Results tagged ‘ nats ’

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

Reds and National Monuments in D.C.

On April 28, 2013, for the second weekend in a row, we headed to a certain MLB ball game because Kellan had yet to see the visiting team play a game. This time, the venue was Nationals Park and the team checked off of Kellan’s “must see” list was the Cincinnati Reds.

I wasn’t happy to find out that our overpriced parking lot went up yet another $5 over the offseason (booo!), but I was happy to pull into the same parking spot we park in at all of our Nationals home games.

While walking toward the ballpark, we noticed that the Nats replaced the big photo on the back of the scoreboard. Tim recreated Bryce Harper’s jump in the new photo:

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By the way, because we were super busy the day before (we usually go to Saturday night games), our only option was to go to this 1:35 Sunday game. Still, we arrived before the gates opened because the Nats always seem to have BP when we have attended 1:35 Sunday games. And this day was no different. Plus, as a bonus, it was kids run the bases day. And, as a double bonus, we planned to tour around the DC monuments after the game.

Tim had to use the restroom as we approached the stadium…

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…(can you see us in that big metallic baseball?), so we headed into the Nats’ Team Store for a quick pit stop. We’d never been in there before so I’d never seen this big wall of red and white baseballs making a curly Nats “W.”

We had a bit of a wait until the gates opened and we passed the time by playing catch:

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I don’t think we have ever made it to Nats Park, which is 2.5 hours from our house, before the gates opened. So we got a picture of Tim standing in front of the gate while the ushers prepared to open up:

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Once the gates opened, we headed over to the section above the visitors’ bullpen. The Nats pitchers were warming up in RF and batters were getting ready for BP. In the LF grass, Bronson Arroyo was playing catch with the Reds bullpen catcher. Eventually, he wandered into the bullpen and threw a bullpen session…

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…and we watched him.

While Bronson was throwing, former Mariners pitching coach Brian Price came out to watch and chat with Bronson:

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Price oversaw a stellar Mariners rotation during the most successful days of the organization, the Lou Piniella years. When I saw him, I shouted out a greeting and pointed to my M’s jersey.

After Arroyo finished his session, he tossed his ball up to Tim:

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Thanks, Bronson!

As the crew started clearing out, I had a quick chat with Price. I told him to come back to Seattle, and he said something like “maybe I will some day!” And I said, “And bring Lou with you!” But he was pretty sure that Sweet Lou is retired for good from managing. Brian was super friendly and seemed very happy to chat up some Mariners fans for a bit. Just after he left, we realized we should have asked him to sign the Arroyo’s warm up ball. But it was too late, the whole crew headed out of the bullpen and headed to the dugout.

He hung out in LF a while longer as BP started up. Eventually, we decided to head over to the seats in RCF. Zach Duke was running all over shagging balls out there:

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Eventually, Duke ran back and caught a high pop fly on the warning track in straight away CF. When he looked over toward RF, we called out his name and I flashed him my glove. In response, Duke (apparently thinking I was made out of glass or some other delicate material) softly tossed the baseball short and way to our right and right into the storage area in CF. Many players would have shrugged their shoulders and headed back to shagging fly balls. But Duke walked all the way to the back of the storage area and retrieved the ball and tossed it to us again. I was thinking about this and I would be this is the first baseball we’ve ever caught at a MLB game where the player tossed the ball toward the field of play for us to catch.

Thanks, Zach!

We promptly headed over to the corner spot above the RCF end of the Nats’ bullpen:

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But right as that happened, all of the Nationals with the exception of Zach Duke cleared the field. We just hung out there for a while and watched Duke play catch with the Nats bullpen catcher.

Soon’ish, the Reds headed out to LF to begin their team stretching routine. We were at the ballpark to see the Reds, so we headed back over to LF. When we arrived in LF, this was the scene:

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Once the rest of the stadium opened up at 12:00 (or maybe 12:05), we headed down to the corner spot where we had a great view of Aroldis “Fireball” Chapman:

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That guy is pretty impressive!

As we watched Chapman play catch, the Reds started hitting. We were right at the OF end of a big net that protects several sections of seats along the foul line. So when a Reds batter smacked a hard grounder down the line, it carried along the netting and rolled right to me. Kellan grabbed a seat to inspect his new baseball:

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Now check out something crazy captured in the following two-part photo:

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Chapman starting playing looooooong toss with is partner. Above to the left, Chapman is the guy standing right in front of the “G” in Geico on the RF wall. As shown on the right, from that extreme distance, Chapman still managed to toss a ball so hard that he got it past his partner on the LF foul line. He essentially threw the ball into the protective net.

It was mighty impressive!

After we got one more baseball in the corner spot, we repositioned, and then I took a photo of where we had been standing:

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See the guy in the red shirt right behind the pole (he has his glove hand on the green railing and his other hand in his pocket)? That’s right where I’d been standing earlier with Tim just to my left (in the corner) and Kellan either sitting behind me or standing in front of me.

At one point before we moved from that spot, a Reds batter hit a TOWERING pop up in our direction. I didn’t think it was going to reach us, but it just kept carrying and carrying.

Kellan was standing right in front of me along the railing. I put my throwing hand on top of his head so I would know exactly where he was standing while tracking the ball. I then leaned out toward the field and made the catch on the fly. I’m pretty sure it is the highest pop up I’ve ever caught, and it stung my palm pretty good.

After catching the pop up, we moved down the line to watch Johnny Cueto throw through the net:

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That is a whole lot of hair in that hat!

Cueto was throwing hard and wild. He sailed several balls over his partner’s head and into the net. I had to keep warning Tim to sit back from the net because I thought he was going to get smacked in the face through the net. Luckily, it never happened.

Toward the end of BP, we headed back to the corner spot in RF…

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…where two unidentified Reds were shagging balls. We used my trusty old camera zoom to read their names off of their gloves. It was J.J. Hoover and Logan Ondrusek. Eventually, Ondrusek fielded a ball right in front of us on the track and tossed it up to Tim for our final ball of the day.

Thanks, Logan!

And, with that, it was off to the kids’ play area for us!

It’s great with Kellan being big enough to climb all around in the kids’ play areas there days. Tim’s a great big brother in the play areas. He sticks right with Kellan and makes sure that he has lots of fun and doesn’t get trampled by the bigger kids.

Here they go up one of the climbing areas:

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They poked their heads out of baseball sphere to give a wave to my camera:

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And here’s a short video clip of the cutest moment of the day:

After a thorough play session, we busted out of the kids’ play area just in time for first pitch:

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An usher was standing nearby and I asked her to take a family photo of us. He was very nice to accommodate the request, but it seems she might never have used a digital camera before. Her first two pictures were close ups of Tim’s elbow and hands. It took her the first two batters of the game, but she finally got a couple good shots, including this one:

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It was lunch time and we had the best nachos in MLB on our mind. He headed to LF to grab ‘em, but we got side tracked when we saw this:

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I’m a bit confused about this thing. I don’t remember seeing it last season. But the Nats have a new president on the team this season…so I’m not sure…but it seems new. And Tim and Kellan liked it so that’s all that counts.

