Results tagged ‘ pizza wedge ’

Fun Fun Fun As Fish Fry Phils (5/4/2013)

The weekend of May 4-5 was going to be the first weekend of the MLB season during which we did not go to a game. But when we woke up on Saturday morning (May 4, 2013), a tweet was waking from us from Phillies Phan Harrison Tishler: “headed to Philly today?”

After reading Harrison’s tweet, I asked my wife, “Should the boys and I go to the Phillies game today?” “Sure,” she replied.

Game on!

I bought some tickets online and we headed down to Citizens Bank Park. I can’t stand e-tickets so I selected the “will call” delivery option. The website said I could pick up our tickets at a ticket machine on either the 1B or 3B sides of the stadium. After checking in with the Tishler’s at the LF gate, we headed off toward the 3B side of the stadium, did find any ticket machines…

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…, so we circled around to the 1B side, picked up our tickets at the 1B will call box, and ended up running around the entire stadium.

Back at the LF gate, we prepared our backpacks for the security check:

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That’s Harrison, Tami and Seth Tishler right behind Tim. It was great seeing them for the first time of 2013. Harrison had recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and he brought us one of his personalized Phillies-themed “H” baseballs…

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…, which is now on display on one of Tim’s baseball shelves.

Thanks, Harrison!

When the ballpark opened, Tim, Kellan and I headed into the first row in the LF corner. Right when we arrived in the first row, Bernie the Usher called over to Tim and told him to come over and see him. When he did…

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…, Bernie set a baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Bernie!

This was our view during the beginning portion of BP:

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During our first game at Citizens Bank Park of the season, Erik Kratz tossed us ball to Tim in the LF corner early in BP. This was our second Phillies game of the year, and it was like de ja vu all over again. The funny twist this time is that the ball tipped off of Tim’s glove and landed in the flower bed:

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Tim reached for it with his glove, but it was too far to reach. I reached down for it but Tim wanted to grab it on his own. Tim ended up hopping into the flower bed to grab the ball.

Thanks, Erik!

I like to keep the boys out of the direct sun as much as possible, so we decided to head to the back of the section that straddles the LF foul pole:

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Sometimes when we’re up front in this section, homeruns or long fouls get hit into the back of this section. So I figured we’d wait a bit and see if one would come out way.

No dice.

So we headed out to CF until about 5 minutes before the whole stadium opened:

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Right before the rest of the stadium opened, the boys played the running-the-bases game:

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Can you guess who won? Yep, Tim. That jump is his excited/victory pose. [Note: there was another kid around Tim’s age to the far left on the yellow footprints. So Tim wasn’t just celebrating because he beat Kellan.]

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed down into the pizza wedge. When we got down there, there was a stray baseball at the back of the Phillies bullpen and two groundskeepers working on the mound. In all of my experience at Citizens Bank Park, I’ve seen the two guys who chalk the foul lines give away some stray balls, but all other groundskeepers have said they were not allowed to give away baseball. Knowing these guys almost certainly couldn’t, I pointed out the stray baseball and asked the groundskeepers if they could toss it up.

They were not allowed to, one of them responded. And then they headed out into CF, walked the warning track toward the RF corner, and exited the field through the tunnel under the concourse.

A few minutes later, the same groundskeeper who had said he couldn’t toss up the baseball appeared above the RF seats, walked down the stairs into the pizza wedge, and handed a totally different baseball to Kellan. He apologized for not being able to toss the baseball from the bullpen up to us. It was pretty funny.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

While we were in LF, Alex Sanabia kept running back-and-forth across the outfield. Early in BP, we said “hi” to him (“Hi, Alex!”) and we exchanged waves. . When we reached the Pizza wedge, Sanabia was hanging out in RCF. When he fielded a ball, Sanabia made a long throw to Tim…

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…but it sailed high over Tim’s head so I had to catch it for him.

Thanks, Alex!

