Results tagged ‘ New York Mets ’

David Wright Ruins Our No-Hit Bid (4/18/2014)

Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…

…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.

Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:

We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:

Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.

Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…

… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.

The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…

…and running around between the growing lines of fans:

Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:

And Kellan declared it to be banana time:

He destroyed that banana!

Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:

Thanks, Mets guy!

We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.

So…

We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:

At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:

As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.

Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.

Thanks, usher-type-guy!

We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.

Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:

First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.

Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.

Thanks, Ervin!

Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.

Thanks, again, Ervin!

Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):

We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…

…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.

On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:

Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:

And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…

…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”

Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:

We headed to Shea Bridge…

…where it looked a lot like this:

The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…

…struck out swinging.

We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:

Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:

For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:

Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….

…and section 531:

It was windy and freezing up there!

Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!

If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:

Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:

It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…

That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:

Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:

When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.

So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.

I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:

Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.

Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.

Booo!!!!!

(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).

For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:

Check out these silly guys:

The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…

…hit a sacrifice fly.

Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.

Boooo!

After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:

After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.

We had a great day packed with fun and…

…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.

2014 Fan Stats
4 Games
5 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)
3 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
27 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff
5 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)
1 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)
 

 

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 4, Yankees at Mets (5/27/2013)

On May 27, 2013, my dad’s birthday, we woke up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, with a bonus Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip game on tap for later that night in Queens.
We had plenty of time to get to NY so we started the day with a nice leisurely free breakfast in our hotel dining area:

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We had nothing but good things to say about the brand-spanking new Fairfield Inn in DuBois. A very nice place to stay for the night.
We hit the road and had a nice drive across Pennsylvania. It was route I’d never taken before. The boys did a little snacking in the car, and did some jumping jacks to burn some energy at a rest stop…

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…, then it was in to New Jersey, and on to the big city.

When we reached Manhattan, we parked in the upper west side and then dined on some huge pizza slices…

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…at Rays on 82nd and Columbus.

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out where we should get on the subway in the upper west side. So I gave Zack Hample a call. He pointed us in the right direction. And, wouldn’t you know it, as we approached the subway…

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…we ran into Zack on the sidewalk. It had only been 3 days earlier that we were hanging out with Zack in Toronto. It was cool to bump into him again on the same roadtrip, although not at another game.

My boys love riding the subway:

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My dad had never been to Shea or Citi Field and he was happy to get to see the sights…

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…from the 7 Train.

You know we had to get this photo right after arriving at Citi Field:

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We played a little catch in the parking lot and then hopped in line. As I held our spot, my dad took the boys for a little walk so he could see the outside of Citi Field. On their way back…

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…, Tim was showing off his muscles.

Once we headed into the stadium, we all headed to foul territory down the RF foul line. After a few minutes, the boys and I headed to the corner spot in RCF by the bullpens. Here was out view (to the left)…

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…and my dad snapped that picture of us hanging out at the bottom of the steep RF steps. In that line up of player in RCF, the left one in from the left (closest to us) was Bobby Parnell. Eventually, a baseball was hit out to the warning track about half way between the players and us. Parnell ran over to grab it, and he was kind enough to toss it up to us.

Thanks, Bobby!

It was really bright in RCF and nice and shady in LF, so we decided to head over there. On our way, we met up with Mr. Met:

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This was our view in LCF:

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Nothing was doing out there. The most interesting part of our time out in LCF was getting to watch Mariano Rivera shagging fly balls.

Coming into this game, at least one player or coach from every MLB team had thrown us a baseball since Tim’s first game back in 2006, every team, that is, except the Yankees. I was hoping we could cross the Yankees off the toss-up list at this game.

I was really hoping we could get a toss-up from Ichiro, but before Ichiro made it out to RF, we ran into another former Mariner, Shawn Kelley. And, wouldn’t you know, the former-Mariner now in a Yankees uniform tossed us a baseball:

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IN that picture, Tim is looking at me in disbelief because I had the audacity to catch the baseball that Shawn tossed to him after it sailed two feet over Tim’s head. Had I not caught it, we never would have seen it again. But Tim was definitely bummed out that he didn’t get to make the catch. Anyway…

Thanks, Shawn!

Then Tim’s favorite player (who sadly now wears pinstriped pajamas as his home uniform) came out to field some balls in RF:

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Hey, I failed to mention that, while we were in LCF, my dad found his way over to the corner spot where we got the ball from Parnell. At the time, Ichiro was blistering balls all over RF and the RF seats. When he hit a laser out to RCF, an unidentified Yankee fielded the ball and tossed it to my dad; a pretty cool birthday present from the Yankees.

We headed over to RF to watch Ichiro. He tossed several balls into the seats in foul territory, but nothing anyway near us. Once he headed to the dugout, we decided it was a bit too crowded in the seats. So we called it a day for BP, headed off to get some ice cream and headed to the picnic tables under Shea Bridge so the boys could eat their ice cream in peace:

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Kellan is still only two years old and is only potty trained when he feels like it. So he wears pullups most of the time. As we pulled into Manhattan, I changed Kellan and realized that I only had one more pullup! We were far from my car when we stopped into a drug store to get a fresh pack of pullups. As the kids ate their ice cream, I counted that I had 17 pullups in my backpack — quite possibly a new Major League record. I think this meant that my dad had about 8 in his back pack too. By the way, it ended up that I did need to buy them. Oh, well…better safe than sorry.

As the boys ate their ice cream two interesting things happened:

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First, a usher came over and toss a ball over the fence to the boys. Tim was mid-ice cream and couldn’t get his glove on in time. After the Shawn Kelley toss-up, I knew Tim wanted to be the one to catch (or at least secure) this ball, so I literally let the ball just hit me in the chest and bounce back against the fence. Tim ran over and grabbed it with his glove still in his throwing hand (picture above to the right).

Second, the same usher came back over to us two minute later with another ball. He felt that both boys should get a ball. This time, Tim had time to get his glove on and he made a nice catch on the high toss over the fence (there he is with it in the photo above to the left). Meanwhile, Kellan was shoveling ice cream into his face.

Double thanks, Usher!

By the way, that is the usher walking away from us behind Tim in the photo above to the left.

My dad came and found us. And look who else found us once my dad arrived:

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From time-to-time, Kellan has a case of the terrible twos. And this game featured a couple of them, including right when the game was about to start. That’s okay though. He can sit on my shoulders and fuss it up while we walk around and have a nice time. My dad needed to see some more of the ballpark so we all headed up to the Pepsi Porch in RF. That’s where we were when the game started. Here’s the second pitch…

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…because it ended up being a better picture than my shot of the first pitch.

The pitching match up was Jon Neise vs. Phil Hughes. That second pitch picture features a match up of Neise against Brett Gardner. Neise won that match up by way of strikeout.
My dad got his first taste of New York ushering…

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…while watching Robby Cano strike out for the final out of the top of the first. Neise k’d all three batters he faced. Anyway, see that little gate to my dad’s right in that picture above to the right? When we walked up to the standing room area, my dad walked up to that gate and rested his hands on top of the gate – a very natural thing to do in an SRO area. The usher told my dad that he couldn’t stand at the gate, he had to move over to the left…which was a pretty pointless rule.

On our way out of the Pepsi Porch, we got a picture of Tim posing in front of the 7 Train and muffler city (that’s my name for it. Whatever it’s called, it is an eye sore):

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And then Tim and my dad got a (bonus) picture with the Citi Field sign and some baseballs for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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We were in the upper deck concourse down the 3B side in the top of the second when Ichiro came to the plate:

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Tim watched on with uneasy anticipation as his all-time favorite batter took the batters’ box wearing the wrong uniform. It was the first time we’d ever seen Ichiro bat in person wearing a non-Mariners uniform, and it was a bit unsettling.

We are never accustomed to wanting a Yankee to get a hit or do anything positive in a game. But all of us were happy when Ichiro laced a harmless single to CF:

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It was Ichiro’s only hit on the day. He went 1-3 with a walk.

If I had it my way, Ichiro would rip off another 200 hit season this year, but his teammates would always squander the opportunities and leave him stranded on base.
While we watched Ichiro bat, my dad chatted with an usher who pointed out this:

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You see it? Row 6 and, right behind it, row 6. Oops!

