Results tagged ‘ Nationals Park ’

Observing Baseball With Mateo Fischer (7/20/2013)

On Saturday, July 20, 2013, Tim, Kellan and I hopped in the car and headed south to our nation’s capital to see the Nationals take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It was a hot one in DC.  Not as hot as the scorcher we attended in DC in July 2012, but it was toasty.  According to Baseball-Refernce.com, it was still 92 degrees at 7:05 when the game started!  It was even hotter at the beginning of BP.

I was sick of the $35 parking price for the lot right next to the ballpark.  So we ventured a few blocks away to a no frills gravel lot.  It wasn’t worth it.  Parking was still $25.  Too much!

We walked by some fountains on our way to the park:

We were hot and sweaty after our walk so we bought some cold waters and…

…jumped in the back of the long line.

In the morning, I bought the boys new cameras.  The plan was simply to get Tim a new camera because Kellan had broken Tim’s camera in June at the Toledo Mud Hens ballpark.  But as I was looking at the cameras, I found one that looked like a cellphone and it said it was water proof and could dropped 7 feet without breaking.  It just seemed to scream out, “Buy me for Kellan!”  So I did.

As we waited for the gates to open, the boys tested out their new cameras:

Once we made it into the ballpark, we headed to the corner spot in RF by the Nats bullpen.  It was pretty crowded.  This is what it looked like from the corner spot:

See that red line and the green arrow and “X”?  He hadn’t gotten any baseballs by 5:00 p.m.  And then someone on the Nats absolutely blistered a line drive to RF.  It was one of the hardest hit balls I’ve seen.  It seriously seemed like it was rising the entire time off the bat.

I’m not big at chasing batted balls because I need to stay right with the boys.  But this ball was just to our right about 10 feet.  As the ball approached the stands (and still seemed to be rising), I darted to our right and lunged behind the gals in the white hat and the tall guy in the red hat.  As I lunged with my glove (left) hand, my back turned completely to the field and I reached out with a backhand just passed the guy’s guy.  I thought the guy would catch the ball himself.  I lost sight of the ball as it screamed passed the guys noggin.  And then:

*WHACK!*

The ball slammed into the pocket of my glove.

I could hardly believe I caught.  I think it is the best catch I’ve ever made in the stands at a Major League game.  It was a lot of fun.

I walked back over to the boys with a grin on my face and showed them that I caught it.

Hooray for Daddy!

Very soon after making that catch, I scanned the crowd behind us and found a familiar face.  It was Washington’s and New York’s and Minneapolis’s own …

…Mateo Fischer.

We always have a great time with Mateo.  He’s just the right age to be an adult with me while still being a kid with Tim.  Tim loves everyone.  He’s about the most social person I’ve ever met.  And he loves hanging out with Mateo.

Tim pulled out his new camera and showed it to Mateo, and then he took this picture of (almost) all of us:

And then Kellan broke out his camera and snapped some pictures of Mateo:

While we were all hanging out with the boys taking pictures, Mateo and I watched as a Nats batter hit a foul ball into the seats down the RF foul line.  Most of the balls batted into the stands are quickly fetched by dutiful ushers.  But this one seemed to go unseen by the authorities.

When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, Mateo, the boys and I all scurried over to foul territory and I found the ball right where I thought it would be waiting for us.

Then we split away from Mateo – who I think headed back to the outfield.

Tim, Kellan and I headed over to the 3B foul line.  The Dodgers had taken the field and Tim wanted nothing more than to take tons of pictures on his new camera.  And so he did:

While Tim took photos, Kellan and I watched something rather unique happen on the field.  There were two Korean-American folks right behind us (a teenager and his mom).  They had a couple pearly white baseballs and they were on the lookout for Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.  When he wandered over to the LF corner, they called out to him in Korean and he briefly chatted back to them and put up a hand to signal, “Throw me the baseballs and I’ll sign them.”  This is what happened:

The mother-son combo tossed their two baseballs and a pen to Ryu.  Ryu grabbed them and walked back into fair territory to sign them.  As he walked toward fair territory, another guy behind the mother-son yelled something like, “Sign mine too!” and he tossed it onto the outfield grass.

And then baseballs rained down like a Midwest hail storm.  People from foul territory and homerun territory tossed 10-20 baseballs at Ryu.  He patiently signed them all.  But there was a problem.  Other than the mother-son, he had no clue whose baseballs he was signing.  He just started chucking balls back into the crowd after signing them.

There was a fairly annoying teenager right next to us who chucked a cheap-plasticy Nationals logo ball (one of the balls with fake dirt on it that is supposed to look game used) at Ryu.  His ball was the easiest to differentiate on the field because it wasn’t white.  When Ryu signed and tried to toss the kid’s ball to someone else in the crowd, the plasticy ball fell on the warning track.  The kid proceeded to have a near heart attack going crazy until he got his ball back.

See those three guys behind Ryu (but further out into LF) in the photo above?  One of them fielded a batted baseball while Ryu was signing and he rolled the ball into the signature pile.  It actually rolled to a stop right next to Ryu’s toe.  Knowing that it was *no one’s ball*, I called out to Ryu to see if he would toss it to us, but he randomly hurled it into the stands.

The whole autograph session (with the exception of the whining kid with the cheap ball) was hilarious and wildly entertaining.

Anyway, we decided to head over to the seats behind the Dodgers bullpen:

A couple homeruns got hit into the bullpen while we were back there, including one that was hit directly in line with us, but fell too short.

At one point, Dodgers coach (and former Mariner) Steve Yeager came into the bullpen and tossed one of the baseballs to the lady next to us.  I think they knew each other.  He stood below us and chatted with her for a bit.  During their chat, Yeager ended up tossing a baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Steve!

When we got home that night, I looked in my old pictures and made a neat picture:

That’s me and Steve Yeager (wearing No. 7 for the Mariners) in the Kingdome on photo day in 1986 and Tim and Steve Yeager (wearing No. 7 for the Dodgers) in 2013.

After BP, we headed to the kids play area in the CF concourse.  But, guess what?  It was closed…

…for excessive heat.  We asked an usher what was up with the play area and they said it was too hot that the hard plastic of the playing-contraption could burn the kids.

We decided to put the old switcheroo.  We headed to the upper deck for the dessert portion of the switcheroo.

Near home plate, there is an elevator that will take you up to the upper deck at Nationals Park.  We got smashed way in the back of an elevator full of catering stuff.  All of a sudden, it sounded like running water in the elevator…and then the back of my leg felt wet.  Oh no!

One of the bottles of water opened up in my backpack and 20 oz. of water poured straight through my backpack and onto the elevator floor.

That was less than ideal.

As they sometimes do, the boys made the decision to get dippin’ dots instead of ice cream helmets. They ate their frozen treats one of the blue picnic tables behind home plate:

In the top of the first, I got my first look (the boys had a limited view from the picnic table) at Yasiel Puig:

He grounded out harmlessly, but really busted it down the line trying to beat out the throw.

Soon, we met up with vegetarian sabrmetrician, Mateo Fischer, who was unfamiliar with this view…

…and, more understandably, these delicious Nationals Park chili nachos:

We crushed those nachos.  Tastiest nachos in MLB!

Here’s a fun view that I always enjoy from the LF upper deck at Nats Park:

While Mateo and I chatted and watched “Cranky” Zack Greinke…

…pitch to the Nats, the boys pulled out their cameras and had a professional-caliber photo session:

Eventually, we headed over toward our seats in section 417.  Our actual seats were in about row 6 or so, but it was pretty crowded around there.  So we headed up to the back row…

…where this was our view of Nationals Park:

And this was our view of Bryce Harper hitting a foul ball:

While the boys and I were taking tons of pictures, I noticed something that neither Mateo or I had ever noticed before:

Check out that little handicapped seating cross aisle at the front of the upper deck in RF foul territory.  That’s pretty cool.  We’ll have to check that out some day.

Kellan was taking tons of pictures while we were in the upper deck.  I managed to get this cute picture of him…

…during one of the brief moments he wasn’t holding up his camera taking pictures.

As usual, the Presidents’ race was thrilling…

…and it was won by the new guy, Mister President/Chief Justice William Howard “Bill” Taft, after he fooled the other Presidents into taking a detour into the stands – classic Presidential hijinks.

Here’s more Puig:

He went 0-5 on the day – very un-Puig’ish.

After spending a couple innings up in the upper deck, we decided to do some roaming round the stadium.  On our way out of the upper deck, an usher took a horribly blurry photo of us…

…, which is too bad because the coloring of the photo (particularly the sky) is pretty cool.

We headed down the ramp on the 1B side…

…and headed down to the 200-level where the boys and Mateo posed for a picture with a Thomas “Tom” Jefferson bobblehead:

We walked across the 200-level concourse all the way out to CF where it ends with a stairway leading down to the field level.  We were heading to the play area.  It was much cooler now.  No chance of kids burning their skin on the hard plastic toy.  But it was still closed.  I figured they probably told the employees charged with running the play area to head home for the day, so they had no one to run the play area once the temperature went down to an acceptable level.  Oh well.

By the way, the score was still zero-zero.  In fact, one two runs were scored during “regulation” – the Nationals scored 1 run in the bottom of the sixth and the Dodgers tied it up with their own run in the top of the seventh.