They also enjoyed playing catch off of this wall:

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This would be a recurring theme throughout the day.

Finally, we grabbed our nachos and headed to the upper deck down the LF line:

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Check out our view of the U.S. Capitol Building behind us (right above Tim’s head). Pretty cool, eh?

There are a couple rows of picnic tables up there and we were in the last row. You couldn’t really see much of the action on the field from our table. But stepping a few feet over, we had a nice view of Bryce Harper…

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…preparing to ground out to end the bottom of the first inning. Reds rookie pitcher, Tony Cingrani, was on the hill and he was *on* during this game. In six innings, he struck out 11 Nationals.

Oh, yeah, I should mention that the Reds scored 2 runs in the top of the first.

And the Reds tacked on another run in the second, in part due to this fielding miscue by Nats second basemen Danny Espinosa:

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At the time, Cigrani had singled and was on 1B. Shin-Soo Choo followed with what should have been an easy ground out to 3B. Anthony Rendon fielded the ball and threw the ball to Danny Espinosa who booted the ball. After a walk to Zack Cozart, Joey Votto singled home Cingrani.

3-0 Reds after two innings.

We decided it was time for some ice cream. We walked across the concourse from LF to around 1B. On the walk, we got a Nationals Park bonus photo of the boys for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Do you see that little foam baseball in Tim’s left hand? An usher or some stadium employee gave that to Tim just before the game started. That’s what Tim was throwing against the wall in the photo above. He eventually lost that ball when it bounced off the wall and rolled completely out of the stadium, which was pretty upsetting to Tim.

The boys’ ice cream eating…

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…went somewhat hilariously. Day games are tough for us because Kellan usually naps in the afternoons. During this game, Kellan actually fell asleep mid-ice cream eating.

By the way, here was our view of the game while Tim ate his ice cream:

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After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed back to the little covered nook where the boys had previously been throwing the ball against the wall. Tim made another 100 or so throws while I sat holding sleeping Kellan and watched the game.

While we were over there, the Presidents showed up and we got a photo with them (completely with a totally conked out Kellan):

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I have no clue who the new President in the middle is supposed to be.

Once Kellan finally woke up, we headed back toward the field. I wanted to see Joey Votto bat. Unfortunately (unbeknownst to us), it had started raining while Tim was playing catch with the wall. It wasn’t a lot of rain. But the fans flooded the concourse. We had to peak around multiple heads to get a distorted glimpse of Votto striking out:

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By the way, by this point, it was 4-0 Reds.

The concourses were terrible so we headed back toward the outfield. On our walk we saw something cool:

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A Griffey jersey. I’m only a fan of the Mariners, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the Reds because I watched tons and tons of Reds games during Griff’s tenure with the Reds.

We essentially walked around and around and around the ballpark aimlessly because it was too crowded everywhere in the concourses and rainy in the seats. As we passed by the 3B side of the concourse again, we saw something unfortunate:

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Kids’ run the bases was cancelled due to rain. I think it was a premature call, but in the end we were fine with it.

We headed up to the second deck in RF for a bit. Here was our view from section 239:

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We had never sat up there before during a game. It’s pretty nice. I liked it.

While we sat in the upper deck, probably for no more than 1 inning, Tim filled out an All-Star ballot, something he always enjoys doing. I had to take a picture because this ballot was awesome:

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In case you can’t tell, here are the highlights of Tim’s ballot:

AL 1B – Justin Smoak

AL 2B – Dustin Ackley

AL SS – Brendan Ryan

AL 3B – Kyle Seager (oops…Tim accidentally made a huge hole when punching Seager’s name).

AL C – Jesus Montero

AL DH – Kendrys Morales

AL OF – Michael Morse, Michael Saunders and Ichiro (still Tim’s favorite player despite his unfortunate status as a member of the Yankees).

NL 1B, SS, 3B, C, P – No vote

NL 2B – accidental vote for Dustin Solano because he originally thought it said he played for the Mariners. Tim crossed out Solano’s name after realizing he had voted for a Marlin.

Information section:

Name – Timothy Cook

City – Pencillvanya

Email Address – Mariners

Favorite Team – X√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√√

All-Star Write In Votes – Timothy, Timothy

Late in the game, we sat in section 135 (the section where our actual ticketed seats were located). Here was our view of Bryce Harper’s at bat in the eighth:

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He eventually walked and later scored on a double by Ian Desmond. That made the score 5-2 Reds after 8 innings.

Here are our two views from the spots we sat in during the late innings:

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And here some random shots of Brandon “Dat Dude” Phillips:

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With the Reds up 3-runs heading into the bottom of the ninth, we were treated to a save by Aroldis Chapman…

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…and his 100 M.P.H. heater!

Reds win!

Instead of Kids’ Run The Bases (which would have been fun too), we ran all over Washington, D.C. after the game.

We parked two blocks behind the Capitol Building and made our first stop at the U.S. Supreme Court:

37-us-supreme-court

This was both boys’ first visit to the Supreme Court. The last time I was here was on my mom’s birthday in 2009 when I was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Roberts and most of the other members of the Court.

Interestingly, in that picture of the Court above, what you are really seeing is *picture* of the Supreme Court hanging from the scaffolding that is currently encasing the entire Supreme Court building.

Next, we headed across the street to the U.S. Capitol Building:

38a-capitol-stuff

In the bottom right photo above, Tim is catching a fly ball on the lawn of the Capitol Building (the ball is just above to the right of the rotunda).

Kellan was on my shoulders for all of those Capitol Building photos. He didn’t want to come down for a photo. But he did give me a smile from up top:

38b-kellan-at-capitol

We decided to walk around the reflecting pond and a nice pair of tourists from New Jersey took our photo on the far side:

39a-cook-boys-reflecting-pool

And then I took a shot of the boys walking:

39b-kids-and-capitol

Kellan was loving the walk. We had to hustle just to keep up with him. It was super cute at one point when we were back up to the Capitol lawn and the boys were racing and Kellan told me, “This is so much fun!” (That doesn’t read as cute of funny, but he’s got a hilariously cute little voice).

From the front of the Capitol Building, we got a photo of the boys with the Washington Monument in the distance:

40-boys-with-DC-mall

We walked back to the car and headed off toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

41-barry-os-house

The boys were excited to see Barack Obama’s house. They made some funny faces while sitting on the base of the front fence:

42-funny-faces-at-white-house

And then we finished off our little tour at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial:

43-mlk-memorial

I’d never seen the MLK Memorial. It is really cool. I highly recommend it. As you can see above, there is a big *mountain* in the background. The middle section of the mountain is pulled forward and MLK is carved into the front of it. On the side of the MLK statue, the rock says “From a mountain of despair, a stone of hope” or something along those lines. On either side of the mountain, walls extend about 50 yards and they have a number of MLK quotes engraved on them.

Pretty cool. Check it out.

