Results tagged ‘ Mike Stanton ’

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.

GFS 2011 Game 1 – Giants at Marlins (8/13/2011)

Its that time of year again.  Time for the fourth installment of the Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  This will likely be the last Roadtrip with the original line-up.  In 2012, Kellan will likely come on board as the fourth Roadtripper.  But as for now, the cast of characters remains: Grandfather = Jim Cook; Father = Todd Cook; and Grandson = Tim Cook:

We flew into Tampa and stayed the night in a hotel.  In the picture above, we are about to pile into our rented Nissan Altima and head south to…

…Sun Life Stadium!  Note: that port-a-potty out front of Gate F is just one of the many luxury amenities the Marlins offer at the ballpark.

From a snagging a baseball perspective, my base goal was to get at least one baseball at each of the three stadiums we are visiting on this Roadtrip (Sun Life, Turner Field, and Tropicana Field).  As far as Sun Life Stadium goes, I was counting on this being our best bet.  It was a Saturday night game (presumably) with batting practice.  But then it started monsoon-caliber rain at our hotel about 15 minutes from the ballpark.  The gates weren’t scheduled to open yet, but we decided to head up to the ballpark anyway and just roam the concourses while clouds drained out all of their rain.

But then an amazing thing happened.  It was serious Noah’s Ark type rain at our hotel, but it was completely dry at the ballpark.  So we ran into the ballpark when it opened and were happy to find the Giants just starting to take BP.

Despite getting full-Giants BP, several things were working (quite effectively) against us: (1) the Marlins don’t like to let fans anywhere near their precious multi-purpose field, (2) the Giants have no power to right field (the only spot the ordinary fan can get to the front row on the field), and (3) the Giants (are quickly
proving to us that they) do not like fans.

We tried our luck in section 126:

That section is just on the CF side of the big tunnel that separates RF from CF.  The BP crowd was smaller on our side of the tunnel, but it would take a mighty blast to get a baseball out to us.  Tim relaxed in a multi-shaded orange seat right on the tunnel:

Only one homerun reached the deep RCF seats.  It landed about 3 rows behind us and only about 15 feet away, but I was blocked in by another couple fans and couldn’t even make a real attempt to catch the ball.  I say a “real” attempt because I did make an instinctual lunge toward the blocked off aisle as the ball came off
the bat – Sun Life Stadium punished me for this in the form of trying to break my shin on a cup holder bolted to the back of the seat in front of me.  Ouch.
A word to the wise:  at Sun Life Stadium, the rows of seats are narrow, the cup holders make them even narrower, and many of the seats fail to fold up.  So there are many, many opportunities to bash your knees and shins while passing through the aisles.

Meanwhile, the Giants literally tossed zero baseballs into three sections of seats in RCF.  BP ended with us still looking to secure our first ever baseball at Sun Life Stadium.  Our chances were not looking good and I was fearing that we might never get a baseball at this soon-to-be retired “baseball stadium.”  Even worse, without getting at least one baseball, we would not be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus picture point for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Anyway, it was time to tour around a little bit.  We started by visiting the McDonald’s kids area:

The concourses on the 1B and LF sides of the stadium (which I assume match up with the sides of the Miami Dolphins football field) are largely empty (well, LF is completely empty).  But on this day, McDonald’s had  set up a couple face painting booths (FYI, I am about the biggest anti-face painting person on earth), two
basketball pop-a-shots, two football accuracy throwing things, and two baseball strike zone throwing things.  While my Dad wandered around looking for a hat and Sun Life Stadium baseball (FYI, they don’t have them) in the team store, Tim and I shot tons of hoops, tossed a few footballs, and pitched many, many strikes.

After the play area, we started the process of walking around the ballpark.  It was a shorter process than normal because the entire upper deck was closed, and the LF concourse is essentially unused.

First, we visited section 150 behind home plate:

Next, we grabbed some nachos and found some seats in section 106:

The nachos were good…

…but the cheese ran out prematurely.  The problem was that they only had one cheese holder and didn’t pour any cheese directly onto the chips.  That’s just not enough cheese.

While eating nachos, we noticed something that showed just how plain it is that the Marlins have second billing at Sun Life Stadium:

Yep, the stadium used to be called Dolphin Stadium, and the end seat on each row is adorned with a dolphin.

Since there is nothing in left field, we turned around after eating our nachos, and headed back toward home plate.  We were still baseball-less, so we decided to make an effort at a pre-game throwing baseball (something that I think we have only ever obtained once – from Ian Kinsler May 5, 2009).