Anyway, we headed over to LF and loitered in the concourse for a bit behind Bryce Harper:

This was my view with Kellan lounging on my shoulders while resting his batting-glove clad hand on the bill of my hat:

We decided to head back up to the upper deck.  We trudged up the switch-back ramp in the LF foul corner.  We headed up to the same spot where we ate our nachos and Tim and Mateo grabbed a prime spot to watch the game…

…while I followed as Kellan ran up-and-down…

…and up-and-down (repeat, repeat, repeat) from the bottom of the top leg of the ramp and the table where Tim and Mateo were watching the game:

As I mentioned earlier, upper deck concourse in LF is pretty cool at Nationals Park.  We had a great view of the U.S. Capitol building:

Here are a couple of view of the game from up there:

And a panoramic view of Nationals Park from the same spot:

In the eighth inning, we decided to head down toward home plate and the umpire’s tunnel.  Before heading out, we asked a lady if she could take our picture and then began the longest three-picture photo session in the history of the world.

In the photo she took on Mateo’s cellphone, she cut off Kellan and stuck her finger in the shot.  For me, the lady held the camera noticeably crooked.  It was amazingly slow and awkward waiting for this lady to take two photos for me.  But, hey, she did the job:

As you can see, Tim had his camera ready for the lady to take more pictures.  But I had to shut him down.  We didn’t have another hour to wait for her to take one more picture.

Instead, we headed to the concourse behind the home plate end of the 3B dugout.  There is a camera platform right where we were standing waiting for a break in the action.  During a break in the action, the camera man called Tim up and let him run the camera:

The camera guy told Tim that his cameraman work would appear on the Los Angeles game broadcast.  So, all of you Angelinos, I hope you enjoyed Tim’s handiwork.

In the ninth inning, we grabbed some open seats with a great view of the action:

The game was still tied 1-1 after nine innings.  In the top of the tenth, Adrian Gonzalez led off with a double to CF.  Red hot Hanley Ramirez (batting a mere .390 at the time) followed with an RBI double to CF.  Ramirez advanced to 3B on a sacrifice bunt by Juan Uribe and he scored the third Dodger run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.  Despite two more Dodger hits in the inning, that was all the scoring for the Dodgers.

Kenley Jansen came in for Dodgers in the bottom of the tenth and shut the Nationals down with two strikeouts and a groundout to end the game.

Dodgers win 3-1.  Chris Withrow, who pitched the ninth inning for the Dodgers, earned the “W” (the first of his career).

After the game, Mateo and Tim both tried to get an umpire ball, but neither succeeded.  Kellan and I went to the dugout and were quickly joined by Tim and Mateo.  As the victorious Dodgers cleared the field, Kenley Jansen tossed a baseball to Tim.  We were all set to head to the gates when Jansen popped his head back over the top of the dugout and asked to trade baseballs with Tim.  Turns out he had given Tim the ball that recorded the final out of the game, thus earning Withrow his first career win.  Tim tossed Withrow’s “Win” ball back to Jansen and caught the replacement ball that Jansen tossed to him.

Thanks, Kenley!

Before heading to the gates, I took a group selfie (featuring a Monkey pose by Kellan):

We had a great time hanging out with Mateo, as we always do.  We walked part way to our car with Mateo because the route matched his walk to where he was going to catch a train (or a bus…some sort of public transportation).

The boys quickly fell to sleep once we got on the road…

…with Kellan still holding the baseball Jansen tossed to Tim.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

18 Games                                                     
18 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red   Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue   Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox
31 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies   (jumbo) 3, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2,   Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4
86 Baseballs – Mariners 11, Royals 4,   Phillies 14, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3,   Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2,   Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3
10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park,   Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre,   Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
32 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks,   Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson,   Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel,   Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”   Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy   Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith
10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English   & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan   Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez

The Nationals, Nationals Park, Shea Stadium, the Cooks & 2008 Converge On Citizens Bank Park (8/25/2012)

For months, we planned to visit Citi Field on August 25, 2012, for our only Astros game of the season.  It was going to be our best opportunity of the season to try to get our hands on one of the Astros 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs, we had already caught at least one of each of the other five 2012 regular-season commemorative baseballs.

A couple days beforehand, I bought our tickets on stubhub.  The night before, we were all set to head up to Citi Field.

And then I realized something: no one had bought the Phillies-Nationals tickets we had listed on stubhub!  Oye!

I put our Mets-Astros tickets back on stubhub, took a loss when they resold, but avoided the bigger loss that would have resulted from not selling or using the Phillies tickets.  And, just like that, we had a new plan for August 25, 2012:  Nationals-Phillies at Citizens Bank Park!

It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.

We arrived before the games opened.  While in line, we played a little catch, ate some snacks, and hung out with the Tishlers (center)…

…, Tami (mom), Harrison (son), and Seth (dad).

The Tishlers are a fun family that we have run into and spent some time with at several Phillies games this season.  Twelve-year-old Harrison is an up-and-comer on MyGameBalls.com, and Seth brings his glove and likes to get in on BP action as well.

Tim loves hanging out with older kids and he always has a blast hanging out with Harrison.  While waiting in line, Tim whipped out his camera and took a picture of himself and Harrison:

When the gates opened, Tim and I ran over to the LF seats and Kellan enjoyed the ride on my shoulders.  We’ve only ever got one “hit” baseball at Citizens Bank Park, a BP homerun at Kellan’s first Phillies game that bounced around in the seats before I grabbed it.

But almost right off the bat this happened:

Kellan and I were standing at the green dot (he was still on my shoulders).  Tim was standing just to my right, closer to the foul pole.  A Phillies batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  I turned around watched it hit off the first seat in about row 10 or so.  It ricocheted on a single bounce right to me.  I casually lifted my glove and caught it right in front of my head and Kellan watched on from above.

That was the first hit baseball that I have ever caught with Kellan on my shoulders.  I thought it was pretty cool, but Seth really thought it was great.  He was all smiles and quickly let me know that he thought it was awesome how casually I caught the ball with Kellan up there.

Before going on, I should point out the guy in the last picture who is standing closest to the camera wearing a dark Phillies shirt and his son in the front row (left of the green dot) wearing a Phillies jersey.  About 10 minutes after I took that picture, the guy approached me and asked if I had a blog.  He didn’t seem to know us by name, but he had read our blog and recognized us from our Mariners gear.  He was a nice guy.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name.  He introduced us to his son and several other family members.  I think he said that he has been to about 17 MLB stadiums.  The best thing about the interaction was how he asked who we were.  He asked me something like, “Are you the guy who takes his son all over to different MLB stadiums and takes tons of pictures of everything?”  While I don’t know if I am “the” guy, I definitely am “a guy” who does that.

The clouds started to sprinkle the tiniest little bit of rain.  So we headed over to the back of the one foul territory section that is open during the first hour of BP and took cover under the second deck seats.

Shortly after arriving there, a security guard came over and asked if it was the boys’ first Phillies game.  I pointed at Tim and said, “He’s been to lots of Phillies games,” and then pointing to Kellan, “and this is his second Phillies game.”

I didn’t see it yet.  But I had the strong feeling that the guy had a baseball and wanted to give it to a kid experiencing his first game.  We certainly do not meet that criteria and I didn’t want to pretend we did.  When he did, in fact, pull out a baseball, I practically tried to talk him out of giving it to us.  But he also didn’t seem like he wanted to make the effort to find another little kid who might be at his/her first game.  So he gave the baseball to Kellan:

(By the way, that is the same baseball in both pictures).  It was our 109 baseball of the season, setting a new Cook family single-season record.

Even though he didn’t get to make a true baseball rookie’s day like he had originally planned, I’m pretty sure he was happy with his decision to give the baseball to Kellan because Kellan gave him the cutest 2-year-old “Thaaaaaank you!” which gave the guy a chuckle and a huge smile.

Thanks, security guard guy!

Just before the security guard found us, I had opened a bag of cheesy rice cakes, which we refer to as “pirates.”  When the guy handed the baseball to Kellan, his fingers were already a cheesy mess.

Tim and Kellan kept throwing back the pirates like they were going out of style:

Normally, we head out to the pizza wedge when the rest of the stadium opens.  But we decided to head down the LF line to watch the Nationals pitchers warm up because we had heard recently that they were using old commemorative baseballs (Shea Stadium and Nationals Park) from 2008.

Just before the rest of the stadium opened, three of the Nats coaches were hanging out down the LF line, with one of them sitting in the seats:

When we got down there, Tim and Kellan got the most hilarious picture ever with Steve McCatty, the only one coach who was still down there.

We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…

…and it appeared that none of them were using commemorative baseballs.

The highlight (or maybe lowlight?) of our time over on the foul line was that someone hit a foul ball in our direction.  It was going to land several rows below us.  The Tishlers were right there, but they were focused on the Nats pitchers.

I screamed, “HEEEEEEEEADDDDS UPPPPPPPP!!!!!”

It didn’t help.

The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.

Once the Nats pitchers began to disburse, the boys and I relocated to the pizza wedge.  Two Nats were hanging out in RCF.  One of them fielded a baseball near us and tossed it up to us…

…before walking back to our spot.  It was Tom Gorzelanny (T.G. in the picture above).

Thanks, Tom!

Now, the baseballs the pitchers were using along the LF line were from the pitchers baseball bag.  The baseball that Gorzelanny tossed to us was a batted ball from the BP bucket, and we were very happy to find it was 2008 Shea Stadium final season baseball!

Double thanks, Tom!

I was very happy for us to get one of the 2008 Shea Stadium baseballs because Tim and I went to a Phillies-Mets game during the final month of baseball at Shea Stadium.

I soon overheard someone mention that they had caught a 2008 Nationals Park inaugural season baseball.

Now remember “S.B.” in that picture above?  That’s Sean Burnett.  I had no clue who it was at the time.  But at one point, a nearby fan started chatting with him a little bit and I overheard the fan call him “Sean.”  The second he finished chatting with the fan and turned around to walk back to Gorzelanny, I called out, “Hey, Sean!”  When he turned around, I made a bold move, I asked Burnett if he came across a Nationals Park commemorative baseball during BP if he would toss it up to us.  Without hesitation, Burnett said, “Sure!”

