Results tagged ‘ Roadtrip ’

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 5: Mariners at Padres (6/13/10)

On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced.  Here it goes.

We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast.  Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:

1 - morning fun at KOA playset.JPGIt was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park.  I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego.  Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game.  I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.

Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium.  But we arrived about 45 minutes before him.  So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP.  After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today.  Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed.  There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.

Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.

Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…

2 - RRS getting a sweat on.JPG…and Ichiro was stretching and playing catch with his interpreter in shallow LF:

3 - Ichiro warms up.JPGSoon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch.  While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off.  I wasn’t sure where he had gone.  When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…

4 - figgy kotch and dads baseball.jpg…Kotchman walked back to the dugout.  As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt.  Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.

Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad.  The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere.  People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball.  At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:


5 - petco lawn care.JPGThe Padres helmets came with number stickers.  I put “18” on the back of Tim’s helmet.  When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5” on the bill of his helmet.  Then he told me to put a “1” in front of the “5.”  I did…

5a - Ichiro 15.JPG…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!”  He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15” — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.”  A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front.  Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51” on it.

We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…

6 - rounding petco park.JPG…around to the main entrance by home plate.  Inside the main entrance, there is a big, cool, rock waterfall wall:

7 - petco waterfall wall.JPGMy Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate.  They were amazing seats.  A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.

We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch.   First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us.  At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…

8 - french vargas.jpg…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove.  I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in.  When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished.  He said, “Maybe.”  Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.

Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us.  The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…

9 - aardsma waves league stretches.JPG…which Tim thought was pretty cool.  After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line.  Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up.  As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch.  He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”

As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:

10 - tim and chad cordero.JPGTim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up.  League was still pitching to Aardsma.  Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up.  For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.

WHHHHHHHIZZZZZZ BAAAAAANGGGGGGGG!!!

The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma.  From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track.  As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall.   People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim.  Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side.   And it would have really hurt, I could tell.  An usher came to ask us if we were alright.  Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.

Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.

The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching.  Today, we watched first hand as…

11 - RRS working with Cliff Lee.JPG…RRS worked with (and learned from) Lee.

Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back.  This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished.  Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.

Thanks, Brandon!

Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen.  We decided to head over there as well.  Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there.  We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.

When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:

12 - CS HOFs RRS and Phillips with autos.jpgBetween pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi.  After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit.  It was nice to chat with him.  As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball.  So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan.  But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair.  When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips.  So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.

Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together.  But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame.  I guess I should ask him later this season.

After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?”  (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions).  We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.”  Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!”  That gave Jason a big smile.

Then we headed to our seats.  Check this out:

13 - Tim 51.jpgIn that picture, I am sitting in my seat (Section 101, Row 18, Seat 1) and Tim is standing next to the row in front of us (wearing his new helmet with Ichiro’s “51” on the front and side).

Here was the view:

13a - petco section 101 row 18 seat 1.jpgSo you want to hear something crazy?  We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family.  Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting.  I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son.  He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know:  Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies.  (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).

The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were.  Here is a look at one of the rings:

14 - Tim the World Champion 51.JPGJason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years.  And these were some huge and legit looking rings.  Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.

By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity.  This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…

18 - a stranger among us.JPG…and it belonged to a Yankees scout (whose work failed to prevent the Mariners from soon taking 2 of 3 against the Yankees in the Bronx).

 You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field.  Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days.  There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…

15 - military day.JPG…and a whole bunch more sitting in the upper deck down the 1B line.

This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…

16 - padres camo jersey.JPG…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious.  That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.

Soon, the game was underway.  Ichiro led off with a walk…

17 - Ichiro walks in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…check out that view!  Unfortunately, as is happening way too much this season, Figgy erased Ichiro…

19 - Figgy GIDP in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…by grounding into a double play.

This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.

I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats.  It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:

20 - Felix baffles Eckstein in 1st 6-13-10.JPGBy the way, that is David Eckstein about to pop out to lead off the bottom of the first.  He would go 0-4 with 2 Ks against King Felix.

The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun.  No shade at all.  Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun.  But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…

21 - ice cream time 6-13-10.JPG…early in the game.  By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth.  He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips.  And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.

The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana.  Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…

22 - sacrificial felix.JPG…like this successful sacrifice in the top of the third.  Unfortuantely, this sacrifice ultimately did not produce any runs because Ichiro…

23 - Ichiro grounds out in 3rd 6-13-10.JPG…followed with a groundout for the final out of the top of the third inning.

 Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…

24 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 1.JPG…but the ball was low and must have knuckled.  I could see right off the bat that Guti was having trouble figuring out how far the ball would travel.  The ball was coming down quick…

25 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 2.JPG…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it.  But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall.  Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”

I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not.  After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns.  They’re fundamentally different than homeruns.  Pretty exicting.  I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.

 All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres.  We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…

26 - Milton Bradley post HR celebration.JPG…in the form of a traditional 2-run homerun in the top of the fourth.  The score was now tied 2-2, much better.

Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun.  So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before.  We headed up to the upper deck in RF… 

27 - exploring petco.JPG…where it looked like this:

27a - petco RF upper deck panorama.jpgThen we headed to the top of the upper deck in deep RCF:

28 - petco RCF upper deck back panorama.jpgFrom up there, we could look down on the Park in the Park…

28a - petco PITP from RF.JPG…the bleachers…

29 - petco bleachers from RF.JPG…and the Beach:

30 - petco beach from RF.JPGBy the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field.  Not a bright idea.  Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.

On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):

31 - TJCs petco RF ichiro.JPGWe noticed a weird little flag court area in the RF foul upper deck area where the Padres have flag depicting the league standings…

32 - petco hidden standings flags.JPG…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see.  In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.

Even from above, Felix looked dominant:

33 - felix from above 6-13-10.JPGWe decided to go up to the top of the RF foul seats behind the military guys.  Here was the view:

33a - petco RF foul upper military view panorama.jpg…and a very, very similar view (from just across the aisle and down a little bit from the last panorama:

33b - petco RF foul upper end military view panorama.jpgTim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:

34 - Tim and Zamora.JPGSometimes Tim is a little shy.  Just before these pictures, he walked down the stairs whispering “thank you” to the Marines.  I am positive that none of them heard him.

As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:

35 - petco architecture.JPGAt the very bottom in RF (it seemed like it was even lower than the field level), the concourse was full of military stuff.  Like this huge model aircraft carrier:

36 - petco aircraft carrier RF lower concourse.JPGBy the time we returned to our seats, Al had taken off.  So it was just the three of us roadtrippers when an ausher took this picture of us as Felix warms up in the background…

37 - 7th inning stretch at petco.JPG…with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

After our stadium tour, Tim did a much better job staying cooling in the seats.  He did some fake running poses…

39 - petco seat fun.JPG…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells.  See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture?  That old lady was unintentionally hilarious.  She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle.  At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence!  hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.

Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.

Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2.  The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.

Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins.  Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…

40 - jose lopez go ahead double in 8th 6-13-10.JPG…for a line drive double down the 3B line.  Chone touched home to grab a 3-2 lead for the Mariners.

Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…

41 - bradley works a HBP.JPG…the Padres weren’t too happy with the call, but Hernandez wasn’t persuaded to reconsider his call.

In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres.  Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson.  It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career.  Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.

Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.

That brought Ichiro to the plate.  Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead.  Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…

42 - ichiro foul bunt in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…next he watched a ball and foul tipped a stike…

43 - ichiro watches one 6-13-10.JPG…then with a count of 1-2, Ichiro got his pitch and played a little game of switcheroo with Johnson…

44 - ichiro insurance in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…Ichiro took Rob’s spot at second and Rob took Ichiro’s at home.  And just like that the Mariners had a 4-2 lead.

Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game.  But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried.  Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.

The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout.  In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel.  An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby.  He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.

I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel.  He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game?  Sure!”  And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:

45 - Felix goes 26 outs.JPGIn that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout.  He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez.  When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play.  But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.

Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game.  But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:

46 - happy totals from petco 6-13-10.JPGAfter the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire.  He was very nice.  But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.

Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…

47 - Cowboy Joe West and Tim.JPG…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball.  He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim.  He was very amused by his little prank.  And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.

I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt.  It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get.  The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games.  They take off quick.  So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.

Thank you, Joe West!  And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!

Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

The line started deep in the Park in the Park…

48 - like a parade.JPG…while waiting to get back into the stadium, the Marines marched by and the crowd gave them a long ovation as they filed by.  Tim was up on my shoulders and asked, “Is this a parade?”

We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:

49 - petco RTB approach.JPGThe line took a while to finally get into the field.  But finally we made it!  And it was awesome.  Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases.  Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400” foot sign:

50 - TJCs and petco 400.JPGNormally during Kids Run The Bases, we have to ask other fans to take our pictures because the ushers just say, “Keep moving, keep moving.”

We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…

51 - Time the OF umpire.JPG…after I took those pictures, he told me he was standing like an umpire.

We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker.  This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…

52 - Tim makes the catch.JPG…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322” like he was playing outfield.  Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball.  I absolutely love that jumping picture.  Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!

The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen.  Tim played a little catcher…

53 - Tim mans the bullpen plate.JPG…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate.  Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them.  But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen.  They missed out on some great photo opportunities!

Thanks, Padres!

Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…

54 - Tim and petco.JPG…and then I opened up this box and checked out the bullpen phone…

55 - Tim in petco bullpen.JPG…and Tim sat on the bullpen bench.

The Padres did a great job with the actual run too.  They spaced the kids out really well.  When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!”  So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing… 

56 - tim runs the bases petco.JPG…along the way, Tim gave the Friar a high speed high five.

My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:

After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed.  I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…

57 - TJCs and Petco 3B dugout.JPG…then an usher let my Dad hop down onto the field to get this picture with us…

58 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…and I transferred Tim over to my Dad’s shoulder to get this picture by the “336” sign in LF:

59 - Tim and Grandpa 336.JPGBy the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence?  Those go into the Padres team store.  There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.

After that last picture, we headed out to our car…

60 - goodbye petco.JPG…and said our good-byes to Petco Park.  It was a great two game set in San Diego.

We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again.  After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…

62 - post game swim and mexican food.JPG…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall.  It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice.  So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.

2010 Fan Stats:

13 Games

14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)


61 - SD ICH and baseballs 6-13-10.JPG12 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 4: Mariners at Padres (6/12/10)

We woke up in Pamona, California on the morning of Saturday, June 12, 2010, and were excited to venture further south through California, passed Angel Stadium in Anaheim (not Los Angeles), down the coast…

1 - heading to San Diego.JPG…to the city of San Diego, and then a little further south to our cabin waiting for us at the KOA in Chula Vista, California.  But more than anything, we were excited because over the next two days we’d be watching our Mariners try to battle out of a slump and win some ball games.

After taking a dip in the pool at the KOA, we were off to Petco Park…

a - petco parking lot.jpg…and the “Beach” in centerfield:

2 - welcome petco.JPGTim loves a good sand box, so he was in sand box heaven.  By the way, Tim was sporting a full Mariners uniform to this game — Ichiro jersey T-shirt, baseball pants, stirrup socks, and an M’s hat.  I told him that maybe Ichiro would ask him to play with the team.

The CF gate opens half an hour earlier than the rest of the stadium and provides access to the bleachers and the beach.  The “bleachers” are incredibly unique at Petco Park, check them out…

2 - petco beach.JPGAs Tim played with the dozens of buckets, shovels and other toys, the Padres were taking BP.  Eventually, a ball rolled to the wall in the deepest center part of the beach and Luke Gregerson moseyed on over to pick it up right in front of me and my Dad.

As he picked up the ball, I asked him:

Todd – (Pointing at Tim) “Hey, could you please toss that ball over for my son over there in the Ichiro shirt?”

L.G. – “Ichiro shirt!?”

Todd – “Yeah, Ichiro shirt.  But, hey, my Dad here works as an usher for Padres spring training games in Peoria!”

L.G. – Really?

Dad – Yep.

L.G. – (Tosses the ball)

Todd – Thanks!

I had no clue who the player was, but it said “57” on his back and my computer tells me that number 57 on the Padres is Luke Gregerson.  So…

Thanks, Luke!

By the way, here is a panoramic view through the beach from a couple rows back in the bleachers…

a - petco park bleachers beach2 panorama.jpgAs you can see, the view of LF and CF is obstructed by the OF wall from the bleachers.

Something funny happened when we were in the beach.  The Padres pitchers, including team jester Heath Bell, were running sprints in RF when a baseball rolled to the middle of the warning track toward the RF side of the beach.  When Health Bell finished up his work and started walking over to LF, a girl called out to him and asked for the baseball.  He walked over and with his foot pushed the ball up against the wall (which is simply a chain link fence in the beach) and said, “there you go!” and then he ran off.

Then the girl, who was probably about 8-10 years old grabbed the ball through the fence and passed the ball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand as she went up the fence.  When she got to head level, her dad picked her up so she could continue going up the fence passing the ball back-and-forth to herself.  Finally, she was at the top of the fence and passed the baseball over the top to herself.  I’ve never seen anything like that before at a game.  Pretty cool.

Here is another view from the beach area — taken by my dad…

aa - petco park bleachers beach panorama.jpg…all of that open space behind CF is where they store the batting cage during the game.

While we were hanging out in the Beach, a guy named Scott (who just commented on our last game) — Hi, Scott! — came up and introduced himself to me and said he enjoys reading our blog and checking out our pictures.  Its always cool to meet someone who enjoys following along with our adventures on MLBlogs.

Soon, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed behind the batters eye toward the LF seats.  On our way over there (as we passed a big concert stage), we ran into a mariachi band…

3 - tim y los mariachis.JPG…I absolutely love Mariachi music so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get Tim’s picture with the band.  Check out the one guy whose face is hidden behind two of his bandmates sombreros!.

Anyway, we swung around to the field leve seats in LF where we hung out for just a few minutes… 

b - petco park RCF field level panorama.jpg…in that last picture that is Heath Bell crouched down like a catcher and a Padres player and ball boy looking kid were taking turns pitching to him.  Later, Heath was practically wrestling the kid in the OF.  Bell was having himself a good old time during BP.

To get from LF to the seats in foul territory down the 3B line, you have to go behind the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse and up a couple flights of stairs.   And that is what we did when we saw the Mariners come out and start stretching in front of their dugout.

Tim and I went down the 3B line and an usher informed us that we had to sit down to watch BP from foul territory.  WHAT?  That’s just weird.  But whatever.  This is the view from where we sat down: 

c - petco 3B foul line panorama.jpg

As i was taking pictures, a nice guy who was probably in his sixties walked over and put a baseball in Tim’s hand and walked away before I could tell him he should give the ball to another little kid.  I guess a lot of kids like it when some random fan gives them a baseball, but Tim has got a bunch of balls already in his life and the few times it has happened, I always tell the generous would-be ball giver that Tim has already got a ball and he should give the ball to another little kid.  But this guy took off before I could say anything.  “Hmmm…,” I was thinking, “what are we going to do with this random baseball?”

Meanwhile, the Mariners were jogging back-and-forth in front of their dugout…

4 - mariners stretching in SD.JPG…as they ran back toward 3B for the final time, Cook & Son Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith was at the front of the pack and he immediately noticed us sitting in the front row a couple sections passed 3B.  He gave me a nod and I have him a wave with my glove.

Thirty seconds later, RRS was sitting on the wall chatting with me…

5 - TJC and RRS.JPG…and signing that ball the random fan had just given to Tim.  We got RRS to sign baseball for us last season, so after he signed this ball, I gave it to my dad who has never got RRS’s signature.

Here’s the deal, RRS is awesome.  He hung out sitting on that wall and chatting with me, my dad and Tim…

6 - RRS and Cook and Son.JPG…for 15-20 minutes (note, that on the clock behind us you can see there is a 7 minute difference between those last two pictures).

We talked about all sorts of cool stuff, but I am going to keep our conversation private becaues I didn’t ask RRS if he would mind if I shared our conversation on here.  But I will note that one of the coolest parts was when RRS talked about the conversations he has on a daily basis with Cliff Lee as he tries to overcome his early season struggles.  He got down in a catcher’s crouch and was showing us what locations he has been hitting and what locations he should be hitting.  It was extremely cool to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the work that goes into being a professional pitcher.

By the way, did you notice that they stationed a security guard to stand behind RRS as he chatted with us?  Not only that, the ushers actually let us stand during BP so we could chat with RRS.  I guess that is one of the perks you get when a player comes over to chat with you at Petco Park.

Oh, yeah.  I should also mention that I was wearing the jersey that RRS gave me!

Eventually, we went our separate ways.

We headed out to the LF corner.  And right when we got there, Ian Snell tossed us a baseball.  The Mariners were just starting to get into the cage by this point.  So we decided to head over to the Padres dugout to watch Ichiro hit.  On the way, I took this shot of the the concourse down the 3B line:

7 - Petco concourse.JPGWe had a nice view as Ichiro was hitting…

8 - ichiro BP tim scarf.JPG…Tim decided to tie himself in knots with the Padres scarf that they gave away to the fans at this game.  After the first group of Mariners finished hitting they all ran out into the infield to pick up stray baseballs and return them to the basket at the pitchers mound.  The pitcher was M’s batting coach Alonzo Powell.  As he grabbed a ball just in front of the mound, I called out, “Hey, Alonzo!”  He looked up and my Dad and I both flashed him some leather.  He tossed the ball over to my Dad for his first baseball at Petco Park.

Next, we headed out to RF where this was our view:

d - petco RF field panorama.jpgThe front row was shoulder to shoulder.  A couple Mariners pitchers were in LF including the D.A., David Aardsma.  Soon, a ball got over his head and rolled the wall in front of us.  I shouted, “Hey, D.A.!”  He looked up, made eye contact with me, and tossed me the ball on a weird angle as he walked back to his spot in LF.

