And Row E is eight seats wide.  We had the four seats right on the aisle (seats 8, 7, 6, and 5).  The face value of these tickets was (I believe) $35/ticket, but we picked them up on stub hub for $13/ticket.  I could have actually got the seats directly one row behind us for $11/ticket, but I opted for being a little bit closer to the field.

The was one reason and one reason alone that I picked these seats:  they were the closest we could get (well, closest without spending a lot of money) to the ball boy.  My goal was for Tim to get a live game foul tossed up to him from the ball boy.

Here’s a nice view of the Marlins homerun statue:

Colleen got some food at the Taste of Miami and Ti got a big trough of fries, and then they headed over to the Bobblehead Museum:

When they reached our seats, Tim shared his fries with Kellan and Colleen took tons of pictures of it:

For the second day in a row, Tim was pulling for the Fish.  On the hill for the Marlins was Tim’s number counterpart, Josh Johnson:

Johnson pitched a gem for eight innings.  And this was our view from section 3:

Colleen took lots of pictures during the game, like this…

…and this…

…, and this:

The Marlins took the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Bryan Peterson hit an RBI double – 1-0 Marlins.

Around the fourth inning, Tim wanted to explore a little bit.  So we all took to our feet and hit the concourse.  Heading toward home plate through the 1B side concourse, we past a Guest Services booth and a bank of escalators leading up to the club level:

Just past the Guest Services booth there was a random bar…

…and some equally (nee…more) random art on the wall above the concourse.

Remember those buried “Orange Bowl” letters outside the stadium?  Well, in the concourse down the LF line, the Marlins pay tribute to the Orange Bowl on one of the stadium’s support beams:

You know what else they have on lots of the support beams circling the field?  Marlins Park signs:

Down the LF line, we found an escalator heading down below the field level concourse.  I asked the usher guarding the top of the escalator what it was all about, and she explained it was the entrance to the Clevelander.  You need a Clevelander ticket to enter the Clevelander, but not simply to ride the Clevelander escalator.  This is what the Clevelander entrance looks like from the escalator:

When we resumed our walk around the field level concourse, we saw something hilarious:

Aye, aye, aye…

We continued walking single file from LF toward CF:

In that last picture, Colleen is wearing Kellan’s hat.

We stopped in RCF so I could get a panoramic shot from the concourse behind section 35:

Before returning to our seats we stopped by several concession stands, and all of them had computer error dialogue boxes displayed on the menu boards:

Most of the menu boards had that error box and no prices for any of the food.  I guess that is one potential drawback of technology; an old fashioned manual menu board never has an error that prevents it from doing its one and only job.

Anyway, the menu board errors did not prevent us from getting some tasty ice cream for the boys:

There was some more scoring in this game.  In the top of the fifth, the Mets tied the game up at 1-1 on a Josh Thole groundout.

In the bottom of the sixth, Jose Reyes and Carlos Lee hit singles and then Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single of his own, but his single was of the RBI variety.  So that put the Marlins up 2-1.

Stanton got stranded on base, but that didn’t prevent me from getting some Giancarlo base running photos…

… while he was making a mad dash for 3B as Donovan Solano flew out to CF for the third out of the bottom of the sixth inning.

Before the top of the seventh inning, I noticed that the Marlins employ a umpire-look-a-like usher whose job it is to run out to shallow CF to deliver between-inning water to the actual umpires:

Lucas Duda led off the top of the seventh with a ten pitch at bat, which included five foul balls.  This, I believe, was the first of those five foul balls:

Duda hit that foul ball right down the 1B line.   It evaded the fans down the line and was snared by the ball boy in fair territory right down below us.  The ball boy no-look tossed the baseball into the crowd and I just barely caught it while reaching up as high as I could over my head.

I won’t lie.  I was pretty darn excited about this foul  ball toss-up.  I bought these specific seats with the specific goal of getting a foul ball tossed to us from the bat boy, something that we’ve never got before.  I actually could have got the seats immediately behind our seats for $2 less per seat.  But I went for the slightly more expensive seats that were just a little closer to the field, and it paid off big time.  It is doubtful we would have got this foul ball if we were one row further back from the field.

And, hey, bonus!  Since the baseball was used in the game at Marlins Park, it was a Marlins Park inaugural season commemorative baseball!  Hooray!

Thanks, Lucas and Ball Boy!

Here’s a random picture for you:

Throughout our two games at Marlins Park, I kept wondering what the heck that yellow line was for on the LF foul wall.  The line is ten feet into foul territory.  If a ball hits just behind it on the green wall, its foul, not a homerun.  I just don’t get it.

Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, things were looking pretty good for the Marlins.  Josh Johnson had given up only three hits all night and the Fish had a 2-1 lead.  But they weren’t satisfied.

With one down in the bottom of the eighth, former-Met Jose Reyes drew a walk off of Ramon Ramirez.  While Carlos “El Caballo” Lee stood in, Reyes swiped second.  And then El Caballo dinked a little hit into RCF:

Neither Mike Baxter nor Andres Torres could come up with the ball, and Reyes motored right around third and crossed home for a seemingly valuable insurance run:

Everyone was happy about the Marlins’ lead, including Colleen and Kellan:

I was stilling waiting for a Giancarlo Stanton long ball…

…unfortunately, he followed Lee with a double-play grounder, instead.

The Marlins win was seemingly in hand.  So many of the Marlins *faithful* headed for the doors, which was nice because almost the whole row behind us opened up for Kellan:

Here’s another random shot:

How weird is it that you can see the legs of the people in the front row through the fish tanks?

At 105 pitches for the night, Ozzie Guillen (who we never really noticed while we were at Marlins Park) in decided Josh Johnson had done enough.  He turned the game over to his non-Heath Bell closer, Steve Cishek.  Unfortunately, it was not Cishek’s night.

Daniel Murphy lead off with a single to RF.  David Wright followed with a single to LF.  After Ike Davis struck out swinging, Lucas Duda hit a single to CF.

*POOF*

All of Josh Johnson’s hard work was erased:  Murphy and Wright both scored on Duda’s single and the score was all knotted up at 3-3.

I missed all of that nice action with my camera.  Instead, after the Mike Baxter fouled out, I got an action shot of Cishek pitching to Andres Torres:

It looks like Lucas Duda is stealing 2B on that pitch, but he’s not.  He waited for Torres to collect four balls, and then he walked to 2B.

And that brought Kelly Shoppach to the plate.   On the second pitch he saw from Cishek…

…, Shoppach sent a hard grounder back up through the box.  The  ball quickly made its way out to Marlins CF Justin Ruggiano who was running hard ready to scoop the ball up and throw home, but…OOPS…Ruggiano ran right by the ball and it kept rolling DEEP into CF.

I thought it was going to result in an error-assisted in the park homerun.  But Shoppach doesn’t have the wheel, he only made it to 3B.  But Duda and Torres had no trouble finding the plate.

Ruggiano’s body language told the story:

Aye, aye, aye…

The Marlins were two outs from a 2-run win, and now they trailed the Mets 5-3.

Randy St. Clair came out to deliver the bad news to Cishek:

“Hit the showers, kid!”

And in sprinted former-closer, Heath Bell:

Bell struck out the only batter he faced (Scott Hairston).

As the Mets warmed up for the bottom of the ninth inning, I took this picture of Mike Baxter playing catch with the ball boy:

I took the picture because that is essentially right where the ball boy was standing (although he was running in the general direction of the 1B dugout) when the ball boy tossed the Lucas Duda foul ball up to us.

Speaking for foul balls, the ball boy got another during the bottom of the ninth and he flipped it up to no one in general.  It was going to land right on the other side of the railing between section 3 and section 4 (to our left).  Tim hopped up and reached over the railing.  I thought he had a chance to catch it…that is, he had a chance until a 20-ish year old fan sitting in the front row completely leaned over Tim…

…and crushed Tim’s arm against the railing.  Amazingly, (although he too missed the ball) this guy was totally oblivious to the fact that he crushed Tim’s arm on the railing (and, just in general, smashed into Tim).

Way to go, cool guy!

Frank Francisco took over for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth and he set the Marlins down 1 (Greg Dobbs), 2 (Donovan Solano), 3 (John Buck).

Game, set, match: Mets.

After the game wrapped up, we made our way down to the front row corner spot and got a nice family picture:

But our night wasn’t over.

We relocated over to the front row behind the 1B (visitors) dugout…

…and watched Billy the Marlin entertain the crowd a bit.

Then the Marlins opened up the roof…

…and BOOM GO THE FIREWORKS:

Oooooow….

Aaaahhhhhh….

Ooooooooooh!

It was a decent little fireworks show (nothing compared to an Indians Rock’N’Roll Blast) with a  really strong finale.

After the fireworks wrapped up and we prepared to head for the exits, I snapped a picture that I had meant to take earlier in the day:

See how that green wall comes down to a point just past the visitors’ bullpen in RF?  Well, it looks like the aisle running up the left and right sides of that wall connect at the point of the wall.  Yeah, it *looks* like that…but looks can be deceiving.

In fact, the aisles to meet at the point of the wall, but a railing blocks off the passage way.  So to get from one section to the other, you have to go up to the concourse and then walk 50 feet or so down to the next stair case.

Anyway, it was finally time to leave.

People were heading up the stairs to the concourse.  But I sensed an opportunity for one last Marlins Park exploration.  I noticed there was a tunnel leading down below the field level seats at the back of the moat (between sections 5 and 6).  So we stayed in the first row and walked across toward section 6).

We were the VERY LAST fans to leave the seats down there in the moat, and an usher rewarded Tim for this accomplishment in the form of our final baseball from Marlins Park:

Thanks, Usher!

We headed into the tunnel under seats and it looked a whole lot like this:

That tunnel took us back to the main tunnel that circles under the ballpark.  We turned right in that main tunnel and found a bunch of big colorful pictures of (mostly) current Marlins:

Tim posed with the best of them – Giancarlo Stanton!

And then we were funneled out of the ballpark through a little bar area that is open (I think) to people with 1B-side premium seats:

When we finally made it outside the ballpark, there was a concert in progress (just like the night before):

I gotta give credit to the Marlins.  They’ve created a very fun post-game atmosphere with these little outdoor, post-game concerts.

As we walked toward our car, I noticed an entrance to the main Marlins Team Store.  The “team store” (and that really has to be put in quotes) at Sun Life Stadium was light years beyond pathetic.

But the team store at Marlins Park is a legit Major League TEAM STORE (worthy of all caps):

Not wanting our Marlins Park experience to end, I continued to take pictures as we walked toward our car.  Here is Tim and the Marlins Park roof:

Here is a view from the northwest corner of the ballpark:

And, finally, a night time shot of Marlins Park from the CVS Pharmacy parking lot showing the roof rolled back over in the *open* position:

Here is my official assessment:  Marlins Park is an 80,000,000,000% improvement over Sun Life Stadium.

Good job, Marlins!

We really had a great time at our two games in Miami.

BUT WAIT!  OUR WEEKEND TRIP WASN’T YET COMPLETE.  SCROLL DOWN FOR A FEW BONUS PICTURES.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

23/21 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
37 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
129 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

BONUS PICTS:

On 9/2, we spent a bunch of time in South Beech, where we did some swimming at the beach and saw some cool birds:

And some more cool birds and a Lambourghini:

On 9/3, the big event of the day was our trip to the Miami Seaquarium, where we got to hold some really cool birds:

But best of all, we hung out with a dolphin:

Hooray for dolphins!

Marlins Park: *First Lap* Around MLB Ballparks Completed (8/31/2012)

Back in May, Tim and I achieved the goal of having seen every MLB team play a home game.  But those pesky Florida Marlins changed their name to the Miami Marlins and traded in Sun Life Stadium for Marlins Park since we saw them play in Miami in August 2011.  So we needed to head back to Miami before we could say we had visited every current Major League stadium.

In May or June, we made the tentative plan to visit Miami over Labor Day weekend.  And before we knew it, all the pieces fell into place and it was time to go.  But it wasn’t just me and Tim.  And it wasn’t just me, Tim and Kellan.  No, it was a full-on Cook Family vacation!  We planned for two games, a day or two at South Beach, and a dolphin encounter at the Miami Seaquariam.

We kicked off all of the fun on Friday, August 31, 2012.

We hopped an 11:00 a.m. flight from Philadelphia to Miami…

…, passing over and Sun Life Stadium and driving by fancy new Marlins Park on our way to the hotel, the downtown Miami Hilton (which I would definitely recommend.  Very convenient to Marlins Park, South Beach, the Seaquarium.  Great pool.  Lots of fun).

We rented a car from Dollar Rent-a-Car and they gave us the most hilarious car possible:

CROWN VICTORIA!!!

Oh, yeah.  We were rolling in style!

We arrived at our hotel around 2 p.m.  The ballpark didn’t open until 5:30.  So we grabbed some lunch at The Daily (http://www.thedailycreativefoodco.com/) and then walked through a little park along the water.  On our way into the park, Tim posed with a fire hydrant (he has lots of interesting pictures with fire hydrants) with palm trees in the background:

Then it was time to rest up and figure out some pre-game logistics before our first game at Marlins Park.

For this game, it would be just me and the boys.  Colleen would enjoy the evening sitting by our rooftop pool reading a book.