A few minutes later, he caught a fly ball right by us and tossed up to us a beautiful 2008 Nationals Park commemorative baseball!

Thanks, Sean!

Look at these two beauties:

Before long, the Tishlers arrived on the scene.  I got a picture of Tim and Harrison in the tip of the pizza wedge, but Kellan wanted nothing to do with being in the picture:

Harrison had snagged a baseball or two, but no commemoratives.  He really wanted to get one of each of the 2008 commemoratives.  Before too long, someone tossed a Nats Park baseball to Harrison.

As BP progressed, a couple No. 1 overall picks made their way out to CF.  Bryce Harper was only out there for a short time…

…until he had to go take his hacks in the cage.

But Stephen Strasburg spent a bunch of time out there shagging fly balls:

When one of his teammates hit a baseball to the CF warning track, Strasburg ran over, fielded the ball and tossed it up to us.  It was another Nationals Park commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Stephen!

Now, I don’t really remember the timing of this hit.  But at some point during BP, one of the Nationals hit a homerun over the pizza wedge:

It hit the back wall of the Phillies’ bullpen, and rolled out in the grass between the bullpen mound and bullpen plates.  While still focusing on the field in hopes of getting a Shea Stadium baseball, Harrison also set his sights on the homerun baseball waiting in the bullpen.

Toward the end of BP, a Nationals batter hit a homerun directly to us.  We were in the first row of the pizza wedge (section 101).  Kellan was standing in front of me leaning on the railing and Tim was to my right.  The baseball sailed right over Kellan and into my waiting glove.

I turned it over to find that it was another Shea Stadium commemorative.  Tim immediately instructed me to, “Give it to Harrison!  He needs a Shea ball.”

But Harrison said he wanted to get one on his own.  I must admit, I was a bit relieved that Harrison didn’t want that baseball because it was the first BP homer I had ever caught on the fly at Citizens Bank Park.

So we turned our focus back to watching Harrison and hoping he would be able to snag a Shea Stadium baseball of his own.  While we watched, Tim demolished some more cheesy pirates:

Well, some of them, as you can see above, escaped Tim’s mouth and found their way onto the warning track.

Eventually, the Phils cleared the field and, a bit later, Roy Halladay and the bullpen coaching crew headed out to the bullpen:

As Phils bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo (an all-round nice guy by all accounts) walked across RF and approached the warning track by the bullpens, Harrison told Tiamo that there was a left-over BP ball in the bullpen and asked if Tiamo would toss it up to him.  In the picture above to the right, Tiamo is the guy in the middle (wearing No. 81).  He happily obliged Harrison’s request and that baseball ended up being the Shea Stadium commemorative that had evaded Harrison during BP.

I wanted to snap some pictures of Roy Halladay warming up before the boys and I departed the pizza wedge for the play area.   But he took his sweet time getting ready to throw.  After visiting the bullpen mound to grab a baseball from the bag, (shown above), Halladay headed out into CF where he and Erik Kratz (who I had never heard of before at the time) did some stretching while lying on the ground:

Although we are a Rawlings family, I liked the look of Halladay’s Nike glove.  But doesn’t that just seem weird?  A Nike glove?  I am all about Nike shoes, but I am going to keep my Nikes on my feet and continue to let Rawlings outfit my glove hand (and Tim’s and Kellan’s too).

Roy then slowly made his way to the little boys room in the bullpen (and the following shot also includes a better shot of Tiamo):

And then he did a bunch of stretching against the CF wall…

…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:

We decided it was time for a little gaming.  Last season, the Phils had a speed pitch, a trivia game, and a running the bases (in place) game.  This season, Chickie’s and Pete’s has taken over the speed pitch area and only the trivia and base running games are left.  But Tim has fun with both of them:

The trivia game asks all Phillies trivia.  Tim knows none of the answers and I know very few.  But sometimes we get lucky on them.  The base running game is pretty funny to watch.  Each time we did it, Kellan would run about 5-10 steps and then just stop to watch Tim run.

From there, we headed on to the nacho stand and then the kids play area.  Kellan hadn’t had any real lunch (just snacks) following his nap so I hoped he would eat nachos with me while Tim played in the play area.  That was silly.  He ate 2-3 cheesy chips, but all he wanted to do was play.

I released him first into the little kids portion of the play area:

But he really wanted to go into the big kids play area.  I thought it was too big for him.  But Tim did some excellent big brothering.  He took Kellan up into big playarea and showed him all around.  It was really cute.  I could see Tim showing and explaining stuff to Kellan up there.  They posed for a picture together in one of the spheres:

And they even climbed all the way to the very top so they could ride the big spiraling slide all the way to the bottom:

Kellan had a blast with his brother and the other big kids.  I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with Kellan going up there alone yet, but he did great with Tim.

The game started while we were walking to the playarea.  Halladay retired the Nationals in order in the top of the first and then Phillies scored two runs on RBI singles by Chase Utley and John Mayberry.

Finally, I decided it was time to head to the seats.  But one our way, we swung by the ice cream spot in the concourse behind 3B.  I always ask for a tray with our ice cream, but for some reason I failed to do so this time.  With an ice cream  helmet in each hand and Kellan on my shoulders, Tim and I began the long walk from the 3B side, around the scoreboard in LF, behind the batters’ eye, and to our seats in section 104 (RF).  It wasn’t overly hot at this game.  In fact, it was somewhat pleasant.  But that didn’t prevent both helmets from melting down and dropping all over my shoes on the walk.  It was pretty crazy, after the game, you could clearly tell that I had held Tim’s chocolate-vanilla twist in my right hand and Kellan’s vanilla helmet in my left hand.

I dropped the boys and the ice cream in our seats in row 14 and then quickly ran 20 feet over to the nearest concession stand to get trays for the boys to use to hold their helmets.  Finally, we were ready to eat ice cream…

…and watch some baseball:

That last picture is from the top of the fifth inning.  In that picture, Roy Halladay is pitching to Kurt Suzuki and Danny Espinosa is leading off first base.  Espinosa and Roger Bernadina had already both hit singles in the inning.

While Suzuki was hitting, Bernadina was over at second behind held closed by Chase Utley:

Suzuki singled to load the bases.  Gio Gonzalez failed to help his own cause.  He put the ball in play, but Bernadina was forced out at home plate.

But rookie Steve Lombardozzi came through for Gonzalez.  He hit a single to CF that scored Espinosa and Suzuki to tie the score at 2-2.  Bryce Harper grounded out to end the inning, but the damage was done.  Halladay’s lead was gone and we had a new ball game.

Just like old times in Philadelphia, look who was patrolling RF:

We didn’t stick around too long in our seats.  The boys needed some real food.  So we got out of there.  At our last Phils game, Tim and I got pizza and sat in the upper deck.  We decided to do that again.  But first we stopped by the RF councourse and played a few more games:

You get 1 or more stamps in a little book depending on how well you do in each game.  The more stamps you collect the better prize you can get when you cash in your stamps.  Tim collected 10 stamps which were good enough for a Citizens Bank Park pencil and this weird “water bottle”:

It was much more “bag” than it was “bottle” but Tim loves it.  We filled it up and headed up to the upper deck in search of pizza.

We got a picture of the boys and the Liberty Pig:

Finally, we grabbed some pizza…

…and found some seats in section 424:

The Phils regained the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning when John Mayberry, Jr. hit a solo homerun to LF.  They tacked on an insurance run in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly, also hit by Mayberry.

During the late innings, the Phillie Phanatic pumped up the crowd from the top of the Phils’ first base dugout…

…and Kellan was super-excited about it:

As it got to the 8 inning, we decided to walk down to the field level concourse.  We were considering making an attempt at an umpire ball, which is always difficult at Citizens Bank Park, but we weren’t certain.  We figured we’d just go down and check out the situation first.

On our way out of section 424, we had an usher take our picture:

And then we started a long walk down the concourse to the RF corner and then back-and-forth down the switch-back ramps to the field level:

When we finally got down to the field level where the red line turns into a green line, I realized something.  When we sat down in section 424, I had set Tim’s new water bottle down on the ground behind our seats.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I had left it there.  We stopped and checked my backpack.  Nothing.

So we followed the green line (which is a magic line that shows through the seats) up a set up stairs and all the way back to section 424.

This whole walking process took so long that it was already the bottom of the ninth when we retrieved the water bottle.  We grabbed a standing room spot behind the 300-level seats to watch the final three outs of the game.  While Jonathan Papelbon warmed up for the Phils, Tim posed with his new missing tooth hole:

And then Paps got to work.  He struck out Jayson Werth and induced a fly ball out from Roger Bernadina.

The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:

But on this pitch  (the third pitch of the at bat)…

…, Papelbon struck out Espinosa to record the “W” for the Phillies.

Everyone celebrated:

It was a little weird seeing the final out from the upper deck.  That doesn’t happen too often for us.  Before we headed out of there, we had an usher take one more picture of the three of us…

…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.

Then we slowly made our way to our car.

All around, the whole day was a lot of fun.  I like the slightly less packed Citizens Bank Park of 2012.  Two thumbs up!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

21/19 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
33 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
113 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
11/11 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens   Bank Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Mariners Baseball In The U.S. Capital (6/21/2011)

When the 2011 season scheduled was released, I was extremely excited to see that the Mariners would be making their first trip to Nationals Park.  The downside was that the three game series was mid-week, with one game being a day game.  I really wanted our whole family to attend one of the games so both Kellan and Tim could see the Mariners in only their second trip to D.C.  But real life was not cooperating.