Tim and Kellan posed with their baseballs from Sanabia and the groundskeeper:

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Lately, we’ve stayed in the pizza wedge until BP ends. At this game, we decided to switch things up. We headed back over to LF…

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…where Chad Qualls tossed us a baseball…

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…and then the boys ate a bunch of snacks:

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After the boys were full of snacks, we decided to head back to the pizza wedge. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we walked across the LF seats about 15 rows back from the field…

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…when we made the bend toward CF a Marlins batter took a mighty hack and sent a fly ball in our direction. I stopped mid-row and watched the balls flight. It was right in line with us, but seemed like it wasn’t quite going to make it to us. But it kept carrying. With Kellan still on my shoulders, I leaned forward over the row of seats in front of us and reached and made a back-handed catch on the fly.

It was the first time I’d ever caught a batted ball on the fly with one of the boys on my shoulders and it was pretty darn cool. [Note: I have caught a BP homer on the fly while holding Kellan with my right arm…so has my dad.].

When we made it back to the pizza wedge, Kellan crawled around like a dinosaur a bit:

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And Tim caught a baseball tossed to him by A.J. Ramos:

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Thanks, A.J.!

BP ended way early because it was Little League day and a whole bunch of Little Leaguers got to march around the ballpark on the warning track. As we watched, Tim said he wanted to go find Harrison, but I assured him that Harrison would turn up in the pizza wedge before too long. Meanwhile, former Mariner Miguel Olivo started stretching in CF.

I was right. Harrison and Tami soon showed up. We all camped out in the first row of the pizza wedge. Eventually, Phillies bullpen coach Rich Dubee walked out to the bullpen. He grabbed a bunch of baseballs and tossed one to Harrison and then a bunch to other fans to our right (higher in the pizza wedge seats). Dubee was all out of baseballs, but then he spotted that same baseball sitting on the hose (the one I’d asked the groundskeeper to toss up to us)…

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…and Dubee tossed it to us.

Thanks, Rich!

Meanwhile, back in CF, Olivo wasn’t getting much of a chance to warm up because he was giving high fives to Little Leaguers and posing for photos:

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Soon, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo made his way to the bullpen. He too ended up grabbing a bunch of baseballs and tossing them into the crowd. He tossed one to Harrison, then another to me and Kellan, and then one to Tim.

That last one that Tim caught was extra special…

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…because it was the 400 baseball that we’ve got at MLB games since Tim’s first game back on 9/12/2006. Jesus ended up signing it for us too!

Double thanks, Jesus!

We watched Cole Hamels and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz…

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…warm up for a few minutes and then we parted ways with the Tishlers and headed off to find some dinner.

The plan was hot dogs for dinner. But at the last minute, Kellan rejected the hot dog concept and opted to get a giant pretzel.

We picked a nice random spot in the RF concourse to eat:

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What was in that plastic bin sitting behind Kellan in that last picture, you ask? Well, a bunch of…

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…rocks, water and sludge, of course!

Tim finished eating before Kellan so he did some dancing to pass the time:

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Usually, we like to get a picture of the first pitch of the game. We missed it at this game, so the third pitch will have to do:

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This game absolutely flew by. It was amazing. After watching the first batter of the game *live*, we headed to the kids’ play area:

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Cole Hamels blanked the Marlins in the first (despite hitting a batter). Freddy Galvis knocked a single in the Phils’ half of the first, but was left stranded on base. After Galvis’s first inning single, the Phillies would not collect another hit all night. And the Marlins only had four hits in them.

The first three innings blew by in a blink of an eye. Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna knocked a solo homer in the top of the second and Chris Valaika followed with a solo blast of his own in the top of the third.

That made it 2-0 Marlins and we finally left the kids’ play area.

We were ready for some ice cream so we went to our go-to ice cream lady:

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Check out this monster chocolate chip cookie sundae:

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We took it up to our seats (or almost our seats) in section 306…

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…to eat our sundae:

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I’ve taken hundreds of stadium panoramas over the past several years and this one from section 306 row five might be among the very best looking panoramas:

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After devouring our ice cream, the boys wanted to keep on moving. We headed back to the kids’ play area. As the kids were playing, I was amazed to notice that it was only 8:30 and the game was already in the seventh inning!

We decided to switch things up, and head to spot where we had not spent much time. He headed up to the second deck in LF. Check out the view from the SRO area right behind section 243:

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Over Kellan’s objection, a nice usher took our picture with the field behind us…

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…and another with the liberty bell:

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And I took an extra shot of Tim with my cellphone that turned out pretty cute:

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The boys stood on this little railing a bit…

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…and watched the game. But then they decided they should play some fake baseball:

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While the usher nearby cracked down on some fans standing in the wrong SRO spots. But, thankfully, he had no problem with Tim and Kellan playing fake baseball in the middle of the cross-aisle.

