Results tagged ‘ Michael Saunders ’

Avi and the Cooks Meet The Mariners in Cincinnati (7/5/2013)

For months, we had been looking forward to the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  Our Mariners were scheduled to take on the Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.  The original plan was that my folks would come out for the series and my wife would join us too.  But through a series of plan squashing issues, neither my folks nor Colleen could end up making the trip.  My folks were out weeks in advance, but Colleen was going to join us right up until July 3rd.  We picked out our hotels and bought our game tickets with her input…but then something more important came up that she had to attend to and had to drop out.

On very short notice, we were happy to have Avi Miller…

…join our traveling roadtrip caravan.

The plan was to see the M’s in Cincinnati on July 5-6.  We headed to Pittsburgh around 11:00 a.m. on the Fourth.  There was a big “Regatta” party-thingy going on in Pittsburgh.  We started out by playing some catch in the park:

We cooled off in this big fountain:

We watched a pretty cool BMX show:

For the record, that guy jumping above is traveling from left to right…and Avi wasn’t impressed until the very end when the last two bikers did back flips.

Next, we met up with famous Pittsburgh couple, Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak, and watched a boat race on the river.  This guy captaining the No. 10 boat easily won the race:

Next, it was off to Moe’s for dinner:

And then we finished off the night with some fireworks:

The next morning, July 5, 2013, we were off to Cincinnati.  Neither Kellan nor Avi had ever been to Great American Ball Park (or Cincinnati in general).  While both of them loved the ballpark, Avi contained his enthusiasm while Kellan couldn’t even stand still for a quick picture:

Oh, by the way, this game marked Kellan’s 50th MLB game and Great American Ball Park his 16th MLB stadium.

The Reds have an extra early BP “tour.”  You pay some extra cash at the Reds Hall of Fame (which is an awesome Hall of Fame that you should definitely check out), and you get in to BP super-duper early.  You also get a pass into the Reds HOF and a cool Ted Kluzinsky statue.

After buying our tickets, the boys posed for some pictures with Reds Mickey Mouse…

…and Reds Statute of Liberty.

Just outside the Reds HOF, we found this excellent statue of Johnny Bench:

(Note:  Tim is using a brochure as a catcher’s mitt in that picture).

Around 4:21’ish, our BP tour guide took us inside the stadium…

…and told us what would happen once we went out to the field.  Essentially, for the first half hour we would be confined to right field.  Then the first base line would open up for us (and I think all Reds season tickets holders.  At that point, we could stay in RF or we could head down to the Reds dugout in search of autographs.  Eventually, the gates would open to the general public and we would be able to go anywhere.

When we headed out to RF, Joe Saunders was throwing a bullpen session:

We watched Saunders while Avi went off to watch BP.  After Saunders wrapped up his throwing session, Saunders flipped his warm up ball up to Tim between the narrow gap between the seats and the net over the top of the bullpen.

Thanks, Joe!

For the rest of Reds BP, we hung out here:

You can’t tell in that picture, but we were in a little partial row pressed up against the batters’ eye.  Spots like that are always ideal for us because the natural barrier on one side helps keep Kellan from trying to wander away.

Reds BP was interesting.  As far as I could tell, they hit a grand total of two homeruns.  I might have missed some…but who knows.  I truly only saw two homeruns the entire time.  Meanwhile, all of the Reds were wearing BP pullovers and I had no clue who most of them were…

…but then I saw a familiar face, Mariners bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.  I hadn’t seen him in the bullpen when Saunders was throwing.  He must have been hiding in the corner.  We exchanged our customary tip of the caps as he walked across the field with Saunders.

Eventually, I recognized two Reds in the outfield.  First, I noticed Shin-Soo Choo shagging balls in CF.  When Choo made a catch on a sinking liner in CF, I called out an extended “CHOOOOOOOO!”  He turned around and fired the ball to me.  About thirty second later, he shagged another ball and it tossed it to Tim.

Double thanks, Shin-Soo!