As the series approached, it was certain that we could not attend the second or third games the series because I would be on a brief business trip.  The first game looked like it was effectively out too.  But something happened during the day of the game that all of a sudden made the game possible.  It was such a late call, however, that Colleen (and therefore Kellan too) wasn’t prepared to make the trip down.  So around 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 2011, Tim and I hopped in the car hoping we could at least catch the tail end of BP.

And that is exactly what happened.  We walked in and saw literally two minutes of BP before the Mariners cleared the field.  In fact, it was so quick that we didn’t even get a single BP picture!

With the field empty, we headed into the infield to see if any Mariners were milling around over there.  They weren’t.

So, we hung out down the 3B line and watched the field for a bit.  After a while, the one and only Jason Phillips popped out of the dugout and headed out to the bullpen.  We said our hellos and how-you-doings as he passed by on his way to the bullpen.

Once his colleagues joined Jason out by the bullpen, we snapped this picture of Doug Fister and Chris Gimenez stretching out:

Soon, Adam Kennedy made an appearance down the 3B line:

Kennedy gave Tim a friendly wave, which is always cool to get from a Mariner.

Soon some more Mariners joined Kennedy, including Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley.  This was the first road game of Ackley’s career.  And when a guy in a Mariners fan called out his name and asked for an autograph, he came over…

…and signed for a few minutes.  We didn’t have a baseball yet so we didn’t ask for a signature.  And for some bizarre reason, I didn’t even think of asking Ackley if he would pose for a picture with Tim.  Man, I must have been off my game!

Anyway, before the game started, we headed out to the LF and sat behind the Mariners bullpen.  Actually, before sitting down, we peered down into the bullpen.  Bullpen coach Jaime
Navarro walked by just then, saw Tim, and motioned to us as if to say “hold on, stay right there.”  He then disappeared and reappeared with…

…this lovely Rawlings Official MLB baseball, which he tossed up to Tim.

Thanks, Jaime!

Okay.  It was game time and we were primed for our first Mariners win of the season.  This was only our second Mariners game of the year, and they lost the first game 2-1 to the Orioles in the 12th inning.  It was part of Brandon League’s stretch of losing 4 consecutive games.  Ouch.  So, we needed a win in a big way.

Things started out beautifully.  Tim’s favorite player, Ichiro spanked a single into LF:

Tim then told me to take a picture of Ichiro on first base.  So I did:

Ichiro then took second on a weak ground out by Brendan Ryan.  As Ichi stood on second, Tim told me to take a picture of Ichiro scoring.  And a few seconds later, Adam Kennedy singled
to CF and Ichiro scored:

FYI, Ichiro is directly behind Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in that picture.  His left leg is visible to the immediate right of Ramos.

Things were going great so far!

The Mariners scored a second run in the first inning when Dustin Ackley …

…singled to RF in this career debut road at-bat.

Doug Fister then came in and shut down the Nationals in the first.  In the process of Fister shutting down the Nats, I got this picture of Ichiro playing RF.

After one inning, the Mariners led 2-0.  We liked it.

We also liked this huge pile of chili nachos that we got before the top of the second inning:

Although it resulted in a nice action shot…

…Ichiro grounded out in the top of the second.  But the Mariners tacked on a third run in the third inning on a Dustin Ackley RBI ground out.  And this is what the scoreboard looked like after three innings:

Not only was the 3-0 score a happy sight, but it was nice to see “Seattle Washington” on the board as well.

Between innings, Screech rolled by on his lazy guy walking machine:

Between innings, we were also happy to find A.L. MVP candidate Larry Bernandez sitting nearby:

Larry Bernandez is an instant Mariners legend that hit the scene this scene.  Great to see him in the OF at this game.  Also, check out the cool 3D effect as Larry’s face matches up with his sign holder’s face!

During the bottom of the third inning, we needed to go on a water run.  As we strolled through the 3B side concourse after filling a bottle with water, Ian Desmond hit a deep fly ball that
Franklin Gutierrez caught to end the third inning.  We were in the concourse above the Mariners dugout, so we scurried down the stairs and nearly caught the ball after Guti flipped it about six rows deep into the crowd.

There were about 8 empty seats right where Guti flipped the ball, so we decided to sit down and give it one more shot at a third out ball.  But before we knew it, we ended up spending five innings sitting in those empty seats.

On this pitch, Franklin led off the top of the fourth with a solid single into CF:

Franklin then stole second and Chris Gimenez…

…, shown here with all-round good guy Greg Halman, struck out swinging.  That led to an 8-pitch at-bat by Mariners pitcher Doug Fister:

On the 8th pitch, Fister bounced a singled into RF and Gutierrez came around to score the fourth Mariners run of the game:

Ichiro and his classic pre-pitch pose…

…followed Fister, but grounded into an inning ending double play.

I don’t know what’s going on in this picture, but Tim looks hilarious:

See all the Mariners fans and people wearing baby blue behind us?  More on them later.

Fister was pitching lights out all night.  I was thinking he could pitch a complete game shut out:

In the top of the fourth inning, Adam Kennedy hit in yet another run.  At that point, the Mariners lead 5-0.  What a game!  We were having a great time!

In the middle innings, I shot a bunch of pictures of Tim in our seats.  Here are a couple of them:

And then I decided to take one with my cellphone to post on Twitter…

…and a couple minutes later the @Mariners replied: “What a handsome young man.”

Thanks, Mariners!

The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ian Desmond crossed the plate following a Roger Bernadina single.

On this swing, Ichiro led off the top of the sixth with his second hit of the night:

But he was stranded on base after stealing second base.

Inning-after-inning Justin Smoak tossed third-out-baseball-after-third-out-baseball to the same people:

I’m not sure if he was tossing them to the older gentleman under the red arrow or the younger girl under the red arrow.  Either way, it didn’t matter.  The younger guy under the yellow arrow leapt high in the air and intercepted three of the baseballs (and his dad intercepted another when the yellow-arrow-guy was out of the seats).

Over the course of several innings, I struck up a little conversation with the guy right behind me.  That whole row had super thick southern accents.  I asked the guy behind me how all of those folks became Mariners fans with such thick southern accents.  Turns out, they were Dustin Ackley’s friends and family visiting from North Carolina.

The three girls behind us looked like sisters and my understanding is that they are Ackley’s cousins.  The guy also pointed out Ackley’s father sitting nearby.  His mom and grandparents and a whole slew of other Ackley-people were sitting around us too.  And the Mariners knew it because they were trying like crazy to get a third-out ball to these guys.  One of the balls, in the bottom of the sixth inning, was a double-play ball started by Ackley.  But the Ackley-people got robbed by the guy in front of them every time, and they went home empty handed.

Aside from watching their quest to get a third-out ball, the most interesting thing about sitting by these folks is that they all called Ackley “Dusty” the whole time.  Here’s hoping that Dusty* has a long and stellar career as a Mariner.

Late in the game, Tim got a scrumptious ice cream helmet:

In the top of the ninth, Tim posed with Ichiro:

We were bursting with excitement for the Mariners win that was only three Nationals outs away in the bottom of the ninth.

As the Mariners were warming up for the bottom of the ninth, Tim and I slid into some seats right behind the 3B end of the Mariners dugout.  When Justin Smoak tossed the infield warm up ball in toward the dugout, it bounced off of the netting and back into the middle of the warning track.  But Michael Pineda hopped out of the dugout and grabbed the baseball.  I called out “Hey, Pineda!  Michael!”    He looked up, saw Tim and me above the dugout, and flipped the extremely dirty infield warm up ball to us:

Thanks, Michael!

It was the ninth and the end of a long day, but Tim was still choke full of silly faces:

As things got started in the ninth, King Felix looked our way and gave us a little nod:

A few drops of rain started to fall, and Tim laid back in his seat to track the rain on its way down to earth:

As for the game, even though it was not a save situation and Fister had thrown only 99 pitches and given up 3 hits, Brandon League game came in to attempt to finish out the game.   Jason Werth led off the inning and reached first on an error by Justin Smoak.  Then League walked Roger Bernadina.  Not a good way to start the ninth, but I felt okay with a four run lead.

Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a double play sending Werth to third with only one out to go in the game.  I was feeling good at this point.

And then I had a stupid, stupid idea.  League worked Jerry Hairston to a 2-strike count.  I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to take a picture of Hairston striking out to end the game for the Mariners win?”  I snapped this picture:

Ball 1.

Then I quickly started thinking that trying to take a picture of the final out of the game was a great way to jinx the Mariners.  But it was too late.  The jinx was on.

Harrison singled to center to score Werth (unearned run number 1 of the inning).  5-2 led Mariners.

Former Mariner Michael Morse then drilled a line drive off of Brandon League’s leg.  League had to leave the game:

No one had been warming up at all.  David Pauley had to jump up and head to the mound cold.  Even though he would get unlimited warm up pitches, it seems like pitchers who come in following an injury to the previous pitcher always struggle.  Pauley was no exception.

Danny Espinosa singled to RF scoring  Harriston (unearned run number 2 of the inning).

Wilson Ramos (who??) crushed a walk-off home run deep into the RCF seats (unearned runs 3, 4, and 5 of the inning).

Mariners lose.  We sat there stunned.  It was painful.  As I sat with my head hung in disbelief, the Mariners looked equally dumbfounded.  Most of the team just stood there for a minute.  Then Adam Kennedy slowly walked off of the field and his teammates started to follow him.

Such a great day of Mariners baseball turned so ugly at the end.

It had truly been a great evening at the ballpark with Tim…right up until the 26th out was recorded.  Aye, aye, aye…

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
14/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
43 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 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, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; 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]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Let’s Play Two, Again: Brewers at Nats (4/17/2011)

After starting out our 2011 season with an outstanding doubleheader in Baltimore (Tim’s first doubleheader), our second game was slated to be the Marlins at Phillies on Saturday, April 16, 2011.  Unfortunately, rain wiped out most of the games in the NE region of the United States that day, including our game in Philadelphia.

