Results tagged ‘ RRS ’

The Houstralian Austro

Hey, pitchers and catchers report in just about 10 days.  Excellent!

But its been a slow month for baseball.  So slow, in fact, that I recently saw an article “reporting” that Derek Jeter was hitting in a batting cage with his team’s hitting coach.  Wow, that’s shocking “news”!

To fill a tiny little part of the pre-spring training baseball void, I thought I’d share a picture of Ryan Rowland-Smith that I just slapped together:

Houstralian.jpg
For some reason, I was recently thinking about the Australian flag, which of course features six stars.  Before long, I figured I should replace those stars with the Houston Astros’ star logo in honor of C&S Hall of Famer and new Astro, Ryan Rowland-Smith.

After combining the Australian flag and the Astros’ logo, it was only logical to go the extra step and create a nickname for RRS with another Australia-Houston Astros smash up.  So, I came up with “The Houstralian.”  Of course, “Australia” also blends nicely with “Astros” — so I modified RRS’s jersey to read “Austros.”  (I also modified it by adding the “18” from my RRS Mariners jersey).

So there you go MLB play-by-play announcers and color commentators, feel free to start tossing around “Ryan ‘The Houstralian’ Rowland-Smith” or the more formal “Ryan ‘The Houstralian Austro’ Rowland-Smith” while commentating.

Is its baseball season yet?

The Cook & Son Hall Of Fame




underline C&S HOF Logo.jpgThe Cook & Son Hall of Fame was established in 2009 as a way of honoring and thanking certain individuals who, for a variety of baseball-related reasons, are particularly important to Cook & Son.  The Cook & Son Hall of Fame is open to players, coaches, broadcasters, stadium attendants, fans or anyone else who, in the sole and unfettered discretion of Cook & Son, are deemed worthy of enshrinement.

Class of 2009

Phillips C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Phillips

Inaugural Member

Inducted December 21, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Class of 2010.

Griffey C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Inducted June 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

RRS C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Rowland-Smith

Inducted June 4, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar Martinez C&S HOF Plaque.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar Martinez

Inducted December 11, 2010

 

 

 

2010 Mariners Season Finale (10/3/10)

2010 was a long and fun season.  And, on October 3, 2010, we headed down to Safeco Field for the final game of our and the Mariners 2010 season.

The line-up was Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my folks, my buddy Paul, and me.  Although Paul joined us late, the rest of us headed down for non-existent batting practice.

We headed into Safeco Field and found ourselves in the standing room area in center field.  Nothing was going on yet.  So we just hung out for a few minutes.  We were ready for some good old-fashioned Mariners fun:


1 - three boys in CF.JPGSoon, a couple Cook & Son Hall of Famers made their way out to the bullpen:  Jason Phillips to the left…

2 - here come phillips and RRS.JPG…and finale starting pitcher, Ryan Rowland-Smith, to the right.  After a tough season where we never got to see him pitch live, I was excited for the opportunity to watch Ryan close out the 2010 season with a strong final outing.

The Mariners braodcasters do their pregame show from the centerfield standing room area.  After Tim hopped from my shoulders to grandpa’s shoulders, Kellan and I strolled over to watch the broadcasters preparing for their show.  All of a sudden, I saw a familiar face and, before I knew it, Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik…

3 - Zduriencik kisses Kellan.JPG…was kissing Kellan like a campaigning politician.

Despite the terribly disappointing season, I believe in Jack.  I think he has a good vision for the team.  And as GM’s go, Jack is the most visible the Mariners have ever had.  In two seasons, we’ve met him several times — like last season on the streets of Boston.

After saying hello to Jack Z., we watched Ryan Rowland-Smith warm up among a sea of mascots: 

4 - RRS and the mascots.JPGAcross the field from RRS, opposing starter Dallas Braden warmed up for the A’s.

My folks and Tim stayed in the outfield when Colleen, Kellan and I headed toward the Mariners dugout.  As we walked through the seats behind first base, we watched as the Mariners Moose jacked a homerun to win the mascot homerun derby…

5 - Moosebombs.JPG…while Bill Kruger and Brad Adam interviewed Jack Z. (who you can see sitting below the bright light).