The boys posed with their Choo-Balls and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Nearby in RCF, MyGameBalls.com 2013 top ten snagger Rocco Sinisi was toiling away and doing his thing.  Rocco is the MyGameBalls.com career leader for Great American Ball Park and a photo with him was good for scavenger hunt bonus points.  Although we’d been chatting a bit off and on during BP, we decided to get a photo with Rocco early in BP just in case we forgot to or didn’t get a chance to do so later.  So here is our first attempt at the Rocco/GABP bonus photo:

Over the past several years, I haven’t really followed but have admired Aroldis Chapman from afar.  He seems like a good guy and, heck, he throws balls at crazy fast speeds.

Amongst the sea of unrecognizable Reds in the outfield, I eventually noticed that Chapman was hanging out in straightaway right field.  When I spotted Chapman way over there in RF, I shouted out a loud, “AROOOOOOLDIS!”   This prompted Aroldis to look over and exchange waves with us.

See where Aroldis was:

He was way over there.  Carter Capps was “way over there” too – way over across the field from this throwing partner out on the LF.  Capps was firing seeds across the field.  It was impressive.

A little while later, someone hit a grounder through the infield and into somewhat shallow RF.  Aroldis sauntered over and grabbed the ball.  I called out his name again (you know, we were buddies after that exchange of waves) and he threw the ball all the way from RF to my glove waiting in CF.

Thanks, Aroldis!

Hey, remember those two BP homeruns I mentioned?  Jay Bruce…

…hit one of them right to me and I made the catch on the fly.  Thanks to Rocco for identifying Bruce for me later in the day based on that last photo.

See that bat laying on the ground in the photo above to the right?  When Reds BP ended, we headed  around the RF foul pole and toward home plate.  On the way, I took a photo (that photo) of a bat (that bat) sitting on the ground in the Mariners’ bullpen.  I took the photo for the sole purpose of zooming in on the picture to see whose name was on the bat.  So click on that photo and check it out:  it was Jay Bruce’s bat.  That’s odd.

As we approached the infield, the Reds grounds crew removed the cage and screens from the field.  What was this all about?  It was very confusing.  It was also a bit of a bummer because this was only our second Mariners game of the season and the Mariners didn’t take BP before our first game either.

Anyway, we decided to grab some food for the boys and head over to the third base side…

…where the Mariners’ position players were stretching.  As  I took some photos, Tim munched down a hot dog and Kellan worked away on a big soft pretzel:

Funny side note:  Kellan ate part of that pretzel while sitting on my shoulders.  When he finished, I had to pick big grains of salt out of my hair for the rest of the afternoon.

The lack of BP was actually kind of cool because the Mariners did a modified version of the old fashioned “taking infield and outfield.”

While we were watching our M’s, a Reds employee with a camera came over and asked if he could take our picture.  “Sure,” I responded.  After he snapped the pic, I asked why he wanted the picture.  “It’s for the Mariners,” he responded.  Later in the day, we found out that the Mariners tweeted the picture to over 130,000 people.  Here’s the M’s tweet, and here’s another look at it:

After playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez signed a bunch of autographs:

Tim got him to sign the Jay Bruce homerun ball.

Thanks, King Felix!

I asked Felix why the M’s weren’t taking BP.  He said they had got into Cincinnati around 2:30 in the morning after playing a road game in Texas the previous night and decided not to take BP.

Following the M’s warm ups, we got a better photo with Rocco:

And then we wandered around a bit and got some pictures with the Reds piggy bank…

…and a big bobblehead burger guy.

Before the game, the Reds honored Homer Bailey…

…for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants three days earlier.

Here was our view for most of this game, about three rows from the top of section 402:

In the couple of games Tim and I had previously attended at Great American, we’d sat in RF and lower LF.  We once visited the upper deck in LF, but never watched game from up there.  I’ll tell you though, I loved it.  For an “upper deck,” it’s not very high up there and the view is great.  Plus, we had a nice view of Kentucky across the river and a great breeze.  As an added bonus, at the back of the upper deck, there are covered seats to either shade you from the sun or keep you dry in the rain.  The LF upper deck at Great American Ball Park definitely gets my seal of approval.