And this is what I don’t like about a getting a toss up in a crowded area.  The ball was plainly, 100% without a shadow of a doubt intended for me and Tim, and I caught it without moving my feet whatsoever.  However, with the weird angle on which Aardsma threw us the ball, I ended up catching the ball 6 inches in front of a young (22’ish year old), moderately good looking girl.  I don’t think anyone would have thought anything about it if I just handed the ball over to Tim, but to me it felt a little funny.  Actually, it didn’t feel funny, because I knew the ball was intended for us.  But it felt like it probably looked funny (does that make sense?).  So instead of handing the ball to Tim, I just opened my glove, held it out for the girl (who was there with her boyfriend), and let her grab the ball out of my glove.  And she did just that, without a “thank you” or the slightest hint of acknowledgement that I’d just done something nice for her, which was not very cool in my book.

The worst part is that the situation with the girl threw me off and I don’t think I even thanked the D.A.

So, thanks, D.A.!

BP wrapped up, we headed out to the Park in the Park.  First, we checked out the Tony Gwynn statue:

9 - Tony Gwynn in the Park.JPGI turned around and took a panorama of the field from the Park in the Park:

e - petco park in the park I panorama.jpgAnd then we walked over…

10 - Walk in the Park.JPG…to check out the kids’ baseball field in the Park in the Park.  I’m not sure if they have a name for the field, but they should call it “The Park in the Park in the Park.”

I took another panorama from the beyond the CF wall of the Park in the Park in the Park…

f - petco park in the park II panorama.jpg…with our buddies in the Mariachi band on stage doing their thing.  Then we walked around the Park in the Park in the Park…

11 - Tim and Dad Petco Kid Field.JPG…and headed back over to the beach:

12 - Top of Bleachers.JPGAnd what the heck, how about another beach panorama looking toward RF:

g - petco park beach panorama.jpgTim wanted to play in the Beach so my Dad stayed with him while I toured the stadium a bit.  As I headed to the second deck in LCF, I took this picture looking down over the Padres bullpen:

13 - Padres bullpen.JPGRemember this picture of the Padres bullpen, because in a bit, I will show you the Mariners/visitors bullpen.

Next, I took what very well may be the coolest panorama that I have ever taken…

h - petco park LF upper ultimate panorama.jpg…click on the photo to see it much larger.  Cool, huh?

Next, it was off to the other side of the seats right next to the warehouse, where I took this shot:

i - petco LF upper panorama.jpgFrom there, I circled around to the infield and got this shot behind home plate…

ii - petco field home panorama.jpg…then it was up to the second deck, which is some sort of special deck.  It seemed like they don’t let you into these seats generally, but the usher said I could go in to take some pictures.  Here is what it looked like from there:

iii - petco 2d deck LF foul second deck panorama.jpgSoon, I found myself right next to the warehouse.  I wanted to get into the warehouse, but I didn’t know if I could.  There was a sign in the concourse behind the warehouse that said there was a private party going on there.  So, I went into the seating area and got this panorama right next to the warehouse…

j - petco LF upper next to warehouse panorama.jpg…but then I notice something, an odd little hallway:

IMG_6816.JPG…a stadium worker had just walked into the hallway.  There was no rope and no one to say I couldn’t go in there, so I did.  As I walked down the hallway, there were a couple open doors with soda fountains and random food prep paraphenalia strewn all about.  At the other end of the hallway, there were two food server type stadium workers and neither of them said anything to me.

At the end of the hallway, I took a right and there was a narrow walkway that led out to the porch on the top of the warehouse.  There was an usher standing in the middle of the walkway and two garbage cans blocking the way.  I walked up and acted confused for the guy, “Are we on the warehouse?  Am I not supposed to be here?  Hey, can I go out there real quick to take a picture?”  The guy looked a little confused right back at me and then said, “sure, okay.”

So, I made it out on top of the warehouse!  And this was the view:

k - petco from top of warehouse panorama.jpgAs the game was about to start, I began making my way toward home plate.  Here is a view a from the corner where the seats change angles…

l - petco upper 3B panorama.jpgAs I reached behind home plate, Ichiro came to bat.  I wanted a clean shot of him so I headed back toward 3B.  I got this picture…

14 - Ichiro singles in 1st 6-12-10.JPG
…as he started his swing that resulted in a leadoff single on the first pitch of the night.  A good start to the game.

I headed back behind home plate and got this panorama:

m - petco upper home panorama.jpgSeconds later, Chone Figgins reached out and slapped this ball into the outfield for the M’s second hit of the night…

15 - Figgins singles in 1st 6-12-10.JPG…I liked this, we had a little something going here.

I headed toward RF and got this picture…

n - petco 1B upper light tower panorama.jpg….from right next to the light stand with the suites in it.

Franklin Gutierrez walked on this pitch:

16 - Guti walks in 1st 6-12-10.JPGThe bases were loaded with no outs!  I liked it.  I headed down to the cross aisle around the 300 level and got this shot:

o - petco 1B upper cross aisle panorama.jpgI then got this shot of Lopez….

17 - Lopez GIDP in 1st 6-12-10.JPG…right as he swung his way into a double play.

The Padres then intentionally walked Bradley…

18 - Milton IW in 1st 6-12-10.JPG…before Josh Wilson popped up for the final out of the top of the first inning…

19 - Josh Wilson pops out in 1st  6-12-10.JPG…so the M’s squandered a great opportunity to score some runs.

It was time to head to our seats.  I got this panorama on the way to our seats…

q - petco 3B field concourse panorama.jpg….because I thought it was cool that it had a scoreboard for the fans standing in the concourse behind the seats.

Tim played in the beach until they cleared out all of the non-bleacher ticketed fans.  They made it to our seats shortly before I did.  Tim was hungry so we got our customary nachos:

20 - Nachos time in SD.JPGAfter the Mariners left three runners on base in the top of the first, the Padres showed them how to take advantage of scoring opportunties.  David Eckstein led off with a single and was replaced on first after Chase Headley hit into a fielder’s choice.  Adrian Gonzalez then blasted a two run bomb to put the Padres up 2-0.  Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Padres would need.

Still, it was a good game and the Mariners were in it until the end thanks to a solid outing (despite the loss) by Cliff Lee — somehow I failed to take a single picture of Lee at this game.

In the second inning, the M’s cut the Padres lead in half.  It started with Rob Johnson’s double down the RF line:

21 - Rob Johnson doubles in 2nd 6-12-10.JPG…and then Ichiro followed two batters later with a little chip shot…

22 - Ichi RBI single in 2nd 6-12-10.JPG…that landed behind third base just in fair territory and Johnson scored from second.

 In the bottom of the second, I snapped this picture of Tony Gwynn, Jr. hitting a single on a swinging bunt:

23 - tony jr swinging bunt single.JPGI am not positive about this, but I think Gwynn (who I have probably seen play before) completes the third father-son set that I have seen play in the majors.  Others include Ken Griffey-Ken Griffey, Jr. and Cecil Fielder-Prince Fielder.  Maybe there have been others, but not that I can recall.

The next time Ichiro came to the plate, he grounded out.  But check out the interesting stat that they put on the big screen during his at bat…

24 - Ichiro hit streaker.JPG…pretty impressive, eh?  I’m guessing that Ichiro will finish his career in sole possession of the lead on this list.

Soon, it was time for some ice cream.  I walked all around the field level concourse looking for ice cream helmets.  Here are some views from the concourse:

25 - petco concourse and ice cream spot.JPGIn that upper right picture, that big wall to the right is a slanted wall that runs from the upper deck all the way down to the ground outside the stadium.  I finally found the “Kettle & Cone” stand where they have ice cream helmets.  The tricky thing about finding it is that it is not on the main concourse.  Rather, it is behind the concourse (if that makes sense) on the 3B side near home plate.  Actually, in that upper right picture (with the slanted wall) if you click on it to view it full sized, you’ll see part of a red sign over a opening in the wall to the right.  The red sign says “MERCADO” and the opening in the wall is a hall way that leads back behind the concourse to a big bar and a couple different food stands.  That’s where the ice cream helmets can be found.

And this was my ice cream helmet’s view of the game from my seat in section 120, row 29, seat 1: 

s - petco section 120 row 29 seat 1 ice cream helmet panorama.jpgAs we watched the game, I noticed something odd in the OF.  Check out the OF wall below the Subway sign in this picture…

26 - weird OF thingy in SD.JPG…it is like there is a little cubby hole below the subway sign.  I have no clue what that is all about.

After showing you the Padres bullpen toward the beginning of this entry, I mentioned that I would show you the visitors’ bullpen at Petco Park a bit later.  Well, in this picture of Figgy playing 2B, you can see the visitors’ bullpen in the background:

27 - Figgy and Ms bullpen.JPGHow’s that for treating your guests poorly?  The Padres get your standard modern bullpen and the visitors get to sit in foul territory like its still the 1980s or something.

During this game, Tim fell in love with the all-star ballot.  As shown here, with Grandpa’s assistance he kept busy…

28 - Tim and Dad all-star voting.JPG…punching out holes on the ballot.  Together, they voted for the entire National League on this ballot.  Tim was very proud of his completed ballot.

Cliff Lee gave up his third and final run of the night in the fourth inning and then went on to pitch 7 innings, giving up 7 hits.  Cliff actually went an inning deeper in the game than the Padres starter, Wade LeBlanc, who also gave up 7 hits in his six innings.  The difference in the game was that LeBlanc and his relievers (including the baseball giving Luke Gregerson) kept the Mariners baserunner, just like Milton Bradley here in the sixth inning…

29 - milton wants to score.JPG…stranded on base longing to touch the plate.  Over the course the game, the Mariners had 12 runners left on base and the Padres had a mere 2 LOB.

In the 7th or 8th inning, we decided to head out to the Park in the Park to see what the game looks like from out there.  Before departing our seats in section 120, a nice fan took our picture…

30 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…by the way, I bought some wet wipe before this game because I had forgot to bring any on the trip.  I usually use them to wash down Tim’s chocolate covered face after he devours an ice cream helmet.  Unfortunately, after buying the wipes, I misplaced them under the car seat and never took them to a single game on this trip.  Therefore, like in this picture, Tim’s face was a bit chocolatey a lot during this trip.

We grabbed a spot on the hill in the PITP, and Tim stood in front of us and hit fake pitches and circled faked bases.  Here he is standing at his fake home plate…

31 - Tim in the Park in the Park.JPG…and that was our view of the last inning or two.  I guess in that picture you can tell better than before that he is wearing a full baseball uniform.

You know what, I took a video of Tim hitting a fake homerun, here it is: 

Although it was only a two run game when Lee handed the ball off to the M’s bullpen in the 8th inning, the M’s relieves quickly put the game out of reach.  Sean White got only one out in the 8th inning, but gave up 3 runs.  Brandon League got the final two outs in the 8th and gave up one more run.  Actually, to be more precise, I should mention that two of Sean White’s runs actually scored on a 3-run homerun that League gave up to pinch hittig Oscar Salazar.

Between the Salazar homerun and the victory, the batters’ eye was shooting blasts of fire into the air a lot in the evening hours at Petco Park:

32 - wrong team wins.JPGAfter it was a close game for most of the night, the final score was an ugly 7-1 loss.  But it was a fun night at the park and it was great to see the Mariners and get to know Petco Park.

We decided to hang out in the PITP for a bit to let the crowd thin out a bit, but then we realized the crowd was getting bigger.  There was a post game concert in the PITP.  So, we had another nice fan take our picture…

33 - 3 Cooks in a Park in a Park.JPG…and then we headed to our car.

 To book end the game, I took another picture of Petco Park from the parking lot…

34 - Petco at Night.JPG…then we hung out in the parking lot for 15 minutes because the cars were inching out of the lot.  Tim spent the time jumping and having me take pictures of him in the air…

35 -Tims got air.JPG…when I showed him this one, I told him he jumped so fast that his arm disappeared.  He was pretty proud of that.  He crashed out soon after hopping in the car.

In just about 12 hours, we would be back at Petco Park for a day game and hoping to see our second Mariners win of 2010.

2010 Fan Stats:

12 Games

14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)

11 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)


36 - SD baseballs and helmets 6-12-10.JPG29 Baseball
s (4 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)

10 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

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

4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 3: Angels at Dodgers (6/11/10)

Finally, we reached day three of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010, June 11, 2010 was a big travel day and a big baseball day.  Aside from getting to see our Mariners, the thing I was most excited for on this trip was the chance to get to know Dodger Stadium.  Dodger Stadium would be Tim’s 20th stadium!  I had been there once in college, but we sat in the top deck so we weren’t permitted to explore the lower levels.  For this game, we’d be sitting in the field level and we would leave almost no stone unturned.

But first we had to get to Los Angeles.  We woke up early in San Jose and were on the road by 6:00 a.m.  We had about 370 miles to drive to the the Fairplex KOA in Pamona, CA and then an additional 40 miles to Dodger Stadium.

My dad was behind the wheel to begin the drive and Tim was manning the map…

1 - Navigating to LA.jpg…we drove about 2.5 hours before stopping at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere for breakfast.

Aside from landscapes, there is not much to see in central California (at least on I-5)…

2 - LA bound.jpg…but Tim was having fun in the back seat.  We played a whole lot of “I spy.”  I took over driving duties just before we hit “the grapevine” — a monster uphill section of I-5.  I was excited to drive the grapevine (and told my dad to take a “dramatic” photo of it (see bottom right above, which doesn’t look too dramatic)) because I had heard stories in my youth about this road.  I have always had strong visual memories of the grapevine based solely on hearing stories of cars broken down overheated along the side of the road.  It was nice to see it first hand.

By about 1pm, we made it to the KOA, which is right next to the LA County fairgrounds.  We relaxed a litte, I went for a run, Tim hit some baseballs while my Dad and I played catch…

3 - Into LA.jpg…and then it was off to the City of Angels.  Above at the bottom left is a picture of the first of at least three (in LA, SD and SF) different Cesar Chavez Avenues we saw on our trip.

A few minutes before 5:00 p.m., we turned onto Eylsian Park Avenue and drove straight to the entrance of Dodger Stadium…  

4 - welcome to dodger stadium.jpg…where we were told to turn around and come back in fifteen minutes.  We knew that the gates would open two hours before the game, but we had no clue that the parking lots do too.  My dad pulled into a parking spot along Elysian Park Ave to wait and Tim and I hopped out to trek up to the stadium by foot.  That’s when we learned that the parking lots also open to foot traffic two hours early.  So, we had to stand around for 10 minutes with all of those people pictured above to the right until a guard finally told us to “go for it.”

With Tim on my shoulders, we started our walk up the hill, through the parking lots, and around the stadium to the LF gate:

4a - Dodger Stadium satellite.jpgIn that satellite view, the yellow arrows begin where we were standing by the parking lot gates.

We tried to enter the stadium at the end of the fourth arrow, which was by these player pictures and the Dodger ticket office…

5 - Dodger Stadium approach.jpg…but after flashing our field level tickets, we were told to go down two flights of stairs, around the corner and to the LF gate.  The bottom right picture above shows the back of the LF scoreboard as we came around the corner to the LF gate.

The LF gate dumped us into the field level concourse right at our seats…

6 - Mannywood.JPG

…in the Mannwood section of Dodger Stadium.  You can only buy these tickets in pairs.  It costs $99 (Manny’s number) and you get two tickets and two T-shirts that say “I sat in Mannywood.”  You also get a close-up view of Manny Ramirez as he patrols LF.

Let me tell you, the Mannywood section was great.  The fans were awesome.  The atmosphere was excellent.  For a non-Mariners game, we had a ridiculous amount of fun during the game sitting in Mannywood.  I highly recommend it.

Here is the view of the field from Mannywood (section 53 to the left and 51 to the right):

a - dodger section 51 day time panorama.jpgThe chain link fence to the left is the Dodgers bullpen.  While my dad parked the car and waited outside for a special guest, Tim and I walked in and headed right over to the bullpen.  Immediately, someone jacked a HR into the bullpen that zipped right into the trees at the back end.

Two seconds later a security guard walked into the bullpen and pulled about eight baseballs out of the trees.  Tim and I were standing right on the fence watching him and he came over and stood directly below us.  I was sure he was coming over to toss a baseball up to us.  But instead, still 20-30 feet from the OF wall, he yelled “Hey, Justin!  JUSTIN MILLER!”

Now, I have never heard of a professional baseballplayer named Justin Miller, but I’m a good listener.  One of the Dodgers in LF turned around and looked at the guard.  The guard then threw all eight baseballs to this Justin Miller guy.

Everyone in LF just watched silently.

Then, the second Justin Miller caught the eighth and final baseball, I yelled, “Hey, Justin!”  He looked up and…

7 - thanks justin miller.JPG…fired this baseball into my glove.  He then turned around and threw the other seven baseballs into the bucket.

Thanks, Justin Miller!

Now, Tim and I normally never go into the outfield during BP and there is a reason for it.  And we got a scary reminder of it.  You see, Tim is only four and he can’t handle a major league homerun.  But two second after taking that picture above, he handed me the baseball and I took a camera phone picture of it with the field behind it to send to my Dad (still waiting outside) and my wife.  Tim was standing right next to me.  But then he wandered off to the left.  I could see him out of the corner of my eye as he was heading back over to the fence by the bullpen.  Then I heard a solid crack of the bat and I looked up and started running over to Tim.  I couldn’t get there in time and a homerun almost got him.  He never even noticed the baseball, which ended up bouncing all the way back to the concourse.

That was enough of being in the OF.  We were out of there.  Time to explore.

As we walked toward home plate, I noticed these ladies in white shirts…

b - dodger section 41 panorama.jpg…who appeared to be keeping people (without proper tickets) away from the field.  That was unfortunate.

But as we reached the 3B end of the dugout, there was an odd group of fan-looking people standing on the warning track and a line leading up to them…

c - dodger behind 3B dugout panorama.jpg…we didn’t know what was going on, but felt it couldn’t hurt to stand in the line.