The Phillies rescheduled the game for June 15th, thus freeing us up to travel to the Nation’s capital on April 17, 2011 for our second consecutive single-admission doubleheader, featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.

The action was slated to start at 1:10 p.m.  I was confident there would be BP, so we arrived 2.5 hours early.  The Nats and Brewers did not disappoint.  There was full batting practice by both teams.

After a 30-second stop in the LF seats, we headed over to RCF – section 143 – which was practically empty.  A few minutes later, a Nationals batter hit a ball onto the warning track in deep CF.  Nationals bullpen coach came walking out toward CF with his fungo bat in hand…


1 - Thanks Jim Lett.JPG…I waived to get his attention, then pointed to the baseball on the warning track and then to Tim.  He nodded and started walking toward the ball.  He had a long walk.  At the same time, a groundskeeper behind the CF wall saw the ball and walked out to get it.  I yelled down toward him, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Luckily, he grabbed the ball and tossed it to Coach Lett.  Lett turned and, true to his nod, fired the baseball to my waiting Rawlings glove.

Thanks, Jim Lett!

By the way, it was one of the ultra-soft leather “Training” baseballs that the Nationals like to use for BP.

A few minutes later, we relocated to the seats next to the Nationals bullpen at section 139.  There was a group of Nats in RF.  They tossed a few baseballs to Nats fans.

Finally, this happened…


2 - Thanks Mystery Nat.JPG…an unidentified Nationals player wearing a firstbasemens glove sauntered back to the warning track to fetch a stray “Training” baseball and tossed it up to me an Tim.

Thanks, unidentified dude!

All the while, a 45′ish year old dad of two 10-12′ish year old boys was yucking it up in the first row of section 140 because his boys had been the recipients of several toss ups.  He was quite happy…until one of his boneheaded boys dropped his baseball down into the gap between the seats and the RF wall.  Doh!

The guy was perplexed.  What to do!?  The groundskeepers in the bullpen said they couldn’t do anything about it.  Even if they could, it would require accessing a gate and walking between the wall and the stands.  They had no reason to go out of their way to do it to help the dad of the newly baseball-less boy.

Tim and I were down in the first row looking at the boy’s  baseball.  Then we started watching the groundskeepers spray painting the pitching rubbers bright white…


3 - bullpen painting and gap climbing.JPG…I looked back toward my right and witnessed something absurd.  The Dad of the baseball-less boy climbed down into the gap – a good 10-15 feet down – and grabbed the dropped baseball, and another BP homer that found the gap.

As he was climbing up, I could see security running from multiple directions with rage-filled faces, ready to sink their verbal teeth into this apparently clueless dad.

I was amazed later to learn that they didn’t eject him from the stadium.  But they did remove him for the outfield seats for the remainder of BP.  The truly amazing thing was that the Dad was bold enough to yell at the security people (really just retired guys working as ushers) that he only did it because no one would go get his baseball.

UNSOLICITED ADVICE:  If you (or your kid) get a baseball, put it in your pocket or backpack.  If you don’t, and you eventually drop it into a 10-15 gap behind the outfield wall, DON’T CLIMB DOWN THERE TO GET IT!!!  Just live with your boneheaded move.

Next, we relocated to the middle of section 141 where this was our panoramic view of Nationals Park:


4 - Nationals Park section 141 panorama BP.JPGTim sat and munched on some crackers while I incompetently watched a BP homerun land two rows directly in front of me.  Had I climbed over even just one row of seats, it would have been an easy on-the-fly grab.  Oh, well.

When the Brewers came to bat, we relocated to the second deck in search of a Monster Prince Fielders Bomb.  I’m a fairly nervous father of an extremely-high-energy-low-attention-to-danger son.  So I told Tim he had to stand behind this glass barrier if he was going to stand in the front row:


5 - behind the glass.JPGHere was the view of Nationals Park from the third row in section 241:


6 - Nationals Park section 241 panorama BP.jpgFielder did, in fact, several (maybe 4) homeruns into the second deck.  One of them landed about 3 rows above me and bounced directly over my head (too high and out of reach) and back down onto the field.

That was the only one that was anywhere near us.  Another was 3 sections toward CF and I started to run for it before totally biting it trying to jump a row a seats.  Tim thought it was pretty comical.  He described it to his mommy by saying that my “neck hooked onto one row of seats and his feet hooked onto another row of seats and his body just hung in the air!”

At another point, a Brewers pitcher spotted us all alone in section 241 (literally no one within 100 feet of us) and fired a baseball to us. Well, he meant to throw it to us, but he launched it about 8 rows above us.  I didn’t even see it land.  I ran up a couple rows, walked row-to-row and could not find it anywhere.  Meanwhile, a 12′ish year old kid ran from two sections over.  He saw the ball, grabbed it and then laughed at me for missing out on the baseball clearly meant for me and Tim.  I went back over to Tim and he said, “That boy stole our baseball!!!”  It was pretty funny.  I explained to him that I couldn’t find it (it blended in was nudged under the back of a seat and blended in with the white pavement) and he had a right to grabbed it if he could find it.

Still, the next day, Tim told his mommy how the boy “stole our baseball.”  Yep, it was pretty funny.

Anyway, after Prince Fielder finished hitting, I told Tim we could go to the kids play area for a bit.  But first, we walked toward RF foul territory and got this picture with the Nationals Park sign in the background:


7 - Nationals Park Nationals Training Balls.JPGTim had loads of fun, as always, in the kids play area:


8 - Play area stuff.JPGIn addition to the normal play fort-thingy, the Nats put in an inflatable batting station.  And it was a really nice one with an excellent red plastic bat (that fit time perfectly).  It was a long line to bat and we made our way slowly to the front.  A little girl who had no clue how to hit was directly in front of Tim in line.  On her first swing, she completely missed the ball, and then took a ferocious backswing and unintentionally drilled a perfect line drive directly into Tim’s nose.

Tim was not pleased.

And he shed some big time water works.

Once he calmed down, he took it out on the whiffleball:

He was trying to hit a Popfly over the hitting station like he had done at Spring Training in Peoria.

As the game was set to start, we bought some expensive, but quite tasty, chili nachos (more just “meaty” nachos)…


9 - chili nachos in the sun.JPG…which, despite initially not wanting the “chili,” Tim loved.

We had seats in section 105, but we started the game in section 104.  Here was our panoramic view of Nationals Park from our temporary seats in section 104:


10 - Nationals Park section 104 panorama.jpgI was happy to have a former-Mariner…


11 - ex-Mariner Michael Morse.JPG…Michael Morse patrolling LF for the Nats.

After an inning or two, it started to fill up in LF so I figured we should go get some ice cream and return to our actual ticketed seats.

On the way to get ice cream, Tim managed to destroy this water fountain:


12 - busted water fountain.JPGActually, he was just filling his water bottle and it went haywire all on its own.

On the way back to our seats, Tim struck a pose with his fancy (and too expensive ($8) M&M’s vanilla ice cream helmet):


13 - open wide for MMs ice crea.JPGJust like last season when we saw the Brewers at Nationals, they did an elaborate Sausages vs. Presidents race…


14 - presidents vs sausages.JPG…ending in some serious sausage carnage and a Presidents (but not Teddy) win.

In our real seats in section 105, we sat next to a nice Nats fan who Tim chatted up like nobody’s business.  The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Casey McGehee in the first and pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fourth.  Faced with the deficit, the Nats fan put on a rally hat, which prompted Tim to do the same:


15 - rally cap.JPGSpeaking of our real seats, here was our view of Nationals Park from section 105, row M, seat 16:


16 - Nationals Park section 105 row M seat 16 panorama.jpgThe rally hats started to work.  In the bottom of the fourth, Mike Morse got the Nats on the board with an RBI single off of Gallardo.

Hard hitting Danny Espinosa followed in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-run homerun.  Here he about to score the fourth Nats run of the game:


17 - Danny Espinosa homerun trot.JPGAt this point, just for the heck of it, I snapped this picture of Tim:


18 - Tim in Nats section 105.JPGAs we approached DC by car, Tim saw a big battle ship in the Anacostia River
.  I knew you could see the ship from the concourse in RF foul territory.  Eventually, we decided to head over there to look at the ship.

On the way, we walked through the 200 level “Conference Center” concourse.  For some reason, we’d never been on this level before.  We got this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind section 203…


19 - Nationals Park section 203 panorama.jpg…and this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind-and-between sections 205 and 206:


20 - Nationals Park between section 205-206 panorama.jpgWhile we were on the 200-level, a bunch of mascots (on  hand for Screech’s birthday), did a little tug-o-war with some Nats field workers:  The workers and Screen won:


21 - mascots vs workers tugowar.JPGNote the bulldog in the middle of the rope on the mascots’ side.  That is Jake the Georgetown Hoya.  We’ll see him again.

Before leaving this spot, we got a nice picture of Adam LaRoche grounding out to Prince Fielder…


22 - Adam LaRoche groundout.JPG…and a shot of the “Conference Center” sign above the concourse behind section 205:


23 - Nationals Park Conference Center concourse.JPGNext, we decided to continue on toward RF to see the battle ship.  The only issue is that the suite level indoor concourse was in our way – and we couldn’t access it.  So we took an elevator up to the top deck.  Check out who was in our elevator:


24 - scary hoya jake.JPGIt was Jake the Hoya.  Tim charged into the elevator when it opened and was totally freaked out when he saw Jake standing there.  He was too scared to get a picture with Jake.  Even as we exited the elevator, he was hustling to get away from big, bad Jake.