And that was our day. A great day of baseball and sight-seeing.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

5 Game

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

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

18 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1

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

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

1 Autograph – Ryan Hanigan

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

Family Vacation Baseball Sideshow in DC (7/22/12)

In mid-July, we took a family vacation to the Outer Bank in North Carolina.  Lo-and-behold, as we drove home on July 22, 2012, Nationals Park was right on our way and the Nats were playing a day game against the Braves.  The original plan was for the whole family to go to the game, but then Colleen decided to go shopping (for hours-and-hours-and-hours) instead of coming to the game with us.

So, under mildly threatening skies, Colleen dropped me and the boys off at Nationals Park right as the gates opened.  As we walked to the CF gates, Tim added a Nationals Park picture to his fire hydrant photos collection…

…and then posed for a photo with a Marine who (I think) was participating in a toys for tots collection effort.  That photo scored us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

We headed into the ballpark and down into the LF seats above the visitors bullpen and discovered that the field was not set up for BP…

…and some birds were relaxing in the seats waiting for the game.

A couple Nats were playing catch in RF.  See that red arrow in the picture above?  We decided to head up there because it was completely empty up in the 200-level (compared to maybe 20-30 people hanging out in the field level in RF).

When we arrived, I took this picture of the boys…

…and Kellan made that hilarious face.

Tim looked around and was all like…

…, “Where’s Mateo?”

As you may recall, our last game was also at Nationals Park and we met up with MyGameBalls.com member and MLBlogger, Mateo Fischer, at that game.  So Tim just figured we’d always see Mateo at Nationals games from now on.  But Mateo was nowhere to be found.

But Tom Grozelanny (who was wearing Lance Nix’s old glove) was there:

I had no clue that this guy was Gorzelanny at the time (actually, Mateo identified him for me after the game).  When Gorzelanny and his partner walked out to RF to play catch, we waved at them from our seats in the second row and Gorzelanny gave us a big wave of his own.

When Gorzelanny finished playing catch, he got the ball back from his partner and attempted to throw it to us.  But he completely missed the upper deck.  He then went back to the bag of baseballs and grabbed a second ball.  On his second attempt, he intentionally tossed the ball five rows over our heads.  Since no one else was nearby, we had no problem finding the ball as it trickled back down toward the front row.

Interestingly, Tim, Kellan and I got a ball in exactly the same, two-attempts, second attempt launched over our heads method last September in just about this exact same location.  And guess who the two attempt making player was that time?  The one and the same, Tom Gorzelanny!

Thanks, Tom!

After getting the ball from Gorzelanny, he headed over to LF.  Tommy Hanson was playing long toss at the time…

…and we headed over to the first row by the LF foul pole.  In that picture above, an usher yell  is about to yell at Tim from the field for leaning over the railing to touch the foul pole.  Booo!

The Braves were on an odd schedule on this day.  The pitchers never came out as a big group to warm up along the LF line.  Instead, one pitcher would come out at a time and play catch in LF, about half way between 3B and the outfield wall.  Until 12:05, we couldn’t get into the infield so there was no action anywhere near us.

When they finally opened the rest of the stadium, he headed in and watched Johnny Venters warm up with Alan Butts:

As you can see, they had a bunch of baseballs sitting in the outfield for the pitchers to use to warm up, and several of them were Dodger Stadium commemorative baseballs!

But the weird, one-guy at a time method worked against all fans hoping to get a toss up.  We only watched two sets up pitchers warm up before we left the 3B line.  But every single Braves pitcher dropped his warm up baseball back in the pile *for the next guy* before heading back into the dugout.  I looked back about 10 minutes before the game started and that same group of baseballs was still sitting there.  Not of one of them was missing.

Anyway, while we wanted to get one of those Dodger baseballs, we decided to leave the field level after Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch (they had followed Venters).  We headed off in search of pizza.  Amazing, we walked all the way around the stadium and somehow missed the pizza place, which was right at the beginning of our walk.  So we ended up getting our standard (and delicious) Nationals Park nachos:

We ate the nachos in the shady seats by the RF foul pole.  In that picture of Tim, he is questioning why he would put the cap back on his bottle of water after drinking some water.  He just couldn’t fathom why a cap should be reapplied to the top of a water bottle once opened. Sometimes (well, often times), Tim likes to inject fictitious drama into otherwise mundane of situations.

After eating, it was getting close to game time.  But we headed back toward CF to check out the kids play area.  Unfortunately, there was a line at the play area.  We’d have to wait to get in.  So we decided to come back later.  Instead, he headed over to the MASN booth and got some funny pictures:

The MASN booth was also handing out free posters, which doubled nicely as bats.  We took the bats to a little shady nook behind the Red Porch and the boys took a whole bunch of practice hacks with their posters:

We had great seats for the game in section 135, row P (seats 1-2):

And, ever better, they were free!

Even with the great seats, we didn’t stay put too long.  Tim had dippin’ dots (in a cup, no helmet option!) and Kellan had a twist soft serve ice cream helmet.

While they ate their ice cold refreshments, I watched the Nats push four runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning:

The biggest blow of the first inning was a 2-run homerun by Ryan Zimmerman.  The first also featured singles by Steve Lombardozzi, Mike Morse, and Roger Bernadina, and a double by Danny Espinosa.

Last Nats game we attended, rookie phenom Bryce Harper played CF.  At this game, he shifted over to RF:

You may notice something cool if you enlarge that last picture.  In that picture, you can tell that Harper jams two fingers into her glove’s pinky hole and doesn’t use the index finger hole.  He’s certainly not unique in that, but it is a cool little nuance of the game that I’ve never captured on “film” before.

In the bottom of the first I tried to get a picture of Chipper Jones getting a hit.  He got the hit.  But a fan below us stood up and blocked my view right when Chipper made contact.  So I had to settled for this much less historic and satisfying picture of Brian McCann not getting a hit:

And then it was time to check the situation at the kids’ play area.  This time, it was all clear.  Tim got right in and went to the playing.  Kellan is only two and isn’t allowed (by the Nationals) to go up into the play area yet.  So he had to settle for throwing one of our cloth baseballs…

…off the walls of the net room below the big slide.

After our round of playing ended, we headed back to that little shady nook where the boys ended up playing catch against the wall for a bit:

Tim was doing some great catching.  His catching has improved about 450% over the past six months.  I credit it to going through his first season of T-ball where he finally got to see how much fun it is to play defense.  Before T-ball, all Tim ever wanted to do was hit and hit and hit and hit, and hit some more.  Now he loves to play catch.  I love it.

As we headed back toward the RF foul pole, we were met by an alarming scene.  I couldn’t get my camera out in time to get a head on look, but…

…as we approached the escalator and stairs up to the second deck, a big group of about 20 cops, stadium security, and medics were walking down the stairs and the medics were carrying a fan strapped to a board.  I have no clue what happened.  But it was pretty crazy to see.

We ended up walking all the way around to the team store behind home plate.  But we had to leave the team store quickly because I Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat.  It was the bottom of the fourth inning.  And, oh by the way, Zimmerman had hit his second homerun of the day an inning earlier to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead.  I didn’t want to miss it Zimmerman blasted his third homerun of the day.