About five minutes later, a nice usher-type lady was taking this picture of us as we stood on the warning track with Dodgers BP going on behind us…

8 - on field at dodger stadium.JPG…and what the heck, how about one with the Dodgers dugout behind us too?  Okay:

9 - dodgers dugout.JPGWho is that behind us in the dugout you ask?  Well, none other than young stud Andre Ethier:

10 - andre ethier interview.JPGSo, here is the deal.  During BP, this lady runs a little roped off patch of the warning track.  You can stand in line and she cycles new people into the roped off area every couple minutes.  The purpose of it all is to try to get autographs, but there is no guarantee that you will.  We were in there for about 5 minutes and Joe Torre, Don Mattingly…and basically the whole team walked by us.  But they were all on their way to their pre-game meeting so no one stopped.

We got extra lucky.  We were the last people into the roped off area during this round, so we were right at the entrance of the rope and immediately on the dugout.  That’s why the lady was able to see us and offer to take our picture on the warning track.  Aside from us, she only did that for one other father and son.

Next, we hung out by the dugout and people watched…

11 - behind dodgers dugout.JPG…there were some celebrity looking people down there, but I couldn’t figure out who anyone was.  Later, I found out that one of them was Brian McKnight.  He sang the national anthem and God Bless America.

We watched a little Angels BP from above the dugout:

12 - angels at batting cage.JPGAnd I totally butchered this attempt at a panorama…

cc - dodger behind 3B dugout-home panorama.jpg…I somehow failed to overlap the pictures on the far right so they couldn’t connect.  But you get the picture, right?

Then we headed out to RF.   We got this panorama from behind the plate on our way…

d - dodger behind home field panorama.jpg…and this one behind the visitors’ (Angels) dugout:

e - dodger behind 1B dugout panorama.jpgYep, it was the Angels vs. the Dodgers, the freeway series.  Wait, aren’t both teams from LA?  Why would you need to drive on the freeway from LA to LA?  Oh, yeah, the Angels are actually from a completely different city (Anaheim) and county (Orange County) 30 miles away.

You know, if a team wants to go by the name of a different city, it really should be the San Francisco Athletics of Oakland.  You can at least see San Franscisco from the A’s stadium.  (Obviously, this is a joke, I am not advocating the A’s actually calling themselves that.  That would be ridiculous).  Anyway…

Next we were off to the RF corner…

f - dodger section 50 panorama.jpg…which is not called “Ethierwood” or Ethierville or anything based on Dodgers right fielder, Andre Ethier.

Here is almost the same panorama again (just for kicks)…

g - dodger section 52 panorama.jpgThe sun was beating down pretty hard in RF.  It was hard to see.  We didn’t need to have another near hit, so we were out of there quick.  But not before taking some pictures of the vistors’ bullpen…

13 - dodgers visitors bullpen.JPG…note that there is a lonely baseball on top of that little building, which I think is the bullpen bathroom.

I got a text message from my dad.  He was in the stadium with our special guest.  We headed over to say hi to them.  On the way through the concourse, I took this picture of Canter’s Delicattessen and a Dodger Dogs sign:

12a - canters delicatessen.JPGDodger Stadium might be old (1962), but it is extremely clean and stylish, with a sort of intentionally simple retro look.

After saying hi to my Dad and our special guest, I went on exploring.  Tim wasn’t up for more walking around so he stayed with them.

I headed to the second deck.

Dodger Stadium has five decks, which I will call the Field Level, Second Deck, Suite Level, Third Deck and Top Deck.  The Dodgers may call them something else.  Anyway, I was off to the second deck.

I noticed something sort of odd.  The main pathway to all of the upper decks is roughly behind home plate.  So, if you are in the second deck way out in LF and you want to go to the field level (or Third Deck) way out in LF, it appears that you have to walk all the way to home plate, go up or down some stairs, an escalator and/or an elevator and then walk back out to LF.

That is just what I did (going the escalator route).  I ended up in a bar behind the concourse in LF.  This is what it looked like:

12b - LF bar.JPGInterestingly, this bar was immediately on the inside of the gate that Tim and I had originally tried to enter, but were told we had to go down two flights of stairs, around a corner and enter the stadium through the LF gate.

One of those girls asked me an insanely easy question (which was actually a commercial for her employer), and gave me a little prize that I planned to give to Tim.

I then headed to the back row as far out in LF as I could go.  Here is what it looked like:

h - dodger 2d deck LF corner panorama.jpgSee the Dodgers bullpen below?  Check this (zoomed in picture) out:

14 - dodgers bullpen inside.JPGThe pitchers (or some of them at least) sit inside there and watch the game through a hole in the OF wall.

And just for kicks, here is another panorama from the first row one section over from the last picture:

i - dodger 2d deck LF front row panorama.jpgI made my way around the Second Deck…

j - dodger 2d deck 3B panorama.jpg…and on my way through the concourse, I saw the familar face of a man I’d never met:  Dodgers MVP Roger Owens:

15 - roger owens peanut man.JPGIf you’re a Mariners fan, you probably know the Mariners MVP Rick “The Peanut Man” Kaminsky.  Well, Roger is just like him.  He does crazy behind the back throws when you order a bag of peanuts.  But because he is based in LA, he gets featured from time-to-time on The Late Show, etc.

I recognized him right away and went up to say hi.  He was very nice.  I asked him if he knew The Peanut Man from Seattle.  He does.  They won an award together about 10 years ago from some peanut-based organization.  Roger told me about winning the award with Rick and he said, “It was the MVP award, which meant ‘Master…Master Peanut Man’ award”  Actually, I have known for years that Rick won the MVP and that it meant “Master Vendor of Peanuts.”

By the way, I seriously think Rick Kaminsky should be inducted into that Mariners Hall of Fame.  He’s that good.

Anyway, I continued on the tour.  Here’s the view from the second deck behind home plate slightly toward 1B…

k - dodger 2d deck section 118 panorama.jpg…and further down the 1B line…

l - dodger 2d deck section 156 panorama.jpg…in the RF corner, I took this shot of the all-you-can-eat RF bleachers…

16 - RF All-You-Can-Eat Seats.JPG…unfortunately, with an infield ticket at Dodger Stadium, you cannot visit the OF so I did not get to go check out the bleachers.

I headed back to home plate through the concourse so I could head up stairs.  All around most of the concourses, the Dodgers have pictures on the support columns celebrating Dodgers past and present — here are a few of the past Dodgers stars:

17 - tribute to dodgers past.JPGNext, I headed up to the Suite level:

18 - dodger stadium suite level.jpgThe two pictures at the top left are looking into the hallway housing the suites on the 3B side of the stadium.  In the bottom left, you see that the Vin Scully Pressbox is also on the suite level.  In the little open area outside of the press box and the hallway leading to the suites, they have the old Dodgers relief pitchers car behind ropes.  My Dad and our special guest actually wandered by here with Tim and a guard let Tim sit in the car!

From the suite level, there are two elevators to take you to (i) the Third Deck and (ii) the Top Deck.  I hopped into the elevator up to the Third Deck.  When I arrived, I was in an inside concourse (that was open to the field) behind home plate.  I started walking to LF and soon the concourse weaved behind the Third Deck seats into an open concourse behind the seats…

19 - third deck concourse views.jpg…I was surpised to see that people could walk straight from the parking lot into the third deck.  At the time, I didn’t have a good handle on the lay of the land at Dodger Stadium.  But the fact is that it is built into the side of a hill.  There is direct access to almost every level of the stadium from the parking lot without having to go up or down stairs inside the stadium.  Essentially, the OF is at the bottom of the hill and home plate is at the top of the hill.  Therefore, the gates into the Third Deck are  around the 1B and 3B area.  The gates into the Second Deck are in the OF foul corners, and the field level entrance is in the outfield at the bottom of the hill.  Its a pretty cool and unique set up.

The picture to the left above is the Third Deck gates and the picture to the right is looking off of the Third Deck concoure down to the ground outside, just above the Second Deck entrance (where we were not permitted to enter the Stadium) and the bar from a previous picture.

Finally, I made it out to the LF seats.  This is as far out in the seats as I could go because the last couple sections are a special “bleacher beach” section:

m - dodger 3d deck LF panorama.jpgIt also has a special section of the concourse behind the seats.

Next, I started walking toward home plate and I took this shot…

n - dodger 3d deck 3B-mid.JPG…and this one where you can see my shadow on the side of the Top Deck section…

o - dodger 3d deck 3B-wall panorama.jpgAs you can see, the Top Deck hangs over the Third Deck Seats between the two dugouts and creates the enclosed concourse behind those Third Deck seats.

When I got behind home plate, I noticed that Allysa Milano (a big Dodgers fan) was on the field to yell “Play Ball” or something like that…

20 - allysa milano.JPG…she looked giddy with excitement to be on the field at Dodger Stadium.

By the way, Allysa is in the movie Fear, which features an aerial view of my boyhood baseball home, the Kingdome.

I got this panorama as Milano was doing her thing:

p - dodger 3d deck home milano panorama.JPGThen I headed to the RF corner through the concourse behind the seats…

21 - RF 3d deck concourse in LA.JPG…this is what it looked like from the top of the Third Deck between the last  and second-to-last sections…

q - dodger 3d deck RF corner top panorama.jpg…and here is the view from a little lower and right on the railing at the end of the Third Deck…
r -dodger 3d deck RF corner on railing panorama.jpgWhen I looked to my right, this is what I saw behind the OF seats:

22 - bleachers from above.JPGAs I made my way back to home plate to head up to the Top Deck, the game started.  This is what it looked like from up there:

23 - angels in first.JPGWhen I got up to the Top Deck, the first thing I did was squeeze behind the seats in front of the big Dodgers logo at the top of the stadium behind home plate…

24 - dodger logo.JPG…and that is where I took this panorama…

s - dodger top deck home panorama.jpg…then I headed to the 1B end of Top Deck:

.

t - dodger top deck 1B panorama.jpgFrom there, I got a view of the interesting seating configuration behind the dugouts at Dodger Stadium:

25 - dodger stadum dugout seating.jpgAnd then I got a panorama that shows the Top Deck concourse, some of the parking lot, and downtown LA off in the distance:

u - dodger top deck concourse to LA panorama.jpgCheck out this interesting view looking down on the top of the Third Deck:

26 - top of 3d deck in LA.JPGAs I swung around to the 3B side of the Top Deck…

v - dodger top deck 3B panorama.jpg…Manny Ramirez stepped up to the plate:

27 - manny hackin.JPGAfter the Angels went down in order in the first, Rafeal Furcal led off the Dodgers’ half of the first with a triple.  But Manny’s pop out to deep 2B couldn’t get the run in.  Furcal was left on third.

It was time to head back to our seats.  The tour was complete.  I decided to go a different way.  I took a long and windy set of stairs…

28 - dodger stadium stairs.jpg…all the way from the Top Deck to the Field Level.

As i reached the Field Level, Torii Hunter was at the plate and Chad Billingsley was on the mound:

29 - billingsley to hunter.JPG

Hunter would draw a walk.

Finally, I made it back to our seats in Mannywood.  And guess who I found there?  Tim, my Dad, and my Dad’s brother and our special guest, Carl:

30 - three cooks in LA.JPGCarl and his family all live in the LA area and I don’t get to see any of them very often.  So it was really nice to have him join us for a game.

Here was our view of Manny from Mannywood…

31 - manny and matsui.JPG…and Manny’s counterpart, Hideki Matsui.

And, from later in the night, here was the view from my seat — Section 51, Row J, Seat 1:

w - dodger section 51 row J seat 1 panorama.jpgI mentioned that I won a prize for answering a really simple question.  Well, here it is…

32 - tim and cutie.JPG…and Tim absolutely loved it…

33 - loving cutie.JPG…so much so that he named it “Cutie” (because it was so cute) and gave it a big hug.

The score was 0-0 going into the to top of the third inning.  Joel Piniero led off and reached first base when he swung at a wild pitch that went to the backstop.  Piniero eventually made his way around to score the first run on a line drive single to RF by Bobby Abreu.

Between the first couple innings, the Dodgers kept showing clips of The Prince of Darkness, the one and only Mr. John “Ozzy” Osbourne himself, telling us to “SCREAM!!!!”

34 - scream.JPGAlthough we didn’t understand the signifance of the Ozzy clip, while eating some nachos, Tim obliged with a viscious looking scream.

In the fourth inning, Manny continued to do nothing at the plate:

35 - manny still hacking.JPG

But then James Loney hit a home run to knot the game at 1-1.

Also in the fourth innng, Ozzy Osbourne appeared in the flesh!  While he has engaged in many unhealthy and self-destructive activities over the course of his life that I cannot endorse, I do strongly endorse Ozzy as a musician.  He’s excellent.  With Black Sabbath or solo, Ozzy is great.

Anyway, The Ozzman Cometh to the game for the “Think Cure” promotion (i.e., a cure for cancer), and he was there to lead us in an effort to set a Guiness Book of World Records record for longest/loudest crowd scream…

36 - ozzy world record scream.JPG…so we all banded together and did some major screaming.  And I’m proud to announce that we are now world record holders.

Thanks, Ozzy!

After all of that sceaming, it was time to cool off the vocal cords with some chocolate ice cream in white Dodgers ice cream helmets…

37 - dodgers ice cream helmet.JPG…I was pretty surprised at the design of the helmets (I figured they’d be blue with a white “LA” like the Dodgers’ hats and batting helmets), but it didn’t matter.  Ice cream helmets are great no matter what design the team employs.  Tim clearly was happy with his helmet…

38 - LA ice cream.JPGOh, by the way, the Dodgers helmets are also smaller than every other helmet we have ever got.  Not much smaller, but clearly smaller.  For instance, I cannot stack these helmets on top of any of our other ice cream helmets.

In the fifth inning, the Angels took the lead for good when Hideki Matsui hit a bases clearing 3-run double to put the Angels up 4-1.

Remember I mentioned that our seats came with T-shirts?  This is what they looked like:

Mannywood shirt.jpgTim played with his little “cutie” foam finger a lot during this game and, in the process, he made friends with the group of 20-something guys and girls sitting right behind us.  They had full-sized “West Side W” foam fingers.  Eventually, a girl named Ashley gave her “W” finger to Tim.  And then taught Tim that he could fold the “W” over in half and it would be an “M.”  The two of them then folded and unfolded that “W” finger about a million times and chanted “M” Mariners, “W” Win!  Mariners, Win!  Mariners, Win!  The interesting thing is that Ashley was an Angels fan.  But these guys were all super cool and they didn’t mind cheering the Mariners to make Tim happy.  I’m telling you, the vibe in Mannywood was awesome.  Just a bunch of fans have a great night at the ballpark…complete with non-stop hitting around of many beach balls.  Tim loved it when he got a chance (or two) to hit one of the beach balls.

The Angels scored more runs in the sixth.  Again, it all started with Piniero.  This time, he walked and eventually scored the Angels’ fifth run on a bases-loaded walk of Bobby Abreu.  Torii Hunter then followed with a 3-run double of his own to make the score 8-1 Angels.

It wasn’t just at the plate that Piniero was contributing.  On the mound, he was on fire.

39 - piniero looking tough.JPGHe would eventually pitch a complete game.

Late in the game, Manny gave us a good look at his signature locks…

40 - mannylocks.JPGHe was pretty good with the crowd.  Every inning, he tossed his warm up ball to someone in the crowd.  We noticed this in the second inning when he threw his ball into Mannywood.  We decided to go down to the front row between innings several times…

41a - watching Manny.JPG…but he distributed his warm up baseballs all around and never came back to Mannywood with another.

By the ninth inning, it was obvious that the Mariners AL West foes were going to win this game.  So I didn’t mind jumping up and acting like I was cheering for this MyGameBall.com scavenger hunt photo…

41 - homerunner between 2nd and 3rd.JPG…its Howie Kendrick in the background between second and third bases after he hit a 2-run homerun bringing the score to 10-1, the eventual final score.

We ended the game sitting next to the bullpen…

x - dodger section 51 panorama.jpg…just in case the Dodgers felt like tossing up any baseballs on their way to the dugout.  But you know what?  They don’t walk to the dugout.  They all filed into a door that took them under the Field Level seats, and like Kaiser Soze, POOF, they were gone.

After the game, we got a group photo…

41a - four cook men.JPG…you can see Tim’s West Side W in my hand behind Carl’s back.

It had been a great game.  We said our good-byes to Carl and headed to our car.  Guess who we saw on the way to the car?  Dodger great and Hall of Famer…

42 - hey its sandy koufax.JPG

…Sandy Koufax!  Okay, well, that might not have actually been Koufax.  I guess he probably doesn’t walk around in his jersey at Dodgers games.

Ah, it was a long and exciting day on the baseball roadtrip.  We headed back to our camping cabin for the night.  In the morning, we would be off to meet up with our Mariners at Petco Park in San Diego.

2010 Fan Stats:

11 Games

13 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)


43 - LA helmets and baseball.JPG10 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

26 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, Orioles 1, 3 Athletics, 1 Angels, 1 Dodgers)

7 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium)

9 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 2: Angels at Athletics (6/10/10)

We woke up in the La Quinta Inn’s “Oakland Airport Coliseum” hotel on the morning of Thursday, June 10, 2010 ready for a Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip first:  our second game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which would mark the first time we have attended two games at the same stadium during a roadtrip.  Once again, we would be seeing the California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County taking on the Oakland Athletics.

We grabbed some free breakfast in the hotel lobby area, showered up, Tim built a very rudimentary fort…

1 - tims fort.JPG…and we were off to the Coliseum.  Once again the La Quinta shuttle (van) dropped us off at the BART stop.  Tim loved driving in the van and made sure to tell numerous people that “we drove here in a van!”

The day before, the outside security person hardly glanced into my big green backpack.  Today, the guy must have been a former-TSA agent.  He poked, prodded, made me remove 70% of the contents, and then decided the backpack was too big to go into the stadium.  I’ve take this same backpack everywhere (probably to 20 different stadiums), including THIS same stadium.  I told the guy I had brought this same backpack into the Coliseum not 12 hours ago and I crammed it into the little measurement box.  Finally, the authority figure relented, “I’ll let you take it in…this time.”

So we were in…

We headed to RF where my dad had noticed a baseball in the gap the night before.  I’d brought a rubber band, string, and sharpie with the thought of trying my first ever attempt at the glove trick.  The ball was still there.  But, I never even rigged up my glove.  It would have taken too much effort, I think.