I had a goal of getting either Luke French (Kellan’s first pitcher) or Rajai Davis (his first batter) to sign the picture of Kellan’s first pitch.  We hung out behind the Mariners dugout watching for French…

6 - watching some pre-game activities.JPG…but we never found him.  So instead, we just had another fan take our picture.

Eventually, a bunch of Mariners came out and started playing catch and stretching down the 1B line…

7 - mascots and mariners.JPG….you can see them in the background of this picture my parents took of some of the mascots.

When some of the Mariners started playing catch, I gave up on finding Luke French and we headed over by the guys who were playing catch.   Two games ago, Greg Halman had tossed Tim and me his pregame warmup baseball.  That day, we were practically the only people watching the players playing catch.  But on this day, the seats were crowded.  We were about six rows back and the first three rows were packed.  I was hoping we could get one more baseball this season and this was our chance, but there was a lot of competition and the odds weren’t looking good.

As the players started heading back to the dugout a ball or two got tossed to fans in the first row.  Finally, Halman and his partner finished playing catch and Halman ended up with the baseball.  He looked over to the crowd and I yelled, “Hey, Greg!!!!”  I was the only one to call out to him by name and he appreciated it.  He scanned around and found me and then tossed his baseball high over everyone else so they couldn’t intercept it on its way to me and Kellan.

The baseball was just a bit over my head level.  As I reached up to make the easy grab, Colleen yelled “No! NO!!!!”  She was scared I would miss the ball and it would hit Kellan.  It was pretty funny, really.  Her maternal instincts to protect our baby overrode her common sense about my abilities to catch a baseball lobbed to me.

The expression on Kellan’s face in this picture illustrates how difficult the catch was for me:

8 - kellans third baseball.JPGYep, it was pretty routine.  (That’s a yawn, by the way).

Thanks, Greg!

The Mariners cleared out and we never found Luke French.  But when I looked over toward LF, I saw Kellan’s first batter stretching and preparing for the game.  So we headed over there:

9 - watching Rajai Davis.JPGIn that last picture, Rajai Davis is the guy bending down and reaching toward the ground.

As we waited to see if Davis would come over to sign autographs on his way back to the dugout, we watched this guy…

10 - dont catch fair balls.JPG…walk down the fence and explain to everyone in the front row that they will be kicked out of the game if they interfere with a live ball in play.  His message was simple, “Foul grounders are fair game, but catching a fair grounder will get you ejected.

When Davis finished streching, he jogged straight into the A’s dugout.  No first batter autograph for Kellan on this day.  But don’t fret.  We’ll track down Rajai Davis some day.  You can mark my words on that.

Rajai Davis wasn’t the only A’s player walking straight lines, but not all of them were heading to the dugout.  After warming up in the bullpen, Dallas Braden exited the bullpen gate and walked in a laser straight line directly to us.  As I watched him approach, he displayed an odd expressionless face with his harms hanging unnaturally still as he walked…as I said…directly to us.  Confused, I looked at him standing two feet in front of me.  What’s going on here, I thought to myself.

Then Braden extended his arm, opened his glove, nodded to me to reach in and remove…

 

11 - thanks dallas braden.JPG…this baseball from the pocket of his glove.  Although it took me hundreds of games, it took Kellan only two games to get a baseball from a pitcher with a perfect game on his resume.

Thanks, Dallas!

With no first pitch autographs, but two new baseballs in our pockets, we reported to our seats along the first base line.  My mom took a picture of us (Paul was still en route to the ballpark):

12a - family shot at our seats.JPGWe were ready for some Mariners baseball!

At exactly 1:11 p.m., Ryan Rowland-Smith delivered the first pitch of the game…

13 - RRS first pitch and one11.JPG…for ball 1.  However, if you click on that picture to enlarge it, the pitch looks pretty good to me.  Davis ended up leading off the game with a single.  RRS’s body language wasn’t looking good after the single.  He sort of looked like, “Oh, no.  Here we go again.”

Kellan was ready to see some quality Mariners baseball…

15 - kellan over shoulder.JPG…after a 9-0 shut out loss in his MLB debut game.

Despite the early frustrated body language, it seemed like RRS started believing in himself.  And he should have because he had a good day.  After RRS induced a fly out to CF for the first out of the game, Josh Bard threw out Davis trying to steal second.  Then RRS struck out Jack Cust to end the first.