The drive to Marlins Park was really short.  My GPS couldn’t find the stadium (because it is brand new) but we had no problem getting there because you can see it from downtown and it was self-evident how to get there.

All of the official Marlins parking garages that we passed on NW 7th Street had “prepaid only” signs.  So we ended up parking just passed and across the street from Marlins Park in the CVS Pharmacy parking lot.  The lot had “customer parking only” signs all over it, but it also had official looking guys selling parking tickets.  It all seemed legit, and it was.  It cost $20, which was the same as the parking garages.

Here was our view of Marlins Park from the CVS parking lot:

We walked down NW 7th Street to mid-block, crossed at a crosswalk, and walked down a little street that T’d into the side of the stadium:

We had no idea where we should enter, or where we were for that matter, so we just turned right and started walking around the stadium.  Very quickly, we came to an entrance where about 100 people were already standing in line to get into the stadium.  I guess it would have been considered the home plate entrance.

We hopped in line for about 5 seconds.  But then Tim wanted to explore.  The gates weren’t going to open for another ten minutes so I figured “what the heck.”

We turned around and started walking down this multi-colored piano-keyboard looking walkway:

Tim saw a big Marlins “M” and wanted to get pictures with it.  Here they are:

Just behind the “M” there was a stage set up (but empty at the time) and, after grabbing a Spanish language pocket schedule at a ticket office, we found another entrance behind the stage.  I’ll call it the LF entrance, but I’m not sure if it had an official name.

The line was short and we were inside the games after just a few more minutes.  The only drawback of this entrance is that you have to walk up a long winding walkway to get to the field level concourse.  Here is a picture I took from the walkway looking back toward the home plate entrance:

And here is what the ramp looked like after we snaked back to our left and kept circling up to the field level:

Right when we got inside, we headed down to the field out by the LF foul pole (well, in the vicinity of it).  Feeling the weight of the milestone, I promptly took a very unimpressive picture of Tim and myself:

There you go.  Photographic evidence of the two of us inside our 30th current Major League stadium!  Overall, it was Tim’s 34th and my 37th MLB stadium.  In addition to the current MLB stadiums, Tim has also been to (1) the Metrodome, (2) old Yankee Stadium, (3) Shea Stadium, and (4) Sun Life Stadium, and I have also been to (5) the (beautiful and wonderful) Kingdome (many, many wonderful and glorious times, (6) Veterans Stadium, and (7) RFK Stadium.

There wasn’t another fan to shake a stick at down the LF line.  Very, and I mean very, quickly, Mets reliever Robert Carson tossed us our first ever baseball at Marlins Park:

With that baseball, Tim has now got at least one baseball at 31 and I have got one at 33.  The only current stadium at which neither of us has ever got at least one baseball is Chase Field (where we have both only been to one game, on September 12, 2008).

Anyway…

Thanks, Robert!

And very, very quickly after that, Mike Baxter…

…tossed another baseball to Tim.

One of my complaints about Sun Life Stadium was that they didn’t let fans from the cheap seats get close to the field, even during BP.  You really could never get right down on the field down the lines.  First off, the bullpens were huge and took up tons of prime real estate down both foul lines.  Second, you had to enter from an entirely different area that required premium tickets (or so it seemed) to get next to the field in the little bit of space between the dugouts and bullpens.

In this regard, Marlins Park is a vast improvement.  For some crazy reason, Marlins Park does have an incredibly fan unfriendly moat.  But I knew from Zack Hample’s blog that they let everyone down into the moated-off area during BP.  So we went over there just to check it out.

While anyone can go right up to the dugouts, we did find out that you need special tickets to enter the first four rows between the end of the dugouts and the OF end of the moated-area.  Here is a panorama from section 7 that shows what I’m talking about:

We didn’t know the rules at first and walked right up to the field (something that could never have happened at Sun Life Stadium because the normal seats were elevated above the restricted area), but the lady in the red shirt on the right side of the picture above let us know that we needed to stay back in the fifth row unless we had a ticket up in the front section.

That rule is somewhat silly, but it is still a vast improvement over Sun Life Stadium because at least you can be down low enough that you’re essentially on field level, just pushed a few rows back.

We hung out there for a bit and watched the infielders warm up.  And then I took a blurry photo of the three of us:

I love Kellan’s casual little pose there.

If you enlarge the last panorama (from section 7) you will see a sign behind the CF upper deck seats that says “502.”  Tim requested that we go up there to check it out.

So we headed to the concourse.  I thought it was unique, so I took a picture of the bright yellow concourse down the RF line:

Eventually, I realized that Marlins Park has a rotating color scheme.  From 1B to RF the field level and upper deck concourse walls and floors and the tiles in the field level seating areas are yellow.  Approximately behind section 40 in RF (and you’ll see this soon enough), the yellow starts to break down, get mixed some white, and then transition to green.

From RF to LF everything is green, including the outfield wall (which I had never liked on TV).  In section 30 in LF (and you’ll see this too), the green transitions to red.  From the LF corner to around 3B, the concourse is bright red.  Around 3B, the red transitions to blue.  And then the blue wraps around home plate until it eventually transitions into the original yellow that I discussed around 1B.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have never liked the look of Marlins Park on TV.  Frankly, it has looked tacky to me.  But in person, I really thought it looked great.  Sure, green of the outfield wall is a bit much.  But, overall, the colors are fun and they work.  We’ll talk a tiny bit more about the colors a little later.

Behind section 40 in RF, we headed up some stairs to the RF-CF upper deck.  Half way up the stairs, we ran into a HUGE duct:

I am pretty sure that is to pipe all of the air conditioning around the ballpark.

If you want to call it a concourse, then the RF-CF upper deck *concourse* is bizarre to say the least:

From that main walk way, smaller other walk ways split off to the side and lead fans into the seats:

Check out (above) that suspension system…I guess that is what it is.  When we were up there, and there were only maybe 10 other fans in the entire upper deck, I could feel the entire upper deck move and shake a little bit.  I’m never a fan of that phenomenon.

Here is the view from that second with the “502” sign, which is actually section 134:

And here is a souvenir of our time up in the upper deck…

…that was tossed to us by Jon Rauch.

The rows of seats in the upper deck were really steep.  I was not a fan of hanging out there with the boys because I feared that Kellan would trip and fall over a row a seats – we hung back in the second and third rows.  So right after we got that baseball from Rauch, I snapped that picture of Tim (with Rauch pictured under the ball) and then we started to head out of the section.

As we cut across the third row toward the stairway on the CF side of section 134, I heard someone yell at us from below.  It was Rauch and he was holding up another baseball.  I guess he wanted both boys to have one.  He made another accurate toss for an easy catch.

Thanks and Thanks, Jon Rauch!!!

Before leaving section 134, we got a couple pictures of the odd homerun statue thingy in LCF:

I took a few more pictures on our way back down to the field level (start clockwise from top-right):

Top Right:  There is a little press box looking office behind the seats in section 134.  I’m not sure what it is.  I’m guessing they work the controls for the retractable roof…but I’m not sure.

Top Left:  There is a staircase in that little “concourse” behind section 134 and one of the walkway support beams (a huge concrete beam) frames in the staircase.

Bottom Left:  Mid-way down the staircase we had a nice view of downtown Miami out of the LF-CF retractable outer wall of the Marlins Park.  One regret of our trip (that was totally out of our control) is that we never got to see the ballpark with the wall open.

Bottom Right:  The view of the field level concourse in CF where the stair case dropped us into the field level.

The pieces of the LF-CF retractable wall move of train track like tracks through the field level concourse:

Behind the homerun statue, there is a little, moveable TV studio.  When I got a blurry picture of the boys standing by the TV set, one of the TV guys walked over and handed Tim one of the real deal Fox Sports microphones:

When I took that picture, Tim refused to look at me.  And in retrospect, he was completely right.  It looks more authentic with him not looking at me.  It is like he is doing a report looking at the TV camera.  Good job, Tim!

Here is the back of the homerun statue:

And a panorama taken just to the LF side of the homerun statue in a SRO area:

Next, we swung around to LF foul territory to get a look at the Marlins bullpen, LF seats, and the Clevelander (night club at the ballpark):

Note how you can see the tile changing from green to behind the LF seats!  You can see other color transitions in the infield tile on the wall of the moat.

Two Mets coaches were hanging out in LF.  One of them was Eric Langill.  When he shagged a ball hit down the line, Tim asked “Eric” if he could please toss the ball up to him.  He did…

…and Tim made a nice catch.

As we walked away from the spot, the batter hit a ball that landed ten feet behind us, right were we had just been walking.  It was my best chance to catch a hit ball on the fly at Marlins Park, but it was not to be.  It ricocheted back onto the field.

And then we headed into the moated-off area behind the Marlins (3B) dugout:

I read online on some random webpage that the red seat (that the article actually said was on the 1B side) marked the first seat installed at Marlins Park.

I snapped this panorama from the cross aisle behind section 19:

And then we got this Marlins Park “bonus picture” for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

There was a really friendly usher hanging out in this area and he gladly snapped the following picture of me and the boys:

As BP wrapped up and we headed out of the section, the usher told us to enjoy the game.  Good guy.

We headed up to the concourse and I bought a huge “all you can drink” souvenir soda.  There were two things we wanted to check out: (i) the bobblehead museum and (ii) some fish tanks we had heard about online.  I asked the lady at the concession stand where they were located in the stadium.

Her answer regarding the fish tanks confused me:  down by the field.

She told us to ask the ushers behind home plate.  Very confusing, indeed.

But soon it all made sense.  And it is completely awesome….but most awesome for the people in the diamond club.  Check out the fish tanks built into the short wall behind home plate:

You can’t get down there for a close-up look unless you have diamond club (I’m guessing that is what it is called at Marlins Park) tickets.

We decided that the closest and best view we could get would be from the very corner spot in the first row behind the visitors (1B) dugout (although there is a fish tank on both sides of home plate so either dugout would work)

Before going over by the dugout to take a look, I got a picture of Tim #FELIXING to celebrate his 34th MLB baseball stadium:

Then I got a panorama from section 12…

…and a picture of my boys (and my diet pepsi):

After getting all of the behind-home-plate photos that we needed, we head over to the stairs down into the moat.  There was a lady stationed there now who asked for our tickets.  I told her that we just wanted to get a closer view of the fish tank from the corner spot behind the dugout.  She said that once BP wraps up, you need tickets down below the moat to get into that section.

But then she added (paraphrasing here), “Maybe check back around the fourth or fifth inning and I could probably slip you in to check it out.”

That was pretty awesome, but made me wonder why they needed a moat at all!?

And then we headed to the Bobblehead Museum, which is located behind home plate in the blue section of the concourse:

The museum is a big oval-shaped glass case with bobbleheads from every MLB team.  There is a computer so you can look up teams or players and it will tell you where to look in the museum.  The whole case shakes a little so the bobbleheads are in a constant state of bobbling.  It was a lot of fun.

I decided only to post that one picture, but I took a bunch including a bunch of Mariners (and particularly Ichiro) bobbleheads, a couple Hank Aaron bobbleheads, some old school funny-uniformed Pirates, and a cool Prince Fielder wearing a big crown.

It was getting near game time.  So we headed out to RF.  Here are a couple not-so-random photos from the concourse:

The funniest thing I noticed in the concourse were the line-up pictures posted on the support beams behind each section of seats.  It is a cool idea.  But most fans stay relatively in the same spot throughout a game so they would probably never see the whole line up.  In fact, we move around about 20 times more than the average fan and we never noticed the entire line-up.  But we saw Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton and Greg Dobbs (pictured above) several times.

Here is the view of Marlins Park from our $3/ticket stub hub seats in the second row of section 40:

One thing about Marlins Park can be a little confusing.  Some of the sections have a few lettered (e.g., A-D) rows below row the numbered rows.  I originally bought $5 tickets in row 1 of section 40.  When I “sorted by rows, ascending” on stub hub, it indicated that row 1 was the first row in the section.  In fact, I didn’t even see that there were any lettered rows at the time because they all showed up below (i.e., behind) the tickets in numbered rows.

However, a day or two before our trip, I realized that Row A was the actual front row.  I emailed stub hub about how I was fooled by the “sort by rows, ascending” feature into buying “front row” tickets that were actually in row 8 or 9.  They credited back my purchase price and fees.  And then I found these wonderful $3/ticket seats in row B, the actual second row off of the field.

Giancarlo Stanton was right in front of us:

(FYI, it is hard not to call him Mike, but I am trying).

Here was our view of the Clevelander from across the stadium:

I had always been confused why this club area was called the “Clevelander.”  The confusion cleared up the following day when we saw the actual “Clevelander” club on Ocean Drive in South Beach.  This Clevelander is just a ballpark version of the real life Clevelander a couple miles away in South Beach.

The pitching match up featured Nathan Eovaldi for the Marlins and former-Mariner and newly minted *Ace* R.A. “The Knuckleballin’ Mountain Climber” Dickey:

At 37 years of age, Dickey is having the season of his life.  He has almost 1/3 of his entire career wins this season!  And, spoiler alert, this game was going to be his 17th win of the season, in complete-game, shut out fashion.  (Unfortunately, Tim decided he would root for the Marlins to win this game).