Instead, Tim and I stood in the RF corner right next to the foul pole and watched Jered Weaver play catch with former Mariner Joel Piniero.  Weaver was standing right in front of us and, interestingly, he was using two baseballs to play catch.   He’d hold one ball in his glove and throw the other.  After the throw, he’d transfer the second ball to this throwing hand so he could catch the first ball after Piniero threw it back to him.

Once they finished up their throwing, Weaver tossed one ball into the seats behind him and then turned and tossed the second ball to us.

Thanks, Jered!

After Weaver tossed us the ball, Piniero walked over to the foul line.  I called out to Joel and he gave us a wave.  I asked if he would take a picture with Tim.  He said yes, but first he had to do some running in the OF.

A few minutes later, we got Weaver to autograph the baseball he’d tossed us and pose for a picture with Tim (look for Joel in the background): 

2 - jered weaver.JPG

I think this is the second time this season that we have gotten a baseball, picture and autograph all from the same player at a game, the first being Billy Wagner, and I think it is really cool.  Thinking back, we did this once last season with C&S Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith.  (We also got all three from Jason Phillips last season, but the picture and autograph were at different games).

We moved around the corner to the RF foul seats to get that picture with Weaver.  I should mention that this was a 12:35 p.m. day game following a night game.  We didn’t think there would be any BP, but we were wrong.  The A’s took BP (the Angels did not).

Standing right in front of us in RF was an Oakland Athletic.  I had no clue who he is.  I don’t bring a roster to games (and if I review a roster before a game it is generally just to see if any former Mariners are on the team).  But I have a secret weapon — a Canon PowerShot SX200IS with 12 x optical zoom and (48 x total zoom) — and that often times is all that it takes…

3 - ball please brad ziegler.jpg…”Hello, Mr. Brad Ziegler.”  (note:  the inset zoomed in picture is a different picture than the main picture).

No one else around seemed to know that it was Ziegler.  No one had said his name when he’d shagged balls nearby.  Once I figured out who it was and he shagged another baseball (about 40-50 feet from the foul line), I called how, “Hey, Brad Zeigler!  Zeeeeegs!”  That tipped everyone off in the section and when Ziegler looked over EVERYONE (well, not me, Tim or my Dad) started yelling his name.  Ziegler looked discouraged by the yelling and started to turn back toward “the bucket.”  Just then, Tim called out:

BALL PLEEEEASE!”

Ziegler quickly swiveled back toward the stands:  “Who said “ball please!?”  And he started walking toward the seats with the baseball.  I pointed at Tim.  Then, a kid about 4-5 rows further out in the outfield yelled, “I did!”  Ziegler veered to his left and started heading to that little liar kid.

“He did!”  I said, as I pointed at Tim.  Then some random other guy pointed at Tim and shouted out, “THIS LITTLE KID DID!”

Ziegler changed course again.  He approached Tim.

ZIEGLER:  “You said ‘ball please’?”

TIM:  “Yes.”

Ziegler gives the ball to Tim.

Thanks, Brad!  (And thanks to the “random other guy” for the assist).

It was a great lesson for Tim.  I told him (and have told him numerous times since then) that he got that baseball because he said “please” and it has had a very powerful impact on Tim.  He’s saying please a lot all of a sudden!

Soon, Joel Piniero headed over our way.  Do you know about the photo scavenger hunt on mygameballs.com?  If not, click here.  We’re having fun trying to collect some of the scavenger hunt photos and Joel was kind enough to help us out with a 5-pointer — Tim fist bumping a player:

4 - Joel Piniero fist bump autograph.JPGYes, Tim’s fist bump is a little unorthodox, but he’s only 4 years old after all.  He’s a seasoned high fiver, but his fist bumping still needs some work.

Anyway, it was awesome to see Joel.  I really liked him as Mariner and was sad to see him go.  He was also kind enough to sign the Brad Ziegler “ball please” ball for Tim…and another baseball for my Dad (but not the one he’d just thrown my Dad the day before).

Ahh…a couple things I forgot to mention:

First, between our Weaver picture and getting the Ziegler baseball, someone hit a high foul pop fly down the 1B line.  I ran over a couple seats away from the field and positioned myself for a big bounce over everyone in the first two rows.  And I would have got the ball too had it not bounced directly into a 30-year old’ish guy’s nose.  The guy was going for the ball and it cleaned his clock.  His nose opened up like a faucet.  It wasn’t pretty.

  • Second, while we were waiting for Piniero, an Angel pitcher was throwing off the mound in the bullpen.  Two throws into his session, he stopped and told his catcher to turn around and tell one of their teammates (who was playing catch with someone else in the OF) to move because the pitcher thought he might hit his teammate behind the catcher.  The Angels mocked him mightily for this request.  The best line was when the catcher stopped and told the pitcher ask a fan sitting in the crowd to move so he wouldn’t hit him with his return throws to the mound.
  • Third, also while we were waiting for Piniero, some fan decked out in Angels gear came down to the bullpen and (with Joel Piniero standing about 30 feet to his right) asked the guys in the bullpen, “Do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?”  Everyone said no.  Then numerous Angels started asking their teammates really loudly, “Do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?”  Everyone said no.  Then one of them yells to Joel, “Hey, do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?”  Joel looks all around…nope, he had no clue either when Joel Piniero would be out there.  This never stopped while we were out there and the guy never figured out that Joel was standing right there.

    Okay, after the picture with Joel, we decided to go check out our seats…

    4a - section 125.JPG…I got us some excellent seats in the first row (well, third row because of the on field seats) in Section 125 by third base.  They were looking really nice, except that the fence gave them very little leg room.

    Side note, on the way over to our seats, we walked through the rows of empty seats all the way from the RF corner.  That’s pretty standard during BP, right?  Well, as we circled around home plate we were in about the third row above the dugout when an usher stopped us.  After yesterday’s “you gotta eat in your own seats 40 minutes before the game” incident, I was ready for anything.  She didn’t dissappoint.  She told me we couldn’t walk through the rows.  If we wanted to get from Section 120 Row 3 to Section 125 Row 1, we would have to walk up to the cross aisle behind row 20 and walk behind the 99% empty seating sections and then walk down the aisle at section 125.  Okay.

    Next, we decided to head over to left field.  Oddly, there was no one there.  Literally, other than an usher, there was no one else in foul territory down the line (which was very odd because there were a bunch of people in RF foul territory).  There were a bunch of people in LF homerun territory and this guy…

    5 - Michael Wuertz toss up machine.JPG…was taking care of everybody.  Right as we walked up to the wall in LF foul territory, this guy got a baseball and threw it to someone in homerun territory.  Immediately, another ball came, and after spotting Tim he threw it to us.  Three more balls came to LF within the next 3 minutes and this guy was all over the field shagging everything and he gave every one of those five baseballs to people in the seats.  Very cool.

    5a- 48 is Wuertz.jpgI had no clue who he was.  So I did my zoom trick.  No name on the glove.  But he did have a number:  48 (click on the picture to the right to make it larger if you can’t see the 48 stitched on the glove).  According to the A’s website this generous guy’s name is Michael Wuertz.

    Thanks, Michael!

    Soon, BP came to an end.

    I wanted to do some more exploring, and so did Tim and my Dad.  On our way out of the field level, I took the following picture of the A’s bullpen…

    6 - A's luxury bullpen.JPGIf that scene doesn’t shout “Major League bullpen” I just don’t know what does (hopefully you can read the sarcasm in that statement).

    We were off to the upper deck.  The true upper deck.  The 300 level, which is only open in three sections right behind home plate.  First, we had to figure out how to get up there.

    It was pretty empty in the concourse as we made our way to the 300 level seats…

    7- exploring coliseum 300 level.JPG…but at long last, we made it:

    9 - hanging out up top in coliseum.JPGYou see that cement wall behind Tim?  Guess what is over it?  Well, for one thing, off in the distance:  San Francisco:

    10 - SanFran from Colesium.jpg(Hopefully you can tell that is three pictures put together.  The bottom picture is the real picture.  The middle is a zoomed in version of the bottom picture, and the top picture is zoomed in even further).

    But we weren’t up here just to look over the wall.  We were here to check out the view of the ballpark from the 300 level.  Here is the view from the last row in Section 318 of the Coliseum:

    8 - coliseum section 318 panorama.jpgHere are Tim and my Dad with the lovely green tarp behind them:

    11 - Tim and Grandpa in section 318.JPGThe 300 level steps are really steep and they have no hand rails:


    12 - coliseum 300 level no hand rails.JPGAnd usher (who didn’t even demand to see our tickets) was kind enough to take our picture:

    13 - GFS coliseum 300 level.JPGAnd then I got a panorama from the cross aisle across the front of Section 316:

    14 - coliseum section 316 panorama.jpgWe still had some time before the game started, so we headed back to the Stomper Fun Zone…

    15 - stomper fun zone.jpg…where Tim had lots of fun:

    16 - playing with stomper.JPGFinally, the game was about to start.  We went to the fan assistance booth on our way to our seats to ask where we could find ice cream helmets.  The jumbo helmet last night was cool, but we wanted individual sized A’s ice cream helmets today.  We were told to go to Section 130.  But when we arrived one of the guys at the ice cream place informed us that they were OUT OF ICE CREAM HEMLETS!  Instead, he offered us little styrofoam bowls that looked like they’d hold about 2 table spoons of ice cream.

    Frustrated by this development, we suffered through our still delicious ice cream cones:

    17 - oakland ice cream cone.JPGOkay, Tim doesn’t look like he’s suffering.  But there are no individual sized A’s ice cream helmets in our collection today so the delicousness of the cones was bittersweet.

    Finally, the A’s took the field…

    18a - play ball in oakland.JPG…and this was our view from Section 125, Row 1, seats 3-5:

    18 - coliseum section 125 panorama.jpgThe A’s called on Trevor Cahill…

    19 - trevor cahill dealing.jpg…and he was a dandy on this day.  So was his defense:

    19a - A's playing D.JPGThe Angels called on Ervin Santana…

    20 - Ervin Santana.jpg…who looked like he weighs about 75 pounds.  He wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t on par with Cahill on this day.

    As usual, the guys in the bleachers had their A’s flags moving in a slow downward waving motion:

    20a - As flags.JPGThe A’s provided most of the offense at this game, but this is the only picture I took of an A’s batter…

    20b - Gabe Gross.jpg…and the only reason I took the picture (of Gabe Gross) is because he was sporting number 18…a fine number.

    There was no scoring in the first three innings, so I took some random shots of Tim and my Dad:

    21 - Tim and Grandpa in section 125 of coliseum.jpgYou might notice they are both looking back at me.  I decided to sit in row 2, which was totally empty, because foul balls were flying all around us.  Sadly, we would glove none of them.

    Finally, the A’s got the scoring started in the bottom of the 4th inning when Ryan Sweeney hit an RBI double and then scored on a single by Gabe Gross (not in that at bat shown above).

    It seemed like A’s relievers were walking back-and-forth in front of us all day…

    22 - bullpen and bathroom trips.jpg…maybe they were visiting in the little boys’ room.  Their bullpen, of course, does not have its own little boys’ room.  Hey, did you notice who was in that back-and-forth picture?  No, not 2009 Rookie of the Year, Andrew Bailey, I mean my “ball please” Brad Ziegler.

    Tim amused himself by making me take a series of funny face shots and extreme-funny-face close ups… 

    23 - funny faces extreme close up.jpg…this would become a trend on this roadtrip.

    So would this…

    24 - exploding peanuts.jpg….”take a picture of me exploding this peanut!”

    The Angels finally got on the board in the fifth inning when Juan Rivera hit this double to deep LCF…

    25 - juan rivera doubles to LF in 5th.jpg…and then he scored on this bloop single…

    26 - bobby wilson dinks in rbi single in 5th.jpg…by Bobby Wilson.

    The sun was beating down hot (but humidity free) and was tiring out Tim…

    26a - tim cooling off.JPG…finally he agreed to take off his under shirt and go with short sleaves.  It was a good move.  He pepped up almost immediately.

    Not comfortable with a one-run lead, the A’s tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on singles by Daric Barton, Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Kooooooooouzmanoff.

    Torii Hunter grounded out harmlessly  in the sixth…

    27 - torii hunter grounds out in 6th.jpg…Trevor Cahill was cruising.  The A’s offense tacked on another run in the 7th on a sacrifice fly by Jack Cust.

    In the ninth, Cahill turned the ball over to Andrew Bailey…

    28 - Andrew Bailey for save.jpg…who went one, two, three with this swing by Hideki Matsui…

    29 - hideki matsui pops out to end game.jpg…resulting in the final out of the game (a pop out to 3B).

    This was a fun game in some great seats.  We had an usher take out picture before heading out:

    30 - GFS and the Coliseum.JPGThe day was still early and our next game was just over 24-hours and about 400 miles away.  Instead of starting a long drive in the evening, we drove only about 40 miles south to San Jose where we dined at In-N-Out Burger…

    31 - In N Out Palm Tree.jpg…and Tim finally got his picture with a palm tree!

    All around, it was an excellent day.  And we were looking forward to another one the next day at Dodger Stadium, which would be Tim’s 20th MLB stadium.

    2010 Fan Stats:

    10 Games

    12 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)


    32 - weaver piniero wuertz.jpg9 Ice Cream Helmets
    (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Athletics & Nationals)

    25 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 3 Athletics, 1 Angels)

    6 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium)

    9 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

    6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

    4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

     

    Tim’s Game Log

    We record all of Tim’s MLB games in his Baseball Log, a book I made for him a couple months before he was born to record all of his MLB games.  We started this blog to share our baseball stories and pictures from the ball park.  Its all in the name of preserving Tim’s personal baseball history.  This entry provides a map through Tim’s MLB adventures, featuring a picture from every regular season game he has attended along with the final score, date, location and a link to the relevant game report.


    1-2-3-4.jpg

    1.  Mariners 4 def. Blue Jays 2 (Safeco Field – Sept. 12, 2006)

    2.  Mets 8 def. Phillies 3 (Citizens Bank Park- June 30, 2007)

    3.  Mariners 13 def. Orioles 8 (Camden Yards – August 9, 2007)

    4.  Twins 11 def. Mariners 3 (Safeco Field – August 14, 2007) 


    5-6-7-8.jpg
    5. Twins 6 def. Mariners 1 (Safeco Field – August 15, 2007)

    6.  Mariners 7 def. Yankees 1 (Yankee Stadium – Sept. 3, 2007)

    7.  Phillies 8 def. Marlins 5 (Citizens Bank Park – Sept. 9, 2007)

    8.  Rockies 12 def. Phillies 0 (Citizens Bank Park – Sept. 12, 2007) 

     


    9-10-11-12.jpg9. 
     Cardinals 7 def. Pirates 3 (PNC Park – Sept. 27, 2007)

    10. Orioles 3 def. Mariners 2 (Camden Yards – April 6, 2008)

    11. Phillies 5 def. Cubs 3 (Citizens Bank Park – April 11, 2008)

    12. Phillies 6 def. Giants 5 (Citizens Bank Park – May 2, 2008) 

    13-14-15-16.jpg

    13. Phillies 5 def. Reds 4 (Citizens Bank Park – June 2, 2008)

    14. Indians 9 def. Mariners 6 (Safeco Field – July 19, 2008)

    15. Cardinals 5 def. Reds 3 (Great American Ball Park – August 15, 2008)

    16. Indians 4 def. Angels 3 (Progressive Field – August 17, 2008) 

    17-18-19-20.jpg

    17. Pirates 5 def. Mets 2 (PNC Park – August 18, 2008)

    18. Phillies 5 def. Nationals 4 (Citizens Bank Park August 19, 2008)

    19. Orioles 11 def. White Sox 3 (Camden Yards – August 27, 2008)

    20. Phillies 6 def. Mets 2 (Shea Stadium – September 7, 2008)

     


    21-22-23-24.jpg

    21. Diamondbacks 3 def. Reds 2 (Chase Field – September 12, 2008)

    22. Rays 11 def. Orioles 3 (Camden Yards – April 12, 2009)

    23. Phillies 5 def. Padres 4 (Citizens Bank Park – April 19, 2009)

    24. Mets 8 def. Nationals 2 (Citi Field – April 25, 2009)

     


    25-26-27-28.jpg

    25. Mariners 8 def. Athletics 7 (Safeco Field – May 1, 2009)

    26. Athletics 3 def. Mariners 2 (Safeco Field – May 2, 2009)

    27. Mariners 8 def. Athletics 7 (Safeco Field – May 3, 2009)

    28. Rangers 6 def. Mariners 5 (Safeco Field – May 4, 2009)

     


    29-30-31-32.jpg

    29. Rangers 7 def. Mariners 2 (Safeco Field – May 5, 2009)

    30. Phillies 10 def. Braves 6 (Citizens Bank Park – May 8, 2009)

    31. Dodgers 9 def. Phillies 2 (Citizens Bank Park May 13, 2009)

    32. Phillies 8 def. Nationals 6 (Nationals Park – May 17, 2009)

     


    33-34a-34-35.jpg

     

    33. Tigers 3 def. Orioles 0 (Camden Yards – May 31, 2009)

    34a. Giants vs. Nationals – postponed due to rain (Nationals Park – June 3, 2009)

    34. Mariners 4 def. Orioles 1 (Camden Yards – June 10, 2009)

    35. Nationals 5 def. Orioles 3 (Camden Yards – June 28, 2009)

     


    36-37-38-39.jpg

    36. Mariners 8 def. Yankees 4 (Yankee Stadium – July 2, 2009)

    37. Mariners 7 def. Red Sox 6 (Fenway Park – July 3, 2009)

    38. Mariners 3 def. Red Sox 2 (Fenway Park – July 4, 2009)

    39. Red Sox 8 def. Mariners 4 (Fenway Park – July 5, 2009)

     


    40-41-42-43.jpg

    40. Cubs 11 def. Nationals 3 (Nationals Park – July 19, 2009)

    41. Cardinals 8 def. Phillies 1 (Citizens Bank Park – July 24, 2009)

    42. Marlins 12 def. Phillies 3 (Citizens Bank Park – August 9, 2009)

    43. Cubs 17 def. Pirates 2 (Wrigley Field – August 14, 2009)

     