On the final portion of our walk toward the RF concourse where we would be able to see the battleship, Ivan Rodriguez hit the 310th homerun of his Hall of Fame-to-be career.

That made the score 7-2 Nationals.

Finally, we made it to the spot – and there was the ship!


25 - battle ship.JPGTim was so happy to see the ship that he decided to spit seeds off of the top of the stadium.

Before heading down the concourse ramps, Tim pointed out the Capitol Building:


26 - Look its the Capitol.JPGOne level down, I took this interesting view of the field from the ramp:


27 - RF from access ramps.JPGWhen we reached the 200-level, we stopped to watch Rick Ankiel bat…


28 - Ankiel foul.JPG…and Prince Fielder field…


29 - Prince in the sun.JPG…before we continued on toward CF, and the kids play area.

Tim wanted to hit again.  But he was scared of a repeat nose-bashing.  So he hid behind me as we made our way through the line:


30 - hiding behind dad.JPGOnce he reached the front of the line, he put a hurtin’ on the ball:


31 - nothing but lasers.JPGBy the ninth inning, the Nats were winning 8-2.  We watched the ninth from half way down the aisle in section 118:


32 - Nationals Park section 118 panorama.jpgRBI basehits by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder were too little too late.  After this final homerun by Ian Desmond…


32a - Ian Desmond bomb.jpg…t
he Nationals won game one 8-4.

We hustled down toward the front of the section at the last out, but we were too late and missed out on getting a baseball from the home plate umpire.  So, we stood around, chatted with a fan from Seattle, and got our picture taken above the visitors’ dugout:


33 - catcher on shoulders.JPGAs we shuffled around in the fancy seats between games, I kept an eye open for discarded tickets on the ground.  I figured a lot of Nats “fans” wouldn’t be up for two games.  I was right.  We ended up finding 4 really nice tickets.

There was a 30 minute break between games.  Among the first Brewers to come out to warm up for game two was former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt:


34 - Yuni warming up.JPGI always liked Yuni.  I like him even more now that he toss us his warm up baseball:


35 - Thanks Yuni.JPGThanks, Yuni!

Before the second game started, we got a great picture of Tim and Teddy Roosevelt:


35a - Tim and Teddy.jpgWe spent most of the game in or around section 114.  One of the tickets we found was in section1 114, row L.  But we started the game toward the back of section 114.  Here was our view:


37 - Nationals Park section 114 top of section panorama.jpgWe moved up to a totally empty row L:


37a - section 114 row L.JPG…in time to get a great view of Yuniesky Betancourt’s RBI single in the fourth inning:


38 - Yuniesky Betancourt rbi single to CF.JPGThat tied the game 1-1.

We had an even better ticket than the section1 114, row L seat.  But I wanted to wait to make sure they were empty.

We decided to go to the kids play area one more time.  On the way to the play area, I took a picture of what would become “our” ticketed seats for the rest of the game:


39 - peeping our seats in section 112.JPGNice!

And Tim wanted a picture with the blossoming trees behind section 106:


40 - blossoms.JPGAfter some playing, we reported to our section new section.  I showed the usher our ticket for seat no. 3, but asked if it was okay if we sat in the empty seats in the middle of the section – I think it was no 25′ish. He told us it was no problem.

So, here is a picture of Tim standing in front of my seat:


41 - Tim in section 112 row A.JPGAnd here he is watching the game from his seats…


42 - tim hanging on railing.JPG…and waiting for a foul ball:


43 - ready for a foul.JPGOur seats were in an exclusive handicap accessible seating area.  It also had special access points where people like Teddy and Abe…


45 - section 112.JPG…would use to access the field.  They would come from a hallway running under the seats and then they would enter the field at a gate directly next to my seat:


46 - Tim and presidents running around section 112.JPGI was really hoping a foul ball would roll our way because I could easily reach over and scoop it directly off of the warning track.  But this Alex Cora foul was as close as we got to a foul:


46a - Alex Cora foul ball.jpgGame two was a good one.  It was tied 1-1 for a long time.  The decisive blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa hit a bases clearing 3-run triple to put the Nats up 4-1.  T he Nats would eventually win 5-1.

Toward the end of the game, Tim got on the (really) big screen for flashing some fancy dance moves:


47 - Tim dance party on Nats park screen.JPGWhen they put him up on the board, everyone in the two sections behind us gave him a big cheer.  It was really cool.  Later, he could be overheard telling people in our section how, “I was on TV dancing!”

We stayed in our seats until the end of the game.  When the final two people made their way in from the Brewers bullpen, we were still hanging out and Marcus Hanel rewarded us with this baseball:


49 - Tim fake catch on hanel baseball.JPGThanks, Marcus!

And that was it.  Our second doubleheader of the season was in the books.

Before heading out, we had a Nats employee take our picture:


48 - TJCtjc post game at Nats.JPGAs we headed to the exit and took a couple more panoramas on our way…section 107…


50 - Nationals Park section 107 concourse panorama.jpg…and section 105 under the lights:


51 - Nationals Park section 105 concourse post-night game panorama.jpgAs we hit the sidewalk, Tim had me take a picture of some cool looking, big silver baseballs hanging from the side of the stadium (or a parking garage attached to the stadium):


52 - big silver baseballs outside Nationals Park.JPGThat’s it.  Another long and excellent day of baseball for a father and son.  Next time, I fear we will only get to see ONE game!

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

4/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

4/0 Teams [Tim - Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals; Kellan - none]

2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)

9 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers)

2/0 Stadiums [Tim - Camden Yards, Nationals Park; Kellan - none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim - Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan - Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos* [Tim - Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan - Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim - Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan - Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

Nationals Park Panoramas

Nationals Park - Washington Nationals

(2008-present)

 

Nationals Park section 316:

DC Home Plate 3d Deck Panoramic View.jpg

Nationals Park section 101 (left) and section 102 (right):

1st field view LF panoramic.jpgNationals Park section 113 (left) and section 114 (right):

DC 3B paroramic view.jpgNationals Park bridge between section 221 (left) and section 223 (right):

DC 1st Base 2d Deck Panoramic view.jpgNationals Park between section 231 (left) and section 233 (right):

DC 2d Deck RF foul panoramic view.jpgNationals Park between section 242 (left) and 243 (right):

DC 2d Deck CF panoramic view.jpgNationals Park standing room area toward center behind section 143:

DC Field Level RCF Panoramic View.jpgNationals Park open area beyond CF fence (taken from kids play area):

CF area.jpgNationals Park from middle of “Red Loft” (after game):

DC Red Porch Panoramic View.jpgNationals Park section 301 (back row):

DC 3d Deck LF Foul Panoramic View.jpgNationals Park section 134.

DC 1B Field Level Panoramic View.jpgNationals Park section 138:

7 DC RF rain delay panoramic.jpgNationals Park section 201 (rain out of Randy Johnson’s scheduled 300th win game):

17 LF rain delay panoramic.jpgNationals Park section 117 (left) and section 118 (right):

25 -nats cubs dugout panaramic.jpgNationals Park from center field side of the “Red Loft” (during game):

24 - nats red porch panaramic.jpgNationals Park section 139 (handicap accessible seating behind back row):

15 - nats rf ice cream seasts panaramic.jpgNationals Park standing room area between section 143 and the batters’ eye:

9 - nats cf field panaramic.jpgNationals Park section 134 (handicapped accessible seating behind back row):

3 - nats 1B chxfries seats panaramic.jpg

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) 

Brewers at Natstown (4/18/10)

Without exception, Tim and I always have a great time when we go to a baseball game.  But whenever we drive to Camden Yards or Nationals Park, we pass a certain baseball/softball field on I-83 South, just a couple miles before Shrewsbury, PA, and I always look to see if a game is in progress.  If a game is being played, I just know the day is going to be special.

At 9:53 a.m. on April 18, 2010 it was “game on”…


1 - shrewsbury softball field.jpg…we were about to experience a near perfect day.  In fact, it would prove to be one of those “this is what life is all about” days.  A father, a son, a memorable interaction with a new hero of the game, a spot in the warm sun eating ice cream, our Nation’s capitol, a future hall of famer showing he’s still got it, a game full of memorable moments, and a lap around the bases.

It all unfolded at Nationals Park…

2 - brewers and nats in DC.jpg…and it featured the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.

We arrived early for BP.  As we entered the seats in RCF, Nationals coach Julian Martinez was about to toss a ball into the stands.  There was another father and son in the same section and as we walked down to the first row, the father (whose name I never got) pointed at us, and just like that Martinez redirected his attention and threw us a ball.

4 - W-Training Ball.jpgAs I held it in my hand, it felt weird.  Extra soft leather.  I later discovered it was our first ever “Official Training Ball.”

The D.C. Dad came over and said they’d already got a ball or two.  It was incredibly nice of him to give us the assist.  We ended up chatting for 10-15 minutes while we watched incredibly unimpressive BP by the Nats.  He and his boy (who seemed to be about 8-9) live in the area, but far enough out that they were staying in a hotel for a couple weekend games.  Two guys forging their own father-son memories.  It was great chatting with them and I can’t thank them enough for helping us get a ball.  We never know if we’ll be able to catch one at any given game.  So it was great to secure the souviner.  However, by the end of the day I felt a little bad that they gave up the ball for us, because we ended up having unprecedented luck.  Anyway, many, many, many thanks, D.C. Dad and D.C. son.  We hope you had a great weekend at the ballpark.

We split up after the Brewers started hitting.  They went to explore elsewhere and we stuck around to see if Prince Fielder would be able to find us with a moon shot.

Tim was having fun spitting seeds into the gap between the wall and the seats…

3 - BP and Hoffman.jpg…I was having fun watching all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman get in a little workout.