I noticed that the visitors’ right fielder had to warm up between innings with the Marlins ballboy down the RF line:

Really, that made no sense because the Mets bullpen was right there in RF.  I’m not sure if every visiting team has their right fielder warm up with the ballboy or if the Mets relievers were just being lazy.  My guess is the former.

Just for kicks, here is another panorama from our seats in section 40:

And here are some more photos from section 40:

The Marlins used lots of cool graphics on the big screen for both the Marlins players and the visiting Mets.  Here is one of the Miami-ified artsy photos used for the Marlins batters early in the game:

By the way, I am happy to report that from our seats in section 40, we had a clear view of both the big CF screen and the smaller (but still big) LF screen.  If you were at the back of section 40, I imagine (but don’t actually know) that you wouldn’t be able to see the CF screen.

Here is a random action shot of Jose Reyes hitting a foul ball with two outs in the bottom of the third inning:

Reyes would end up striking out.

With the game heading into the fourth, we decided to give up our spot in prime homerun territory and do a little exploring.  On our way out of section 40, we looked down into the Mets bullpen and realized several of the Mets had been sitting right by us in the corner of the bullpen:

Tim and Kellan called out, “Hiiiiiiii!” and the two closest guys turned and gave the boys waves and some big smiles.  Nice Major League ballplayers are great.  Kids (and grown up alike) always enjoy a wave from a major leaguer.  Thanks, guys!

We always bring a little kid “sippy cup” type cup to all of our games.  They’re just too darn convenient, plus stadiums always allow you to bring them in.  We spend a decent amount of time filling up the cup with water.  While filling our cup afer leaving section 40, a probably 25 year old stadium employ (seemed like a maintenance type guy) asked, “Is that for the baby (Kellan)?”  When I said, “Yeah.”  He shook his head no and warned us, “That water is no good!”

A couple seconds later, I got this awesome picture of Tim who had worn the perfect outfit to sit in section 40 at Marlins Park:

When I took this picture and then we turned left and walked into the green section of the concourse, the rotating color scheme finally all made sense to me!

By the way, mommy packed for the boys and forgot to pack any baseball clothes for Tim.  That is why he is wearing his hilarious banana shorts and cheesehead cow pants t-shirt.

Our plan was to head to the upper deck in the infield.  We headed across CF toward the LF foul corner.  We got this panorama by the TV set in CF:

In the LF corner, there is a little hallway leading away from the field into an area called “The Taste of Miami”:

All the food options back there reflected the multi-cultural Miami palate.

In the LF foul corner there are two escalators.  One connects to the club level on the second deck (off limits without tickets) and the other connects to the upper deck.  We hopped on the really long upper deck escalator.  During our ride, I took this pananorama…

…and R.A. Dickey threw THREE pitches, including this one:

Note how you can see the blue tile turning into yellow tile on the wall of the moat in the picture above!  Cool!

We headed up to the very top corner of section 327 where the boys sat on an extra little piece of concrete in the corner…

…while I took pictures, including this panorama:

While we were up there, we also found a bunch of random coins scattered through the seats.  It was pretty odd, but Tim is always a fan of finding money.

We noticed something else while we were up there (but we didn’t really draw the connection until a little later in the game):  the Marlins “M” logos on the end seats of each row are colored…

…to match the concourse walls and floors corresponding to that same section of the ballpark.  So, above the Marlins logos were in red to match the red concourse.

We also got a good view of the Clevelander from up there:

Swimming during a baseball game?  That’s weird.  I’m not saying my boys wouldn’t love to do it.  But its weird.

As we moved cross the upper deck, we stopped in section 322 to get another panorama:

While we were up in section 322, we also watched a shark win a race of a bunch of sealife around the warning track:

I was hoping we would see Giancarlo Stanton hit a monster bomb…

…but instead he struck out.

By the way, I guess I should mention that the score at the time was 1-0 Mets.  They had scored their first run of the night in the top of the fourth inning, while we were exploring the CF concourse.  Ruben Tejada had lead off the 4th with a single.  He advanced to 3B on a single by Daniel Murphy.   And then he scored the first run of the night on a sacrifice fly to CF by Ike Davis.

Now you  know why the scoreboard said 1-0 when I show you this great graphic of Greg Dobbs on the main scoreboard:

Here are some more random views of the weird little ins-and-outs of the Marlins Park upper deck, and a view down to the Marlins dugout from section 320:

And here is the whole ballpark in a not-so-impressive panorama from section 320:

Next, we wondered into a handicap seating around behind home plate.  We sat there for a couple minutes.  This was the view of field:

Here is what it looks like behind home plate from up there:

And this was the view of RF where I would like to point out two things:

Top Arrow:  That guy snagged Ike Davis’s 7th inning home run that landed in the first or second seat in the first row of section 140, almost exactly above our seats in section 40.

Bottom Arrow:  Our seats in section 40.

If you’re keeping track, that Ike Davis homerun made the score 3-0 because it immediately followed David Wright’s leadoff single.  And that would be the final score.

Soon, an usher came by and told us we couldn’t sit in the handicapped seating area.  That was fine.  We were on an exploration mission.  We headed up to the top of the stadium behind home plate.  This was the view from section 314:

Check out that huge air conditioning pipe.  It runs to the upper edge of section 314.  Check out what the view is like from the end seat up there:

And check out our view of R.A. Dickey doing his thing:

Between our early morning breakfast at the airport, late lunch at The Daily, and ice cream at the beginning of the game, our meal schedule was completely thrown off for the day.  We had still never eating any dinner, and it was getting late in the game.

Instead of pizza or nachos, Tim decided he just wanted some french fries.  At a concession stand behind home plate, they told us they sold fries at section 305.  We walked down there, into the yellow section of the concourse, but there was nothing at section 305.  We went past section 305 and asked someone if they had fries, and they too directed us to section 305.  I’m not sure what the story was, but there were no fries to be found.

But we did find this cool little emergency response truck:

(the same thing is also parked on the field level)

And we found “found” a nice view of the ballpark from section 305…

…but no fries at all.

We headed downstairs on an elevator that said it was reserved for handicapped people and families needing assistance.  They offered to let us ride in it despite the fact we clearly didn’t need assistance.  Check out the great TV in the elevator:

When we reached the field level, we continued our quest to find french fries, but we failed again.

It was already the 8th inning.  We watched Jose Reyes and his teammates take their hacks in the 8th from the SRO area in the concourse:

The Marlins applied pressure, but failed to deliver against Dickey.  They left two runners on base in the 8th.

Tim remembered what the usher guarding the moat told us before the game started.  He had been asking since the fourth inning if we could go back to look at the fish and I had been telling him it was too crowded but we could do it when everyone cleared out after the game ended.

But the usher’s invitation to slip into the moated area after the fourth inning gave me encouragement about trying to get an umpire ball after the game.  We knew from Zack Hample’s blog at the umpires’ tunnel is at the OF end of the 3B dugout.

So when the ninth inning rolled around, we boldly walked down the stairs toward the moat hoping the usher would actually let us in.  To our surprise, we found that the usher was no where to be found.  There was no one at all guarding the moat.  We simply walked down there, turned right and walked down the cross aisle to the area behind the umpires’ tunnel.  It could have been easier or less eventful.

We just stayed in the cross aisle, which is sunk below the main field level seats so we could stand there without blocking anyone’s view.

As the top of the ninth inning wrapped up, I was holding Kellan in my arms and Tim was standing along my side.  A bunch of kids were clamoring about above the Mets dugout and we could see a couple balls being tossed to them in the front row.  Here was the scene as Dickey prepared to pitch the bottom of the ninth:

It’s impossible to see who it is in that picture, but Jeremy Hefner is leaning against the dugout railing behind the kid in the blue shirt.  As those kids were begging for a baseball in the front row, Hefner (while still learning on the railing) twisted to his right and was scanning the crowd.  His eyes briefly locked with mine and he immediately flung a baseball back in our direction while still leaning on the railing.  He essentially lobbed it over his shoulder.  It was clear to me that he was tossing it to us, but that he wasn’t making any great effort to actually make sure we got it.

He tossed it high and one step to my right.  I went up for it bare handed while still holding Kellan.  An older guy jumped at it from our right and knocked into my arm sending the ball over my head behind me (closer to home plate).  I quickly turned around and bare handed it on the bounce.  Hooray!

Thanks, Jeremy!

When the innings started, we grabbed some seats that gave us an excellent view of Master Dickey at work, and a clear view of Hefner still leaning on the railing:

I still wanted to see Stanton go yard…

…but he couldn’t solve Dickey’s knuckler on this day.

The game ended in 2 hours and 7 minutes!  A 3-0 Mets win and a masterpiece for Dickey’s 17th win of the season.  He now has 19 and I am hoping he can get to 20.

There were tons of kids trying to get an umpire ball and home plate umpire Scott Barry ignored everyone.

So we headed over to the end seat by the corner of the dugout.  Here is what it looked like as the Marlins started to crack open the roof:

And here is a not-much-better-at-all view of the fish tank:

Tim really wanted to go down there to get a close up view, but it simply isn’t allowed unless you have those tickets.  Too bad.  It is a really cool ballpark feature that I had never noticed on TV.

Out of the blue, an usher (pictured at the top of the stairs in the last panorama) popped out of the dugout and tossed us a hug stapled MLB-wide statistics report that the Mets had been using in the dugout.  It is huge.  I’m not really sure what to do with it.  But it is very cool to see.

Another usher took a final picture of me and the boys before we headed out:

As we trudged up the stairs reluctantly leaving for the first time our 30th and final current MLB stadium, I turned around and got one last panorama from section 8:

The fun continued as we made our way out of the stadium. There was a concert in progress on that stage we had seen outside by the RF gate:

We followed the colored-brick piano’ish road back toward the home plate gate:

I thought it was pretty cool that there were a couple restaurants (bottom right in the picture above) open on the outside wall of the stadium.  Tim thought it was cool that there were tons of sparkly metal-looking flakes in the ground (top right in the picture above).

We capped off our ballpark experience with one more fire hydrant picture…

…before walking across NW 7 Street, to Wendy’s for a late night snack, and then to our car at the CVS parking lot  Then we drove back to the hotel and told Colleen all about our adventures.

We were excited that she would get to join in the fun the next day at our final game of the weekend.

It was a great milestone game!  Here is the complete let of Tim’s 34 MLB stadiums with the date of his first game at each in parenthesis:

1. Safeco Field (9/12/06)
2. Citizens Bank Park (6/30/07)
3. Camden Yards (8/9/07)
4. Yankee Stadium (’23) (9/3/07)
5. PNC Park (9/29/07)
6. Great American Ball Park (8/15/08)
7. Progressive Field (8/17/08)
8. Shea Stadium (9/7/08)
9. Chase Field (9/12/08)
10. Citi Field (4/25/09)
11. Nationals Park (5/17/09)
12. Yankee Stadium (’09) (7/2/09)
13. Fenway Park (7/3/09)
14. Wrigley Field (8/14/09)
15. H.H.H. Metrodome (8/15/09)
16. Miller Park (8/16/09)
17. U.S. Cellular Field (8/17/09)
18. Rogers Centre (9/26/09)
19. Oakland Coliseum (6/9/10)
20. Dodger Stadium (6/11/10)
21. Petco Park (6/12/10)
22. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (6/14/10)
23. AT&T Park (6/15/10)
24. Minute Maid Park (5/27/11)
25. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (5/28/11)
26. Comerica Park (7/3/11)
27. Sun Life Stadium (8/13/111)
28. Turner Field (8/15/11)
29. Tropicana Field (8/19/11)
30. Target Field (5/12/12)
31. Busch Stadium (5/14/12)
32. Kauffman Stadium (5/16/12)
33. Coors Field (5/18/12)
34. Marlins Park (8/31/12)

And here is one final picture that I have already shared:

2012 C&S Fan Stats

22/20 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
35 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
119 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 14, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field,   Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC   Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Cook Force 3 Invades D.C. (4/21/2012)

Saturday, April 21, 2012, was a personally historic day for us.  Our little 2-man father-son team has officially grown by one.

Up until this day, Kellan had been to 10 games, but I had only brought Kellan along with us if Colleen was also joining us.  But, at a few months shy of his second birthday, I have officially deemed Kellan to be old enough join me and Tim at the ballpark without additional assistance.  So Colleen got the day off and treated herself to a fun solo Saturday (shopping, eating out, haircut, etc.).

Meanwhile, the Cook Boys jumped in the car at 8:00 a.m. and headed south to the nation’s capital.

On the drive down south, Tim and I discussed the Marlins new logo, of which I am not a fan.  Tim launched into a hilarious explanation of how the new Marlins logo is a Marlin jumping in the water at night with the various colors reflecting off of the water, etc., etc.  Then he wrapped up with, “so, now you understand why you should like the new Marlins logo, right?”

Maybe you had to be there.  But it was pretty hilarious how he explained his thoughts on the Marlins logo.

Watch out, there were some little Cook boys at the ballpark who were gloved and ready for some action!

Let’s hit the stands!

Now, a ton of Saturday games across MLB are scheduled as day games this season (for the record, I’m not a fan of it), and this was one of them.  I was pretty sure that would mean no BP before this game.  And when we entered the ballpark at approximately 10:30 a.m., the field was empty with no signs of BP to come.