    44-45-46-47.jpg

     

    44. Indians 7 def. Twins 3 (H.H.H. Metrodome – August 15, 2009)

    45. Astros 8 def. Brewers 5 (Miller Park – August 16, 2009)

    46. White Sox 8 def. Royals 7 (U.S. Cellular Field – August 17, 2009)

    47. Indians 4 def. Mariners 3 (Progressive Field – August 22, 2009)


    48-49-50-51.jpg

    48. Indians 6 def. Mariners 1 (Progressive Field – August 23, 2009)

    49. Orioles 7 def. Yankees 3 (Yankee Stadium – September 12, 2009)

    50. Mariners 4 def. White Sox 3 (Safeco Field – September 17, 2009)

    51. Yankees 10 def. Mariners 1 (Safeco Field – September 19, 2009)


    52-53-54-55.jpg
    52. Blue Jays 5 def. Mariners 4 (Rogers Centre – September 26, 2009)

    53. Mets 5 def. Astros 1 (Citi Field – October 3, 2009)

    54. Orioles 4 def. Blue Jays 3 (Camden Yards – October 4, 2009)

    55. Blue Jays 3 def. Orioles 0 (Camden Yards – April 10, 2010)

     

    56-57-58-59.jpg

    56. Brewers 11 def. Nationals 7 (Nationals Park – April 18, 2010)

    57. Mets 3 def. Braves 1 (Citi Field – April 24, 2010)

    58. Phillies 10 defs. Mets 0 (Citizens Bank Park – May 1, 2010)

    59. Mariners 5 defs. Orioles 1 (Camden Yards – May 11, 2010)


    60-61-62-63.jpg

    60. Braves 4 defs. Pirates 2 (PNC Park – May 22, 2010)

    61. Pirates 3 defs. Braves 2 (PNC Park – May 23, 2010)

    62. Red Sox 8 defs. Orioles 2 (Camden Yards – June 5, 2010)

    63. Angels 7 vs. Athletics 1 (Oakland Alameda County Coliseum – June 9, 2010)


    64-65-66-67.jpg
    64.  Athletics 6 defs. Angels 1 (Oakland Alameda County Coliseum – June 10, 2010)
    65.  Angels 10 defs. Dodgers 1 (Dodger Stadium – June 11, 2010)

    66.  Padres 7 defs. Mariners 1 (Petco Park – June 12, 2010)

    67.  Mariners 4 defs. Padres 2 (Petco Park – June 13, 2010)


    68-69-70-71.jpg
    68.  Brewers 12 defs. Angels 2 (Angel Stadium of Anaheim – June 14, 2010)

    69.  Orioles 4 defs. Giants 1 (AT&T Park – June 15, 2010)

    70.  Twins 4 defs. Phillies 1 (Citizens Bank Park – June 20, 2010)

    71.  Blue Jays 5 defs. Phillies 1 (Citizens Bank Park – June 26, 2010) 


    72-73-74-75.jpg
    72.  Twins 5 defs. Orioles 0 (Camden Yards – July 22, 2010)

    73.  Orioles 4 defs. White Sox 3 (Camden Yards – Aug. 8, 2010)

    74.  Mariners 9 defs. Indians 3 (Progressive Field – Aug. 14, 2010)

    75.  Indians 9 defs. Mariners 1 (Progressive Field – Aug. 15, 2010)




    76-77-78-79.jpg
    76.  Yankees 9 defs. Mariners 5 (Yankee Stadium – Aug. 21, 2010)

    77.  Nationals 13 defs. Mets 3 (Nationals Park – Sept. 6, 2010)

    78.  Phillies 7 defs. Marlins 4 (Citizens Bank Park – Sept. 6, 2010)

    79.  Marlins 6 at Nationals 5 (Nationals Park – Sept. 12, 2010)


    80-81-82-83.jpg
    80.  Yankees 11 defs. Orioles 3 (Camden Yards – Sept. 18, 2010)

    81.  Athletics 8 defs. Mariners 1 (Safeco Field – Sept. 30, 2010)

    82.  Athletics 9 defs. Mariners 0 (Safeco Field – Oct. 1, 2010)

    83.  Athletics 4 defs. Mariners 3 (Safeco Field - Oct. 3, 2010)


     

    The Cardinals & A Milestone at PNC Park (9/29/07)

    Heading into the final week of the 2007 season, I checked the Pittsburgh Pirates schedule and noticed that the Cardinals were coming to town for the final weekend of the season.  For reasons discussed further below, I was excited to see the Cardinals and their monster first baseman Albert Pujols.  So I told my wife to have a nice weekend at home because TIM AND I WERE ROADTRIPPING!!

    We had lots of “firsts” on this trip — some “baseball firsts” and some “life firsts.”  First, it was our first baseball roadtrip “camping” in a KOA camping cabin.  Pittsburgh is about 4 or so hours away.  So I figured it was a little too far to drive back home after a night game.  I also figured staying at a KOA would be more fun for Tim than staying at a hotel.  So we booked a cabin at the Washington, PA KOA.

    We left in the morning and arrived in Washington, PA in the early afternoon.  Tim loved roaming all around the camp ground:

    1 - camping.jpgWith the assistance of our KOA hosts Rick and Sharon Leclair, our second “first” was a trip to West Virginia:

    2 - all roads lead to west virginia.jpgI’d noticed that West Virginia was really close to Washington, PA on the map.  So I asked Sharon about it while checking in at the KOA.  She advised that there was a place in West Virginia just about 17 miles down the road that might interest Tim.  So, with lots of time to spare before the game, Tim and I hopped in the car, drove to West Virginia for the first time in either of our lives, and arrived a Cabela’s in Wheeling, WVa:

    3 - cabelas.jpgSharon was right.  Tim loved it.  Mostly, he liked watching the fish swim around in the huge fish tanks.  So our 45 minute trip to West Virginia was a success.

    It was time for Tim’s third “first” of the trip — Pittsburgh, PA.  We left West Virginia and headed into Pittsburgh for the game.  I’ve been to Pittsburgh several times and each tiem the sole purpose was to attend a baseball game at PNC Park.  I know next to nothing about the city other than PNC Park.  But I can tell you its a neat looking place.

    As you can see on the map below…

    pittsburgh map.jpg…downtown Pittsburgh is nestled between the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahea Rivers.  The red arrow points to PNC Park, which is across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh.  Downtown and the ballpark are connected by a bunch of yellow bridges including:

    The Roberto Clemente Bridge:

    4 - walking Roberto Clemente Bridge.jpgThe RCB is an automobile bridge most of the time, but before Pirates games (or at least this one) it is closed down and made into a pedestrian bridge.  Although the bridges look a little weathered up close, they look beautiful from PNC Park with Pittsburgh’s unique-looking skyscrapers behind them.

    Here’s a view of PNC Park from the Roberto Clemente Bridge…

    5 - PNC Park from Clemente Bridge.jpg…its a great location for a ballpark.

    Finally, it was time for Tim’s fourth “first” of the day — PNC Park.  On our way into the park, we stopped so Tim could get his picture…


    6 - Josh Gibson statue.jpg…with Hall of Famer Josh Gibson.

    Soon, we were inside the stadium…

    7 - TJCs and PNC Park Section 133.jpg…and it was looking pretty beautiful from the top of Section 133.

    We were there in time to watch BP.  But Tim was still too young for us to go out into the bleachers and test our luck at catching a BP homerun.

    Instead, we grabbed some food and watched the Red Birds take BP.  Going to games back then was a lot more difficult than going to games in 2009.  As you can see, we had Tim’s on-the-go stroller with us…


    8 - A Dog and a Comfy Seat for BP.jpg…so, along with a back pack full of stuff, there was a lot to lug around to a ball game (and it made it a lot more difficult to take pictures too).  But it made for a convenient place for Tim to sit and enjoy eating his ballpark frank before the game.

    Anyway, at this game, our seats were in the lower section of the upper deck behind 3B.  After BP ended, we went to our seats.  They provided an outstanding view of the field, river, bridges and city.  It was like a postcard…of course, I didn’t take a picture of it.  Sorry.

    We were out of our seats before the game even started, and we never returned to them.  Instead, we spent most of our time during the game standing (or in Tim’s case running around in circles) on the big spiral walk way from the LF field concourse up to the upper deck concourse.  Here is a shot of Tim standing at the top watching the grounds crew readying the field:

    9 - perched above the field.jpgDo you see that braclet on Tim’s right wrist?  At some point, a Pirates employee gave it to me.  Its like a luggage tag, but its for lost kids.  You put your name, seat number, cellphone number on it.  Don’t worry, I wouldn’t lose Tim at this (or any other) game.

    While up on the upper deck concourse, Tim had his fifth “first” of the day — his first time drinking from a water fountain.  Tim thought the drinking fountain was great.  He went back to it literally about 25 times throughout the game.  And, he still loves drinking fountains today.

    During the game, I took a fairly odd self-portrait of the two of us at the top of the spiral walkway:

    10 - TJCs self portrait.jpgThe game was a good one.  My main goal was to see Albert Pujols hit a home run.  While that did not happen, he had a strong day at the plate going 3-5 with a double, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.  I was also interested in seeing Rick Ankiel because his pitching troubles were still fresh in my mind.  I wanted to see how he’d do as an outfielder and batter.  He too had a strong performance.  He went 3-4 with a homerun, 3 RBI, and 1 run scored.  Generally, the story of the game was the Cardinals hitting and the Pirates not.

    In the 4th or 5th inning, Tim and I relocated to a standing room area in RF…

    11 - PNC Park from infield concourse.jpg…see that red arrow above?  Well, maybe you should click on that picture to see it larger.  If you do, you’ll see a chain link fence above the out-of-town scoreboard and below the RF bleachers.  The chain link fence is part of the RF wall.  Behind the chain link fence is a tunnel beneath the RF bleachers.  There is a single row of seating along the front of the tunnel in groups of 2-3 seats at a time.  I think the purpose of those seats is to have room for wheelchair seating.  In 2008, I tried to buy tickets in that row of seating, but couldn’t figure out if or how I could do that.

    Anyway, its a great place from which to watch a game with a young active son.  I could watch the game while Tim ran circles around me without really bothering any of the other fans.  There is also a “family restroom” in that tunnel, which is also handy when you have a young active child with you.

    For some reason, I thought Ankiel was playing RF so I took this picture…

    12 - Ryan Ludwick the Cardinal.jpg…of “him,” but “he” ended up actually being Ryan Ludwick.

    In the 6th inning, So Taguchi hit a seeing-eye single up the middle.  It looked like either future Mariner Jack Wilson would snare the grounder from short stop or Matt Kata would get it from the second base position.  Instead, the ball snuck by them both and Wilson and Kata ran into each other.  In the process, Wilson took a direct shot to the side of the head from Kata’s knee.  He went down hard and stayed down a long time.  Eventually, they put him on a little flatbed type golf cart and motored him out of the stadium through a tunnel right below us in the RF foul corner.

    The day had been really long for young Tim.  He crashed hard by the 7th or 8th inning.  That was fine with me, I’d achieved what I’d come to achive.  So we left.  By the time we got to the south of the Robert Clemente Bridge, Tim was fast asleep…

    …see, its handy to have a stroller when attending games with a 1.5 year old boy.

    We drove back to the KOA and spent the night.  The next day, we heaeded home to tell Colleen all about our adventures.

    Our 2007 season was complete.

    Now, there was one more “first” I haven’t mentioned yet, the most important first of the day.  Amazingly, at the age of 31, this was my first time EVER seeing the Cardinals play live, and with the game I finally completed my 30-MLB Milestone.  Compared to Tim seeing all 30 teams at 3.5, I guess doing it in 31 years is pretty unimpressive.  But, I have a good explanation.

    I grew in Seattle, which at the time was 812 miles from the nearest National League Park, Candlestick Park.  Plus, there was no inter-league play until 1997.   In 1997 and 1998, I went to at least one of the interleague games featuring each NL team that visited Seattle.  But, that was just the NL West.  I didn’t see most of the other NL teams until I moved to Philadelphia in 1999.

    It was 2000 or 2001, when I first sat down and tried to figure out if I’d seen every team play at least once live.  I had seen every American League team (including the Brewers) multiple times at the Kingdome.  But I wasn’t sure if I had completed the NL.  At that point, I could pinpoint at least one specific game in which I had seen every team play except the Montreal Expos. Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.

    I checked the Expos and Astros off the list in relatively short order.  But for years, I could never get to a Cardinals games.  It seemed like they would visit Philadelphia for only one series per season and I could never get to that series.   So, it came to late 2007 and I saw this game as my first and best chance of actually getting to a Cardinals game.  I planned the trip without hesitation.  So, there you have it, at age 31, I finally could say that I had seen all 30 MLB teams play live.  (Notably, Tim and I have now seen the Cardinals play in Pittsburgh, Cinncinati and Philadelphia.)

    I didn’t keep a Baseball Log growing up, so I couldn’t put together a full game list for myself like I did for Tim’s 30-MLB Team Milestone.  But I wanted to do something to illustrate my milestone.  So, I tried to compile a list of at least one specific game when I saw each MLB team.  By way of reviewing old ticket stubs (which I used to keep for years in the inside flap of my baseball caps), reviewing calendars, doing lots of research on Baseball-Reference.com, and exchanging emails with friends with whom I attended games throughout my life, I was able to pinpoint at least one specific game for every team except the Astros and Dodgers.  Here you go (with brief comments for notable games):

    A.L. West

    Mariners – May 6, 1982Gaylord Perry’s 300th win.

    Athletics – June 24, 1997 – Randy Johnson K’s 19 & Mark McGwire hits epic homerun.

    Rangers – June 3, 1989 – Nolan Ryan 1-hits the M’s.  Harold’s lead off hit is M’s only hit.

    Angels – June 18, 1999 – My first game at Yankee Stadium.

     

    A.L. Central

    Indians – October 10, 1995 – Game 1 of ALCS.  Mariners win!

    Royals – August 31, 1990 – The first game with Ken Griffey Jr. & Sr. playing together.

    Twins – May 15, 2000

    Tigers – August 30, 1990 – My first foul ball caught during an actual MLB game.

    White Sox – April 5, 1999 – Final opening day at the Kingdome.

     

    A.L. East

    Red Sox – April 25, 1994 – Randy Johson (CG) beats Roger Clemens & Griffey hits HR.

    Orioles – May 26, 1994 – Ken Griffey, Jr. hits a homerun and breaks arm making catch.

    Rays – May 20, 2000

    Blue Jays – September 12, 2006 – Tim’s First Game.

    Yankees – August 25, 1995 – Griffey’s walk-off HR starts M’s charge to AL West title.

     

    N.L. West

    Giants – June 19, 2004 – Barry Bonds hits his 689th homerun in Philadelphia.

    Dodgers – I saw them at Dodger Stadium in June 1994 and in Seattle in 1997-98.

    Padres – June 1, 1999 – My first game at Wrigley Field on “moving to Philadelphia” drive.

    Rockies – September 12, 2007 –  Tim’s First MLB Anniversary.

    Diamondbacks – August 8, 1999

     

    N.L. Central

    Cubs – June 1, 1999 – Same as above (First game at Wrigley)

    Cardinals – September 29, 2007 – This game!  Finally!

    Pirates – June 19, 2004 – Mariners beat Pirates and Eddie Guardado throws me a ball.

    Astros – Two games in Philadelphia between 2000-05, but I can’t pinpoint the games.

    Reds – September 4, 1999

    Brewers – September 2, 1993 – Brewers playing in the AL (where they belong).

     

    N.L. East

    Phillies – April 12, 1999 – 1999 Home Opener and my first game at the Vet.

    Mets – June 8, 2003 – Mariners sweep double-header at Shea behind Moyer and Garcia.

    Expos – September 4, 2002 – My only “Expos” game.

    Nationals – June 10, 2005 – My first “Nationals” game.

    Marlins – September 9, 2007 – Tim’s first game seeing Jamie Moyer pitch in person.

    Braves – April 12, 1999 – same as above (Phillies Home Opener)

    Roadtrip Grand Finale: Royals at the Cell (8-17-09)

    1 - royals chisox.jpgAUGUST 17, 2009:  Roadtrip Grand Finale

    I’ve been pretty busy lately and I’m lagging behind with my game entries.  So, a little untimely, I present the grand finale of The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.

    This was a big game for us.  Royals vs. White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago.  With this game, we could check the Royals off of Tim’s list and, at age three-and-a-half he would have officially seen all 30 MLB teams play live.  I was pretty excited about the accomplishment and I had a little something special planned.  Ever since watching Curious George receive a frozen ice cream “trophy” from Chef Pischetti, Tim has loved trophies.  And he’s asked me a bunch if he would ever be able to win a trophy somehow.  So as a surprise, I had a special trophy made for the occassion.  More on that in a bit.

    We started out the day at our hotel by O’Hare airport.  It was nice not to have any long distance driving this day.  We decided to spend the day playing around at the hotel.  A little swimming in the pool followed by a little baseball in a patch of grass outside.  Here is a shot of Tim’s pitching motion:

    2 - baseball at hotel.jpg

    He headed to the game early to catch some BP.  The line to get into the parking lot was slow moving, so Tim and I hopped out of the car and played some catch in the parking lot while my dad parked the car:

    3 - cell parking catch.JPG

    We headed into the park and the Royals were already hitting.  We missed the White Sox completely.  That was fine.  My goal revolved solely around the Royals.  Because they were the 30th and final team for Tim, I had a goal of trying to get a picture of Tim with a Royal player and his Trophy.  More specifically, I wanted to get his picture with one of the three former Mariners now playing for the Royals — Gill Meche, Willie Bloomquist or Yuniesky Betancourt.  My ultimate goal was Gill Meche because he pitched (and won) Tim’s first game back on September 12, 2006.

    My dad went off to explore the park a bit and Tim and I went down to the field behind 1B.  I scanned the field for Meche, Willie or Yuni.  Within a couple minutes, Willie ran out onto the field from the Royals dugout and started taking ground balls at 2B — his new primary position now that Yuni has joined the Royals.