He didn’t:

Nope.  He lined out to Jason Heyward to end the fourth inning.

I just ran over to the standing room area in the concourse behind the 3B field level seats to watch Zimmerman.  When Zimmerman lined out, we turned around to head back to the team store and guess what we noticed?  The pizza place we had walked right by without noticing it earlier in the day.

So we grabbed a couple slices of pepperoni and headed back to our new favorite “nook” at Nationals Park to eat our pizza in the shade.  But turns out the Presidents had just raced and they were posing for pictures in our precious nook!  So we wandered a bit further toward RF and enjoyed our pizza at one of the picnic tables in the concourse:

After eating our pizza, we headed over to the RF foul pole.  Kellan has only been to a few Nationals games, but at every one so far Jim Lett has tossed us a warm up baseball between innings at the RF Nationals’ bullpen.  We’d stopped by the bullpen earlier in the game with no luck.  I figured we would give it another shot.

We hung out a bit in the SRO area just behind the field level seats.  Shortly after arriving, Bryce Harper hit a weak grounder up the middle for his only hit of the day…

…and Zimmerman again failed to hit his third homerun of the game.

We ended up hanging out by the foul pole for about 2.5 innings.  The first inning, Jim Lett tossed both warm up balls into the seats in foul territory.

We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…

…and Jason Heyward from our standing room spot behind the Nationals bullpen.

We were only going to make one more attempt before heading back to the play area.  The second time we headed down, Jim Lett passed along his warm-up position to one of the Nats relievers.  He threw one warm up ball into foul territory and kept the other.

But it wasn’t a fruitless attempt.  While the reliever was warming up Harper, I noticed that a stray baseball was sitting on the ground right below me and the boys.  I also noticed Nelson Robledo hanging out down in the bullpen.  I called out, “Hey, Nelson.”  When he turned around, I pointed at the baseball and gave him a “could you toss it up to us, please” look.  He pointed at the reliever (who I really think was Drew Storen) and gave me a “he’ll toss you one of the warm up balls” look.

When Storen (we’ll call him Storen, I really think it was) pocketed the second warm up ball, I called out to Nelson again and pointed at that stray ball again with a “how about now” look.  And he gave me a “hmm…yeah, I got you, man, but not until next inning” look.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Oh, I forgot to mention, shortly before this inter-action with Robledo, Kellan fell fast asleep in my arms.  It was well past his normal nap time.

We hung out for one more inning in the SRO area.  Tim did some birding with the camera on my phone.  We both tried to get a picture of Harper catching this fly ball…

…and only Tim succeeded.

I got Harper grounding weakly again:

He reached first one a throwing error.

Before the start of the next inning, which must have been the eighth inning, Nelson looked for us and then…

…tossed us a baseball from the back of the bullpen.  Kellan was still asleep at the time.  I’m not sure why, but the second I squeeze that baseball in my glove, Kellan’s eyes popped open and he was wide awake.

I shouted out a, “Thanks, Nelson!” (hmm…maybe that is what woke him up…), and Kellan immediately reached out and grabbed the baseball out of my glove while calling out, “Baseball!”

I think it was a nice way for him to wake up from his nap.

We headed back again to our nook to play catch a little more:

A line was already forming in the CF-LF concourse for post-game Kids Run The Bases.

By the way, the Nationals were pounding the Braves 9-2.

Rather than wasting time standing in that line while the game was still on.  No, instead of getting in line, after playing a little catch, we headed here:

We wanted to make a post-game umpire ball attempt and we found some great seats just about 10-11 rows behind the Braves dugout.

We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…

…then watched home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez unload all of his baseballs to kids in the diamond club seats behind home plate.

No problem there.  Tommy Hanson gave Tim some post game love in the form of this uniquely mis-stamped baseball:

Thanks, Tommy!

Finally, it was time to hop into the still long kids run the bases line:

As we walked toward the field through the Nationals bullpen, we got a behind the scenes look at the view Robledo had when he tossed us that baseball and hour earlier:

Tim and Kellan locked hands and then headed down the warning track…

…towards Kellan’s first kids run the bases experience.

When we reached the track behind first base, the boys were off to the races:

I thought Tim was going to run with Kellan, but the thrill of Major League base paths got to Tim and he turned on his afterburners.  By the time Kellan was 10-15 feet out onto the field…

…Tim was already to second base (behind Teddy and all of those Nats employees).

When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…

…, Kellan slammed on the breaks and stopped half way between first and second.

I followed Tim with my camera and caught him giving Abe Lincoln a high speed high five as he approached home plate:

I then looked back to the right side of the infield and Kellan was still standing in the same spot.  One of the gals working the infield for the Nats scooped up Kellan and ran him around the bases:

It was pretty funny.  She set him down a bit before home plate and tried to coax him into running the rest of the way.  But he was having none of it.  I think he was enjoying the ride.  So she scooped him up again and they crossed home plate together.

When she set him down at home plate, he ran off toward the warning track at full speed with a big huge smile across his face.  So, despite getting a little overwhelming getting out on that big field all alone, he seemed to enjoy his first kids-get-carried-around-the-bases experience.

Before heading out, I took several odd pictures of the boys, and this was the best one:

As we left the field, there were some Nats employees handing out freeze pops.  The boys loved them:

Moments after leaving the stadium, Colleen scooped us up in our car and we finished our trip home from vacation.  Tim nailed it while we were walking in the concourse and he told me, “This is a great way to end a vacation!”

2012 C&S Fan Stats

15/13 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
22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
81 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

A Scorcher In The Nation’s Capital (7/7/2012)

After much internal debate about where to go and what to do, we eventually decided to head to Nationals Park on July 7, 2012, to see the Rockies take on the Nationals.   I had originally planned to take the boys to Cleveland with my buddy Greg.  But it ended up looking like that plan couldn’t happen.  Then Garrett Meyer gave a tip about how to get some free tickets to a Nationals game, so I picked this game so we could see Jamie Moyer.   Unfortunately, the Rockies designated Moyer for assignment long before this game happened and he is now toiling away in the Minor Leagues for the Blue Jays.

But, anyway, we had free tickets to the Rockies vs. Nationals.  And since he had originally planned to join us this weekend in Cleveland, our buddy Greg decided to join us in DC.

I was confused about what would be happening before this game.  It was listed as “photo day” on the Nationals’ promotional schedule.  It explained that the stadium would open 3.5 hours early (12:30 p.m.) and fans could go on the warning track in the outfield to get pictures with the Nationals between 1:30 and 2:45.  The game wasn’t scheduled to start until 4:05 so I was confused if BP was going to take place during the photo day festivities.  I asked Jeremy Guthrie about it on twitter, and he mentioned that BP was scheduled to take place on the field but he wasn’t sure how it would really play out.

When we arrived at the ballpark at 1:00 p.m., there were already some fans on the field.  The field was not set up for BP and I was thinking, “Wow, 2:45 to 4:05 is a long time between the end of photo day and beginning of the game if there is no BP!”

