Results tagged ‘ Seattle Mariners ’

MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt

We record the baseballs we catch at MLB games on MyGameBalls.com, an excellent site created last year by Alan Schuster.

On March 29, 2010, Alan announced a contest for the 2010 season:  The 2010 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt Contest.

Alan created a list of twenty photos participants should try to collect while inside MLB stadiums during the 2010 season:

scavenger hunt list.jpgOn April 4, 2010, we published our 2010 Cook & Son Baseball Agenda and goals, including goal number 19:  “Win MyGameBalls.com photo-scavenger hunt.

So, we wrote down the list (actually, we mistakenly only wrote down 19 of the 20 photos) in the trusty notebook that we’d eventually carry with us to 29 games at 13 stadiums in 2010…

scavenger notes.jpg…and we set out to collect the scavenger hunt photos.

Actually, we got off to a slow start.  Both Tim and I fist bumped players in April and May, but I could never get a picture of it.  Finally, without realizing it, we got our first scavenger hunt photo in Baltimore on May 11, 2010, when we recreated a picture of the first time Tim and I met Zack Hample…

1 - 6pts - ZBH - MGB Top 10.JPG…who of course isn’t just in the Top 10, he is No. 1 on the MyGameBalls.com all-time list.  An excellent night, we got our first scavenger hunt picture and watched our first Mariners win of the season.

In Pittsburgh, Tim and I bought a white headband and inscribed it with “MyGameBalls.com,” but we never got the picture.  Instead, we kept the headband handy and finally got the picture when we were back in Baltimore on June 5, 2010

2 - 4pts - MGB headband.JPG…when we witnessed Red Sox Nation’s invasion of Camden Yards.

We got our third scavenger hunt photo on the same night and like our first photo, we didn’t even realize we got it until a couple days after the fact.  You see, we met a couple great guys (actually a whole great family), Todd and Tim Dixon a/k/a “Todd (HI)” and “Teemo” at this game.  We “knew” Todd (HI) and Teemo from our blog comments and it was great to finally meet them in person.  However, they arrived right at game time and totally missed BP.  At the end of the game, Tim, Teemo and Teemo’s sister, Jessica, went for umpire baseballs.  Victor Carapazza gave Tim a baseball, but the Dixon’s came up empty handed at their first and only game at Camden Yards.  Tim got a baseball during BP, so we gave his umpire ball from Carapazza to Teemo so he would have a baseball from Camden Yards…

3 - 2pts - Ball to Teemo.JPG…at the time, Teemo was 8 years old.

A few days later, we flew to California and met up with my Dad for the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  At our first game of the trip in Oakland on June 9, 2010, we secured our fourth picture when Tim met and high-fived Stomper:

4 - 3pts - High Five Stomper.jpgWe really tried to take advantage of the roadtrip.  Our goal was to get a scavenger hunt picture at each game.  On June 10, 2010, we were still in Oakland when we got this picture with Jered Weaver…

5 - 7pts - Weaver All-Star.JPG…this was an interesting picture because it wasn’t a scavenger hunt qualifying picture at the time it was taken.  The 2010 All-Star team had not been set yet.  However, with a little gaming of the system, a month later, Joe Girardi helped us secure the all-star picture when he named Weaver — who by rule could not pitch in the all-star game because he pitched the last game of the first half of the season — as a “replacement” for C.C. Sabbathia who also could not pitch for the same reason.  Weaver was ultimately replaced on the active all-star roster by Andrew Bailey.

A few minutes later, we were able to get Tim’s picture with former Mariners pitcher, Joel Piniero…

6 - 5pts - Piniero Fist Bump.JPG…and I flat out told/asked Joel, “we’re in a photo scavenger hunt, could we get your picture fist bumping my son?”  Joel is awesome.  Of course, he obliged.

On June 11, 2010 in Los Angeles (actual Los Angeles, not Anaheim), Joel pitched a gem to beat the Dodgers in the “freeway series,” and there were just enough Angels fans in attendance to help me mock-celebrate this homerun by Howie Kendrick…

7 - 8pts - Homer.JPG…who can be seen between second base and third base.  Just for kicks, we got this picture again late in the season (see inset picture).

On June 12, 2010, we were in San Diego and Tim was wearing his Mariners uniform (complete with baseball pants and stirrup-looking socks) when we got this picture in the bleacher-beach…

8 - 7pts - Baseball Pants.JPG…I included the second picture (to the right above), which was taken a couple days later in San Francisco to show Tim’s stirrup-socks.  This was actually a tough picture to pick which one I would submit.  I actually took this picture where Tim is standing in the bleacher seats behind the beach for the competition, but you couldn’t actually tell his pants were baseball pants.  So I went with the one in the beach section of the bleachers where it was more evident that they were baseball pants.

The following day, were were back at Petco Park when we got what I considered to be possibly the hardest picture in the contest…

9 - 4 pts - Umpire Joe West.JPG…a picture with 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West.  This picture came about in an odd way.  Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez gave Tim the baseball he is holding in the picture after Felix Hernandez won an absolute gem of a game.  West then snatched the baseball out of Tim’s hands and exited through the umpire tunnel.  West then came back laughing and gave the ball back to Tim.  I pounced on the opportunity to ask him for a picture.  He was more than happy to oblige.

Back in Pennsylvania, we headed to Citizens Bank Park on June 20, 2010 (Phathers’ Day), and we came away with two more scavenger hunt pictures.  The first was with a Phillies Ballgirl named Bridgette…

10 - 3pts - Phillies ballgirls.JPG…originally, Tim was too shy to get his picture with Bridgette.  But I told him it would help us win the contest and then he was all over it.  After he saw Bridgette run on the field to catch a foul grounder, he ended up quite enjoying that he met a ballgirl.  In fact, the next week, he asked if he could get his picture with another Phillies ballgirl, Brittany.

After the Phathers’ Day game, Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra tossed us a Target Field commemorative baseball…

11 - 3pts - 2010 Commemorative.JPG…resulting in this scavenger hunt qualifying photo (note: also pictured is the Father’s Day blue wrist band that we received from Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek).

On June 26, 2010, the Phillies were “on the road” in Philadelphia to face off against the home town Blue Jays and we made our way to the Great White North for the game.  Due to the flip-flopping of the BP order (the home team Blue Jays hit first) and the unbridaled awesomeness of Jamie Moyer…

12 - 7pts - Moyer Vizquel.JPG…we got my favorite picture of the entire competition:  a picture with Jamie Moyer, age 47.  FYI, Moyer is my favorite pitcher of all-time.  In August in Baltimore, Tim got his picture with Omar Visquel, who is also a former-Mariner still playing in MLB over the age of 40.

On July 22, 2010, we were in Baltimore once again and we hooked up with Hall of Famer and, more importantly, baseball TV reporter/personality Jim Palmer…

13 - 6pts - Jim Palmer The Reporter.jpg…after getting a normal picture with Palmer, I asked if we could also get one shaking hands.  We clapsed hands in a traditional hand shake, and then Palmer switched it up with the “cooler” hand shake featured in the picture.  Palmer is one cool dude.

During this same game, we purchased the first funnel cake of Tim’s life and snagged this picture…

14 - 2pts - Eating Funnel Cake.jpg…after this picture, we’ll stick with ice cream helmets.

On August 8, 2010, we met the Sultan of Swat, George Herman “Babe” Ruth himself, in Baltimore…

15 - 5pts - Ruth Retired 1935.jpg…and I snapped this picture as he gave Tim his autograph.  The Babe retired in 1935, well before the 1990 cut off for this scavenger hunt photo.

On August 20, 2010, we were in New York and we were equipped with Tim’s cousin’s Kate’s pink backpack…

16 - 5pts - pink backpack.jpgReal men wear pink.

On September 6, 2010, Tim and I pulled an I-95 day/night doubleheader.  We were in Washington, D.C. in the morning when we got this shot of Livan Hernandez…

17 - 5pts - MidAir.jpg…and finally I was able to capture a baseball sailing toward us in a photo.  Thanks, Livan!

On September 12, 2010 (game not yet written up), we celebrated Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary at Nationals Park.  The Dallas Cowboys would take on the Washington Redskins later in the day and when we spotted this fan in the LF seats during pre-game warm-ups (no BP)…

18 - 4 pts - Cowboys Jersey.jpg…we finally got our “non-baseball professional jersey” picture.

And so we entered September 18, 2010 (game not yet written up), having checked off all but one of the photos in our little spiral notebook.  Unfortunately, I realized I had failed to include one of the pictures in my notes — an usher cutting a ball retrieving device.  The last two pictures would be difficult because we’ve never made or used a “device” and we’d been searching for a mulleted fan all month to no avail.

It was looking bleak, but then an odd twist of fate signaled that this night was *our* night.  Just before the game started, I realized that I had a pair of craft scissors in my back pocket (I’d used them earlier in the day while helping my wife with a project).  So, we had to get it done.

I kept my eyes wide open in hopes that a guy who was all business-in-front and party-in-back would cross our path.  We were thrilled when this kind beer man came peddling his goods by our seats…

19 - 9pts - party business.jpg…I simply approached him and said excitedly, “Hey, can I get a picture with you beer man!?”  He was more than happy to give me a picture and a high-five turned awkward hand clasp.

Earlier in the afternoon, Camden Yards regular and all-around good guy, Avi Miller, gave me a tip on who to approach regarding the “device” picture.  First, we had a figure out how to rig a “device” for the staged photo…

20 - 5pts - Cut Glove Trick.jpg…and when we found “Ms. Kelly,” she was happy to meet someone who knew Avi, and just as happy to help us out with our 20th and final photo.

Shortly after this last game, I notified Alan Schuster that we’d completed all of the photos.

On September 27, 2010, Alan announced the official results on MyGameBalls.com:  “Cook & Son Crowned Scavenger Hunt Champions.”

On October 8, 2010, our prize (an MLB.com gift card) arrived in the mail.  And we were happy to find that Alan had included some “hardware” suitable for framing:

scavenger hardware.JPG(Note: in real life, the certificate looks much better than it does here — this is a photo (not a scan) of the certificate and the washed out part at the top is the flash).

Thanks, Alan!

He had a ton of fun trying to collect these pictures while at the ballpark in season.  We are definitely looking forward to having fun trying to defend our Championship in 2011.

The Ichiro Line

We’re in Seattle on vacation and looking forward to our first home Mariners games of the season.  We’re still a few games behind in our game entries, but it seems like a good time to take an break from game entries and celebrate one of the best hitters ever –  Ichiro!

In ten seasons, Ichiro has had 200+ hits ten times.  Its as if he’s set his own Anti-Mendoza line (.200 avergae).  He’s set “The Ichiro Line” (200 hits in a season).

Its a remarkable feat.  Let’s take a look back at Ichiro’s ten seasons and see how rare a performance Ichiro has turned in ten times in a row.

Between 2001-2010, the top seasons in terms of players reaching The Ichiro Line were in 2006 and 2007, when 8 players reached The Ichiro Line.  The fewest Ichiro-Liners were in 2005 and 2008, when only 3 players in MLB reached the Ichiro Line.  Let’s check it out by year:

2001


25 - ichiromotion hit 184.jpg1.  Ichiro 242

2.  Rich Aurilia 206

2.  Bret Boone 206

4.  Shannon Stewart 202

4.  Juan Pierre 202

 

2002

1.  Alphonso Soriano 209

2.  Ichiro 208 (2)

3.  Vlad Guererro 206

4.  Miguel Tejada 204

4.  Bernie Williams 204

 

2003

1.  Vernon Wells 215

2.  Ichiro 212 (3)

2.  Albert Pujols 212

4.  Todd Helton 209

5.  Michael Young 204

5.  Juan Pierre 204

7.  Garret Anderson 201

 


20 - ichiro singles.jpg2004

1.  Ichiro 262 (4)

2.  Juan Pierre 221 (2)

3.  Michael Young 216 (2)

4.  Mark Loretta 208

5.  Vlad Guererro 206

6.  Miguel Tejada 203

7.  Jack Wilson 201

8.  Adrian Beltre 200

 

2005

1.  Michael Young 221 (3)

2.  Ichiro 206 (5)

3.  Derek Jeter 202

 

2006

1.  Ichiro 224 (6)

2.  Michael Young 217 (4)

3.  Miguel Tejada 214

3.  Derek Jeter 214 (2)

5.  Juan Pierre 204

6.  Chase Utley 203

7.  Freddy Sanchez 200

8.  Vlad Guerrero 200

 



Thumbnail image for 14 - Ichiro singles in 1st 6-12-10.JPG2007

1.  Ichiro 238 (7)

2.  Magglio Ordonez 216

2.  Matt Holliday 216

4.  Hanley Ramirez 212

4.  Jimmy Rollins 212

6.  Derek Jeter 206 (3)

7.  Michael Young 201 (5)

8.  Placido Polanco 200

 

2008

1.  Ichiro 213 (8)

2.  Dustrin Pedroia 213

3.  Jose Reyes 204

 

2009

1.  Ichiro 225 (9)

2.  Derek Jeter 212

3.  Robinson Cano 204

4.  Ryan Braun 203

 

2010

1.  Ichiro 214 (10)

2. Robinson Cano 200 (2)

 

As shown by the parentheses following certain players names above, Ichiro has a ten season streak of reaching The Ichiro Line.  The next longest streak of reaching The Ichiro Line belongs to Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Ryan Braun whose streaks all sit at 1-year.  There is very little chance that Jeter (170 hits) or Braun (184 hits) will extend their streaks to 2 years.   Cano, on the other hand, currently sits at 192 hits and is on pace for 199 hits.  Therefore, if he can scratch out at least one extra hit he will just barely extend his streak to 2 years of reaching The Inchiro Line.

Aside from Ichiro’s current 10-year streak, the next longest streak between 2001-2010 was 5-years by Michael Young (2003-07).   Since Young snapped his streak, he has yet to achieve The Ichiro Line again.

All five of the top five season hit totals between 2001-2010 belong to Ichiro:


20 - Ichiro's 149th hit of 2010 in 1st 6-14-10.JPG1. Ichiro 262 (’04)

2. Ichiro 242 (’01)

3. Ichiro 238 (’07)

4. Ichiro 225 (’09)

5. Ichiro 224 (’06)

6. Juan Pierre 221 (’04)

7. Michael Young 221 (’05)

8. Michael Young 217 (’06)

9. Michael Young 216 (’04)

10. Magglio Ordonez 216 (’07)

11. Matt Holliday 216 (’07)

12. Ichiro 214 (’10)

13. Miguel Tejada 214 (’06)

14. Derek Jeter 214 (’06)

15. Ichiro 213 (’08)

16. Dustin Pedroia 213 (’08)

17. Vernon Wells 213 (’03)

18. Ichiro 212 (’03)

19. Hanley Ramirez 212 (’07)

20. Jimmy Rollins 212 (’07)

21. Derek Jeter 212 (’09)

22. Albert Pujols 212 (’03)

23. Todd Helton 209 (’03)


35 - ichi-knocks moe.JPG24. Alphonso Soriano 209 (’02)

25. Ichiro 208 (’02)

26. Mark Loretta 208 (’04)

27. Ichiro 206 (’05)

28. Vlad Guererro 206 (’02)

29. Rich Aurilia 206 (’01)

20. Bret Boone 206 (’01)

31. Vlad Guerrero 206 (’04)

32. Derek Jeter 206 (’07)

33. Michael Young 204 (’03)

34. Juan Pierre 204 (’03)

35. Juan Pierre 204 (’06)

36. Robinson Cano 204 (’09)

37. Miguel Tejada 204 (’02)

38. Bernie Williams 204 (’02)

39. Jose Reyes 204 (’08)

40. Miguel Tejada 203 (’04)

41. Chase Utley 203 (’06)

42. Ryan Braun 203 (’09)

43. Shannon Stewart 202 (’01)

44. Juan Pierre 202 (’01)

45. Derek Jeter 202 (’05)

46. Garret Anderson 201 (’03)

47. Jack Wilson 201 (’04)

48. Michael Young 201 (’07)

49. Adrian Beltre 200 (’04)

50. Freddy Sanchez 200 (’06)

51. Vlad Guerrero 200 (’06)

52. Placido Polanco 200 (’07)

53. Robinson Cano 200 (’10)

 

There have been so many historically great hitters in Baseball’s storied-history — guys like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, George Sisler, Wee Willie Keeler, Tony Gwynn, and Roberto Clemente — so I am not going to make as to where percisely Ichiro ranks among the game’s greatest.  But one thing is clear:  Ichiro is clearly among the elite hitters in the history of Major League Baseball.

I’m looking forward to Ichiro continuing to put on a hitting clinic for the world in 2011.  And hopefully he will once again achieve:

THE ICHIRO LINE!

Mariners and The City (8/21/10)

On August 21, 2010, the weekend after our Cleveland trip, we headed up to NYC to see our Mariners play in the Bronx:

1 - Bronx Gate 6.JPG

We were planning on seeing the M’s play Saturday, spend the night in a hotel and then get right back at it on Sunday for a second game.  Although they played the Sunday game (with a 1-hour mid-game delay), the rain washed out our Sunday plans.  But that was okay, because we packed a ton of excitement into our Saturday in NYC.

When we entered the ballpark, the batting cage was set up and a couple players (including C.C. Sabbathia) were playing catch with their kids in shallow CF behind the “bucket.”  We decided to head over to LF to see if anyone was in the Mariners bullpen.

As we walked into section 136, this was our view: 

1a - Yankee Stadium LF field level panorama.jpgWith a day of baseball just getting underway on the field, we decided it was time to take a picture for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt…

2 - pink backpack.JPG…we borrowed the pink backpack from Tim’s cousin, Kate.  (Thanks, Kate!)  The funniest thing about this picture is that Tim put his glove on the wrong hand!

Then, as I watched the action in the Mariners bullpen, Tim played like crazy with a little give-away truck he’d received upon entering the stadium:

3 - WB Mason truck.JPGHe was having a blast with that little truck.  He really loved that it was a delivery truck with a removable top.  We’ll check in later to see what Tim was delivering.

Here was the aforementioned “action” in the Mariners bullpen:

4 - Moore doing work in pen.JPGPitching coach Carl Willis was throwing wild pitch-after-wild pitch at Adam Moore.  Moore was bouncing and sliding all over the place trying his best to keep the pitches in front of him.  One of the “pitches” bounced up, hit Moore in the mask and bounced over the wall behind him.

As the home team hit, the Mariners pitchers came out to play catch in LF.  Tim and I headed around into foul territory to stand behind the pitchers on the foul line:

5 - Sweeney and Wright.JPGTwo seconds after arriving there, I called out to Brian Sweeney.  He spun around, found me, and lobbed a baseball in our direction.  Unfortunately, it fell about 3 feet short and a fan of the other team reached up and bare handed it.  Sweeney looked at me and shrugged a big, “uh, oh.  sorry.”  The guy who snatched the ball 10 inches in front of my glove looked up at and made eye contact with me.  My first thought was that he saw Tim and realized he just stole a ball from a kid and was going to give it to him.

I said, “No problem, man.  Its all good.”

He didn’t say a word.  He just kept looking at me with this weird, somewhat ambiguous look.  It wasn’t a look of happiness, or shame, or gloating.  It was sort of like, “Yeah, I stole it.  Deal with it.”  Then, the second he broke his 3 second stare at me, he took off and was gone.

Soon, we were about to be gone too.  An usher started walking through the section checking everyone’s tickets and telling people to leave if they didn’t have field level seats.  Finally, he made his way to us.

I tried to sweet talk him, “can we just stay for a few more minutes?  We came a long way, we just want to see the M’s warm up and then we’ll leave.”

“Sorry,” he respond with no real remorse in his voice, “you only get 40 minutes of batting practice.”

So we slowly made our way up the stairs.  I could see an usher in every section enforcing the “you only get 40 minutes of batting practice” rule.  All of them were in the first couple rows just off of the field.  So, instead of heading into the concourse, we cut to the right around the 20th or 25th row…

6 - Circuitous route out.JPGWe walked two and a half sections into the OF seats when I spotted an usher who was mid-section and heading toward CF.  She’d already checked overyone to the right (closer to the LF foul pole) so we headed back down…you know, just for one more peak at the field.

We headed to the first row and did our best job of looking like people with $100 tickets (Note: we’re never the guys with the $100 tickets).

This was the view from the $100 OF seats…

7 - well lets take one more look.JPG

We nestled into that open spot in front of little A-Rod with the luggage tag on his hat.

I just wanted to see if Brian Sweeney would give us another shot.  Unfortunately, he was deep into CF now as he played catch with Jamey Wright.  It wasn’t going to happen.  So, I started to tell Tim that it was time to head out of there.

Just then, I heard the crack of the bat, and I look up to see a ball sailing our way.  It was probably 10 feet to my left — around where the luggage-tagless Teixeira kid is standing.  I extended my glove up to a sea of gloves (along with the blue chip guy and the guy next to Teixeira).  I thought to myself, “I have no clue if I WILL, but I really MIGHT catch this!”

BOOM!

The ball slammed into my glove.

Wow…I caught a BP homer on the fly!

 

8 - marcus thames clean catch BP HR.JPGBy the way, I was right around the green “X” several pictures above when I caught the baseball.

Tim had never seen me catch a hit baseball on the fly at a MLB ballpark.  He was super excited.  He told me (and later his mom and his grandparents on the phone) about the catch countless times over the rest of the day — “daddy jumped up super high speed right on the edge of the seats and caught the ball and the whole crowd went ‘WOAH!’ when he got it!”

It might have been his proudest moment ever of his dear old dad.

Anyway, it was time to explore the stadium a bit.

We passed through Bronx Central Station heading from the RF corner toward home plate.  As we walked, we noticed that all of the big pictures of past baseball legends were in black and white…

9 - sterile hall.JPG…then Tim looked back and noticed that the other side the black and white banners featured pictures of modern day (or closer to modern day) players that were in color.

Next, we headed up top to (I think) section 329, where this was the view as we watched Felix Hernandez play catch with Jason Phillips:

9a - upper deck view of felix and jason.jpgHere’s a close up to prove it…

10 - Felix from above.JPG…yep, it was King Felix, alrighty.

Tim requested a picture with his truck:

11 - Tim and his truck.JPGAnd then we headed down to LCF to watch some more “action” in and around the Mariners bullpen.  As we hung out in the first row of section 238, Tim played with his truck on the cement wall, which made a perfect road for him:

12 - CF trucking.JPGIn that last picture, his truck had crached into the “tree” along the side of the road.

As Tim played with his truck, I watched as some stadium workers removed the netting…

13 - odd netting decisions.JPG…protecting monument park, which seemed odd to me.  Maybe the nets are there solely to protect the fans in monument park during BP.  But I’d always figured they were also supposed to protect the monuments from getting clobbered by homerun balls.

We also watched the M’s get ready for the game.  The first ones out there were Josh Bard and Jason Phillips:

14 - phillips and bard.JPGWhile we waited for starting pitcher, Jason Vargas, to join Bard and Phillips, Tim showed off what he was hauling in his delivery truck:

15 - Tims cargo.JPGFinally, Vargas arrived.  After stretching, he played catch with Bard in the outfield:

16 - vargas-to-vargas.JPGThen they took it to the bullpen:

17 - vargas bullpen.JPGI’m a big fan of Vargas.  He’s been pitching superbly this season (with no run support).  But I was a little concerned.  He looked fine in the bullpen, but I could hear him making some comments that led me to believe he didn’t think his pitches were popping as much as he wanted them to.

I took the following picture just because I thought it looked cool that a bunch of his colleagues were standing around watching Jason warm up:

18 - vargas rolls with a posse.JPGThe M’s pitchers like to stick together and support one another.  I like it.

Finally, Vargas was ready and everyone showed him some pre-game love:

19 - go get em vargas.JPGOur seats were actually in RCF in section 201, but for some reason we decided to hang out at the back of section 238 and 239 in the LF bleachers…

20 - LF bleacher concourse diagram.JPGWe started out at the yellow “X’ at the back of section 238 (the red “X” shows where we later ending up eating nachos).  The obstructed view from out there (especially in section 239) is almost unconscionable — particularly when you realize they spent something like $1.5 BILLION dollars building this stadium.  Nevertheless, we choose to sit here when we actually had better seats.

Here was our view in the first inning:

21 - obstructed view from section 238.JPGAnd let me tell you, the obstruction came into play BIG TIME.

Not on this pitch…

22 - Ichi-jack.JPG…but Ichiro led off the game with a homerun to RCF.  Us poor suckers at the back of section 238 had no clue what was happening.  All we saw was a ball driven toward the RCF gap and out of our view.  We waited.  There was no audible signs from the crowd as to what might have happened (no cheers for an out or groans for a hit).  But then Ichiro just kept running.  He circled the bases for a homerun.  Easily the oddest homerun I have ever witnessed.  Not because of the hit iself, but because of our massively obstructed view of it.

Two batters later, the obstruction came into play again.  This time, it was a little different.  Russell “The Muscle” Branyan uncorked what I understand was the longest homerun hit so far at this new stadium in the Bronx (and the first to reach the upper deck).  It was an absolute no-doubter homerun…

23 - upper deck branyan.JPG…unlike Ichiro’s blast two batters earlier, us folks behind the obstruction knew this was a homerun immediately upon contact.  In fact, neither of the 2 outfielders in our view even moved a muscle.  We knew it was a homerun, but we had no clue where the ball landed.  In fact, I only learned that it was an upper deck shot when I saw a replay on a nearby TV screen.

So, bottom line is that at the end of the top of the first the Mariners had hit two homeruns, but we’d seen neither land in the seats.

It was time for Vargas to take the mound.  Things didn’t go well from the start.

Lead off hitter, Derek Jeter, hit a weak grounder…

24 - jeter going both ways.JPG…that Vargas got a piece of, but couldn’t secure.  Essentially, he just slowed the ball down so second baseman Chone Figgins had no shot at throwing out Jeter.

The home team would go on to score four runs in the bottom of the first on a 2-RBI single by Robinson Cano and a 2-run home run by Jorge Posada.

 Fortunately, Vargas would settle down after the shaky first inning.

Tim and I were hungry so we went to the nacho stand.  I asked for some nachos and the guy asked “with what on ‘em?”  I said, “I don’t know.  What do you got?”  “Everything,” he replied.

Well, I don’t know if he really had everything, but he certainly put together some delicious nachos for us…

25 - wholly nachos.JPG…with heaping helpings of cheese, ground beef, and guacamole.  Or as Tim said, “Guaca!”

For another unknown reason, we decided to eat our nachos in the last row of section 239.  It was like we were asking to not be able to see half of the game.   Here was our ridiculously obstructed view:

26 - obstructed view from section 239.JPGI can’t imagine that there is a worse obstructed view in MLB.  And guess what?  It came into play again.

Yep, on the second pitch in the top of the third inning (this pitch!)….

27 - ichi-jack part 2.JPG…Ichiro blasted a drive that quickly sored out of our view and, moments later, into the stands in RF.  It was another Ichiro homerun, and once again we did not see it land in the seats.  (FYI, in that picture, the ball is right below Ichiro’s neck).

On Ichiro’s second homerun of the game and an RBI single by Casey Kotchman, the Mariners tied up the score at 4-4 in the third inning.  And it would stay that way until the 7th inning.

That was enough of LCF for us, we moved over to section 202 (RF’s mirror image of section 238), which was right next to the section of our actual seats (section 201 — the RF mirror image of section 239).

While there was still an obstruction our in LF, the view was much better from the back of section 202…and this ice cream helmet made it evern better:

28 - Bronx sundae.JPGWhile my camera is excellent for taking zoomed-in pictures, it just can’t compete with this monster professional lens that was standing behind us for much of the second half of the game:

29 - Ichi-Stalker.JPGThis lady was there to take pictures of Ichiro for the Kyoto News, and she probably got a much better pictures of Ichiro than these:

30 - ichi-grab.JPGIn the seventh inning, Vargas started to struggle again.  He ended up giving up another run and was then pulled with two of his runners on base…

31 - obligatory OF huddle.JPG…Ichiro, Gutierrez and Sauders did the obligatory OF huddle while Jamey Wright warmed up on the mound.  Wright then promptly allowed both of Vargas’s runners to score.  And just like that the M’s were trailing 7-4.

We decided to roam around a little bit.  As Franklin Gutierrez batted in the top of the eighth, we found ourselves on top of the view obstructing batters’ eye sports bar:

32 - bronx straight away.JPGGutierrez went down on strikes.

Just then, I looked toward RF and I noticed something new…

33 - Is That Springsteen.JPG…wait, isn’t Bruce Springsteen “The Boss”?

The team in the white-striped pajamas scored two more runs in the bottoms of the 8th.  All of a sudden, the game was out of hand.  It was a real shame because it was a great game for the first 6-and-a-half innings.

In the top of the ninth, we were ready to leave a little early to go see a bit of the city, but we had to stick around to see Ichiro’s final at bat of the day.

Mariano Rivera was brought on in a non-save situation…

34 - What you got Moe.JPG…so it was future Hall of Famer vs. future Hall of Famer…

35 - ichi-knocks moe.JPG…and our future Hall of Famer won the battle.  Ichiro hit this pitch to left field for his third hit of the day.  We would be waiting for the subway across the street when Russel Branyan hit Ichiro in for the final run of the game.

Unfortunately, the M’s couldn’t rally and they lost 9-5.

Despite the loss, it was a fun day at the ballpark.  Now, it was time to find more fun exploring Manhatten.

First, we headed downtown to our hotel.  While waiting for the No. 1 train in the upper west side…

36 - subway rat.JPG…Tim spotted a huge rat searching for a snack on the tracks.  It would be the first of many huge rats we’d see before retiring for the night.

We stayed at the Club Quarters hotel.  I knew it was downtown by the World Trade Center area, but I wasn’t sure exactly where it was located.  As we tracked street addresses on the way to the hotel, we kept getting closer and closer to “ground zero.”

When we reached the hotel entrance, we could see cranes just behind the hotel.  When we reached our room… 

37 - club quarters world trade center.JPG…and pulled back the shades, we were looking straight down into the ground zero construction site.  Ground Zero literally came right up to the edge or our hotel.  It was pretty crazy.  I figured we’d never see Ground Zero like this again, so I took a little video clip:

After relaxing at our hotel a bit, we headed out into Manhatten.  We rode the 1-Train up to 59th Street & Columbus Circle — which is right at the southwest corner of Central Park.  We brought Tim’s bat and a couple foam baseballs and Tim did some hitting in one of the baseball fields in the park:

38 - central park baseball.JPGIt was pretty cool.  A couple times some random passersby stopped to watch Tim hit.  After it got too dark to see my pitches, we packed up the baseball stuff and went on our way.  While heading south to the edge of the Park, Tim posed for a picture on one of the HUGE rocks in the Park (bottom right photo above).  He wanted to climb all over the rocks and in a play area that we passed through, but it was getting too dark to see.

We headed back into the concrete jungle of Manhatten.  We walked down 7th Street toward Times Square until we found my favorite place to grab a bite to eat in Manhatten…

39 - dinner at Rays.JPGRay’s Pizza (at 49th & 7th)!  Tim devoured a huge piece of cheese pizza…and so did I.

Then it was back into out to the street.  We made our way a couple more blocks south toward Times Square.  I took this picture as we approached Times Square:

40 - approaching Times Square.JPGWe reached Times Square at about 9:00 p.m.  It was pandamoneum.  People were everywhere:

41 - pandamonium.JPGTim was excited to be out and about and in the middle of all this action.  This picture does a terrible job of capturing his mood at the moment…

42 - Tim and a lot of people.JPG…but sadly it is the only one I took.  Oops.

In the middle of all the people, we found a guy painting an interesting picture of President Obama:

43 -  puzzling obama.JPGI always enjoyed watching the painters on the street and in Rittenhouse Square when I used to live in Center City Philadelphia.  Tim enjoyed watching this guy paint this picture.

Just down the street, we found everyone staring up at the side of a building…

44 - cant find us.JPG…watching this huge TV screen and waving to try to find where they were in the picture.  Tim was on my shoulders and I can’t find us anywhere in that picture.

At the south end of Times Square, we saw “the ball” for 2010:

45 - ball dropped and rose again.JPGI walked us down to the Times Square subway station at 42nd Street.  As we made our way underground to our train, we found this cool band playing…

46 - subway rockers.JPG…I can’t tell for sure, but it was something like a 10-12 piece band.  They were rocking pretty good.  I always enjoy the musicians in the subway tunnels in NYC.

We took the 1-Train down just a little bit to Penn Station…Hmm…I think it was Penn Station.  It was definitely 34th Street.  We’d had a plan since the morning, go up to the top of that building where Buddy the Elf’s dad works.

This building:

46a - tracking the empire state building.JPGIn the morning, Tim picked out Buddy the Elf’s dad’s building (as the “pointy” building) from the car as we made our way from New Jersey toward the George Washington Bridge.

About 12 hour later, we finally made it to the Empire State Building…

47 - empire.JPG…after waiting in an incredibly long, and frustrating line on the 2nd and 80th floors for about an hour, and then walking up the final six flights of stairs with Tim on my shoulders, we finally made it to the top of the Empire State Building at around 11:00 p.m.

48 - empire state building view.JPGThe view was pretty cool lookng north toward Central Park and Times Square.  The lights of the city were pretty cool.  The only problem was that the east, south, and west sides of the building were really windy.  An extremely tired Tim was not a fan of the wind.  So we weren’t up there all that long.

Still, it was cool.  I got this picture of the tip of the building from the observation deck:

49 - pointing.JPGBy the way, if you take a baseball bat to the Empire State Building, they’ll make you check it at a security desk on the second floor.  After we retreived Tim’s bat, we headed back to the 1-Train.  Tim fell asleep on my shoulders while waiting for the subway.  Finally, I made it back to our hotel where our long and exciting day finally came to an end.  That bed felt great after being on the go since about 7:00 a.m.

As I mentioned, we did not go to the Sunday game because it was raining (and this Stadium does not have a kids play area or really anything designed to entertain a kid during a long rain delay).  It ended up being just fine that we missed the game because the Mariners got destroyed by a score of 10-0.

After a pizza “brunch”…

52 - tim sized pizza.JPG…at Ray’s Pizza at 82nd & Columbus, we hopped in our car and were home in time to watch part of the game on TV and spend a nice Sunday with Colleen and Kellan.

2010 Fan Stats:

22 Games

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

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

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

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

You Win Some and…(8/15/10)

On August 15, 2010, Tim and I woke up in our hotel in Cleveland ready to see the Mariners take another game from the Indians and for Tim to run the bases at Progressive Field.

But first we had to walk around downtown Cleveland a tiny bit to see what the city had to offer.  Just down the street from our hotel was a big park where Tim and I rocked out on some huge guitars…

1 - guitar free.JPG…and then we checked out a really huge “FREE” stamp, which I figured was a reference to the library nearby.

Sitting on the edge of Lake Erie and just down the hill from the park, we found this scene: 

2 - RnR HOF.jpgThat is the Cleveland Browns Stadium (check out the huge windmill to the right of the stadium), some sort of NASA building (the domed thing), and the Rock’N’Roll Hall of Fame.

Okay, that’s enough Cleveland for us, it was time to head to Progressive Field.

We arrived shortly before Gate C opened.  We were about 50 people back in the single line.  After a few minutes, a stadium attendant came up to us and told us to walk up front to start a new line.  So, all of a sudden, we were first in line:


3 - systems check.JPGIt was interesting to witness the stadium workers preparing to open up the gate.  It was like NASA mission control.  The guy standing by us had a walkie-talkie that was *blowing up* with ready checks.

“Team store ready?  “Check!”

“Suite ready”  “Check!”

“Right field ramp ready?”  “Check!”

Finally, all of the checks checked out and we hussled into the stadium to watch our Mariners take some BP.

All of those boxes at the gate?  They were filled with mustard hot dogs…

4 - Mustard Vargas.JPG…several weeks later, Tim still loves that hot dog.  A few minutes after that pictures, young ace-in-training Jason Vargas tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Vargas!

Tim wasn’t liking the sun beating down in RF, so we headed into the infield to hang out in the shade.

I was just hanging out watching BP and Tim was taking pictures of stuff all over the field.  He loves to take pictures.

At some point, one of our fine Mariners drilled a line drive off of the L-screen and it landed in foul territory…

5 - Rob Nodine.JPG…Mariners trainer Rob Nodine walked over, grabbed the baseball and tossed it up to us.  The baseball had really cool green marks from hitting the L-screen.

Thanks, Rob!

When BP wrapped up, Tim was sitting on my shoulders and we were shooting a video clip as all of our Mariners passed below us into the dugout.  And that is when I got this clip of Alonzo Powell tossing us our third and final baseball of the game:

Thanks, Alonzo!

With BP concluded and half-an-hour or more until game time, we headed up to the second deck in RF so Tim could play in the kids’ play area…

6 - imfamous playarea.JPG…the sight of a major melt down last season shortly before we saw Griffey hit his 624th career homerun.  Hmmm…Tim looks like a giant on that little motorcycle.  He might be too big for this play area.

Before the game started, we headed back down to the field level behind the M’s dugout.  During the national anthem, I got some pictures of our coaching staff including two Major League newcomers, veteran minor league coaches Daren Brown and Roger Hansen…

7 - new management.JPG…along side a couple Mariners coaches who had both thrown us a baseball within the last 24 hours, Alonzo Powell and Lee Tinsley.  By the way, Hansen is the same guy featured in a large scale Ken Griffey, Jr. prank during spring training.  Griff and Hansen go way back.  I think this is Hansen’s first stint in the majors and I hope that Griff gets out to the ballpark (any ballpark) to show his friend some major league support this season.

So, it was game time, and Tim and I found ourselves in the standing room area just behind the last row of seats on the 1B side of home plate.  Yesterday, Ichiro led off the game with a quick single.  Today, he never swung the bat…

8 - 4-for-Ichiro.JPG…and received a four pitch walk to lead off the game.  Unfortunately, he was left on 2B at the end of the inning.

It was lunch time.  Amazingly, Tim did not want nachos.  Instead, all he wanted was a ridiculously huge cup of french fries…

9 - fries time.JPG…that we ate at a table in the 1B side concourse.  While Tim sat and attacked the fries, I nibbled on my fair share of fries while standing next to the table watching Felix Hernandez dominate the Indians.

With the score knotted at zero, Adam Moore grounded out in the second inning:

10 - Adam Moore is No 10.JPGHe’s playing an excellent catcher now-a-days.  But after this game, his batting average dipped to a frighteningly low .159.

The Mariners were doing nothing offensively.

No worries.  Felix Hernandez was still dominating:

11 - King Felix.JPGIchiro was still looking for his 151st hit of the season when he came to bat in the third inning.  No dice.  He grounded out:

12 - Ichiro grounder.JPGIt was time for some ice cream.  We found this place in the 1B side inner concourse (the concourse on the 1B side splits into a two parts – the inside part is open to the field and the outside part is enclosed between concession stands, bathrooms, etc.).

They had ice cream helmets here and some excellent choices of real ice cream flavors…

13 - fancy ice cream.JPG…”Mariner” Moose Tracks, Mint Chocolate Chip, French Vanilla, Chocolate, Superman…and two others that I cannot read.

I got some “Mariner” Moose Tracks and Tim got Superman.  The lady was even kind enough to scoop only blue, yellow and green for Tim (and no extreme hyperness inducing red dye no. 40 ice cream).  Thanks, lady!

Tim enjoyed his Superman ice cream helmet from the handicapped accessible seating right by where we’d previously been standing in the SRO area…

14 - superman ice cream.JPG…I asked if he could sit there and the usher was nice enough to allow it.

Felix, well, he was still dominating:


15 - Felix induces Marson to Groundout 1-3.JPGActually, through four innings, we had a double no-hitter on our hands.

Finally, in the top of the 5th Casey Kotchman broke through with the Mariners first hit of the game, a leadoff double to deep CF.  At this point, our ice cream was gone and Tim was wrapped up in playing with his new mustard hot dog…

16 - fun with mustard.JPG…note that in the bottom center and right pictures, Tim is showing me that the mustard hot dog is eating and spitting sunflower seeds.

While Tim was busy with the mustard hot dog, the Mariners were busy trying to scratch out a run or two for King Felix.  And, despite their best efforts, it wasn’t going too well for the M’s.

With runners on first and second, Michael Saunders attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt…

17 - failed sacrifice for Saunders.JPG…but Indians pitcher Justin Masterson was able to get the lead runner at 3B.

After Chris Woodward walked to load the bases with one out, Ichiro absolutely crushed a line drive…

18 - Ichiro crushes bases loaded line-out.JPG…that Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta snared for the second out.  It had extra bases and 2 RBIs written all over it!  Chone Figgins then laid down another failed bunt for the third out of the inning.

Still, no runs for the Mariners.

Luckily, Felix was still dominating the Indians:

19 - Felix still dominating.JPGSure, he gave up a hit in the fifth and another in the sixth, but he was looking pretty unstoppable.

If the M’s could just scrape out one run, we would have been feeling really good about our chances at seeing a second straight Mariners win.

Tim needed to visit the play area again.  And he tossed some foamy baseballs into this pitching thingy:

20 - all strikes for Tim.JPGSince we were up in the second deck in RF, we figured we better  revisit the spot where we witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 624th career homerun.  Everything looked beautiful from up there…

21 - Site of No. 624.JPG…except that Griffey was retired and not in attenance.

I noticed that the walkway went out over Gate C (in fact, this walkway is what we tried to take cover under during the rainstorm the day before) and then turned left and headed toward Heritage Park.  So, we followed it.  This was the view from the walkway in almost straight-away CF:

22 - Jake Centerfield bridge panorama.jpgIt was a beautiful day.  We were witnessing an excellent pitchers duel.  We were excited to be at the ballpark:

23 - TJCs on Jake CF bridge.JPGWe decided to go down and visit Heritage Park.  I saw this hanging on the wall, and it looked new to me, so I figured I should share it here…

24 - The Ray Champman Story.JPG…if you click on the picture you can enlarge it so you can read The Ray Chapman Story.

While down there, we spied on the Indians reliever…

25 - Spying on the Indians bullpen.JPG…Masterson lasted only six innings and then Tony Sipp took over for the Tribe.

It was getting into the bottom of the seventh at this point.  We headed to the bleachers in LF.  Felix still had no run support, but he was still looking unhittable.

The first batter in the bottom of the seventh flew out to Franklin Gutierrez.

The second batter grounded out to short stop.

And then things took a disasterous turn.  King Felix induced former Mariner Luis Valbuena to ground to 2B.  But instead of recording the third out of the inning, Chone Figgins booted the ball.

It was nightmare time.  Felix should have been out of the inning.  The Mariners should have been batting in the top of the 8th.  Instead, the Indians proceeded to score SEVEN UNEARNED RUNS.  Six unearned runs were *charged* to Felix, including a grand slam by Travis Hafner.  Then Sean White came in and gave up the final unearned run of the inning — a homerun by Jayson Nix.

Stick a fork in the Mariners.  After a dominating 6.2 inning performance by King Felix, the Mariners were done.

Felix’s line on the day:

6.2 innings, 6 Hits, 6 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 4 BB, 7K

We headed into the infield for the end of the game.  We found some seats under cover where I got some close-up shots of some Mariners throw-away at bats…including, Russell Branyan…
 26 - Russell Branyan watches a strike.JPG…watching a low pitch en route to a four pitch walk in the top of the 8th.

And Jose Lopez fouling off a pitch…

27 - Jose Lopez fouls.JPG…before hitting a single to RF, which sent Branyan to 2B.  Branyan would go on to score the Mariners only run of the game on an infield single by Franklin Gutierrez.

Tim loves a kids show called “Team Umizoomi,” which has taught him to have “pattern power.”  Tim grabbed my camera and showed off his pattern power with alternating shots of his mustard hot dog and the infield…

28 - Tim's got pattern power.JPG…Pattern Power!

In the eighth, the Indians tacked on two more runs on a homerun by Michael Brantley, who by all indications appears to be the son of former Mariner Mickey Brantley…who happens to be the first person to ever give me a baseball…way back in my youth at the Kingdome.

Like yesterday, we found ourselves sitting in the front row behind home plate in the ninth inning.  It was interesting to watch the home plate cameraman switch camera positions each time a different handed batter came to the plate… 

29 - righty camera lefty camera.JPG…for righties he moved to the left side of home plate and then he switched to the right side when a lefty came to bat.

The game ended with little fan fare.

Once again, a million kids of all age materialized at the umpires’ exit and the home plate umpire ignored everyone.

We headed over to the Mariners dugout to cheer on our non-victorious guys and to pose for a picture:

30 - post-game pre-bases.JPGI guess Tim is posing with his non-existent umpire baseball.

Finally, it was time to line up for Kids Run the Bases!  Exactly 1 year and 363 days ago, Tim, my Dad, and I lined up in this very ballpark for our first ever Kids Run the Bases experience.  We had to go almost to the top of the stadium to find the end of the line…

31 - one tall line.JPG…you can’t really tell in that picture, but the line weaved back and forth up all of those ramps shown in the picture.

I was interested to see something while in line.  When we ran the bases on August 17, 2008, we passed by a sign in the bowels of Progressive Field that notified us that it has been “19″ days since the Indians last “Lost Time Accident.”  I was interested to see how many days they were at now.  My math powers (just like Team Umizoomi) told me that the most days it could possibly be up to was 747 (August 17, 2008 to August 15, 2010 + 19 days = (365 x 2) – 2 + 19 = 747).

The suspense mounted as we wound our way down and down and down into the belly of Progressive Field.  Finally, we reached the bottom.  We turned the final corner and walked into a machine storage / random work stuff area and found the sign:

32 - 365x2-2+19.JPGGood Job, Indians!

Let’s hear it for on-the-job safety!

Finally, we were on the RF foul warning track.  We got some nice person to take our picture by the 325 sign… 

33 - first foul pole reunion.JPGjust like the one my dad took 728 days earlier.  Tim has grown a bit in the past two years.

Then, I had a terrible idea:  I would video Tim’s run around the bases.  I’ve done this a couple times to moderate success.  This time, my filming was a complete failure (well, of the running the bases portion at least, the lead up to the bases is okay).  Here is the evidence:

One cool thing that is hard to tell from this video is that there were several Indians stationed on the field giving kids high fives — one by 1B (not sure who) and one at home plate (manager Manny Acta).

After running, we strolled by the 3B dugout and I got pictures of the fancy dugout seating between the two dugouts and behind home plate (to the left below)…

34 - dugout seating dugout.JPG…and the Indians dugout (right above).

After running the bases and before we could meet up behind the plate, Tim scratched his finger on the metal fence in front of the dugout seating area.  It was a teeny, tiny little scratch, but you would have thought his whole arm was ripped off.  Here he is *gutting out* one last picture from the field…

35 - progressive field with a booboo.JPG…as he holds out his injured pinky to avoid touching anything with it.  When we arrived back at our hotel, we applied a huge adult sized band-aid that really did the trick.

Before leaving the field, I got this panorama from foul territory down the 3B line:

36 - jake LF foul territory panorama.jpgAnd then I walked us back to our hotel with Tim on my shoulders.  On our way back, we (once again) discussed this burnt out building a couple blocks north of the stadium (far left below)…

37- burnt out building.JPG…this rock-with-a-tongue (middle), and I got a picture of us walking (reflection in windows).

Despite the bizzare 7-unearned run inning and the loss following a dominating performance by King Felix, we had a great time at this game and on our entire weekend trip to Cleveland.

2010 Fan Stats:

21 Games

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

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

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

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Indians Lose! Indians Lose! (8/14/10)

On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…

1 - My Ohio My.JPG…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!

As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels).  We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint:  see the title of this entry).

Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it.  We stayed at the Doubletree.  Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…

2 - Pondside Doubletree.JPG…all that blue at the far left is the aforementioned “Lake.”  Lake Erie.  Its huge!  Still, Tim persisted in referring to it as a “pond” all weekend.

Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark.  As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…

3 - Indians Stuff in Little Park.JPG…which is right across from Gate C.

We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened.  In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet.  So we got a picture…


4 - Tim at Gate C.JPG…and headed toward the LF corner of the stadium (where I was told I would find the main ticket office).

We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…

5 - TJCs Progressive home plate entrance.JPG…for a photo opportunity.

And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game.  Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:

6 - Progressive Kids Fun Day.JPGTim was ready to play and have some fun, but nothing was open yet.  We did get a funny picture…

7 - Little Headed Indian.JPG…but otherwise all we could do was look at all the fun they had planned for a little later.

So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…

8 - prophetic tarp.jpg…there had not been a drop of rain all day, but the tarp was on the field.  I wondered if the Indians knew something that I did not.

They did.

About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down.  It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain.  By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.

It was massive, massive rain.

They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain.  We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.

Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea.  No one was in the RF stands.  No one at all.  I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life – easter eggs.

Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:

10 - easter in august.JPGSeven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball.  Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF.  The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF.  The balls were SOAKED.  However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.

Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…

9 - rain rain go away.JPGIt took a long time, but eventually CF was playable.  Kudos to the grounds crew.

Eventually, the Mariners pitchers came out to stretch out their arms:

11 - M's Pitchers Warming at Jake.JPGAt the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game.  So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up.  The guys were having fun as they did their work.  As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head.  It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that.  Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms.  Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads.  There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.

As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…


12 - Thanks Jamey Wright.JPG…”Hmm…,” I thought, “cool a baseball from Adam Moore.”  He looked sort of like Adam, but he was clearly wearing Adam’s number 50.

Here is Adam wearing his number 50 last season in his MLB debut.

Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.

“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.”  I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.

Thanks, Jamey!

(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle.  Who knows?)

Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack.  We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).

Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…

13 - Phillips and Felix.JPG…who were playing catch in RF.

I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason.  I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).

While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!”  I thought that was pretty hilarious.  But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.

The next picture tells two stories:

14 - felix throws into seats.JPGFirst, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out.  Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips).  A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.

Thanks, Felix!

We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.

Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands.  They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.

Finally, the tarp came off of the field…

15 - tarp wrangling.JPG…althought it was giving the grounds crew some troubles.

It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…

16 - sleeping tim.JPG…he fell asleep on my shoulders for about 15-20 minutes.

Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…

17 - jake field level home panorama.jpg…and the tarp was put back on the infield (although there wasn’t any more rain).

At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs.  We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit.  We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left.  We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.

Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game.  And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…

18 - backwards walking pink backpack.JPG…being carried by Chris Seddon.

The 2010 Mariners bullpen…

19 - national anthem.JPG…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen.  But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.

When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144.  That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:

20 - Ichiro's 149th hit of 2010 in 1st 6-14-10.JPGIchiro moved to third when Chone Figgins followed with a single of his own.  Then he scored the first run of the game when Russell Branyan grounded into a double play.

We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.

This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:

21 - jake 1B field level view panorama.jpg

We were still absolutely soaking wet.  Particularly our feet.  I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks.  His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours.  We had to do the unspeakable.  We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks.  I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes.  All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.

In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again.  Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…

22 - tim and ichiro.JPG…some day we hope to get one “actually with” Ichiro.  Maybe next year at Spring Training.

By the way, Ichiro grounded out.

Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…

23 - all thumbs.JPG…this boy can find fun anywhere, even when just confined to his hands.

One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…

24 - vargas weird leg.JPG…and he was looking strong.

Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance.  We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…

25 - flag zoom.JPG…it was an Indians flag up there.  While we don’t endorse the team, its good to see Cleveland supporting their squad.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.

Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.

I felt bad for Marte.  I know nothing about the guy.  Literally, nothing.  But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland.  There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad.  I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players.  Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family.  But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win?  It doesn’t make any sense.

With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets.  Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting.  Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.

Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:

26 - jake concourse.JPGThis *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle.  They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess.  And it took forever to get the waffle cone.  While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.

Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.

Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5′s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte.  That did not help his cause.

It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.

Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.

We relocated to the standing room area in LF.  Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…

27 - whaffle cone.JPG…the bottom of that cone snapped off and about half of that ice cream ended up smeared all over Tim’s clothes.  It was a chocolately mess.

Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out.  And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:

28 - Ichiro's 150 hit of 2010 in 6-14-10.JPGBetween innings, I took this panorama from the standing room area:

28 - Jake LF standing room panorama.jpgWhile in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch.  Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…

29 - outfielers ready position.JPG…but Ichiro was firmly planted on the ground with each pitch.  Interesting, indeed.

In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:

30 - Kotchman goes yard.JPGThat made the score 9-2 Mariners.

Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…

31 - rocking slider.JPG…could help the Indians figure out Vargas and get back into the game.

Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit.  Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3.  But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.

In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF.  We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.

This was our view:

32 - jake LF wheelchair seats panorama.jpgWe stood there for two innings without an usher uttering a word to us (such as, “hey, you can’t stand there”).  It was a nice spot from which to watch the game.

In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.

Here was our view:

33 - jake behind home back of field level panorama.jpgWe could see some empty seats down low behind home, which looked perfect for positioning ourselves for an umpire baseball opportunity.

By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:

34 - jamey wright pitches in 9th.JPGIt was an excellent vantage point from which to watch Jamey Wright close out the Mariners win.

It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:

35 - M's dugout at Jake 8-14-10.JPG

Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:

Mariners win!

It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out.  So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball.  But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.

Oh, well.  It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired.  Which was just fine with us.  We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.

And guess what?  Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:

36 - tinsley for ten.jpgCrazy!  Of course, this happened solely because the driving rain kept people out of the RF seats so I could extract 7 soggy easter eggs.  But still, all we could say was “WOW, 10 baseballs!”

Our day was still far from concluded.  For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n’Blast” fireworks show.  It is a big fireworks show set to music.  I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.

As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands.  Tim was all excited to try to catch one…

37 - flinging shirts.JPG…but nothing was shot short.

Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.

Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:

After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.

2010 Fan Stats:

20 Games

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

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

50 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHHHHHHHIZZZZZZ BAAAAAANGGGGGGGG!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Brandon!

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

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

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

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

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

Then we headed to our seats.  Check this out:

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

Here was the view:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even from above, Felix looked dominant:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The line started deep in the Park in the Park…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Padres!

Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Fan Stats:

13 Games

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


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

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

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

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As he picked up the ball, I asked him:

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

L.G. – “Ichiro shirt!?”

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

L.G. – Really?

Dad – Yep.

L.G. – (Tosses the ball)

Todd – Thanks!

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

Thanks, Luke!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

c - petco 3B foul line panorama.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eventually, we went our separate ways.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, thanks, D.A.!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I headed back behind home plate and got this panorama:

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

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

I headed toward RF and got this picture…

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

Franklin Gutierrez walked on this pitch:

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

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

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

The Padres then intentionally walked Bradley…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Fan Stats:

12 Games

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Hello, 2010 Mariners! (5/11/10)

Since opening day, we’d been looking forward to May 11, 2010:  our first Mariners game of the season.  Like in 2007 and 2008 , our first Mariners game of the season would take place at Camden Yards.

I wanted to maximize our time with the Mariners so we headed down to Baltimore in time for batting practice.  Unfortunately, it started raining as we neared Baltimore.  As we entered the centerfield seats, we found the tarp covering the field.  No batting pratice.

It was about 5:20 at the time.  Because we did not have “season ticket” tickets, we were stuck in CF until 5:30.  So we couldn’t go over to the third base foul line where Ichiro was running sprints in the outfield and a couple of Mariners were playing catch.

After about 2 minutes in the seats, Jesus Colome came out to centerfield to grab two baseballs that were sitting out there in the grass.  There were a bunch of O’s fans in the first 2 rows of the seats and we were hanging back in about the 10th row.  Colome saw us and yelled to get our attention.  He then proceeded to throw one of the baseballs nowhere near us.  Seriously, while looking me straight in the eye, he managed to throw the ball about 30 feet to our left and about 7 rows below us.  One of the O’s fans grabbed it as it ricocheted off some seats.  Colome yelled, “Sorry!” and patted himself on the chest as if to say, “my bad.”

Oh, well.

About 2 minutes later, something incredibly cool happened.  I’m going to save the complete story for later, but here is the abbreviated version.

Ryan Rowland-Smith came walking through the outfield on his way to the bullpen…


1a - RRS intended route.jpg…in that picture, Tim and I were standing at the “T&T” (Tim was on my shoulders) and I noticed Rowland-Smith as he was walking at the “RRS.”  The yellow line shows the route he was intending to walk to the Mariners bullpen.

Background Fact No. 1:  Last season in Toronto, we met RRS and he threw a baseball to Tim (twice) so Tim could catch it himself in his glove.

Background Fact No. 2:  Over the off-season, I wrote a letter to RRS to (among other things) thank him for being so kind to us in Toronto, and I included with the letter the picture my wife snapped of us with RRS.

Background Fact No. 3:  I follow RRS on Twitter where it had recently been implied that he buzzed his hair.  Check him out @hyphen18.

So, as he approached the OF wall, I yelled out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”

He laughed and (without looking over) took off his hat to show me his buzz-cut.  Then, as he went through the door in the OF gate, he looked over at me and…

1b - RRS actual route.jpg…exclaimed, “Oh, hey, Man!” as he pointed at me.  He immediately changed courses (follow the new yellow line above) and came over to chat with us.

I was thinking, “Wow, RRS really likes seeing Mariners fans on the road!”  But as he approached, he said, “You wrote me that letter, right?”

To put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it!  I wrote him a letter months earlier about an interaction in Toronto and IMMEDIATELY upon seeing us in Baltimore (totally out of context), he recognized us and came right over to chat.

Here he is standing below us…

2 - hyphen18.JPG…and, to once again put it mildly, he came over to chat about something incredibly, amazingly, ridiculously awesome.  That’s what I’ll save for later.  For now, I will just note that we made plans to meet up later in the season about something I asked him in my letter.  Also, I must note that RRS is officially one of the most fan-friendly, coolest dudes ever to wear a major league baseball uniform…hands down.

After chatting with RRS, we waited five more minutes for the rest of the stadium to open (by which point Ichiro was gone), and then we headed over toward the Mariners dugout.  And guess who we ran into…

2 - tim and RRS 5-11-10.JPG…you got it:  Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.  Although Tim looks sorta “ho-hum’ish” in this picture, its not because he wasn’t happy to get his picture with RRS.  It was because he was standing on top of a wet brick wall and he was scared he was going to fall off.  RRS is holding him from behind to keep him steady.

We chatted for another minute or two with RRS.  And he noticed the T-Shirt I was wearing under my jersey.  It was a special shirt that Griffey made for his Mariners teammates during spring training.  You can read about it (and how my mom got her hands on one of them during spring training) in our entry Griffey the Prankster.  I told RRS that I had my mom send to shirt to me so I could wear it to this game to see if I could manage to get my picture with Griff.  However, due to the SleepGate scandal (that had just broken the day before), RRS didn’t think Griff would be out on the field at all before the game.

A few minutes later, I saw Ichiro pop out of the M’s dugout with a bat and walk over to the O’s dugout/clubhouse entrance.  So we headed over to the O’s dugout and confirmed with an usher that the M’s would be taking BP in cages back by the O’s clubhouse.

We said hi to most of the guys as they headed over to take BP…

3 - guity and lopez.jpg…Lopez said “Hi” to us, but Guti did not.   Speaking of Franklin, check out his pant legs before and after hitting.

Adam Moore said hi to us too:

5 - adam moore to cages.jpg

Here is Figgy and a coach, Sweeney and M’s PR guy Tim Hevly (they were talking about SleepGate!)…

4 - figgy tim hevly sweeney wak griff.jpg…Don Wakamatsu said hello to us, and Ken Griffey, Jr. did too.  Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I got of Griff.  As he approached, he saw my T-shirt and he said something to me that I couldn’t understand…something odd like, “Oh, so that’s what’s going on here.”  In response, I mentioned that he’d given the shirt to my mom at spring training and asked if we could get a picture.   He responded as if it was a possibility, but said he had to go hit first.  Of course, by the time he finished batting, there were 50 people standing by the dugout.  By that point, we decided there was no chance Griff would stop on his way back to the M’s clubhouse so we left to get something to eat.

There was a little raining falling at this point, so we retreated to Section 49…

6 - camden section 49 last row panorama.jpg…and dug into a big pile on nachos:

7 - nachos and movement star.jpgAs we enjoyed our nachos, Mike Sweeney started playing catch with his first basemens glove…

8 - sweeney with 1-bag glove.jpg…but he didn’t play first (or at all) in this game.

After our nachos, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Cliff Lee warm up.  Here he is on his walk to the bullpen:

9 - cliff lee to bullpen.jpgAnd here is the view from the seats right next to the bullpen in section 86:

10 - camden section 86 by visitors bullpen panorama.jpgAfter Cliff Lee left the bullpen, the relievers huddled together like they do before every game…

11 - wet bullpen.jpg…and when they broke apart David Aardsma pointed at me and said to his colleagues, “Look at that guys shirt!”  They all got a kick out of seeing a fan wearing one of Griffey’s prank shirts.

By the way, our buddy Jason Phillips is in that blurry picture and he is the guy seated closest to Tim in the picture to the right.  It was nice seeing him again.  We exchanged a few words several times throughout the day.  Its good to have him in the M’s bullpen again this season.

We continued sitting by the bullpen during the first inning, but then it started raining again.  We took refuge under cover over by where we’d eaten our nachos.  And I got some pictures of Griffey batting in the third inning…

12 - griff in third 5-11-10.jpg…he ultimately popped out to LF.

And I got some pictures of Ichiro, also batting in the third inning…

13 - ichi in third 5-11-10.jpg…he grounded out to the pitcher.

I took tons of pictures (using my wife’s camera with a sequence feature) of Cliff Lee:

14 - cliff lee motion and josh wilson grounder.jpgOn this pitch, the batter (I think Miguel Tejada) grounded out to Josh Wilson at short stop.

We got some random defensive shots: 

15 - random fielding.jpgAfter it stopped raining, we headed out to the standing room area in RF…

16 - seed boats.jpg…where Tim asked for sunflower seeds to make “seed sail boats” in a puddle.

I had to get Tim out of the standing room area pretty quick.  It was covered with huge puddles and Tim wanted to jump in every single one.  I was envisioning his little toes freezing later in the game inside wet socks.

So, we headed out to the concourse and got an ice cream helmet and a hot chocolate.  We grabbed some ice cream seats in section 10 down the 1B foul line:

17 - ICH hot choco and avi.jpgPictured at the back of the photo is a guy named Avi who we met before the game.  In addition to going to tons of O’s games, Avi reads our blog (and writes one of his own).  Thanks, Avi!  It was great meeting you.

Here is the view from our ice cream seats in section 10:

18 - camden section 10 panorama.jpgAt this point (the fifth inning), the score was 0-0 and Cliff Lee had given up only 3 hits.

Ryan Langerhans broke the scoreless tie with a lead off homerun in the fifth.  Later in the inning, the M’s scored again when Chone Figgins drew a bases loaded walk.

Here is a shot of Griff hitting in the sixth inning:

19 - griff in sixth 5-11-10.jpgGriff eventually drew a walk and came around to score.  After six innings, the Mariners led the Orioles 5-0.

From our ice cream seats, we had a great view of Ichiro in RF.  In these pictures, Ichi is playing catch between innings with Franklin Gutierrez.

20 - ichiro warms.jpgClick on that picture to see it full-sized.   In the picture to the left, the rotation of the seems on the ball look pretty cool.

Here is Tim after finishing off his ice cream and hot chocolate:

22 - ice cream seats and happy.jpgHe absolutely loved the hot chocolate.

As we sat in section 10, I noticed the same guy catch two foul balls straight behind home plate.  I decided he should go over there.  However, when we arrived behind home plate, we noticed that the ushers were essentially taking the night off.  Although there were ushers all around, they were letting people stand in the aisle and sit anywhere they wanted.  So, after an usher took our picture…

21 - classic camden yards cool tim.jpg…we headed down behind the M’s dugout to see if we could get a third out baseball.  We never did.  But we got some great up close views of our Mariners.  Here is Ichiro about to hit a double…


23 - Ichi 2B and to third.jpg…and about to be stranded on third base in the 7th inning.

And when we got home, I noticed that we’d been on TV while we were sitting in the third row behind Franklin Gutierrez:

24 - behind guity.JPGAfter Griff’s final at bat in the 8th inning…

25 - griff in the eighth 5-11-10.jpg… the crowd gave Griff a warm ovation on his way back to the dugout (it was a fly out to CF (or maybe a deep 2B or SS)).

We’d been sitting in the third row, but between innings Tim would stand in the first row above the dugout…so I snapped this picture of him:

26 - front row.JPG…and in the 8th or 9th inning, we decided to just take the seats up there in the first row.  It was crazy how empty the seats were.

Here was the view from the first row:

27 - camden section 52 row 1 panorama.jpgAfter giving up only one run and 8 hits in 7.1 innings…

28 - cliff lee exits in 8th 5-11-10.JPG…we cheered Cliff Lee as he left the game in the bottom of the 8th inning.  This was his first win as a Mariner.

Ichiro hit another single in the 9th inning…

29 - ichiro bats in the 9th 5-11-10.JPG…but once again he was stranded on base.

 It was raining very lightly, so Tim wore my glove has a mask/umbrella…

30 - shield on.jpg…which he thought was a great fun.

I mentioned already we didn’t get a third out ball.  Oddly, however, we did get a second out ball!  Here Tim is with his first ever game used ball (well, it is possible that one of the umpire balls he’s gotten has been game used, but we *know* this one was used in the game):

31 - 26th out bottom 9th 5-11-10.JPGWith one out in the bottom of the ninth and Brandon League pitching, Matt Wieters grounded out to Ryan Langerhans at first base.  Langerhans tagged Wieters for the 26th out of the game and then threw the ball around the horn.  Somehow, the around the horn attempt failed.  I’m not sure what happened.   I think that Figgins threw the ball in the dirt to Jose Lopez and it got wet or dirty.  For whatever reason, Lopez rolled the ball into foul territory.  It ultimately came to rest right in front of us.

We were the only people in the first row behind the Mariners dugout.  We were wearing all Mariners gear.  Tim’s a cute kid.  The ball was directly in front of us.  It seemed almost like we were guaranteed to get the ball.  And we did.  An unidentified Mariner reached over the railing/netting and grabbed the ball off of the warning track, turned around and flipped it right to me.

Maybe two minute later, the Mariners won the game by a final score of 5-1.  And Ichi victoriously ran off of the soggy field after high fiving his teammates:

32 - ichi and mariners win.JPGThe grounds crew immediately started to put the tarp back on the field:

33 - camden section 52 row 1 rain tarp panorama.jpgOur friend, MLBlogger, and Baseball Collector extraordinaire, Zack Hample, was at the game.  We’d spent some time with him during pre-game and then met up again after the game.  As the Mariners bullpen headed to the dugout, Jesus Colome flipped a ball to Zack and John Wetteland bestowed a second baseball on me and Tim.

Moments later, Zack’s buddy Brandon captured this photo of me, Tim, and Zack:

34 - fist bump reunion.JPGre-make of a picture we got moments after we met Zack in person for the first time last season — at the memorable Randy Johnson 300th win rainout “game.”  After this photo, Tim and I walked to our parking garage with Zack and Brandon (on their way to their hotel).

It was a great first Mariners game of the season that included (i) a much needed Mariners win, (ii) Cliff Lee’s first win as a Mariner (and his first since the 2009 World Series), (iii) two memorable meetings with Ryan Rowland-Smith, (iv) fun interactions with several players about the Griffey prank shirt, (v) meeting up with some cool MLBloggers, and (vi) Tim’s first game-used baseball.

I already cannot wait to see the Mariners again…next month in San Diego on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010!  See you there, Mariners! 

2010 Fan Stats:


35 - two baseballs 5-11-10.JPG5 Games

8 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

5 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)

15 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)

4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

4 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

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

Hello, 2010 Regular Season!

The 2010 regular season starts tomorrow.  We’re excited.  And we have lots of plans for making it a great season.  At a time like this, we can’t help but look back on where we have been and forward to where we are going.

 

Since Tim’s MLB debut on September 12, 2006, Tim has seen every team play live at least once.  With twenty-two games, he has seen our Mariners the most, followed by the Phillies (14) and Orioles (9).  Here are all of the teams with their record at games Tim and I have attended together (listed in the order in which Tim saw the teams for the first time):

 

Teams (win-loss record):


  1. trying4balls.jpgMariners  (10-12)
  2. Blue Jays (1-2)
  3. Mets (3-2)
  4. Phillies (9-5)
  5. Orioles (4-5)
  6. Twins (2-1)
  7. Yankees (1-3)
  8. Marlins (1-1)
  9. Rockies (1-0)
  10. Cardinals (3-0)
  11. Pirates (1-2)
  12. Cubs (2-1)
  13. Giants (0-1)
  14. Reds (0-3)
  15. Indians (5-0)

  16. 39 - final game final ball of 2009.jpgAngels (0-1)
  17. Nationals (1-4)
  18. White Sox (1-2)
  19. Diamondbacks (1-0)
  20. Rays (1-0)
  21. Padres (0-1)
  22. Athletics (1-2)
  23. Rangers (2-0)
  24. Braves (0-1)
  25. Dodgers (1-0)
  26. Tigers (1-0)
  27. Red Sox (1-2)
  28. Astros (1-1)
  29. Brewers (0-1)
  30. Royals (0-1)

Tim debuted at Safeco Field.  But through his fifty-four (54) games, Tim has visited 18 MLB stadiums.  Not surprisingly  Tim’s top three stadiums closely track his top three teams:  Citzens Bank Park, Safeco Field, Camden Yards.  Here is the complete list of Tim’s stadiums:

 

Stadiums (number of games):


  1. 16 - we love this place.jpgSafeco Field (11)
  2. Citizens Bank Park (12)
  3. Camden Yards (8)
  4. Yankee Stadium – ’23 (1)
  5. PNC Park (2)
  6. Great American Ball Park (1)
  7. Progressive Field (3)
  8. Shea Stadium (1)
  9. Chase Field (1)
  10. Citi Field (2)
  11. Nationals Park (2)
  12. Yankee Stadium – ’09 (2)
  13. Fenway Park (3)
  14. Wrigley Field  (1)
  15. H.H.H. Metrodome  (1)
  16. Miller Park  (1)
  17. U.S. Cellular Field  (1)
  18. Rogers Centre  (1)

So, after such a great 2009 season, where do we go from here?   Like last year, I have made a full Cook & Son Baseball Agenda complete with games to attend and goals to achieve.  Like last year, I won’t bore you with all of it.  But, like last season (when we achieve almost all of our goals), here are the highlights:

 

Season Goals:

 



8 - moyer bullpen motion.jpg1.  See Ken Griffey, Jr. hit another homerun.

2.  Witness final home run of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career (assuming he retires after 2010 season).

5.  See Jamie Moyer win a game.

6.  Run the bases at 5 stadiums (Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Petco Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park).

7.  Catch a Target Field inaugural season ball.

8.  Catch a game homerun or foul ball.

9.  Get Gill and Kate (Tim’s cousins) to their first game.

10.  See the Mariners play at 5+ stadiums (Safeco (4), Camden (2), Yankee (2), Petco (2), Progressive (2)).

11.-14.  & 17. – Focus on pictures with players.  I won’t list them all, but I have a number of specific players we would like to try to get our pictures with and general “picture with players” goals.

15.  Third Annual Baseball Roadtrip – All California Stadiums.

16.  New Stadium and Teams for Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary.

18.  Eat an Orioles ice cream helmet at Camden Yards.

19.  Win MyGameBalls.com photo-scavenger hunt.

20.  Have fun and make memories.

Thumbnail image for tjc rounding third in DC.jpg 
6 - walking The Jake concourse.jpg

Goals aside, we plan to have another great season.  We will visit all five California stadiums (Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Anaheim, and San Francisco) on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010, along with probably 8 more stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field, Citizens Bank Park, Yankee Stadium, Progressive Field, and PNC Park).

It is going to be great.  And, we plan to end the season in Seattle, where we will be joined by a special guest and we hope to witness Griffey’s final home run of his career.

happy 2010.jpg

    Good Old-Fashioned Baseball Tickets

    My wife and I love getting mail.  I’m not sure why.  We hardly ever get anything but junk mail.  But we always hold out hope that something wonderful will be waiting for us each aftenoon in our trusty mail box.

    Well, the past couple weeks, something wondeful, indeed, has started arriving…in twos, and threes and fours.  Baseball tickets.  Tickets to Citizens Bank Park and to Petco Park and to Dodger Stadium and to Angel Stadium and to Citi Field and to Nationals Park, too.

    I love good old-fashioned baseball tickets.  Printed from a ticket machine with perferated edges where your tickets used to be connect so someone else’s tickets.  You can’t beat it.

    Personally, I am not a fan of print-at-home e-tickets.  A ticket is a souvenir.  Growing up (and really until Tim’s birth), I always kept my tickets in the inside band of my baseball caps.  At any given time (and for years at a time), I walked around with 30 baseball tickets in my cap.  They became wrinkled and faded and stained from sweat as I wore those tickets through softball games, and Mariners games, and high school, and college and life.

    unidentifiable - Citz Bank Park.jpgWhen Tim was born and soon started going to game with me, I stopped putting my tickets in my cap because I wanted to keep them clean for him.

    Does anyone save print-at-home e-tickets?  I doubt it.  They’re not very memorable.  Certainly, they don’t seem like an artifact of the game worthy of preservingetc., etc., etc., like a real old-fashioned baseball ticket.  And when tickets become unimportant (merely a key to the gate) and we stop saving them, we lose one of the easiest and best ways to track the games, players and history we have seen.

    So, when given the options at the end of the online ordering process, don’t count on me selecting “print at home” any time soon (or, if not forced to (i.e., stubhub), ever).

    So as Tim and I gear up for another fun filled campaign and our 2010 tickets continue to bring joy to the afternoon trip to the mailbox, I figured it would be fitting to reflect on our past with a look at some of our tickets.  Let’s start with the most important and memorable tickets.

    My Top 10 (or so) Tickets

    No. 1 – September 12, 2006, Blue Jays vs. Maniners at Safeco Field – Tim’s first game.  A truly great day.  I made this wooden home plate frame and this ticket hangs on Tim’s bedroom wall:


    2006-9-12 - Safeco Field Suite 5.jpg

    No. 2 - October 10, 1995, Indians vs. Mariners at the Kingdom: Game 1 of the 1995 ACLS in case you didn’t know.  A great game:


    1995-10-10 - Kingdome - ALCS Game 1.jpg

    No. 3 – August 23, 2009, Mariners vs. Indians at Progressive Field – Tim and I witness Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 624th career home run – our first Ken Griffey, Jr. home run together (and Tim’s first period):

    2009-8-23 - Progressive Field - Griff No624.jpgNo. 4 – Various dates and teams at the Kingdome – my only remaining Kingdome tickets (except for No. 1 above).  The Kingdome is the most important baseball venue of my life and a place I will always remember fondly.

    1998-9-26 - Kingdome.jpg 
    1999-4-6 - Kingdome.jpg 
    1999-4-28 - Kingdome.jpg
    1999-5-2 - Kingdome.jpg

    No. 5 – August 15, 2008, Cardinals vs. Reds at Great American Ball Park – the first game of the first year of the now annual “Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.”  The start of a grand tradition.

    2008-8-15 - Great American Ball Park.jpgNo. 6 – July 5, 2009, Mariners vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park – one of the (personally) most memorable baseball moments of my life.  Pinch-hitting for Mike Sweeney in the top of the 4th inning, Ken Griffey, Jr. lined a single off of the Green Monster.  Tim was sitting on my shoulders as we watched the beautiful flight of the ball.  It was the first time Tim ever saw Griffey get a hit in person.

    2009-7-5 - Fenway Park.jpgNo. 7 – September 3, 2007, Mariners vs. Yankees at Yankee Stadium (1923).  Tim’s only game ever at the old Yankee Stadium.  A truly great game.  Felix Hernandez gets the win.  Ichiro hits a home run off of Roger Clemens for his 200th hit of the season for his seventh consecutive season.  Clemens notches the final loss of his soon-to-be-taint but still-probably-hall-of-fame career.  Mike Mussina pitches in relief after Clemens gets hurt.  It is the only relief appearance of Mussina’s career.  Between Clemens, Mussina and Kyle Farnsworth, the Yankees send over 600 career wins to the mound and end the day with the same number of career wins as when the day started:


    2007-9-3 - Yankee Stadium (1923).jpg

    * – FYI, a guy who left early and spotted me walking around with Tim on my shoulders gave us his ticket (on the right above) so we could sit almost directly behind home plate (in the equivalent of what is now the Legends Suite tickets at the new Yankee Stadium).

    No. 8 – June 8, 2003, Mariners vs. Mets at Shea Stadium.  The only double-header I have ever attended and the most wins (2) that I have ever seen the Mariners collect in one day.  Excellent performances by both Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia.

    2003-6-8 - Shea Stadium.jpgNo. 9 – Weekend In New York — June 22, 2008, Reds vs. Yankees at Yankee Stadium (1923) and June 23, 2008, Mariners vs. Mets at Shea Stadium.  My high school buddy, Jason, visited from Seattle to see Yankee Stadium before it closed down.  We realized the Mariners were at Shea the next day.  On Sunday, we saw Ken Griffey, Jr. hit home run No. 601 of his career (the first and only home run I have seen him hit in a non-Mariners uniform.  The next day, we saw Felix Hernandez hit a GRAND SLAM off of Johan Santana.  An unforgettable weekend of baseball.

    2008-6-22 - Yankee Stadium (1923).jpg

    2008-6-23 - Shea Stadium.jpg

    No. 10 – September 12, 2007, Rockies vs. Phillies at Citizens Bank Park – an acquaintance who works for the Phillies “comp’d” us four excellent tickets (8 rows behind the 3B dugout) for a mid-week Phillies game against the Rockies.  Tim and I invited some friends and had a blast.  While at the game, I realized for the first time that it was the 1-year anniverary of Tim’s first Mariners/MLB game.  Instantly, a new tradition (and one of my favorite holidays) was born:  Tim’s MLB Anniversary Game.  I plan to take Tim to a game on September 12 every year, forever.

    2007-9-12 - Citz Bank Park.jpgHONORABLE MENTION(S):.

    - June 3, 2003, Mariners vs. Phillies at Veterans Stadium – Jamie Moyer collects a hit and adds to his Mariners legacy by beating his future team (and what a beautiful ticket – it even has the word “TICKET” embossed across the second panel from the right):

    2003-6-30 - Veterans Stadium.jpg- August 15, 2009, Indians vs. Twins at H.H.H. Metrodome – Tim’s first game in a traditional domed stadium.  My first real dome since the Kingdome.  It really brought back the Kingdome feel for me and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

                                 
    2009-8-15 - HHH Metrodome.jpg   
    2009-8-15 - HHH Metrodome 2.jpg.

    - Various Veterans Stadium tickets – I like defunct stadiums and odd tickets.  These next five are my only other remaining Veterans Stadium tickets and they include (i) my three smallest tickets, (ii) my first game seeing Griffey play for the Reds, and (iii) my only game ever seeing the Expos:

             
    1999-8-8 - Veterans Stadium.jpg   
    1999-9-4 - Veterans Stadium.jpg    
    2001-9-27 - Veterans Stadium.jpg

    2000-5-2 - Veterans Stadium.jpg
    2002-8-29 - Veterans Stadium.jpg

    And now, a whole bunch more (without descriptions) in chronological order…

                                    2000-5-17 - Safeco Field.jpg 
    2000-5-20 - Safeco Field.jpg.

    2000-8-4 - Yankee Stadium23.jpg
    2000-9-3 - Fenway Park.jpg
     2000-9-15 - Camden Yards.jpg 
    2001-8-20 - Safeco Field.jpg 
    2001-8-24 - Safeco Field.jpg.

         2003-6-6 - Shea Stadium.jpg  
    2003-6-13 - Safeco Field.jpg

    2004-4-27 - Camden Yards.jpg
    2004-4-27 - Camden Yards (2).jpg
    2004-6-19 - PNC Park.jpg
    2004-8-13 - Citz Bank Park - Bonds No689.jpg* – FYI, Barry Bonds hit his 689th home run at that last game.

             
    2006-4-6 - Safeco Field.jpg  
    2007-6-30 - Citz Bank Park.jpg.

    2007-8-9 - Camden Yards.jpg 
    2007-8-14 - Safeco Field.jpg.

    2007-8-15 - Safeco Field.jpg
    2007-9-9 - Citz Bank Park.jpg
    2007-9-29 - PNC Park.jpg
    2008-3-14 - Peoria Sports Complex.jpg
    2008-3-29 - Citz Bank Park On Deck Series.jpg
    2008-4-6 - Camden Yards.jpg
    2008-4-11 - Citz Bank Park.jpg 
    2008-5-2 - Citz Bank Park (Hall of Fame Suite).jpg 
    2008-5-23 - Yankee Stadium (1923).jpg  
    2008-6-2 - Citz Bank Park.jpg

    2008-6-3 - Citz Bank Park.jpg
    2008-6-4 - Citz Bank Park.jpg
    2008-7-19 - Safeco Field.jpg
    2008-8-17 - Progressive Field.jpg
    2008-8-18 - PNC Park.jpg
    2008-8-19 - Citz Bank Park Foul Pole Seat.jpg
    2008-8-27 - Camden Yards.jpg
    2008-9-7 - Shea Stadium.jpg
    2008-9-12 - Chase Field.jpg
    2009-4-19 - Citz Bank Park.jpg
    2009-4-25 - Citi Field.jpg
    2009-5-1 - Safeco Field.jpg
    2009-5-2 - Safeco Field.jpg2009-5-4 - Safeco Field 2.jpg                        
    2009-5-4 - Safeco Field.jpg   
    2009-5-5 - Safeco Field.jpg


    2009-5-8 - Citz Bank Park.jpg
    2009-5-13 - Citz Bank Park.jpg
    2009-5-17 - Nationals Park.jpg
    2009-5-31 - Camden Yards.jpg
    2009-6-10 - Camden Yards.jpg
    2009-6-28 - Camden Yards.jpg
    2009-7-2 - Yankee Stadium09.jpg
    2009-7-19 - Nationals Park.jpg
    2009-7-24 - Citz Bank Park.jpg
    2009-8-5 - FirstEnergy Stadium - AA-Pedro.jpg* – Pedro Martinez pitched this game for the Reading Phillies while preparing for his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies.  He was on fire with the strike out pitch.

    2009-8-16 - Miller Park.jpg
    2009-8-17 - U.S. Cellular.jpg
    2009-9-17 - Safeco Field.jpg
    2009-9-19 - Safeco Field.jpg
    2009-9-19 - Safeco Field 2.jpg
    2009-9-26 - Rogers Centre.jpg
    2009-10-4 - Camden Yards.jpg

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