Here is Tim hanging out in the “front row” by the dugout:

I say front row because it is row 1, but there are more seats below row 1.  They are right down on the field and you can’t get to them without those tickets.

As former-Mariner Greg Dobbs played catch below us, Tim had fun watching Billy the Marlin catch the “first” pitches:

He quite enjoyed little Billy too:

At one point, Billy came over to the first base side and gave Tim a happy point in exchange for Tim’s excited wave:

In that picture, you can see Greg Dobbs (No. 29) on the far left side of the picture:

Dobbs scooted way back past first base and played long toss before retreating to the dugout.   Dobbs was our best chance to get a baseball at this game.  He ended up with the ball just 15-20 feet below us.  He clearly wanted to give it away.  But the music was pumping loud through the stadium and Dobbs just couldn’t hear me.  If he had, I’m sure he would have given us the baseball.  Instead, he gave the ball to a 20-something fan in the true front row who had not even been paying any attention.  Dobbs essentially walked over and said, “Here, take this.”  Bummer.

My Dad headed out to RF where we had our tickets for the game.  Tim and I hung out behind the dugout for the top of the first inning to see if we could get a third out baseball (something we’ve only ever obtained once before – from Ronny Paulino earlier this season).

Cody Ross led off the game with the fly out to LF:

Jeff Keppinger followed Ross with a solo homerun to LF.  Eventually, Aubrey Huff struck out looking to end the first inning.  We were expecting the final out to be at first base, so we were nowhere near where we needed to be for a catcher toss-up.  So some other lucky fan got that third out baseball and we gave up and headed out to RF to meet up with grandpa:

This was our view of the game:

Tim “The Freak” Lincecum was pitching for the Giants…

…and he pitched a very solid game.

Eventually, Tim needed some ice cream.  I told him I would go get it while he stayed with Grandpa.  But when I turned toward CF in the concourse, there was no ice cream to be found.  It was time to explore again.

From CF all the way to the LF foul line, all two of the tunnels into the closed and/or non-existent seating areas were closed off.  In CF,the tunnels are covered with a blue tarp that serves as the batters’ eyes…

…and in LF two of the tunnels are open exclusively for cameramen.  Meanwhile, in the LF concourse, there is absolutely nothing going on.

I stopped off in section 107 where I took this panorama:

A couple more sections over toward 3B (probably section 105), I found this weird single seat at the back of the seating section:

My thought is that this seat is for the usher patrolling this section.

I checked in again at section 154 where this was my view:

While in section 154, I got some of my best photos of Lincecum:

Finally, I found ice cream helmets (vanilla/chocolate twist) and reported back to Tim and Grandpa.  As always, Tim enjoyed his ice cream:

We were ready for the weather to be blisteringly hot and disgustingly humid on this entire Roadtrip.  In fact, we failed to pack anything for the possibility of cold weather.  But the ice cream made Tim chilly.  He had to bundle up in my Mariners jersey…

…and snuggle with Grandpa for heat:

Meanwhile, I were still trying to figure out to come away from this game with a baseball.  I exchanged a bunch of texts with Ben “Benny Bang Bany” Weil, who in turn exchanged some texts with Mateo Fischer, and the word came back that  this tunnel…

…just past the third base dugout was the umpires’ tunnel.  So I surveyed it with my zoom lens and made our plan.

Meanwhile, the Giants tacked on a couple more runs to take the score to 3-0 Giants.  In the fifth inning, Nate Schierholtz scored from third on a wild pitch by Javier Vazquez.  And in the sixth, Cody Ross scored on a double by Aubrey Huff.  That was all the scoring for the night.

Mike Stanton was playing RF for the Marlins in front of us:

He has had some great games for me and Tim.  But he went 0-3 at this game.

From our seats, we had a nice view of the Marlins bullpen:

I thought the bullpen set up was pretty odd at Sun Life Stadium.  It is not that unusual for the bullpens to be located down the base lines.  But at Sun Life Stadium, the Marlins bullpen and the Marlins dugout are both on the first base line and the visitors’ bullpen and dugout are both on the third base line.  That’s odd because usually a baseline bullpen is located on the opposite baseline from the dugout so the manager can see his relievers warming up in the pen.