Wouldn’t you know, Jeremy Guthrie was standing in shallow LF right where we entered the field.  I called out to him and asked if they were going to take BP.

Nope.

Oh, well.  What can you do?  Make the best if it!

Guthrie was standing there with a baseball waiting for his partner to come play catch.  I told him that I’d play catch with him since he didn’t have a partner.

“Sure, I’ll play catch with you was his response.”  Greg snapped this picture…

…on his phone while Guthrie and I played catch until his partner arrived on the scene.  It didn’t last very long.  But it was my first time playing catch with a Major Leaguer and it was pretty darn cool.

Thanks, Jeremy!

By the way, Jeremy’s last throw to me was a pretty decent knuckleball.  I told him the best I could do was a pretty weak split-finger gripped knuckleball.  I let it fly and Guthrie got a good chuckle at my attempted knuckler.

After playing catch with Guthrie, I got a picture of Greg and the boys on the warning track:

I was hoping that Guthrie would toss us the baseball we played catch with after he finished throwing with his partner.  But he ended up playing catch with two different kids at the same time (using two different baseballs) and gave both baseballs to the kids.  But we did get a nice consolation prize, a picture with Guthrie:

I think that picture turned out to be pretty hilarious for a couple reasons.  First, Kellan has his back to the camera and Greg is starting to walk into the picture to get Kellan to turn around.  I take so many pictures that I don’t strive for perfection.  Kellan often times doesn’t look at the camera and I don’t really like to waste a Major Leaguer’s time trying to get Kellan to turn around if he doesn’t do it on his own.  Second, Tim is looking off camera at a girl who tried to get into our picture.  It was pretty funny.  Guthrie was clearly trying to get a picture with us, but this gal walked right up and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Guthrie.  When she turned and looked at a guy holding a camera, Guthrie politely explained that he would get a picture with her after he posed for our picture.  So she walked away, but Tim was still looking at her when I snapped the picture.  So sometimes a less perfect picture tells a better story and helps us remember exactly what was happening when we took the picture.

I should mention that Mateo Fischer met up with us when we were watching Guthrie warm up.

After getting the picture with Guthrie, we all decided to head out into the outfield.  We stopped at the LF foul pole and got a picture of Tim and Greg with the “336” signs:

Greg took a picture of me and the boys in front of the visitors’ bullpen in LF:

For good measure, I got a picture of Greg leaning against the wall by the “377” sign as Kellan wandered off toward CF:

We all caught up to Kellan and I got this picture of our little group:

Have you noticed in all of these pictures that Tim is holding a bright yellow squirt bottle?  He’s holding the squirt bottle because it was supposed to be (and was) 100+ degrees at this game.  I generally do not acknowledge or pay any attention to the weather, at least to future weather.  So when my wife kept mentioning during the week that it was supposed to be really hot at this game, I didn’t pay it much mind.  But the night before the game, we went to the store and bought Tim a squirt bottle to help us all keep cool.

We weren’t the only ones prepared with a water squirter.  As we walked by the opening in the CF wall where they store the batting cage and other stuff, an usher-type-guy told us there was a cooling station back there through the opening in the wall.

We were all for exploring this uncharted territory at Nationals Park.  So we headed into the store area…

…and found a some spare grass for replacing damaged grass on the field, a big pile of extra warning track dirt, a garage full of various types of equipment, and a couple fans blowing water on us fans:

Oh, yeah.  We also found a random brick behind the LF wall that the “Carolina Green Corp” built Nationals Park in 2007.

We ended up spending a lot of time in this shady area.  We kept coming back again-and-again to hide in the shade and take advantage of the mist-blowing fans.

But after our first visit to the cooling station, we continued on our way toward the RF foul pole.  The RF wall at Nationals Park features a large out of town scoreboard that we got to check out up-close-and-personal:

The Mariners’ position in the A.L. West cellar meant they were low enough on the wall that we could get our picture with our team:

I’ve noticed if I take two consecutive pictures, often times, Tim will look at the camera in one and Kellan will look at the camera in the other.  Here is a great example of the this phenomenon by the Nationals’ bullpen:

After we made it to the RF foul line, we headed up into the seats.  We found a shady spot in the second-to-last row where Tim could unload his water squirter in Greg’s face…

…and we could do some in-stadium birding.

When we made it up into the stands, the Nationals really started circling the ballpark in earnest.  Two players would come out at a time and begin a big lap around.  Mateo ran back down to the field before the rest of us.  We watched on from above as love-him-or-hate-him rookie, Bryce Harper…

…made his way down the RF foul line sporting a clown shirt.  Oh, by the way, now-a-days everyone who is originally elected to the all-star game bags out on it on some feigned injury or whatnot and is then replaced by a far less deserving player.  On this date, Bryce Harper (and his 62-games of MLB experience) was named to the NL All-Star team.

After cooling off in the shady seats for a while, we headed back down to the field.  We all headed out to CF and split time between the cooling station and the warning track.

Tim shook hands with and even got to spray several big leaguers in the face.  Here he is with Craig Stammen, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler:

BTW, credit for identifying all of these Nationals (none of whom looked the slightest bit familiar to me) goes to Mateo.  Thanks!

Here is a guy I did recognize, Mr. Too-Cool-For-School (And-The-Fans), Jayson Werth:

Notice the large padding he kept of empty grass between himself and the fans.  In that picture to the left, he was saying something to Tim along the lines of, “Oh, no thanks, spray yourself!”

A few Nats were standoffish like Werth, but most were very cool.  Here are a couple more of the cool variety – Henry Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel and Adam LaRoche:

Ankiel was one of the few I recognized and the only one with whom I shook hands.  LaRoche received a multiple-squirt facial attack from Tim.  I should note that Tim only squirted the players who specifically asked to be squirted.  I think there were four such players in total.

After a while I pointed out the indoor restaurant at the Red Porch to Greg and said, “Do you want to go in there and see if they have air conditioning going?  He pounced at the suggestion so we started heading over to the LF line to exit the field.

On our way, we met Terrance…

…who I personally believe is the No. 1 hype-guy in all of MLB.  I’ve seen Terrance working at Nationals games for years and the dude goes all full-force in and all-out attempt to rally the troops.

After this picture, he turned to Tim and asked, “IS YOUR NATITUDE IGNITED!”

Tim, showing an utter lack of Natitude, was like, “Whaaaat?”

And then Terrance noted that Tim most be too full of Marinertude to ignite any Natittude.  It was a keen observation.

Once we reached the concourse I noticed something that was just calling out for a picture:

Tim is acting like the Nats pig is a sweaty Nats player and his cooling him off with a blast of water to the eyes.

On our way to the Red Porch, Greg stopped to buy some food.  Mateo, the boys and I went ahead and found that the Red Porch restaurant was packed to the rafters.  There was no chance to get inside.  But there were a bunch of couches behind the restaurant that were all in the shade.  So we grabbed one…

…and waited for Greg.