Heading into the ninth inning, the boys and I headed down to section 129 to make an attempt at an umpire baseball. We had a nice view of Steve Cishek…

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…and he pitched to J-Roll…

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…in the bottom of the ninth. But Kellan was tired and cranky and he didn’t want to sit down. Actually, he did want to sit down, but he wanted to sit on my shoulders, which couldn’t happen in the third row of the seats. So we took off.

We headed down the LF line and watched Chase Utley fly out…

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…to end the game.

We headed to the gates, but our game experience wasn’t over quite yet. We ended up trudging around in the Phillies parking lot for probably half-an-hour, but we finally found what we were looking for:

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The Veterans Stadium home plate marker! That picture earned us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

On our way to the car, Tim got a final photo fake catching a baseball at the Veterans Stadium first base marker:

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And there you go. Another great game at Citizens Bank Park.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

6 Games

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

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

28 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4

5 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park

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

2 Autographs – Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Two Nights At A Ballpark In Philadelphia (9/8 & 9/9/12)

This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia.  Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.

The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks.  But the boys and I had Phillies tickets.  The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.

We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m.  Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.

We made it to the LF gate…

…in plenty of time.  In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35.  We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.

Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports.  But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule.  They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game.  But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.

The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining.  Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.

The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…

…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast).  Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.

Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too.  That concerned the Phillies too.

When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:

No BP.  Sad.

But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch.  There was only a small gathering of fans out there.  I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd.  There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.

See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?

Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys.  We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP.  To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium.  Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain.  But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.

Thanks, Carlos!  And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!

Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend.  I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening.  So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…

…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt?  Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear.  She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).

Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:

And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:

I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear.  But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Edgmer!

Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone.  One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:

Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout.  There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us.  And that means that Harrison got snubbed.  Sorry, Harrison!

Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:

I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too.  They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.

Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…

…toward the RF seats.

The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens.  That’s where we met up again with Harrison:

I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen.  In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence.  When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.

But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…

…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen.  It was right behind the home plates .  It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.

Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.

Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had  thrown?  Well, it was still there.  There was no one on the field.  We just sat around chatting awhile.

Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track.  When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball.  The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:

It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison.  I was happy for him.

But then Harrison started walking closer to RF.  “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.

See the girl in the red shirt above?  That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF.  Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball.  I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.

But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row.  And guess who got it in the scramble?

Not Harrison.  Darn.

So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen.  Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan.  Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:

That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food.  It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined.  Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.

It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF.  The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102.  It was raining.  We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…

…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation.  This is what was happening on the field:

It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.

When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:

We just kept sitting and chatting.  The stadium started filling up a lot more.  Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…

…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing.  Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.

We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:

I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her.  It was pretty hilarious.  Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.

At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:

They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp.   I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast.  Kellan was ready for some Major League action:

When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen.  It was like a chess match with the young girl.  It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:

It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it.  A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.

The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field.  The Phillies never made any announcements.  Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.

Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night.  They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night.  Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:

When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store.  On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…

… and a panorama from the back of the section:

The boys had fun playing around in the team store:

I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff.  And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:

It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time.  We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours.  Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain.  It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.

The boys and I started to head toward the exits.  As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen.  I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night.  But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most.  By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:

I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway.  As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed.  We hung out for a minute.  And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:

We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more.  After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked?  That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.

We waved him down and…

…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.

Holy cow.  I couldn’t believe it.

The ball was SOAK and HEAVY.  Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:

And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below.  I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy.  He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.

Wow.

Thanks, guy!

By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.

And with that, we called it a night.  On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.”  Tim was all for it.  We didn’t have any other plans.

So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.

There was a 1 o’clock game.  Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.

We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work.  But it was completely different with Phillies.  I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats.  I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield.  They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office.  So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.

Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking.  When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits.  Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:

It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.

We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103.  I was pretty excited about that.  We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.

We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened.  Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.

We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:

They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:

But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.

When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:

Check out all of the activity on the field:

So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:

Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!

Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…

…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.

When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim.  Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…

…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands.  Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.