In the top of the third, we grabbed some food and finally found our seats:

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Tim and my dad enjoyed their food and ended up sitting in our seats for a while. Kellan and I were I our seats for about five minutes tops. I ended up ripping off a big piece of Kellan’s soft pretzel and giving it to him to eat. I knew it was a mistake the second I did it. Kellan launched into another case of the terrible twos. Instead of letting his whining annoy our fellow fans, I decided to head back over to the bullpen area where Kellan could work the crankiness out of his system without bothering other fans. Somehow, we ended up staying there most of the game.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Brett Gardner led off the inning with a triple and scored on a Jayson Nix RBI single.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gardner helped keep the 1-0 Yankees lead intact. At the time, Kellan and I were in the field level concourse in LF. There were two outs when Daniel Murphy came to the plate. Murphy blasted the ball to deep LCF. It had just enough to get out of the ballpark…but it didn’t have quite enough to get out of Gardner’s reach. Garden jumped high against the wall and brought the homerun back into the park for the final out of the inning. Here is a video clip of the catch.

Tim and my dad ended up meeting up with us back by the bullpens around the sixth or seventh inning. We played a ton of catch back there:

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Above to the left, Kellan was throwing balls against the wall while my dad played back up. Above to the right, I was throwing long tosses (essentially the entire length of Shea Bridge to Tim. No one seemed to care that we were doing there, so that was pretty cool.

You know what wasn’t cool? The fans by the bullpens:

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There were a bunch of Mets and Yankees fans and they were cursing up a storm at each other and putting down each other’s team. It was ridiculous. Eventually, an usher came over and threatened to kick out the guy above in the Mets shirt who is facing the camera. He felt this was a grave injustice and that it was the Yankees fans who should have been threatened to get kicked out.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, David Wright launched a game tying homerun to LF.

We had signed my dad up for a “First Game” certificate at the fan assistance booth in the upper deck early in the game. They told us to come back for the certificate in the seventh inning or later. We decided to head up to grab the certificate and get a picture of the four of us.

Turns out my dad’s certificate wasn’t ready so they ended up mailing it to him. During the eighth inning, an usher took this photo of us on our final stop on the GFS Roadtrip:

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Here was our view of the action from our SRO spot in the bottom of the eighth:

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Lucas Duda ended up striking out to end the eighth inning, but the Mets fans didn’t care because two batters earlier Daniel Murphy had come through with a go-ahead RBI single to CF. So the Mets were up 2-1 going into the top of the ninth.

As Bobby Parnell came in for the save attempt, we relocated to the SRO behind the field level seats behind 3B so we would be closer to the exits when the game ended.
Historically, I have found it difficult to get down to the umpire’s tunnel at the end of Mets home games at Citi Field. At first, I wasn’t even thinking we would try. But Kellan and I ended up walking down to the SRO area just behind the section immediately above the umpire tunnel.

The usher was not checking tickets. But we stayed in the concourse.

With one out, this was our view as Ichiro worked a walk:

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In a 8-pitch at bat, Lyle Overbay ended up striking out for the second out of the top of the ninth inning. In this course of battling Parnell, Overbay ended up hitting a little foul nubber right in front of the plate. I watched as catcher John Buck retrieved the ball and gave it back to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Culbreth inspected the foul ball and then put it back in one of his baseball pouches.

Travis Hafner was the final batter of the game. As he batted, Kellan and I stood in the aisle right at the top of the stairs. Hafner ended up being retired on a moon shot, infield pop out to David Wright at 3B.

In terms of trying to get into position to get an umpire ball, pop fly outs are the best possible ending to a game. As everyone stood to watch the play, Kellan (on my shoulders) and I took off down the stairs and we had no problem reaching the umpire tunnel before Culbreth arrived. Culbreth ended up tossing a few baseballs to kids on the OF side of the tunnel. Then he turned and tossed his final baseball to us:

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The baseball was all smudged and dirty. I have a strong feeling it was the foul nubber that Overbay hit before striking out for the second out of the game. Of course, there is no way to ever confirm that suspicion…but it’s fun to speculate.

Thanks, Fieldin!

Right after we got the ball from Culbreth, a teenage fan standing next to us looked at me and asked, “Todd and Tim!?” “Yeah…well, Todd and Kellan,” I responded. I didn’t recognize him at first because he has almost doubled in size since the last time we saw him, but I was pleased to be face-to-face once again with our former ballpark buddy and MyGameBalls.com member, Alex K.

We chatted for a minute or two in the seats and then I asked if he could head up to the concourse with us so he could say hi to Tim. I knew Tim would be psyched to see him. Here’s the thing about Tim, he loves people. Especially, kids, of all ages. In 2009, we met Alex in Chicago and then saw him several times in NY, along with his buddy Joe Faraguna. Back then, every time we went to a game, Tim asked, “Will Joe and Alex be at the game?”

Tim was definitely thrown off at first at how much older and taller Alex looks now. But once he realized it was Alex from “Joe and Alex,” he was excited to see his old buddy. Of course, almost right away, Tim asked, “Where’s Joe?”

Check out these now (2013) and then (2009) picts of Tim and Alex:

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They’ve both grown a lot!

After chatting with Alex a bit, we headed toward the gates. On the way out, I realized my dad had missed out on a Citi Field must see, the big Jackie Robinson “42”:

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On the way to the 7 Train, we saw a cool Mets car:

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We said good-bye to Citi Field from the 7 train…

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…, the local 7 Train, that is.

It was a long but fun commute back to our car on the 7 Train and the 1 Train:

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And it was an even longer commute out of NY and back to Pennsylvania. We arrived home around 2:30 a.m.

So there you go, another successful Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip in the books. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in Texas in 2014 because my dad has now seen every team play a home game except the Rangers (he saw the Astros at the Astrodome so he still needs to visit Minute Maid Park and he saw the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium so he still needs to go to Marlins Park). Can wait to help him check all of those stadiums off of his list!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

11 Games

16 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets.

20 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2.

50 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 3, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2.

9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field.

16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson.

5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo.

Marlins Park: Take 2 (9/1/12)

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

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

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

And then it was  off to the beach:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and found some bamboo trees around the corner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this nice catch by Tim:

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

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

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

Thanks, Josh!

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

It was pretty cute.

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

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

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

Thanks, Usher!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Eric!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And when St. Clair passed by below…

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

Thanks, Randy!

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

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

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

And then we headed up the big escalator…

…to the upper deck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and this…

…, and this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aye, aye, aye…

We continued walking single file from LF toward CF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Lucas and Ball Boy!

Here’s a random picture for you:

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

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

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

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

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

I was stilling waiting for a Giancarlo Stanton long ball…

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

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

Here’s another random shot:

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

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

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

*POOF*

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruggiano’s body language told the story:

Aye, aye, aye…

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

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

“Hit the showers, kid!”

And in sprinted former-closer, Heath Bell:

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

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

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

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

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

Way to go, cool guy!

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

Game, set, match: Mets.

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

But our night wasn’t over.

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

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

Then the Marlins opened up the roof…

…and BOOM GO THE FIREWORKS:

Oooooow….

Aaaahhhhhh….

Ooooooooooh!

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

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

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

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

Anyway, it was finally time to leave.

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

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

Thanks, Usher!

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

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

Tim posed with the best of them – Giancarlo Stanton!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good job, Marlins!

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

BONUS PICTS:

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

And some more cool birds and a Lambourghini:

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

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

Hooray for dolphins!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CROWN VICTORIA!!!

Oh, yeah.  We were rolling in style!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway…

Thanks, Robert!

And very, very quickly after that, Mike Baxter…

…tossed another baseball to Tim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love Kellan’s casual little pose there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…that was tossed to us by Jon Rauch.

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

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

Thanks and Thanks, Jon Rauch!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the back of the homerun statue:

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

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

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

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

…and Tim made a nice catch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I got a panorama from section 12…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giancarlo Stanton was right in front of us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here are some more photos from section 40:

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

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

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

Reyes would end up striking out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…while I took pictures, including this panorama:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…but instead he struck out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Arrow:  Our seats in section 40.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we did find this cool little emergency response truck:

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

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

…but no fries at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jeremy!

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

I still wanted to see Stanton go yard…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

Father-Son Baseball? Yes, Please! (4/14/2012)

It has been a long and busy off-season.  On Saturday, April 14, 2012, Tim and I kicked off our 2012 baseball season with a game between the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia.  I had been looking forward to this game like crazy.

I had originally planned to take both boys to Baltimore on Saturday, April 7th, but I didn’t realize it was Easter weekend and we had a house full of family.  So we had to wait a whole week to get our first taste of major league baseball for the season.