Then something funny happened.  The man with one of the weirdest batting stances around, Craig Counsell, hit a ball through the open fence in CF into a storage area.  And then someone else in the Brewers’ first BP rotation hit another ball into the storage area…

5 - CF storage area.jpg….in the picture above to the right, we were standing in the corner in the yellow circle.  Counsell’s ball went into that opening and against a spare BP screen against the wall (see the red arrow).  The second ball stopped right in the middle of the pavement behind the CF wall.

Within 2-3 minutes, a Nationals stadium attendant walked by and grabbed the second ball from the middle of the pavement and tossed it up to us.  And 2-3 minutes later, another guy did the same thing with the Counsell ball.  Both had sharpie marks across the “sweet spot”:  a black squiggle on the Counsell ball and a straight blue line on the second ball.

That was it.  Three balls with no effort was enough for one BP session.  So we took off, and got this picture of Tim (who is sporting his “Diego” gloves and a new Mariners backpack) on our way out of the seats:

6 - BP Backpack Time For Playarea.jpgIt was time to visit the play area:

7 - natstown playarea.jpgWe came back here about 4 times throughout the day.  The area was packed with kids.  Tim had an absolute blast.

After about 10 minutes, we left because D.C. Dad mentioned several Nats sign autographs at the dugouts before each Sunday game.  Tim seems to like collecting autographs since he asked Jeremy Accardo last season to “scribble on my baseball.”

On our way to the first base dugout, we walked slowly and watched the Brewers hit a little more.  An usher gave Tim a baseball that was hit into the seats.  Thanks to mygameballs.com, I knew that it was the 50th baseball that Tim and I have got together over the course of Tim’s first 56 MLB games.  (FYI, mygameballs.com says it was our 52nd ball, but that is only because I recorded two of my Kingdome balls from long before Tim was born — had to represent for the Kingdome).

Anyway, one of my goals this season is to try to get pictures with a player from as many different teams as possible.  So, after Scott Olsen signed Tim’s new “Official Practice Ball,” I snapped this picture…

8 - Scott Olsen.jpg…player picture number 1 on the season — Tim and an official Washington National (the aforementioned Scott Olsen).

Back to the play area.

After 10 minutes in the play area, Tim and I left to see if any Brewers were out and about with whom we might be able to get a picture.  BP was finished and they were preparing the field.  But one single player was on the field.  It was a Brewer and he was signing autographs by the 3B dugout.  We quickly made our way over from CF thinking all the while he would leave before we made it to the dugout.  But he didn’t.

At the time, I didn’t know who it was.  Tim handed his baseball up to him (the Brewers BP ball with the blue sharpie line on it) and asked for his autograph.  Turns out it was Jeff Suppan — I could actually read his autograph!

I’ll admit it.  I’ve never liked Jeff Suppan.  I had no basis.  He was just unimpressive to me.  I’ve known the name for years, but never had a good feeling about him.  But he was beyond cool to us.  He was outstanding.

Some players just grab your baseball when you ask for an autograph and don’t say a word (admittedly some fans just hand the ball over without saying anything), but not Suppan.  He greeted Tim’s inquiry with a warm, “Of course, I will, little guy.”  (Or something along those lines).

As he signed, I asked him if I could stand Tim up on the railing for a picture with Suppan.  In response, he focused on the standing on the railing part, not the posing for a picture part.  He said, “Its alright by me!”  Then, he leaned in for this GREAT picture:

9 - Jeff Suppan.jpgAnd he wasn’t done yet.  After the picture, he made a little small talk with Tim and then he stuck out his fist and said, “Hey, pound my fist!”  Tim looked confused and opted for giving him “five.”  Suppan replied, “Oh, no problem.  High five!”   Tim happily complied.

Its a total make over for Jeff Suppan in my mind.  He didn’t have to act like that and most players wouldn’t.  He went above-and-beyond the call of duty to give Tim a great experience.  Based on his outstanding treatment of Tim, he is now my favorite Brewer and I will be pulling for him from here on out (unless pitching against the Mariners, in which case I still hope he gets shelled).

THANK YOU, JEFF SUPPAN!  Very cool.  Awesome.  Outstanding!

Next, it was back to the play area.  More fun.

Then, Tim and I took a little tour of the upper deck down the 3B line…and I took an unruly amount of panoramas.  Here we go…

Nationals Park section 401 (last row):

10 - nats section 401 panorama.jpgHere is Tim, acting as tour guide:

11 - walking the upperdeck.jpgNationals Park sections 402-403 (last row):

12 - nats section 402-403 panorama.jpgNationals Park sections 403-404 (last row):

13 - nats section 403-404 panorama.jpgNationals Park sections 404-405 (last row):

14 - nats section 404-405 panorama.jpgNationals Park sections 405-406 (last row):

15 - nats section 405-406 panorama.jpgNationals Park sections 406-407 (last row).

16 - nats section 406-407 panorama.jpgNationals Park sections 407-408 (last row):

17 - nats section 407-408 panorama.jpgNationals Park sections 408-409 (last row):

18 - nats section 408-409 panorama.jpgNationals Park section 409 (last row):

19 - nats section 409 panorama.jpgNationals Park section 311 (concourse): — if you click to enlarge this picture you can see the U.S. Capitol building behind the light stand above the red roof in LF:

20 - nats section 311 panorama.jpgNationals Park sections 313-314 (concourse) — now the U.S. Capitol building is above the right side of the red roof in LF:

21 - nats section 313-314 panorama.jpgTim presides over Nationals Park at sections 318-319:

22 - nats section 318-319 panorama.jpgFinally, we grabbed some nachos for lunch and sat down here — Nationals Park section 222U, row T, seats 25-26 (aisle seats):

23 - nats section 222U row T seats 25-26.jpgThats where we were when the game began.  And it got interesting real quick.  What happened in the top of the first also happened in the bottom of the second at our Pirates vs. Cubs game last season and I did a play by play.  So lets do it again:

Jason Marquis made the start for the Nationals

  1. Rickie Weeks – single to 3B/SS
  2. Craig Counsell – single to CF
  3. Ryan Braun – single to LF (on the swing pictured below); Weeks scores (1-0)

24 - braun rbi hit.jpgNachos done and with it cold and windy in section 222U, we took to our feet as Prince Fielder stepped into the batters box.  I snapped this shot as we passed by section 231:

25 - nats section 231 panorama.jpg

4.  Prince Fielder – hit by pitch (to load the bases)

5.  Casey McGehee – walk (it looked like it hit him, but it was ball four); Counsell scores (2-0)

6.  Jim Edmonds – hit by pitch; Braun scores (3-0)

7.  Greg Zuan – single to LF; Fielder scores (4-0) – still no outs!

28 - sticky situation in first.jpg

Former Mariner Miguel Batista relieved Marquis (whose ERA on the day was infinity).

8.  Carlos Gomez – infield single to 3B (looked like an error to me); McGehee scores (5-0)

9.  Doug Davis – sacrifice fly to CF; Edmonds scores (6-0) — the crowd goes crazy for the first out

10.  Rickie Weeks – walk (re-loads bases)

11.  Craig Counsell – grand slam; Zaun, Gomez, Weeks and Counsell score (10-0)

12.  Ryan Braun – swinging strike out

13.  Prince Fielder – walk

14.  Casey McGehee – ground out to 2B — inning ended, damage done.

 

29 - 1 out 10 in.jpg

There you go, two season in a row now we have witnessed a 10-run half-inning.

By the way, we watched most of the inning from here — Nationals Park section 239 (concourse behind last row):

26 - nats section 239 panorama.jpgI took a ton of pictures at this game — over 300, in fact — including tons of action shots.

Here are a couple of Prince Fielder, who refused to go yard for us:

27 - prince fielder hitting.jpg

After the top of the 1st, we went back to the play area, where I reported to the dismayed stadium attendants that the score was 10-0 Brewers already.  It was our final stop at the play area.  Once again, fun times ensued.

Then it was back to the second deck in CF, where I got these action shots of Adam Dunn grounding out to Prince Fielder in the bottom of the third:

30 - dunn done.jpgHere was the view from CF — Nationals Park section 242 (handicap accessible seating area):

31 - nats section 242 panorama.jpgWhile we were out there, future hall of famer, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, hit a double off of the wall in LCF (I thought Braun was going to catch it):

32 - pudge doubles.jpg

It was extremely windy at certain spots in the ballpark and it was fairly cold in the shade.  But Tim still asked for an ice cream helmet.  I knew we’d need to find some sunny ice cream seats…

33 - ice cream in the sun.jpg…we found them in section 134.  Tim enjoyed his real ice cream mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet.  (NOTE – in a possibly unprecedented move, the Nationals are charging $2.00 for hot fudge topping this season.  Not cool.).

Here is the view from the seats in which we sat until the 9th inning — Nationals Park section 134:

34 - nats section 134 panorama.jpgI took some random action shots.  Here is one that I liked featuring winning pitcher, Claudio Vargas, Prince Fielder at first, and baserunner Josh Willingham:

35 - vargas fielder willingham.jpgIn the bottom of the seventh, Ian Desmond (I think) hit a ball to center fielder Carlos Gomez, who made a valiant effort…

36 - no catch.jpg…but couldn’t come up with it — he trapped it.

Tim usually likes to roam around a lot when its just the two of us, but he was very content to just hang out in these sunny seats and watch the game…

37 - watching baseball.jpg…okay, he played around and acted a fool a little bit too.

In the top of the sixth, Fielder still refused to hit a bomb for us.  Instead, he popped out to Ryan Zimmerman at 3B:

38 - prince to zimmerman in the 6th.jpg

Late in the game, it was time for the Presidents to race.  I was excited to see if Teddy Roosevelt could finally notch his first victory.  But when the CF fence opened, some make-shift Milkaukee sausages came racing out along the warning track instead of the Presidents…

39 - teddy forks some sausage.jpg…then three of the Presidents (but not Teddy) came racing out from CF too.  Teddy was waiting down the 1B foul line with a couple big forks.  He skewered the first three sausages and then body slammed the Chorizo.  Amongst the carnage, the other Presidents raced by to beat the sausages.