The pitching match-up was Aaron Harang vs. Mike Leake.  I wasn’t a big fan of the match-up.  But sometimes a struggling pitcher can pull out a better-than-normal performance when facing his old team.  That’s what I hoped for from Harang.

We dropped our stuff at our seats and watched the first pitch from Leake to Brad Miller:

And then Kellan and I headed down the stairs on our way to get some ice cream for the boys.   As we walked down the upper deck stairs, Miller laced the ball down the RF line and coasted in for an easy triple.  A great start for the M’s!

As Kellan and I ducked into a men’s restroom, Nick Franklin stepped to the plate and blasted a 2-run homer.  Kellan and I had no clue this had happened.  But when we got back to the ice cream place we saw the score – 2-0 Mariners!

When we got back to the seats…

…, Avi informed us about the Franklin homerun.

Harang pitched a scoreless bottom of the first.  Then, Michael “The Condor” Saunders hit a leadoff bomb in the top of the second:

Here’s one of the reasons I like Brandon Phillips:

Check out that big smile clearly visible from the top of the upper deck in LCF!  That’s how I like to see guys playing the game, like my favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.

In case you were wondering, here was the Mariners outfield for the day:

Michael Saunders in RF, Dustin Ackley in CF and Rauuuuuul Ibanez in LF.

Here’s a funny picture with no backstory, just a bunch of funny guys:

And a couple loving brothers:

Tim and Kellan either spend their time trying to annoy one another or hugging and telling each other how much they love the other.  Generally, they act like wonderful loving brothers while at baseball games and reserve their annoying each other for play time at home.

Much to my delight, Harang was, indeed, putting a strong performance together against his old squad:

Multiple times before the game and once during the game, I took the boys here…

…for a little kid fun.  That table looks like it is covered in sand, but it is really a mixture of different colored bits of rubber chopped up into little grains.  There were digging tools and dinosaur skeletons that the kids could dig up.  The two big dinosaurs standing behind the boys in the picture above to the left felt real’ish and they moved around every couple minutes.  The one on the right also laid eggs.  The boys couldn’t get enough of this little dinosaur display.

Before the game started we were hanging out in dinosaur area and another guy wearing Mariners gear asked me if he’d seen us at Pittsburgh.  We chatted about it and, indeed, he had seen us in Pittsburgh.  His name is Greg.  He’s a NW Mariners fan transplanted to Detroit.  We’ve kept in touch a bit since running into each other several times this weekend.  Good guy, and good Mariners fan.

Last time we were in Cincinnati we failed to get a good picture of the batters’ eye boat.  So, we got this one:

Back up in section 402, the ballpark looked even better as the sun went down:

Avi agreed, this place is beautiful:

Tim and Kellan both took a bunch of pictures during this game and weekend.  Here’s Kellan’s funniest picture:

I should mention that the Mariners took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Michael Saunders hit a sacrifice fly to LF scoring Kyle Seager.

In the top of the fifth inning, Brad Miller made some Great American Ball Park history when he hit his second triple of the game.  In over 800 games, it was the first time that a player had hit two triples in a game at GABP.  Pretty cool.

In the bottom of the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo hit an RBI-double to put the Reds on the board.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds capped the scoring for the day when Joseph Votto blasted a leadoff homerun to CF.  That made the score 4-2 Mariners.

Late in the game, we got split up from Avi for a while.  When we connected on the phone, he said he was in a SRO area near home plate with Rocco.  We decided we should go over there.  Thinking (correctly) that we might not make it back to section 402, we got a picture of Tim at the bottom of 402 on our way out (Kellan didn’t want to get off my shoulders to get in the picture):

This was our view in the SRO area:

When we arrived at the SRO area, Avi was nowhere to be found.  Ends up, we’d left section 402 to meet up with him and he left the SRO area to meet up with him in section 402.

Eventually, we did all meet up at the SRO area.  They make you stand at the top of the stairs.  Eventually, we move down the stairs at stood at the corner of the cross aisle.  The ushers didn’t really do anything about it so we stayed there a bit.