I’ve been extremely busy at work this off-season.  And our house has been crazy.  Having two boys is awesome.  But it is way harder than having one boy.  Tim and Kellan get along great most of the time.  But they also create non-stop action, tons of brotherly competition, a healthy dose of yelling and chaos, and they require a lot of discipline…or at least a lot of correcting.  Don’t do this, that, or the other thing.  Stop doing this, that, or whatever.

Baseball season provides something that the rest of the year generally does not.  Something I really needed.  Extended periods of father-son time in an environment that Tim and I just really enjoy.  No chaos.  Tim and I have gotten so good at attending games.  We’re an amazing team.  Hardly any discipline is needed.  It is just fun and relaxing days connecting with my boy and sharing our mutual love of baseball.  So let’s get to it.

The morning started with opening day of Tim’s first year of little league (which is the newest chapter of Tim’s life, extremely exciting, and will be up next on this blog).  After opening ceremonies, we hopped in the car, grabbed a happy meal from McD’s…

…and headed toward Philadelphia.  I was loving baseball season within the first fifteen minutes of our drive.  It was a completely unchanged experience despite the six month break.  Tim and I had great conversations the whole ride down, except of course for during the 15 minutes that we spent battling each other to see who could sing the best Gotye “Someone I Used To Know” (Tim’s favorite song).  Tim won!  As my wife will tell you, I’m a horrible singer.  By the way, Tim’s best comment during our drive was his description of what college is:  “college is where there are lots of boys and lots of girls and you find out who you are going to marry.”

We pulled into the stadium – paid our $15 to park.  Pulled on Tim’s new Ichiro jersey…

…and sized up our destination:  Citizens Bank Park!

Bring on the baseball.

We grabbed a spot second in line.  We started up a nice conversation with the guy behind us, another guy excited to be back at the ballpark for another year.  And within a few minutes, a young man approached and asked, “Are you Todd?”

It was a 12-year-old boy named Harrison who was at the ballpark with his father, Seth.  Another father-son having a great day with the sport they love.  Harrison reads our blog and leaves comments from time-to-time under the name “Philadelphia45.”  It was great to get to know Harrison and Seth a little bit.

Tim loves hanging with older kids, and Harrison was no exception.  Here they are hanging out at the gate – timed exactly when Tim blinked (oops):

When the gates opened, we went our separate ways, but we’d meet up again with Harrison and Seth.  Tim and I headed to left field.  We were among the very first people into the seats.  And within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lined a foul ball into the roped off seats down the 3B line.  An usher grabbed it and spotted Tim from a long way off.  He siliently (so Tim didn’t realize it) called us over to the “chain” and handed Tim his very first baseball of 2012:

Thank you, Sir!

We have somewhat of a routine for the BP at Citizens Bank Park.  First, we set up shop right down the line, in the very small piece of foul territory that is open at the beginning of BP.  Here was our view:

There was a Mets player…I think he was a player, although he was wearing shorts and no jersey…hanging out below us.  And I notice something very odd…

…he had a glove with “Todd Helton” embroidered on the thumb.  I asked him why he had a Todd Helton glove and he responded, “Because he gave it to me.”  “Oh, that’s really cool,” I responded.

Soon (as pictured above), Johan Santana showed up and started running from the foul line to CF.  At one point, he was approaching the foul line when a Phillies batter hit a long grounder right to him.  I called out, “Hey, Johan!”  When he looked up, I pointed at Tim and he started to motion like he was going to throw it to Tim.  But Tim was holding his glove in his throwing hand for some reason.  So, Johan pointed…or maybe he nodded…at Tim and then threw the baseball to me.  I handed it over to Tim and we both called out a loud and excited:

Thank you, Johan!!!

Wow, Johan Santana.  That’s a great toss-up.  Very exciting for our first toss-up of the season.  But in retrospect, our next toss-up would be about ten times more exciting.

We hung out in the same spot until they opened the rest of the stadium.  We watched Cliff Lee do some running…

…and we chatted with Harrison and Seth who had joined us shortly after the toss-up from Santana.  They had also caught two baseballs already – one from Michael Stutes who I really want to connect with some day on a toss-up because he once heckled my softball team while he played for the Reading Phillies.

Normally, when the rest of the stadium opens, Tim and I head out to the “pizza wedge” in RCF.  But the Mets have a commemorative baseball this season that I was really hoping we could get from one of the Mets pitchers warming up down the line.  So we relocated (along with Harrison and Seth) to the corner spot down the LF line:

We ended up standing right behind Tim Byrdak.  I was excited.  I have wanted Tim to get a baseball from another “Tim” ever since we got one from umpire Todd Tichnor.  Maybe this would be the day!?

When Mets coach Ricky Bones (I love that name!) walked by, Harrison asked for a picture.  Bones told Harrison to hold on and when he returned about 10 minutes later, Tim was a co-beneficiary of Harrison’s request:

Thanks, Mr. Bones!

And then things got REALLY exciting!  Tim Byrdak and his partner finished up playing catch.  A Mets batter had hit a grounder that rolled to a stop about five feet from Byrdak’s feet.  As he grabbed the ball to throw it in, while pointing at Tim, I shouted out, “Hey, Tim, how about throwing a ball to another Tim!?”

It worked.  Byrdak turned around and tossed the ball at Tim.  Tim has made amazing progress with his catching skills over the last two months, but I was nervous and anxious and excited all at the same time as the ball sailed toward Tim.  What would happen?

Without hesitating, Tim reached out and made a nice one handed grab with his glove.  A clean catch with zero assistance from his dad:

When the ball stuck in Tim’s glove I was ecstatic.  I literally jumped in the air and shouted, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!”  I was so happy and proud of my no-longer-so-little guy.  All offseason, we’ve been talking about how he’s going to catch a baseball (or baseballs!) on his own this season, and we’ve been talking about trying to get a baseball from a Major League “Tim” for years, and it all came together in one moment and sheer awesomeness.

It was truly perfect and completely made my day.

Some of our hugest “thank yous” ever to Mr. Timothy Christopher Byrdak!

We’ve been fortunate enough to get a nice collection of baseballs at MLB games, but this one definitely ranks right up there at the tippy top of the list as one of the best.

On the natural high of the toss-up from Mr. Byrdak, Tim and I decided to report to the pizza wedge.

Here’s a tip.  When relocating to another section of the ballpark, walk through the seats, not through the concourse.  That’s what we did and…

…Mike Pelfrey rewarded us with a baseball in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep center field.

Before hitting up the pizza wedge, we visited the Phillies hall of fame area so Tim could grab the different metal baseballs that have finger grips for different types of pitches, and then spit some seeds down…

…into the bushes in the batters’ eye.  And then Tim called Richie Ashburn “saaafe!” in our first MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt picture of the season.

The pizza wedge was dominated by a family a four with two 13-14 year old’ish girls who got some love from the players (as did “mom”), before Mets coach (and former player for numerous MLB teams) Tom Goodwin hooked Tim up with our first pizza wedge ball of the season:

Note: the balls from Pelfey and Goodwin followed the more traditional, point at Tim and throw to Dad method…although, Tim made an attempt at the Pelfrey ball, but it was too high and sailed over his glove and into mine.

There was still more BP, but we were done.  Tim wanted to play some games.  The speed pitch, for some reason, wasn’t open.  But we played the trivia game and the running in place game…

…in the deep LCF concourse.  This season, instead of handing out slips of paper that say you played one of these games, you collect stamps in the little booklet that Tim is holding in the above picture.  I’m not sure what you get when you fill it up with stamps.  We’ll see later in the season.

After some game time, we headed up the steps toward the upper deck.  We got this picture of Tim on the second deck with a view of the bullpens and Ashburn Alley behind/below him:

And then we headed to the back row of section 302 for what we determined must be the farthest seat from home plate:

Yep, make that two pictures checked off the 2012 Photo Scavenger Hunt list!

While up there, of course, I got a panorama from section 302:

And then we headed back down to the second deck for our first father-son picture of the season:

Thank you to a nice usher who snapped the photo.  As my Little Grandma would say, “Jiminy, Tim is gotten huge!”  Remember when he used to look like this?  It is fun looking back at game photos and seeing him grow up before my eyes.

Actually, he’s done some much growing that I was concerned he would be too tall for the kids’ play area.  But fear not…

…plenty of growing still to do before he is shut out of the play area.

Tim was excited after posing for that picture, he told me “I can even come back and play when I am seven!”

The game started while we were at the play area.  Soon, we grabbed some nachos…

…and our seats in section 104:

The Mets were already winning 1-0 on a David Wright homerun to LF.