    We were probably 125 feet from Willie.  Any time Willie looked remotely in our direction, I shouted his name.  My thought was to simply get his attention and motion for him to come over to the stands.  My hope was that he would come over after taking grounders.  He looked in our direction a couple times, but there were no signs of him being inclined to come over.  BTW, I figured he probably thought I wanted to get his autograph.

    Eventually, a batter hit a weak grounder that rolled to a stop in the grass about 20 feet into the OF grass between 1B and 2B.  After Willie fielded a fungoed grounder deep in the hole between 1B-2B, he ran over to the ball sitting in the grass, picked it up and fired it directly to us.

    “Thanks, Willie!”

    Here was our view (with the arrow marking the flight of the ball thrown to us):

    4 - Cell 1B field panaramic.jpgWe certainly appreciated the ball from Willie.  But it wasn’t what we were looking for.  Unfortunately, Willie figured (whatever we wanted) the ball should suffice.  After he finished taking grounders, he ran back into the Royals clubhouse.

    I then spotted Gill Meche in the OF, but there was no possible way to get anywhere near him.  I never saw Yuni on the field.  Alas, my goal of getting Tim’s picture with a Royal and his trophy failed.

    But don’t worry, we survived the minor dissappointment.

    After checking out the scene behind the Royals dugout and chatting with a stadium attendant, we turned our gaze to CF where we noticed this:

    5 - youngster alexk.jpg

    The Man In Yellow — our MLBlogs friend and Milwaukee home run catcher extraordinaire, Nick Yohanek a/k/a the Happy Youngster.

    I asked Tim if he wanted to go say “Hi” to Nick and we enthusiastically answered in the affirmative.  So we headed out there.  On the way, we witnessed Nick catch a homerun ball.

    When we got out there, my dad was standing near by.  We said hi to Nick and introduced him to my dad, whom he had not met the day before in Milwaukee.  Nick then introduced us to a MLBlogger named Ben a/k/a Jerseyboy.  I didn’t realize at the time, but I knew about Ben.  He has a ridiculously huge collection of authentic MLB jerseys.  Something like 1,500 of them.  I was actually the first person to ever comment on Ben’s blog back a couple months ago, when I suggested he add a vintage Spike Owen Mariners jersey to his collection.

    As we chatted, BP ended and then it started sprinkling.  We took refuge in the concourse where we continued chatting, I realized Ben was the guy with the jerseys, we sampled the U.S. Cellular Churos, and I took this panaramic:

    6 - Cell 1B concourse panaramic.jpg

    After a few minutes chatting in the concourse, the PA announcer told us the start of the game was being delayed for about 40 minutes.  My dad decided to go somewhere or other — probably the team store to buy a U.S. Cellular ball.  Tim, Ben and I decided to tour the upper deck so I could take some panaramic views.

    On the way, I took this picture of the upper deck concourse, which due to the interesting lighting I thought looked pretty cool:

    7 - cell upper deck concourse.jpgHere’s the view from behind home plate:

    8 - Cell home upper panaramic.jpg

    From the LF corner of the upper deck:

    9 - Cell LF upper panaramic.jpgAnd the RF corner of the upper deck:

    10 - Cell RF foul upper panaramic.jpg

    On our walk from LF to RF, we stopped so I could buy some nachos and drinks (complete with League Policy violating caps).  We sat in the upper deck and chatted while Tim destroyed our nachos:

    11 - ben jerseyboy.jpg

    That’s Ben in the Royals’ jersey.  On the right, as we chat and Tim scarfs nachos.  On the left, chatting with my dad in RCF following the conclusion of BP.

    Ben and I realized we share a common practice.  We both help ourselves to copious amounts of pocket schedules at each stadium we visit.  While walking the upper deck, we both filled our pockets with White Sox pocket schedules.  (Following the season, I think I’ll put together an entry showing the schedules I have collected this season).

    Soon, the grounds keepers prepared the field and it was time for baseball.  We headed back down to the field level and parted ways.  Ben hooked up with Nick, and Tim and I joined my dad in our seats down the 3B line (not far from the foul pole).  Mondays are half price ticket days at The Cell, so we got a good deal on some good seats.

    Here was the view of Mark Buerhle from our seats:

    12 - buerhle.jpgBuerhle would not duplicate his perfect game performance on this night.

    The lead off batter for the Royals was none other than “Willie Ballgame”:

    13 - willie ballgame.jpg

    Pictured above to the right is Willie’s first at bat in the first.  To the left, Willie took over at short stop a couple innings into the game after Yuni Betancourt was drilled by a foul ball in the Royals dugout.  Between Big Willie and Big Willie is a picture of the ball Big Willie threw to us during BP.

    Early in the game (maybe even the first inning, not sure now), Tim wanted to play catch.  We headed out to the RF concourse as Yuni came to bat and fouled a ball off the plate:

    14 - yuni.jpg

    A few moments later, Tim and I were playing catch when Yuni yanked a bomb into the White Sox bullpen in LF.  Tim and I went over to check out the situation.  We could see the HR ball sitting in the bullpen.  So Tim hopped onto my shoulders and we walked down to the first row between innings to gaze upon the ball — and to be in position in case someone in the bullpen decided to toss it into the crowd.

    As the bottom of the inning was about to start, we headed back up the stairs to resume our game of catch.  That’s when a *first* happened, I heard a voice:

    Alex - “Are you Todd?”

    Todd - (turning to see young Alex K) “Yes.’

    Alex - (To Tim) “And you must be Tim.  Hi, Tim.  (To me)  Hi, I’m Alex.  I read your blog and knew you’d be at this game.”

    Although I had previously recognized and introduced myself to several MLBloggers at games (specifically, Zack Hample and Nick), this was the first time anyone had ever recognized me and Tim from our blog.  I gotta say, it was somewhat funny and cool.  I like that MLBlogs has created a community of people who end up running into each other while out at the ball park.  And this game had a lot of them.

    Anyway, I quickly realized that I had seen Alex before.  In fact, I recognized Alex from an article I’d read recently on MyGameBalls.com — click here.  Alex is a young Hample-in-Training and is already quite adept at obtaining baseballs at MLB games.  You can read about his adventures (including his baseball road trip that crossed paths on this night with our baseball road trip) on his MLBlog — RiverAvenue.  (By the way, up above in the picture of Nick in CF, Alex is standing a few feet behind Nick wearing his Royal blues — shortly after that, he would catch a homerun ball that is documented with excellent photos on his blog).

    Alex and I began to chat a bit.  A few seconds later, Nick showed up.  Alex and Nick needed to get to work on their efforts at retrieving the Betancourt home run.  But first, we needed to get a picture together:

    15 - with happy alexk.jpg

    (make that a picture with poor lighting).

    Tim and I went back to playing catch.  This is where we played (with the arrow pointing to where Tim stood and the photo taken from where I stood):

    16 - LF catch area.jpgAnd I took this panaramic view in LF:

    17 - Cell LF field HR panaramic.jpg

    After a few minutes, we headed back over to see how Alex and Happy were making out.  Right then, some White Sox batter blasted a home run into the same bullpen.  Tim and I ran down the stairs in the off chance it would bounce up to us.  But it didn’t make the seats.  Then a White Sox bullpen coach ran out and grabbed the new home run ball and threw it over Happy and Alex and into the very seats they’d just been occupying in about row seven.  The coach then gestured toward Betancourt’s home run ball with a foul look on his face.  He looked up at the crowd and plugged his nose like Betancourt’s home run ball stunk.  He then scampered back into the bullpen seating area.  It was a funny scene.

    Alex then accompanied me and Tim to the ice cream stand where Tim and I got our White Sox ice cream helmets.  We then said our good-byes and Tim and I rejoined my dad in the seats for some ice cream and more baseball:

    18 - south side ice cream helmet.jpgI decided to take some random shots of Royals — like this…

    19 - royals in the OF.jpg …and this…

    20 - royals pitching happyalexben.jpg

    …I’d tell you who these pictures are of, but I’m not sure.  They’re Royals, but not former Mariners.  So its hard to say.  By the way, did you notice those three characters sitting in the second row behind the Royals’ dugout?  One of them caught a foul ball sitting there.  I’ll let you track down their game entries to figure out which one of them got the foul ball.

    Tim got all jacked up on his ice cream and started having a blast in the seats:

    21 - funny faces.jpg

    After a bit, Tim and I decided to go check out the OF concourse some more.  We found a bunch of cool “trophies” out there:

    22 - cf statues.jpg

    RF to LF behind the batters eye: Luis AparicioNellie Fox, Walter Pierce, Carlton Fisk, and Minnie Minoso.

    A portion of the batters eye has a cut out where the the camera men are set up.  I stuck my camera through the cut out and took this panaramic:

    23 - Cell CF batters eye panaramic.jpgAfter hanging out by the statues for a bit, we headed back to the seats again.  I took a random shot of the bullpen:

    24 - bullpen.jpgTim hung out on Grandpa’s lap and did some giggling:

    25 - drizzly fun with grandpa.jpgThe White Sox were staked to a modest lead.  Bobby Jenks was warming up in the Chisox bullpen.  I realized the game was about to end and we’d never visited RF.  So, we took a last picture of Tim along the front row railing by our seats…

    26 - tim and wet field.jpg

    …and a shot of Jenks as he ran out to the mound…

    27 - jenks to save the day.jpg

    …and then we took off for RF so I could take this panaramic…

    28 - Cell RF hr field panaramic.jpg

    …we continued circling the concourse and ended up in the exact same spot where I’d taken the first rain delay panaramic while chatting with Ben, and we got there just in time to see Jenks finish off the Royals for the White Sox win:

    29 - chisox win.jpg

    It was time to head down to the Royals dugout for a little trophy presentation — Tim loved it:

    30 - trophy.jpg

    In case you cannot tell, the trophy says:

     

    Timothy J. Cook

    30 MLB Teams

    Sept. 12, 2006 – Aug. 17, 2009

     

    I love the picture in the upper left.  He is trying to make a 3-0 with his fingers to represent seeing 30 MLB teams…but he was having a little trouble with it.  He had to concentrate real hard.

    So there you have it, our second annual baseball road trip.  It was, in a word, excellent.  With the exception of not getting a picture with a Royals player, the trip met all of my expectations and goals.  The most important of which is further detailed in an entry I posted immediately upon our return to the hotel after this game — Milestone Achieved.

    I am now officially looking forward to The (Third Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.

    Season Fan Stats:

    25 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
    11 Stadiums
    (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, and U.S. Cellular)
    24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

    21 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, and White Sox (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
    22 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals) 
    MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
     
    4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
    3 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
     
    9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

    Meeting the Metrodome (8-15-09)

    August 15, 2009 – Road Trip Day 2:

    Last season, we designed our baseball road trip around my desire to visit the Louisville Slugger factory.  This year, the primary focus was to take part in the final season of the beautiful Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.  Today was the day, and the Metrodome did not disappoint.

    We started the day at Wisconsin Dells KOA — which by the way is one happening KOA.  We rose early and walked a couple laps of the KOA camp grounds…
    1 - good morning from Wis Dells.jpg…then my dad and Tim played some catch while I re-packed for the next leg of the drive.


    2 - Metrodome or Bust.jpgSoon, it was time to jump into the car and drive 3.5 hours out to the Twin Cities for some Twins baseball.

    If you like water parks, you really gotta check out Wis Dells.  There are huge water parks on every block.  There was some crazy looking stuff.  So check it out.

    A large portion of our drive was in Wisconsin.  When I think Wisconsin, I think cheese.  And the billboards of Wisconsin didn’t let cheese stray far from my mind.  We spotted billboards to every type of cheese based establishment you’d ever want to visit.  Unfortunately, we visited none.

    We had a funny moment as we drove through Saint Paul.  I make mix CDs from iTunes for our road trips, and many of our weekend game excursions.  I made two volumes for this trip and we were listening to volume 2 as we drove into Saint Paul.  The radio in our rental car blared Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”  Then Tim yelled, “WE ARE THE MARINERS!  Let’s sing it!  Let’s sing it!”  So we did,

    We are the Mariners, my friends.  And, we’ll keeping on hitting until the end.  We are the Mariners, We are the Mariners.  No time for losers because WE ARE THE MARINERS…of Seattle…of Seattle!”

    The game was a 3:10 start.  We rolled into the bigger Twin City at about 12:30 and quickly found a reasonably priced ($10) parking garage across the street from the Metrodome.  We parked in the closest parking space to the Dome.

    We then climbed the stairs and exited the parking garage out of a set of doors leading to a pedestrian-only street (at least it was pedestrian-only at the time) between the garage and the Metrodome.  This is what it looked like:

    3 - metrodome catch.jpg

    Tim and I used the time leading up to the 1:10 opening of the stadium to play some catch on the street while my dad explored around the perimeter of the HHHM.

    We then met up and got our pictures by this sign…

    4 - home of the twins.jpg…on our way to Gate B where we entered the Dome.

    A few minutes later, we were inside the first true “Dome” of Tim’s life, and mine and my dad’s first true “Dome” since the King of all Domes, the Kingdome:

    5 - made it to the metrodome.jpg

    Look at Tim checking out the Dome with wonder and amazement.  For those of you who weren’t raised in a dome, you might not understand.  But there is something awe inspiring being in such a huge building.  The Kingdome was just about the coolest place in the world.  It was huge.  There were fireworks going off inside.  And it was the place where I fell in love with baseball and the Mariners.

    I have no affiliation to the Twins (although my great grandma Lillian Hoffman was from Worthington, Minn.), but I’ve long been a Twins sympathizer.  Some of it had to do with Kirby Puckett — for whom I named my dog, Kirby.  But a lot more of that had to do with the fact the Twins play in this beautiful Kingdome’ish facility. 

    All this is to say that it strangly felt like a homecoming entering the Metrodome for the first time.  And I was ten times as excited to be there than I was excited to be at the objectively far superior Wrigley Field the day before.

    We arrived for the beginning of BP because we really wanted to try to get one of the extremely cool looking HHH Metrodome commemorative baseballs that I’ve seen on tons of MLBlogs all season.  The Twins were hitting when we entered, and we took our place in CF:

    6 - CF seats.jpg

    We stood all by ourselves at the CF corner seats highlighted by the red arrow above.  There were two Twins players in CF shagging balls.  I had the feeling they were pitchers, but I have no clue who they were.  But, apparently, it didn’t matter:

    7 - hhh metrodome commemorative ball.jpg

    This was our 20th ball of the season — an all-time season best for me and Tim (or for me alone before Tim was born) and it was our first ever commemorative ball.

    Tim got super-excited when I handed him the ball.  He held it out to a crowd of adults who were all cheering him on for getting the ball and yelled, “I GOT A BASEBALL!”  He then ran to the incredibly steep Metrodome stairs (much steeper than the Kingdome’s stairs) and started running up the stairs holding the ball behind his back.  The following scene transpired as I ran after him:

    [METRODOME – Interior – Early Evening]

    Todd – “Tim, where are you going!!!!?”

    Tim – “I got to show my baseball to Grandpa!”

    Todd – “But Grandpa is down there! (pointing back to the field)”

    Tim – “Ohh!” (turning to run down the incredibly steep stairs)

    Todd – “Hold on to the seats!  You’re gonna fall down!”

    Tim – (ignores his father and runs to his grandpa)

    Tim – “Grandpa, I GOT A BASEBALL!!”

    Grandpa – “Cool!”

    Stadium Attendant – (Takes picture of me, Tim and the baseball)

    Carlos Gomez – (throws ball to a little girl standing next to my dad)

    Dad – (catches the little girl’s baseball)

    Stadium Attendant – “Give that ball to that girl.”

    Dad – (gives baseball to little girl)

    Carlos Gomez – (throws baseball to my dad)

    Dad – “Look, Tim!  Another ball!”

    Tim – (takes ball and gives it to me and starts running up the stairs)

    Todd – “Where you going!!!!!!?”

    Tim – “LET’S GO PLAY CATCH!!!” (in a tone implying that I’ve been forcing him not to play catch all this time).

    Todd – (chases Tim)

    Carlos Gomez – (throws his batting gloves to my dad)

    Dad – (gives one of the batting gloves to the little girl and pockets the other)

    [END SCENE]

    The scene on the field:

    8 - gomez gloves TJCs ball.jpg

    The red arrow: Carlos Gomez.

    The glove and ball:  courtesy of Carlos Gomez.

    The guy cirlced by Todd (not by Bert):  unknown Twin who threw the ball to me and Tim.

    (By the way, Gomez made a ridiculous home run robbing catch during BP just to the RF side of the 408 sign.  He was on a full sprint and his body was half above the fence as he caught it.  He got a huge ovation from the small BP crowd.)

    After the scene above, Tim and I played some catch in the concourse behind the RF baggy:

    11 - inside metrodome catch and dropoff.jpg

    It was pretty crowed in the concourse, at least for playing catch, but we managed to play some quality catch for a few minutes.  Check out the picture on the right, those doors are chained and locked shut.  On the other side of the door is the beginning of a stairway that leads down into the seats at Vikings games.  However, at Twins games, they lead to big drop off into the outfield and/or the seats folded up behind the baggy.

    Speaking of the baggy and the folded seats, after playing catch, we went into the seats in CF closest to the baggy.  This was the view:

    9 - metrodome cf ball panaramic.jpg

    This is the view to my left, check it out:

    10 - balls on cup holders.jpg

    In the picture to the right, notice anything interesting?  There are four baseballs resting on the backs of the folded chairs.  They are all perched on the drink holders on the backs of the seats.  Note: the smaller ball-looking-object toward the bottom left of the picture is a balled-up foil hot dog wrapper, not a baseball.

    Tim sat in the seats in this CF section and looked at some baseball cards an usher gave him.  The Indians were hitting now and someone hit a ball to an Indian named “Lewis” — I have no clue who that is — and I yelled, “Hey, Lewis!” to see if he’d be interested in throwing a ball up to our high vantage point.  He wasn’t interested.  But the funny part of the story is that Tim shouted, “No, Dad, we already got a baseball!  Leave them alone, they’re concentrating!”  So after a few more minutes, we left the Indians to their concentrating and we headed to the upper deck to see if it was less crowded.  Tim still had catch-playing on his mind.  However, the upper deck concourse was even busier than the lower concourse.  So, we decided to get some dinner.