Heading into the bottom of the eight, the Mariner brought in Charlie Furbush who blew away Zack Cozart, Joey…

…Votto, and Brandon Phillips, 1-2-3.

When Rocco came by, he headed down the cross aisle toward the outfield.  We all followed him and ended up here for the ninth inning:

Check out that guy’s Johnny Bench jersey.  That’s sweet.

Ollie Perez nailed down a great Mariners Win!

We ended up in near-perfect position for a umpire ball, but didn’t get one.  But when we moved to the other end of the M’s dugout, Jaime Navarro tossed this one to Tim:

Avi, the boys and I pulled up some from row seats…

…for the post-game firework show:

The very first fireworks show of Tim’s life was at Great American Ball Park and it was awesome.  However, since then, we’ve seen a fireworks show at Progressive Field, and absolutely nothing stacks up to the Indians’ fireworks shows.  They are incredible  But this was a nice show for the boys.  They love all fireworks shows.

After fireworks, we got one more picture with Rocco…

…, one more group shot of us four roadtrippers…

…, some mire image shots with these awesome mosaics…

…, and one with this cool thingy inset on the floor of the concourse behind home plate:

And then we headed off to the team store so Avi could buy a bunch of bobbleheads.  In the team store, Tim posed with a huge World Series trophy:

Finally, we walked back to  our hotel a few blocks away…

…where Kellan hid under a pillow, both boys acted silly for a while, and then we all called it a night.

Go Mariners!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

15 Games                                                     
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals,   Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins,   Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
28 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies   (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2,   Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 2
72 Baseballs – Mariners 8,   Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 8,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3,   Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6
10 Stadiums – Citizens   Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
32 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks,   Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson,   Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel,   Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”   Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy   Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith
10 Autograph – Hisashi   Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez

Felix Day in Pittsburgh (5/8/2013)

For months, we planned to go see our Mariners at PNC Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  But then something came up at work and Tim had a Little League game scheduled that evening so our plans were foiled.  This was only the second time the M’s had ever played in Pittsburgh, and the first time since Tim was born.  I really wanted the boys to get to see the M’s play at PNC Park.  And I just generally really wanted to see a Mariners game.  The only other game in the Pittsburgh series was Wednesday, May 8, 2013.  It was a *early* day game with a 12:35 start time.  We had to do it.

We live 4 hours from Pittsburgh.  The early game time meant we needed to leave the night before.  So at 8:47 p.m. on May 7th, after my business dinner and the rain out of Tim’s Little League game, the boys and I hopped in the car…

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…for a late night drive across the Pennsylvania turnpike.  The boys fell asleep around Harrisburg, PA, and then I listened to some “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and chatted with my dad on the phone for about 2 hours.

We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. and had no trouble making it a complete mess by the *following* morning:

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After a decent free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road and made it to PNC Park before 10:00 a.m.

It was #FelixDay and we predicted…

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…complete Felix domination.

I knew there would be no BP so I didn’t feel compelled to go get in line at the CF gate.  So, instead, we walked around to the other side of the stadium and hung out by the autograph collectors where the players arrive for the game:

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In that last photo, that’s Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez wearing a stylish suit (NOTE: baseball players shouldn’t wear suits) and listening to an mp3 player.

The first person we witnessed arrive at the players/employees entrance was our buddy Jason Phillips.  All of the autograph collectors were on the other side of the entrance from us.  Jason saw us as he exited his cab, signed one or two autographs, and then told the autograph collectors that he had to go chat with us.

Jason and I shook hands and chatted for a minute or so.  He confirmed there would be no BP.  He asked if we’d ever been to PNC Park.  He told us that he’d *opened* PNC Park with the Mets back in 2001.  And then he headed into the ballpark, after showing his official MLB credentials to the people guarding the entrance.

Jason Phillips is a cool guy.  It’s always good to get to chat with him, and it was nice to begin our 2013 in-person Mariners season with a  brief on-the-street chat with him.