We spent a lot of the game (we’re mobile so not all of the game) sitting behind this dude…

…named “Duda,” Lucas Duda, and this other dude named….

…Hunter “Ugliest Mechanics In Baseball But Monster Power” Pence.

After nachos, it was time for Tim’s first ice cream helmet of the season.  We took the scenic route to our favorite ice cream lady at Citizens Bank Park…

…that’s the view from Section 242¸by the way.

Most of the teams in Tim’s little league are sponsored by local businesses, but one is sponsored by today’s Phillies starter, Vance Worley (who used to play for the Reading Phillies):

Big thanks to Vance for supporting our league, but this, unfortunately, was not his day.

On this pitch, Vance got Jason Bay to ground into a double play…

…but a run scored making it 2-0 Mets.  Duda was up next and he clubbed a 2-run homer to make it 4-0 Mets.

How about a random shot of British Columbian-born, Gonzaga University-alum Jason Bay:

Guess what?  Tim still likes ice cream hemlets…

…and our lady still makes a huge helmet.

The Phillies have not started strong this season.  And I noticed something…the fans do not seem to believe in them as much as in the last couple years, at least at this point with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both on the DL.  Check out the patch of empty seats with the Phils losing 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning:

I never saw that last season at Citizens Bank Park.

Tim wanted to visit the team store.  On our walk around the stadium, we noticed this nice mosaic art piece in the concourse:

While Tim and I were talking about the little Phanatic in the mosaic, the real Phanatic’s mom showed up on the scene.  I pulled our my camera and it refused to fire when the Phanatic’s mom patted Tim on the head.  Instead, the flash delayed the shutter and it didn’t take a picture until the Phanatic’s mom stuck her hand in my face with an exaggerated “Hi, Dad” wave:

So I got a rare close up of the Phanatic’s mom’s hand!

Shortly thereafter, Tim became the owner of a new stuffed Phanatic:

We stopped by the play area on our way back to RF, but it was just closing down.  Sad news.  So we headed back to the now hardly half-full RF seats.  Between innings, an usher took this shot of me and Tim:

By the way, Tim’s eyes were starting to look puffy because he was battling serious hay fever, which has been a daily battle for the last couple weeks.

The Phillies really did nothing offensively in this game.  Well, next to nothing.  They did get a single on this pitch to Juan Pierre:

If you look closely, you can see the baseball heading toward RF in that picture.

It is almost impossible to get an umpire baseball in Philadelphia (it would be easier if you had seats in the Diamond Club), but it was our first game of the season so, heck, we were up for the challenge.

We relocated to the concourse behind section 130.  For a while, we stood behind the camera man…

…where we saw Ruben Tejada drive in pinch runner Mike Baxter…

…off of Michael Stutes:

And then we watched David Wright…

…and Ike Davis…

…make outs for the Mets.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim and I slid into nearly ideal seats for making the umpire ball attempt:

The umpire Alfonso Marquez (shown in the background) would enter a tunnel at the home plate end of the dugout, just to the right of the guy in the light blue Phillies t-shirt in that last picture.

We had a great view of Jimmy Rollins, as he grounded out:

And a great view of Hunter Pence, while he struck out:

There were tons of empty seats in RF as Jon Rauch pitched to the day’s final batter John Mayberry:

Mayberry ended the game in the ideal umpire attempt manner – a high pop up that allowed us to get into position while the umpire had to stay at home plate.

We slid all the way into the second a row and stood at the little railing separating the really nice seats (dugout) from the ridiculously nice seats (Diamond Club).  Tim and I both called out “Alfonso” when he stopped on the grass just short of the warning track to wait for his colleagues.  He heard us call his name and fired an absolutely beautifully rubbed up baseball to us:

And then he left.

We lingered for a bit and then headed toward the LF corner on our way to the exit.  Tim was tossing the umpire ball into his glove over and over while we walked.  I noticed that there were two ballgirls down the LF line and I asked Tim if he wanted to get a picture. He said yes, and then yelled and started running.

I thought he was running to the ballgirls, but he had missed his glove and fired his new umpire ball under some seats and it disappeared.  We couldn’t find it anywhere, but fortunately, a nice fan pointed it out and we retrieved it from a tray of peanuts (or some type of food).

Fifteen seconds later and we would have missed getting this double ballgirl picture, which was taken mere feet from the spot where Tim caught the baseball from Byrdak about 4-and-a-half hours earlier:

A pose with his umpire ball and Citizens Bank Park sign…

…and with the Harry Kalas statute…

…and then we were “outta there!”

It was an incredibly awesome first day being back at the ballpark.  I can’t wait to fold Kellan into the mix for our first 3-guys game next weekend.

I know why Ernie Banks always wanted to *play two* — hip, hip Hooray for Baseball!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

Cook Family In The Citi (6/18/2011)

With Kellan still less than a year old, most of our games this season will be just me and Tim.  Essentially, I have planned out one game at each of our “local” stadiums (i.e., northeastern United States minus Boston) for our entry family to attend.  On June 18, 2011, it was Kellan’s and Colleen’s first game at Citi Field.  And we made a weekend of it.

Lots of “firsts” for Kellan on this trip.  First NL stadium (Citi Field).  First NL team (Mets).  First Inter-league game (vs. Angels).  First trip to New York.  First hotel room (Club Quarter’s Wall Street).  First sub-river tunnel (Holland).  First subway ride (I can’t remember if it was the A, C, B, or D, but it was from 86thto Columbus Circle).  First trip to the big FAO Schwartz….

…and to Central Park (FYI, this list isn’t in chronological order).  First New York Pizza…

…(from Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus).  First elevated train (the 7 Train…Queens portion).  And first picture with a gigantic apple…

…or maybe I should say a “Big Apple.”  Yep, lots of firsts.

I thought the stadium would already be open when we arrived, but it was not.  So we got to stand in a fairly big line for about 10-15 minutes.  I snapped this picture of Tim and Colleen as we waited:

Not only was this Colleen’s first game at Citi Field, it was her first home Mets game, period.  She never joined me on any of my handful of trips to Shea Stadium.  So was it was good to finally get her out to Queens.

By the time we made it to the seats, there were already a lot of people in the stands.  But deep LCF was open.  So we headed out to the corner spot by the even “Bigger” Apple:

Kellan is a humungous baby for a Baby Bjorn, but it is still the most convenient way to get him around the ballpark.  Even then, Colleen had to lug the stroller along the way.

There were two “Mets” right in front of us…

…and another “Met” about 75 feet over toward left field.  All three of them had “OO” and their first names (Anthony, Travis and Jimmy) on their backs.  I guess they are bat and/or ball boys.  Tim was pretty confused about why there were multiple people wearing “OO,” but he promptly forgot about the confusion and rained down a loud “THANK YOU” on Travis when he
tossed us a baseball:

Colleen thinks the ball is in my glove and she should know best since she took the picture.  But, to me, it looks like I’m still watching the flight of the ball on its way up to me.  Who knows?

Right when Travis tossed us the baseball, the Angels pitchers all reported to the LF foul line for stretching and throwing.  I apologized in advance to Colleen and explained that we needed to relocate over there because I was hoping we could get a baseball from the Angels, and that it would be an Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball (which is the reason I picked this particular game for Kellan’s first at Citi Field).

Us three boys grabbed a spot along the railing behind Scott Downs (among others), as Tim pointed out airplanes passing over head:

And what do you know, Downs tossed us his baseball when he finished playing catch:

Although it was not a commemorative ball, we were mighty appreciative.

Thanks, Scott!

Colleen was hanging out in some seats about 15 rows back from the field.  We lingered a few minutes after getting the baseball from Downs, and then we raced over to her:

And , upon arrival, Colleen snapped this picture of Tim’s big cheesy grin:

Of course, we are competing in the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt, so we needed a Citi Field *bonus* picture.  Colleen snapped two of them and I love them both.  This is the one we submitted on mygameballs.com:

I picked that one because it shows Kellan more clearly and it clearly shows that he is trying to eat the baseball like an apple.

But I also love the funny face that Tim is making in this one:

After those pictures, Colleen headed to the family restroom to change Kellan.  Tim and I headed back down to the front row while we waited for them to return.  It was extremely obnoxious down there.  We were surrounded by a group of young boys (maybe 10-13 years old…its hard to judge).  They were flat out screaming at every player who touched a baseball.  “THROW ME THAT BASEBALL!”  They also mixed in a smattering of foul and derogatory language.  You know, the kind of stuff that just *really* makes a ballplayer want to give a kid a baseball (yeah, that’s sarcasm).