We hit the restroom and then milled around a bit in LF.  Eventually, Mark Buehrle (did I mention we would be seeing the Miami Marlins vs. the Washington Nationals?) walked out to LF along with Marlins bullpen catcher Jeff Urgelles and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius.  Buehrle and Urgelles played catch for a while in LF…

…and then all three headed into the bullpen so Buehrle could throw from the mound.  We were right behind the bullpen.  Cornelius and Buehrle headed over to the mound and Urgelles set up shop at home plate, just below us.  As Buehrle and Cornelius were in the middle of a discussion, Urgelles was just standing around waiting.  I could see several baseballs inside his open equipment bag right behind him.  I figured, “What the heck?”

Todd – “Hey, Jeff!”

Urgelles – (looking up with a sort of surprised and happy look on his face) “Yeah!?”

Todd – “Anyway you could toss one of those baseballs up to my boy?”

Urgelles – (Enthusiastically)  “Yeah, no problem.”

(Urgelles goes over and grabs a baseball from his bag and looks back up at us.)

Urgelles – (to Tim) “But, you have to catch it!  And you only gets one chance!”

Todd & Tim – “Okay”

He tossed the baseball up in such a way that it would fall back into the bullpen if Tim missed it:

Heck no!  Tim gloved that sucker!  And guess what –

It was a Marlins Park commemorative baseball!

SCORE!

Check out Kellan in that last picture, “Gimme that baseball!”  (Actually, he just said, “Ball!  Ball!  Ball!”

We all went crazy!  And we rained down the “Thank Yous!” on Urgelles, who seemed very happy for Tim.  We chatted briefly, joking about Kellan wanting to throw the ball back down to Urgelles – which I have no doubt he would have done had I let him – and discussing our Mariners gear – Urgelles seemed to agree it was cool to show our team loyalty and at least we weren’t wearing Nationals or another N.L. team’s gear (no threat from the A.L.).

Urgelles’s smile told the story:  the dude is definitely a cool guy.  Very nice.  Very happy to have made Tim’s day by challenging him and then watching him succeed.  We talked about meeting up later during BP to get a picture with Urgelles, but it just didn’t work out.  But I’m definitely going to try to reconnect with him later this year to try to get a picture of him and Tim together.

Thanks, Jeff!

Oh, yeah, at some point Tim yelled down to Urgelles, “I like your new logo!” ha, ha…funny guy.

With our fancy new Marlins Park baseball in hand, we bounced up the stairs…

…and headed off to the play area.

There were ZERO other kids out there.  Normally, you get three hacks at the whiffle ball air tee.  Tim took about 15-20 hacks…

…before turning over the bat to his little brother.  After 2-3 swings, Kellan turned around and tried to hit balls into the open concourse area.  Luckily, no one was around.

You need proof?  Here is proof that no one was around:

In the top left, that’s the lady running the kids’ play area climbing up the slide while holding Kellan like a sack of potatoes (not a good plan).  Kellan flew down the slide and loved it.  Then Tim and the lady running the play area did some crazy slides, including (as shown) head first belly sliding and backwards sliding.

This lady loved playing with Tim and Kellan and, if it was up to her, we would have just stayed there all day.  We came back several times over the course of the day and she did more crazy sliding with Tim (despite there then being about 200 crazy kids running all around).

Unfortunately, Kellan is too young for most of the play area.  You have to be 3-8 years old to go up in the play area *thingy*.  So Kellan and I hung out in the little *net* room under the *thingy*.

Anyway, we headed back to the field after a sufficient amount of playing.

When we got back to LF, they were just finishing setting up the cage and screens for BP.  That was a nice surprise.  We headed down into section 106:

We chatted a little bit with a Phillies fan who decided to go “neutral” and wear an Oakland A’s hat.  He offered to take our picture:

We hung out in LF until they opened the rest of the stadium at 11:30.  Then we headed into foul territory and hung out behind a big protective net (don’t need my boys getting tagged by a batted ball).

Urgelles was over there for a bit, but we missed our chance to get a picture.  As I said, we’ll keep trying.

It was getting pretty warm in the sun.  So we decided to walk all the way around home plate and out to RF, which was nice and shady.  I guess it would have been a shorter walk to head up to the concourse and circle the outfield.  But had we done that, Ozzie Guillen would not have had the chance to go grab this baseball…

…and then toss it to us.

Sure, Ozzie is a controversial figure, but I like him.

Muchas gracias, Ozzie!

We hung out in RF foul territory for a bit.  I took the opportunity to take off Kellan’s long sleeve undershirt.  And then Steve Cishek tossed us a baseball:

Thanks, Steve!

RF was nice, but Kellan kept trying to climb down to the lower rows between the railing and the end-seat – despite Tim playing blocker.

I decided it would be easier for us out in RF homerun territory.  You see, there is this funny little corner spot that would act as a natural *Kellan blocker*.  We grabbed some seats by the corner spot…

…and the boys broke out our bag of snacks (or as Kellan says, “Nack! Nack! Nack!”).

If you scanned the ground after we left this spot, you’d have to seriously question if more snacks were consumed or more were dropped on the ground.  Kellan was dropping “nacks” like it was going out of style.

We hung out for a while in this spot — nothing all that special to say about this picture, I just thought it was funny:

Shortly after this picture, Kellan dropped this big bottle of water…

…down into the Nationalbullpen – probably 20 feet below. Luckily, as’  bullpen attendant ran over and tossed it back up to us.

While chatting with a guy who works for Boeing in the Seattle area, Tim was excited to get a toss-up from a fellow number 55, all-star Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson:

We decided that we’d had our fill of BP and it was time to do some walking.  We walked a TON during this game.  In all, we circled the entire stadium 3+ times.

For some reason, we walked toward home plate (passing a group of Mariners fans!) and we kept walking and walking.  I think we were on our way to get nachos in the LF corner.  I thought the boys looked terribly cute walking through the concourse together:

We decided we needed to get some more play-time in before nachos.  So we headed back to the kids’ play area.  Tim went up top and did some more crazy sliding.  Kellan and I went in the little net room and threw our cloth baseball off of the walls:

Then, we finally grabbed some nachos.   Actually, first, we walked all the way around the ballpark AGAIN.  I figured there would be nachos in the concourse down the RF line…but no.  So we kept walking and walking (actually, I carried Kellan much of the time), and made it all the way back to the nacho place in LF.

Success!  Nachos!

Then we walked – with me holding Kellan and a whole bunch of nachos — to our seats in RF foul territory.  Guess what?  It was bring your dog to the ballpark day.  As we passed by, I notied that the Nats had set up some grass in the CF concourse…

…so the dogs to relieve themselves during the game.  Very thoughtful of you, Nats.

We reached our seats moments after the first pitch, and it was on!  Yeah, the game was on too, but I mean “it” (nacho time!) was on:

It is official:  The Cook Family Loves Nachos.

And rightly so.  They are the world’s perfect food.  And the Nationals offer some great chili cheese nachos down the LF line.

Anyway, the game was “on” too.  This was our view from Section 137:

Our actual seats were in Row EE, between the “Bohvechkin” guy with his arm in the air (above) and the guy standing and shouting in the other red shirt.  But we were hanging back a few rows so we could stay in the very refreshing shade.

This sort of famous young pitcher was on the hill for the Nationals:

Stephen Strasburg, have you heard of him?  On that pitch above, he induced a ground out by Emilio Bonafacio.

Hanley Ramirez struck out (but not on this pitch)…

…to end the first inning.  It was the first of six K’s Strasburg recorded on the day.

Sometimes a baseball game makes more sense when you watch it on TV instead of in person because there are no commentators in the ballpark.  In the top of the second inning, Logan Morrison led off with a single to CF.  And then *something* happened, but I have no clue *what* had happened.  It looked like this:

First, it appeared that the ball got fouled off of the home plate umpire, or it just hit him on the live pitch.  I’m not sure.  Whatever happened, the umpire was somewhat hurt and needed attention from the training staff.

On the play, Logan Morrison took second.  As you can see in the top left picture, the first base coach is standing on first, but Morrison is gone.  The trainer talked to the umpire for a while.  Strasburg threw some pitches to keep warm while this was happening.

Finally, the umpire was ready to go again.  And then he called Morrison back to first.  In the bottom left picture, you can see him standing on the bag (the middle head of the three pictured).  That caused Ozzie Guillen and another Marlins coach to come out and argue with the umpires for a long time.  In the end, LoMo was back of first.

On TV, I’m sure it all made complete sense what was going on.  But in the ballpark, I had no clue…neither did Tim or Kellan, especially Kellan.

Speaking of Kellan, he copies just about everything he seeing me or Tim do.  You might have noticed that I wear my glove on my head a lot during games.  Well, at one point, Kellan put his glove on his head.  So Tim followed suit and we got a picture (during which Kellan’s glove started to fall off his head) of the three glove-heads:

This was Kellan’s eleventh  MLB game overall, and his second Marlins/Nationals game.  Last season, we saw the *Florida* Marlins in DC and Kellan had a cool little exchange with Anibal Sanchez.  At this game, Anibal was facing off against Strasburg:

And he was looking sharp, too.

Anibal retired the first four batters.  The fifth batter was Jayson Werth…and Anibal retired him too:

Tim kept asking if we could go blow bubbles, which prompted Kellan to chime in “Bubbles!  Bubbles!  Bubbles!”  I had no clue what Tim was talking about.  But Tim led us right to the spot…

…and he blew a bunch of bubbles at an Autism Awareness booth in the LCF concourse behind the Red Porch.  And then it was time to grab some ice cre…wait, Tim switched things up, it was time for Dipping Dots!  So we walked almost all the way around the stadium looking for the dipping dots.  During the walk, Tim climbed up into the Gecko’s arms (above) and acted like he was being captured.

Tim went for banana split dipping dots…

…while I picked mint chocolate chip for me and Kellan to share.

We grabbed some ice cream seats in the handicapped seating down the first base line and watched Strasburg deal it…

…while Kellan and Tim chowed down on their dots to reviews of *two thumbs up*:

Tim figured out the dots fit perfectly into the drink holder and he could eat his dots with his feet up on the railing.  Ah…the good life.

I kept trying to get a good action shot of Strasburg, and I was finally satisfied with this one:

In the top of the sixth inning, Jose Reyes came to the plate with one out.  All of a sudden, I decided I should get a shot of Reyes, but he knocked a base hit down the RF line right as I pulled my camera out of my cargo pocket.  But I got him rounding first and then sliding in safe at second:

Reyes was FLYING!  That guy has some wheels.

Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate again.  And on this pitch, he chucked his bat 4-5 rows deep into the stands and nailed the guy in the blue shirt in the elbow:

As the boys kept munching their dots, I decided to get a shot of Reyes scoring from second – all I needed was Logan Morrison to get a 2-out hit.  But as Reyes started to turn on his afterburners, Morrison grounded the ball up the middle (you can see the ball directly behind Reyes’ left heal)…

…for an inning ending 6-3 ground out.

The score was still 0-0.  Both pitchers were looking really strong.  We decided to make one final trip to the kids’ play area:

While we were in there, Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to put the Nationals up 1-0.

Kellan met up with another little guy who must have been right around 1-year-old.  He was walking, but he was teeny tiny.  Kellan walked up and hugged him (“oh, look at the cute baby”) and Kellan looked like Andre The Giant hugging this little guy.  He then started crawling around after the little guy:

Before we left the play area, Jayson Werth hit another solo homerun for the Nationals.  That made it 2-0 Nationals.

We left the play area and headed up to the second deck in CF.  There is a standing room party-type area in CF – when you look at the seating map on the Nationals website, it doesn’t even show this area.  So there is no “section” number.  But here is the view from that area:

And here is a look at the busy SRO area with the packed Red Porch in the background:

Ozzie Guillen made a major gaffe when he put the line-up together – he gave Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton the day off.  It was unfortunate for the Marlins because Stanton hits a monster bomb or two almost every time we ever see the Marlins.

Well, Giancarlo pinch hit for Anibal Sanchez.  On the first pitch, Giancarlo seemed to get a hit:

But Ian Desmond made a diving stop on the ball and was able to just barely throw out Chris Coghlan at second base.  Had Coghlan not been on base, Stanton probably would have been safe at first.

Anyway, we walked around the back of the Red Porch, which looked like this…

…and then we headed over to the upper deck in LF foul territory.

Since it was our first game of just the three guys, I wanted a good picture of the three of us and I didn’t think our first group shot was very good.  Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t get much better in the upper deck.

Well, this one from section 306 turned out pretty good:

And this picture turned out okay…

…but for some reason, the usher who took it managed not to get any of the field in the background.

After that guy failed to get the field behind us, I took a test self-portrait, and Kellan gave me a no games, super-serious look:

He smiles and laughs constantly when he is not being photographed, but for 85% of all pictures and videos he goes ultra-serious.

Another usher did a much better job framing the shot, but Tim wasn’t looking in the picture:

Oh, well.  We’ll get a better group shot next time…or the time after that, or after that, or after that.

The ninth inning crept right up on us.  The Nationals were still winning 2-0, and Strasburg (who pitched six innings) was in line for the win.  We headed down to the field level with the idea of trying to get in place for an umpire ball attempt.

We grabbed some seats about 20 rows back, just above the home plate end of the dugout.

Brad Lidge came in to close it down for the Nationals.