After a while, I asked a guard if we could get around the stadium on the river side before the stadium opened.  He confirmed we could so we headed toward the river.  On our way, the boys posed with the new (in 2012) Bill Mazeroski statue:

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Then we walked along the river toward the CF gate:

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When we arrived at the CF gate, PNC Park regular Zac Weiss was already there.  After setting our bags down in line behind Zac’s bag, I took Tim’s photo with the Roberto Clemente statue (Kellan was avoiding the camera):

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Before the gates opened, Zac busted out a baseball and we all headed out to the Roberto Clemente Bridge to play catch:

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I played catch with both Zac (real baseball) and Tim (soft, practice baseball) at the same time, alternating throws between them.  I almost threw Tim’s baseball into the River!

Zack Hample was in line next to our bags when we finished playing catch.  He was there with Neal Stewart from Bigs Seeds and the two of them were on another leg of Zack Hample’s BIGS Baseball Adventure.

The CF gates opened at 10:30, but that just let us into the Riverwalk.  Zac, Zack, Neal, Tim, Kellan and I all gathered at the inside gate behind the bullpens…but we were stuck.  Normally, season ticket holders, such as Zac, can get into the field before regular fans, and they can take guests with them.  But the Pirates don’t do the early access for day games.  So we were stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:00.

We passed the time by posing for some fist bump photos…

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…and trying hot sauce seed sample packs that Neal had in his seed satchel.  They were tasty.

Thanks, Neal!

I was excited when we saw our first uniformed Mariner of the season:

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I think it was Hector Noesi.

Several Mariners joined Hector to play catch down the LF line.  Nothing was happening in CF. So the boys and I headed over to LF to see if there was a spot where we could watch the M’s playing catch.  There wasn’t.

So we headed to the kids play area instead:

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When the rest of the gates finally opened, Oliver Perez and his partner (who I didn’t recognize at the time, but am pretty sure it was Yoervis Medina) had just finished playing catch and the only other pair of M’s out there at the time were Hisashi Iwakuma and Lucas Luetge:

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Perez and Medina has been doing a little post-throwing running.  On their way back toward the dugout, Perez grabbed one of the several baseballs sitting on the ground and walked over and handed it to Tim.  I took the opportunity to ask him for a photo:

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Thanks, Oliver!

FYI, Kellan was still on my shoulders at the time and didn’t want to get down.

When Perez and Medina left, they were replaced along the baseline by Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps.

When Kuma and Luetge finished throwing, Lucas tossed his baseball to Tim and then he posed for pictures with both boys:

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Thanks, Lucas!

Meanwhile, Kuma had started signing autographs a little further down the LF line.  We ran over there and he was happy to sign his and Lucas’s warm up ball in both English and Japanese

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…and to pose for a picture with the boys.

、ミスター岩熊をありがとう! (Thank you, Mr. Iwawkuma!)

Some Mariners had run out to the bullpen, but the only action left in LF was Maurer and Capps playing catch:

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When they finished, Carter tossed the baseball to Tim, and then followed the ball so we could autograph it and pose for a picture with Tim:

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Thanks, Carter!

With nothing else going on down the LF line, we headed out to LCF near the bullpen.  On our we stopped to get a PNC Park bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Just as we approached the LF seats, a group of about 20 people ran through the seats from LF to LCF and filled almost the entire section right next to the bullpen.  That foiled our plan to get a close up look at the action in the bullpen.  So we hung back in the shady cross-aisle behind the LF seats and had a nice chat with an usher.  She took our only family photo of the day for us:

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Tim was spitting his BIGS seeds all over the place and we ended up talking about seeds for some reason.  She mentioned that her co-worker gave her some pickle flavored seeds.  When she pulled them out, she realized she didn’t have the pickle seeds today, she had BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds:

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We still had about 45 minutes until game time and nothing was happening on the field.  We ended up meeting up with Zack, Zac, Neal and PNC Park regular Robbie “Scoonz” Sacunas for lunch in the Hall of Fame Club:

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We’d never been in, or knew anything about, the Hall of Fame Club so it was great to experience it.  As our food was being prepared, Kellan and I walked around and took some pictures of the club:

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The Hall of Fame Club is right behind the LF upper bleachers.  There are big windows that look at over the field.  As Kellan and I walked around, we saw King Felix warming up out the windows:

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Zack, Neal and I all tried the new, off-menu novelty meal, the donut burger:

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The burger is a bacon cheese burger with a fried egg on a donut bug.  I find eggs to be incredibly disgusting so my burger was eggless.  I would recommend everyone try the donut burger so you can say you had one.  But it doesn’t rank near the top of my best burgers list…in fact, if I really had such a list, it would be way down on the list.  More than like eating a donut, the weird combination and texture of the burger made it seem like I was eating meat filled french toast.

The boys split a footlong hot dog.  Tim smothered his in ketchup and mustard, most of which seemed to find its way onto the front of his mostly white Mariners t-shirt.  Luckily, Kellan has no condiments on his half of the hot dog because he ate his dog while sitting on my shoulders.

Before leaving the club, I got this panorama out of the front windows:

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When we got back down to the field, King Felix warming up in the bullpen.  We headed over there to watch.  The bullpen set up is pretty interesting at PNC Park.  It’s not very good watching a pitcher warm up from the bleachers.  Here’s what it looked like:

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Just before the game started, Felix headed toward the dugout…

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…and the members of the Mariners bullpen gave each other a bunch of high fives.  See that baseball sitting on the garbage can in the last photo?  Jason Phillips ended up tossing it to us (after giving it a thorough rubbing).  It was thoroughly dirty and beautiful.

Thanks, Jason!

Here is where we were sitting for first pitch:

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Those were our real seats.  They were pretty awesome – section 31, row C, seats 1-3.  It was a three row section.  To our left was the aisle and then LF:

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The seats were pretty amazing.  They are regularly priced $36/ticket, but I found them on stubhub for $17/ticket.  Gotta love below face value tickets!

The tough thing about day games is that Kellan still takes a nap in the afternoon most days.  For a night game, I work his nap into the drive to the game.  But for a day game, there is no good nap time.  At this game, that actually played to our benefit.

When we reached our seats, Kellan was sitting, totally relaxed on my shoulders.  I tried to take him down, but he was very fussy.  Sometimes he refuses to get off of my shoulders, and this was one of those times.  I realized there was no one behind our third seat in.  In fact, there was no one behind that seat in the entire section.  So I figured there was no one whose view would be blocked if I sat there with Kellan on my shoulders.  That’s how we started that game.

It didn’t take long for an usher to stop by and tell me that Kellan needed to come down off of my shoulders.  “No problem,” I responded, “it’s just that it’s his nap time and he’s a little cranky and didn’t want to get off of my shoulders.”  When I took him down, he protested by crying, yelling and kicking.

Upon seeing the little tandrum in process, the usher came back and told Kellan that we could move to some other, even better seats in the third inning if Kellan behaved now.  Lucky for us, he did.

The M’s didn’t score in the first.  And then King Felix took the mound:

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With the dominating King Felix on the hill, I felt pretty safe leaving our seats to go get ice cream in the first inning.  My plan actually wasn’t too good.  The very first Pirates batter of the game, Starling Marte, hit a ground ball right past third base and down the LF line for a double.  That happened just as we started to walk up the stairway toward the concourse.

Felix struck out the next batter.  But Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single as we walked through the concourse toward the ice cream place.

After twos innings, the Pirates still led 1-0.  The boys were still eating their ice cream helmets when the last out of the second was recorded.  I immediately stood up and waved at the usher who had mentioned the seat upgrade in the third.  I pointed at the seats and he gave me a confirming thumbs up.  And then we moved here (essentially) for the rest of the game:

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Is that beautiful or what?  Here is what our view looked like from the front row:

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That picture above with Tim and Kellan sitting by the ballgirl is actually way out of order (it was just the best picture I got showing our seat location).  In the third inning, this…

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…is the ballgirl who was sitting right next to us.  She was quite nice.  While Kellan finished his ice cream…

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…I chatted her up a bit.  She is a former college softball player.  And guess what happened when King Felix induced Andrew McCutchen into hitting a foul ball to the ballgirl in the bottom of the third?   Here’s a hint:

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Yep, she gave it to Tim!