    We ordered nachos, a hot dog, a gigantic diet coke, and a bottle of water.  Normally I bring a little infant “sippy cup” for Tim to drink water out of during games.  But I’d forgot it in the car.  I bought the water solely for the purpose of having a re-sealable water holding receptacle for Tim’s water.  However, and this is my biggest complaint about the Metrodome, the kind Mid-western lady wouldn’t give us the cap.  I told her it was the sole reason I purchased the water.  She apologized, but said it was “League Policy” that they cannot give out caps with bottled drinks.  That’s a new one on me.  How about you?

    Here is the spot we found for eating our food:

    12 - hot dogs and nachos.jpg

    This was the view:

    13 - metrodome RF foul upper panaramic.jpg

    My dad tracked us down and ate with us.  But soon, it was time for me to go off and explore and photograph the stadium.  I asked my dad if Tim could stay with him.  He said yes, but Tim wanted to come explore the stadium with me.

    Here we go –

    With Tim on my shoulders, we started off by walking up the stairs and toward home plate.  Our first stop was the infield *big screen* (the Metrodome has two screens).  I have never seen this before, but the screen is literally two feet behind the back row of seats, and you can easily touch it.  Here it is up close:

    14 - big screen close up.jpg

    Cool, huh?  Each red, blue and green dot is a little light that feels like a little bump.

    Here is the view from the top of the dome behind home plate:

    15 - metrodome plate upperback panaramic.jpg

    Here are a couple Dome-loving Cooks in this same spot:

    16 - we love this place.jpg

    While behind home plate, I noticed some stuff that looked a lot like Kingdome stuff:

    17 - kingdome de ja vu.jpg

    What’s the opposite of *state-of-the-art*?  History-of-the-art?

    Next, we continued on our journey and headed toward the LF corner.  On our way, we noticed this:

    18 - upper deck obstruction.jpg

    Support beams ringing row 26 of the Metrodome upper deck.  The Kingdome didn’t have support beams.  Instead, if my knowledge serves me, it had high tension cables that ran across the roof and down the sides.  They were built into the building, you couldn’t see them.  But they kept the whole thing tight and in place without support beams — and without the obstructed views that result from beams in stadiums.

    Now, check this out in the picture to the right.  The seats directly behind the beam are missing the “seats.”  They’re just backs and arm rests.  Obviously, you cannot buy those non-seats.  However, one row back from the beam, the seats are seats.  I had to probe further.

    This is what I determined, the Twins have apparently concluded that the following is an unacceptably obstructed view:

    19 - officially unacceptable obstructed view.jpg

    That’s a good call by the Twins.  That view just won’t do.

    However, apparently this view will do — and apparently, it is worth $22 (the general cost of an infield upperdeck seat according to http://www.twins.mlb.com):

    20 - 22 dollar obstructed view.jpg

    Hmmm…it does provide a decent view of third base and LF-CF.  But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this view also is unacceptable — of course, the Yankees will probably side with the Twins on this one.

    In the Twins defense, I’m not sure if they have an obstructed view decreased price.  However, is there any price you would pay for that view?  You can’t see the infield!!!

    This wasn’t the only odd seating situation I found in the upper deck.  Take a ganders at this:

    21 - duct work seating.jpgThe red arrows are pointing to the same seat.  To the left, notice that you risk a concussion getting to this seat.  I had to duck not to smash my head (and Tim’s) on that huge pipe above the seats.  To the right, notice that the lucky Twins fan who sits in this seat has to look around the duct work to watch the game.  In fact, if he or she decides to relax a bit and actually sit back in his or her seats, his or her head will be behind the duct.  Doh!

    On with the tour, LF foul territory:

    22 - metrodome LF foul upper panaramic.jpg

    Left field, monster bomb territory:

    23 - metrodome RF HR upper panaramic.jpg

    Here is the main scoreboard and big screen — with a little more protection and a warning, but still easily accessible to the crowd:

    24 - danger zone seating.jpg

    Here is the view from deep Left CF:

    25 - metrodome cf upper panaramic.jpg

    On TV, I’ve always thought the big retired number pictures were on a white wall at the top of the Metrodome.  They are not.  Instead, huge portraits of Kirby Puckett (34), Harman Killebrew (3), Rod Carew (29), Kent Hrbek (14), Tony Oliva (6), and Jackie Robinson (42) hang from big sheets of white canvas that are also hanging from the Metrodome roof.

    Oddly, these things stop about 4-5 feet above the seats so you can see and/or walk up behind the curtains, which is a little spooky:

    26 - behind the curtain.jpg

    As we walked along the bottom of the curtain, Tim would punch the sand bags shown in the bottom right picture.

    Here is a view from RF:

    27 - metrodome RF upper hr panaramic.jpg

    A very similar picture from a little further foul:

    28 - metrodome rf long foul upper panaramic.jpg

    Finally, we headed back to the home plate area and got one more panaramic from the first row of the upper deck:

    29 - metrodome plate upperfront panaramic.jpg

    I should note that, if you buy tickets in the home run porch (LF), the Twins don’t let you into the field seats in the infield area.

    So, our touring was complete, and it was time to head to our seats in section 100, row 9 of the home run porch:

    30 - home run porch.jpg

    Top left, Tim and grandpa hanging out watching the first inning.  Top right, Tim has fun making faces.  Bottom left, Choo stood about 30 feet from us in LF.  Bottom right, some dudes wearing man-eating fish helmets.

    Here was our view from our seats (featuring our Metrdome ball):

    31 - metrodome sec. 100 ball panaramic.jpg

    In the second inning, Tim and I went to get ice cream helmets.  Oddly, he decided he wanted a cone.  But then, due to no nap all day, he fell asleep before we reached our seats again…

    32 - sleepy ice cream.jpg

    …so I handed off the cone to my dad.

    Here is the game from the ice cream helmet point of view:

    34 - ice cream helmets view.jpg

    After my dad finished Tim’s cone, Tim did some sleeping on Grandpa’s shoulder:

    33 - grandpas shoulder.jpg

    Then he came back to my shoulder until he woke up…

    35 - sleepy time at metrodome.jpg

    In the picture to the right, Tim asks me in a still grogy voice, “Where’s my ice cream cone?”  So, we headed back to section 131 (or so) to get more ice cream.

    Along the way, I took a picture of a *luxury* suite:

    36 - luxury cell.jpg

    The suites open to the main concourse, which is certainly odd, and they seemed like they were only about 8′ x 8′ — not too impressive.

    Before getting the ice cream, we stepped into one of the entry ways to the infield seats and took some action photos:

    38 - metrodome action.jpg

    The worst part about the Metrodome is that it was really hard to get action photos to come out clear.  Most of my shots were extremely blury.  However, in the top right, here are a few decent photos.

    In the top left, that stolen base was negated by a foul tip.  At top right, Choo takes a cut at a pitch.  Bottom left, my dad’s new favorite Twin, Carlos Gomez, fires a ball back to the infield.  Bottom right, Grady Sizemore does the same as Gomez.

    This time around, Tim decided on the ice cream helmet…

    37 - chocolate hot fudge helmet.jpg…after after I explained that he could get hot fudge topping in a helmet, but not on a cone.  He was happy with his choice.

    Hey, have you heard its hard to see fly balls in the Metrodome roof?  It is.  Here is why:

    39 - metrodome roof.jpg

    It appears to be a two-layer roof.   The natural light filters through the roof.  When it is sunny outside, the roof it brighter white.  Once it started getting darker outside, the roof was noticably darker.

    Here is my favorite action shot of the day…

    40 - unknown single.jpg

    I’m not sure who the hitter is, but this swing resulted in a single to LF.

    We were all rooting for the Twins.  However, it wasn’t their night.  They ultimately lost the contest to the Indians.

    Here is our official baseball road trip group shot:

    41 - 3 satisfied customers.jpg

    After the game, it was on to Hixton, Wisconsin for another night at a KOA.  It was a lot of driving to get this Metrodome game in, but it was well worth it.  We were three completely satisfied customers (well, aside from the invocation of the alleged “League Policy” against giving customers caps for their bottled drinks).

    Next up, the Astros and Brewers in Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

    Season Fan Stats:

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

    Cubs Win! Cubs Win! (8-14-09)

    August 14, 2009 – Let the road tripping begin!

    On Thursday night, August 13th, Tim and I flew to Chicago to meet up with my dad for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009.  The Plan:  four days, four stadiums.  It all started with the Pirates vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  So let’s get to it.

    1 - cubs sign from sheffield.jpg

    We parked for free on Sheffield Street about one block passed the CF enterance.  This Cubs sign on the back of the CF Bleachers greeted us as we walked down Sheffield.  Coincidentally, Tim brought his teddy bear with him.  Teddy is a young bear, also known as a Cub.

    This was essentially our first view of Wrigley once we entered the stadium (I say essentially because, obviously, we had to walk down to the front row before I took this…and I didn’t have my eyes closed during that walk):

    2 - wrigley first view LF panaramic.jpg

    I found it interesting that Sweet Lou Piniella (accompanied by first base coach Matt Sinatro) watched batting practice from LF:


    3 - sweet lou and sinatro.jpg

    Sinatro and Sweet Lou have been together, at least, since Lou was the Mariners manager and Sinatro was out back-up back-stop.  By the way, back in 1991, Sinatro gave me his broken bat at Mariners spring training.  I glued it back together and its as good as new.  Its a beautiful Louisville Slugger that is perfectly balanced and shows a lot of use.

    Next, we headed behind home plate, where I took this:


    5 - wrigley plate panaramic.jpg

    The lady to the left is standing at the cross aisle.  They don’t let you below that cross aisle unless you have tickets down there.  I’m not a huge fan of that rule.

    See those Pirates warming up to the right?  We went and stood in the cross aisle behind them.  Eventually, former Mariner Ronny Cedeno joined them.  I yelled out to Ronny and he gave me and Tim a wave.  He tried to take a ball from a coach with the supposed intention of throwing it to us, but the coach needed it for hitting fungo to the infielders…including to Cedeno.

    Tim was too warm down by the dugout, so he asked if we could head up the rows to the shady seats.  Here is where we landed, section 226:


    6 - section 226 lounging.jpg

    And here is the view from section 226:


    8 - wrigley sec. 226 panaramic.jpg

    And here is what Tim did after watching a few minutes of BP (notice any differences between the two pictures?):


    7 - coloring shade ball.jpg

    In case you missed it, the difference is that Tim has a baseball in the second picture.  Here is how that happened:


    9 - cedeno toss up.jpg

    First, my dad met up with me and Tim at our section 226 coloring location.  My dad stayed with Tim and I went back down behind the Pirates.  By this time, Cedeno had taken a bunch of balls at short stop, gone into the clubhouse for a bit, and come back out ready to take some hacks.

    In the top left picture, you can see there is a ball behind the cage about 10 feet to Cedeno’s left.  As Cedeno was hitting, I noticed that ball.  After he hit, he ran the bases once and returned to his spot behind the cage.  I yelled out his name again and he looked back to me.  I pointed to the ball.  He (i) looked over and noticed it, (ii) walked over and grabbed it and (iii) fired a perfect strike to my glove.

    “Thanks, Ronny!”

    A few minutes later, Ronny started signing autographs for those lucky fans with tickets below the cross aisle.  We wanted that ball signed!  Tim was with me at this point.  We saw one of the ushers leave her post so she could take a picture of some people behind the Cubs dugout.  This was my chance!  Tim and I bolted through her unguarded post.  We walked down 2-3 rows and then cut across the row so we wouldn’t walk by the photo-taking guard.  We then cut down the next aisle and found our way over to Ronny.

    This was the result:


    17 - wrigley sec. 235 auto panaramic.jpg

    By the way, that picture is taken from our seats at Section 235, Row 11, Seats 4-6.  And, yes, I had absolutely no view of second base.  We were actually fine with it.  We could see the batters and the obstruction made double plays more interesting because we had to wait to see if and when the ball would come flying from behind the post on its way to first base.

    I also got this picture of Tim and me after getting Cedeno’s autograph:


    10 - dugout sneak in.jpg

    By the way, the look on Tim’s face here is signaling the onset of massive tiredness.

    After I took this picture, we left the section and walked by the guard we’d bypassed, as we passed she jokingly to me, “You snuck by me!”  I gave her the most sincere, “sorry!” I could muster.

    And just like that, it was time to wander and take some stadium pictures, like this…


    11 - wrigley upper home panaramic.jpg

    …and this…


    13 - wrigley upper LF panaramic.jpg

    …and this…


    12 - wrigley upper RF panaramic.jpg

    …and this one featuring my road buddies…


    14 - holding tim upper RF.jpg

    …and these…


    19 - concourses et al.jpgNext it was time to grab some food and take out seats:


    16 - food time.JPG

    I went for the traditional Chicago Dog (so did my dad) and Tim went with fries with *dip* (that’s what Tim calls ketchup).  Most of Tim’s dip would eventually find its way to his clothing, most notably his shorts.  He also managed to let some of his dip migrate to my shorts as well.

    Before the game, a bunch of military parachuters jumped into Wrigley:


    18 - skydivers and fighter jets.jpg

    …then some jet fighters did a fly by after the national anthem.  They continued to do unannounced fly bys for the rest of the game, much to the delight of the Wrigley-crowd.

    Finally, it was time for some baseball.  Fresh off of their trade line fire sale, the Pirates’ glorified minor league line-up couldn’t do much at the plate:


    21 - action1.jpg

    I can’t remember who that is at top, but he’s grounding out in that picture.  Below, Lastings Milledge is fouling a ball off.

    The Cubs, on the other hand, didn’t have much trouble at the plate:

     


    20 - action4.jpg

    Okay, so I snuck Ronny Cedeno into that picture.  I have to give him his face time, since he hooked us up with the ball and autograph.   Next to him, Derek Lee makes contact with the ball (foul) before eventually walking.  And Jake Fox swings at a ball that would eventually turn into a two run double.  In the second inning, the Cubs hung a 10-spot on the Pirates:


    22 - ten spot.JPG….

    The inning was pretty crazy.  It went like this:

  • Hill tripled
  • Wells walked
  • Theriot singled (Hill scored)
  • Fuld singled
  • D. Lee walked (Wells scored)
  • Fox doubled (Theriot and Fuld scored)
  • Fukudome walked
  • Soriano singled (Lee scored)
  • Baker singled (Fox and Fukudome scored)
  • Hill struck out
  • Wells singled (Soriano scored)
  • Theriot popped out
  • Fuld hit-by-pitch
  • Lee doubled (Baker and Wells scored)
  • Fox struck out<br>
  •  

    All of the scoring was very entertaining for my dad, me, Tim and his new give-away Cubs Dora the Explorer stuffed doll:


    23 - dora.jpg

    As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really mind the beam obstructing our view of second base.  What I could have lived without, however, was a human obstruction that spent about 3 innings of the game standing directly in front of us:


    24 - jack salazar at bat.jpg

    This picture is actually of Pirates Jack Salazar at the plate.  Its a little hard to see him through our Old Style delivery man.  The lady in the Cubs jersey talking to him stood up a lot while ordering beers, so did the guy in the glasses and his buddy (back of the head guy).  It was as if these folks had never heard of sitting down and ordering.  Its not too tricky of a concept.  In the picture to the left, that guy stood right there selling beers to the beer lovers all around us for an entire half inning of Pirates batting.  It was ridiculous.  To the right, this is one of the 50,000 beers we passed down the aisle in exchange for the $247,000 we passed the other way.  (Notice, the beer recipient in the picture to the right is also standing (during the middle of the inning)).  Bottom line:  the sluggish economy isn’t hurting beer sales at Wrigley Field.

    We decided it was time for some ice cream helmets

    We went to the first line.  I couldn’t see any ice cream helmets.  Then a guy walked up and said to his buddy that he could go for some ice cream.  I asked him if they had ice cream helmets.  He said they did, and that he has got ice cream helmets at a couple stadiums.  I said we had too, and we compared ice cream helmet stats.  Not to be boastful, but he was a novice ice cream helmeter.

    When we got to the front of the line, I asked for two chocolote ice cream helmets and the lady replied, “Our ice cream isn’t ready yet.”  Huh?  Okay.  She pointed us to another stand.

    My line-mates and I relocated to that food stand.  While waiting in line, I noticed something…


    25 - ice cream line.jpgTim’s lights were out.  He was in a deep sleep.

    I ordered our ice cream helmets — I decided this time to get myself a twist.  When the lady handed it to me, she yelled to the crowd, “TWIST ISN’T FROZEN!”  Two seconds later, “CHOCOLATE ISN’T FROZEN!”  Another lady working there, “ICE CREAM ISN’T FROZEN!”

    So, I headed back to the seats with two soupy ice cream helmets in a tray in my left hand, a megahuge diet coke in my right hand, and a sleeping boy on my shoulders.  Two steps out of the line, a guy lunged at me, tapped my shoulder and yelled, “HE’S TOTALLY ASLEEEEEEEEP!!”  He thought I didn’t know and Tim was going to fall off.  But I’m a sleeping Tim on the shoulders pro.  I thanked him but said we were good to go.  It was the first of many comments on the walk back to section 235.

    And then grandpa and I enjoyed the ice cream soup as Tim slept..


    26 - sleeping ice cream helmets.jpg…and slept and…


    27 - grandpas shoulder.jpg

    …slept some more.  That’s what happens when Tim doesn’t nap before a game.

    He missed some of this action:


    29 - action3.jpg

    Due to all of the baseball the last few days and my lack of a connection with most of the Cubs and Pirates, I can’t really remember what happened on all of these at bats.  But I know that several action shots I took resulted in singles.  No doubles or home runs.  And several resulted in ground outs or fly ball outs.  I’m pretty sure the top picture here (which shows the actual contact of the bat and ball) resulted in a hit, but don’t hold me to that.  (NOTE:  Click to see pictures larger).