Tim found various ways to make wearing his dad’s jersey more fun:

The fans tried to get the wave going at one point.  So Tim decided that he and I should do our own wave:

In the eighth inning, Tim and I started to slowly make our way over toward the umpires’ tunnel.  First, we stopped in section 134 to take this panorama from just behind a big advertisement that blocks the view of numerous entire rows of seats behind “the Beach” area behind the Marlins bullpen:

Then we swung around to section 138 and got checked out the bullpen…

…and the beach:

And here is a panorama from section 138:

Two seconds after taking that panorama, a police officer in the Marlins bullpen told us we had to stay at least five rows back in the seats, which did not make much sense, but oh, well.

We headed up to the concourse and circled around to section 156 where the umpire tunnel is located.  The umpire tunnel is surrounded by blue seats.  The Marlins station ushers at the top of the blue seats and won’t let anyone down into them without a blue seat ticket.  So we found aisle seats in the orange seats just behind the blue seats.  Here was our view from section 156:

The umpire baseball attempt was going to be tricky.  There were two rows of people at the OF end of the tunnel, and one row of people at the infield side of the tunnel.  It seemed like our best bet would be to go directly above the tunnel, but that would mean home plate umpire Ron Kulpa would have to spot us long before
getting to the covered tunnel and make a lot toss over the tunnel to us.

But there was some more game to watch first.

Our new seats were just behind Greg Dobbs…

…and we had an excellent view of the action when Aaron Rowand grounded to Dobbs, and Dobbs threw him out at first.

My Dad was still lounging out in RF:

The Giants brought in Brian Wilson to close out the game:

I’ll tell you, I am officially sick and tired of hearing about his beard.  Can someone else win the World Series already so we can all forget that Brian Wilson has a big beard?

Anyway, Wilson and his beard did their job.  The Giants won 3-0.

After the game, Ron Kulpa did not hear us and did not give away a single umpire baseball.  We headed over to the Giants dugout for the relievers to make their way in to the dugout.  But , to our surprise, they never came.  They apparently have their own tunnel to the club house.  So the only person we saw at the dugout after
the initial victory high-fives was Jeff Keppinger as he was interviewed post-game.

Soon, my Dad found us and a Giants fan took our picture with a grumpy looking usher behind us:

On our way out of the stadium, we discovered there was a full batting cage with rotating arm pitching machine in the concourse behind the first base dugout:

So the first game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip was in the books.  A 7 inning shutout win by Tim Lincecum and the Giants.  With our final game at Sun Life Stadium being the next day at 1:10 p.m. and still sitting on zero baseballs at Sun Life Stadium, we left this game unsure whether we would ever
be able to say we got a ball at Sun Life Stadium.  If not, Sun Life would join Shea Stadium, old Yankee Stadium, and Chase Field as the only stadiums Tim has visited and not got at least one baseball.  We’ll visit Chase Field again, but Sun Life Stadium was in jeopardy of joining Shea Stadium and old Yankee Stadium on the never-gonna-happen list.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
20/3 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]
15 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 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, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U of Miam); 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.

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) 

I-95 Day/Night Doubleheader (9/6/10)

At some point during the 2009 season, I got in my head that I really wanted Tim and I to attend a doubleheader.  But not a traditional doubleheader.  September 6, 2010 was finally the day.

I made sure we had all of our tickets in my backpack in the morning:

1 - two tickets.JPGIt would be a two city day/night doubleheader.  At 1:05 p.m., we would meet Washington, D.C.’s newest resident, my cousin Nathan, at Nationals Park for a game between the Mets and the Nationals.  Then, we would drive up I-95 to Philadelphia where we would see the Marlins take on he Phillies at 7:05 p.m.

We made it to Nationals Park with no troubles…

2 - first stop nationals park.JPG…and we were ready for a big day of baseball.

We made it in plenty of time for BP.  We decided to head over to RF where we could hang out in the shade, right in the corner spot above the Nationals bullpen.

3 - Nats BP.JPGAfter about 10 minutes, Livan Hernandez tossed us a baseball from a good way out into the RF grass.  After trying like crazy over the last month, I was finally able to get a picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt

4 - Livan Hernandez toss up.jpg…of a player throwing us a baseball with the ball in mid-air.  Its a hard picture to get and it helped that Hernandez was so far out into the OF.

Thanks, Livan!

Tim posed with his prize…

5 - Thanks Livan.JPG…and then he left the seats and headed over to the kids play area:

6 - play time.JPGWe hung out in or by the play area for about 15-20 minutes until my cousin, Nathan, arrived at the ballpark.

Nate just moved to D.C. and had never been to Nationals Park yet.  So, we toured around the stadium a bit.  We did a lap around the field level concourse and then headed up to the upper deck in LF where you can see the US Capitol building.