Once Greg arrived, I put him in charge of the boys (including, to Tim’s great delight, Mateo), and headed off to grab some nachos.  But a funny thing happened on the way to get our food.  All of the fans were off the field by this point, and I noticed that a couple Rockies pitchers were coming out to warm up down the LF line.

We had been inside the ballpark for about two hours and had zero baseballs to show for it.  Kellan has NEVER been to a game without getting at least one baseball and I really wanted to keep that streak alive for him (btw, this was his 22nd game of his life). Instead of going to get the food, I headed back to the Red Porch and without saying a word to anyone (wink, wink…Mateo), I grabbed my backpack and Kellan and headed back to the LF line.

Three groups of Rockies pictures were playing catch and Drew Pomeranz was signing autographs at the corner spot.  Kellan and I walked down by Pomeranz but stayed about 10 feet from the group of autograph seekers.

When he finished signing and started walking off, I called out, “Hey, Drew.”  He hadn’t even started to warm up yet and he clearly thought I was going to ask for one more autograph.  Instead I asked him, “Hey, when you finish warming up, is there any chance you could toss your warm up ball over for this little guy?”  Pomeranz responded with a non-committal but encouraging-toned, “Possibly.”  He then ran over to the bullpen and started doing arm exercises with some stretchy bands.

Meanwhile, the first group of Rockies pitchers finished playing catch.  Rex Brothers was on the CF side of the pair and he ended up holding the ball.  He spotted us in the first row behind his partner (Josh Roenicke) and tossed the ball right to us.

Yes!

Thanks, Rex!

Kellan and I immediately bolted of the there and headed for the nacho stand.  On the way, I snapped this picture…

…and texted it to Mateo.

When Kellan and I reached the couches at the Red Porch, I was not surprised at all to find that Mateo was long gone.  Greg reported that he high-tailed it out of there the second he received my text.

Let me tell you, those nachos were delicious:

We had a great time eating, high fiving and squirting water all around in the shade.

But when we finished our nachos, we were all running low on water.  We had 3-4 20 ounce water bottles and we must have filled each of them up 10-15 times throughout the day.  We were constantly drinking water or having me pour it all over the boys’ heads.  Anyway, with our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.

Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains.  I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.

Wouldn’t you know, Mateo was down there watching the onlwith our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.

Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains.  I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.

Mateo was down there watching the only remaining Rockies pitcher playing catch.  And wouldn’t you know, it was Drew Pomeranz and he was just about to finish his warm-ups.  Like Brothers, Pomeranz was on the CF side of his partner.  When he finished playing catch, he looked up, spotted  us, and tossed us the baseball.  Thereby turning his prior “possibly” into a “sure thing!”  It all looked sort of like this:

Thanks, Drew!

Kellan and I again immediately took off for the concourse.  Greg, who has never got a baseball at a game before (but hopefully will by the time this season is over!), was amazed when we showed up at the water fountain with a second baseball in hand.

As we finished topping off our water bottles, we spotted some Presidential looking fellas in the concourse.  We headed over there and Tim and Greg got pictures with George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt:

After 45 seconds in the sun with the Presidents, we headed back to the shade:

Eventually, Tim ran down to the front row to hang out with Mateo:

See the guy in the red Nationals jersey out in CF in that last picture.  That was Nationals coach Jim Lett.  I pointed him out to Greg and told him that Lett would most likely throw us a baseball by the time this game concluded.

Once the final Rockies pitcher left, we decided it was time to visit the air conditioned team store…

…it felt like pure heaven in there.  We came back later for more.

It was game time.  We had some great seats in section 135 down the 1B line. But it was way to sunny and hot in the seats.  So we headed over to section 137 and hung out in the shady seats toward the back of the section.  This was our view for the first several innings:

Immediately before the first inning started, Kellan and I walked over to the railing looking down into the Nationals bullpen.  There was only one player in there and he grabbed some stuff…

…and headed out the big door way that you can see in the bottom right corner of that last picture.  I think all of the Nats relieves were hiding out back there.  Who knows.  Maybe they were in the dugout and only planned to come out to the bullpen if needed in the game.

Anyway, there was only one guy left and it was the aforementioned Jim Lett.  He was out in RF playing catch with right fielder (and former Mariner) Mike Morse.  When he and Morse finished, Lett collected the LF-CF warm up ball (used by Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore), and then he tossed us one of those baseballs (not sure which warm up ball it was) as we stood right behind the RF foul pole.

Thanks, Jim!

The Nationals had 2012 All-Star Gio Gonzalez on the hill:

He pitched a very solid game.

My cellphone told me that it was mighty hot and was gonna stay that way all night:

Even though the boys really aren’t fans of the heat, they did great and had a lot of fun in the shade with the water squirter:

When Bryce Harper came to the plate in the bottom of the first, my camera and I were all set to see what all of the hype is about.  Instead, the young phenom strike out looking on a pitch he clearly thought was a ball, hang there hanging his head for a good 5 seconds without moving, and then do a world class pouty, slouchy walk…

…back to the dugout.  So, yeah, in our first Bryce Harper at bat, Harper demonstrated his youth much more than his All-Star caliber skills.

The first scoring of the game came in the bottom of the second inning when Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to RF.

And we just kept having fun…

…playing and squirting water every which-a-way in the shady seats.  In those last pictures, Kellan is smiling at laughing at Greg who was making faces and what-not to entertain Kellan.

Harper’s second at bat came in the bottom of the third inning and resulted in a groundout:

Greg bought a big all-you-can-eat popcorn.  Tim requested a picture posing with “the smallest piece of popcorn” of all time:

Eventually, we decided to relocate to the 3B line, which was completely shaded.  On our way, we stopped off once again at the air conditioned team store:

When we left the team store, we decided to head to the upper deck instead of going to the 3B side.  Greg had been to Nationals Park once before, but had never visited the upper deck.  I old him it featured a nice view of the Capitol building.  And I wasn’t lying:

After Tim and Greg got a picture behind home plate…

…, we grabbed some ice cream and reported to the seats at the top of section 408:

On our walk up the section 408 stairs, I almost had an ugly spill.  I was holding Kellan in my left arm, and his ice cream helmet in my right hand.  As I ascended the stairs, I kicked the stair and tripped.  Kellan’s ice cream helmet went flying.  I started to fall and drop Kellan, but then I caught myself and Kellan on the way down.  It wasn’t pretty and probably scared the pants off of Kellan.  Luckily, the little guy escaped the incident unscathed.

Hopefully that is my last time I ever trip while holding one of my boys!

Anyway, I should mention that the Rockies scored a run in the top of the fourth inning to tie up the game at 1-1.

While Kellan enjoyed his ice cream helmet, Tim enjoyed his very first ICE CREAM GLOVE!

Check that thing out!  I’ve never seen one of those before.  It is a little left handed catcher’s glove designed to receive a generous portion of your favorite frozen refreshment.   The only knock of I on the ice cream glove is that didn’t have a Nationals logo or anything to show that we got it at Nationals Park.