While those kids were ensuring that no baseballs would be tossed into our section, the strangest thing happened.  We got a *hit* baseball!  It was so unlike us.  An unidentified Angels lefty sliced (or is it hooked) a ball right down the LF line.  I ran a full section over down a completely empty row.  I was certain the ball was going to fall 10-15 feet (and 3-5 rows) below me and I was hoping that it would hop up in my direction.  But lo-and-behold, the ball hung in the air and made it all the way to me.  I was so surprised that it hung up that I botched the play as I turned my glove over in slow-motion to make the backhanded attempt.  Luckily, it hit the pinky of my glove and fell into the seat right there.  All I had to do was bend over and pick it up.

It was our first ever hit ball in Queens.

Colleen and Kellan were literally walking down the aisle toward us when we got the hit baseball.  I picked it up, gave a kid a high five, and Tim and I went back up to where Colleen and Kellan were sitting.

We decided to skip the rest of BP and instead head out to the kids play area.

When we reached our destination, Mr. Met was out there taking photos with fans so we got a family shot with him:

Two notes:  (1) I am attempting to catch Mr. Mets’ head and (2) all of us Cooks (except Kellan) are looking at our camera while Mr. Met is looking at the Mets fan photos photographer.

A few minutes later, Tim was manning the field…

…in the whiffle ball Citi Field.  Like Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Tim has got some “Tenacious D.”

After a little hitting…

…and a little baserunning…

…it was time for dinner.  We walked almost all the way around the stadium in our quest for food.  It was took crowded in the large eating area above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.  So we headed out to the Pepsi Porch in RF.  On the walkway out to the Pepsi Porch, I got this shot of Tim with *muffler city* in the background:

By the way, that’s just my name for it.  It is basically a big eye-sore composed of dingy car repair shops.

We decided on an all-Nathan’s Famous hot dog dinner:

A corn dog for Tim.  Spicy vegetarian dog for Colleen.  A big sloppy hot dog with mustard, onions, relish and sauerkraut for me.  And cut up hot dog bits (no condiments) for Kellan.  Tasty.

While we ate, we were serenaded with the National Anthem by Roy Hobbs’s girlfriend, Glenn Close:

Mrs. Hobbs totally botched the second to last line of the anthem.  Well, she sang all the right words, but her voice totally broke on the high note (“…land of the free-eeeeeee”).  She rolled with it, gave a big laughing smile and the old college try as she belted out that cracking “freeeeeee,” and, in the process, she really won the crowd over.  She got a huge ovation after she finished.

We sat in section 523 for almost the entire game.  When Tim, Kellan and I climbed to the top, we took this picture of Colleen that shows a fair representation of our view (although, we were obviously closer than the camera view):

Obviously, we were hoping the Mets would win because that would be better for the Mariners.  And at the end of the day, that’s what happened.

I was mighty pleased when native-British Columbian and Gonzaga University alum Jason Bay…

…came to the plate to Pearl Jam’s “Alive” off of their smash-hit debut album “10,” which was released during my freshman year of high school and was, of course, HUGE at my school.

I was quite pleased to hear Mike Pelfrey representing the Seattle Grunge era with his batting intro song:  Nirvana’s cover of the Meat Puppet’s “Lake of Fire.”

It was also nice to see that Russell Branyan…

…had found a place to fit in this season.  That guy can mash the ball!  Luckily, he did not do so at this game.

In fact, the Angels didn’t do much mashing at all at this game.  Mike Pelfrey pitched a complete game, giving up only five hits and 1 run.

The Mets had a good day at the plate.  It started in the third inning, when Jose Reyes hit a single, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored the first run of the game on a single by Carlos Beltran.

In the third, Tim and I went to grab an ice cream helmet, and Tim spontaneously busted out in an in-stadium statue pose:

When we returned to our seats, Kellan was conked out on Colleen’s lap:

The Mets got right back at it in the fourth inning.  Angel Pagan led off with a single.  He then stole second and scored on a Jason Bay single.

Meanwhile, Bay didn’t look like he was long for first base:

Within seconds of taking that last picture, Bay swiped second base.

I should mention that Dan Haren was pitching:

It wasn’t his night.

Soon after stealing second, Bay scored the third run of the game…

…on a Russell Branyan error.

Both the ice cream and the Angels deficit were keeping us happy.  Actually, Tim was focusing more on the ice cream at this point:

Here is a random picture of Citi Field and Kellan as he sits on my lap:

It should be noted that Kellan is wearing a hand-me-down Mariners t-shirt that he received (with love) from his big brother.  It should also be noted that this was Kellan’s fourth Major League Baseball game and Tim wore the exact same shirt to his fourth MLB game.

Most of our pictures from this game are random smiling Cook Boys pictures.  Here is one of them:

In our four previous games at Citi Field, we had never seen a Met hit a homerun and raise the Big Apple.  Well, Carlos Beltran finally did it for us:

High fives for Carlos:

Beltran’s blast made it 6-0 Mets (Reyes had scored on the batter before Beltran’s homerun) at the end of the fifth inning.  In the top of the sixth, the Angels got their sole run on a Mark Trumbo homerun.  And that was all the scoring in this game.

Here is one of Tim’s standard silly faces that I never tire of:

I also never tire of playing with Kellan…

…or feeding him a bottle while taking in a ballgame.  (Although Kellan will soon graduate from the bottle stage of life).

In the seventh inning, Tim asked to do some exploring.  So, we walked through the CF area where the “Shake Shack” was all lit up in Mets blue and orange:

And we spent some time behind the bullpens watching relievers warm up for both teams:

At the very end of the game, we scooted back over toward the 3B side and positioned ourselves in the concourse above the umpire’s tunnel.  With two outs in the top of the ninth (when they were still checking tickets), Vernon Wells hit a towering pop up for the final out of the game.  As the ball ascended, I scooped up Tim and we started to scurry down the stairs towards the umpires’ tunnel.  But a voice from above called us back.  An usher told us, “you can’t go down there.”  He did not realize the game was going to be over in literally 2-3 seconds.  When he
realized it, he stuck to his guns, “the game is over, you can’t go down there.”

Oh, well.  No umpire ball attempt for us at this game.

We slowly made our way out of the stadium, and we ended up sitting on some benches outside for a while so the traffic on the 7-train could die down a bit.  While we were waiting, I got this picture of Tim with Citi Field lit up at night:

We then made our way back down to Wall Street and our waiting hotel room beds.  The next morning, we trooped around the downtown area a bit before heading home.   We got Tim’s picture with the famous bull:

And we checked out lady liberty from a far:

All-in-all, it was a nice little trip to New York City and Citi Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
13/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
8 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
41 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden
Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark
in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

14-Inning Affair in Philadelphia (5/1/2011)

On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season.  Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets.  Unlike last season, this game was a night game.  In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.

We arrived before the gates opened.  But there was a problem:  we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves.  Oh, no!

But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary.  With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.

Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:


1 - Ibanez post toss up.JPGRaul gave us props for our Mariners shirts, and then tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulll!!!

After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…


2 - citz bullpen.JPG…, and checked out the various displays that teach you how to grip the baseball to throw different pitches.

While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium.  So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1).  There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:


3 - CF corner spot.JPGPhillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us.  While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:


4 - Antonio Bastardo.JPGIt was our second baseball, and I barehanded it just fine.

The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…


5 - Four Aces Minus Lee.JPG…and Roy Oswalt was doing all of the shagging.

At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…


6 - Thanks Phils groundskeeper.JPG…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way.  He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us.  Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.

Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks.  Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show.  He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence.  In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:


7 - lost birdie.JPGTim started telling me all about this birdie and his life and family.

By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:


8 - Citizens Bank Park section 101, row 1, seat 1 panorama.jpgWhile hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun.  Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  It sailed about 5 feet over our heads.  In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer.  It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.

A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:


9 - Lee prepares for ND.JPGAs Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag.  Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball.  Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug).  Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads.  Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.”  He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”

After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:


10 - Dubee and Tiamo.JPGAfter Tiamo tossed us the baseball, Tim and I headed to the speed pitch:


11 - 26 mph gas.JPGThe fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour.  He loved the speed pitch.  On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one).  He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far.  We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.

Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:


12 - Tim and Liberty Bell.JPGAnd then it was game time.  On our way through the concourse, we stopped for some nachos and then reported to our seats in Section 140, Section 8, Seats 1-2:


13 - Citizens Bank Park section 140, row 8, seat 1.jpgAs you can see, Row 8 is really the second row of Section 140.  We got these tickets on stubhub and I really loved them.  Great seats.  Highly recommended.

It was a great pitching match-up for this game:  Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young.  Both pitchers were on their game.

After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…


14 - Howard ready to mash.JPG…, but, unfortunately for the Phils, J-Roll got picked off to end the inning:


15 - Jimmy Rollins  picked off.JPGThe two leftfielders both had Northwest connections — Two-time former-Mariner Raul Ibanez for the Phillies and British Columbian and Gonzaga Bulldog Jason Bay for the Mets:


16 - Ibanez and Bay in LF.JPGRonny Paulino led off the second inning with his first hit as a New York Met, a line drive single to center.  But he was left on base when Jose Reyes…


17 - Jose Reyes at bat.JPG…flew out to Ibanez to end the inning.  Now, Reyes, there is a guy the Philadelphia fans really seem to dislike.

During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:


18 - Tim Ibanez baseball and CitzBankPark sign.JPGAnd for good measure, he posed with his vanilla cookies and the field:


19 - chilling and eating cookies.JPGAfter eating a pack and a half of these tasty vanilla cookies, Tim declared himself too sugared up to get ice cream!

During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:


20 - All-Star Ballot.JPGThe game was 0-0 through the first four innings.  Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.

Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:


21 - Tim and ballgirl Emily.JPGAnd while we were at it, he got a personalized autograph on Emily’s ballgirl card…


22 - Emily's ballgirl card.JPG…, which Tim put in his baseball card album along-side his Ichiro, Griffey and other MLB baseball cards.  When we got back to our seats, Tim showed his autographed card to all of our seat neighbors.

Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler.  I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:


23 - speeding Phanatic.JPGWe’d get up close to the Phanatic later in the game.

He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…


24 - Cliff Lee delivers.JPG…was pitching quite effectively.  The only problem for the Phillies was that Chris Young was pitching just as effectively, if not more so.

After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:


25 - All-Star Ballot Complete.JPGStill training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base.  The inning ended in a bizarre fashion.  With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs.  Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.

It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.

And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.

Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game.  Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:


26 - Delayed strike out call Early Toss out call.JPGIn the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats.  Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:


27 - foul ball catcher nearby.JPGI’m sitting in my seat, and the foul ball was secured by the lady in the red hat three seats down from “Lee” (i.e., Lee, Manuel, Victorino, foul ball lady).

Right around this time, something odd happened.  I got a text from Avi Miller:

“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game:  Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled.  Related to national security.”

Then a second text:

“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute.  Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general.  Who knows.  Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”

Then a third text:

“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control.  Will let you know.  Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”

While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family.  What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.

Meanwhile, life and the game went on.

It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0.  I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park.  First, I needed a picture of us in our seats.  A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:


28 - TJCs in section 140 row 8.JPGThen in the bottom of the eighth, things got interesting.  The Phillies tied it up 1-1 when John Mayberry, Jr. scored…


29 - Phillies knot it at 1-1 in 8th.JPG…on an RBI single by Ryan Howard.

Then things go really interesting.  It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!”  I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:

Obviously, something was up.  I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say.  His response:

“that’s why.  Officially announced and confirmed.  Osama dead.  Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”

Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported.  But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate:  President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.

Every once in a while, the chants came back:  “USA! USA! USA!”  A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.

We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout.  It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously.    But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble.  It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing.  There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130.  So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.

It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us.  Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:


30 - 9th inning section 130 back row.JPGIn the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field.  I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel.  But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.

Ooops…

We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10.  Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:


31 - 11th inning section 130 10th row.JPGWe were so close, we could practically hear Jose Reyes ignoring the fans heckling him on the on deck circle.  Here’s what he looked like at the plate…


32 - Reyes.JPG…as the Phillies fans verbally assured Reyes that he is terrible and was destined to strike out.  Instead, he popped out to the catcher.

Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):


33 - 11th inning section 129 2nd row.JPGThe game just kept going and going.  No one could score.  Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it.  Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.

The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.

Enter the Phillie Phanatic.  He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:


34 - Phanatic approaches.JPGI stood up to get some big green, furry hand.  But as he approached, my hand was left unsmacked as I watched “something” whiz by me.

Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”

I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”

I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.

But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts!  “What’s going on!?,” I thought.

The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:


35 - Phanatic immediately post incident.JPGThe guy got back up to his feet and his nose was spewing blood all over the place.  The Phanatic, the guys family and everyone watched as the guy stood there bleeding.


36 - Phanatic friends and USA guy survey the situation.JPG

The guy was not happy.  The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him.  He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.

The guy sat down holding his bleeding face.  I could tell he was fuming mad and...


37 - bloody and unhappy Mets fan.JPG…, as his blood dripped down the empty seat next to him, about ten ushers showed up on the scene.

An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face.  Another usher brought a bag of ice.  A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station.  The guy reluctantly left.

Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan.  After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.

Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…


39 - Buchholz to Sardinha.jpg…for the third out of the bottom of the 13th inning, and then Mets catcher Ronny Paulino (who enjoyed a five hit night), tossed us Tim’s first ever third-out baseball.

Thanks, Ronny!

Now, back to the bloody guy.  The big question:  what the heck happened to him!?

I honestly don’t know.  I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him.  But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout.  All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).

I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy.  I don’t know what that means.  The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives.  Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed?  I don’t know.  Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)?  I don’t know.

Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout.  I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing.  I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.

For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:


40 - clean up ailse 1.JPGThey had little boxes with biohazard signs on them.  They poured white powder all over the ground and sprayed a cleaning substance all over the blood marks on the seats and dugout.

Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat.  Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.

Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth.  It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.

It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:


41 - Hamels Hamels Hamels.JPGHe grounded out.

Tim was really, really tired:


42 - icky clean up tired boy.JPGBut soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game.  Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel.  I called his name.   He looked up and saw us.  He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us.  But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.

That was all the half asleep boy needed:  he burst into tears.  The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground.  Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened.  And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.

Thanks, Blue.

After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.

As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…


43 - I don't want to remember this.JPG…”so we can remember what happened to you when we tried to get that ball from the umpire.”  Tim replied, “but I don’t want to remember that!”

The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot.  I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt.  After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.

Wow, what a day.  Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.

Incredible.

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

6/0 Teams [Tim - Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan - none]

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

15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)

3/0 Stadiums [Tim - Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank 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

 

I-95 Day/Night Doubleheader (9/6/10)

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

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

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

We made it to Nationals Park with no troubles…

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Livan!

Tim posed with his prize…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We relocated back to a shady spot in RF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the hill for the Phils was their newest Roy…

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it turns out that Ruiz dropped the ball.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45 - Citz section 131 panorama.jpg

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

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

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

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

The score board showed the final:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Fan Stats:

24 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

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

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

12 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Phillies Run The Bases Presented By Tim (5/1/10)

Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010.  The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”

On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.

Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special.  If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days.  Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).

We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day.  So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.

On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense.  It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house.  But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games.  I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia.  So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.

I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion.  I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales.  So, I asked him about this odd situation.  His brother had no answer…and life went on.

Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.”  It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management:  “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.” 

YES!!!

On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game.  His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there.  Of course!  While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.

Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!

So lets get to the actual game.  We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park.  A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate.  He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”

Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…

1 - tim and steve carlton statue.JPG…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt).  He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).

With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park.  We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.

First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer.  Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field.  No way to get a picture with a player there.  So we just went out and stood near him.

2 - moyer 5-1-10.JPGRight after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!”  Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove.  Not just a little flip.  A legit “hi, how you doing” wave.  Very cool.

Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been.  We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level.  Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.

That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1.  Our second goal was to get a baseball.  We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park.  We made no real effort during Phils BP.  We were just watching Moyer.

Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands.  I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero.  There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4.  Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger.  But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section.  I had no clue what he was doing.  But he kept doing it.  Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?”  He said, “Yeah!”  And held up a ball.  Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…

3 - ball from jc romero.JPG…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove.  I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball.  Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill.  And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season.  But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.

Thanks, J.C. Romero!

Goal No. 1 – failed.  Goal No. 2 – complete.

Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph.  That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).

The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout.  We ran over there.  I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…

4 - catalanotto sign.JPG…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders.  Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line.  We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…

5 - tims first batter frank catalanotto.jpgBut here is the real goal achieved….

6 - first pitch with catalanotto.jpgThat, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006.  Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.

I told Catalanotto the whole story.  He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us.  It was awesome.  For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.