Double thanks, Jesus!

We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…

…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.

Then we played a few games…

…and collected a few game stamps.

We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:

Check out our AWESOME front for seats:

The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own.  So we were packed in like sardines down there.

But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:

Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet.  I very seldom agree, but I did at this game.  And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:

Those pictures don’t do it justice.  Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream.  While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.

The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd.  Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs.  I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:

I did, however, get an action show of Tim:

Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:

The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning.  The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:

Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double.  Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.

Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:

There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…

…and be right on top of the action.

While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence.  This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:

Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back.  Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles.  The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF.  Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…

…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies.  Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom

Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place.  We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks.  But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game.  So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:

Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.

After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:

If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize.  Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right.  And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.

Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…

and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:

The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty.  We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats.  It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.

Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.  That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.

Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them.  You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge).  Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.

Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:

Row 6 is only four seats across.  I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).

The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge.  The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…

…screaming through the megaphone.

A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:

It was pretty hilarious.  From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field.  The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.

The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead.  Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh.  The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B.  However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored.  He hopped to his feet and shouted:

TIM:  “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

TODD:  “No, they didn’t.  Ruiz stopped at third.”

TIM:  “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”

It was pretty hilarious.  And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case.  It was really amazing.  I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times.  AT LEAST!

At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.

And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball.  And that resulted in another cool moment.  Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob.  I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him.  But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch.  It was pretty awesome!

Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:

Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!

Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:

During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:

Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader.  So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day.  Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.

Phillies win 7-4:

As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!”  Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.

Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:

Fun times.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 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
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, 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
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, 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 4, 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

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

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

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

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

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

It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.

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

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

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

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

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

But almost right off the bat this happened:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, security guard guy!

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

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

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

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

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

We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…

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

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

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

It didn’t help.

The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.

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

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

Thanks, Tom!

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

Double thanks, Tom!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Sean!

Look at these two beauties:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Stephen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and watch some baseball:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, we grabbed some pizza…

…and found some seats in section 424:

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

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

…and Kellan was super-excited about it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:

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

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

Everyone celebrated:

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

…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.

Then we slowly made our way to our car.

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

Todd & Tim in Philadelphia: Reprise of a 2-Man Team (6/23/12)

Our plans for Saturday, June 23, 2012 changed several times leading up to the day of the game.  After several years of just me and Tim going to games together, Kellan had been to the last 11 in a row with us.  I was thinking it would be good for Tim to get some one-on-one time and do an old school Tim-and-Dad game.  We were going to go to see the Rockies and Phillies mid-week and then bring Kellan with us again to this weekend game.  Then Tim got sick.  The mid-week game was out and I thought I would just take Kellan to the weekend game.  Then Tim gave his germs to Kellan and started feeling better, although he still had the remnants of a rash that went along with his sickness.  So the final plan was to just take Tim to the weekend game while Kellan stayed home with mommy and rested up and recovered.

So that is what we did.

It was interleague play and the Phillies were hosting the Rays in an afternoon game set to start at 4:05 p.m.  We headed down in time for the gates to open.

We were probably 15-20 people back in one of three lines at the LF gate, but somehow when we stepped down into the LF seats, we were literally the first fans in the OF.  It was pretty strange.  Probably 45 people beat us into the stadium, but I had no clue where they’d all gone.

We ran down to the first row and did two things.  First, I asked Juan Pierre if he could toss a baseball to Tim when he eventually got one.  He said yes.  And he tossed the very next ball he got to us…although, for some reason, he threw it to me instead of Tim.

Second, we got Tim’s picture wearing a Justin Bieber shirt during BP:

He is doing a little “heart” shape with his hands.  Apparently, Justin Bieber does that.  Although, I should note that I only know that from watching Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious parody of Bieber.  Big thanks to Dan Sauvageau in Denver.  He got Tim this shirt for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt while we were in Denver.  But there was no BP the day he gave it to Tim so we didn’t get the picture.  I have carried this shirt to every game since that day and always forgotten to get the picture.  To stop that trend, Tim put the Bieber shirt on at home before leaving for this game so we wouldn’t forget again.  We covered up that shirt within minutes of getting the picture.

Big thanks, Dan!