Oops…sorry, Strasburg, but Lidge walked Hanley Ramirez to start the inning and then Logan Morrison crushed a homerun into the second deck above the Nationals bullpen:

No win for Strasburg and, eventually, we were heading into extra innings!

Kellan fell asleep hugging me tight:

And then someone hit a foul ball that literally landed within five feet of us!  It landed right across the aisle and one row below us.  But I couldn’t even make an attempt on it because the little guy was sawing some serious logs.  The ball came right to another dad and his son.  Both had gloves ready on their hands.  The ball smacked into the palm of the dad’s glove and then bounced out, skipped off the steps and bounced into the gut of an older guy running up the stairs.

Chances are that will be our one chance to catch a game foul this year.  Oh, well.  It was great having the little guy take a nap on my chest while Tim and I watched the game.

Actually, Tim wasn’t just watching the game, he was documenting it.  After he took the picture of me and Kellan, he asked if he could take some pictures.  I agreed and he started snapping away.  As I watched him, it seemed like he was zoomed WAY in on everything and wasn’t getting anything he wanted to get.

But as our family watched a slide show of our game pictures later that night (which we do as a family on our TV after each game), I discovered that Tim took amazingly awesome pictures!  I was shocked and so very proud of my little baseball photographer in training.

Check out Tim’s handiwork.

Donnie Murphy (pinch running for Greg Dobbs) leading off first base in the top of the ninth inning:

Joey Espada, who tossed us a baseball at Sun Life Stadium last season, coaching third base:

The Marlins relievers (Heath Bell and Edward Mujica) and Nationals reliever (Tom Gorzelanny, accompanied by Jim Lett) warming up in the bullpens:

Both teams’ bat boys in action:

Omar Infante getting ready for the next pitch as Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos fires the baseball back to Brad Lidge:

Ozzie Guillen encouraging Infante to get hit (while accompanied by Greg Dobbs and Marlins batting coach Eduardo Perez):

Here’s my favorite of Tim’s photos: a dejected Chris Coghlan walking off the field after Infante failed to deliver the go-ahead RBI hit:

Great job, Timsky!

Tim snapped Donnie Murphy warming up his arm before the bottom of the ninth inning:

And Marlins relief pitcher Edward Mujica:

Oh…time out, I took this one of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez…

…who appear to peacefully co-exist on the left side of the Marlins in field.

In the top of the tenth, Tim asked to get the camera back because he had not got a shot he wanted:  a Marlin running.  He did a great job getting this picture of Hanley Ramirez running out a deep fly out to RF (I actually thought it had a chance to fly out of the park):

After catching the baseball from Jeff Urgelles, Tim really wanted the Marlins to win.  He was a bit upset when the Nationals regrouped in the bottom of the tenth and won the game 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to CF by Ian Desmond.  By this point, Kellan was awake again.  On the crack of the bat, I could tell it was a game winner, so Tim and I (Kellan in my arms) hustled down the stairs to the third or fourth row.  We slid into the row and were in the perfect spot when home plate umpire Greg Gibson walked by and handed us our final baseball of the day.

Thanks, blue!

We tried to track down Jeff Urgelles on his walk in from the bullpen, but the crowd behind the dugout was tough to squeeze through and we got to 3B right as Urgelles passed by and entered the dugout.  We’ll track him down later this season!

So, we called it a day and walked to the car.  Tim entertained himself in the car by taking more pictures…

…while Kellan ate some “nacks” and relaxed.

It was a big day for the little guy.  He was fast asleep about half an hour before we got home…

…and Tim capped off the drive watching some “Octonauts” on youtube on my cellphone.

Hey, it was a good day.  Let’s do it again next weekend…

Okay, yeah, you got a deal.  Let’s do it!  We’ll see you soon, Camden Yards!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

 

Cooks & Martelons in DC (9/18/2011)

Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park.  We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to  games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium.  As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park.  While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.

I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC.  It all fell into place perfectly.

On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP.  The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.

It turned out to be a very special time before the game started.  Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys.  Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.

By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance.  I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day.  Not quite.  It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures.  Aye, aye, aye!  I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.

We started out in the LF corner.  There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line.  We made our way down into the first row:

[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan's noggin].  There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching.  The ballpark was completely silent.  I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches.  So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence.  “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.

Thanks, Brian!

When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy.  Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him.  The section was silent no more.  And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.

After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF.  Section 237 to be exact.  Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:

We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg.  We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing.  Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny.  When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up.  I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding.   There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory).  Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up.  But his plan back fired.  The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.

Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball.  On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us.  It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me.  I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm.  I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck.  This was only our second ever.  Very cool.

Thanks, Tom!

Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more.  Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us.  While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:

I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…

…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.

On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:

Kellan is way too small for the play area.  So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…

…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.

After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat.  We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B.  We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:

Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line.  I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.

As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us.  I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…

…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too.  So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right.  Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.

Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch.  Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan.  Sanchez turned around and saw us.  He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan.  Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball.  Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction.  Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again.  Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again.  After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout.  It was an awesome little interaction.

A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B.  We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.

Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!

We decided to head back to the play area.  On the way, a kind usher took our picture:

And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:

As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there.  But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking.  But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:

After Tim hit some whiffleballs….

…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.

It was getting really close to game time now.  Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium.  We planned to meet them in our seats.  But first, we watched Mike Stanton…

…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…

…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.

As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats.  Soon enough, Colleen arrived…

…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate.  (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).

We had some great seats in section 108:

The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races.  These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).

Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:

The Nationals got on the board first.  In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.

Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived.  But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine.  I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):

A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.

In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.

After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…

…we took to our feet…

…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:

Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area.  I had another idea.  Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole.  It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch.  We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:

The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before.  So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.

First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:

What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan.  Funny.  Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.

When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun.  Stanton didn’t cooperate.  So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:

After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:

We had no real plan.  We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures.  When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:

Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:

All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan.  So he took a little nap…

…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.

When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought.  I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:

Yikes!  Oh, well.  Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.

In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun.  That made the score 4-3 Nationals.  But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.

There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning.  Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch.  He ran to first, but the umpires called him back.  I personally had no clue what was going on.  But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point.  The McKeon argument was humorous on its own.  But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:

Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics.  And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game.  Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.

Not much else happened in the game.  At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals

But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet.  It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!

We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:

(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).

I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases.  He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it.  Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:

Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases.  That killed the dream.  Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own.  He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him.  I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?

While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…

…, Tim…

…, and Gill…

…had a lot of fun on the base paths.

Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark.  It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park.  Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!

As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:

I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.

Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
21/10 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
13/5 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee
Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke,
Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field,
Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

A Pittsburgh Adventure (9/10/11)

On September 10, 2011, Tim and I headed off in our car for a weekend adventure to Pittsburgh.  The plan was for two games at PNC Park.  But the plan got cut short when our basement flooded in a storm and I was needed back on the home front.  But we still had a quality 28-hour
adventure.  Here is how it all went down.

He jumped on the PA Turnpike heading West toward Pittsburgh.  We ended up stopping off in Mechanicsburg, PA so Tim could see where his parents got married:

It’s a gazebo on the Liberty Forge golf course.  It had just opened when we got married back in 2003, and it was truly a beautiful sight for our wedding.  After a brief visit (which occurred during a bustling golf tournament), we grabbed an early lunch and hopped back in the car.

We arrived in Pittsburgh in the early afternoon and relaxed at our hotel before heading off to the park.  Our plan was to meet up PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Zac Weiss at the CF gate to see if we could get in early with the season ticket holders.  But the roads immediately around PNC Park confuse the heck out of me.  We ended up taking the wrong exit from the freeway, looping back around, and getting into a traffic-jam directly outside of PNC Park for 15 minutes.  By the time we parked and made it to the stadium, the gates had been open for
15-20 minutes and Zac was already in there.

We waited on the Riverwalk for a few minutes, and then heading into the LF seats…

…when the stadium opened for non-season ticket holders.  But the LF seats are small and they were relatively crowded.  We briefly bumped into PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Nick Pelescak.  After saying our hellos, I asked if the rest of the ballpark was open to everyone (there was almost no one in the park outside of the LF seats) and he confirmed that it was.  So Tim and I headed up the LF escalator and down into the LF foul seats.

The plan was to walk down to the cross-aisle toward the bottom of the section and then circle all the way around to the RF foul line where several Marlins were playing catch.  As we turned the corner into the cross-aisle, there were no other fans within 6-7 seating sections of us (except in LF, which is disconnected from the foul territory seats and not accessible without taking the elevator or spiral walkway).  Just then, a Pirates batter hit a foul ball right over our heads into section 132.  I quickly ran back up the stairway, cut into the seats and grabbed our first baseball of the day; with zero competition.

The very moment we made it to the RF foul line, former-Mariner Greg Dobbs was just finishing playing catch with monster-bomb-masher Mike Stanton.  We were right behind him as he left the foul line and started to walk toward CF.  I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and saw us, an
“oh, there you are” expression registered on his face, and then he tossed us our second baseball of the day; again, with zero competition.

We decided to go down the foul line to the handicap-accessible seating area.  For some reason, it was almost completely empty for the duration of BP:

There were a handful of fans out there…including the aforementioned Zac Weiss, who can be seen in the background of the last picture wearing his black Pirates shirt.

Mike “The Beast” Stanton and Mike “Cammy” Cameron were hanging out along the foul line running sprints from the foul line out into CF:

When we first arrived in this spot, there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in RF.  As Cameron walked around in foul territory catching his breath after running a sprint, I asked him if he would pose for a picture with Tim after he finished his warm-up routine.  He happily agreed.  Then I pointed out the baseball on the warning track and asked if he could toss it to Tim.  He agreed again.  Cammy is the man.

Thanks, Mike!

After running a few more sprints, Cammy wandered over to the little doorway at the end of the section and posed for this picture with Tim:

He also signed the baseball he’d already given to Tim:

And then he signed about 200 more autographs.  The second he walked over to get a picture with Tim, every autograph hound in the stadium bolted straight for us.  There was quickly a group of ten people.  And then twenty.  And then…who knows how many.

While we were getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we got to chat for just a few seconds.  I told him that my Dad caught one of his foul balls down in Miami on our Roadtrip.  I then told him it was cool that he was wearing number “24” now-a-days since he was previously traded to the Mariners for Ken Griffey, Jr.  He told me that he’d wore “24” when he was *young* – he did wear “24” when he broke into the Major Leagues with White Sox, but I got the feeling he meant he wore “24” when he was a kid, not just a young Major Leaguer.  Anyway, after mentioning Junior, I told Cameron that he did an amazing job coming in and filling Griff’s void after the trade.  He really did an outstanding job for the Mariners and us Mariners fans love him for it.

When Cameron finally started walking back to the dugout, a guy ran down the steps and called out, “One more, Mr. Cameron!?”  Mike responded something like, “Man, I just signed a ton!”  But he came back nonetheless and signed for this guy too.  He was so awesome.  I really couldn’t believe all the signing he did.  And many of the beneficiaries were the big-time autograph dudes who gave board with 5-6 of his cards, and he
signed every single one.  Mike is the man!

As he walked away, I asked Cameron if he got one of the Mariners 116 win, two-person McLemore and Cameron bobblehead.  He started to launch
into a longer explanation, and then stopped himself.  Bottom line, the answer was “yes.”  He got one.  So that’s cool.  When he said he has one, Tim yelled out, “I have one too!”  (Special thanks to Brian Powell for sending us his!).

After getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we relocated to the shallow RF section of the handicap-accessible seating area.  A Marlins lefty ripped a foul grounder right at us.  Tim put his glove over the short wall and tried to scoop it up, but it went under his glove…and right into mine.  Tim immediately turned around with a frustrated look:  “Hey, I was gonna catch that ball!”  “But you didn’t,” I explained, “it went right under your glove, so I had to catch it!”

Tim couldn’t argue with my logic, and he was happy to have the ball despite missing out on the grounder attempt.

He had fun leaning over the wall and practicing so he could catch the next ball hit down the line:

(Note: In the last picture, Cameron is still signing autographs in the background).

Tim also got a kick out of the fact that he could easily lean over the fence and rub his fingers through the warning track dirt:

So we had connected with two former-Mariner Marlins (Dobbs and Cameron), but the Marlins had still another former-Mariner – Jose Lopez.  But
this is as close as we would ever get to Jose:

We spent some time during BP chatting with Zac Weiss:

Just before that last photo, Tim and I were at the back park of the handicapped-accessible seating area and Zac at the front (where he is pictured in that last photo).  A grounder came down the line and snuck past Zac on an unfortunate (for him) bounce.  I leaned as far as I could over the fence and scooped the ball off of the warning track.

As the Marlins cleared off the field, Zac, Tim and I headed over to the Marlins dugout on the 3B side.  Alex Sanabia (who gave Tim the 99thbaseball of his life last season) was standing at the top of the dugout.  He had a baseball and wanted to get rid of it.  He looked at Zac and must have thought “too old.”  Next, his gaze turned to Tim and he though “just right.”  So Sanabia tossed us our sixth and final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Alex!

PNC Park is pretty amazing for BP.  95% of the fans attending BP were out in LF the whole time.  There was lots of competition out there.  Meanwhile, 1% of the fans were in the RF handicapped-accessible seats and we all got some easy, no-hassle baseballs.  Great!