Thanks, Felix, McCutchen and Ballgirl!

These seats were the absolute best seats possible for us.  Tim and Kellan do pretty good sitting in the seats when we have my dad or Colleen or some four person with us.  But when it’s just the three of us, for some reason, they really want to roam around and be on the move a lot.  But there was so much room to move in this seating section that we stayed put and I got to watch the entire (awesome) Mariners game!  Yes!

One of those in-seating-section activities included playing with the dirt and bugs:

31-playing-with-pnc-dirt-and-bugs

Into the fourth inning (aside from Michael Saunders who kept drawing walks), the Mariners batters, including Kendrys Morales…

32-kendrys-morales

…, couldn’t find any success against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.

In addition to showing Tim spitting seeds onto the warning track, this picture sets the scene for what happened next:

33-just-spitting-seeds-at-pnc

Let’s examine that photo closer.  Upper left corner, the small scoreboard shows the score is 1-0 Pirates in the top of the second with two outs (Morales, above, was the second out of the inning).    Also, notice that the Mariners have no hits on the day.   Next, Mariners centerfielder Michael Saunders is standing on 3B after drawing a leadoff walk, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch and to 3B on Morales’s groundout.  Finally, the ribbon board shows that Dustin Ackley is about to step to the plate (he hadn’t seen a pitch yet because the count is shown as 0-0).

Five pitches later, Saunders scored the tying run on a Burnett’s second wild pitch of the inning!  One pitch later, Ackley struck out to end the inning.

So, while being no hit by A.J. Burnett, the Mariners were all tied up 1-1 with the Pirates after 4 innings.

The Mariners finally broke through with their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning.  With Burnett pitching so well, it was a good thing we had King Felix on the hill…

34-king-felix-dealing

…throwing a dominating game of his own.  In fact, it was as if mother nature was behind Felix and the M’s during this game – she even set an all-natural crown worthy of a king right above Felix:

35-king-felixs-rainbow-crown

Nothing could stop the Mariners fair and just King Felix.

Well, almost nothing, A.J. Burnett did a competent job of shutting down King Felix at the plate:

36-tim-kellan-king-felix-at-bat

But, obviously, hitting isn’t Felix’s thing.

The boys lost interest in the dirt and bugs and played a little grounders/bouncing balls catch behind our row of seats:

Despite numerous warnings from me only to *roll* the ball, the kids kept bouncing them…

37-playing-catch-in-accessible-area

…and, every once in a while, Kellan was throw the ball in the air to Tim.  This resulted in two different incidents, one good and one bad.

On the good front, Kellan tossed a ball to Tim that hit the railing behind our handicapped accessible section, rolled along the top of the railing, and then fell right into a cup holder handing from the back side of the railing.  When it happened, the entire section behind us erupted in applause for Kellan – they were all apparently watching the boys play catch rather than watching King Felix and A.J. Burnett playing catch with their catchers.

On the bad front, Kellan threw another ball that bounced off of the head of the lady in the black Pirates jersey:

38-reckless-game-of-catch

I didn’t actually see this happen.  However, given the facts that (1) the boys were using a cloth/foam-y-ish ball (that incidentally looks exactly like a ROMLB), (2) Kellan is only 2 and (3) the ball bounced before it hit her, I’ll go out on a limb here and say there is zero chance this incident actually hurt the lady.  But she was very mad about the situation.  I thought we were going to get kicked out of the section and sent back to our regular seats.  I immediately put the kids’ ball away and sincerely apologized to her and she just glared at me with complete and utter contempt.

We let this incident bother us for about 30 seconds and then we let it go.  We have better, fun things on which to focus.  Like the pierogies race:

39-perogy-race

And the shirt cannon/slingshot/toss, which resulted in Kellan coming up with this prize:

40-kellan-gets-a-shirt

And, most importantly, Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer to RCF in the top of the seventh inning:

41-montero-goes-yard

2-1 Mariners after 7!