No knock on Kellan, I love going to games with that little guy.  But, wow, it is so much easier to do BP (and the entire game) with just me and Tim.  For starters, I don’t have to carry Tim at all.

After getting the baseball from Juan Pierre and getting the Bieber picture, we headed out to RCF.  I wanted to see if Michael Stutes was around – frankly, I don’t even know if he is still on the Phils rosters.  I didn’t see him.  Most of the Phils pitchers were still running in RF.

Eventually, Joe Blanton broke off from the pack and walked along the warning track retrieving baseballs that had been hit out there while no one was there to shag them.  There were 2-3 baseballs on the track directly below us.

Blanton grabbed the first and tossed it to a Phillies fan to our right.  Then he grabbed the second ball and threw it in to the bucket.  But the third ball?  He tossed that one up to Tim…

…and Tim gloved it with no problems.

Thanks, Joe!

It was time to find some shade.

We headed to the back of section 140 where some shade was reaching the seats.

At our last game at Citizens Bank Park, we headed over to section 140 and an usher (who I am told is named Bernie) gave Tim a baseball.  Well, as we were a full section away from section 140, I could already tell that the exact same thing was going to happen at this game.

And, sure enough, it did:

Thanks, Bernie!

So, I just got a new camera because my last camera was *almost* destroyed on the GFS Baseball Roadtrip.  Our new camera has a “sweeping” panorama feature.  Here is my first use of the new panorama feature:

Not too shabby.

So we had three baseballs already and tons of time left during BP.  Tim wanted to stay in the shade and I didn’t have Kellan to hold or try to keep him safe.  So I decided to put on Tim’s 10 inch glove…

…and try to catch a homerun on the fly (something I have never done at Citizens Bank Park) while Tim sat in the shade at the back of the section taking pictures:

Tim LOVES taking pictures.  I gave him my old camera to use since I had the new one.  And he snap, snap, snapped pictures…until he finished the job of sending that camera to the junk heap.

I stood in the aisle next to Tim (sitting in the second seat) and ran around trying to catch a homerun.  But nothing came anywhere near us.

When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, we headed over to the pizza wedge:

Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.

While not much was going on, Tim noticed this camera:

I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.

I noticed something interesting when the Phils cleared the field, three of the Phillies pitchers walked into the tunnel in the RF foul corner instead of walking to the dugout:

The transition from Phillies BP to Rays BP was odd.  The Rays were still stretching by the dugout when the Phils headed to the clubhouse.  They just kept stretching and stretching.  There was a lot of dead time before the Rays really started hitting.

Before the Rays started hitting in earnest, a sole batter started hitting.  It was Rays starting pitcher, James Shields…

…and one of his hits rolled to a stop directly below Tim (and directly below the “399” sign on the wall).  There were zero people in the OF shagging baseballs.  I had a feeling that we would end up getting that baseball once the Rays took to the field.

And we did.  Eventually, Hideki Matsui’s interpreter, Roger Kahlon (thanks to Josh Leuke identifying Kahlon for me on Twitter), walked out into RF and tossed a few baseballs back to the bucket.  He didn’t see the baseball all the way out by the dugout.  But I waved at him and pointed and the baseball and Tim.  That did the trick.  He turned and walked toward us…

…and tossed the baseball up to Tim.  Again, Tim made a nice catch.

Thanks, Roger!

After getting that baseball from Kahlon, we decided to resume the picture taking and homerun-catch-attempting.  We moved over to section 103.  Tim sat in the shade toward the back of the section and I stood in the aisle a couple seats down from Tim.

I had one near perfect chance to catch a homerun.  It landed about 15 feet from where I was standing when it was hit.  All I had to do was move down the stairs about 5 rows.  It was hit right to the aisle.  But…

…this guy with no glove standing in the aisle completely boxed me out as I tried to walk past him.  He didn’t realize he was doing it.  The ball was hit to the RF side of the aisle.  He moved to that side right as I was trying to pass him.  He literally pushed me right into the row and made it so I couldn’t pass.  He made no effort to walk down a few rows to make the catch.  While I was trapped in the row, another fan ran over and caught the ball on the fly.

That was my chance.  I didn’t come anyway near another homerun.