Yep, RRS was looking good…

14 - RRSMotion2.jpg…and he had one scoreless inning in the book.

As each Mariner came to bat for the first time, a picture drawn by a kid was displayed on the big screen.  Here are all nine of the M’s batters:

16 - line up drawn by kids.JPGFranklin Gutierrez took a couple mighty looking hacks in the bottom of the  first…

17 - Guti doesnt go yard.JPG…but both he and the Mariners came up empty handed.

Hey, guess who showed up?  It was Paulie!

19 - Tim and Paul.JPGPaulie, Tim and I had big plans for this game.  We bought tickets to this game at the very beginning of the season figuring that it would probably be Griffey’s final game.  We were hoping to see Griffey’s final homerun and Griff getting carried off the field and into retirement.  Sadly, we were Griffeyless on this day.

The A’s ended up scoring two runs off of RRS.  They got one run in the third when Mark Ellis doubled to score Rajai Davis.  In the fourth, Kurt Suzuki hit a lead off homerun to make it 2-0 A’s.

To this point, the A’s had scored 11 runs to the Mariners zero runs so far in Kellan’s first two games.  It was high time for the Mariners to get on the board for Kellan.

Michael Saunders led off the bottom of the fifth with a single.  Our buddy Greg Halman…

20 - Halman singles.JPG…followed Saunders with a single of his own on this swing.

Two batters and two outs later, Saunders was erased, Halman stood on second base, and Matt Mangini occupied first as Ichiro came to the plate.  In the hands down most exciting moment of Kellan’s young Marienrs fan career, Ichiro lined a double down the RF line on this swing…

21 - Ichiros RBI double.JPG…and Halman and Mangini scored Kellan’s first two Mariners runs ever.  We were all on our feet screaming and cheering.  It was a great moment.

After Ichi’s 2RBI double, the Ichi-Meter was changed to record Ichi’s 213th hit of 2010:

21a - Ichimeter at 213.JPGSo the score was all knotted up at 2-2.  I was excited for the possibility of Kellan witnessing his first Mariners win and RRS finishing off the season with a long-awaited second win of the season.

The excitement was contagious.  Tim and Paul had to practice some fist bumps:

22 - fist bumping practice.JPGAnd of course Tim had to get in some playing-with-Grandma time:

23 - fun with Grandma.JPGWith the Mariners on the board, Kellan sat up and took notice:

24 - colleen and kellan watching some baseball.JPGHe was ready for the possibility of a personally historical moment — his first ever Mariners lead??

My little family bunched together and cheered like crazy for a Mariners rally:

25 - family cheer.JPGI had to get a picture with my big boy and teammate:

26 - Todd and Tim.JPGAnd, of course, we had to celebrate the day with the season’s final ice cream helmet:

27 - last ICH of 2010.JPGUnfortunately, after Ichiro’s double, the rally ceased.  And after five innings, both teams went to their bullpens.

It should be noted that RRS actually had a slightly better line than Dallas Braden.  Both pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs.  But RRS gave up only 4 hits to Braden’s 5 hits, and he struck out 3 to Braden’s 2.  They both walked 1 batter.

Sadly, the Mariners bullpen turned Braden into a winner-in-absentia.  After Braden left the game knotted 2-2, Mariners reliever Anthony Varvaro promptly gave up a run on two hits in the top of the sixth.  He would pitch only one-third of an inning.

In the 8th inning, Garrett Olson gave up a homerun to Kevin Kouzmanoff.  That made the score 4-2 A’s.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Ichiro notched his 214th and final hit of the 2010 campaign:

28 - Ichiros 214th and final hit.JPGHe then stole his 42nd and final base of the season.   He wound up on third base on a Jose Lopez groundout.  Finally, Ichiro scored his 74th and final run of the season on a Justin Smoak line drive single to left field.

Sadly, Ichiro’s run would be the final Mariners run to be pushed across the plate in 2010.  We lost our 101st game of the season, and 2nd of Kellan’s life, by a final score of 4-3.

Toward the end of the game, I snapped a picture of the Mariners mlb.com beat writer, Jim Street (in the OU hat):

29 - Jim Streets final game.JPGJim was closing out the final game of his career…although I recently read that he is only “semi-retired” so maybe we’ll still see him on mlb.com from time-to-time.