I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game.  I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.

Hmmm….the pitcher.  Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans!  Hopefully we can work it out this season.

At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet.  But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen.  So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:

7 - kids play area 5-1-10.JPG…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube?  That guy works for the Phillies.  His job is to control the traffic going down the slide.  In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me

We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.

After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office.  On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:

7b - tim and phake phanatic.JPGThe Mets were still taking BP when we made our way back down the concourse on the 3B side of the stadium.  Check out this pre-gram crowd:

7c - busy pre-game concourse.JPGWe made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around.  He wasn’t.  But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…

8 - halladay warms.JPGHalladay was another factor that made this game special.  He went head-to-head against the Mets Mike Pelfrey and dominated throwing a complete game shutout.

After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:

10 - tim from our citz bank seats 5-1-10.jpgIn those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours.  By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt.  He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.

Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:

12 - citz sec 104 row 14 seats 4-5 panorama.jpgThey were really great seats.

But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats.  We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay.  And this is what it looked like:

13 - Halladay Motion.jpgFirst inning, fly out, fly out, strike out.

Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…

14 - ICH and nachos 5-1-10.JPG…later, we grabbed some nachos.  Good ballpark foods!

Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF.  Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:

14a - phils outfielders from out seats.jpgI brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above.  I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez.  Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…

15 - werth hopping for ibanez.jpg…do you see it?  Its Werth.  He looks the same — mid-hop — in every picture.  There were more than this and he always was mid-hop just like that.  It seemed like an odd little hop to me.

Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:

18 - halladay deals from the OF.jpgEarly on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch.  But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.

Chase Utley started it out with a single:

16 - utley singles in the 4th inning.jpgRyan Howard then drilled one to RF for a single moving Utley to second:

17 - ryan howard line single in 4th 5-1-10.jpgJayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove.  Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.

With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting.  Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings.  So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out.  I packed up our belongings, including my glove.

Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting.  Here is another panorama from pre-game:


19 - citz sec 104 row 14 seats 4-5 cellphone panorama.jpgI was in seat number 4.  Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle.  The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us.  The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground.  There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball.  But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet.  As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance.  It was pretty exciting, but I missed out.  Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.

After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?”  It was pretty funny.  (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).

After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids.  It was kid pandamonium.  And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand.  He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him.  That was enough of the play area for Tim.  So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.

While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies.  Pelfrey was long gone.  In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…


19b - catalanotto grounds out.jpg…but he grounded out.

The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…


20 - phanatic pumps up crowd.JPG…and everyone was going crazy because the Phils were (by this point) winning 10-0 and their new ace, Roy Halladay, was set on cruise control:

21b - halladay delivers utley charges.jpgAnd 10-0 was the final score.  Halladay’s line:  9 IP, 3 Hits, 0 ER, and 1-4 at the plate.

We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout.  When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa.  Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club.  But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.

No problems.  It had already been an extra-special day.

I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…

21 - citz section 130 front row panorama.jpg….at home plate you can see the Phillies workers setting up for Tim’s special run around the bases.  He stayed put as the bullpens cleared out and headed to their respective dugouts.

A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd.  But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).

One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello.  For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us.  At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.

22 - bullpens call it a day.JPGWe were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout.  Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders.  He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.”  He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…

22b - citi ball and snortle.JPG…a 2009 Citi Field inagural season baseball, which he tossed right up to us.

Thanks, Dave!

By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.

It was time to run the bases.  We made our way to the RF gate.  On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…

23 - Citz section 142 approx. panorama.jpg…and this one from section 144:

24 - citz section 144 row 16 panorama.jpgAnd an usher in CF took our picture:

25 - TJCs at Citz 5-1-10.JPGKids were already circling the bases.  But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least).  Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:

26 - kalas and schmidt.jpgHere is the view of the bullpens from the wall of fame area — visitors on top, Phillies down below closer to the field:

27 - bullpens.jpgAfter waiting through a really long line and walking through a tunnel below the stands in RF foul territory.  Then we walked out onto the RF foul warning track for the first time…

29 - phillies RF foul warning track.jpgOf course, I got some shots of the dugouts…

30 - phils visitors dugout and on deck circles.jpg…and threw in some shots of the on deck cirles for good measure.

Then, Tim was off to the races:




31 - tims phillies run the bases 2.jpgOn the drive home, Tim would regale me with the story of how he passed that kid in the red and white outfit.

The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless).  So I had time to take this field level panorama…

32 - citz on field behind home panorama.jpg…and this picture of Tim standing next to the brick wall directly behind home plate…

33 - citz wall behind home plate.JPG…and for good meaure, we got a couple more pictures as we made our way down the 1B line warning track toward the exit in shallowe LF:

34 - phillies post base running.jpgAs we left the seating area, the Phils had workers handing out this certificate:

35 - philllies run the bases certificate.jpgI thought that was a great touch.  None of the sixth other teams whose bases Tim has run have given out these certificates.

Great job, Phillies!

All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.

2010 Fan Stats:

4 Games

7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)

13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)

4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

 

The Braves and the Metropolitans (4/24/10)

On Saturday morning, April 24, 2010, we found ourselves on the 7-train weaving our way through the roof tops of Queens, New York…

1 - watching queens.JPG…we were on our way to Citi Field…

2 - citi field 2010.jpg…and a game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets.

Our travels took longer than we expected, so we missed all of the Mets BP and arrived probably half way through the Braves BP.  We headed down the 3B line toward the LF corner and grabbed a spot to watch the action.

3 - citi field apple and BP.jpgIn our third game at Citi Field, I finally remembered to take a photo of the home run apple while it was “up.”  This apple is much bigger than the old Shea Stadium apple and instead of being in a top hat it is just in a random raised opening in center field.  Its not a bad home run apple, but I favor the old Shea apple, which seemed to have more of a *kitsch* factor.

During BP, we ran into MLBloggers Joe and Alex, whom we had spent time with last October during a rain-soaked game at Citi Field.  Tim just loves hanging out with these guys.  The day after this game, he couldn’t stop telling his mom about his buddies (e.g., “Did you know Joe has two dogs?”  “Alex shared his peanuts with me!”).  Anyway, the four of us headed over to the Braves dugout toward the end of BP and one of the guys took this picture of us on the way through LF…

4 - TJCs at Citi LF.JPGHere was our view from behind the 3B dugout:

5 - citi section 121 sunny day panorama.jpgLook how happy Tim was hanging out with the guys:

6 - Tim Alex and Joe.JPGAnd we ran into Mr. Met before the game…

7 - Tim and Mr Met.JPG…we’d seen Mr. Met in the OF last season but never got Tim’s picture with him.  So it was cool to get another chance.

During BP, I noticed how the seats at the top of the LF upper deck appear to be tucked away under the out of town scoreboard…

8 - seats under scoreboard.JPG…they reminded me of some seats we visited at Rogers Centre last season.  I decided we’d have to check out those seats during the game.

Here’s a shot of Tim and Alex in deep discussion about the intricacies of peanut cracking…

9 - peanuts with alex.JPG…see the little bit of dust on the corner of the dugout, those are Tim’s peanut shells.  He was trying to crack them on the cement because his fingers weren’t strong enough to crack them on his own.

Shortly before the game, several Braves came out of the dugout to stretch, run and play catch behind third base.  Here is hot shot rookie Jason Heyward…

10 - heyward national anthem.JPG…Alex came away with that baseball in Heyward’s glove.

As the game started, we split away from Joe and Alex and headed toward the kids play area in center field.  The Mets have batting cages and a whiffle ball field in CF, but not a playset like at many stadiums.  Tim was excited to do some hitting.  But on the way out to the whiffle ball field, he asked, “Why isn’t Alex coming to watch me hit?”  It was pretty funny.  I think he remembered that last season, Alex did just that.

The first thing we noticed was that they moved the batting cages from behind the RF wall of the whiffle ball field to behind whiffle ball infield.  Before hitting, Tim worked his way across the outfield shagging balls hit by other kids:

11 - citi fielding 2010.JPGThen it was Tim’s turn at bat.  Here is a video…

Next, it was time to hit the soft toss batting cage…

12 - citi cage 2010.JPG…that bat is still way too heavy for Tim, but he had fun hitting in the cage nonetheless.

 After some hitting, we found our way up to the last row of the upper deck in deep left center field…

13 - citi section 538 last row panorama.jpg…where we watched a couple innings from behind the scoreboard while we ate some chicken nachos…

14 - citi field chicken nachos.JPG…and Tim started collecting food on his t-shirt.  A lot more would follow those stray cheese drips.  By the end of the day it was an impressive “collection.”