While up in LF, I got a picture of Tim and Nate:

7 - Tim and Nathan.JPGThen we walked around the upper deck concourse toward RF where there is a nice view of the Anacostia River.  Tim enjoys watching boats, you know.

After a bit more playing in the play area, we reported to our seats in the front row of section 141.  This was our view of the field:

8 - Nats Park section 141 row A seat 18 panorama.jpgI was surprised to find Nyjer Morgan playing CF…

9 - Nyger Morgan pending appeal of suspensions.JPG…and hitting lead off for the Nationals.  He’d just received two separate suspensions of 7 or 8 games each for various altercations.  But he’d appealed both suspensions and was in the line up.  He managed to behave himself all day for us.

Jordan Zimmerman started for the Nationals and gave up two unearned runs in the top of the first thanks to an error by SS Danny Espinosa.

With big Adam Dunn on base, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez couldn’t even the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the second…

10 - Ivan Rodriguez  Nats 2nd out in 2nd inning.JPG…instead, he flew out to Mets centerfielder Angel Pagan…as did his teammates, Roger Bernadina and Willie Harris.

It was sunny and hot all day in D.C.  It was like the sun was right on top of us.  Tim’s not a fan of the sun, but he made the best of it:

11 - tim happily endures the sun for now.JPGSpeaking of Willie Harris, he was playing RF for the Nats.  Leading off the top of the third inning, Mets right fielder Chris Carter hit a ball to the wall dierctly in front of our seats.  Harris came racing over at full speed.  He thought he had a play on the ball.  I stood up and leaned out as far as I could over the out-of-town scoreboard, but it was impossible to see the play directly below us.

After Willie raced out of our view, we heard a low *thud* and, all of a sudden, I saw a glove come flying into view and land half way across the warning track.

Harris had crashed into the unforgiving wall at full speed — interestingly, this same exact thing happened the last time we had front row seats in RF, but Jose Bautista made that catch — and Harris was hurting bad.  I was quick with the camera:

12 - Willie Harris meets the wall.JPGAfter Nyjer Morgan helped him to his feet, Harris walked out into the grass and fell down to his knees again.  Former Mariners manager and current Nats Manager, Jim Riggleman ran out to RF, as did the Nats trainer.  And the result was that former Mariner Mike Morse came in to replace Harris in RF.

We were having a good old time in our front row seats:

13 - Tim and Nathan.JPGWe spent a lot of time spitting sunflower seeds over the wall and onto the warning track, which Tim thought was great fun.

One of those FanFotos people came by to take our picture, and I got her to take our picture again with my camera…

14 - 3 dudes at Nats Park.JPG…Tim loves to NOT smile for those FanFotos people.

Eventually, the sun became too much for us.  So we headed for some shady seats in the RF foul corner.  That’s where we were when Teddy Roosevelt did not win the Presidents’ race…

15 - Teddy Loses Again.JPG…which we watched while Tim and Nathan enjoyed ice cream helmets…

16 - shady ice cream seats in section 136.JPG…Nate mentioned that it might have been his first ice cream helmet ever.

I took this panorama from our ice cream seats toward the back of section 136:

17 - nats park secton 136 ice cream seats panorama.jpgGoing into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mets were up 3-1.  But they were about to start giving up a whole bunch of runs.

After Ryan Zimmerman grounded out, Mike Pelfrey walked Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina.  Ivan Rodriguez then hit a looping line drive to Chris Carter in RF.  I’m pretty sure that I would have caught the ball.  But Carter came in and then couldn’t get back in time and the ball went over his head and all the way to the wall.  Dunn and Bernadina both scored and Rodriguez ended up on third, with a double advancing on the throw.

It was an incredibly sloppy play and this picture shows the Mets moping as they returned to their respective positions:

18 - Ivan Rodriguez 2RBI double in 4th 9-6-10.JPGThe Nats would score three more runs in the fourth before Adam Dunn…

19 - Adam Dunn.JPG…recorded the third out of the inning in his second at bat of the inning.  The damage was done.  The Nats led 6-3, and that was all that it would take.

After Tim and Nate finished their ice cream, we noticed that Abe Lincoln was in the concourse.  We raced after him and got this picture:

20 - Tim Nate and Honest Abe.JPGThen we took some seats in a shady spot just behind first base.  It was the sixth inning.  After watching this low pitch…

21 - Pudge in the 6th.JPG…Ivan Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly for the first run of the inning.  Four batters later, Danny Espinosa hit a grand slam.  That made the score 12-3 Nationals.