Despite the single run for the Rockies in the fourth, Gio Gonzalez was still pitching quite effectively:

Kellan had a whole lot of chocolate left on him after he finished his ice cream:

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Nats took control of the game thanks to some horrendous play by the Rockies.  Danny Espinosa led off the inning with a double.  Harper followed with a single on this swing:

Harper demonstrated some terrible baserunning.  He tried to take second and should have been thrown out.  Instead, he headed back to first.  The Rockies should have thrown him out, but no one covered first.  Although no error was given on the play, we’ll call that a mental error by the Rockies because they failed to take advantage of Harper’s bad baserunning.

Ryan Zimmerman followed Harper with an RBI single:

With Harper on first, new Rockies pitcher Josh Roenicke threw a pitch in the dirt.  Zimmerman advanced to second on the play.  He was going to make second easily.  There was absolutely no way he was going to be thrown out.  But when Zimmerman was about ten feet from second base, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario made a horrible decision to throw to second.  Rushing the throw, he air mailed the ball into CF allowing Harper to trot home for the second Nats run of the inning.

While all of this was happening, we were sitting maybe four rows from the top of the stadium.  I told Greg that he would be able to see the Washington Monument if he went up to the top row.  He headed up there and reported he couldn’t see it.  I was like, “What?  Are you blind?  Its right over there…”

Oops…that’s a new building over there and it completely blocks what used to be a view of the Washington Monument.  Too bad.

A few minute later, Ian Desmond grounded into a fielder’s choice:

With two outs and runners on 1B and 3B, Roenicke tried to pick Ian Desmond off of 1B.  Instead, he tossed the ball into the 1B dugout.  Zimmerman trotted home on the play with the third run of the inning.

That made the score 4-1 Nationals.  That score would hold up for the rest of the game.

After the lengthy bottom of the sixth inning, we relocated to some shady seats down the 3B line, all the way out by the LF foul pole.  Here was our view from the back of section 108:

We could see Terrance doing his thing in the first row:

The highlight of the rest of the game was this Bryce Harper ground out:

Or, wait…no, the highlight was hanging out with my boys (and Greg)…

…and continuing to douse them with bottle after bottle of water from the trusty water fountain.

In the top of the ninth, the “Giambino” (one of my least favorite baseball nicknames) strikeout:

The Rockies just couldn’t get anything going.  One batter later, the game was over…

…and Screech the Eagle was climbing up on his perch to wave the “W” flag as the Nats ignited the crowd’s Natitude (but nore ours).

On our way out of the stadium, a nice guy took our picture in the LF concourse:

For his payment for taking that picture, Tim was required to squirt him in the face with his water squirter.

And there you go.  Another fun day at the ballpark.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

14/12 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 1
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
78 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 2, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Cooks & Martelons in DC (9/18/2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Brian!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Tom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!

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

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

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

After Tim hit some whiffleballs….

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

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

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

…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.

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

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

We had some great seats in section 108:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…we took to our feet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…

…, Tim…

…, and Gill…

…had a lot of fun on the base paths.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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) 

Baseball & The Cubbies in D.C. (7-19-2009)

On June 3, 2009, I knocked off work early and Tim and I trekked down to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C to witness a piece of history — Randy Johnson’s 300th career victory.  However, the rain put the kibosh on our plans.

July 19th was our make-up game.  Instead of seeing Randy Johnson’s 300th win, we saw Kevin Hart’s third.  It was a fun game — but as the math would reveal, it was about 100 times less memorable than if we would have got to see Randy’s big win.

The process of exchanging our rain out tickets for these tickets was made 50,000 times more difficult due to the inadequacies of the Washington Nationals telephone system.  I called them at about 4-5 different numbers I found on their website.  They all led to the same automated phone system.  No humans ever answered.  I was dumped into a “general” voicemail box and none of my calls were returned until I got creative.  Eventually the team store gave me the number 202-640-7000.  From that number, you can get a company phone directory.  I went through the front office directory on MLB.com and entered random Nationals employees into the phone directory.  The first 3-4 employees went straight to voicemail.  I was beginning to think that no one actually worked at Nationals Park.  Eventually, I reached someone.  She told me I could only make the exchange at the box office at the stadium and they wouldn’t hold tickets aside for me — just in case I didn’t show up.  So I was stuck driving 2.5 hours not knowing if they’d have any cheap seats to exchange for our cheapseats tickets.

When we got there, they didn’t.  All the cheap seats were sold out.  So we had to get tickets about twice as expensive as our original tickets.  This was frustrating.  I pulled out my card to pay the extra money for the more expensive tickets.  The guy asked me if I was buying more tickets.  “No.”  “Then you don’t need your card.”

It was the first good moment in the whole process:  they made a straight exchange for my cheap seats tickets.  This made me happy.  A small amount of redemption.  But the Nationals as an organization have a long way to go to get back in my good graces.  The handling of the rainout and then the unanswered phone messages and emails did a lot of damage.

Anyway, there is a game to report.  Let’s get to it.

To add to my already mounting frustration while heading down to the game, I missed the exit from I-95 to I-295.  So I had no clue how to get to the Park.  I saw an exit sign that said “To Naionals Park.”  So I took it.  Then I drove around totally clueless for about 15 minutes until I magically popped out of nowheresville and onto a bridge heading straight to Nationals Park.  This is what I saw:

1 - road to nats park.jpgWe entered through this entrance by the 1B line.  We’d never been around this side of the stadium, so it was good to see what it looks like over there.

We entered the stadium and there was a lot of hoopla going on — the Nats fans and employees were all jazzed up for the beginning of the game (FYI, we got there about 10 second before the Nats took the field):

2 - festive nats park.JPG

Often times, we walk into a game and Tim instantly informs me, “I want ice cream!”  Today to my surprise, he told me, “I want ice cream, after we eat lunch.”  He wanted chicken strips and fries, which interestingly is what we had at our only other game at Nationals Park.

We bought the chicken and fries and sat in the handicap accessible seats behind 1B field level seats.  This was our view:

3 - nats 1B chxfries seats panaramic.jpg

At our first game here, the attendants were dictators.  They checked tickets everywhere.  I had to sweet talk a guy to let Tim and I sit in the LAST ROW of the upper deck to eat Tim’s ice cream helmet.  I was happy to find the stadium much more relaxed at this game.

Here is Tim between french fries:

4 - serious tim.JPG

Tim was a little camera shy today.  He was all smiles and laughs all day except when the camera looked his way.  This is serious Tim.

I am excited for this entry because I felt like I got a lot of good action shots at this game.  Here is the first:

5 - johnsons on broadway.jpg

Okay.  So there really isn’t much *action* going on here.  But I wanted to get a picture of Nick Johnson and give him big SeaTown props.  Both today and at our last game at Nationals Park, N-John came to the plate accompanied by the sweet sounds of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse On Broadway.

Soon, the action picked up:  Alfonso Soriano hit a double:

6 - soriano doubles.jpg

Soriano seemed to be the only big name in the Cubs line-up.  I’m not up on the Cubs.  I’m not sure where everyone else was — no Aramis Ramirez and no Milton Bradley.  So my Cubs photos focused on Soriano.  He looks like he is going to hit a bomb on every swing he takes.