    He missed all of this too:


    28 - action2.jpgI believe that top picture is Mike Fontenot, it resulted in a long fly out to RF.

    In the bottom two pictures, the batters hit grounders.  In the middle picture, you can see the dirt flying up where the ball landed.  In the bottom picture, you can see the ball bouncing in the dirt.


    30 - tired but awake.JPG

    Look who woke up!  His first words, “I’m ready for my ice cream now.”

    So you’re probably seen on ESPN some celebrity leading the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at Wrigley, our celeb singer was Jeremy “The Piv” Piven — Chicago native.  He also threw out the first pitch:


    31 - the piv.jpg

    Interestingly, at the last game Tim and I went to with my dad, Mark Walberg threw out the first pitch — of course, both The Piv and Marky Mark are associated with the hit show, Entourage (a show I have never seen).

    Here is a panaramic from the bottom of section 235, where I took a picture of The Piv singing:


    32 - wrigley RF foul panaramic.jpg

    Guess who won?  The Cubs — 17-2!

    After the game, we got our official Road Trip game picture by the field:


    33 - 3 cooks at wrigley.jpg

    The usher who took this photo thanked us for visiting Wrigley and gave us directions on how to get out to the bleachers so we could take some pictures.  “Thanks, sir.”

    Hey, by the way, did you notice that all of the NL Division Standings flags in CF are gone and they are replaced by a single “W” flag.  That’s cool.  I like it.

    Bleacher photos, here we go:


    34 - CF bleachers.JPG

    And here is the view from the bleachers:


    34a - wrigley CF bleachers panaramic.jpg

    Below the CF bleachers, there is a spiral walkway to the sidewalk level.  Here is a photo from the bottom of the walkway:


    35 - wrigley CF concourse exit panaramic.jpg

    When we left, I realized we didn’t get a picture of the famous Wrigley Field sign, so we walked around the stadium to get a shot of it.  On the way, we passed a ton of people standing at the fence of the players parking lot:


    36 - wrigley outside LF panaramic.jpg

    Here is the photo with the sign:


    37 - wrigley sign.JPG

    Unfortunately, this is the best picture we could manage out by the sign.  The guy in the blue shirt behind us took a picture with all of us in it, and it didn’t turn out.  But just imagine my dad standing next to us!

    Finally, we hit the road.  It was time to start the long drive to Minnesota to see the Indians vs. Twins.

    We stopped by the McDonald’s next to Wrigley and got a McFlurry that I scooped into Tim’s Cubs ice cream helmet…

    38 - roadtrippin day 1.JPG

    Tim enjoyed his ice cream helmet in the car and then helped my dad navigate on the drive to Wisconsin Dells — the Water Park Capital of the World — where we camped out at a KOA for the night.

    Day 1 of the Road Trip:  a complete success!

     

    Season Fan Stats:

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

    Fenway Park – Part 3 of 3 (A Moment to Remember – 7/5/09)

    1 - more copley ball.JPGFor the second day in a row, we woke up and had breakfast and played some baseball in Copley Square.  On this day, however, we just played catch and did some base running (on four drains in front of the Church in the square).

    Soon, it was time to head to Fenway Park for our final game of the weekend roadtrip.  We were hoping for a Mariners sweep.  But it wasn’t in the cards.

    I’m going to break with my usual protocol and skip to the fourth inning.  I’ll go back and cover the game from the beginning, but I don’t want to bury the most important part of this unfortunate Mariners loss in the middle of the entry.

    You might have noticed by now that I am a big Mariners fan. And, by definition, that means I am a huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fan.  Ken Griffey, Jr. means everything to Mariners fans (at least to real Mariners fans).  I was 13 when Griff broke into the Mariners back in 1989.

    The Mariners were a fairly unimportant team until 1989. Well, they were important to me and about 10,000 other people in the state of Washington.  But they were sort of a minor league Major League team to everyone else.  They had zero winning seasons in their history.  There were constant rumors and threats that the team would move — most notably to Tampa, Florida.  The Kingdome — as beautiful and perfect as it was — was largely empty.  (By the way, that wasn’t sarcasm, the Kingdome was, indeed, beautiful and perfect).


    2- me and griff 1991.jpgAnd then, in April 1989, things changed.  KEN GRIFFEY, JR. ARRIVED!  All of a sudden, one of the most celebrated young ball players in baseball was a Seattle Mariner.  People started to pay some attention to our club.  People started showing up at the Kingdome.

    In 1991, we had a WINNING SEASON!

    In 1995, we WON THE WEST!  We made the PLAYOFFS!!  We were two games from the World Series.

    The Mariners were no longer going to move away!  Instead, they built Safeco Field.  It was a golden era in Mariners baseball.

    Long story short:  Ken Griffey, Jr. changed baseball in Seattle, he saved baseball in Seattle, he IS baseball in Seattle.

    Therefore, when my son was born in 2006 and we started going to baseball games together, I had a goal:  Take Tim to see Griffey.

    We have had incredibly bad luck in this respect.  Prior to this weekend, we had gone to see him play more than 10 times, and Griff played in only three of those games.  In those games, he has had gone hitless (but with a bunch of walks).

    So we turn to this game.  Shortly before game time, they announced the starting line-up.  I was more saddened to learn that Mike Sweeney would be DH’ing and Griffey would have the day off.

    I started thinking worst case scenario.  This is very possibly our final Mariners game of the season.  They don’t come back to the Northeast this season.  In 30 years, would Tim have to tell his son, “Yeah, your grandpa took me to see the great Ken Griffey, Jr. when I was a boy.  But I never saw him get a hit.”  I hated the thought.  But there was nothing I could do about it.  The Mariners were facing a lefty, Jon Lester, and Mike Sweeney had to get his work in to stay sharp.

    Then in the fourth inning (with no disrepect to Sweeney), something wonderful happened:

    3 - sweeney back spasms.JPG

    I was totally unprepared.  (That notice was actually posted in the 5th or 6th inning).

    Tim was sitting on my shoulders.  We were at a food stand behind the grandstand behind the seats by the 1B dugout.  I had just ordered a sausage with onions and peppers (for me), a hot dog (for Tim), a diet coke, and a bag of peanuts.  There was no counter at the cash registered so I had to hold everything in one hand while finding my money and paying the cashier with the other hand (while still balancing Tim on my shoulders with no hands).

    In the midst of all of this, I hear the following over the stadium P.A. system:

    “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, JUNIOR!”

    Instantly, my thought was, “The Red Sox don’t have a Junior!  AHHHHH!!!”

    I jammed my wallet and change into my pocket, gathered up everything as best as I could and ran toward the field as fast as I could.

    This picture shows our starting point and our route to the field:

    4 - oh my griffs up.JPG

    When we ran into the back of the grandstand, I believe we were in Section 13 or 14.

    I yelled up to Tim, “I THINK GRIFF IS UP!”

    Right as we got in view of the field, we saw Lester start his wind up and deliver a pitch to Griffey.  What happened next was possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen at a major league stadium:  Griff drilled the pitch off of the Green Monster!

    According to my DVR, it looked something like this:

    5 - Griff Hits the Monster.JPG

    I think that to everyone else in the stadium, it was just a random lead off hit in the top of the fourth inning.  But to me, it was possibly the greatest baseball moment ever.  For the first time in over ten years, I witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr. — my boyhood hero and favorite baseball player of all-time — get a hit for my Seattle Mariners and I witnessed it with my son sitting on my shoulders sharing the moment with me.  And the fact that he hit the ball off the Green Monster, the most famous outfield wall in baseball, made it even more exciting.

    This simple hit is easily the highlight of my season so far, and I plan to think and talk about it with Tim for years and years to come.  I hope Tim and I get another chance to see Griffey play — this season and next.  But, if that is not possible, this hit will keep me satisfied.

    (By way of background and to clarify, *I* have seen Griffey get tons of hits, hit numerous homeruns, multiple grand slams, makes dozens of circus catches (including the one when he broke his arm in half) — but I’d never shared any of those moments with Tim.  That’s what made this hit so special).

    By the time I could get to a spot where I could put our food down and get to my camera, Franklin Gutierrez had advanced Griff to second with a single.  Here is Griff leading off of second:

     

    6 - griffs on second.JPGGriff would have two more plate appearances on the day, both walks.  He went 1-1 on the day.  Amazingly, I got zero pictures of Griff at the plate during this game.

    Okay, now lets back track to the beginning of the game.

    We entered the stadium again through the CF gate on Lansdowne Street.  It was a 1:35 start, but the teams still took BP.  We arrived as the first group of Mariners were hitting, including Griffey and Ichiro.

    We started out in the CF bleachers.  Griffey was blasting bombs into the RF bleachers.  I wanted to go over there, but there is no way I am going to try to catch a HR ball with Tim on my shoulders.  Shortly after we arrived, Griff hit a ground rule double to straight away CF that bounced up into the stands and directly into my Dad’s glove.

    My Dad has had great luck with Griffey this year.  In addition to this BP ground rule double, on the first day of spring training, my Dad got Griff’s second BP homerun in his second tour of duty with the Mariners.

    I decided to go up onto the Green Monster and see if Tim and I could get into the seating area.  There is a staircase in the CF concourse that takes you up to the Green Monster.  You can walk out to the edge of the seating area, but they won’t let you out into the seats without a Monster ticket.   So Tim and I just stood around up there for a few minutes taking in the view before heading back down to the field level seats.

    I had a thought in the back of my head that it would be neat to get a ball thrown up to us on the Green Monster.  Tim and I stood in the closest spot to the seats that you can get to without a Monster ticket:

    8 - phillips from monster.JPG We stood in the spot under the red arrow where the guy in the red shirt is standing.  I noticed Jason Vargas and Jason Phillips standing together below in LCF.   (In the picture to the right, that is Jason Phillips after the two Jasons split up).

    After a few minutes, someone hit a ball to Vargas.  I yelled down from the Mondster, “Hey, Vargas!!!!”  He heard me!  He looked up!  He turned around and he fired the ball to me. Unfortunately, it was too low and it clanked off a light and some bricks just below us — out of reach.

    Jason Phillips stood and watched Vargas’s failed attempt.  And just then, someone hit him a ball.  “Hey, Jason!”  Phillips looked back up at me.  He turned around and he fired the ball to me.  A perfect strike.  It would have hit me directly in the chest.  It was a very impressive throw, and much appreciated.

    “Thanks, Jason!”

    Here is a picture that illustrates the flight of the ball:

    At the time Phillips threw the ball, he was even a little bit — maybe 10-15 feet — closer toward LF.  He didn’t lob the ball up to me.  He fired it on a line, just like the arrow in this picture.  As I said, a very impressive throw.

    Tim and I then went down to the CF bleachers and met up with my mom who was standing right where my Dad caught Griff’s ground rule double about 10 minutes earlier.

    Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were standing below us.  Felix runs all over the place trying to make high light reel catches during BP.  At one point, he caught one near us.  He looked up and made I contact with me (and Tim).  There was a lady from Seattle shouting at him standing directly next to me to my left.  Felix fired the ball up to us.  He threw it to our right side so the shouting lady wouldn’t interfere.  I could have caught it without moving at all — I just had to reach across my body and back hand it.  However, as I started to go for the backhand, I realize there was a 8’ish year old boy wearning a Red Sox jersey and a glove standing next to me.  If I didn’t catch the ball, he’d get it.  I decided to let me have it since we already had the ball from Jason Phillips and we got Felix’s warm up ball the day before.

    Soon thereafter, someone hit a ball into the OF corner by the end of the Red Sox bullpen.  Here was the scene:

    9 - bedard ball.JPG

    We were standing in the red circle.  Erik Bedard was standing at the red “X”.  There was a rope running along the warning track.  (I think it was to keep people involved in the pre-game ceremonies off of the grass).  The rope went down the warning track and around a big door in the outfield wall.  The ball went in the corner behind the rope as shown above.

    Bedard turned around and walked over and grabbed the ball.  A whole bunch of people including a bunch of 10’ish year old kids, were standing by the bullpen directly above the ball.  I figured Bedard would grab it and flip it up to them.  While those people all yelled at Bedard for the ball, Erik picked it up and looked at them.  He then walked as slowly as humanly possible back over to the yellow “X” in the picture above.  Then he looked up and made eye contact with me (and Tim), and fired the ball to us.  I had the feeling that Bedard had watched Felix throw us the ball when I let the kid catch it and he was trying to finish what Felix had started.  The yelling lady was still next to me.  Like Felix, Bedard threw the ball to my right so she wouldn’t get it.

     Next, it was time to walk around.  We checked out the RF corner and the Pesky Pole:

    9a - pesky pole.JPG

    As RF corners go, this is one of the most interesting in baseball.  Not very “corner-ish.”  More like a RF curve.

    We walked up through the old wooden grandstand seats:

     
    10 - grandstand seats 1B line.JPG

    We headed out to Yawkey Way and watched Tom Caron from NESN interview comedian Mike O’Malley:

    11 - nesn tom caron and mike omalley.JPG

    Sean Casey was walking around the NESN set.  I walked over to get a picture of him (or possibly with him), but he vanished into thin air.

    It was getting close to game time, so we walked back into the stadium and went through the busy concourse behind home plate:

    12 - concourse home to third.JPG

    When we were down here, we got Tim a chocolate ice cream helmet and headed toward our seats in the grandstand behind home plate:

    16 - overflowing ice cream helmet.JPG

    The seats were great.  Here was our view:

    13 - fenway 22-15-18 panramic.jpg

    The red arrow points to where Tim and I were standing when Griffey hit his single off of the Green Monster.

    We watched te pre-game festivities such as the reading of the Fenway Park Code of Conduct…

    14 - fenway code of conduct.JPG

    …the carrying of the pink backpack to the Mariners bullpen by Christ Jakubauskas…

    15 - Jak-n-backpack.JPG

    …the third ceremonial first pitch by Marky Mark Wahlberg (and his re-do third ceremonial first pitch due to his first third ceremonial first pitch sailing high over the catcher to the backstop):

    17 - Marky Mark Pitches the Funky Stuff.JPG

    Finally, it was game time.  As always, future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki led off for the Mariners:

    18 - lester-to-ichi with floating ball and pedroia.JPG

    I like this picture for two reasons — (i) the ball is captured right above the plate (but low, it was called a ball) and (ii) Dustin Pedroia is, for some reason, floating in the air at second base (click on the picture to see it larger, Pedroia is totally off of the ground).

    I got some more Red Sox pictures:

    19 - youk-n-papi.JPG

    I wanted to get a shot of Big Papi clapping his hands before stepping into the box but I missed it.  He hit the next pitch into the RF bleachers, the second Red Sox home run in the first inning.

    By the time Griff was up for a second time, we were touring around in the grandstand out beyond the Pesky Pole.  He walked.  Here he is leading off first base:

    20 - griffs on first.JPG

    We went out to the concourse in the RF corner and took this picture showing the Red Sox World Series and other banners:

    25 - fenway banners panaramic.jpg

    FYI, see the guy wearing the red shirt above the blue 1967 banner in the middle of the picture?  He is standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats where Tim and I spent a lot of time over the course of the weekend.

    The red arrow in that last picture is pointing to this:

     
    26 - the Green Monster.JPG

    I’m guessing this guy is called the “Green Monster.”  We saw the real one of this guy running around on the field before each game, but we never saw him in the crowd.  This was the best we could do with respect to getting a mascot picture.

    See the red arrow in that last picture?  It is pointing to a staircase that leads to the “Players Club.”  I’m not sure what the Players Club is all about.  It looked like it was for special events or people with special tickets.  But we headed in to check it out and no one seemed to mind.  Here is what it looked like:

    21 - players club.jpg

    …more players club…

    22 - players club.jpg

    …and we found something cool in the Players Club:

    23 - 2004 2007 WS trophies.JPG

    (From Left:  2004 World Series Trophy, Todd & Tim, 2007 World Series Trophy)

    We walked out of the players club just in time to see this…

    24 - Ellsbury homer.JPG

    Through the break in the grandstand and bleachers, that is Jacoby Ellsbury hitting a home run to bring the score to 4-3 Mariners.

    We met up with my folks and watched the game on a TV while we ate some food at the tables in the RF corner.  From our table, you could see the Players Club above the food stands:

    27 - players club outside.JPG

    While we sat here, the Mariners brought in Miguel Batista.  It was not Miguel’s day.  He gave up a bunch of runs and the Mariners eventually lost the game 8-4.

     Tim and I watched the last inning from our familiar RF corner by the Mariners bullpen.  We were hoping Griff would get one more at bat, but it wasn’t in the cards.  We settled for one more picture with the field before heading out:

    28 - one last look.JPG

    This game, we switched things up and exited the stadium from the RF exit so I could get a picture of this:

    29 - ted williams.JPG
    When my Dad was a kid, there was no baseball team in the state of Washington.  Ted Williams was his baseball hero.  This is what the plaque below Ted says:

    9

    Ted Williams

    Boston Red Sox

    The greatest hitter who ever lived, an American patriot, and a pioneer in the development of the Jimmy Fund.   Ted Williams will forever be one of the great heroes in the history of baseball, Boston and America.  He amassed 521 home runs despite sacrificing five years in his prime to serve his country during World War II and the Korean War.  He was a relentless champion of children, such as this child to whom he is offering his cap, in their battle against cancer, and helped make the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute the world renowned center of research and care that it is today.

    The memory of Ted Williams will forever be a point of pride for the Boston Red Sox, the people of Boston, New England, and the United States of America.

    We took one more picture outside:

    30 - goodbye fenway.JPG
    “Good bye, Fenway!”

    With that, we started our walk back to the hotel…
     

    31 - hit the road.JPG
    …so we could start our drive back home.

    For so many reasons, it was such an awesome weekend shared with Tim and my folks.

    32 - weekend recap.JPG
     

    Season Fan Stats:


    fenway ticket.jpg18 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
    7 Stadiums
    (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
    13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
    Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
    14 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
    17 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
    4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
     
    3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
    2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
     
    5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

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