Toward the end of BP, we went over to the bullpen again.  Tim and I both noticed this plaque on the wall in the Phillies bullpen:

I’ve never notice that before.  Right after BP ended, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo grabbed a baseball out of his equipment bag and tossed it up to Tim.  But he tossed it too high and I had to catch it, in Kellan’s tiny glove.  This is what the scene looked like:

As you can see, we also did a little sub-amateur birding in the bullpen.

Thanks, Jesus!

After Tim took a few more pictures, we headed for the upper deck to do some stadium exploring.  The first thing we noticed, right upon exiting the field level seats, is that the speed pitch from past seasons…

…is gone and a Chickie’s and Pete’s is no in the location of the old speed pitch area.  Chickie’s and Pete’s used to be in the concourse above the RF end of the bullpens.  This Chickie’s and Pete’s was not here at the first game we went to this season (neither was the speed pitch).  It’s too bad.  That speed pitch was pretty cool.

Our original post-BP plan involved getting some pizza and heading to the upper deck above the “pizza wedge.”  But then Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo – one of his favorite moves of the season – where we get ice cream first and dinner second.  So, we just walked around for the time being.

We headed up to the second deck and got two panoramas from section 206.  The first was using my camera’s sweep panorama function…

…and the second was an old-fashioned stitched panorama:

I like them both, but I prefer the old-fashioned method.

We ended up taking a long, round-about path to our favorite ice cream spot.  We traversed the upper-deck from the RF foul pole to third base.  Along the way, we ran into the Liberty Pig:

We found the other Phanatic pig (shown out of sequence) down by the kids’ play area during the game.

We ended up taking a flight of stairs down to the field level to find Tim’s ice cream.  At the top of the stairway, we stopped to get this panoramic photo of (what I have always considered to be) the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

While heading down the stairs, we stopped off at the Hall of Fame suite level.  The guys guarding the door let us pop inside to get Tim’s picture with the wall of baseballs:

That wall of baseball runs almost all the way from foul pole to foul pole on the Hall of Fame suite level.  It is a whole lot of baseballs!!!

When we reached the field level, we grabbed Tim’s ice cream helmet, exchanged some tickets to a future game, and then walked to our seats for the start of the game.

Along the way, we stopped to get Tim’s picture with a card board cut out of the Phillie Phanatic:

The top of the first was just about ending when we got to our seats in section 104.  When the Rays took the field in the bottom of the first, Hideki Matsui was stationed almost directly in front of us:

Unfortunately, our seats were in direct sunlight.  I was fine with it, but Tim was not a fan.  He crouched down on the floor beneath our seats to eat his ice cream helmet:

While I watched Hunter Pence at the plate and Juan Pierre swiping second…

…, I knew we had to find somewhere else to sit.  Our seats were awesome.  But they just wouldn’t work for Tim.

I quickly spotted some seats that would work in the upper deck:

After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.

On our way to the upper deck, we stopped by the kids’ play area.  While we were there, the Rays scored 3 runs on a Ben Zobrist single, Jose Lobaton walk, Jeff Keppinger 2RBI double, Elliot Johnson walk, and James Shields RBI groundout.

After the play area, we headed up the escalator…

…stood in front of some mist-blowing fans in the second deck, and then headed up to the upper deck.

While walking over to section 427, I noticed that the pub in the upper deck has an incredibly apt pun-laden name…

…the High & Inside Pub.

While we were en route to our new seats, Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-run homerun to bring the score to 3-2 Rays.  We couldn’t see the homerun from where we were walking, but we could hear the crowd going crazy for J-Roll.

We ended up sitting in the back row of section 427, right under one of the light stands:

If we moved over a bit to see around the light stand, it looked sort of like this:

Directly behind us, there was a chain linked fence that looks out over the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

It was pretty nice and relaxing up there in the shady upper-deck.  We kicked back and ate our pizza dinner.  Here was my beverage-eyes view of the game during our dinner:

The upper deck is often times a good spot for action shots.  In the bottom of the fourth, I captured Jimmy Rollins hitting a single to RF and then taking second on the throw to 3B:

Juan Pierre followed J-Roll and I captured him hitting the 17th homerun of his 13-year career:

It was a 3-run jobber that gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.