I was excited to see what this Jason Heyward guy was all about.  I ended up photographing all of his at-bats at this game, all from different spots in the stadium.  However, he hit the third pitch of this at-bat up the middle for a single…

15 - jason heyward single up middle.jpg….before I could clean the cheese from my fingers and get out my camera.  So, one Jason Heyward at-bat and one hit.  Not too shabby.

While Tim kept piling in the nachos (like his parents, he loves nachos!), I got this picture of David Wright…

16 - david wright grounds out in second.JPG…grounding out.  And this picture of Larry “Chipper” Jones hitting a foul ball:

17 - chipper jones foul ball in third.JPGAfter the nachos, we were on the move.  We circled the whole stadium looking for an ice cream helmet.  We must have missed them because we couldn’t find them for a long time.

I took this picture of the big open concourse area above the Jackie Robinson rotunda…

18 - citi above rotunda 2010 panorama.jpg…I took this picture because that “Big Apple Brews” in the middle of the concourse wasn’t there last season.  Its a new addition this season, one of several at Citi Field.

We finally found ice cream in CF.  It was packed and we didn’t want to find a place in the sun, we went down under “Shea Bridge” and Tim at his ice cream behind the bullpens.

19 - ice cream by the bullpens.jpgBy the way, last season, the Shea Stadium Home Run apple was stationed right where this table now sits under Shea Bridge.  You can *sorta* see the field from behind the bullpens.  But there are a couple flat screen TVs on the wall right above the bullpens so we could watch the game while Tim ate his ice cream.  We also watched the Braves relief pitchers do some stretching.

Right when we arrived behind the bullpens, Heyward came to the plate…

20 - jason heyward fouls back pitch in fourth.jpg…so we ran up the stairs and snapped this picture from Shea Bridge of Heyward fouling a pitch straight back (its right on the catcher’s right knee).  He eventually struck out in this at-bat.

After ice cream, we explored a bit more.  We found ourselves in the concourse behind 1B when Heyward came to the plate in the sixth inning.  He eventually walked…

21 - jason heyward walks in sixth.jpg….by the way, according to baseball-reference.com, Jason Heyward is 6′ 5″ and Braves first base coach Glenn Hubbard is 5′ 9″.

After watching Heyward walk, we decided to check out another new feature at Citi FIeld, the Mets Hall of Fame in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

Tim posed with the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies…

22 - mets hall of fame 2.jpg….it was cool to see the 1986 trophy because it was the first World Series that I really followed as a kid.  However, I was rooting for the Red Sox who had traded during the 1986 season for two Mariners, Dave Henderson and my at-the-time favorite player, Spike Owen.

Tim also stared down legendary Mets manager, Case Stengel…

23 - mets hall of fame 1.jpg…that’s a great little statute.

Before heading back up to the field level, we snapped this picture of Tim…

24 - tim trailblazer humanitarian american.jpg…standing in Jackie Robinson’s foot steps.

Finally, we went to the 3B side concourse where we watched the rest of the game from the SRO area behind the seats in (approximately) section 124:

25 - tim lounges in citi field SRO area.jpgThe game was a pitchers dual.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Braves were winning 1-0 until Jason Bay hit this RBI double off the wall in left center field…

26 - Jason Bay RBI double in 6th.jpg…scoring Jose Reyes and tying up the game at 1-1.

In the seventh inning, Walla Walla Washington’s own (and former Mariner) Eric O’Flaherty entered the game for the Braves….

27 - Walla Walls Eric OFlaherty in 7th.jpg….he only faced one batter and probably threw over to first as many times as he threw to the plate.  Eventually, he retired his only batter of the day, Alex Cora.

In the eighth inning, with the Mets leading by a score of 3-1 (the ultimate final score), Jason Heyward almost grounded into a double play (see the ball bouncing in the dirt to the far left)…

28 - jason heyward grounds into FC in 8th.jpg…but he beat the throw to first.

In the 8th inning, neither Jose Reyes nor David Wright could add any insurance runs for the Mets:

29 - jose reyes and david wright in 8th.jpg

30 - umpire bruce dreckman.jpgWe didn’t manage to catch a ball during BP.  So we were hoping we would get a chance for an umpire ball after the final out of the game.  The home plate umpire was Bruce Dreckman.

The only problem is that the Mets ushers religiously check the tickets of all patrons entering the field level seats during the entire game.  When it got to the top of the ninth inning (with the home team winning) and they were still checking tickets, I figured it just wasn’t in the cards for this game, which was fine because we’d had a great day at the ballpark already.

But then something funny happened, with one out in the top of the ninth, Alex came walking up the stairs to the concourse.  He was looking for us and he was armed with a field level ticket for a section right by the umpires tunnel.  He flashed his ticket for the usher and we were all admitted to the seats with one out to go in the game.  We met up with Joe just a short distance from the umpires tunnel.  We had just enough time to say hi to Joe when Martin Prado (in for Chipper Jones who got hurt somehow during the game) grounded out to end the game.

Even before the ground ball reached Jose Reyes, we were standing next to the umpires tunnel.  Tim called out to “Bruce!!!” as he exited the field.  Dreckman reached out and set a nice rubbed up gamer into Tim’s left “Go, Deigo, Go!” glove-clad hand (as shown above, Tim likes to wear these gloves at games because he thinks they are like batting gloves).  However, with the thick and slick glove on his hand, his left hand wasn’t big enough to palm the ball and he dropped it back into the tunnel.  Luckily, another umpire (I think Paul Emmel) saw the whole thing unfold and he picked it up and handed it back to Tim.

Thanks, Mr. Dreckman and (probably) Mr. Emmel!  And thanks, Alex, for the assist!

Tim was exited to collect his third umpire ball in as many games this season and he celebrated by balancing it on his head while sitting on the 3B dugout:

31 - umpire ball from bruce dreckman.jpg(Check out his serious face as he balances the ball on his head).

We hung out with Joe and Alex for a few more minutes behind the dugout before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases.  Tim was excited to chat up his guys a little more.

While by the dugout, something funny happened.  A teenage guy was behind the dugout with a baseball and he asked for an autograph from every Braves player and coach who walked into the dugout.  He was getting no takers.  So, eventually, he asked a Mets stadium attendant standing at the top step of the Braves dugout for her autograph.  Finally, he had a taker.  Then, he jokingly asked every police officer, security guard or random attendant to sign his ball.  I didn’t see him get any more takers.  Eventually, he asked Joe to sign his ball.  Then, he asked Tim.  So, here you go, Tim’s first ever autograph signed for a fan at an MLB game…

32 - tim autographs baseball.jpgJoe helped him hold the ball steady and he wrote a shaky but legible “T-I-M” on the ball.  Then for good measure (at the request of the ball’s owner), he did a little scribble next to his “signture.”  Tim got a kick out of the experience.

And just like that it was time for Kids Run the Bases.  The line was massively long and it took a long time to get back into the stadium.  But as we entered though the bullpen area, we were afforded a special behind the scenes glimpse of the bullpen area:

33 - moes club and mets bullpen.jpgTo the left, that is the Moe’s Club right behind the RF wall.  There is a restaurant (at least it looked like one) behind this seating area.  To the right, that is the little room where the relief pitchers sit in the Mets bullpen.

I got a couple pictures before (right) and after (left) Tim ran the bases…

34 - citi warning track 2010.jpg…but I didn’t get any running the bases pictures because I was too busy running the bases behind Tim filming this high speed video clip of Tim:

I also enjoy it when I am allowed to “chaperone” Tim around the bases — something I have now been allowed to do at Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Miller Park and Progressive Field.

After running the Citi Field bases, we headed out to the parking lot and Tim ran the Shea Stadium bases:

35 - running shea stadium bases.jpgAlthough we attended a game in 2008 when Shea and Citi were right next to each other, I was still amazed at how close the Shea Stadium base placques were to Citi Field.

Finally, we got a picture with the Shea Stadium home run apple…

36 - shea homerun apple.jpg…and called it a day.  We hopped the 7-train back to Manhattan, picked up some pepperoni pizza and garlic knots, and drove home.   After leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, we arrived home at about 9:00 p.m….thirteen hours well spent on another father-son baseball adventure.

2010 Fan Stats:

3 Games

6 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

3 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Mets, & Nationals)

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

3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

2 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park, Citi Field)

 

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