Ah, I forgot to mention, I thought we were going to get another baseball before the Sanabia  ball.  Zac, Tim and I were handing out talking (where we they are pictured in the last phone), and No. 21 on the Marlins drilled a one or two hopper right at us.  I thought it was going to take a nice big (and easy) bounce right to me for an easy catch.  Instead, it took a crazy back-spinning, low, sliding, superfast bounce right at us.  It shot like a rocket right over our heads and went all the way over the seats and into an area where they store groundskeeper-stuff.

After hanging out by the dugout for a bit, we got our picture with Zac:

And then we all  headed to the Riverwalk and then walked out to LF.  Once we got out there, we split up with Zac because Tim wanted to walk up the spiral ramp.  On our way, we ran into Nick Pelescak again and he took a walk with us.  We headed up the ramp and got Tim’s PNC Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

We stopped at the top of the spiral ramp and chatted a while with Nick:

He’s a real nice guy and he’s hauled over 1,000 baseballs out of PNC Park and several other MLB ballparks over the course of the last couple years.

While in the upper deck, we took the occasion to check in with Tim’s first ever water fountain!  Back on September 29, 2007, Tim used this fountain for his first ever water-fountain drink of his life.  Since then, we check in on his first fountain whenever we’re in town.  On our 2010 trip, his water fountain reunion photo didn’t make the cut on the blog report.  So let’s check out both 2010 and 2011 now:

After heading back down the spiral ramp, Nick broke off to go find his wife and son and Tim and I went and bought some nachos.  Here is an ultra-serious looking Tim eating nachos in our seats for the game:

We got those seats in section 136, row C for just a couple bucks per ticket on stubhub.  That’s one of the perks of the end of the season – cheap tickets!

Here is a view of PNC Park from our seats:

Tim cut the serious act, and had some fun goofing around and eating nachos in the LF seats:

And then he did some random posing:

When the game started, it was all Marlins.  Actually, the Marlins did not muster much offense either.  But it did not matter because Anibal Sanchez was on fire.  He was making the Pirates look silly – like this hapless hack back Derrick Lee:

Meanwhile, Tim was licking left over cheese off of his index finger and pretending that it was exploding in his mouth – like this:

Facing off against Sanchez, the Pirates had Jeff Locke make his MLB debut.  Locke pitched five innings, gave up five hits, and three runs, and collected his first career loss.  I got this picture of Locke’s first career Major League swing:

With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Neil Walker hit double.  And that was all she wrote for the Pirates.  Anibal Sanchez threw a complete
game 1-hitter.

In the top of the third inning, we went to go get ice cream helmets.  Tim got mint chocolate chip and I got (the incredibly delicious and highly recommended) Pirates Buried Treasure.  Check out the cool view from the ice cream helmet line:

Ah, yes.  PNC Park is incredibly beautiful.

The Marlins scored three runs while we were in line for ice cream.  They were, ultimately, the only runs of the game.  And we had no clue they even occurred.  When we got back to our seats – after walking through this blue light area –

…there were runs on the board.  And that’s all we knew.  We saw Nick and Zac at the back of one of the sections in LF and I asked them if they caught any homeruns when we were off buying ice cream.  They didn’t.  And that is all I know about those three runs – they were three Marlins runs during which the crowd made absolutely no noise (so as to tip me off that anything was happening on the field) and they did not result in Nick or Zac catching any homeruns.

Just like last season, I enjoyed a “Pirates Buried Treasure” helmet and Tim had a mint chocolate chip helmet:

Here’s what it looked like from our seats after the sun went down:

After eating our ice cream, Tim wanted to roam around the ballpark and check out the river.  We headed out to the Riverwalk area and Tim got a run-by head patting from the Pirates Parrot:

He posed with a picture of a P-shaped bush behind the bullpens…

…and then we headed down toward the river.  This big barge arrived on the scene:

I am pretty sure it is the fireworks barge for the post-game fireworks.

We wandered through a little picnic area behind the batters’ eye:

And we checked out the view of the Roberto Clemente bridge:

Finally, we found a little nook in the picnic area that Tim thought resembled a bullpen.  So we took turns pitching to each other…

…using the drain as home plate.

While I was pitching to Tim, he missed a pitch and it rolled to the steps behind our home plate.  When he went to retrieve, an elderly Japanese couple were walking by.  The man noticed Tim’s Ichiro shirt as he passed by and called out to his wife an excited, “ICHIRO!” with a point at Tim.  He then
doubled back and walked a small loop around Tim to make sure he’d seen it correctly.  After confirming his initial belief, he walked back to his wife and pointed at Tim with increased excitement, “ICHIRO!”  And he looked over me with an approving smile.  It was pretty cute.

After our bullpen session, we headed back to the LF seats.  We hadn’t missed a thing – well, except a couple more Pirate strike outs – it was still 3-0 Marlins.

As I sipped a local brew with a snazzy pin-striped and Pirate-logoed can, an usher kindly took our photo standing in the concourse behind section 136:

It was time for more adventuring, and this was the last we would see of section 136 for the night.  So I took one more panorama from the concourse before we started walking:

Tim wanted to see the upper deck some more.  So we wanted around the big spiral walkway in LF:

There is a really small section of seating above the LF bleachers, just below the scoreboard, that I have never visited.  In the past, it has always been chained off for private parties.  I think it is called the “Pirates Deck.”  As luck would have it, it was open to the public during this game.  So we headed down the stairs at the back of the spiral walkway and entered the Pirates Deck.

The deck was almost empty.  We headed to the last section in deep LCF and got Tim’s picture:

And then I took a panorama of PNC Park from the front row of section 339:

On our way out of the deck area, we noticed a switch-back ramp leading up to two seats perched behind the back row of the seats.  It looked like an elevated perch for the King and Queen to sit and watch the competition down on the field.  Since it was empty, we walked up the ramp and Tim asked me to take the following series of photos:

After the King’s Perch, we headed to the seats behind home plate.  There was another little handicap-accessible seating area right behind home plate.  We claimed a spot and watched the game from there for a bit.  Standing was fine for a bit…

…but eventually Tim got the urge to climb on the railings…which I strongly discouraged.

After getting Tim off the railing, I got a panorama of PNC Park from section 316:

After exchanging a few texts, we met up with fellow MLBlogger Matt “PittPeas” Peaslee and his girlfriend Erin:

I suggested that pose in the classic Peas-pose (that you should no doubt recognize if you’re read his blog).  Upon review, it appears that I need some work on my Peas-pose.  My arms are way too high and straight.  Tim’s Peas-pose needs some work too; he’s just doing a “we are the champions”
celebration pose!  Matt is a great guy.  It was good to finally meet in person.

The game was sailing by quick.  After parting ways with Matt and Erin, Tim and I headed down the spiral walkway behind home plate.  We planned on making an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball.  It was the ninth inning, but for whatever reason, I thought it was still the eighth.  After I got this photo from the concourse of Andrew McCutchen striking out…

…I realized it was the ninth inning and there was only one out left in the game!  We scrambled to get into position, and post-game fireworks made it the easiest post-ninth-inning-third out trip ever from the concourse down to the umpire tunnel (because everyone stayed seated for the fireworks), but we arrived about 5 seconds too late.  Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had unloaded his entire baseball poach by the time we got into position.  Oh, well.

The silver lining is that we were in the perfect spot (and found a couple open seats) when the fireworks started about 5 minutes later:

The fireworks show was great, and no one enjoyed it more than Tim (and Shelly):

To my amazement, the Pirates did not clear out the RF seats for the fireworks show.  Check out how close it looked like the people in right field were to the fireworks:

After the fireworks show, an usher took a final father-son shot of us before we left the ballpark:

And then I noticed a cool “125th season” logo on top of the Pirates dugout:

I wonder why the Angels got a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball, but the Pirates did not get a 125th season baseball?  I’m guessing it is because they were not the “Pirates” the entire 125 seasons – since it says “Pittsburgh Baseball.”  Anyway, it is too bad. That would have been a cool commemorative baseball.

After the game, we spent the night in a Pittsburgh hotel, and then did one *touristy* thing before heading home.  We had heard of the Duquesne Incline from some friends.  So we decided to check it out.  While watching BP, I discussed the Duquesne Incline and discovered there are two inclines in town – the Duquesne and the Monongahela.  So we did ‘em both.

First, the Duquesne Incline:

Essentially, it is a two track train that runs up a really steep hill in Pittsburgh.

At the top, there is a look out spot with a phenomenal view of Pittsburgh:

Following the river from left-to-right and taking the left (upper) fork, PNC Park is on the left (upper) side of the river between the first and second (Roberto Clemente) bridges.

Here’s a good view of the crazy incline train cars:

The two cars are pulled up the incline on big steel cables.  They appear to be balanced against each other, when one is at the top, the other is at the bottom, and they always meet in the middle.

The Monongahela incline also provided a spectacular view of Pittsburgh (although with no view of PNC Park):

And there was a sign at the top pointing the way to ice cream:

After devouring some tasty cones, we rode the incline train back down to the bottom…

….and hopped into our car for the ride home.

Although we wanted to go to the Sunday game (featuring Kids Run The Bases), it was still a great little weekend father-son get-away.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
28/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
82 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
16/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
7 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

GFS 2011 Game 2 – Giants at Marlins (8/14/11)

On August 14, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in Miami, Florida.  We had another Giants vs. Marlins game on tap for the afternoon.  But, first, we had some business to attend to…beach business.  We hopped into our rental car and headed to Miami Beach.  South Beach to be exact:

I’m not a big beach fan, but South Beach was awesome.  The water was perfect and we had a blast.  We arrived early and by the time the beach was really starting to get hopping, we headed out.

It was time for our second and final game at Sun Life Stadium:

I was not expecting there to be batting practice so I was pleasantly surprised as the Marlins were running off of the field and the Giants were just beginning their stretching routine as we entered the seating bowl behind home plate.  We headed over to the Marlins dugout where a few players and coaches were still walking off of the field and into the dugout.

I’ve learned over the years that listening is key.  I had no clue who any of the remaining Marlins were.  But someone else did.  I heard a lady say hi to “Joe,” and then “Joe” walked over to chat with her.  I noticed that “Joe” had a baseball in his glove.  So when he finished talking to the lady, I called out, “Hey, Joe!”  He
walked over to say hi.  And soon enough, Joe’s baseball was in Tim’s hand.

By the way, “Joe” ended up being third base coach, Joey Espada.

Thanks, Joe!

I was ecstatic for us to finally get a baseball at Sun Life Stadium.

As we continued to stand around behind the dugout, I noticed that Marlins manager Jack McKeon was just below us chatting with a guy.  I waited until they had a natural break in their conversation (in fact, they even took a step or two away from each other for a moment) and then I held up the baseball from “Joe” and asked McKeon if he would sign the baseball for us.

McKeon held up one finger as if to say, “yep, in just a minute,” and then he re-engaged his conversation with the guy.  And unhappy looking (and quite large) Marlins stadium attendant…

…who was standing by McKeon on the field stepped toward us and barked with a menacing scowl: “He’s busy talking to someone right now.”  Of course, that is why we had patiently and politely waited for a natural break in McKeon’s conversation.

Anyway, despite the evil eye from the stadium attendant, McKeon did not seem to think we had done anything wrong.  After another thirty seconds of conversation, he looked up and put his hands out for me to toss him the baseball and our pen.  He signed the baseball, tossed it back and was on his way.

As the Giants started to hit, Tim and I headed out to deep RCF.  Tim is not a fan of the sun, and it was beating down pretty hard at this point, so he grabbed a shady seat at the back of the section…

…and watched as I snagged a BP homer off of the bat of a Giants lefty.  That ball landed in about the seventh row just as I approached and then rolled all the way down to the first row with me hoping the rows following it.  It hurt like crazy as I bashed shin-after-shin and knee-after-knee on the seats.

Shortly after getting that baseball, Tim and I decided to walk around a little bit.

We headed over to the LF foul corner and checked out the drop off created by the folded-up seats:

Nothing was going on over there, so we headed to the kids’ play area.  But when we reached the McDonald’s play area that we had visited the night before, we found that…

…it was gone.  But over by the batting cage, we found a batting tee and bouncy house that were a lot of fun for Tim:

After bouncing, we headed over to section 142 quickly to check out our seats for the game.  Then it was time for lunch.  On the way out of the seating bowl, I got this picture that shows Tim’s new give-away Marlins bag:

Our nacho lunch was much better than our nacho dinner from the night before because I invested $1.00 for some extra cheese:

And then it was time for the game, this was our view from section 142, row 4:

Tim and I decided that we wanted the Marlins to win this game.  So we were happy when Cody Ross grounded out to lead off the game for the Giants:

There was an unexpected guest hovering over this game – the Goodyear blimp:

Since we got a baseball (or two) during BP, we were excited to be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus point picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Here is our first attempt:

We tried again later and I decided to go with the second attempt instead of this one.

The night before, we were sitting right behind Mike Stanton and I was telling my Dad what a beast Stanton is.  Living in Seattle and not getting to many N.L. games, my Dad had never heard of Mike Stanton (well, not this Mike Stanton at least.  He had heard of the other less beastly Mike Stanton or maybe it was this Mike Stanton).