After the game, we got a final family-at-the-ballpark picture…

30 - Final Family Shot of 2010.JPG…and a final TJCs and Paulie picture:

31 - Tim Paul and Todd.jpgIt was so sad that our season was over so soon and that, as we exited the gates at Safeco Field, we would be entering a period of six months without (regular season) Mariners baseball.

I snapped one more panorama for 2010 on our walk to the CF gates:

32 - final panorama of 2010.jpgIn doing so, I noticed that the hand operated scoreboard was already set up for the 2011 home opener:

33 - ready for 2011 home opener.JPGThat was comforting to see.

Tim and I took a couple final pictures on our way out of the stadium:

34 - one last shot in 2010.JPGHe failed to smile in any of them.  But how could I blame him?

It was now officially the off-season.

Bummer.

2010 Fan Stats:

29 Games

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


35 - halman and braden finish the season.jpg25 Ice Cream Helmets
(Mariners (3), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

66 Baseballs (15 Mariners, 2 Angels, 5 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

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

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Family & Safeco Field (9/30/10)

Tim’s little brother, Kellan, was born in July and there was no way that I was going to allow him to miss out on meeting the Mariners during the first baseball season of his life.  And there was no way Kellan was going to experience his first game anywhere but Safeco Field.  So, as the season drew to a close, we found ourselves in Seattle.

Kellan’s first game was slated for Friday, October 1, 2010.

But we were in town a couple days early to visit my family and the Mariners were playing.  There was no way that Tim and I were gonna miss out.  On Thursday, September 30, 2010, we gathered up my mom, dad, and brother Jason, and headed down to Safeco Field.

We had Colleen’s sister’s family in town with us and a lot going on, so we headed down late and missed batting practice.  When we arrived, no one was on the field.  So, we headed to the play area…


2 - safeco play area.JPG…Tim always enjoys the Safeco Field play area.  When he finished up playing, we found the Mariners Moose nearby…

3 - moose 2010.JPG…and posed for a picture with him in his little Moose den.

Next, we figured we better head over to the Mariners dugout to see what was going on with our Mariners.  And that’s when we saw one of the prettiest sights we’d seen all season:

5 - hello safeco 2010.JPGAh, beautiful Safeco Field.  We love this place.

Other than Chone Figgins stretching down the RF line, none of the players were on the field.  But we did see some of the Mariners top brass…

4 - Howard Lincoln.JPG….President & COO Chuck Armstrong.  “Hmmm,” I wondered, “what’s up with Chuck.”

After a bit, there were a bunch of Mariners warming up down the RF line.  Tim and I headed over there…

6 - greg halman warmups.JPG…and we were essentially the only people around when Greg Halman finished playing catch.  I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and fired the ball to us.

Thanks, Greg!

 It was just minutes until game time, so we reported to our seats in RF.  We picked RF because the week day crowds had been tiny lately at Safeco Field and we figured our chances of getting near a homerun ball would be decent.  Also, as an added bonus, we’d been near Ichiro.

Speaking of Ichiro.  Turns out Chuck Armstrong was in the dugout because he was getting ready to present Ichiro with some awards of some sort…

7 - congrats ichiro.JPG….for being the first Major Leaguer to collect 200 hits for ten straight seasons.

We were pretty busy chatting and generally having a good time during the game, so I did a pretty shabby job at getting action shots.  But we’ll do our best to take you through the night.

Here was our crew…an excellent bunch of ballgame companions (note that Tim was busy eating a hot pile of nachos)…

8 - view of ichiro.JPG…and here was our view of Ichiro as he played catch with Franklin Gutierrez between innings.

And this was our view of the game from Section 109, Row 25, seats 5-9:

9 - safeco section 109, row 25 panorama.jpgNow is that a great looking ballpark or what?  By the way, Row 25 is the third row back from the field in RF at Safeco.

As for the game, it started off nicely.  It was the A’s and the Mariners.  Doug Fister took on Gio Gonzalez.  Both pitchers were “on” at the beginning.  Despite some hits by both teams through the early innings (including a first inning single for Ichiro (his 209th hit of the season)), the game was scoreless through four innings.