In the ninth, we decided to relocate to the 3B line to see if we could get an umpire ball after the game — something we tried for once at Nationals Park last season but were denied.

First, we walked by the Nationals bullpen.  A reliever was warming up.  Nats bullpen coach, Jim Lett, looked up and spotted us.  He motioned to us.   And then fired a ball up to us, we never even asked for it.  And just like that, we had our fifth ball of the day.  Once last season we got 4 from the Mariners in Toronto, but this fifth baseball was totally unprecedented territory for us

Thanks, Mr. Lett!

So, we headed over to the 3B side.  We grabbed some seats.  This was our view from the top of section 117:

40 - nats section 117 panorama.jpgI snapped this picture.  It looks like Rickie Weeks whiffing at a pitch.  In reality, its future hall of famer Ivan Rodriguez catching a Rickie Weeks whiff:

41 - weeks whiffin HOFer  catchin.jpgBefore eventually striking out, Rickie connected for this harmless foul ball to RF — harmless only because Christian Guzman couldn’t quite get there:

42 - harmless foul in 9th.jpgAs you can see in the bottom right of that last picture, there were a bunch of kids at the end of the dugout where the umpire leaves the field.  I decided not to try for an umpire ball.

Instead, I took this shot of Adam Dunn hitting a single in the bottom of the ninth:

43 - bottom 9 dunn singles.jpgThen a cameraman set his sights on a group of girls a couple seats over from us, so Tim went and danced behind them and I got this picture…

44 - nats scoreboard background.jpg…I missed the shot of Tim looking at the camera waving.

After the dancing, we saw some of those kids leave.  So we headed down to about the 10th row.  As I sat down, Tim said, “Closer!  Closer!”  He ran down to the first row where one guy was in the corner seat but the other three seats were empty.

Tim made this “silly face” (that’s what he called it) in this picture that shows how ridiculously good these seats are:

45 - first row ho hum silly face.jpgMore Pudge pictures:

46 - no dice for pudge.jpg…he eventually grounded out to end the game.

47 - brewers win.jpgBREWERS WIN!

And guess who home plate umpire Mike Everitt threw a ball to as he approached the umpire tunnel?   Were we in the twilight zone?  We had amassed six baseballs!

The strangness wasn’t over just yet.  It was time for Kids Run the Bases.  As we watched the Brewers celebrate their win, the stadium emptied in record speed.  Meanwhile, Todd Coffey started playing long toss with LaTroy Hawkins in LF-to-CF.  How often does that happen after a game?  Anyway, we had to head out to CF to exit the stadium and get in the Kids Run The Bases line.  As we passed through the LF seats, there was literally NO ONE around.  It was weird because the game had just ended 5-10 minutes earlier.

Anyway, Coffey and Hawkins finished up.  Hawkins looked up.  He fired his ball to us and over shot us be 7 rows.  As it rifled over our heads, I thought “Oh, well.  We have six baseballs!  Someone else will grab that one.”  I turned around, zero people in sight.  Ball rattles around and deflects back to the first row.  We walk over and pick it up.  Seven baseballs!

Hawkins yells, “Sorry!”  No problem, LaTroy. 

Thanks!

What a weird day.  We made almost no effort and walked out of Nationals Park with seven baseballs.  A new Cook & Son record.

Then it was time!  Kids Run the Bases.  We love it.

48 - tim on nats bases 2010.jpgTim sprinted as fast as he could.  He loved it.

We got a couple more pictures on our way out of the stadium…

49 - one last nats picture.jpg…and, what the heck, one more panorama (section 110)…

50 - nats section 110 panorama.jpg

…what a day.  We had so much fun its ridiculous.  We even had fun on the walk to the car.

A couple minutes later, Tim was fast asleep.

51 - natstown baseballs etc.jpg

2010 Fan Stats:

2 Games

4 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Brewers and Nationals)

2 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles & Nationals)

10 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 2 Umpires)

2 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park)

2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

1 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park)

Satellite Views of our 2010 Season

Over the past several months, I have slowly been planning our 2010 season.  Like in 2009, Tim and I will visit 13 MLB stadiums (with an outside, but very unlikely, chance that we’ll hit a 14th stadium).  I have many of our games planned out and tickets secured.   Other games are tentatively planned, but still uncertain.  Whatever the order and whatever the actual games end up being, we will definitely make it to each of the following stadiums (as seen via Google Earth and Bing satellite views).

Like in 2008 and 2009, we plan to begin our 2010 season at our second favorite stadium:

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

1 - Camden Yards satellite.jpg

Next, we’ll stick in the region.  Our second game of 2010 will be at:

Nationals Park

2 - Nationals Park satellite.jpg

Next, we’ll be off to the Big Apple for a game at:

Citi Field

3 - Citi Field satellite.jpg

FYI, I couldn’t find any satellite views of Queens post-Shea.  Therefore, I cut out Shea’s infield and guestimated where Citi Field’s infield now lies.  I could be totally off, but I think the Jackie Robinson Rotunda takes up a lot of space under my red arrow.

Okay, since originally posting this, I found a different type of arial view on Bing.com.  Here you go:

 

3a - Citi Field satellite.jpgNext, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at:

Citizens Bank Park

4 - Citizens Bank Park satellite.jpgNext, we enter a period of uncertainty.  We’ll probably be back at Camden Yards and Citizen Bank Park before hitting any new stadiums.  I think the next stadium we visit will be on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.  Our first game on the roadtrip will be at:

Oakland-Alameda County Colesium

5 - Oakland-Alameda County Colesium satellite.jpgFrom Oakland, we will drive to Los Angeles for a game at the only MLB stadium in the City or County of Los Angeles:

Dodger Stadium

6 - Dodger Stadium satellite.jpgFrom L.A., we will continue down the coast for a couple games at:

Petco Park

7 - Petco Park satellite.jpgOn the way back up, we will next visit the site of my personal MLB debut:

Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Not Los Angeles)

8 - Angel Stadium of Anaheim satellite.jpgFinally, we will wrap up the roadtrip at:

AT&T Park

9 - AT&T Park satellite.jpgAfter the Roadtrip, we will again enter a period of uncertainty.  Again, I predict more games at Citizens Bank Park and/or Camden Yards before hitting any new parks.  The next new park we will visit after the roadtrip will almost certainly be:

Progressive Field

10 - Progressive Field satellite.jpgShortly after visiting Progressive Field, we will again visit the site of Tim’s Third Baseball Anniversary game:

Yankee Stadium

11 - Yankee Stadium satellite.jpgAgain, I could not find a satellite view that shows the current Yankee Stadium.  So, I cut out the infield of now demonlished 1923 version and pasted it roughly where I estimate the infield lies in the current Yankee Stadium.

Like Citi Field, since posting this entry, I have now found a different view on Bing.com that shows Yankee Stadium (2009):

 

11a - Yankee Stadium satellite.jpgOnly two stadiums to go.  While we conceivably could visit the next stadium early in the season, most likely we won’t make it to Pittsburgh until Septembe for a couple games at:

PNC Park

12 - PNC Park satellite.jpgLast, but certainly not least, we will end our season with our Mariners at our favorite ball park in all the land:

Safeco Field

13 - Safeco Field satellite.jpg

And there you have it, the stadiums that Tim and I will visit in 2010.  I had originally wanted to spend the 4th of July weekend in Detroit to see the Mariners play at Comerica Park.  But that just isn’t going to happen…and I highly doubt we will make it to Comerica at any point this season.  Maybe next year.

One comment about these satellite views.  I did not rotate any of the stadiums.  Therefore, you can see that home plate at all of these stadiums except one point to the northeast.  The sole exception is PNC Park which points to the southeast.  I thought that was an interesting part of seeing all of these satellite views.

I can’t wait to get out to there and visit some of our favorite ballparks again, and several ballparks we have never visited before.

“Play Ball!”

Stadium Frames

Here’s a random, non-game-entry post for your Wednesday night.

You might have noticed from our blog that I like to take a lot of pictures, to visit a lot of stadiums, and to make things out of wood (usually baseball bats).   Well, these three passions come together on the wall of my home office.  Last season, I made 5″ x 7″ frames to display pictures from the 9 stadiums Tim and I had visited together to that point.  (FYI, that includes Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Yankee Stadium (1923), Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, PNC Park, Shea Stadium and Chase Field).

Well, last weekend, I finally updated my wall through the 2009 season (click to enlarge picture):

Stadium Frames Thru 2009.jpgIf you click on the picture, you will see that I added frames for the 9 new stadiums Tim and I visited in 2009:  Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankees Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, H.H.H. Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular Field, and Rogers Centre.

By the way, all of the links take you to the game entries that correspond with the framed pictures.

Also, I guess I should mention two more things:  In the 8″ x 10″ picture of Tim just left of center, Tim is standing in Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia, just before his first game at Citizens Bank Park (his second game of his life).

In the 8″ x 10″ picture just right of center, that is Ken Griffey, Jr. holding a sign that says “Hi Todd.”  My mom had him pose for that picture on his first day of Spring Training in 2008 (literally, his first day back in a Mariners uniform) and my folks gave it to me for my birthday.

Its good to finally be caught up with my frames.  However, soon the 2010 season will start and we are set to add Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium Not of Los Angeles, Petco Park, AT&T Park and the Oakland-Alameda County Colesium.  And, I’d really like to get to Comerica Park, but right now it is a long shot for 2010.

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