Tim and I saw Stanton hit at least three homeruns last season (including a monster upper deck shot in Philadelphia).  Well, make it one more:

Stanton hit this one to the absolute deepest part of CF at Sun Life Stadium.  And then there was nothing left to do but trot:

That put the Marlins up 1-0 at the end of the first.

In the bottom of the second we had a little excitement come our way.  We were in the fourth row between the Marlins dugout and the Marlins bullpen.  Our assigned seats were 5-6-7, with 7 being the closest to home plate.  Tim’s seat of choice is always seat number 5.  My Dad took seat 7.  So that naturally left me with seat 6.  But there was no one sitting to our left in 1-2-3-4, so I opted for seat 4 and the open route to the aisle so I could run for a foul ball in the general area.

What I didn’t expect was that a foul ball would come directly to us.

But when former-beloved-Mariner Mike Cameron came to the plate and put this swing…

…on the ball, that is exactly what happened.

The ball was a towering foul pop up that travelled directly to us off the bat.  It did not hook, it did not slice, it did not blow in the wind.  From the second it hit
the bat, it was plain as day obvious that this ball was destined to land right at seats 6-7 of row 4 in section 142.  I am an inch or two taller than my Dad and would have had the natural advantage if I was standing directly next to him in my assigned seat.  But instead I was blocked off by Tim (grandpa’s little helper!).  My Dad and I both put our gloves up next to each other.  Mine came down empty, and my Dad’s came down cradling this little beauty:

It is my Dad’s third foul ball of the season, but his first caught on the fly.

Aside from the foul ball potential, section 142 is a fun place to sit at Sun Life Stadium because it seems to be the entertainment hub of the ballpark.  D.J. Petey is set up in the “beach” section of the ballpark during the games and between innings he was constantly setting up games and other stuff right in front of us:

It is also an access point to the field for the mascots, dancers and other on field entertainers.  This game was Billy the Marlins birthday so there were about 15 different mascots on hand to celebrate.  At one point, about 6-7 mascots were right in front of us tossing shirts into the stands.  But mascots can’t throw very far!
So most of them all landed in the lower seats.  And I came away with this Marlins t-shirt:

An interesting thing about this game was that both starting pitchers’ names started with the letters “Vo”…

Ryan Vogelsong vs. Chris Volstad.  In the battle of the Vo’s, Vogelsong dominated.

This was one of my best games for getting action shots.  Here is a cool picture of Aaron Rowand just about to ground out:

The Marlins have a scantily-clad dance troop called the Mermaids…

…that also used section 142 as a main point of access to do their in-game entertaining.  Those Mermaids must have changed outfits about 3-4 times throughout the game.  And (as you can see in the picture above) whenever D.J. Petey did a contest, they had two Mermaids flank him and the contestant(s).

While I was busy catching that Marlins t-shirt above, my Dad and Tim were hiding away in the shady concourse.  When they returned, they were bearing gifts of ice cream:

Between innings at some point of the game, they did a little video tribute to Jack McKeon on the big screen in honor of this being the 2,000th game that he has managed in the Major Leagues:

I thought that was pretty cool to find out that we got Jack’s autograph at his 2,000th game.

Thanks again, Jack!

In order to keep a full roster of Mermaids ready for Major League action, the Marlins have a minor league (so to speak) dance crew in training, the Minnows:

These little gals are just 6-8 years and a Mermaid-twisted ankle away from getting called up to the Show!

Back to the action, Dwayne Wise turned around this pitch…

…for a harmless pop fly out to LF.

Like at ballhawkfest last month, Tim had a spray bottle full of water and was blasting himself in the face most of the day to stay cool.  Of course, he took the opportunity to spray down his hair and make a little mohawk:

In the top of the seventh inning with the Giants leading 4-1, Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop drilled Ryan Vogelsong in the back with a pitch.  Vogelsong was furious.  He slammed his bat to the ground like he was chopping wood with an axe.  I was super-excited at the possibility of getting one of the most difficult shots from the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – fake punching another fan in the stands while the players brawl in the background.  “Quick,” I said, “Tim, act like you’re punching Grandpa in the face!”

We did our part, but Vogelsong totally failed us.  The brawl just didn’t materialize.  So sad.

Here is a weird picture:

Can you tell what’s going on in that picture?  It is hard to tell.  You have to click to enlarge the photo.  Throughout most of the game there were about 50 dragonflies buzzing all around over our heads.  It was alike a Dragonfly convention.

Not only was section 142 a hot spot for D.J. Petey, the Mermaids, and the mascots, it was also home base for a cameraman.  Between almost every inning, the cameraman focused in on different fans in section 142 and put them up on the big screens at the end of both endzones – on in baseball terms, RF and the 3B line.  At one point, he caught staying himself in the face with his water sprayer…

…but right when I took a picture of the big screen, Tim turned around and looked at me with a big smile so all you could see on the big screen was the back of Tim’s head.

There were so many mascots all around that Tim just had to get his picture with one of them.  While he would have favored Billy the Marlin or the Miami Dolphins’ dolphin, his best opportunity involved Sebastian the Ibis from the University of Miami.  A little background is in order.

First, I have strongly disliked the Miami Hurricanes since the 1980s.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I have a lot of company.  It seems like everyone dislikes the Hurricanes.

Second, a couple months ago, Miami hired Al Golden, Jr. as its new head football coach.  Golden (or Cousin Al) is related to us through my wife’s family.  It is not like we’re so close that we are spending Thanksgiving with the Goldens.  But we are related.  Here is the situation as I have figured it out:  Tim’s great-great-great
grandparents (on Tim’s mom’s dad’s mom’s side) are Coach Golden’s great-grandparents (on his dad’s mom’s side).  In terms of generations, Coach Golden is on the same generational level as Tim’s grandpa (my wife’s dad, Kevin Gill a/k/a Poppy).  So, Poppy and Coach Golden share the same great grandparents.  Kevin’s mom is first cousins with Al Golden Sr. – their parents’ are sisters.  So that clears it all up, right?  Anyway, the family connection (despite the fact that Coach Al recently dumped my alma mater, Temple) has made it so I can at least stomach the Hurricanes a little bit, at least enough for Tim to get a picture with the Hurricanes mascot, Sebastian.

Anyway, there is a little handicapped access area just below section 142 (and running all the way to the LF foul corner).  Sebastian was hanging out just below the handicapped area in the field level seats below.  No one from up above can get down to those seats.  So Tim camped out on the stairs…

…waiting for Sebastian to wander by close enough for us to arrange a picture.

This is what it looked like just above the handicapped accessible area where we were waiting for Sebastian:

Eventually, Sebastian made his way down to us and posed for a picture with Tim:

And at the very same moment, D.J. Petey was running a “Hug Your Kids” segment with one of the cameramen right in front of section 142.  So after Tim posed for the picture with Sebastian, the big Ibis (which we kept referring to as a duck) picked up Tim and started hugging him and swinging him around like a ragdoll.  The
cameraman turned and the little scene was broadcast throughout Sun Life Stadium:

Tim thought it was hilarious!  In those pictures, he is looking at me and my Dad smiling and laughing with joy.  Ah, good times at Sun Life Stadium!

Late in the game, we were excited to see former Mariner Jose Lopez come to bat for the Marlins…

…he popped out on that swing.  It must have been his first at bat of the season because the scoreboard said he was batting .000 and had played in only one game, which I was thinking must be this game.

In the eighth or ninth inning, Tim and I headed over to section 156 to see if we could get an umpire baseball from Angel Hernandez.  We stopped at the top of section 156 to get this picture…

…and to look at this cricket:

By the way, as you can see two pictures above, Tim was wearing his University of Hawaii baseball shirt that he got from our friends from myGameBalls.com and MLBlogs, Todd and Tim Dixon, from Hawaii.  (Great names those guys have, eh?)  Tim loves his UH baseball and t-shirt.  And whenever I mention that we only have a couple more baseball stadiums to visit before we have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game, Tim also mentions, “But we haven’t been to the Rainbows stadium yet in Hawaii.”  So someday in the future, we’re going to have to Roadtrip to Hawaii to see the Rainbows.

The umpire tunnel was considerably less congested at this game.  There were two people in the front row on the outfield side of the tunnel and no one else was in the first 5-6 rows.  So we grabbed some seats in the first row one section over (in the orange seats just next to the off-limits blue seats).  Our plan was to bolt down the second row of blue seats and jump over to the first row next to the tunnel right when the game ended.

This is what our view looked like from the first row in section 101 (which is directly next to section 156 on the outfield side of section 156):

The night before, we saw Aaron Rowand ground out to Greg Dobbs in the ninth inning.  At this game, we saw Greg Dobbs fly out to Aaron Rowand in the ninth inning:

At this point, the Giants were leading the Marlins 5-2.  When we left section 142, my Dad had told us that he was going to stick around on the 1B side to see if he could get Mike Cameron’s autograph after the game.  I assumed he meant on the Mike Cameron foul ball he had caught earlier in the game. With the Marlins losing, I knew that the only way he would even have a chance to get Cammy’s autograph after the game was if (1) the Marlins came back to win the game or (2) the game ended with Cameron on base so he had to walk back to the dugout.

Well, on the Mike Cameron front, the stars were perfectly aligned for my Dad on this day.  In the bottom of the ninth, Cameron singled up the middle on this swing:

He would eventually make it to second base.

Jeremy Affeldt was warming up in the Giants bullpen…

…and eventually came into the game (instead of Brian Wilson) even though it was a save situation.

Tim was fully committed to the Marlins winning this game.  He gave his best “GO MARLINS” chant:

But his youthful exuberance was not enough, and the Marlins fell to the Giants by a final score of 5-2.

The game ended with Mike Cameron on second base, and the former-Seattle fan favorite (it is amazing how well Cameron fit in as a Mariner, particularly considering that he was replacing every Mariners fan’s favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.) stopped to sign a baseball for my Dad on his way back to the dugout:

I was slow on the camera trigger and only caught the above photo after Cameron had tossed the baseball back up to my Dad.  But I had a good excuse.  We were busy getting the third and final umpire ball tossed into the stands by Angel Hernandez.  That makes two years in a row that Angel Hernandez has given Tim a baseball on the GFS Roadtrip.  He might get a lot of flack for his actual umpiring work, but Angel is a-okay in our book!

Thanks, Angel!

After the game, an usher took this (would be excellent) photo of the three of us behind home plate:

Unfortunately, a single drop of rain landed directly on my lens.  The guy took two photos to make sure we got a good one, but both are marred by the rouge rain drop.

And our picture wasn’t the only thing the rain ruined.  The scoreboard in RF in the following panorama from the top of section 150 tells the sad story…

…Kids Run the Bases cancelled due to inclement weather.  Shortly after we got in the car and hit the road, the skies opened up and dumped a near-Biblical flood’s worth of water all over Florida.

So, with no Kids Run the Bases to cap our day at the ballpark, we simply took a follow-up photo for our myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Sun Life Stadium bonus picture…

…and then we hit the road.

Thanks, Sun Life Stadium!  Despite your many flaws, we had a lot of fun.

On to Atlanta and Turner Field!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
21/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
58 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami); Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

MLB Pocket Schedules

Tim and I are now three weeks into our 2011 schedule and just had our first “off weekend” of the early season.  Kellan is still waiting for his first game action of the season.  Plenty of baseball left on the Cook & Son schedule for 2011.  Seems like a good enough reason to share our baseball pocket schedule collection.

Each year, I try to grab a few pocket schedules at every ballpark we visit.  We have a baseball card album full of them.  Let’s take a look — and lets do it in the order Tim first saw each of these teams play a home game.

First, our Mariners pocket schedules:

                     
2001 Mariners.JPG    
2003 Mariners.JPG

                    
2004 Mariners.JPG    
2005 Mariners.JPG

                      
2006 Mariners.JPG    
2007 Mariners (Felix).JPG

                      
2007 Mariners (Ibanez).JPG    

2008 Mariners.JPG  

                      
2009 Mariners (Felix).JPG    
2009 Mariners (Griff).JPG  

                     
2010 Mariners (Figgins).JPG    
2010 Mariners (Lee).JPG  

                     
 
2010 Mariners (Wakamatsu).JPG
     
2011 Mariner (Wedge).JPG

2011 Mariners (King Felix).JPG

Second, our Phillies pocket schedules:                       
2007 Phillies (Hamels).JPG    
2007 Phillies (Howard).JPG

                        2008 Phillies (Burrell).JPG    
2008 Phillies.JPG

2009 Phillies.JPG

Third, our Orioles pocket schedules:



2007 Orioles.JPG
2008 Orioles.JPG
2009 Orioles.JPG
2010 Orioles.JPG

Fourth, our Yankees pocket schedules:

                        2007 Yankees.JPG    
2008 Yankees.JPG

2009 Yankees.JPG

Fifth, our Pirates pocket schedules:

2007 Pirates.JPG
2008 Pirates.JPG
2010 Pirates.JPG

Sixth, our Reds pocket schedule (featuring Ken Griffey, Jr.! #3):

2008 Reds.JPG

Seventh, our Indians pocket schedules:

                        2008 Indians.JPG    
2010 Indians.JPG

Eighth, our Mets pocket schedules:

                         2008 Mets.JPG    
2009 Mets.JPG

2010 Mets.JPG

Ninth, our Diamondbacks pocket schedule:

2011 Diamondbacks.JPG

Tenth, our Nationals pocket schedules:

                          2009 Nationals.JPG    
2010 Nationals.JPG

Eleventh, our Red Sox pocket schedules:

2008 Red Sox.JPG
2009 Red Sox.JPG

Twelfth, our Cubs pocket schedule:

2009 Cubs.JPG

Thirteenth, our Twins pocket schedules:


                         
2009 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2009 Twins espanol.JPG

2009 Twins.JPG

                        
2011 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2011 Twins.JPG.