It was a lot cooler at this game than we were used to while attending games in the northeast.  So, a couple innings into the game, my mom, Tim and I visited the M’s team store and I got a great deal on a new Mariners sweatshirt for Tim.

On the way back to our seats, we decided to walk by the Mariners bullpen.

I noticed something interesting, something that I’d never noticed before…

10 - flat pitching rubber.JPG…a little cut out at the front of the M’s bullpen mound with a flat ground pitching rubber.  That was a new one on me.

As I stood at the fence starring at my camera’s LCD screen and taking some of the worst and most blurry pictures of all time of Ichiro batting…

11 - blurry ichiro.JPG…my mom mentioned, “Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith just looked over at you.  Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith is walking over here.”

I looked away from my camera, and there was Mr. RRS.

Hey, Ryan!

It was great to catch up with RRS.  It was interesting to chat about what it was like in the clubhouse as the Mariners were 97 losses into the season and four days away from the off-season.  It was also cool to get a sneak preview into his very interesting training plans for the off-season.  I felt a bit bad seeing RRS watching the game from the bullpen after a tough season.  And I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him pitch once more and close out the season on a positive note.  While it wouldn’t happen at this game, I would get my chance.

Soon, we headed back to our seats.  It was time for a chocolate cihp cookie dough ice cream helmet…

12 - M's ICH 2010.JPG…but as things got sweet for Tim, they got sour for the Mariners.

Between the fifth and sixth innings, Doug Fister gave up 6 runs and Brian Sweeney gave up the seventh run of the game.  Quickly, our pitchers’ dual turned ugly.

But after 97 losses, we were used to seeing the M’s trailing their opponent and we were able to still have a good time…

13 - fun in RF.JPG…as we watched the Mariners on the way to their 98th loss of the season.  Hey, check out that great new sweatshirt on Tim.  Its a zip-up with a teal inner hood.  Very nice.

(By the way, I made Tim take off his new sweatshirt and wear his old green sweatshirt to eat his ice cream helmet.  That guy is sloppy with the ice cream.)

It was also very nice to be hanging out behind Ichiro:

14 - its Ichiro.JPGAnd, of course, it was nice to get a chance to snap a picture of the Greg Halman ball:.

15 - Halman baseball at safeco.JPGSpeaking of Greg Halman, he made an outstanding diving catch in left field.  In fact, it was such a nice, high speed diving catch…

15b - halmans new belt…that he broke his belt in the process.

 After Halman’s catch, I figured I should go back over by the bullpen to snap a shot of Halman.  While I was there, I also snapped a picture of the Mariners’ mop-headed September call-up, Dan Cortes…

16 - Dan Cortes bullpen and airport.JPG…interestingly, five days later with the season concluded, we were getting ready to board our airplane back to Pennsylvania while Mr. Cortes was getting ready to board his flight back home to the Los Angeles area.  (FYI, the white and red arrow is pointing to my brother and parents).

Well, we made it to the 8th inning.  It was still 7-0 A’s, and despite fairly empty seats, we’d managed to go the whole game without catching a homerun.

And then, the perfect opportunity arose…and I totally botched it.

With two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Chad Pennington hit a homerun in our direction.  I had an open lane to the ailse.  It seemed like it was going to land 5-10 rows behind us and right on the aisle.  I bolted to the aisle and headed up three rows.  Then the ball totally died.  I turned around but couldn’t make it back to “the spot.”  The spot, sadly, was precisely at the aisle seat…

17 - homerun failure.JPG….in THE ROW IN WHICH I WAS JUST SITTING.  It was right there, on my side of the green railing.  RIGHT THERE!  Had I stayed put, I could have caught it easily.

I still had a chance.  Someone bobbled the ball.  I made a dive for it down the stairs while passing under that railing, which ultimately resulted in several flesh wounds and two large buises but no baseball.

Aye, aye, aye…

Oh, well.  while I really would like to catch a game homerun some day, I would much, much, MUCH prefer that it not be a homerun off of the Mariners.

Anyway, it was moving into the 9th inning.  Tim and I decided to head over to the 3B dugout in hopes of getting our hands on our first ever Safeco Field umpire ball.

Here was our first view as Anthony Varvaro pitched to Kevin Kouzmanoff…

18 - Varvaro to Kouzmanoff.JPG…the white arrow is pointing to my brother and parents.  We were in the concourse standing room area for that picture.

A few minutes later, we mae it to the first row right on the umpire tunnel, but an usher told us we couldn’t sit in the “charter” seats.  I asked her how far back we had to go.  Row 11 was acceptable.

So, this was our view from the 11th row of Ichi’s final at bat of the night when,…

19 - Ichiro 210 of 2010.JPG…after a hard foul liner right over our heads, he smacked a single for his 210th hit of the season.

After the final out of the game — and an 8-1 loss — home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman handed a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim (pictured below).  It was the 105th baseball in the “Todd & Tim Baseball Partners Era.”  Our next baseball would be our first of the “Todd, Tim & Kellan 3-Man Baseball Team Era.”

It was a miserable loss, but it was great being back at Safeco Field and it was great spending the evening with my family.

On the walk back to my brother and parents in RF, an usher took this excellent shot of me and my boy
...

20 - We love this place.JPG…and then…

21 - Five Cooks at Safeco Field.JPG…another usher took this excellent shot of all of us.

As we left the park, I was excited to know that we’d be walking back into the park less than 24 hours later for the first game of Kellan’s life!

2010 Fan Stats:

27 Games


22 - Halman 104 and Dreckman 105.jpg20 Teams
(Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (1), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

62 Baseballs (13 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

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)

Ryan Rowland-Smith, C&S Hall of Fame (2010)

Last season, I created the Cook & Son Hall of Fame and inducted Mariners bullpen catcher and former big leaguer Jason Phillips as the first member as a way to honor and say thank you to Phillips for being so incredibly nice to me and Tim and making the 2009 season extra special.

In May, I mentioned in a entry about our first Mariners game of the season (and our last game ever seeing Griffey play) that I we had an amazing interaction with Mariners pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, which followed an amazing interaction that we had with him last September in Toronto.  Since that game in Baltimore, I have had plans to induct RRS as the second member of the C&S Hall of Fame, like Phillips based on his going above-and-beyond the call of duty in terms of fan friendliness.

But, in the meantime, my favorite player of all-time (and Tim’s second favorite behind Ichiro), Ken Griffey, Jr. retired.  I have known all along that I would induct Griffey into our little Hall of Fame as soon as he retired, as the first player to go into the C&S HOF based on his on-field achievements.   So, with his sudden (and personally sad) retirement, Griff jumped RRS in order of induction.

But now it is RRS’s turn.

Without further adieu, Tim and Todd Cook are happy to announce the induction of Ryan Rowland-Smith as the third member of the C&S Hall of Fame, and the second member inducted based on above-and-beyond the call of duty fan friendliness:

RRS C&S HOF Plaque.jpgLet’s recount the extreme coolness of Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.

Our first encounter with RRS came in August 2007 at Tim’s second career Mariners game and first career road game.  It took place at Baltimore’s Camden Yards (at a time when they had no ice cream helmets!) and it was very brief.  RRS pitched 1 innng in relief as the Mariners extended their record to 2-0 in Tim’s two Mariners games.

In 2009, Tim hit his stride as a baseball fan.  He was finally old enough and had enough energy to go to batting practice and still stay awake for an entire MLB game.  By September, we had collected a bunch of baseballs from BP, many tossed up to us by our beloved Mariners.

But there was one problem.  All of the baseballs had either been tossed to me or handed to Tim.  This made Tim feel downright childish (of course, he was only 3 years old).  Late in the season, he started telling me that HE wanted to catch a baseball at  game.  My thought was that I could get Jason Phillips help us with Tim’s request.

So we headed to Toronoto in late September 2009 with a goal of having Tim catch a baseball in his own glove, most likely thrown by Jason Phillips.  But there was no BP!  So when I ran into and chatted with Phillips before the game, Tim was off in the kids play area with his mom.

Tim and my wife joined me in the field level seats shortly thereafter and we hung out and watched a bunch of the Mariners pitchers warm up.  Enter Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.

After playing catch with Garrett Olson, RRS set his glove down right by the foul line and headed over to the seats to sign some autographs.  I could see that his warm up baseball was in his glove.  When he got to us, I asked him if we could get our picture with him.  He was extremely nice and was more than happy to pose for this picture:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgWhile setting up that picture, I asked RRS if he would throw the ball in his glove to Tim.  He agreed.  Now, this next sentence I have re-written about 10 times and just can’t properly convey the feel.  But I was struck by RRS’s tone and demeanor during this exchange.  He conveyed the feeling that there never could be any doubt about my request, of course Tim had to have that baseball.

In the pictures below, RRS had just retrieved the ball from his glove and thrown it to Tim.  But Tim dropped it!  RRS picked it up and signed it and handed it back to Tim:

15 - fun with RRS.jpgRRS then went on signing.  He was still standing right next to us when someone didn’t have a pen.  He asked if anyone had a sharpie.  At the same time, Tim told me he was sad because he didn’t catch the ball.  I handed a pen to RRS and asked him if he would re-throw the ball to Tim so he could try to catch it again.

Of course, he would.  He signed the girl’s baseball and then grabbed Tim’s baseball, walked all the way across the warning track, and tossed it to him again.  And Tim caught it!  It was a great moment made possible by one incredibly nice Aussie.

I should mention that at some point during these exchanges with RRS, I told him that it was excellent that he was No. 18 and I mentioned that I was No. 18 when I played baseball.  In fact, I am still to this day No. 18 in my softball league.

He asked me why I liked 18.  I didn’t have a good answer.  I just do.  I think the genesis of it was that I just thought it was a cool looking number on the back of Darryl Strawberry’s jersey back in the day.  He didn’t mention why he picked 18, but I later read on his (now inactive) blog that the M’s just gave him the number and he thought it was cool because the best pitcher on a team in Japan is usually No. 18.  I have no clue if that is true, but I do note that Diasuke Matsuzaka wears No. 18.  (I just found this blog entry on this topic).

Anyway, lets fast forward to March 2010.  Spring Training was in full swing.  I was busy planning out our 2010 baseball season.  One of the topics on my list was to figure out my 2010 game uniform.  If you haven’t noticed, I wore essentially the exact same thing to every game in 2009:  green cargo shorts, button up M’s jersey, M’s official 2009 game undershirt, and white/blue M’s hat).  I was wondering if I should switch it up for 2010.  I think I must have been watching an M’s spring training game on MLBNetwork at the time with RRS pitching or maybe I was watching an internet video clip interview of RRS.  Whatever I was watching, I got a flat out ridiculous idea.

In my defense, it was probably really late at night and I was probably really tired.  But whatever the reason, I typed out the following letter to RRS:

RRS letter3-8-10.jpgThe next day, I went to package up the letter in an envelope and send it off to the Mariners spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona.  A little embarrassed, I showed it to my wife and we agreed there was a essentially a 100% chance that I would never hear anything from RRS in response to the letter.

I mailed it off, didn’t tell anyone else about it, and went on living life.

Eventually, we met up with the Mariners in Baltimore for the first time of the 2010 season.  It was a damp May day with no BP.  So we had a lot of time to kill before the game started.   Tim was sitting on my shoulders as we stood in the CF seats just watching the activity around the ballpark.

Soon, RRS came walking from the dugout through CF.  He was on his way to the bullpen:



1a - RRS intended route.jpgI’d basically forgotten about the letter.  Not really forgotten that I sent it, but figured it was a moot point and a done deal.  I’d already noticed on TV that the Spring Training jerseys were also being used as the M’s BP jerseys.  So weeks earlier when I noticed that fact, I officially gave up any hope (not that I ever actually had any) of my letter bearing fruit.

I had just read on his twitter page (@hyphen18) that he’d buzzed his hair.  He was about 100 feet away when I called out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”   Without looking up, he laughed and took off his hat.  Then he put his hat back on and looked up at us.  Instantly…and I mean instantly (no hesitation whatsoever)…he pointed at us and exclaimed, “Oh, hey, man!

He changed his course and started walking over to us:

1b - RRS actual route.jpgAs he stood below us…

2 - hyphen18.JPG…we shared (approximately) the following exchange:

RRS:  You wrote me that letter (sizing up a sheet of paper with his fingers), right?

TODD:  Yeah!

RRS:  Sorry, I didn’t get back to you.  I didn’t know how to get a hold of you.

[NOTE:  If you are a professional baseball player, you should not feel obligated to apologize for not getting in touch with some random dude who asks (literally) for the shirt off of your back!  Seriously, RRS is ridiculously nice!]

RRS:  So, whats the deal?  I mean, do you still want it?

TODD:  ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!?  Of course, I do!  Oh, my gosh.  Are you serious!?  I sent the letter but never thought there was any chance you would actually say yes!  I mean the letter was ridiculous!

RRS:  Oh, no.  No problem, man.

[NOTE:  This conversation had a very similar vibe to the “could you throw Tim that baseball” discussion.  The vibe was almost like, “Hey, you asked for my jersey, of course I’m gonna give it to you.  Why would you ever doubt it?”].

RRS:   Okay.  Well, where are you going to be?

TODD:  (not really understanding the question)  I don’t know, here?  Wherever you need me to be?

RRS:  Will you be in Seattle at all?

TODD:  Yeah, but not until the very end of the season.  We’re coming in for the last series of the season to be there in case Griff retires.

[NOTE:  I really wanted to be at his final game, and this actually ended up being the last time we saw Griff play].

RRS:  Why don’t we meet up there?  I only have one of them.  So I can’t give it to you or I won’t have one.  But if we’re in Seattle I can just get a new one.

TODD:  Oh, yeah.  I noticed they are your BP jerseys.

RRS:  Yeah.  So I need it for BP.  But I can just get a new one if we’re in Seattle.

We chatted a little more, but I can’t really remember what exactly we said.

About half an hour later…

2 - tim and RRS 5-11-10.JPG…we ran into each other in the infield and RRS posed for another picture with Tim and we chatted again briefly.

After this game, I was estatic.  WOW!  Ryan Rowland-Smith said he would give me his jersey!  I mean, that’s ridiculous.  I couldn’t wait!  Ah, I wasn’t going to be in Seattle until the end of the season!

I decided I should make this as easy as possible for RRS.  Ideally, I wanted to get it straight from him at the ballpark.  But that could be complicated.  So I sent him another letter thanking him for being so incredibly nice and generous and awesome.  I included a stamped return envelope (a big one) in case he just wanted to mail the jersey.  I also gave him a list of all of the Mariners games we would be in attendance for over the rest of the season.

Within one week from mailing that letter, my wife called me at work to let me know that I got a big envelope with my own writing on it.  I couldn’t wait to get home that night!

Care to guess what was in that package?  Yep, my new official Ryan Rowland-Smith AUTOGRAPHED spring training / batting practice jersey…

mail from RRS.jpg…AMAZING!

The jersey, by the way, is HUGE!  Size 52!  RRS is 6’3″ and I am a mere 5’11”.  He needs a lot more fabric to cover his frame!  If untucked, the jersey is like a dress on me.

Here are some screen shots of RRS wearing the jersey during spring training 2010:

spring training.jpgAnd here I am playing the role of RRS while pitching to Tim in our backyard:

june training.jpgI’ve had the jersey about a week and a half now and I still cannot believe it.  Who has ever thought of writing to a professional baseball player and asking for his jersey?  And who has ever heard of it ACTUALLY WORKING!?

By the way, the jersey has a few small scuffs on the bottom on one side.  I think its cool that it shows some actual “wear-and-tear.”  When I opened it, my wife asked, “Is it all sweaty and dirty smelling?”  The Answer:  No.  It was washed and (as my wife and I have referred to it) “Mariner fresh” smelling!

THANK YOU, RYAN ROWLAND-SMITH!   (And not just for the jersey, but for being such a down-to-earth, genuine, nice guy).  Best of luck to you for a long and successful career, hopefully all with the Mariners!

UPDATE:

In a C&S Hall of Fame first, Ryan Rowland-Smith has issued a brief (140 characters or less) induction acceptance speech via his twitter page:

“Thank you Cook and Son for my induction into their hall of fame! http://alturl.com/753w enjoy the jersey.”

Why don’t I just show you it?  Here you go:

hyphen18 twitter.jpgA very kind gesture, but all the thanks go to RRS.  And a big congratulations for a strong outing yesterday — see the box score here.  Hopefully this outing (five innings, 4 hits and 1 earned run) proves to be the first building block to a successful final four months of the season.

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