We were having a great time in the upper deck.  I took a couple self-portraits to capture the moment, but they didn’t turn out too good.  Here is the best of them:

And here is a random shot of BJ Upton at bat:

Tim was using my old camera to take a bunch of ballpark photos.  At one point, he turned around and started shooting photos outside the stadium…

…we saw a cute father-son scene going down out front by the Michael Jack Schmidt statue.  Pretty cool scene.  The funniest part was that this father-son combo were leaving the game in the fourth inning!  But they were obviously have a great time together, so it was pretty cool to spy on their good time for a few seconds.

I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:

So we were having a great time in the upper deck.  The shady seats were really great.  But we couldn’t stay put for too long.  At one point, I noticed that the shadow of the upper-deck was reaching across the field from LF all the way behind home plate.

We stood up and tried to see if we could find ourselves in the shadows on the field.  But we couldn’t.

Then I realized how we could find ourselves in the shadows.  We had to go to the far end of the upper deck out by the LF foul pole.

As we approached the last section, we could already see our shadows out in LF:

Then we got one of my favorite pictures we have ever got at a MLB stadium:

Check out Tim’s shadow on the LF foul pole.  My shadow is in the LF grass just to the right of the shadow of the foul pole.

The view down by the foul pole is pretty good too.  Here is what it looked like while J-Roll grounded out to end the sixth inning:

Before heading back down to the field level, I snapped a picture of Tim with Center City Philadelphia in the background:

And then we headed down the switch-back ramp to the field level.  From the ramp, we stopped and took two panoramas using my new cameras *sweep* function, this one…

…and this one:

After running down the first two parts of the ramp, we stopped on the 200-level and took the big escalator back down to the field level:

We hung out and watched the action from the SRO area for a bit.  We saw Matsui fly out to LF to end the top of the 7th:

The kids’ play area closes at the end of the 7th inning.  So quickly headed over there so Tim could play for about 5 minutes.  And then headed back to the SRO area behind the 3B side.  We wanted to make an attempt at getting an umpire baseball.  It was going to be near impossible because the seats were still packed behind the 3B dugout and, of course, we weren’t even down there.

In the top of the ninth, we ended up finding some nice seats in about the 7th row.  It looked sort of like this as Jonathan Papelbon pitched to BJ Upton:

After retiring Upton, Papelbon gave up a single to Matsui:

Papelbon had not blown a single save opportunity this season…until this game that is.  Starting with a 2-run lead, Papelbon twice had the Rays down to their final strike.  The crowd was on their collective feet.  We were inching down toward the third row where there was a decently clear path to the umpires’ tunnel.  And twice Papelbon gave up RBI singles instead of recording the final out of the game.

The save was blown.  And we were heading to the bottom of the ninth.

The bottom of the ninth did not last long.  Jim Thome…

…pinch hit to lead off the inning.  And he hit a walk off homerun to end it.

I hate when closers blow a save and are then awarded the win minutes later when his team picks him up.  Well, that’s what happened with Papelbon.  He vulture the win from his teammate, Raul Valdez.

I should note that Thome’s homerun was a historic blast.  It was his 609th homerun, bringing him into a tie with Sammy Sosa at seventh on the all-time career homerun list.  Let’s hope Thome passes Sosa, but doesn’t climb any higher on the list (next would be the undisputedly better than Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr.).

But that’s not the sum total of the historic value of the Thome blast.  It was also his 13 career walk-off homerun, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle and making Thome the undisputed all-time career leader in walk-off homeruns. (Note: Like Griff, Mickey Mantle was also undisputedly better than Jim Thome).

Anyway, we got into pretty decent position for an umpire baseball, decent for a non-Diamond Club attendee at Citizens Bank Park.  But Jim Joyce tossed all of his extra baseballs into the Diamond Club.

But we didn’t leave empty handed.  As the Rays relieves and bullpen staff made their way into the dugout, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi tossed Tim our final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Scott!

By the way, in an interesting side note: we have been to two Rays games this season.  The Rays lost both of them on walk-off homeruns in the bottom of the 9th.  And Scott Cursi tossed us a ball as he entered the dugout both times.

So, thanks again, Scott!

Before we headed out, we had two different ushers take pictures of us:

It was a great reprise our 2-man team for this game.  Kellan will be back with us for our next game.  But I think I’ll definitely do at least one more *just Tim and Dad* game this season.  We’re a great 2-man team!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

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