Kellan’s shirt was tied up with balloons, which the boys used to sling shot seeds on the warning track:

42-playing-with-balloon-ties

Felix was dominating and he was getting solid defense behind him.  In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to CF that Michael Saunders grabbed with no problem:

43-felix-induces-pop-out-to-saunders

The next batter was pinch hitter Jose Tabata, and he hit a low liner to RF and Endy Chavez made a great play on it.  Starling Marte then singled, but was thrown out by Jesus Montero when he tried to swipe 2B.  Starling no swiping, Starling no swiping, STARLING NO SWIPING!

At the end of the 8th, we left our wonderful seats, took a bathroom break, walked through a small team store behind home plate, and then found ourselves here for the bottom of the ninth:

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FYI, Kellan refused to get off of my shoulders so I crouched on the ground in front of the seat so he wouldn’t be too tall for the fans behind us.

Although Felix Hernandez was out in the on deck circle at the end of the top of the ninth, Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen…

45-the-bartender-in-for-save-at-pnc

…came in for “closing time” in the bottom of the ninth.

Wilhelmsen got a quick ground out by Travis Snider for the first out.  He then has a 10 pitch battle with Andrew McCutchen, which included a foul ball that landed two rows in front of us, that ended with a  fly out to deep LCF.

Garrett Jones made things more interesting by hitting a 2-out single.  But Michael McKenry hit another deep fly ball for the final out of the game.

MARINERS WIN!!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

It was truly a beautiful thing.

During the post-game celebration…

46-mariners-win-at-pnc

…, Aarong Harang tossed a pearly white baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Aaron!

As the celebration died down and the interviews with the heroes began…

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…, Robbie Thompson tossed a muddy (game-rubbed?) baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Robbie!

After the game ended and all the Mariners took off, we met up again with Zack, Robbie and a few other guys where Kellan was too tired and cranky to give another fist bump:

48-kellan-avoiding-zacks-fist-bump

We had noticed the Pirates pig statue earlier in the day and wanted to get a picture with it on our way out of the ballpark.  As you can see below on the left, an usher wouldn’t let us go over to the pig for a picture and then wouldn’t get out of our view when we tired to get a picture with the pig from a distance:

49-tim-pig-stargell

Luckily, he didn’t follow us out to block our picture with the Willie Stargell statue.

When we hopped in the car, Kellan fell asleep almost instantly and slept for at least three hours.

All around, this was a near perfect baseball experience.  It was awesome seeing our Mariners.  It was fun to see them in a new park (for Tim and Kellan).  And it was even better to see King Felix bring home the win in a great pitchers’ duel.

GO MARINERS!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

7 Game
12 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates
12 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2
35 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1
6 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park
14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

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

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

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

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

As the Mariners pitchers stretched and chatted amongst themselves…

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

This was our view out in CF:

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Brandon!

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

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

When they finished up and started to walk off…

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

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

…get in some work in the bullpen.

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Muni!

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

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

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

Thanks, again, Muni!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and we were underway!

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

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

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

And he just kept on sleeping until THE SIXTH INNING!

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

It was great chatting with these guys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The previous day, I had noticed that Michael Saunders…

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

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

Thanks, Michael!

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

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

Then we walked around to home plate…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was an OUTSTANDING trip.

Let the planning begin for the 2012 GFS Roadtrip!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

 

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

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

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

…and headed off to Camden Yards

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

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

Yeah, that’s a good crew.

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

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

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

Thanks for being cool, Dan!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Michael!

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

… “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!”

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, David!

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

Thanks, Jason!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Zack and Jona!

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

Cool!  Thanks again, Jason!

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

Thanks, Brandon!

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

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

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

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

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

Here is where we landed – Section 6:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bird is a good guy.  Thanks,Bird!

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

…and this one:

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

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

Colleen did some sitting on Tim’s lap:

Kellan did some sitting on my shoulders:

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

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

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

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

And the Mariners moved to 0-3 for Kellan.

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

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

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

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

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

…back to our car.

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

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

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…Tim took the other three from close range.

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

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