Fourteenth, our Brewers pocket schedule:

2009 Brewers.JPG

Fifteenth, our White Sox pocket schedules:

2009 White Sox.JPG

(This is one of my favorite schedules.  The picture of Ramirez’s homerun celebration couples just perfectly with the fireworks.  Good job, White Sox!)

2010 White Sox (AP).JPG

Sixteenth, our Blue Jays pocket schedule:

2009 Blue Jays.JPG

Seventeenth, our Athletics pocket schedule:

2010 Athletics.JPG

Eigthteenth, our Dodgers pocket schedule:


2010 Dodgers.JPGNinteenth, our Padres pocket schedule:

2010 Padres.JPG

Twentieth, our Angels pocket schedule:

2010 Angels.JPG

Twenty-first, our Giants pocket schedule:

2010 Giants.JPG

Twenty-second, our Spring Training pocket schedules:

2008 Cactus League.JPGOne more to come here…still need to photograph the 2011 Spring Training Schedule.  By the way, these include all Cactus League games for all of the teams in the Cactus League.

Bonus, our Reading Phillies pocket schedules (MiLB):

                         2008 R-Phils.JPG    
2009 R-Phils.JPG .

There you go, that is it for our MLB pocket schedules collection.  We plan to add plenty to this list in 2011.  In fact, by the end of the season, I hope to be able to add new schedules for the 2011 Mariners (actually already added), Orioles, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates, Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Reds, Rangers, Astros, Marlins, Braves and Nationals.

Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2010)

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game.  I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend.  It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets.  We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets.  But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary.  So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).

In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game.  If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).

It was a drizzly morning.  We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice.  When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all.  But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.

I had no clue who he was.  But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…

2 - alex sanabia.JPG…to find out it was Alex Sanabia.

As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived.  In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.

When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”

And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:

3 - 99th baseball.JPG

Thanks, Alex!

After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF.  We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen.  But then some Marlins came out.  Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin.  So we headed back over to LF.

We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock.  So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…

4 - scouting number 100.JPG…I had no clue who any of the Marlins were down there.   Finally, the ushers waved us toward the infield.  We were free to roam wherever we wanted to in the stadium.

We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before).  I used my zoom to figure out…

5 - hello jay buente.JPG…that it was Jay Buente.

Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field.  Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag.  There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us.  As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”

Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim.  I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…

6 - 100th baseball.JPG…and Buente was happy to do so.

100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!

Sweet!!

After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”

Wow – that’s cool!

We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by.  We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs.  This ball was from Cleveland.).

Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:  

7 - brian sanches.JPGThanks, Brian!

Finally, we met up with Poppy.  I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry.  After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy.  First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument.  We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:

9 - poppy tim capitol.JPGThen we looked down over the seats and into the field:

8 - sosa and veras.JPGThose two guys in LF in the picture to the left above are Jose Veras and Jorge Sosa.  I yelled down “JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORGGGGGEEE!!”

Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.

Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me.  Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm.  Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.

Oh, well, on with the stadium tour.  We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan).  Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…


10 - poppy and fort mcnair.JPG…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma).  The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment.  After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast.  So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey.  The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C.  Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.

Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy.  They’d marry.  Have a daughter.  Have another daughter.  Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle.  The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid.  They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006.  Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game.  And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began.  And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.

Here was their view:

11 - nats park section 143 row A seats 5-7 panorama.jpgFor the second week in a row, we had front row seats in the OF.  This time, it was in section 143.

Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…

12 - nyjer morgan still not suspended.JPG…because he was still appealing his two suspensions.  Eventually, he’d prevail on one of his suspensions, I believe.

This is what it looked like as we watched the game:

13 - hanging with poppy.JPGAlthough it looks a little gloomy, the weather was actually ideal for us.  No rain at all and none of the brutal sun that chased us from our seats by the fourth inning the week before.

Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…

14 - nachos.JPG…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season.  In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open.  Four year olds are easily entertained.

There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…

15 - squirrel.JPG…a squirrel ran across the outfield.  Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen.  They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.

Hey, there was a game played too.

Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house.  And he brought a big bat with him…

16 - Mike Stanton bomb number 1.JPG…on this swing, Stanton crushed a homerun DEEEEEP into the leftfield stands.  That put the Marlins up 1-0.  Later in the inning, Emilio Bonafacio hit an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Then things got a little interesting.  Bonafacio stole second.  Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy.  Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.

Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed.  Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do.  Bonafacio had his afterburners on.  I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!”  And that is just what he did.  He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball.  This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:

17 - adam kennedy post bonehead play.JPGThe Marlins led 3-0.  But the Nats were about to get in on the action.  In the bottom of the second, Ivan Rodriguez came to the plate with the bases loaded.  On this swing…

18 - pudge hit.JPG…he hit a single to left field scoring Adam Dunn and Mike Morse.

Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2.  In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…

19 - Mike Stanton bomb number 2.JPG…another deep homerun to left field.  This one was a 2-run job staking the Marlins to a 5-2 lead in the top of the third.

Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings.  And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth.  None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).

So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.

In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…

20 - nats anniversary ice cream helmet.JPG…choloate with sprinkles, of course.

And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…

21 - presidents race.JPG…but he came in a distant fourth place in the 4-man Presidents race.

Yeah, we were having fun.  It was a great day:

22 - dudes.JPGThe outfield seats were practically empty.  I was hoping a homerun would come our way.  When Adam Dunn would bat, I camped out in the stairway with room to run in every direction…

23 - adam dunn positioning.JPG…above to the left is my view of Big Adam Dunn during his at bats.  To the right, my view of Tim and Poppy (and some guy who stood the whole game a couple seats away).

Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.

In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area.  That’s when the drama began.  Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him.  On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.

He went crazy with the water works.

It was legitimate water works.  He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.

Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area.  He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids.  So that’s what we did.  He was still huff’n and puff’n.

As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…

Sanches to Pudge.jpg…pitching to Pudge Rodriguez.  Sanches would strike out Pudge, Willie Harris and Ian Desmond in the bottom of the sixth inning.  He’d also qualify for his first win of the season.

The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues.  In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side.  Between the bandaids and the cup…

blue and metalic silver nats cup.jpg…Tim started to feel a lot better.

We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again.  He hit this foul ball…

24 - Dunn fouls.JPG…and then eventually drew a walk.  No homeruns for Big Dunn on this day.

Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:

25 - nats section 133 panorama.jpgWe were still in these seats in the top of the 8th when Hanley Ramirez struck out looking to end the inning…

26 - Hanley Ramirez disagrees.JPG…and then stood at the plate with his hand on his hip and feet crossed talking to umpire Wally Bell for what seemed like forever.

Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball.  But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.

We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen.  With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats.  Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us.  As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected.  Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.

This was our view from section 124:

27 - nats section 124 panorama.jpgWith all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was.  I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us.  I guess that foul ball really helped us out.  Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.

Thanks, Poppy!

Mike Stanton was up again in the ninth…

28 - Stanton no third homerun.JPG…but failed to hit his third homerun of the day.  He would have to settle for 3-4 day with 2HR and 3RBI.

Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.”  We were in the “really fancy seats.”

However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game.  Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed.  But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.

We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:

30 - nats section 119 panorama.jpgThose stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats.  An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt.  I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.

First, Tim did some kung fu:

29 - Kung Fu baseball fan.JPGAfter Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned.  We rushed down the stairs.  The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field.  As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.

All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot.  In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture.  That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.

Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball.  It is close to guaranteed.

And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…

31 - No. 101 courtesy of Wally Bell.JPG…we had officially embarked on a new journey:  the journey to baseball no. 200.

Thanks, Wally Bell!

Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy.  We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF.  But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park.  We had to get a picture: 

32 - Lexus Club concourse behind home plate.JPGAnd, how do people in those seats leave the field of play?  They exit through the uber-fancy Lexus Club.

Sounds good to us!

It was dark in there.  These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:

33 - Nats Lexus club.JPGThat bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park.  The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club.  To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.

To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows.  In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…

34 - Nats batting cage and interview room.JPG…as you walk toward the back of the club (away from the field), there are more windows that peer in on the interview room.

It was pretty sweet in there.  One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games.  Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.

Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!

YES!

This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).

Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:

35 - poppy and the OF wall.JPGNote:  both Tim and Poppy are standing in fair territory.  Excellent.

Running the bases, as always, was awesome:

36 - 4th anniversary bases 1st and 2nd.JPGAnd, amazingly, I actually got a decent picture of Tim at each base:

37 - 4th anniversary bases 3rd and home.JPGBefore heading out, we got a picture of Tim by the “Nationals Park” sign on the rock wall behind home plate…

38 - nationals park sign behind home plate.JPG…we’d just been in those blue seats right on the other side of the rock wall.

A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:

39 - Poppy and TJCs.JPGYes, coming to Nationals Park for Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary was the right call.

40 - anniversary battle scar.JPGUnquestionably.

We got our 100th baseball.

Spent some great quality time with Poppy.

Visited the Lexus Club.

Ran the Bases.

Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark?  Not much.

It was another great MLB anniversary.

Thanks, MLB!

2010 Fan Stats:

25 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)

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

58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

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

Moyer Masters The Marlins (9/9/07)

On Sunday, September 9, 2007, we gathered in Philadelphia for Tim’s 7th game and Jamie Moyer’s 600th.

All of the Cooks were in attendance:

1 - terrible self-family portrait.jpg

Ah, how young Tim used to love that pacifier.  It’ll make a couple more appearances here on this blog in the future.

Along with us were our friends, the Grecos:

2 - tim and grecos.jpg

We sat in Section 235, Row 9:

citz seating.jpg.

This was our first time ever sitting in the 200-level at Citizens Bank Park.  I really liked these seats.  Row 9 is actually the last row in that section and directly behind the seats is a concrete wall so we were able to stand up as much as we wanted without blocking anyone’s view behind us.  Plus, we were in the shade most (if not all) of the hot day.

Speaking of views, here was our view:

3 - citz panarama.jpgCheck out how empty the stadium was on a Sunday afternoon game during  pennant race!  At this point, the Phils were still six games back.  Of course, they would go on to win the East with a record of 89-73 thanks to a historic choke by the New York Mets.

In 2009, after winning the 2008 World Series, Citizens Bank Park never looked this empty.  Not even close.  The place was constantly packed to the rafters with fans.

Anyway, back to the game.  I was excited because this was the first time Tim ever got to see Jamie Moyer pitch…

4 - moyer mastery.jpg…and you know Moyer always dominates the Marlins.

Moyer cruised through the first five innings pitching shut out ball.  It was great, Tim was having a blast…

5 - fun in the shade.jpg…and he was amazed when Phillies centerfielder Aaron Rowand made a leaping catch and smashed face first into the wall in deep LCF.

Meanwhile, the offense was clicking against a struggling Dontrelle Willis.  Pat Burrell went 2-4 with 3 RBI and his 215th career home run.  Carlos Ruiz went 3-4 with 2 RBI and his 9th career home run.  Jimmy Rollins, Tad Iguchi and Aaron Rowand all also had multi-hit games and scored 4 runs between them.

With the game seemingly in hand behind the Phils 8-0 lead, it was time to get some shots of the kids…

6 - posing.jpg…goofing around in the seats…

7 - fun with oversized sunglasses.jpg…and these kids were some master goofers.  They loved Rhonda’s oversized glasses.

And of course we had fun watching the Phillie Phanatic blast hot dogs into the stands with his big, high-powered hot dog gun…

8 - hot dog shooter.jpg…the sight of a foil-wrapped hot dog spinning around in the air as it descends into the crowd always cracks me up.  One of these days I have to glove one of those dogs.  That would certainly be memorable.

The wheels fell off for Moyer in the bottom of the sixth.  He gave up home runs to Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Jacobs, and that was all she wrote for Moyer on this day.  But it didn’t matter.  He had all of the run support he needed to guide the Phils to the victory.

Tim’s look of concern as the Marlins mounted their too-little-too-late come back…

9 - it was a good game.jpg

…soon gave way to a big smile as he witnessed the Phillies bats power Moyer to his 229th career victory.

Yep.  It was a good day.

By the way, do you notice how I’m wearing a Phillies T-Shirt in the picture above to the left?  I planned to (and in fact did) meet up with the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing, Dave Buck, to talk about the Baseball Log during this game.  I work with Dave’s brother and I figured I’d wear a Phils shirt for the occassion.  I still wore my Mariners hat, which Dave said he could respect.  (Side note:  the Marlins sixth inning rally took place when I was off meeting with Dave). 

Although nothing came of the meeting with respect to the Baseball Log, Dave hooked us up with extremely awesome tickets (for which I was quite grateful) to an upcoming game against the Rockies, which will be my next entry…coming soon.

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