We relocated back to a shady spot in RF:

22 - shady RF seats to end the game.JPGI was starting to get nervous.  This game was taking forever.  I was hoping the game would conclude by 4pm because its a good 2-and-a-half hour drive from D.C. to Philadelphia.  It was 3:45 and it was still the 7th inning.

I told Nathan that we’d have to leave by 4:10.  It was disappointing, but I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and arrive extremely late to the Philadelphia game.

But then something amazing happened.  The entire 8th inning (from first pitch in the top of the inning to third out in the bottom of the inning) took about 8 minutes.  The top of the 8th literally took 2 minutes and only 6 pitches from Scott Olson: ground out 4-3, ground out 6-3, ground out 6-3.  The bottom of the 8th was almost as quick, but it included a double by Danny Espinosa (who went 4-5 with 6 RBI and 2 runs scored).

We ended up staying until the final out (luckily there was no bottom of the 9th).

And then we said our good-byes to Nathan and bolted to our car.

Luckily, the drive was a breeze.  Through Maryland, past Wilmington, Delaware…

23 - I-95 N Wilmington DE into PA.JPG…and into Pennsylvania.

As we approached Philadelphia, Tim and I discussed the fact that we were heading to the Phillies game.  Tim told me that after the Phillies game, we should drive around and find wherever the Mariners were playing and watch the Mariners game too.  Unfortunately, the Mariners had already played a day game in Oakland.  But I let the dream survive for a bit, I told Tim we’d try to see if we could track down the M’s after the Phillies game.

Twenty minutes before game time, we were in the parking lot at Citizens Bank Park…

24 - second stop philadelphia.JPG…and we were ready for some more baseball.

The Phillies were playing a double-header of their own.  Therefore, I highly doubt they even took BP before this game.  Whether they did or not, we didn’t see any BP in Philadelphia.

After entering the stadium, he headed down to the Phillies dugout…

25 -hello philadelphia.JPG…where we ended up seeing Mike Sweeney:

26 - Mike Sweeney.JPGI called out to Mike and when he turned around he was happy to see our Mariners jerseys.  We ended up chatting for a couple minutes.  I wished him good luck as he and his teammates push toward his first post-season appearance ever and I thanked him for all he did for the Mariners.

He was extremely cool and was very appreciative of our well-wishes and thanks you.

We pretty much hung out right there until the game was about to start, including during the national anthem:

27 - phillies anthem.jpgWe were there to see Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez walk into the dugout after doing his final pre-game stretching:

28 - Ibanez ready for game.JPGIt was game time, so we reported to our assigned seats in section 104, row 14, seats 4-5.  We really like these seats.  They provide a great view of the ballgame and an opportunity to catch a long ball if you’re lucky.  We were not.

In the first inning, I had my camera trained on controversial star, Hanley Ramirez…

29 - Roy Oswalt to Hanley Ramirez.JPG…but he provided no fireworks in this at-bat.

On the hill for the Phils was their newest Roy…

30 - more Oswalt.JPG…Roy Oswalt.  And in the bottom right of that picture?  Playing right field right in front of us was former Reading Phillies star, Domonic Brown:

31 - Dominic Brown former R-Phil.JPGBrown was one of the offensive stars of the night last season when we saw Pedro Martinez pitch a tune-up game for the R-Phils.

While the action played out behind him, Tim had fun with his fingers:

32 - fun with fingers.JPG“Take a picture of this!  Take a picture of this!”

In the top of the second inning, I found something else that was picture-worthy:  young slugger Mike Stanton:

33 - whiff before mega-bomb.JPGThis was a somewhat confusing at-bat…for both me and Stanton.  On this swing, Mike and I both thought he struck out.  You can faintly see the ball in “Chooch” Ruiz’s glove.  Stanton turned and marched back to the Marlin’s dugout.  I put my camera away and figured we’d catch some Stanton-based fireworks later in the game.

But it turns out that Ruiz dropped the ball.

Stanton marched back to the plate and crushed the longest homerun we’ve ever seen at Citizens Bank Park:

34 - second effort second deck by Mike Stanton.JPGIt was an absolute missle.  The green arrow shows where it landed.

Stanton was Brown’s counterpart in right field so we had a good few of him.  He’s a big guy:

35 - big mike stanton.JPGThe Stanton homerun put the Fish up 1-0.

But the Phils came roaring back in the bottom of the second inning.  The Phils scored their first run of the night on a bases loaded walk by Carlos Ruiz.