While sitting here, I noticed that the out-of-town scoreboard was telling a happy story:

7 - good news from cleveland.JPG

After eating, Tim wanted to go check out the play area in CF:

8 - mlb cheat sheet.JPG

The play area is the red and blue thing to the far right of the picture.  To the left, there are some big signs with all of the 30 MLB team logos.  Usually each stadium has the team flags or logos in order of the current standings.  Nationals Park just has the logos.  Not sure why.

 When we arrived at the play area, they had just told everyone to clear out.  Some kid had spilled some bodily fluids (not sure what) out there and they brought the hazmat trucks in to clean up.

So we stood in straight away CF and watched the game.  This was our view:

9 - nats cf field panaramic.jpg

It was a good thing we got booted out of the play area or we would have missed Soriano hitting a bomb in his second at bat:

10 - soriano bomb.jpg

In the interest of full disclosure, the top left picture is actually a foul ball right before the HR.  But the top right, is the actual HR swing.  A pretty sweet swing.  I thought we were in Chicago — the whole stadium went crazy!

Did I mention that I love my new camera?  Check out these floating ball shots I took from straight away CF:

11 - floating balls.jpg

After we got these shots, it was time for the play area:

12 - playarea.jpg

The most frequently broken rule?  No. 8 — no food or drink in the play area.  The violators:  Moms and Dads.  Not this one.

After a little while, play time was done and it was off to the RF seats for us.  Here is an interesting picture of Tim that I took through his seat:

13 - thru seat.jpg

Can you tell what Tim is doing in this picture?

The Answer:

14 - nats ice cream helmet.jpg

In the picture to the left, Tim is holding out his spoon after telling me to take a picture of his ice cream.  By the way, for the first time ever, he went with Cookies’n’Creme — and he loved it.  In the picture to the right, Tim is all concerned that I missed getting a picture of the ice cream on his spoon.  He was very invested in that shot and was upset by the idea that I might have missed it.  As you can see, I nailed it!

This was our view from our ice cream seats:

15 - nats rf ice cream seasts panaramic.jpgAfter I cream, it was time to try to catch a home run:

17 - hit it here.jpg

Unfortunately, Adam Dunn couldn’t quite find the seats in this at bat:

18 - dunn done.jpg

[NOTE:  click on picture to enlarge.  You’ll be able to see the ball in the top picture right at the bottom of the “T” in “Tickets.”]

Check out all of these empty seats:

19 - empty seats.jpg

See the yellow circle at the bottom right?  That’s where Tim and I sat for the ninth inning.

So, all season, I’ve been trying to get a good action shot of an outfielder catching a fly ball.  Its harder than it sounds because you don’t know when a ball will be hit to any given outfielder.  Somehow, I got two decent shots at this game:

20 - running catches.jpg

In the top picture, the ball has just hit the leather of Soriano’s glove.  In the bottom picture, you can see the ball a couple feet above Adam Dunn.

While we were sitting in these seats, we noticed the Nats bullpen catcher would sometimes throw his warm up ball into the stands after warming up Josh Willingham in RF.  Tim wanted to play catch.  So we decided to give it one shot at a ball before going to find a spot to play catch.  It worked like this:

21 - nelson robledo to TJCs.jpg

As far as I can tell, the Nats bullpen catcher is former career minor leaguer, Nelson Robledo.  We were sure to thank Mr. Robledo for his kindness.

Then it was off to play catch by the batting cages in CF:

22a - playing catch.jpg

In the middle picture, Tim is showing his pitching leg kick.  He just learned his pitching motion in the last couple weeks.  I didn’t teach it to him.  He just copied what he saw me and other pitchers doing.  He does a full wind-up at time too.  These pictures are poor quality because we were in a dark hallway type-area.  Eventually, we were told not to play catch in there — “BOO, NATIONALS!  BOO!”  If we can play catch in a busy area of a bustling new Yankee Stadium without incident or reprimand, surely we should be able to play catch in an empty area of Nationals Park.

Next, we headed up to the Red Porch to watch the game with the party people in the house.  People were having a good time up there.  This was our view:

24 - nats red porch panaramic.jpg

…and here is what it looks like up on the Red Porch:

23 - red porch.jpg

Next, we headed over to the seats behind the Cubs’ dugout.  Here is a panaramic from the top of the aisle:

25 -nats cubs dugout panaramic.jpg

When I took this picture, Tim was sitting on my shoulders.  I was sure this guy in the yellow shirt and Nats hat to the far right was going to kick us out of the section and tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders.   Last time we were here, that is certainly what would have happened.  However, he did just the opposite.  He told me, “You have your hands full, why don’t you grab a seat.”  Excellent idea.  Thanks.

I grabbed some seats in the fourth row.

They gave us an excellent view of Notre Dame football start Jeff Samardzija:

26 - samardzija.jpg

Hey, did I mention that future Mariners Hall of Famer, Sweet Lou Piniella was in the house?

27a - Sweet Lou.JPGIt was game time for the Nats.  Despite sending their best hitter to the plate…

27 - last hope.jpg

…Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!

28 - congrats cubs.jpg

And it was time for Kids Run the Bases:

29 - nats 1B side track.jpg

The gal standing on the grass by first base in the Nats jersey is in the process of shouting, “MARINERS!!!”  I didn’t get her back story, but she said the Mariners are her favorite team.  Good to see we’ve infiltrated the Nationals!

Here is Tim at first base:

30 - run first base.jpg

Tim ran about 10 feet passed first base and than stopped.  He turned around and he yelled that he wanted me to run with him.  He came back over to me and I explained that only kids can run the bases so I couldnt’ run with him.  In an odd twist, Tim decided he didn’t want to run without me on this day.  So we just walked around the track and looked at everything.

I got this picture of the Nats doing some field touch-ups:

31 - painting W.JPG

And with that, we left Nationals Park for the final time this season.

But before heading home, we decided to go see a few other attractions in the D.C. area — you might have heard of them:

32 - capitol area.jpg

Tim loved the fountains at the WWII memorial.

Eventually, we had to hit the road to head home.  We had directional difficulties on the way down, so we decided to have some more on the way home.  This is an easy drive.  I’m not sure what the hecked I was thinking.  All I had to do was head up I-695 and connect to I-83 in Baltimore.

Sadly, I missed the I-695 turn off from I-95.  No problem.  I figured I’d just head into Baltimore and connect to I-83 downtown…by this:


 


33 - holy baltimore batman.JPG

The Baltimoreans decided it would be an excellent idea to put a street festival on the street leading to the I-83 entrance.  Hey, no problem.   I was looking for an opportunity to detour all around downtown Baltimore.

Oh, well.  Here are our goodies for the day:


34 - nats goodies.JPG

[Note:  Ball from Robledo, ice cream helmet, exchanged ticket showing $0.00, and Nationals give-away of insulated lunch bags].

Season Fan Stats:

19 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
14 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
15 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

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