Results tagged ‘ San Francisco Giants ’

GFS 2011 Game 4 – Giants at Braves (8/17/11)

On August 16th, we woke up and headed north to Dahlonega, Georgia to spend some time with my Dad’s aunt Eris.   I haven’t seen Eris since my wedding in 2003 and, of course, Tim had never met her before.

Over the previous couple days, my Dad had mentioned numerous times to Tim that we would go panning for gold when we visited Eris.  Dahlonega is home to the Consolidated Gold Mines.  I didn’t know what to expect, it was totally awesome.

We started out panning for go:

We each found tiny bits of gold in our pans of sand.  But a tiny bit of gold is all it took — Tim officially got gold fever!  GOLD!!!

Panning was fun.  But the real deal was the gold mine tour.  If you are ever anywhere near Dahlonega, stop in at the Consolidated Gold Mines and “Sleepy John” will take you one an
amazing tour deep below the surface of the earth.

We went down, down, down…

…into huge rock-walled caverns.

This was like old-timey movies.  Little train tracks through dark and muddy tunnels:

Sleepy John was a fountain of gold mine knowledge.  This mine has tons of cool stories.  It was sealed off and filled with water for approximately 80 years.  It has old-fashion drills poking out of the walls where the metal drills fused permanently inside the rock walls.  There is a turn-of-the-century motorized driller that was in place under water all of those long 80 years and still works – when they fire it up at 20% power it rattles the ears like crazy.

But the drills were nothing.  The real noise came from the dynamite blasts exploding in all of those holes the miners were drilling.  In the picture below to the right…

…Tim and I are hiding in a side tunnel off of the main tunnel where the miners would hide to avoid the shock waves from the dynamite explosions.

After the gold mine tour, we relaxed, went for a swim, and then had dinner out with Eris and my Dad’s cousin Karen and her husband Mike.  The next morning (August 17, 2011),
we had breakfast, went for another swim, did some laundry, said our good-byes to Eris, and drove back down to Atlanta.

In the afternoon, we were back at Turner Field for another battle between the Giants and  Braves.  On our way to the gates, we stopped to get Tim’s pitcher with Phil Niekro…

…and Warren Spahn.

Upon the ballpark, we headed to the section 143 in RCF right next to the Braves bullpen.  The Braves were just beginning to hit, some position players and pitchers were playing catch down the RF line.  We were in the first row right next to the bullpen when I noticed the pounding the bullpen roof has taken over the years:

This roof covers the entrance way to the bullpen.  The bullpen bench is elevated behind this roof, and the actual bullpen is behind the bench.  A few minutes later, a Braves lefty launched a homerun into the Braves bullpen.  It hit hard off of the fence directly behind the bench, and then it bounced back toward the field, and landed on that roof.  It must have had tons of top spin because it hit the roof and spun back toward the bench.  It was bouncing on a diagonal toward us.  I reached over the railing as far as I could, but it was just a couple inches out of my reach.

The ball bounced into the bullpen bench area where I bullpen attendant guy grabbed it, denied another guy’s request for the ball and pointed out Tim:  “Gotta give it to the kid!”

Here is Tim showing off the baseball (with a mouth full of water):

Thanks, bullpen guy!

The seats in RF aren’t open for the first half hour.  But we wanted to get over there because Tim Hudson was over there.  We have a goal of getting a ball from a “Tim.”

I looked at my cellphone and saw it was about 5 minutes until the rest of the stadium would open.  We headed into the concourse so we could be the first ones to run into RF.  But the guy watching the gate that blocks the RF concourse couldn’t let  us go until his supervisor radioed and gave him the “all clear.”  Turns out the supervisor forgot about RF and we ended up waiting about 10 minutes before they let us (and about 20 other people) into the rest of the stadium.

We headed over to the RF side of the bullpen toward the back of the section.  Bullpen coach Eddie Perez and bullpen catcher Alan Butts were walking around in the bullpen.  Perez walked over to the RCF side of the bullpen and pointed out a ittle girl standing up above with her family.  After he got her attention, he tossed her an unsolicited baseball.  He then walked around a bit more – I have no clue what he was doing walking back and forth in there, maybe he couldn’t make  up his mind what he was going to do next.  I pulled out the booklet they gave us upon entering the stadium and confirmed that his first name was Eddie.  Then when he walked by below us, I asked him if he could toss a baseball to Tim.  I knew he didn’t have one on him…but he just seemed like he might hook us up given the unsolicited toss up to the little girl.

Eddie held up his empty hands and said, “Sorry, don’t have one.  Wait, later!”  He then walked down into the bench and stairway area at the front of the bullpen. I figured that was that.  But five seconds later, Perez yelled to get our attention and then held this baseball…

…above his head.

Then he headed out to the field and hung out with Roger McDowell:

Thanks, Eddie!

I was pretty sure that Tim Hudson and all of the guys standing out there had seen Tim get the baseball from the bullpen attendant and/or from Perez so I didn’t think we had any
chance at getting a toss-up from Hudson.  So we decided to head around toward foul territory.

As we approached the RF foul pole, I got this panoramic view of Turner Field from the first row of section 135:

We planned to walk all the way around to LF foul territory in the front row of the infield seats.

I took this panorama from section 117…

…which is one section past the 1B bullpen.

Then they stopped us and made us head up to the cross-aisle when we reached the dugout.  Apparently, you can only go down in the seats between the dugouts if you have a ticket down there.  Several stadiums have that rule, and I think it is silly.

Anyway, the usher who made us head up to the cross-aisle was from Washington (and I was wearing my University of Washington shirt – in a final attempt to entice Tim Lincecum to
toss Tim a baseball).  The usher was a big fan of my shirt.  In fact, he was a U-Dub alum.  So we chatted for a few minutes before continuing on our way toward LF.  He was a very nice guy, as are all of the people who work at Turner Field.

As we were circling around toward the 3B side, the Giants were just starting to stir by their dugout.  Shortly, Tim Lincecum popped out of the dugout and started to play catch in shallow left field.  We found a nice front row spot right behind him:

When he finished playing catch, he partner tossed the baseball back to the bucket and we decided to head out toward CF.  Then something funny happened, as I exited the first row, I looked back to watch Tim follow me and I spotted something…

…(that is a little rawing of my eye) sitting under the seats right we had been standing.  It was a baseball!  It was tucked under the seat up against the
concrete step that raises the second row above the first.  How odd. But we’ll take it!

On our walk through the LF concourse on our way to CF, Tim posed with the Braves Statue of Liberty and a big Braves baseball:

Centerfield was rather uneventful.  Tim Lincecum, unlike the rest of his teammates, actually had fun again.  He saw my Huskies t-shirt and gave us a wave.  But that was it.  He tossed a few baseballs into the crowd, including a two somewhat near us, but they were random tosses with no specifically intended recipient on the other end.

Actually, CF wasn’t completely uneventful.  Tim and I set a personal record when we both separately failed to snag the same baseball.  Some unknown Giants batter hit a ball to the
warning track that bounced up directly to me.  It went out of view for a split second as it bounced and then hopped low over the fence.  It was right to me.  I mean RIGHT to me.  But it handcuffed me, clanked off of the heel of my glove and fell down into the gap.  I felt completely ridiculous for botching the catch.

Two minutes later, a Braves employee walked through the gap, grabbed the ball and called up to Tim.  Tim was wearing his glove, but made absolutely no effort to catch it.  Inexplicably,
he just watched the ball sail right by his face.  It bounced next to Tim and a 20-something guy grabbed it.  The usher yelled at him to give it to Tim, but he didn’t hear him.  That was cool though.  The guy was super excited to get the baseball and he was already showing it off to his girlfriend.  It was all for the best.  While I would have liked to catch the ball off the bat, I didn’t really want to get a ball tossed to us right in front of Lincecum.

A few minutes later, a 40-something guy scrambled for a homerun ball and then came over and gave it to Tim.  It was very nice of him.  But we don’t count balls from fans.  I knew someone else would appreciate the ball more than us.  So, when we visited the CN kids play area…

…I kept my eyes open.

While Tim was playing, a little kid who was probably 2-3 walked by with his mom and dad.  He was wearing a cool little glove.  I asked his dad if he’d been able to get his son a baseball during BP.  And when he said no, I unloaded the fan ball on him.  Of course, I explained that it was a BP homer by one of the Giants (which, indeed, it was).  The kid was
super-excited to have it, and I was happy to unload it.  It was win-win!

I have no clue what you call this thing:

But Tim loved it.  It was a room with black lights and all of these doors projected on the walls.  The different doors would open randomly and the kids would chase the characters
that would pop out of the doors.

Tim spent most of the time running around the cartoony-inside play area attractions, but he took a few minutes to wait through a relatively long line and take a quality hack on
the whiffleball diamond:

Before the game started, I headed up to the bar/patio above the seats in RCF and got this  panorama:

We then got some nachos…

…and reported to our seats in section 151, where this was our view:

Our seats were right on the aisle along the RCF side of the batters’ eye.   One of the closest players to our seats was 2010 post-season surprise standout Cody Ross:

Due to a combination of distance from home plate and lighting, I really didn’t get anything good in the way of action shots.  Both teams scored one run in the first inning.  The Giants
scored on a double by Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval.  And then future Hall of Famer, Larry “Chipper” Jones delivered…

…and RBI walk.

The Giants took the lead in the a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of singles by Orlando Cabrera and Eli Whiteside and a pair of sac-flies by Matt Cain and Cody Ross.  The score would remain 5-1 until the ninth inning.

It was time for ice cream.  Tim and I wandered around looking for ice cream helmets.  On our way out of the CF seating area, we got Tim’s picture in front of the play area…

…and above the Braves bullpen:

We made an interesting discovery in the concourse behind the RF foul seats:  if Tim got dippin’ dots instead of ice cream, he could get an extra cool blue and red Braves ice cream helmet.  He’d never had dippin’ dots before (well, maybe once at a fair or something, but never at a game) but he was game for trying them.  They had a nice selection of flavors.  Tim picked chocolate mint…

…and he loved them.

As we walked down the aisle with toward our seats with Tim’s dippin’ dot helmet, we saw something very bizarre.  A guy was sitting on the backside of the outfield wall in the batters’ eye area while a girl laid in the grass…

…a few minutes later, she started doing her make-up.  Soon enough, another girl joined them.  I have no clue what the guy’s role was, but during the next inning break, the girls ran out onto the warning track with checkered flags…

…and acted as the finish line for a race of some big tools.  My guess is that the guy was there to open and shut the door through the outfield wall.

Anyway, Tim was rooting hard for the power drill to win, but the hammer took the checkered flag.

The girls and the tools then walked through the batters’ eye grass (and sand where the grass had been removed to be transplanted to the field) and through a secret door below our
section of seats…

…, but before ducking into the tunnel the hammer did a big lunging dive and his hammer custom flew off his body and landed on the ground.  The guy then grabbed the custom and left.  It was an interesting little behind the scenes that you only get if you sit right on the batters’ eye wall.

Here’s a random picture that I’m including just for the heck of it:

I don’t know when my Dad took it during the game, or why Tim is making that “I’m an extreme cool guy” face.  The real reason I am including this picture is to point out my bracelet.
Reviewing all of our game pictures, I have worn that “cause” bracelet since approximately May 2008, and to almost 100 MLB baseball games.

It’s a “Free the West Memphis Three” bracelet.  It’s a terrible, terrible story all around.  It if you don’t know about it, check out the WM3 website and watch the incredibly disturbing (on many, many levels) documentary “Paradise Lost.”

Anyway, while I would eventually wear the bracelet for the rest of the Roadtrip and until we returned home, this was actually the last baseball game we would attend before the WM3
were, in fact, freed.  The news came out the next day, and they were actually released from prison after 18 years on August 19th before our first game at Tropicana Field.  So my wrist is now bare and looking for a new cause to support.

Back to the game.

The Braves have a guy who runs a lot of trivia games and other entertainment segments on the big screen between innings.  Late in around the sixth or seventh inning of this game, the Braves posed the following question to a contestant named Holly:

All signs are that Holly Brown said “yes”!

In the seventh inning, this beer vendor wandered by and stood in front of us for a few seconds peddling his wares:

I don’t remember his exact words, but he seemed so southern and gentlemanly as he made his “last call” announcement that he could have been straight out of a movie – hmm…if the made movies about southern gentleman beer vendors that is.

Since I wasn’t getting any good action shots, I figured I better at least get a picture of Chipper playing third:

Late in the game, my Dad took Tim for a walk.  They then returned requesting a penny.  Tim likes to put pennies through those penny-smashing-souvenir machines.  My Dad had one penny on him, but they accidentally pressed the wrong design on it!  They did the Braves logo penny, but Tim wanted the Turner Field penny.  Luckily, I had some loose change and, as a result, Tim ended up with two souvenir Braves pennies:

When they were out on their penny run, my Dad got a dippin’ dots helmet of his own.  After he finished his helmet, Tim and my Dad posed for some mini-helmet pictures:

And then Tim decided he needed some pictures of his water bottle wearing a helmet too:

Between innings, we asked the guy behind us to take a picture of the three of us.  We’d asked someone to take out picture after our first Braves game on the trip, but he ended up taking a picture of my Dad’s foot!  So we needed a good picture of the three of us at Turner Field.

The guy was too intimidated by technology to use my digital camera, so he passed the buck to his teenage son.  And the son delivered a nice shot:

The Braves were trying hard to mount a rally and get back into the game.  Whenever the Braves need a rally, they break out the Tomahawk Chop.  And you can’t do the Tomahawk Chop without some drum beating.  So where does the drum beating soundtrack come from?  Canned drum beating, you ask?  Nah.  The Braves wouldn’t do that.  Instead, they have the biggest drum I have ever seen out in LCF:

In the ninth inning, Tim and I decided to head over to the Braves bullpen.   As the Giants came to bat still leading 5-1, this was our view from the back of section 143:

And this was our view of Jason Heyward:

Just below us to our left, the Braves relievers were passing time on the bench…

…while Eddie Perez chatted up someone in the stands.

When he wasn’t chatting with fans, Perez was sitting on the far right side of the bench and was filling out pitching charts and other paperwork (it can be seen sitting on the green
platform thing in front of the bench in that last picture).

We decided to relocate closer to the field so we could get a better view of the non-action in the bullpen.  Tim got his picture with the relievers hanging out behind him:

When we were down there, we saw that Perez had a big, fancy line-up card like the one we’d gotten in Texas earlier in the season.  We were all set to ask him for it after the game, but we discovered that he’d pre-arranged to give to a lady over on the other side of the bullpen.

As for the ninth inning, it was very exciting.  The Giants scored two runs on sacrifice flies by Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff in the top of the inning to make it a 7-1 game, a blow out in the making.  But the Braves came out fighting in the bottom of the ninth and they made it interesting.  They scored four runs all with two outs.  Freddy Freeman led off with a single.  He then took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout.  Freeman scored the Braves second run of the game on a two-out single by Jason Heyward.  Michael Bourn then hit a weak pop up to short stop that should have ended the game.  Instead, Orlando Cabrera recorded his second error of the game and Julio Lugo scored the Braves third run.  Martin Pradio then followed with a 2-unearned run (zero RBI) double scoring Heyward and Bourn.

It was looking like it was going to be another amazing comeback like our last game.  Tim and I were pulling for it to happen.  But then Brian McCann struck out to end the
game.

Final score, Giants 7 over Braves 5:

On our way out of the ballpark, we grabbed a stack of (unfolded) Braves pocket schedules, Tim got his picture with Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s retired 44 outside the CF gate…

…, and I took a shot of the bright Turner Field sign that is on the outside of the stadium on the opposite side of the LF upper deck seats:

I would have preferred another comeback Braves win.  But all-in-all, it was a great night at a great ballpark.

The next day, we had a long drive back down to Tampa, followed by a nice dinner out at Tijuana Flats, and a relaxing swim in the hotel pool before heading to the airport to pick-up
a Roadtrip guest who would be joining us for three Mariners games at Tropicana Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
23/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
18 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2)).
62 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training** divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

GFS 2011 Game 3 – Giants at Braves (8/15/11)

After our last game in Miami, we drove through driving rain, thunder and lightning storms to a hotel in Jacksonville, Florida.  On Monday morning, August 15, 2011, we had a much more peaceful drive into Georgia…

…and to our hotel in Atlanta.

After lunch and a little bit of relaxing, we headed to Turner Field for our first of two games between the Giants and Braves.  With this game, Tim and I closed out the N.L. East – we have now been to games at Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium and Turner Field.  Following the A.L. West earlier in the season, the N.L. East is the second of the sixth MLB divisions that Tim and I have closed out.

We were a few minutes  late to the stadium because we misjudged traffic a bit so we hustled to get into the ballpark.  We did, however, take time to get Tim’s picture with two statues of all-time great and living legend, Henry “Hank” Aaron…

…and non-Brave but Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb:

Upon entering the ballpark, my Dad went off to look at hats in the team store and Tim and I reported to section 150 in CF:

Two funny things happened right when we arrived in CF.  First, the normally chained off TV camera area in the batters’ eye area was open (but Tim refused to walk out on it for a picture)…

…the Braves were using a pitching machine for the first round of BP.  I’ve never seen that before on a big league field.

Only the outfield is open for the fans during the first half hour of batting practice.  There was no shade and Tim wasn’t a big fan of it out in CF.  So right when the rest of the stadium opened, we hit the concourse, got this picture with Braves Mickey…

…and relocated to a shady spot down the LF foul line:

As we watched the Braves take BP, I spotted my Dad all the way across the field by the RF foul pole:

In that picture, he had just caught a baseball from Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca and he is looking up Tosca’s name in a little line-up card booklet that the ushers gave us when we entered the ballpark.

Meanwhile, we were having no luck in LF.  A Brave named “Vizcaino”…

…was shagging baseballs in LF but we had no clue about his first name.  Then I remembered that little booklet that as resting in my back pocket.  I had not even looked at it and I got the notion that I should check it out in case it could provide any assistance.  I pulled it out and found  the line-ups of both teams (with pictures of all of the Braves) and discovered that Vizcaino’s first name is “Adroys.”

Literally on the next baseball hit to him, Tim and I both called out, “Adroys!”  He looked over and tossed us the baseball.

Thanks, Adroys!

As we hung out in foul territory, Tim went crazy with the spray bottle (this picture was taken before he unloaded the spray bottle all over himself):

We watched Tim Lincecum warm up down the LF line…

…and a bunch of Giants BP from this same spot.  But the Giants are not a very fan friendly bunch – or at least they haven’t been during this Roadtrip.  So we were having no luck down the LF line.  Toward the end of BP, I noticed that Tim Lincecum was actually having some fun during BP out in CF.  So we headed over there.  Lincecum was the first Giant we witnessed actually interacting with fans and tossing baseballs into the crowd.  It would have been great to be on the receiving
end of one of those baseballs, but it didn’t happen.

So BP ended with one baseball in our backpack and one baseball in my Dad’s backpack.

Before heading off to check out Turner Field, Tim jumped into a funny little nook in the LCF and did his best statue pose:

Tim was super-excited to check out the kids’ play area that we passed by on our way into the stadium.  But on our way, we ran into the Braves mascot, Homer:

Homer was hanging out in a little courtyard’ish area directly behind the scoreboard.  You can see that area behind Tim and Homer in that last picture.  And on the right side of this double picture…

…you can see what the back of the scoreboard looks like.  The back-of-the-scoreboard scoreboard is a clutch move.  The only other place I’ve seen it done is at
Citi Field.  Well done, Braves (and Mets).  To the left if that last picture, Tim is standing in front of the Cartoon Network (CN) play area.  I am assuming that this means that Ted Turner owns CN.  Anyway, it was very different any other play area we have seen at a MLB ballpark, but the CN play area was a ton of fun for Tim.

He particularly liked this little station where he could throw balls at moving skeletons (that he happened to always refer to as Pirates):

Among other things (that we’ll save for our next entry), the CN play area also features a tree/boat to climb in and slide down (left)…

…weird electrical thingys (middle), and two whiffle ball fields.

After a while, I had to rip Tim out of the play area or we might have missed the entire game.  It was time to explore.  We headed from the play area to section 151:

And then we continued on the section 139 in the RF side of the Braves bullpen:

Behind the concourse in the RF corner, there is a switch back ramp all the way up to the upper deck.  Tim loves long switch back ramps.  So we had a long way up to the top of the stadium.  On our way up, we noticed that the players parking lot was below the ramp:

And it appeared that several guys were washing some of the players’ cars.

The ramp dumped us out in the concourse behind section 431:

We were at the RF foul pole, but the upper deck seats continue part way into RF so before heading toward home plate, we moseyed out to the last upper deck section in RF, section 437:

Looking down from section 437, we had an excellent view of Tim Hudson warming up in the Braves bullpen:

While doubling back toward the foul pole in the concourse, we noticed something very interesting – an Evacuation Route sign:

These signs are all over the place at Turner Field.  Anyway, back to our walking tour.  We swung around home plate and out to left field stopping along the way to take panoramic views of Turner Field from section 421…

…and section 405:

We stopped behind the plate to get this picture of Tim and Turner Field:

And then Tim scooted out of frame and we got this panorama from section 402:

Heading down the 3B line, we got this panorama from section 416:

And then we tried (but pretty much failed at) something new – a myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt bonus picture looking down at the “Turner Field” sign painted on the top of the 3B dugout:

Well, it sort of worked, but the sign was too blurry for my liking.

Continuing on our walk out to LF, we ran across some Coca-Cola cannons:

My Dad and I had been discussing whether they would have Coke or Pepsi at Turner Field.  It seems like most stadiums have Pepsi products.  When given the choice, we’re a Coke family.  I figured the Braves would have Coke products because Coke is based in Atlanta, and I have previously had Coke vs. Pepsi discussions with some Georgians and they would not even consider holding a Pepsi product let along drinking one.  Anyway, the Coke cannons tipped us off to our answer:  Turner Field is Coca-Cola territory.

From the concourse area by the Coke cannons, we had a great view of the Braves retired numbers hanging from the upper deck area in LF:

Let’s see, 6 is for Bobby Cox, 47 is for Tom Glavine, 31 is for Greg Maddux, 3 is for Dale Murphy, 35 is for Phil Niekro, 44 is for Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, 41 is for Eddie Mathews, 21 is for Warren Spahn, and 42 is for Jackie Robinson.

We continued on our way, and took this panorama from the concourse area above section 324:

Looking down from above section 324 (or thereabouts), we had a nice view of the interesting set up at the front of the visitors bullpen:

The relievers sit on top of the bullpen roof!

Finally, we made it all the way out to the end of the concourse in LF and we got this panorama from above section 336:

The 400-level extends all the way out to where I took that last picture, but there are no seats.  Instead, there is a random fake dugout, home plate, first base line, first base, and pitcher’s mound that kids can sit in, run on and fake-pitch from.  Here is a four part picture of Tim having some fake-field fun up there:

Behind all of this stuff, there is a nice lookout over downtown Atlanta, and some oversized Coke bottle chairs from which you can take in the view:

It was getting close to game time, so we started heading toward our seats.  But before leaving the upper deck, we headed up to the tippy-top of section 422 for one more upper deck panorama:

I was confused about the location of our seats.  They were in the “200 level,” which I thought might be the club level just up the field level seats.  But as we walked the main field level concourse (I say “main” because there is a lower tunnel concourse that is also a “field level” concourse), I noticed there were signs for sections in the 200s.  Here is a panorama from the concourse behind section 208:

It turns out that what we would traditionally call the “field level” is split into two parts – below the cross aisle and above the cross aisle.  The 100 level seats are below the cross aisle, the 200 level seats are above the cross aisle and the 300 level is that club level that I was thinking might be where we were sitting for this game.

We were still making our way to our seats when the game started.  We arrived at our seats in section 207 just in time to see Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval foul a ball off of his ankle and hit the deck writhing in pain:

Of course, we were late to our seats because we had stopped to get nachos on our way through the concourse:

Tasty nachos in Atlanta.  And the food service people (in fact every employee at Turner Field) are incredibly nice.  Everyone greets you with “Welcome to Braves
Country!”  And I mean EVERYONE!  You run into an usher in the ninth inning and you’re going to be welcomed to Braves Country.  But in additional to all of the “welcoming,” everyone was just incredibly nice and very much concerned about making sure you are having a good experience at Turner Field.  High marks for
everyone at Turner Field!

Despite a hit and an error, Tim Hudson escaped the first inning unscathed.  We were officially hoping to witness our second “Tim” pitching victory of the Roadtrip at this game.

Between the top and bottom of the first, we got this panorama from our seats in section 207:

In the bottom of the first, Brian McCann helped out the get-Tim-a-victory cause by hitting a solo homerun.  I missed the swing, but got a nice “trotting” shot of McCann:

This was the first game after Dan Uggla broke his (I think) 33-game hitting streak.  Uggla was looking to start a new streak when he followed McCann’s homer, but instead he struck out in an ugly, and I mean UGLY, fashion:

Half a second after I took that picture, Uggla was sitting on the dirt facing the umpire.  That pitch twisted him up like nobody’s business.

Leading 1-0 in the top of the second, Tim Hudson…

…gave up a leadoff single to the well-traveled Orlando Cabrera.

Between Cabrera and Eli Whiteside, I got this picture of the Braves very impressive group of Division, League and World Series Championship pennants:

NTS!

On this pitch…

Timmy H. (as I hope he was referred to in pre-school) coaxed Whiteside to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

For the second day in a row, I had good luck with getting some action shots.  Here, Jason Heyward hits a towering pop up…

…and Brandon Belt waits under the baseball (circled in red) ready to make the catch).  My action shots aside, the highlight of the second inning was that the Braves extended their lead to 2-0 when Jose Constanza hit a single to LF scoring Freddie Freeman.

We were in the last row of section 207 (almost right below a big TV camera).  After he went to get some dinner of his own, I got this shot of my Dad…

…waiting in the concourse while the current hitter finished his at bat so he could head down the stairs (all one or two steps that it takes to get to the back row) and
rejoin us.

I have no clue who hit this ball, but here is Constanza camped under a pop fly…

…ready to make a put out.  Easily, my best action shot of the game.  Pop flies are hard to capture, because you never know when they will happen.

The Giants (much to my dismay) mounted a comeback in the top of the fourth.  It all started on a bizarre play.  Leadoff batter Aubrey Huff hit a line drive
right at Braves center fielder Michael Bourn.  The flight of the ball fooled Bourn and he jumped at the last second.  The ball ricocheted off of Bourn’s glove and then off of his face before falling to the ground.  Miraculously, Bourn was able to keep Huff at first.  But the error eventually lead to two unearned runs on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Cabrera and Whiteside.

In the middle innings, Grandpa volunteered to take Tim back to the play area for a bit.  All that playing built up Tim’s ice cream appetite so we invested in a pair of ice cream helmets:

The Giants took at 3-2 lead with a leadoff homerun by Nate Schierholtz in the top of the sixth.  And they extended it to a 4-2 lead with a leadoff homer by Mike Fontenot in the top of the eighth.

Tim and I decided to head down to the cross-aisle and take another shot at the Turner Field bonus picture:

That one worked better.  While we were at it, we got a picture of Tim and the field from the cross aisle:

And then, back in our seats, we got a picture of Tim, his trusty side-kick and stuffed turtle, Shelly, and the field:

In the ninth, we decided to head back down to the cross aisle in an attempt to make a go for a post-game umpire baseball.  On our walk over to the 3B side, we got panoramas from the cross aisle behind section 101…

…and section 108:

The Giants were still winning 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth.  It was impossible to get into section 108 to try to get into position at the umpires’ tunnel.  So we continued to hang out in the cross aisle.

Brian Wilson and his extremely played out and over-exposed beard came in to shut the door on the Braves.  But the fans weren’t going to let it happen
without a fight.  They went into full Tomahawk Chop mode:

The place was loud as could be.

Constanza led off with a single.  The Tomahawk Chopping grew louder.

Eric Hinske followed with a walk.  Louder still.

Julio Lugo came in to run for Hinski.

Constanza and Lugo advanced to 3B and 2B on a bunt by Michael Bourn.

The crowd when crazy some more when Martin Prado singled to LF scoring Constanza – Giants 4-3 with the tying run on 3B.

I was all set for Brian McCann…

…to win the game with an extra base hit.  But instead Wilson walked McCann.

Dan Uggla couldn’t get it done.  He struck out swinging…but he did manage to stay on his feet this time.

Finally, it was rookie Freddy Freeman’s turn at bat.  Down by one, two outs, two on, and with a full count: it was “go” time!

I was holding Tim so we could bolt down the stairs toward the umpire’s tunnel upon the final swing of the game.  The stadium was going absolutely crazy.  Screaming, hooping, hollering, and Tomahawk Chopping galore.  And at the climactic moment, Tim laid down his head on my shoulder and
the lights were completely out as Freeman connected on a slow grounder up the middle (as photographed by my Dad)…

…Lugo and Martin Prado hurried around 3B scoring the tying and winning runs.  Braves win! (But sadly not a Tim Hudson win).

I could tell Freeman’s hit was gonna do the trick.  It was a perfect slow developing play.  By the time the winning run was crossing the plate, we were five rows from the umpire tunnel.  We would have been right there ready to ask “Cowboy” Joe West for a post-game umpire baseball.  But every row was still totally packed.  It was absolutely impossible to get within even ten feet of the tunnel.  And Cowboy Joe sailed by without distributing a single baseball.

So, no umpire baseball for us.  But we did get a great view of the post-game celebration.  And we go this panorama from the front of section 108:

A few minutes later, Giants reporter Pedro Gomez walked by and started to pack up his stuff:

Before meeting up with my Dad to walk to the car, I got someone to take this hilarious picture of us (and Tim managed to half open his eyes):

All-in-all, it was a great day at a great ballpark.

The next day, we would have a day off from baseball, an awesome tour of an amazing old mine in Dahlonega, GA, and a very nice visit with my Dad’s aunt.

And then we’d be right back here at Turner Field on August 17th.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
22/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
17 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (1)).
59 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 3 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training** divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

GFS 2011 Game 2 – Giants at Marlins (8/14/11)

On August 14, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in Miami, Florida.  We had another Giants vs. Marlins game on tap for the afternoon.  But, first, we had some business to attend to…beach business.  We hopped into our rental car and headed to Miami Beach.  South Beach to be exact:

I’m not a big beach fan, but South Beach was awesome.  The water was perfect and we had a blast.  We arrived early and by the time the beach was really starting to get hopping, we headed out.

It was time for our second and final game at Sun Life Stadium:

I was not expecting there to be batting practice so I was pleasantly surprised as the Marlins were running off of the field and the Giants were just beginning their stretching routine as we entered the seating bowl behind home plate.  We headed over to the Marlins dugout where a few players and coaches were still walking off of the field and into the dugout.

I’ve learned over the years that listening is key.  I had no clue who any of the remaining Marlins were.  But someone else did.  I heard a lady say hi to “Joe,” and then “Joe” walked over to chat with her.  I noticed that “Joe” had a baseball in his glove.  So when he finished talking to the lady, I called out, “Hey, Joe!”  He
walked over to say hi.  And soon enough, Joe’s baseball was in Tim’s hand.

By the way, “Joe” ended up being third base coach, Joey Espada.

Thanks, Joe!

I was ecstatic for us to finally get a baseball at Sun Life Stadium.

As we continued to stand around behind the dugout, I noticed that Marlins manager Jack McKeon was just below us chatting with a guy.  I waited until they had a natural break in their conversation (in fact, they even took a step or two away from each other for a moment) and then I held up the baseball from “Joe” and asked McKeon if he would sign the baseball for us.

McKeon held up one finger as if to say, “yep, in just a minute,” and then he re-engaged his conversation with the guy.  And unhappy looking (and quite large) Marlins stadium attendant…

…who was standing by McKeon on the field stepped toward us and barked with a menacing scowl: “He’s busy talking to someone right now.”  Of course, that is why we had patiently and politely waited for a natural break in McKeon’s conversation.

Anyway, despite the evil eye from the stadium attendant, McKeon did not seem to think we had done anything wrong.  After another thirty seconds of conversation, he looked up and put his hands out for me to toss him the baseball and our pen.  He signed the baseball, tossed it back and was on his way.

As the Giants started to hit, Tim and I headed out to deep RCF.  Tim is not a fan of the sun, and it was beating down pretty hard at this point, so he grabbed a shady seat at the back of the section…

…and watched as I snagged a BP homer off of the bat of a Giants lefty.  That ball landed in about the seventh row just as I approached and then rolled all the way down to the first row with me hoping the rows following it.  It hurt like crazy as I bashed shin-after-shin and knee-after-knee on the seats.

Shortly after getting that baseball, Tim and I decided to walk around a little bit.

We headed over to the LF foul corner and checked out the drop off created by the folded-up seats:

Nothing was going on over there, so we headed to the kids’ play area.  But when we reached the McDonald’s play area that we had visited the night before, we found that…

…it was gone.  But over by the batting cage, we found a batting tee and bouncy house that were a lot of fun for Tim:

After bouncing, we headed over to section 142 quickly to check out our seats for the game.  Then it was time for lunch.  On the way out of the seating bowl, I got this picture that shows Tim’s new give-away Marlins bag:

Our nacho lunch was much better than our nacho dinner from the night before because I invested $1.00 for some extra cheese:

And then it was time for the game, this was our view from section 142, row 4:

Tim and I decided that we wanted the Marlins to win this game.  So we were happy when Cody Ross grounded out to lead off the game for the Giants:

There was an unexpected guest hovering over this game – the Goodyear blimp:

Since we got a baseball (or two) during BP, we were excited to be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus point picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Here is our first attempt:

We tried again later and I decided to go with the second attempt instead of this one.

The night before, we were sitting right behind Mike Stanton and I was telling my Dad what a beast Stanton is.  Living in Seattle and not getting to many N.L. games, my Dad had never heard of Mike Stanton (well, not this Mike Stanton at least.  He had heard of the other less beastly Mike Stanton or maybe it was this Mike Stanton).

Tim and I saw Stanton hit at least three homeruns last season (including a monster upper deck shot in Philadelphia).  Well, make it one more:

Stanton hit this one to the absolute deepest part of CF at Sun Life Stadium.  And then there was nothing left to do but trot:

That put the Marlins up 1-0 at the end of the first.

In the bottom of the second we had a little excitement come our way.  We were in the fourth row between the Marlins dugout and the Marlins bullpen.  Our assigned seats were 5-6-7, with 7 being the closest to home plate.  Tim’s seat of choice is always seat number 5.  My Dad took seat 7.  So that naturally left me with seat 6.  But there was no one sitting to our left in 1-2-3-4, so I opted for seat 4 and the open route to the aisle so I could run for a foul ball in the general area.

What I didn’t expect was that a foul ball would come directly to us.

But when former-beloved-Mariner Mike Cameron came to the plate and put this swing…

…on the ball, that is exactly what happened.

The ball was a towering foul pop up that travelled directly to us off the bat.  It did not hook, it did not slice, it did not blow in the wind.  From the second it hit
the bat, it was plain as day obvious that this ball was destined to land right at seats 6-7 of row 4 in section 142.  I am an inch or two taller than my Dad and would have had the natural advantage if I was standing directly next to him in my assigned seat.  But instead I was blocked off by Tim (grandpa’s little helper!).  My Dad and I both put our gloves up next to each other.  Mine came down empty, and my Dad’s came down cradling this little beauty:

It is my Dad’s third foul ball of the season, but his first caught on the fly.

Aside from the foul ball potential, section 142 is a fun place to sit at Sun Life Stadium because it seems to be the entertainment hub of the ballpark.  D.J. Petey is set up in the “beach” section of the ballpark during the games and between innings he was constantly setting up games and other stuff right in front of us:

It is also an access point to the field for the mascots, dancers and other on field entertainers.  This game was Billy the Marlins birthday so there were about 15 different mascots on hand to celebrate.  At one point, about 6-7 mascots were right in front of us tossing shirts into the stands.  But mascots can’t throw very far!
So most of them all landed in the lower seats.  And I came away with this Marlins t-shirt:

An interesting thing about this game was that both starting pitchers’ names started with the letters “Vo”…

Ryan Vogelsong vs. Chris Volstad.  In the battle of the Vo’s, Vogelsong dominated.

This was one of my best games for getting action shots.  Here is a cool picture of Aaron Rowand just about to ground out:

The Marlins have a scantily-clad dance troop called the Mermaids…

…that also used section 142 as a main point of access to do their in-game entertaining.  Those Mermaids must have changed outfits about 3-4 times throughout the game.  And (as you can see in the picture above) whenever D.J. Petey did a contest, they had two Mermaids flank him and the contestant(s).

While I was busy catching that Marlins t-shirt above, my Dad and Tim were hiding away in the shady concourse.  When they returned, they were bearing gifts of ice cream:

Between innings at some point of the game, they did a little video tribute to Jack McKeon on the big screen in honor of this being the 2,000th game that he has managed in the Major Leagues:

I thought that was pretty cool to find out that we got Jack’s autograph at his 2,000th game.

Thanks again, Jack!

In order to keep a full roster of Mermaids ready for Major League action, the Marlins have a minor league (so to speak) dance crew in training, the Minnows:

These little gals are just 6-8 years and a Mermaid-twisted ankle away from getting called up to the Show!

Back to the action, Dwayne Wise turned around this pitch…

…for a harmless pop fly out to LF.

Like at ballhawkfest last month, Tim had a spray bottle full of water and was blasting himself in the face most of the day to stay cool.  Of course, he took the opportunity to spray down his hair and make a little mohawk:

In the top of the seventh inning with the Giants leading 4-1, Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop drilled Ryan Vogelsong in the back with a pitch.  Vogelsong was furious.  He slammed his bat to the ground like he was chopping wood with an axe.  I was super-excited at the possibility of getting one of the most difficult shots from the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – fake punching another fan in the stands while the players brawl in the background.  “Quick,” I said, “Tim, act like you’re punching Grandpa in the face!”

We did our part, but Vogelsong totally failed us.  The brawl just didn’t materialize.  So sad.

Here is a weird picture:

Can you tell what’s going on in that picture?  It is hard to tell.  You have to click to enlarge the photo.  Throughout most of the game there were about 50 dragonflies buzzing all around over our heads.  It was alike a Dragonfly convention.

Not only was section 142 a hot spot for D.J. Petey, the Mermaids, and the mascots, it was also home base for a cameraman.  Between almost every inning, the cameraman focused in on different fans in section 142 and put them up on the big screens at the end of both endzones – on in baseball terms, RF and the 3B line.  At one point, he caught staying himself in the face with his water sprayer…

…but right when I took a picture of the big screen, Tim turned around and looked at me with a big smile so all you could see on the big screen was the back of Tim’s head.

There were so many mascots all around that Tim just had to get his picture with one of them.  While he would have favored Billy the Marlin or the Miami Dolphins’ dolphin, his best opportunity involved Sebastian the Ibis from the University of Miami.  A little background is in order.

First, I have strongly disliked the Miami Hurricanes since the 1980s.  Actually, I’m pretty sure I have a lot of company.  It seems like everyone dislikes the Hurricanes.

Second, a couple months ago, Miami hired Al Golden, Jr. as its new head football coach.  Golden (or Cousin Al) is related to us through my wife’s family.  It is not like we’re so close that we are spending Thanksgiving with the Goldens.  But we are related.  Here is the situation as I have figured it out:  Tim’s great-great-great
grandparents (on Tim’s mom’s dad’s mom’s side) are Coach Golden’s great-grandparents (on his dad’s mom’s side).  In terms of generations, Coach Golden is on the same generational level as Tim’s grandpa (my wife’s dad, Kevin Gill a/k/a Poppy).  So, Poppy and Coach Golden share the same great grandparents.  Kevin’s mom is first cousins with Al Golden Sr. – their parents’ are sisters.  So that clears it all up, right?  Anyway, the family connection (despite the fact that Coach Al recently dumped my alma mater, Temple) has made it so I can at least stomach the Hurricanes a little bit, at least enough for Tim to get a picture with the Hurricanes mascot, Sebastian.

Anyway, there is a little handicapped access area just below section 142 (and running all the way to the LF foul corner).  Sebastian was hanging out just below the handicapped area in the field level seats below.  No one from up above can get down to those seats.  So Tim camped out on the stairs…

…waiting for Sebastian to wander by close enough for us to arrange a picture.

This is what it looked like just above the handicapped accessible area where we were waiting for Sebastian:

Eventually, Sebastian made his way down to us and posed for a picture with Tim:

And at the very same moment, D.J. Petey was running a “Hug Your Kids” segment with one of the cameramen right in front of section 142.  So after Tim posed for the picture with Sebastian, the big Ibis (which we kept referring to as a duck) picked up Tim and started hugging him and swinging him around like a ragdoll.  The
cameraman turned and the little scene was broadcast throughout Sun Life Stadium:

Tim thought it was hilarious!  In those pictures, he is looking at me and my Dad smiling and laughing with joy.  Ah, good times at Sun Life Stadium!

Late in the game, we were excited to see former Mariner Jose Lopez come to bat for the Marlins…

…he popped out on that swing.  It must have been his first at bat of the season because the scoreboard said he was batting .000 and had played in only one game, which I was thinking must be this game.

In the eighth or ninth inning, Tim and I headed over to section 156 to see if we could get an umpire baseball from Angel Hernandez.  We stopped at the top of section 156 to get this picture…

…and to look at this cricket:

By the way, as you can see two pictures above, Tim was wearing his University of Hawaii baseball shirt that he got from our friends from myGameBalls.com and MLBlogs, Todd and Tim Dixon, from Hawaii.  (Great names those guys have, eh?)  Tim loves his UH baseball and t-shirt.  And whenever I mention that we only have a couple more baseball stadiums to visit before we have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game, Tim also mentions, “But we haven’t been to the Rainbows stadium yet in Hawaii.”  So someday in the future, we’re going to have to Roadtrip to Hawaii to see the Rainbows.

The umpire tunnel was considerably less congested at this game.  There were two people in the front row on the outfield side of the tunnel and no one else was in the first 5-6 rows.  So we grabbed some seats in the first row one section over (in the orange seats just next to the off-limits blue seats).  Our plan was to bolt down the second row of blue seats and jump over to the first row next to the tunnel right when the game ended.

This is what our view looked like from the first row in section 101 (which is directly next to section 156 on the outfield side of section 156):

The night before, we saw Aaron Rowand ground out to Greg Dobbs in the ninth inning.  At this game, we saw Greg Dobbs fly out to Aaron Rowand in the ninth inning:

At this point, the Giants were leading the Marlins 5-2.  When we left section 142, my Dad had told us that he was going to stick around on the 1B side to see if he could get Mike Cameron’s autograph after the game.  I assumed he meant on the Mike Cameron foul ball he had caught earlier in the game. With the Marlins losing, I knew that the only way he would even have a chance to get Cammy’s autograph after the game was if (1) the Marlins came back to win the game or (2) the game ended with Cameron on base so he had to walk back to the dugout.

Well, on the Mike Cameron front, the stars were perfectly aligned for my Dad on this day.  In the bottom of the ninth, Cameron singled up the middle on this swing:

He would eventually make it to second base.

Jeremy Affeldt was warming up in the Giants bullpen…

…and eventually came into the game (instead of Brian Wilson) even though it was a save situation.

Tim was fully committed to the Marlins winning this game.  He gave his best “GO MARLINS” chant:

But his youthful exuberance was not enough, and the Marlins fell to the Giants by a final score of 5-2.

The game ended with Mike Cameron on second base, and the former-Seattle fan favorite (it is amazing how well Cameron fit in as a Mariner, particularly considering that he was replacing every Mariners fan’s favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.) stopped to sign a baseball for my Dad on his way back to the dugout:

I was slow on the camera trigger and only caught the above photo after Cameron had tossed the baseball back up to my Dad.  But I had a good excuse.  We were busy getting the third and final umpire ball tossed into the stands by Angel Hernandez.  That makes two years in a row that Angel Hernandez has given Tim a baseball on the GFS Roadtrip.  He might get a lot of flack for his actual umpiring work, but Angel is a-okay in our book!

Thanks, Angel!

After the game, an usher took this (would be excellent) photo of the three of us behind home plate:

Unfortunately, a single drop of rain landed directly on my lens.  The guy took two photos to make sure we got a good one, but both are marred by the rouge rain drop.

And our picture wasn’t the only thing the rain ruined.  The scoreboard in RF in the following panorama from the top of section 150 tells the sad story…

…Kids Run the Bases cancelled due to inclement weather.  Shortly after we got in the car and hit the road, the skies opened up and dumped a near-Biblical flood’s worth of water all over Florida.

So, with no Kids Run the Bases to cap our day at the ballpark, we simply took a follow-up photo for our myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Sun Life Stadium bonus picture…

…and then we hit the road.

Thanks, Sun Life Stadium!  Despite your many flaws, we had a lot of fun.

On to Atlanta and Turner Field!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
21/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
58 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami); Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

GFS 2011 Game 1 – Giants at Marlins (8/13/2011)

Its that time of year again.  Time for the fourth installment of the Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  This will likely be the last Roadtrip with the original line-up.  In 2012, Kellan will likely come on board as the fourth Roadtripper.  But as for now, the cast of characters remains: Grandfather = Jim Cook; Father = Todd Cook; and Grandson = Tim Cook:

We flew into Tampa and stayed the night in a hotel.  In the picture above, we are about to pile into our rented Nissan Altima and head south to…

…Sun Life Stadium!  Note: that port-a-potty out front of Gate F is just one of the many luxury amenities the Marlins offer at the ballpark.

From a snagging a baseball perspective, my base goal was to get at least one baseball at each of the three stadiums we are visiting on this Roadtrip (Sun Life, Turner Field, and Tropicana Field).  As far as Sun Life Stadium goes, I was counting on this being our best bet.  It was a Saturday night game (presumably) with batting practice.  But then it started monsoon-caliber rain at our hotel about 15 minutes from the ballpark.  The gates weren’t scheduled to open yet, but we decided to head up to the ballpark anyway and just roam the concourses while clouds drained out all of their rain.

But then an amazing thing happened.  It was serious Noah’s Ark type rain at our hotel, but it was completely dry at the ballpark.  So we ran into the ballpark when it opened and were happy to find the Giants just starting to take BP.

Despite getting full-Giants BP, several things were working (quite effectively) against us: (1) the Marlins don’t like to let fans anywhere near their precious multi-purpose field, (2) the Giants have no power to right field (the only spot the ordinary fan can get to the front row on the field), and (3) the Giants (are quickly
proving to us that they) do not like fans.

We tried our luck in section 126:

That section is just on the CF side of the big tunnel that separates RF from CF.  The BP crowd was smaller on our side of the tunnel, but it would take a mighty blast to get a baseball out to us.  Tim relaxed in a multi-shaded orange seat right on the tunnel:

Only one homerun reached the deep RCF seats.  It landed about 3 rows behind us and only about 15 feet away, but I was blocked in by another couple fans and couldn’t even make a real attempt to catch the ball.  I say a “real” attempt because I did make an instinctual lunge toward the blocked off aisle as the ball came off
the bat – Sun Life Stadium punished me for this in the form of trying to break my shin on a cup holder bolted to the back of the seat in front of me.  Ouch.
A word to the wise:  at Sun Life Stadium, the rows of seats are narrow, the cup holders make them even narrower, and many of the seats fail to fold up.  So there are many, many opportunities to bash your knees and shins while passing through the aisles.

Meanwhile, the Giants literally tossed zero baseballs into three sections of seats in RCF.  BP ended with us still looking to secure our first ever baseball at Sun Life Stadium.  Our chances were not looking good and I was fearing that we might never get a baseball at this soon-to-be retired “baseball stadium.”  Even worse, without getting at least one baseball, we would not be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus picture point for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Anyway, it was time to tour around a little bit.  We started by visiting the McDonald’s kids area:

The concourses on the 1B and LF sides of the stadium (which I assume match up with the sides of the Miami Dolphins football field) are largely empty (well, LF is completely empty).  But on this day, McDonald’s had  set up a couple face painting booths (FYI, I am about the biggest anti-face painting person on earth), two
basketball pop-a-shots, two football accuracy throwing things, and two baseball strike zone throwing things.  While my Dad wandered around looking for a hat and Sun Life Stadium baseball (FYI, they don’t have them) in the team store, Tim and I shot tons of hoops, tossed a few footballs, and pitched many, many strikes.

After the play area, we started the process of walking around the ballpark.  It was a shorter process than normal because the entire upper deck was closed, and the LF concourse is essentially unused.

First, we visited section 150 behind home plate:

Next, we grabbed some nachos and found some seats in section 106:

The nachos were good…

…but the cheese ran out prematurely.  The problem was that they only had one cheese holder and didn’t pour any cheese directly onto the chips.  That’s just not enough cheese.

While eating nachos, we noticed something that showed just how plain it is that the Marlins have second billing at Sun Life Stadium:

Yep, the stadium used to be called Dolphin Stadium, and the end seat on each row is adorned with a dolphin.

Since there is nothing in left field, we turned around after eating our nachos, and headed back toward home plate.  We were still baseball-less, so we decided to make an effort at a pre-game throwing baseball (something that I think we have only ever obtained once – from Ian Kinsler May 5, 2009).

Here is Tim hanging out in the “front row” by the dugout:

I say front row because it is row 1, but there are more seats below row 1.  They are right down on the field and you can’t get to them without those tickets.

As former-Mariner Greg Dobbs played catch below us, Tim had fun watching Billy the Marlin catch the “first” pitches:

He quite enjoyed little Billy too:

At one point, Billy came over to the first base side and gave Tim a happy point in exchange for Tim’s excited wave:

In that picture, you can see Greg Dobbs (No. 29) on the far left side of the picture:

Dobbs scooted way back past first base and played long toss before retreating to the dugout.   Dobbs was our best chance to get a baseball at this game.  He ended up with the ball just 15-20 feet below us.  He clearly wanted to give it away.  But the music was pumping loud through the stadium and Dobbs just couldn’t hear me.  If he had, I’m sure he would have given us the baseball.  Instead, he gave the ball to a 20-something fan in the true front row who had not even been paying any attention.  Dobbs essentially walked over and said, “Here, take this.”  Bummer.

My Dad headed out to RF where we had our tickets for the game.  Tim and I hung out behind the dugout for the top of the first inning to see if we could get a third out baseball (something we’ve only ever obtained once before – from Ronny Paulino earlier this season).

Cody Ross led off the game with the fly out to LF:

Jeff Keppinger followed Ross with a solo homerun to LF.  Eventually, Aubrey Huff struck out looking to end the first inning.  We were expecting the final out to be at first base, so we were nowhere near where we needed to be for a catcher toss-up.  So some other lucky fan got that third out baseball and we gave up and headed out to RF to meet up with grandpa:

This was our view of the game:

Tim “The Freak” Lincecum was pitching for the Giants…

…and he pitched a very solid game.

Eventually, Tim needed some ice cream.  I told him I would go get it while he stayed with Grandpa.  But when I turned toward CF in the concourse, there was no ice cream to be found.  It was time to explore again.

From CF all the way to the LF foul line, all two of the tunnels into the closed and/or non-existent seating areas were closed off.  In CF,the tunnels are covered with a blue tarp that serves as the batters’ eyes…

…and in LF two of the tunnels are open exclusively for cameramen.  Meanwhile, in the LF concourse, there is absolutely nothing going on.

I stopped off in section 107 where I took this panorama:

A couple more sections over toward 3B (probably section 105), I found this weird single seat at the back of the seating section:

My thought is that this seat is for the usher patrolling this section.

I checked in again at section 154 where this was my view:

While in section 154, I got some of my best photos of Lincecum:

Finally, I found ice cream helmets (vanilla/chocolate twist) and reported back to Tim and Grandpa.  As always, Tim enjoyed his ice cream:

We were ready for the weather to be blisteringly hot and disgustingly humid on this entire Roadtrip.  In fact, we failed to pack anything for the possibility of cold weather.  But the ice cream made Tim chilly.  He had to bundle up in my Mariners jersey…

…and snuggle with Grandpa for heat:

Meanwhile, I were still trying to figure out to come away from this game with a baseball.  I exchanged a bunch of texts with Ben “Benny Bang Bany” Weil, who in turn exchanged some texts with Mateo Fischer, and the word came back that  this tunnel…

…just past the third base dugout was the umpires’ tunnel.  So I surveyed it with my zoom lens and made our plan.

Meanwhile, the Giants tacked on a couple more runs to take the score to 3-0 Giants.  In the fifth inning, Nate Schierholtz scored from third on a wild pitch by Javier Vazquez.  And in the sixth, Cody Ross scored on a double by Aubrey Huff.  That was all the scoring for the night.

Mike Stanton was playing RF for the Marlins in front of us:

He has had some great games for me and Tim.  But he went 0-3 at this game.

From our seats, we had a nice view of the Marlins bullpen:

I thought the bullpen set up was pretty odd at Sun Life Stadium.  It is not that unusual for the bullpens to be located down the base lines.  But at Sun Life Stadium, the Marlins bullpen and the Marlins dugout are both on the first base line and the visitors’ bullpen and dugout are both on the third base line.  That’s odd because usually a baseline bullpen is located on the opposite baseline from the dugout so the manager can see his relievers warming up in the pen.

Tim found various ways to make wearing his dad’s jersey more fun:

The fans tried to get the wave going at one point.  So Tim decided that he and I should do our own wave:

In the eighth inning, Tim and I started to slowly make our way over toward the umpires’ tunnel.  First, we stopped in section 134 to take this panorama from just behind a big advertisement that blocks the view of numerous entire rows of seats behind “the Beach” area behind the Marlins bullpen:

Then we swung around to section 138 and got checked out the bullpen…

…and the beach:

And here is a panorama from section 138:

Two seconds after taking that panorama, a police officer in the Marlins bullpen told us we had to stay at least five rows back in the seats, which did not make much sense, but oh, well.

We headed up to the concourse and circled around to section 156 where the umpire tunnel is located.  The umpire tunnel is surrounded by blue seats.  The Marlins station ushers at the top of the blue seats and won’t let anyone down into them without a blue seat ticket.  So we found aisle seats in the orange seats just behind the blue seats.  Here was our view from section 156:

The umpire baseball attempt was going to be tricky.  There were two rows of people at the OF end of the tunnel, and one row of people at the infield side of the tunnel.  It seemed like our best bet would be to go directly above the tunnel, but that would mean home plate umpire Ron Kulpa would have to spot us long before
getting to the covered tunnel and make a lot toss over the tunnel to us.

But there was some more game to watch first.

Our new seats were just behind Greg Dobbs…

…and we had an excellent view of the action when Aaron Rowand grounded to Dobbs, and Dobbs threw him out at first.

My Dad was still lounging out in RF:

The Giants brought in Brian Wilson to close out the game:

I’ll tell you, I am officially sick and tired of hearing about his beard.  Can someone else win the World Series already so we can all forget that Brian Wilson has a big beard?

Anyway, Wilson and his beard did their job.  The Giants won 3-0.

After the game, Ron Kulpa did not hear us and did not give away a single umpire baseball.  We headed over to the Giants dugout for the relievers to make their way in to the dugout.  But , to our surprise, they never came.  They apparently have their own tunnel to the club house.  So the only person we saw at the dugout after
the initial victory high-fives was Jeff Keppinger as he was interviewed post-game.

Soon, my Dad found us and a Giants fan took our picture with a grumpy looking usher behind us:

On our way out of the stadium, we discovered there was a full batting cage with rotating arm pitching machine in the concourse behind the first base dugout:

So the first game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip was in the books.  A 7 inning shutout win by Tim Lincecum and the Giants.  With our final game at Sun Life Stadium being the next day at 1:10 p.m. and still sitting on zero baseballs at Sun Life Stadium, we left this game unsure whether we would ever
be able to say we got a ball at Sun Life Stadium.  If not, Sun Life would join Shea Stadium, old Yankee Stadium, and Chase Field as the only stadiums Tim has visited and not got at least one baseball.  We’ll visit Chase Field again, but Sun Life Stadium was in jeopardy of joining Shea Stadium and old Yankee Stadium on the never-gonna-happen list.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
20/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
15 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U of Miam); Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Comerica Park: A Diamond In The Rough (7/3/11)

Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.

So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…

…Detroit, Michigan.  The Motor City!

I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time.  But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect.  As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd.  It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it.  I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.

That didn’t seem right.

When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished.  It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.

Yikes.  Detroit was not looking good.

The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation.  Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.

As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better.  But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye.  Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:

The parking lot was a disaster.  Huge pot holes.  I mean huge.  Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into.  That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one.  As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time:  “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”

I broke into laughter.  It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.

So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.

But you know what?  It was all worth it.  Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”

Comerica Park is AMAZING!  I loved it.  I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point.  All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures.  And this entry is going to have a ton of them.

We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place.  We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):

The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park.  After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):

Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw.  He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:

This gate is pure awesomeness.  It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos.  I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.

This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall.  The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area.  On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:

Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:

Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.

All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:

Cool.

Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design.  It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail.  They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium.  In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc.  But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park.  If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans.  They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.

After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium.  There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field.  We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:

Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:

In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance.  Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.

Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:

The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot.  That street provides a clear view into the ballpark.  We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:

These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.

Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles.  While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…

…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park.  As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures.  And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.

When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.

  • No batting practice;
  • Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
  • Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.

As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up.  We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:

It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch.  After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate.  Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet.  He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound.  At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:

A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.

With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game.  But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.

We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers.  It was pointless to stay there.  Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line.  But it was packed by the time we got there.  So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.

This was our view from the first row of section 121:

And the move worked out.  As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line.  Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.

Success!  A baseball from Comerica Park:

It was officially time to explore!

Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:

Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side.  It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:

Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture.  Cool, eh?

We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point.  Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…

…in search for the carousel that I had heard about.  After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:

You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.

Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge.  So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter.  So we continued on our
tour.

We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:

Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:

Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past.  I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years.  So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s.  Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor.  You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.”  The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well.  Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.

Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…

…and another from section 210:

While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):

Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field.  Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:

And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):

When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:

Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars.  We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water.  But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.

On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:

Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based?  While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:

Look at that!  It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars.  Awesome.  These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.

While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water.  Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:

Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story:  “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”

Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.

First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):

Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:

Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:

Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture  (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…

…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium.  Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium.  From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned.  I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place.  Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.

Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:

Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl.  Outstanding!

When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head.  He said it showed that I was really a baseball player.  I thought that was cool.  Thanks, usher guy!

Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:

I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture.  Cool.

Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:

The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…

…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:

It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…).   Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.

After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides.  So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel.  In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards.  It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.

First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:

Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:

And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:

Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB):  (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle.  More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game.  The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards.  It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.

Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:

We were really lucky.  There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel.  But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.

Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel).  But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay).  So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:

Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again.  Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):

We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):

On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:

When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel.  We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side.  We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line.  By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!

I told Tim we would have to come back later.  That line was going to take forever.

So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144.  On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:

This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):

There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:

Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:

See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence?  They’re watching free baseball!  The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game.  I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.

Here is a look down into the bullpens:

The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.

Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:

It was ice cream time.  We grabbed some helmets…

…and found some ice cream seats in our section.

Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:

The scoreboard has three screens.  A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side.  Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen.  The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages.  I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen.  Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.

Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):

Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:

It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle.  Pretty cool, idea.

I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:

After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot.  Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle.  We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…

…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game.  It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…

…for Magglio Ordonez.  Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…

…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers.  (Note:  right as I was about to  get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).

With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel.  The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good.  We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:

All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape!  Super V!  They were actually pretty cool.  Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.

Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:

The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:

The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool.  The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.

By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth.  We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…

…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).

We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:

As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:

It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:

My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box.  At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable.  Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…

…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.

We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:

It is always great to get an umpire baseball.  And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.

Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!

The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not.  It was Kids Run The Bases day!  Hooray!

On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:

And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:

It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…

…and down under the RF seats.  Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.

The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases.  Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience.  The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.

We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…

…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).

Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…

…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is.  And it wasn’t just chalk foul line.  The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground.  These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.

Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:

Then we approached the first base area.  There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”

When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?”  She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”

So I followed Tim out toward first base…

…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:

As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…

…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:

We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…

…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!

SAFE!  (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).

As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B).  But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you!  I don’t see you!”

Thanks!

So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…

…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.

Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.

On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:

Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field.  Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background.  A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:

The Tigers staff are cool folks.

Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!

Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?”  With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!”  The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball.  Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”

Thanks!

I’m serious.  Comerica Park is awesome!  Well, done Tigers!

We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot.  When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left.  We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park.  And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:

In the famous word of the Terminator:  “[We'll] be back!”

2011 C&S Fan Stats
16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 7: Orioles at Giants (6/15/10)

[NOTE: I uploaded all of the following pictures and wrote this entire entry while we were at the hospital both before and after the birth of my new son (and Tim's new brother), Kellan].

On June 15, 2010, we woke up early in Anaheim with a long drive to San Francisco ahead of us.  On tap this evening we had the grand finale of the The Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010 featuring a match up of the Orioles against the Giants at AT&T Park.

After six consecutive days of baseball games at four different ballparks, I was exhausted.  So major respect goes to my Dad who drove the entire way while I fought a losing battle of trying to stay awake in the car.

After stopping off at our hotel in San Jose, we finally made it to the City by the Bay, drove by the Giants’ former home, Candlestick Park (top left below)…

1 - heading to ATT Park.JPG…and finally made it to AT&T Park (top right).  We parked across Willie McCovey Cove (bottom right) and right next to a little league sized baseball field called “Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field” (bottom left).

Just across the other side of the Cove, we got some great views of AT&T Park:

2 - across McCovey Cove.JPGAfter walking across a little draw bridge, we made our way to the RF gate:

3 - ATT Park RF entrance.JPGAs you can see, there is a statute of Juan Marichal in the foreground.  To the right, that walk way runs down the outside of the stadium from RF to CF.  At the far end of that walkway there is a marina and a pier (we’ll get to that).

Along that walkway, there are spots where you can see into the field through a gate and a chain link fence…

4 - ATT view thru fence at McCovey Cove walkway.JPG…just above the chain link fence, we could see the back of the hand-operated out of town scoreboard.  The gates wouldn’t open for another 20 minutes after we arrived, but the Giants were already taking BP inside.

Rather than watch through the fence, we decided to take a little walk out to the end of the pier:

5 - ATT Park pier.JPGFrom the end of the pier, you can see AT&T Park at the far left of the following panorama…

5a - ATT end of pier panorama.jpg…and through the sail boat sails, you can see the Bay Bridge (I think that’s what it is called).

If you take a left instead of walking out on the pier, you arrive at the centerfield gate…

6 - ATT Park CF entrance.JPG…which is called the marina gate.

After checking out the pier and CF gate area, we headed back toward the RF (O’Doul) gate along that walkway by McCovey Cove.  Along the walkway, there are a number of plaques embedded into the ground.  Here are a whole bunch of them…

7 - McCovey Cove Walkway plagues.JPGFinally, we headed into the stadium.  Our seats were in RCF so we headed over there to watch BP.  The RF seats at AT&T Park are only 3-5 rows deep.  We headed to a section that was 3 rows deep.  This was the view:

7b - ATT RCF section 145 panorama.jpgSee those people right in the middle of that last panorama?  It looks like three people because of the combining of pictures to make the panorama, but it was really only two guys.  One of them was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head…

8 - Tim Lincecum.JPG…I had an idea about who it was so I zoomed in on his shoe.  Yep, number 55, it was Tim Lincecum.  After I mentioned to Tim that the guy on the field was also named Tim, a Giants fan standing nearby asked me, “Timmy?  Where’s Timmy?”  I pointed him out and the fan yelled, “Hey, Happy Birthday, Tim!”  Lincecum turned around and nodded a little “thank you.”

I was really hoping we could get a baseball at this game so we could complete the roadtrip with at least one baseball at each stadium.  It wasn’t looking promising in RF, so we headed over by the Orioles bullpen where this was our view:

9c - ATT RF foul line panorma.jpg

The Giants were still hitting, but the Orioles pitchers were warming up down the foul line.  When the teams switched, the crowd sung “Happy Birthday” to Lincecum as he entered the Giants dugout.

After a while, Jeremy Guthrie came out to do some throwing…

9 - watching Guthrie.JPG…that is him facing us toward the left side of the picture.  As he walked by us, I said, “Hi, Jeremy.”  He gave us a little wave and said hi.  Guthrie is a nice guy and was a prime candidate to give Tim a baseball  after his throwing.

One funny thing about AT&T Park is that ball retrieving devices were all over the place.  At any given time during BP, there were a couple deployed on the OF warning track.  At one point, an Orioles player came walking by with a ball retrieving device on about 2 feet of rope.  He’d cut it off as someone was going for a ball and was parading around showing it to his teammates.

As Guthrie was wrapping up his throwing, Kevin Millwood came over to chat with him and then Guthrie gave Millwood the baseball to play catch.

While we were hanging out watching BP, Tim showed off his full Mariners uniform for me…

10 - ichi uni in SF.JPG…gotta love the stirrup socks!

With Guthrie out of the picture, we decided to head over to LF to see what it was like over there.  On our way up to the concourse, I noticed “Kville” on the wall:

11 - Kville.JPGAs we made our way to LF, we stopped to get this shot behind home plate:

11a - ATT home field day panorama.jpgHere is where we ended up in LF:

12e - ATT LF foul line field panorama.jpgIt was starting to get pretty crowded.  Our chances of finishing off the roadtrip with a baseball from AT&T Park were getting dimmer and dimmer.  Tim asked that guy standing out in LF (above) for a baseball.  No dice.  Then Tim turned to me and said, “I’ve got a collection of baseballs!”  [It doesn't look very funny written, but his delivery of the line was hilarious].

As we stood along the wall in foul territory we got a rude reminder that the Bay Area is a windy place.  A big swirl of wind kicked dirt from the warning track into both of our eyes.  We both got hit at once.  It was no fun.

As bad as dirt in the eyes is, this is even worse:

12 - disgusting.JPGThe Giants have sold advertising space on their outfield wall that changes the dimensions of the field!  I mean, how annoyed would you be as either a fan or a player if someone on your team hit a  ball that should have been a home run, but instead it hit one of these cartoon car advertisements that stick above the wall.  I’d much rather have a Mariners homerun picked off over the wall by an opposing player than to have it denied by an advertisement!

Finally, we made it full circle.  We ended BP back in RCF.  Actually, we were right next to our seats for the game.

There was, indeed, no BP baseball in store for us on this day.  But that didn’t ruin the hilarious scene that we watched play out during the last 10 minutes of BP in RF.

An Oriole was out there who I can only presume was the same guy walking around with the cut off ball retrieving device.  You see, he had a pair of scissors in his back pocket.  I’m not sure who he was, but he must have been a former Giant because a guy with a ball retrieving device of his own came over and chatted with him and implied that he was a lot more fun when he played in San Francisco.

The guy hung his device over the wall, which was probably a good 20 feet high, and swung it back-and-forth like he was trying to lure the player over.  The Oriole eventually brought a ball over and put it on the warning track for the guy.  As the guy attempted to set his device on the ball, the Oriole took out his scissors and acted like he was going to cut the rope.  The guy quickly pulled it up without the baseball.

The Oriole acted like it was all fun and games and now he was ready to give him the ball.  He set it back down, said something like “go for it,” and headed back out 20-30 feet into the grass.  The guy lowered his device again.  Then, when he started pulling it back up, the Oriole turned and made a full sprint to the wall, he planted his foot on the wall and jumped REALLY high up the wall and just got a hand on the guy’s device.   With one big swing of the paw and a big grin, the Oriole knocked the ball back to the ground.

He then grabbed the ball and went back out 20-30 feet into the grass.  The guy with the device stayed put.  Five minutes later, BP ended and all of the Orioles ran off of the field.  The guy with the ball turned around and held up the ball for the guy with the device.  By the way, here is the Oriole (with scissors in back pocket)… 

13 - device cutter ball splasher.JPG…Then, you guessed it, he fired the ball high and far over the outfield seats and into McCovey Cove.  The two kayakers raced for it and this guy victoriously pulled it out of the water.  During all of this time, not a single HR reached the RF seats, but this was a good little piece of entertainment for me and Tim.

Once BP wrapped up, Tim wanted to head over to the big bottle and little baseball field in LF…

14 - guzzler time.JPGI’ve seen that bottle on TV for years, but I never knew it was more than just an advertisement.  But it is!  And Tim was excited to go check it out.

On our way over there, we stopped to get a picture with a real San Franscisco Trolley that is parked in the RCF concourse:

14a - trolley at ATT Park.JPGAs I mentioned, Tim was excited to go check out the bottle…

15 - guzzler approach.JPG…but first, we had a stop and get a picture with the big baseball glove next to the bottle.

16 - big glove at ATT.JPGSo you have to be at least 42 inches tall to really take advantage of all the bottle has to offer…

17 - tall enough for guzzler.JPG…Tim just made the cut off.

So, we got in line for this:

Okay, that video is actually the second time we rode the guzzler.  The first time, I took this picture from inside the label of the bottle:

18 - inside guzzler view.JPGWhile we were waiting in line for the guzzler the second time, Tim started chatting up a 20′ish year old girl who lives in SF but used to live in Seattle.  She liked his Mariners hat.  When he heard that, he decided to rip off his sweatshirt and dazzle her with his Ichiro shirt.  It was pretty funny.  He was very proud to be showing off his new Ichiro shirt.

After the guzzler, we went to the mini AT&T Park next to the guzzler…

18f - ATT Park in ATT Park panorama.jpgTo play ball in the mini park, you have to be shorter than a certain height.  Tim measured up against the height display and wound up being in the special class of people short enough to play ball in the mini park but tall enough to ride the guzzler.  My Dad took some action shots with Tim at the plate…

18 - hitting at ATT Park Jr.JPG…and I got him scoring the second time he batted:

19 - Tim scores at ATT Park Jr.JPGI also captured his first at bat on video:

After hitting in mini AT&T Park, it was time to report to our seats for the game…

20 - ATT 145 umpire.JPG…once we got there, Tim did some impromptu umpire poses.

The sun was pretty harsh in RF at the beginning of the game.  Here was our view from Section 145, row 2, seats 1-3 while the sun was still up:

20a - ATT section 145 corner sunny panorama.jpgIt was much better once the sun ducked behind the other side of the stadium:

After the first inning, the O’s were leading 1-0 on the strength of a groundout RBI by Ty Wigginton.  The O’s could have scored at least one more run, but Giants centerfielder Andres Torres made an outstanding catch to end the inning.

In the top of the third inning, Tim and I set off into the concourse in search of some Giants ice cream helmets.  I noticed something odd about the concourses…

21 - TVs at ATT Park.JPG…there were several large banks of flat screen TVs literally side-by-side-by-side, but then there wouldn’t be another TV within the next 100-150 down the concourse.  So in some places you can stand in the concourse and take your pick of 5-6 TV screens to watch, but in others you are simply out of luck.

Much to our dismay, for the second day in a row, our ice cream helmet hunt came up empty.  This has been a truly great roadtrip, except on the ice cream helmet front.  After walking around the entire field level concourse, we returned to our seats with this…

22 - no ice cream helmet in SF.JPG…another tasty but dissappointing ice cream helmet substitute.

From a scoring perspective, the third inning proved to be the most active inning of the night with a grand total of 2 runs crossing the plate.  In the top of the inning, the O’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Wigginton replicated his first inning at-bat with another RBI groundout.  Leading off the bottom of the frame, Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval cranked a solo homer to bring the score to 2-1.

In the top of the fourth inning, former Mariner Adam Jones would match Sandoval with a lead-off homerun of his own taking the score back to a 2-run lead (3-1) for the O’s.

In the of the fifth inning, Ty Wigginton one upped himself.  Rather than a mere RBI groundout, Wigginton hit into a run-scoring (no RBI) double play.  At the end of five, the O’s lead 4-1, and that score would hold up for the rest of the night.

In the fifth inning, I decided to split up from my Dad and Tim so I could check out the upper deck a little bit.

I started by heading toward foul territory in RF.  About mid-way between our seats and the foul pole, I got this panoramic view of AT&T Park: 

22a - ATT RF near foul pole panorama.jpgThen I headed to the back row of the last section in RF foul territory.  The view from up there is great.  City, bridge, ballpark, water.  Excellent.  Here’s what it looked like:

22b - ATT upper RF foul panorama.jpgThen I slowly made my way around to LF.  Here is the view from around 1B…

22c - ATT 1B upper panorama.jpgI also spied on Tim and my Dad with my zoom.  Tim (red sweatshirt in middle) was sitting on my Dad’s lap (in black jacket) having a good old time:

23 - spying on Tim and dad.JPGThe view was also excellent from behind home plate:

23a - ATT upper home panorama.jpgHere is the view of the upper deck concourse, which seemed pretty dark:

23b - ATT Park upper deck concourse.JPGHere is the view from the 3B side just a few feet down the line from home plate:

24 - ATT 3B upper panorama.jpgAs I swung further out past 3B, I could see the ferris wheel and other amusement park rides across McCovey Cove…

24a - ATT 3B dugout upper panorama.jpg…I’m not sure if that amusement park is a traveling fair-type situation or if it is always there.  I have never seen it before while watching games at AT&T Park on TV.

Here is a zoomed in panorama of the RF wall and the ferris wheel beyond McCovey Cove:

25 - RF wall and McCovery Cove.jpgOur seats were just above the distance marker on the OF fence on the left side of that last picture (below the fifth flag pole).

Here is the view from the LF foul area in the upper deck…

…and still in foul territory, here is the view all the way out in LF:

25b - ATT LF upper end panorama.jpgLooking off of the upper deck in LF, there is a cool view down to the guzzler and the mini AT&T Park:

26 - guzzler and mini park from above.JPGAfter circling around the upper deck, I headed down the winding foot ramp in the LF corner down to the field level.  I actually passed my Dad and Tim on my walk down.  They were on a tour of their own and were heading up to the upper deck.

I got this picture of the city and Bay Bridge looking out of the stadium from the ramp:

27 - SF scenery.JPGJust for kicks, I took one more LF foul corner panorama when I got back down to the field level:

27a - ATT LF field foul corner panorama.jpgMy plan had been to go back to the seats after exploring the upper deck, but because I knew Tim and my Dad were on a tour of their own, I decided to go behind home plate.  There were ushers guarding the staircases, but no one was patrolling the handicapped accessible ramp that leads to the cross aisle behind the home plate seats.  So I strolled on down the ramp.  Here was the night time view from behind home plate:

28 - ATT home field night panorama.jpgI ended up watching the bottom of the 7th and top of the 8th inning from the 1B side of the cross aisle behind home plate.  Not an usher stopped to ask to see my ticket.  This was the view:

29 - ATT 1B dugout field panorama.jpgThe only action shots I’d taken so far were very unimpressive, so I tried for a couple more.  The Kung Fu Panda provided no fireworks…

30 - Kung Fu Panda.JPG…he grounded out to the pitcher to end the 7th inning.

Nick Markasis cooperated better with me.  On this swing…

31 - Markakis GR doubles in 8th.JPG…he hit a ground rule double to lead off the 8th.  Ultimately, he was stranded on third.

I decided Tim and my Dad were probably done touring so I headed back to our seats.  I was wrong.  They weren’t there yet.  So I hung out in the standing room area in the concourse behind the RF seats, right by the foul pole.

Check out these two seats in the front row at the end of the section…

32 - foul pole seats at ATT Park.JPG

…these people were nestled right in between the railing and the foul pole.  I guess they had to hop over the seat backs to get into their seats.

By this point, the crowd in the RF standing room area was ridiculous.  There were numerous obnoxiously drunk patrons having a grand old time.  Several of the drunkards were mocking an usher who was diligently enforcing the “Stand Behind The Line” rule painted on the ground.

Eventually, Tim and my Dad came strolling back toward our seats.  We decided to head toward the infield to try to locate the umpire tunnel.  We wanted to try for an umpire ball, but we were pretty confused.  On the big screen before the game, I had seen the umpires enter through a set of glass doors.  It appeared it was right behind home plate.  From the OF, we could see the set of glass doors directly behind home plate.  But there were fans in seats sitting directly behind the doors.  It made no sense.  Were the umpires supposed to just walk into the crowd?

We spotted another exit way in the 3B dugout that we thought might be the spot.  So Tim and I made our way about half way down the ailse right by the end of the dugout.  Here was the view:

33 - ATT 3B field panorama.jpgI was still thoroughly confused.  With 1 out in the bottom of the ninth, my Dad came down from the concourse and said they had just put a rope up around the fans right behind home plate.  It looked like I was right, the umpires would go through those glass doors…but where would they go from there?

We scurried over there to the cross ailse behind home plate (no one was manning the ramp once again).  As the final out was recorded, we tried to make our way down to the umpires but we couldn’t get down there in time.  Too many people were streaming up the stairs.  It was unfortunate because the home plate umpire stood back there by the fans for a minute or so until all three of his colleagues met up with him.  Then, they exited down a tunnel…

ATT umpire tunnel.jpg…behind the first several rows of seats.  On his way out, the home plate umpire gave a baseball to a grown man with no kids who didn’t even ask for one!  We’d missed a prime opportunity to get a baseball at AT&T Park.

Before taking off, we decided to do a little more exploring.  Something I didn’t like about AT&T Park was that there were a number of railings keeping the commoners out of the fancier seating areas.  Thankfully, however, there was no mote.  So we easily stepped over the thigh high railing and made our way down front by the Giants dugout.

The Goal:  Get our picture with Tommy Lasorda, who was in attendance and the recipient of robust booing throughout the game when they showed him on the big screen.

We literally rubbed elbows with the Hall of Famer (he’s wearing the brown jacket right in front of me)…

34 - TJCs and Tommy Lasorda.JPG…but he had a team of Giants security people flanking him on all sides.  It might have worked, but I didn’t even ask him for a photo because a security guy was announcing “clear the way, clear the way.”

Oh, well.  It was cool just to see him up close.

We headed over to the dugout to watch Tommy exit through the same tunnel we’d suspected might have been the umpires tunnel.  Before Tommy made his way to the dugout, an usher took a picture of the three of us:

35 - 3 Cooks at ATT Park.JPGWe watched the security guys coach Tommy down the stairs into the dugout and then we just hung out a couple minutes more.  Right as we were about to leave, two bat boys came into the dugout to clear out equipment.  Some guy, I think the guy to the far left shown below…

36 - Watching Dugout Gots A Baseball.JPG…started aggressively begging the bat boys, “Can I have a baseball?  Can I have a baseball?  Can I have a baseball?”  The older bat boy looked up and said, “Sorry, there aren’t any left.”  Then the younger looking bat boy standing behind the older bat boy reached into his back pocket and then handed a baseball up to Tim.

It was a case of “Don’t ask and you shall recieve!”  It was pretty cool to come away with an AT&T Park baseball at the last possible minute.  I was super excited that out of nowhere, that little bat boy helped us complete our goal of getting a ball at each stadium on the roadtrip.

Thanks, little bat boy guy!!!

Another usher took a new picture of us with the ball from the batboy:


37 - 3 Cooks and a Baseball at ATT Park.JPGBy the way, the second the game ended a flock of seemingly hundreds of seagulls flew into the stadium and attacked the food scraps strewn about the seating area in LF.  Tim called it “the birds taking off and landing show” and he was thoroughly captivated by it.  In fact, in the picture above of Tommy Lasorda squeezing by us in the seats, Tim is up on my shoulders paying no attention to the Hall of Famer, all of his focus was on the birds taking off and landing show.

Finally, it was time to leave.  My Dad started to walk up the ailses.  But I stopped him.  Hey, we’re in the fancy seats, we should exit through the club below the fancy seats (which I think is called the “Lexus Dugout Club”).

Here are a few pictures I snapped in the club as we headed out…

38 - fancy club.JPG…into a area of bright orange lit up palm trees next to the Willie Mays gate…

39 - Willie Mays Gate and Orange Palm Trees.JPG…and we said our good-byes to AT&T Park as we made our way back around McCovey Cove to our car:

40 - goodnight ATT Park.JPGRoadtrip Completed.  A smashing success.

2010 Fan Stats:

15 Games

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

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


41 -  ATT Park baseball.JPG34 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants)

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

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)

 


42 - 2010 Roadtrip Baseballs.JPGWhen we got home to Pennsylvania, I snapped this picture of all of our roadtrip baseballs (minus the one I gave to the girl San Diego).

Giants vs. Phillies, Citizens Bank Park Hall of Fame Club Suite (5/2/08)

I woke up on May 2, 2008 with no plans except to put in a solid day at work.  Soon, my plans would change.

I received a call in the morning.  One of my collegues has a brother who is an executive in the Phillies front office.  Tim and I would be joining a group of guys later that night in one of the Phillies Hall of Fame Club suites:

1 - citz bank tix 5-2-08.jpgTim and I had never been to the Hall of Fame Club.  Citizens Bank Park has two levels of suites.  The normal “Suite Level” is just above the field level and is accessed through a “no frills” suite level walk way.  You can see that here.

The HOF Club is above the 200-level seating.  The “concourse” for the HOF Club isn’t a concourse at all.  Instead, its a indoor “Club” with a bar and couches, etc., etc.

For some inexplicable reason, I failed to take pictures of the HOF Club as a whole.  But, I did take a picture of a wall of baseballs in the club…

2 - Hall of Fame Club Wall of Balls.jpg…here is a closer view…

2a - Wall of Balls Odd Close-up.jpg…the wall is pretty cool.  However, the balls clearly aren’t game balls or even batting practice balls.  They were never used.  I think it would be more impressive if the balls were rubbed up with mud and/or scuffed so you knew they’d seen some action on the field below the HOF Club.

I also took a zoomed in picture of the bottom of the bar in the HOF Club…

3 - Hall of Fame Club Bar of Bats.jpg…honestly, I must have been off my game.  How in the world did I not take a picture of the entire bar area?

Anyway, the bat bar is pretty cool.  But, again, the bats obviously aren’t used.  I think it would be pretty sweet if they’d upgrade the bar with game used bats with scuff marks, pine tar stains, player signatures burned into the barrels, etc., etc.  Still, its a cool bar.

So, we made our way into the suite.  The Phils were hosting the Giants.  The Phils jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning when Jayson Werth singled, stole second, and was driven in on Chase Utley’s 12th homerun of the still young season.

As the Phils were holding down the Giants’ offense, Tim was scarfing down delicious suite food.  After a jumbo hot dog main course, Tim moved on to a seemingly never ending dessert course.  Here he is showing off our “suite” view of the game and his first “sweet” tasting chocolate covered pretzel:

4 - chocolate covered pretzels.jpgThis may well have been Tim’s first chocolate covered pretzel of his life, but it wasn’t his last of the night.  He would have just kept going, so I had to step in and stop him after 2…or maybe 2-and-a-half…pretzels.

He was a happy, sugar filled little boy…

5 - tim and todd and more chocolate pretzels.jpg…I think he’s gazing at me so lovingly in that picture because he was so happy that I introduced him to chocolate covered pretzels.

One note about that picture.  You’ll notice I am not wearing my usual all-Mariners attire.  I opted for the red Rawlings T-shirt and my Reading Phillies hat because I was essentially a guest of the Phillies at this game.  There was no way I was dressing Tim up in Phillies garb (actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to he doesn’t own any).  But I felt too bad to have us both in all-Mariners gear with no Phillies representation.

Anyway, we were having a great time as the game progressed.  We split time between the three rows of seats in the front of our suite and the indoor section of the suite.  As I mentioned, Tim was all hopped up on sugar and was full of energy…he was so excited he was literally running laps around the suite — as you can see in this short video clip.

As Tim ran laps of the suite, I spent some time chatting with our bartender.  (Oh, yeah, our suite had its own bartender).  He was a nice guy.  He was a school teacher at a high school in the city.  His wife let him work for the Phils part-time in the evenings.  He usually worked somewhere else in the stadium.  Somewhere with a better view of the game than from behind the bar at the back of the suite.  He described his part-time job as getting paid to have season tickets to his favorite team.  Nice.

So, after I shut down the chocolate covered pretzels gravy train…

6 - suite cookies.jpg

…Tim moved on to big chocolate chip cookies.  Yeah, its a tough life for young Timothy.

Each time Pat Burrell strode to the plate, I told our suitemates that he would almost certainly hit a homerun because he always hits a homerun for Tim.  But the Giants kept him in the yard each time I made my announcement.

Late in the game, Tim kept graviting toward the bottom corners of the suite seating area.  When I headed over to see what was going on, I found Tim…

7 - how you doing.jpg …in deep conversation (well, “deep” for a 2 year old) with one of the stadium attendants working in the 200-level.  He moved back and forth between the bottom corners of the suite chatting up this lady and another lady stationed below the other corner of the suite.  Eventually, one of them gave Tim a little plastic Philly Phanatic figurine.

Sadly, like our last night game, Tim started getting mighty tired late in the game.  Then something bad happened, Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madison combined to give up three runs in the top of the seventh and the score was tied.  Eventually, we headed into extra innings.  Tim just couldn’t make it any longer.

Leading off the top of the tenth, former-Phil Aaron Rowand hit a solo-homerun off of J.C. Romero.  That was it for us.  With Tim having already reached the point of exhaustion, we headed to our car.

As we made our way to our car, Romero gave up two more hits but retired the Giants without surrendering any more runs.  When we reached our car and I was strapping Tim into his car seat, we could hear the crowd chanting “M.V.P.!  M.V.P.!  M.V.P.!”  Chase Utley was up.  Soon the crowd erupted.  I turned on the radio and learned that Utley had singled with one out.  Ryan Howard struck out looking for the Phils’ 26th out of the night.

Then, on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, with 2-outs, a full-count, the Phils trailing by a run, the mighty Pat Burrell fulfilled my prophesy.  He hit a 2-run walk off homerun to send the Phillies-faithful (and me and Tim) home happy.

Ah, good times.

An Evening At Nationals Park (Without Baseball) – 6/3/09

On the way home from Nationals Park, at around 1 a.m., my mom gave me some good advice:  “You should stop driving around to these milestone games.  It doesn’t work for you.”

She was right.

Last season, Tim and I went to see Griffey play in Philadelphia.  He was sitting on 599 home runs.  I REALLY wanted us to be there for number 600.  In three days, he pinch hit twice.  Swung the bat once.  Walked twice on 9 pitches.

A couple weeks ago, we went to see Jamie Moyer try to win his 250th game of this career.  He looked great.  Then it all fell a part and he lost.

But I wasn’t deterred.  I’d been tracking Randy Johnson’s march to 300 wins like a hawk.  I’d been hoping he would be somewhere nearby when he was sitting on 299.  Then last week, it all fell into place.  He won number 299 and his next start was against the lowly Nationals.  It would be only 2.5 hours from our house.  Perfect!

Despite previous milestone failures, I had to try it.  It was too important to pass up.

The weather report wasn’t good.  But when we walked up to the stadium, it looked like we were set to get the game in.

The grounds crew was chalking the field:

1 nats chalking.jpg

The MLB Network’s Hazel Mae gave us a smile and an awkward little wave:

2 hi hazle.jpg

Giants skipper Bruce Bochy was out and about:

3 bochy.jpg

Yep, things were looking pretty good.  Close to business as usual.  Baseball and a 300th win coming soon.  Or so we thought.

We decided to visit the playset in center field before the game started.  On the way, we ran into Screech:

4 hi screech.jpg

Tim had a great time in the play area.  But after a few minutes came THE RAIN!

We took refuge under the concourse behind RF where people were enjoying their dinners in the covered picnic area:

6 the people hide.jpg

Yep, all of a sudden, baseball as usual didn’t seem quite as certain.

The skies they were a-threatenin’

7 DC RF rain delay panoramic.jpg

We walked the spacious concourse from foul pole to foul pole, and it was packed:

8 packed concourse.jpg

Then the rain REALLY started to come down.  The Nationals put up notices to the crowd telling them to hide in the concourse…and promising more information to come:

8b the rain cometh.jpg

We checked out the Nats bullpen to see if there were any pitchers hanging out in there:

9 bullpen ball.jpg

See that security guard sitting back with his legs out?  See the ball in his right hand?  I don’t want to give anything away about this story, but I must note that that is the ONE AND ONLY baseball that I saw while attending this “game.”  (Well, except for in the team store).

Did I mention there was a lot of rain?

11 Lake NatsPark.jpg

This is what it looks like when a lot of rain meets poor drainage planning:

12 Natty Waterfall.jpg

We sat down in the first row behind the bullpen and Tim kept himself entertained crawling around by my feet:

 
14 tim entertains himself.jpg

Eventually, the rain stopped!  We’d already been at the park a long time there was no baseball being played…Tim was confused:

13 tim wheres the game.jpg

The grounds crew raced out to start preparing the field for BASEBALL!  Note the huge splashes as this guy runs through the outfield:

16 splish splash.jpg That guy and his buddies started pulling the tarp off of the infield…

15 tarp removal.jpg

…and into the outfield grass:

17 LF rain delay panoramic.jpg

This Giant’s coach started squeegeeing the bullpen — looking like they were gonna play a game:

18 squiggy coach.jpg

And then came the diamond dust…lots of it:

19 lots of diamond dust.jpg

At this point, heck, it sure seems like we’re playing baseball tonight.  Yes!  Bring on Randy Johnson’s 300th win!

But first, Tim requested ice cream.  Even though the game hadn’t started yet, I agreed we could go get his ice cream helmet.  We headed to the concourse behind home plate so we could go out to RF where there are a bunch of standing counters or covered seats where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream.

However, before we could get around home plate, we ran into a familar face, snagger and MLBlogger extraordinaire Zack Hample.

 

20 with zack.jpg

(Note, in this picture I’m not toting my usual black Rawlings Trap-eze.  I made an exception for this game and brought my black Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B.)

How did I end up meeting up with Zack at the game you ask?  How about a little overly detailed back story?

So, my favorite ball park of all time is the one and only Kingdome.  Many a night, I find myself searching google images for pictures of the Kingdome.  Like this.  A couple months back, I came across a Kingdome picture titled “Alli Zack Kingdome.”  I’d actually come across it before in my quest for Kingdome pictures.  I thought to myself, who is this dude whose picture has now come up twice when I’ve searched for my beloved Kingdome?  So, I followed the link to his webpage.  I ran through a number of the pictures from every year of his life – including many pictures at different stadiums wearing different teams’ apparrel.  Eventually, I found links to numerous articles and video clips and learned that he catches a whole lot of balls at games.  Then I found his blog.  This was the off-season, so I pretty much scanned around old entries from different games.  I really enjoyed all of the random stadium pictures — like this stuff.  So, I started following his blog.

Tim, Zack and I ended up wandering over toward the seats behind third base.  Zack wanted to watch to see if any players were out on the field.  (NOTE:  at no point during this “game” did I ever see a single player on the field of play — that’s from 5:45 to 10:45, no players on the field).  Zack and I chatted while Tim stood on a railing giving Zack what seemed to be thousands of fist bumps and high fives…some of them might have just been slaps – the boy was getting tired and restless.  Here is what it looked like:

21 multiple high fives.jpg

After a while, I got Tim his ice cream helmet — real chocolate ice cream (not soft serve) in a helmet for $5.00 — and then the three of us sat in the back row of the field level seats behind third base.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but it seemed like we were close to playing some baseball.  The field was looking a whole lot better.  It wasn’t raining.  But that darn tarp was still sitting in the outfield.

22 field looking better.jpg

Worse than that, there was just no urgency on the field.  It seemed like they should have been working harder to get the tarps off of the field so the game could start.  But no, they were working at a snails pace.

Even more frustrating was that the Nationals were giving us absolutely no updates about what was happening.  Literally, for several hours the only “update” was a sign (shown in a picture or two above) that reassured us that the Nationals would provide updates about the situation.

At one point, we debated whether they could get the field ready to start at 9:00 p.m.  Well, that was soon a moot point.  The rain returned:

23 Act II Return of the Rain.jpg

Tim pointed to the sky and told me all about the “rain buggies” and “thunder monsters.”  He asked me “is the baseball game over?”  I reassured him, “no, it hasn’t started yet.”

A kind member of the crowd provided comic relief by running on the field, rounding the bases, and then took out a security guy at home plate (the guy in yellow):

24 fan removal squad.jpg

 Remember how I said the Nats gave us no updates?  That isn’t entirely accurate.  At some point in the 9 o’clock hour (maybe later), they announced that the buses to the naval ship yard (or something like that) will run for “half an hour after the conclusion of tonight’s game.”  Is it just me or doesn’t that sorta imply there is going to be a game tonight?

Around 10-something, the umpires came out and tested the outfield.  Then they left.  Nothing changed.  No announcements.  More sitting and waiting.

A while later, they did it again.  This time, they had a big meeting by the third base dugout after testing the field.  It looked like one of them signaled a “no go” sign to Manny Acta, but then he stopped and walked over to Acta and told him something.  Then the umps left.  A bunch of Nats were still in their dugout.  Shouldn’t they be gone if the umps told them it was postponed?  They kept standind around in there.

But a couple minutes later, all of the Nats left at once as if on cue.  Maybe they’re leaving to get ready to go home?  Maybe they’re leaving to get ready for the game?  A couple minutes later, a guy grabs the Nats gatorade coolers and took them into the clubhouse.  Not a good sign.  But still no announcement.  What is going on?

We decided to get up and look for some food.  Everything was closed.  No food or drink available in the stadium.  Do they know something they’re not telling us?  Here is a view of the field through the Red Porch restaurant, which was closed:

25 no food for you.jpg

Finally, at 10:47, they called the game:

26 call at 1047.jpg Very dissappointing.  A couple minutes later, they announced they’d give us tickets to another game later in the season — you mean I have to find a reason to come back again?

Tim and I headed for the shuttle to the RFK parking lot.  Tim was fast asleep 5 minutes into the car right home.  We arrived home a little after 2:00 a.m.  Before heading off to bed, I checked my email.  I had an email from the Nationals saying the game was postponed.  The email was received at 10:05pm.  That means they had emailed me about the game 40 minutes before they announced it in the stadium — incredible!

The worst part is that Randy Johnson pitched today and won his 300th game. AND WE MISSED IT!!!  Well, we watched it on TV:

26 game on without us.JPG

I felt a little sorry for Randy because there were only about 5 fans at the game.  It was terrible.  He should have won number 300 at home with a packed house or somewhere where the stands would be filled with Bit Unit fans cheering him on like crazy.

Oh, well.

CONGRATULATIONS, RANDY!!!  Excellent career.  Thanks for the 130 wins you brought the Mariners!

Season Fan Stats:

12 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)

3,897 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

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