Two batters later, Shane Victorino hit an RBI single to RF, but Mike Stanton cut down Domonic Brown at home for the second out of the inning.

Palacido Polanco then followed with a 2-RBI ground rule double and Chase Utley drove in the final run of the inning with a single.

The Phillies’ 5-run second inning gave them a 5-1 lead, and it was our (Tim’s and my) third 5-run half inning of the day.

Hey, two games in a day suits us.  We were having a great time:

36 - TJC in Citz OF section 104.JPGWe sat in these seats earlier in the season and did a panorama, but it was a day game.  So how about a night time panorama from section 104:

36a - Citz section 104, row 14, seat 4 night panorama.jpgWith his team trailing 5-1 and with two outs in the inning, Hanley Ramirez had his second at-bat of the night in the top of the third inning, and this time he did his job…

37 - HR for Hanley Ramirez.JPG…this swing sent the ball into the first row in LCF.  Rookie Logan Morrison scored on Ramirez’s homerun and after 2-and-a-half innings, the Phillies led 5-3.

We decided to take a trip to the kids play area…

38 - second stadium second playset.JPG…both of the day’s stadiums feature excellent kids’ play areas.  The Phillies’ play area is a bit bigger and it has a TV for the dads (D.C. does not), however it is usually extremely packed.

After the play area, we visited the main entrance on the 3B side of the stadium where we had noticed a bunch of painted Phanatics on our way into the game.  Tim decided to get his picture with all twenty Phanatics, including these…

39 - four phantics and Tim.jpg….and these…

40 - Tim and four more phanatics.jpg…these ones too…

41 - Tim and still four more phanatics.jpg…and four more…

42 - even more phanatics and Tim.jpg….and of course these ones too:

43 - Tim and last four Phanatics.jpgIf forced to pick, I would say my favorite was the Ben Franklin Phanatic (first Phanatic in the second row of Phanatics pictures).

After the Phanatics, we stopped by our usual Philadelphia ice cream spot for a huge ice cream helmet:

IMG_0323.JPGTim doesn’t usually like sharing his ice cream helmet.  However, we made a deal, we shared a helmet at both games so at the end of the day we both essentially ate one helmet a piece.

Back in our seats, I got this “action” shot of Stanton manning RF…

44 - Stanton deeper than Brown.JPG…which makes it look like he was playing a bit deeper than Brown.

The Marlins tacked on their final run of the night on a 5th inning homerun by Cameron Maybin.  That made it a 1-run game until the Phils scored two more in the bottom of the inning.  After Polanco led off the inning with a triple, Chase Utley hit him in with a single to centerfield.   A couple batters later, Raul Ibanez hit a double to CF that scored the final run of the game.

Late in the game, we headed to the 3B side.  The original plan was to try to get down by the umpires’ tunnel to try to get a baseball from the homeplate umpire, but we ended up finding some seats in section 131, which is a section or two over from the umpires’ tunnel.  This was our view:

45 - Citz section 131 panorama.jpg

In that panorama, a Marlins rookie who we had never heard of was pitching.  His name was Jay Buente and he pitched the final two innings of the night for the Fish.

By the end of the game, we made it down to the third row:

46 - late innings good seats.JPGThe stadium was electric as Brad Lidge came in to go for the save…

47 - Lidge on for save.JPG…after striking out Wes Helms and popping out Mike Stanton, Emilio Bonifacio hit a single on a full-count.  But Lidge then struck out pinch-hitter Scott Cousins for the final out of the game.

The score board showed the final:

48 - Phils win.JPGWe hung out for a few minutes…

49 - Two guys two cities two games.JPG…in case a kind Marlin wanted to toss a baseball up to Tim.  No one did.  Amazingly, it was somehow the first game of the season that we haven’t collected at least one baseball to display on Tim’s dresser.

I mentioned to Tim, “Well, it looks like we won’t get a baseball at this game.”  Tim responded, “That’s okay, we got one this morning.”  That’s a good attitude.

And it was a great day:  morning, noon and night.

Speaking of night, we took a couple funny pictures in the parking lot before hopping in the car for the drive home…

50 - end of a great day.JPG….on the drive, I broke the bad news to Tim that I had found out that the Mariners had already played earlier in the day.  We wouldn’t be able to go find their game.  So we just headed home.

Amazingly, after this long day of baseball, Tim stayed awake almost all the way home.

Two games in two cities in one day was an awesome experience.  We were there for all 18 innings.  We’d definitely do it again. 

2010 Fan Stats:

24 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)

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

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

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)

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers